Richard Grenell speaks during a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on September 22, 2020 (AFP / Andrej Isakovic)

Trump envoy uses 2019 photo to allege Biden hypocrisy on masks

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

Richard Grenell, an envoy for US President Donald Trump, tweeted that Democratic candidate Joe Biden wears a mask outside but not on aircraft, including two photos as evidence. But the image of a maskless Biden on a plane is from 2019, before health authorities began recommending mask use to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

“Washington, DC phony! @JoeBiden doesn’t wear a mask on a plane - but wears one OUTSIDE!?” Grenell, Trump’s special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations, who previously served as acting director of national intelligence, wrote in a November 1, 2020 tweet.

A screenshot of a tweet taken on November 2, 2020

Face masks -- which many state and local authorities are either requiring or recommending be worn to help curb the spread of the coronavirus -- have become a divisive political issue as well as a matter of public health.

Trump long refused to use a mask, and while he now says he supports them, he frequently appears in public without one, and has mocked Biden and other people for wearing one.

AFP Fact Check conducted a reverse image search of the photo of Biden without a mask that was tweeted by Grenell, and found a reference on Twitter to the image appearing in Vogue magazine.

A Google search then located the image, which is dated November 2019 and appears with this Vogue article.

A screenshot of a November 2019 photo that appeared with a Vogue magazine article

As of November 2, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 231,000 people in the United States. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the danger of asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus and recommends cloth face coverings as a means to reduce this risk.

“You could spread Covid-19 to others even if you do not feel sick,” it says, adding: “The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”

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