(UPDATED) Obama Photographer Pete Souza Insinuates Trump Staged Baghdadi Raid Situation Room Photo

(Update at end) Former Obama White House photographer Pete Souza posted about a White House photo of President Trump in the situation room during the Baghdadi raid, insinuating the photo was staged based on the reported time of the raid in Syria Saturday and the metadata embedded in the photo.

Famous 2011 Souza photo of President Barack Obama taken the the day of the bin Laden raid:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Trump photo was originally posted Sunday morning by senior Trump adviser Dan Scavino with a two-part caption listing those in the photo, “President Trump is joined by VP Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, and Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, Deputy Director for Special Operations……on the Joint Staff, at right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist.”

Souza noted, “The raid, as reported, took place at 3:30PM Washington time. The photo, as shown in the camera IPTC data, was taken at “17:05:24″.”

After lighting a fire online insinuating the photo was staged, Souza tried to walk it back over several tweets, finally saying after nearly two hours, “Just to be clear, I didn’t say it was staged. Trump himself said he didn’t arrive to the Situation Room until “around 5pm”. So it’s definitely possible the photo was taken during the raid.”

White House reporter Andrew Feinberg followed Souza’s leading post and accused Trump of staging the photo, “One of these photos is staged. @PeteSouza’s photo was taken from the corner of the room since he was trying to stay out of the way. Everyone in the @realDonaldTrump photo is looking straight at the camera, the photographer would‘ve blocked the screen Obama et al were looking at”

Former Obama State Department official Moira Whelan, “In the interest of not spreading #disinformation, it’s important that I clarify that although the picture is real, it is staged and was not taken during the operation. Trump was golfing when the operation was taking place.”


Newsweek’s Jeff Stein, “Trump was golfing during Baghdadi raid, data and pool reports show, and later staged photo with generals to suggest he watched it in real time.”

UPDATE: Sousa acknowledges reporting that puts the time the photo was taken was during the raid, but no offers apology: “The latest reporting from the NYT: the helicopters left Iraq at 5PM (Washington time), and they reported it was about a 70-minute flight to Syria. So actual raid had to happen some time after 6:10PM.”

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