(Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 16 September 2022 09:37 PM EDT
After claiming three times in 2020 to have been arrested while attempting to see South African leader Nelson Mandela, President Joe Biden came clean on Friday, the New York Post reported.
"I said once — I said I got arrested. I wasn’t arrested. I got stopped, prevented from moving. But he was extremely gracious," Biden confessed while sitting down with current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Then a senator from Delaware, Biden explained that he was excited to see Mandela when he visited the U.S. He claimed the legendary figure greeted him by recalling the time "I had been stopped trying to get to visit him" in prison.
Biden previously pushed the claim he was arrested when running against then-President Donald Trump. However, he attracted wide-ranging media scrutiny, including from left-leaning outlets, one of which called the story "ridiculous."
"I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him [Mandela] on Robbens Island," Biden remarked in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 16, 2020.
However, The Washington Post noted that Biden’s geography was strikingly off. The city of Soweto is nearly 900 miles from the Robben Island prison, which he also mispronounced.
But former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young gave the definitive blow when he told The Post that Biden had never been arrested in the country, despite Biden invoking Young in previous comments as being detained along with him.
"There is no chance I ever was arrested in South Africa, and I don’t think Joe was either," Young said. "I was arrested twice — in Savannah and Atlanta."
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield later admitted that the story was off-kilter, stating that the incident described was actually when Biden got separated from the Congressional Black Caucus at the airport.
"It was a separation. He was not allowed to go through the same door as the rest of the party he was with," she said, according to the New York Post.