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Donald Trump said an ad used AI to make him look bad. The clips are real.

PolitiFact | The Lincoln Project’s ad shows it used real footage and photographs of Trump.
 
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. [ CHARLIE NEIBERGALL | AP ]
Published Dec. 22, 2023

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.

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.

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.

We were unable to find the source for a 1-second video of Biden smiling at the 0:45 timestamp in the ad.

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, 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.

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.