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AP FACT CHECK: Biden tale of Amtrak conductor doesn’t add up


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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is spinning a convoluted tale of an Amtrak conductor who congratulated him during his vice presidency for logging more miles riding the train home to Delaware than by flying on Air Force Two.

“I apologize because some have heard this,” Biden told a crowd Monday in New Jersey, starting up a story he has repeated in various forms at least five times, dating back to the 2020 campaign.

“I swear to God. True story,” he said Monday, for emphasis.

But it’s a mangled one.

By his own accounting, Biden’s Amtrak miles over the years only surpassed his Air Force Two miles after the conductor who supposedly informed him of that fact had died. Moreover, the conductor had retired about two decades before the conversation Biden claims to have had with him while boarding a train.

BIDEN: “I commuted every single day, 263 miles a day, on Amtrak from the time I got elected United States senator. As a matter of fact, when I was vice president, I used to like to take the train home when my mom was very sick and dying, and I’d come home every weekend to make sure I’d take the train home. …

“And I’m getting on one Friday, and then one of the senior guys on Amtrak, Angelo Negri — I got to know all the conductors really well; they became my friends. … And Ang walks up to me and goes, ‘Joey, baby!’ Grabs my cheek. And I thought the Secret Service was going to blow his head off. … I said, ‘What’s up, Ang?’ He said, ‘Joey, I read in the paper — I read in the paper you traveled 1,000 — 1.2 million miles on Air Force planes’ — because they keep meticulous tabs of it. I said, ‘Yeah.’ … He said, ‘You know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak, Joey?’ And I said, ‘No.’ He said, ’The boys and I figured it out … He says, ‘You travel 2 million…’ — I think it was 180, but — ‘2,200,000 miles.’

“I said, ‘How did you get that answer?’ He said, ‘Well, 267 miles a day. We figured you traveled 119 days a year for 36 years, and then you traveled as vice president.’ And then he goes, ‘So, Joey, I don’t want to hear this about the Air Force anymore.’”

THE FACTS: The tale as Biden spins it is wrong. Negri could not have had that conversation because he was already deceased by the time Biden logged 1.2 million miles on Air Force Two.

Biden refers to a train ride he made to Delaware when he was vice president and his mother was sick and dying. He explains it happened shortly after he had flown 1.2 million miles, spurring Negri’s comment about his mileage on Amtrak in comparison. On previous occasions when Biden has told the story, he’s also indicated that it all happened around his “fourth or fifth year” as vice president — or 2012-2013 — although in a rendition of the story told to a crowd in Scranton, Pennsylvania, last week, Biden suggested it was in his seventh year, which would be 2015.

In any event, Biden’s mother, Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan Biden, died in 2010, well before the middle of his vice presidency.

It’s plausible that Biden logged 1.2 million train miles as vice president by early 2016,based on accounts around the time by Biden and David Lienemann, the vice president’s official photographer. But Negri had long retired as an Amtrak conductor, in 1993, and died in May 2014.

Biden made Amtrak trips between Washington and his home in Delaware on most days as a senator when Congress was in session so he could help raise his sons. The Amtrak round trip is actually 220 miles or 354 kilometers, not over 260 miles (418 km) as he described it.

It is well possible that he had some warm conversations with Negri, and his stepdaughter told CNN the two were friends. It’s also possible that Biden spoke with another Amtrak conductor in late 2015 or early 2016 after his apparent milestone on Air Force Two.

But Biden distorts the timeline in a way that makes the story false. He’s been telling it, with variations, with more frequency as he pitches his infrastructure plan. Monday’s remarks were at New Jersey Transit’s rail maintenance facility in Kearny.

Biden’s tale has drawn repeated criticism from conservative groups. When asked to square the facts in May, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she wasn’t familiar with the details.


EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.


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Hope Yen And Calvin Woodward, The Associated Press

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Boy killed in Brampton fire called 911 to report that he was trapped

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — The mayor of Brampton, Ont., says one of the three boys killed in a house fire Thursday called 911 to report the blaze, but firefighters couldn’t get there in time to save the children.

Patrick Brown says the boy told the emergency dispatcher that he was stuck in the house.

Brown says it only took six minutes for fire trucks to reach the burning house, but by then, the home was fully engulfed in flames.

The boys, who have not been publicly named, but who were aged nine, 12, and 15, died after being taken to hospital.

The local fire department and Office of the Fire Marshal are investigating.

Peel Police Const. Akhil Mooken said Thursday that a mother left her home that morning to drop a younger child off at school, and returned to find the house engulfed in flames.

It’s one of five fatal fires across Ontario that have together claimed 15 lives so far this month.

The Office of the Fire Marshal, which is tasked with investigating such fires in the province, said the numbers of both fatal fires and deaths have dipped compared to January of last year, but there are significantly more deaths than in January 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta RCMP investigating after child found wandering on highway near St. Paul

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ST. PAUL, ALBERTA — Alberta RCMP say they are investigating after a child was found wandering on a highway near a town northeast of Edmonton earlier this week.

Police in St. Paul say in a news release that they received a report about the child at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

They say a concerned motorist found the child on Highway 881 near Township Road 582 and brought the child to the RCMP detachment.

Police say they have started an investigation and are looking for dashcam footage from the area on Tuesday morning.

Earlier this week, St. Paul Education issued a statement on its website saying it was investigating after kindergarten student remained on a bus after it was returned to the driver’s yard following morning drop off.

They say the child left the bus and found their way to a road in a rural area, where a concerned citizen intervened and took the child to the RCMP.

“Drivers are trained to do a mandatory walk through of their bus to ensure it is empty before leaving it,” said the statement from board chairwoman Heather Starosielski and Glen Brodziak, superintendent of schools. “Our initial review indicates this was not done.”

They said the driver has been removed from his duties pending an investigation.

The statement said schools also typically call home to confirm any student absences.

“Our normal procedure is for schools to start to make in-person phone calls at 8:45 a.m. each day beginning with the youngest children first,” it said. “The delay in noting the absence was in part due to the large number of absences that day in the school as a result of several buses not running due to varying road conditions.”

The statement said the school division is reviewing its transportation practices as well as its student absence reporting process.

“We will also fully co-operate should there be an RCMP investigation,” it added.

They said they are thankful for the safe return of the child and the quick response from the concerned citizen.

Environment Canada shows the temperatures in the area hovered around -24 C on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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