Washington (CNN)On Sunday, Richard Grenell, President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to Germany and former acting director of national intelligence, tweeted two photos side by side: one of former Vice President Joe Biden standing on an airplane without a mask and one of Biden standing outdoors while wearing a mask.
“Washington, DC phony! @JoeBiden doesn’t wear a mask on a plane – but wears one OUTSIDE!?” wrote Grenell, a prominent Trump campaign ally and a paid Republican National Committee senior adviser. Grenell had more than 671,000 Twitter followers as of Monday.
Grenell’s tweet was retweeted more than 16,000 times. And prominent right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin, who had about 2.6 million followers as of Monday, generated an additional 12,800-plus retweets by sharing Grenell’s tweet on Sunday and adding his own accusation that Biden is a “fraud.”
Facts First: The tweets by Grenell and Levin are egregiously deceptive: they create the false impression that the photo of Biden without a mask on a plane was taken during the coronavirus pandemic. The photo was actually taken in November 2019, before the pandemic.
The plane photo was included in a new Vogue profile article, posted online on October 30, about Biden’s traveling national press secretary, Remi Yamamoto. The photo, taken by Biden campaign photographer Adam Schultz, shows Biden standing in conversation with a seated Yamamoto — who is also, for obvious reasons, not wearing a mask.
Vogue’s caption on the shot reads as follows: “Yamamoto and Biden huddle on a flight to South Carolina in November 2019.”
A Twitter spokesperson told CNN on Monday that the tweets from Grenell and Levin do not violate Twitter rules and will not have any fact check labels affixed to them.
Copies of the false claim being shared on Facebook are being labeled as false, including Levin’s post. Levin has since shared multiple posts attacking fact-checkers.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.