False claim Putin told Carlson that Biden is a ‘facade’ for ‘those in real power’ | Fact check

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The claim: Putin told Tucker Carlson that Biden is a ‘facade’ for ‘those in real power’ 

A Feb. 6 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) claims Russian President Vladimir Putin made a remark about American leadership and President Joe Biden during an interview with conservative pundit Tucker Carlson.

“BREAKING: President Vladimir Putin confirms to Tucker Carlson that President Biden is not running the United States,” reads the post, which is a screenshot of a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “PUTIN when asked who runs the U.S. ‘The same forces which have always run it. You may change presidents but you do not change those in real power. That is who we have to deal with. Joe Biden is just a facade for this power structure.’”

It received more than 3,500 likes in three days. Other versions of the claim spread widely on Instagram and X

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Our rating: False

No such quotation appears in transcripts of Carlson’s interview with Putin. There is no evidence Putin has referred to Biden as a “facade.”

Putin said he ‘cannot remember’ when he last spoke to Biden, but didn’t call him a ‘facade’

Carlson, a political commentator and former Fox News host, released an interview with Putin on Feb. 8 that was filmed two days before. The pair discussed a variety of topics, including Russia’s war against Ukraine, China’s economic power and detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

But there is no record of Putin referring to Biden as a “facade.” There are no reports from credible news outlets about Putin making such a comment during the interview or in any other setting. No quotations matching the one in the Instagram post are found in interview transcripts of the interview from the Kremlin or Carlson’s YouTube channel.

However, Putin did suggest during the interview that unelected people have significant power in the U.S.

Putin described interactions with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in which he said the American leaders walked back earlier statements they’d made to him after speaking with their advisers. The discussions were about Russia potentially joining NATO and a collaborative effort by the U.S., Russia and Europe to create a missile defense system, Putin said.

Carlson then told Putin his description of those conversations suggested that the U.S. is not run by its elected officials.

“That’s right, that’s right,” Putin responded.

Later in the interview, Carlson asked Putin more directly who he believes “actually makes the decisions” in the U.S.

“I don’t know,” Putin responded. “America is a complex country, conservative on the one hand, rapidly changing on the other. It’s not easy for us to sort it all out.”

Putin did reference Biden in the interview, at one point saying he “cannot remember” when he last spoke to him. He also said he previously talked with Biden about a proposal for the U.S. and Russia to collaborate on a missile defense system.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the public “shouldn’t take at face value anything (Putin) has to say” in a Feb. 8 news briefing.

Fact check: Western media outlets have tried to interview Putin, contrary to Carlson claim

USA TODAY has debunked an array of false claims about who is in control of the U.S., including a claim that former President Donald Trump and the U.S. military control the country, that Biden granted the World Health Organization control over U.S. health care and national sovereignty and that the U.S. military controls the federal government and will carry out the QAnon conspiracy theory to unmask a deep-state cabal. 

USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

AFP Fact Check also debunked the claim.

Our fact-check sources:

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