Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday Dec. 16, 2023, in Durham, N.H. (AP) Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday Dec. 16, 2023, in Durham, N.H. (AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday Dec. 16, 2023, in Durham, N.H. (AP)

Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero December 19, 2023

Donald Trump claimed the Lincoln Project used AI to make him ‘look bad.’ But the clips are real

If Your Time is short

  • A review of clips and photos used in the Lincoln Project’s ad shows it used real footage and photographs of former President Donald Trump. ​

Former President Donald Trump has a few gripes with the Lincoln Project, a political advocacy group composed of Republicans who oppose Trump’s leadership. A recent complaint: that the group is showing altered footage of him committing gaffes. 

"The perverts and losers at the failed and once disbanded Lincoln Project, and others, are using A.I.(Artificial Intelligence) in their Fake television commercials in order to make me look as bad and pathetic as Crooked Joe Biden," Trump posted Dec. 4 on Truth Social.

In the Lincoln Project’s Dec. 4 video, titled "Feeble," a narrator addresses Trump directly with a taunt. "Hey Donald," the female voice says. "We notice something. More and more people are saying it. You’re weak. You seem unsteady. You need help getting around." The video flashes through scenes showing Trump tripping over his words, gesturing, misspeaking and climbing steps to a plane with something white stuck to his shoe.

(Screenshot from Truth Social)

Are these clips the work of AI? We reviewed them and found the Trump clips are legitimate — and not generated using AI. We reached out to the Trump campaign but did not hear back.

The Lincoln Project posted on X, formerly Twitter, that its "Feeble" ad was not AI-generated. We also looked at two other ads the group published in the days preceding Trump’s post and found no evidence they included AI-generated content, either.

We identified the origin of all but one of the 31 photos and videos used in the "Feeble" ad, 21 of them featuring Trump. We’ve corroborated them with footage from C-SPAN, news outlets, and/or government archives. In some of the clips, Trump is trying to publicly mock President Joe Biden, which the Lincoln Project ad does not make clear. 

Here are sources and context for the clips and photos used in the ad.

  • Trump stared at the eclipse Aug. 21, 2017.

  • At the 11:33 time stamp in this Dec. 18, 2017, C-SPAN video, Trump drank a glass of water using two hands. 

  • On Nov. 13, 2017, news footage shows Trump nearly forgot during a media event to sign a bill that aimed to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

  • Trump mispronounced "anonymous" during a rally in Billings, Montana, on Sept. 6, 2018, as seen at the C-SPAN video’s 46:08 time stamp.

  • Trump mispronounced "you deserve" in his remarks at the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities conference on Sept. 10, 2019.

  • In an October 2023 speech in Derry, New Hampshire, Trump made an impression of Biden supposedly walking around stages looking confused. (1:07)

  • A photo credited to Adam Scull for MediaPunch showed Trump with his father, Fred Trump, on Dec. 31, 1976.

  • In a Sept. 15 speech, Trump said, "We did it with Obama, we won an election that everyone said couldn’t be won." (22:35) Moments later, he said, "We beat Hillary Clinton."

  • Trump mistakenly said "Sioux Falls" at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 29, 2023. He was corrected by Iowa State Senator Brad Zaun. (06:28)

  • Trump mistook Paradise, California, for "Pleasure" on Nov. 17, 2018, before being corrected. 

  • During a Republican rally in Michigan on Aug. 11, 2015, Trump criticized his political competitors as being controlled by donors and gestured as a puppeteer, making the sound effects, "bing, bing, bong, bong, bing, bing, bing." (21:38) 

  • Former first lady Melania Trump smiled and turned away from her husband while attending Game Four of the World Series on Oct. 31, 2021.

  • A clip of Trump descending from a plane is featured in this Aug. 21 local TV news report.

  • A photo of Trump with his head down, leaving the stage after addressing the Detroit Economic Club, was taken on Aug. 8, 2016, credited to Rebecca Cook for United Press International. 

    Featured Fact-check

  • A Nov. 15, 2017, Fox News video showed Trump using two hands to drink from a water bottle.

  • Trump held up his closed fists in a keynote address at the America First Policy Institute Summit on July 26, 2022. (44:47)

  • At the California Republican Party Convention on Sept. 29, 2023, Trump mocked Biden by doing an impression of him acting confused. (40:12)

  • Melania Trump did not stop to take photos with her husband at the Palm Beach International Airport on Jan. 23, 2021, as shown on this Guardian News video.

  • Trump had something stuck to his shoe while boarding a plane Oct. 4, 2018, as can be seen on this KSTP-TV video at 4:51.

  • This Guardian News video showed Trump dumping fish food into a koi pond with former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Nov. 6, 2017. He followed Abe’s lead in dumping all of the fish food.

  • Trump exited a stage in Buenos Aires on Dec. 3, 2018, leaving Argentinian President Mauricio Macri. 

For good measure, we also checked the clips in the video that didn’t feature Trump. These included clips and photos of Biden and stock videos. None of them were AI-generated, either. Here are the sources:

We were unable to find the source for a 1-second video of Biden smiling at the 0:45 timestamp in the ad. We reached out to the Lincoln Project and will update this story if it responds.

But of the 21 Trump-related images and clips in the ad, we found no evidence they were created or altered using AI.

Other recent Lincoln Project ads

The Lincoln Project also uploaded two other ads near the time of Trump’s post that appeared to attack Trump. One called "Christian Trump" was also published on YouTube on Dec. 4. Another, titled "Welcome to the clown show … ," was uploaded Dec. 3.

We checked those, too, and found no evidence that AI was used to alter Trump’s appearance or make him seem to say something he didn’t. 

At the 1:09 timestamp of "Christian Trump," the Lincoln Project included a photo of Bibles stacked in a bathroom, which appears to have been altered. The original photo shows a bathroom in Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, which an indictment said was used to store boxes of records; it did not include a stack of Bibles.

In "Welcome to the clown show … ," we were unable to identify the source for a clip of a person talking about his preferred leader at the 0:58 timestamp. We were also unable to identify the source of the audio at the end of "Christian Trump," which sounds like Trump saying "Jesus Christ."

But there were no AI-generated clips of Trump’s likeness. You can view the clips’ sources for these two other ads in this spreadsheet.

We rate Trump’s claim that the Lincoln Project is using AI in its television commercials about Trump False.

PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Truth Social post by Donald Trump (archived), Dec. 5, 2023

The Lincoln Project, "Feeble," Dec. 4, 2023

The Lincoln Project, "Welcome to the clown show…," Dec. 3, 2023

The Lincoln Project, "Christian Trump," Dec. 4, 2023

The Lincoln Project X post, Dec. 5, 2023

Guardian News, The moment Donald Trump is warned not to look directly at the sun, Aug. 22, 2017

C-SPAN, National Security Strategy Address, Dec. 18, 2017

Shutterstock, Stock video 1088533907, accessed Dec. 6, 2017

Shutterstock, Caregiver helping senior man to walk with walker indoors in retirement nursing home, accessed Dec. 6, 2023

C-SPAN, President Trump Rally in Montana, Sept. 6, 2018

C-SPAN, President Trump Remarks at National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Conference, Sept. 10, 2019

Forbes Breaking News, JUST IN: Trump Makes Audience Laugh Doing Impression Of Biden Getting Lost On Stage During Event, Oct. 23, 2023

Alamy, Fred Trump Donald Trump, Dec. 31, 1976

iStock by Getty Images, Carer Leading Group Of Seniors In Fitness Class In Retirement Home stock video, Dec. 4, 2018

Right Side Broadcasting Network YouTube video, FULL SPEECH: President Donald J. Trump Speaks to the Pray, Vote, Stand Summit - 9/15/23, Sept. 15, 2023

Guardian News, Trump confused over fire-hit town Paradise: 'Pleasure, what a name', Nov. 18, 2018

GovInfo, Remarks During a Tour of Areas Damaged by the Woolsey Fire and an Exchange With Reporters in Malibu, California, Nov. 17, 2018

MeidasTouch Network, Confused Trump Forgets Where He Is During Speech, Local Handler Steps In, Oct. 29, 2023

FOX 5 Atlanta, Former President Donald Trump attends World Series Game 4, Oct. 31, 2021

Daily Star, Awkward moment Melania Trump's smile drops after turning away from Donald Trump, Nov. 1, 2021

13News Now YouTube video, Republican presidential candidates prepare for upcoming debate, minus Donald Trump, Aug. 21, 2023

The Guardian, 'Dangerous' Trump: 50 key Republicans sign letter warning against candidate, Aug. 8, 2016

Fox News, Trump halts speech to sip water, sparks Marco Rubio flashback, Nov. 15, 2017

National Post, Thirsty? Trump's two-handed swig from Fiji water bottle upstages his White House speech, Nov. 16, 2017

MSNBC, After Mocking Rubio, President Donald Trump Has A Water Bottle Moment | The 11th Hour | MSNBC, Nov. 16, 2017

C-SPAN, Former President Trump Speaks at America First Policy Institute Summit, July 26, 2022

C-SPAN, Former President Trump Speaks at California Republican Party Convention, Sept. 29, 2023

PinkNews, Trump signals 2024 run with anti-trans rant – but admits he has ‘no idea’ what he’s talking about, July 28, 2022

Shutterstock, Stock Video ID: 1099894695, accessed Dec. 7, 2023

Shutterstock, Stock Video ID: 1054288487, accessed Dec. 7, 2023

PBS NewsHour, WATCH: Joe Biden holds first official presidential campaign rally in Philadelphia, May 18, 2019

NBC News, President Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Bill | NBC News, March 11, 2021

Guardian News, Melania Trump leaves Donald Trump alone in front of the cameras, Jan. 23, 2021

Guardian News, Trump and Abe dump fish food into precious koi pond, Nov. 6, 2017

Snopes, Did President Trump Impatiently Dump Fish Food in a Japanese Koi Pond?, Nov. 6, 2017

Factbase Videos YouTube video, Speech: Donald Trump in Washington, DC - September 25, 2015, Oct. 28, 2017

C-SPAN, President Trump Rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Oct. 15, 2020

Factbase Videos YouTube video, Bloomberg: Mark Halperin and John Heilemann Interview Donald Trump - August 25, 2015, Nov. 4, 2017

Grabien, Trump Dodges Question Asking ‘How Has Your Faith Grown?’, July 21, 2023

Moms for America YouTube video, President Donald J. Trump Sits Down with Moms for America, Nov. 20, 2023

The Washington Post, Trump questions Carson's Seventh-day Adventist faith, Oct. 25, 2015

CBN - The Christian Broadcasting Network YouTube video, The Brody File: April 12, 2011 -, April 12, 2011

CNN YouTube video, Donald Trump full interview part 2 (CNN interview with Anderson Cooper), July 22, 2015

C-SPAN, Presidential Candidate Donald Trump at the Family Leadership Summit, July 18, 2015

CBN News, Brody File Video Exclusive: Donald Trump Understands Evangelicals Want Him To Play Nicer But…, Sept. 16, 2015

The Washington Post, Donald Trump likes that Proverbs verse that might not exist, Sept. 16, 2015

Associated Press photos, Trump Classified Documents, June 9, 2023

97.1 The Ticket YouTube video, Donald Trump Michigan Republican Rally Full Raw, Aug. 12, 2015

C-SPAN, President Trump Departs for Louisville, Kentucky, Aug. 21, 2019

Right Side Broadcasting Network, LIVE: President Trump to campaign in the Iowa cities of Ankeny and Cedar Rapids - 12/2/23, Dec. 2, 2023

Politico, Trump moves to put the nail in DeSantis’ campaign coffin, Sept. 18, 2023

LinkedIn account, Alex Meyer, accessed Dec. 19, 2023

X account, Mark Lucas, accessed Dec. 19, 2023

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Loreben Tuquero

Donald Trump claimed the Lincoln Project used AI to make him ‘look bad.’ But the clips are real

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up