DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Joe Biden is the only 2020 presidential candidate who was in the White House Situation Room as Navy SEALs descended on Usama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound in 2011.
But a critical detail in his story about that mission has changed in the last eight years.
During a brief exchange with Fox News on Friday, the former vice president was presented with a hypothetical situation similar to the one President Trump says he faced before ordering an airstrike to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“As commander in chief, if you were ever handed a piece of intelligence that said you could stop an imminent attack on Americans -- but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terrorist leader -- would you pull the trigger?” Fox News asked Biden.
“Well we did - the guy’s name was Usama bin Laden,” Biden replied.
“Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden that day?” Fox News followed up.
“No, I didn’t,” Biden said.
That’s not the story Biden told almost eight years ago during a retreat in Maryland for congressional Democrats, as he described a tense 2011 strategy session ahead of the raid.
“Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go -- we have to do two more things to see if he’s there,” Biden had said in January 2012 of the strategy session.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) hit back at Biden over Friday's claim.
"This isn’t another instance of Joe Biden misspeaking, it’s an instance of Biden flat-out lying," spokesman Steve Guest said.
At Friday’s event in Dubuque, Biden also argued that Thursday’s Trump-ordered airstrike targeting Soleimani crossed a dangerous line.
“No matter how rightly reviled he was in the West, he was a senior figure in the Iranian government,” Biden said.
As tensions increase in the Middle East following Soleimani’s death, Biden expressed mixed feelings about President Trump’s decision to send several thousand American troops to the region.
“I don’t know and you don’t know what the hell he’s done,” Biden told Fox News. “We don’t know if he’s coordinated with our allies, we have no idea what commitments he’s made, we have no idea. I just hope he has a plan for second and third iterations of this -- but it’s clear there’s going to have to be more folks there to protect the embassy, to protect American personnel in Iraq.”