"Amazing": Biden dunks on MTG after she blames him for fentanyl deaths that happened under Trump

"The interesting thing is, that fentanyl they took during the last administration," Biden said

Published March 2, 2023 1:39PM (EST)

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Marjorie Taylor Greene and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., falsely claimed on Tuesday that the Biden administration was responsible for the fentanyl poisonings of two young men who actually died while former President Donald Trump was in the White House. 

Right-wing attorney Rebecca Kiessling — who has branded herself as an anti-abortion activist "conceived in rape" —testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday about the deaths of her sons Caleb and Kyler on July 29, 2020. The young men died as a result of fentanyl poisoning from pills that Kiessling says they mistakenly believed were safe painkillers.

In her emotional testimony, she requested stronger federal action to prevent fentanyl from being imported across the southern border, accusing lawmakers of "welcoming drug dealers across our border." However, fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, is actually largely smuggled in by US citizens through legal ports of entry rather than migrants sneaking into the country illegally, according to a fact check from CNN

Greene later tweeted a video of an exchange with Kiessling at the hearing to her more than two million followers, writing: "Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son's murders because of the Biden administrations refusal to secure our border and stop the Cartel's from murdering Americans everyday by Chinese fentanyl."

Twitter users added a fact-check to her tweet, noting that the "fentanyl overdose deaths Greene refers to occurred in July 2020 during the presidency of Donald Trump. Joe Biden was not in public office when the Kiessling brothers died." As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet has received more than 8.6 million views. 

In fact, Kiessling explicitly told the committee the exact date of her son's death, making it clear that it was during the Trump presidency.

When CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reached out to Greene spokesman Nick Dyer to ask whether the congresswoman plans to delete or correct the tweet, Dyer cursed at him and questioned whether Americans that died from drugs during Biden's presidency "care about the details" of the specific case his boss cited.

"Do you think they give a f**k about your bullsh*t fact checking?" he asked.

When asked about the tweet, Kiessling told CNN in an email Wednesday morning that the number of fentanyl deaths increased sharply from 2020 to 2021 and argued that "if the border had been secured during the Obama administration when the federal government first knew of this issue, my sons would be alive today." 

"The whole of our federal government has failed," she wrote in the email. "Congress included."

Fentanyl deaths in the U.S. began to spike under the Obama administration in the mid-2010s, and continued to rise under Trump's presidency. They swiftly rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, early into Biden's presidency, and while overdose deaths are much higher than they were in 2020 and earlier, there have been preliminary signs of improvement.

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Biden called out Greene over the false claim at a gathering of Democrats on Wednesday night before addressing the serious allegations. 

"She was very specific — I shouldn't digress, probably — I read, she was very specific recently saying that a mom, a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl, that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is, that fentanyl they took came during the last administration," Biden said.

Biden added that Greene will likely push more Republicans out of the party.

"And you know, a little bit more Marjorie Taylor Greene and a few more, you're gonna have a lot of Republicans running our way," he said as the audience laughed. "Isn't she amazing? Oof."

MSNBC political contributor Steve Benen noted in a column on Wednesday that Greene's claim is part of a "curious recent pattern in GOP politics."

"Republicans keep forgetting who was president in 2020," he wrote, calling them "calendar challenged."

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, recently said Biden was responsible for "paying people to stay home" in 2020 — a law that was actually signed by Trump. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., also blamed Biden for Covid-related school closures in 2020, which likewise happened during Trump's presidency. 

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also accused Biden for not doing enough to prevent crime, pointing to data from 2020 when her former boss was president — and she was still in the White House.

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Joe Biden Marjorie Taylor Greene Politics Rebecca Kiessling