Fact Check: Trump Did NOT Say He Converted to Islam After A Heart Transplant

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Trump Did NOT Say He Converted to Islam After A Heart Transplant Manipulated

Did former U.S. President Donald Trump convert to Islam and resign from the White House before the end of his term to honor the deathbed wish of a Muslim girl who donated her heart to him for an emergency transplant? No, that's not true. Trump regularly completed his mandate as 45th President of the United States on January, 20, 2021, and there are no reputable reports of him having undergone an emergency heart transplant or having converted to Islam.

The claim originated from a video (archived here) posted on TikTok on September 11, 2023. According to an overlay text across the video, Trump left the Oval Office ahead of the end of his term because of "this great religion (Islam)."

The caption in Arabic, translated into English by Lead Stories staff, reads:

For this reason, he gave up power, for this great religion.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Trump converts to Islam claim.jpg

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Sep 12 11:54:41 2023 UTC)

The TikTok video features a 70-second clip, opening with comments by Israeli-Arab TV presenter Rami Younis on the Other Side program on Israel Arabic-language Makan television. Younis says:

We watched a baffling video that had former President Trump declaring his conversion to Islam.

(All translations from Arabic to English were done by Lead Stories staff).

The video then shows Trump speaking in broken English in what looked like an interview setting. In the clip, Trump is heard saying:

You may not know why you (I) converted to Islam. I've been infected in (afflicted with a) heart disease and need(ed) a donor gives (to give) me his heart. I couldn't find it (one) because my blood type is O negative. I announced 500 dollars million (500 million dollars) to anyone who donates his heart to me. After waiting and (they) finally called me qalouli (Arabic for told me) they found the donor died just (a donor who just died). Here it is time for the operation. The operation was done. After 10 days have passed, I asked them 'who gave me his heart'? (They) told me a girl who lives (lived) in an orphanage with brain cancer and hear (heard) the news of your illness and decided to donate her heart to you. No money, but I (she) left you a message written on a piece of paper. (She) wrote to me 'I am Zainab, a Muslim with cancer. I gave you my Muslim heart. I think you understand. I want you to keep your heart a Muslim'.

An image search on Yandex, performed by Lead Stories on September 12, 2023, showed that Trump's picture as it appears in the TikTok video, with the same tie, suit, room surroundings and interviewer, was taken from a January 22, 2020, interview with CNBC journalist Joe Kernen on the fringes of the World Economic Forum. The content of the interview was completely different: Trump, who was then president, announced the first COVID-19 case in the United States, saying it was "one person coming in from China," according to CNBC.

The video shared on TikTok appears to have been digitally altered, with a fake, superimposed audio. A video analysis of the TikTok's footage using the InVID and WeVerify research tool shows that the video of Younis, the Makan television presenter, was broadcast on YouTube on August 10, 2022. The original YouTube video is longer, and in it Younis, at the 1:45 mark, dismisses that Trump ever made the comments that can be heard on the TikTok, pointing out that after carefully vetting the video's content, the television station came to the conclusion that Trump's "video is a deepfake."

InVID analysis.jpg

(Source: InVID screenshot taken on Tue Sep 12 12:08:17 2023 UTC)

According to Hugging Face, an AI image detector site, Trump's picture as it appeared in the TikTok video was most likely "artificial" (69%) rather than "human" (31%).

Trump AI detector.jpg

(Source: Hugging Face screenshot taken on Tue Sep 12 12:19:37 2023 UTC)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump did not resign, but completed his four-year term as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2021, as confirmed by the White House's National Archives.

A Google news search performed by Lead Stories on September 14, 2023, using the following keywords: "White House, President Trump, Heart transplant," showed no credible news reports on the former president undergoing a heart transplant in the past six years. In November 2019, concern grew over the president's health following an unnannounced visit he made to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, that month. Some speculated then that Trump suffered several mini heart attacks. But Trump himself dismissed the speculation in a tweet at the time.

In September 2020, his physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told CNBC that Trump "has not experienced nor been evaluated for a cerebrovascular accident (stroke), transient ischemic attack (mini stroke), or any acute cardiovascular emergencies, as have been incorrectly reported in the media."

On October 26, 2020, Trump also said that he was Christian, according to the National News Archives. He told the Religion News Service that although "I was confirmed at a Presbyterian church as a child, I now consider myself to be a non-denominational Christian." A search of various renowned media sites conducted by Lead Stories on September 14, 2023, with these keywords: "White House, Trump is Muslim," also showed no reports on Trump's alleged conversion.

Trump is known to have adopted a hardline approach to Islam during his last election campaign and presidency. The Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization Muslim Advocates stated in a 2020 chart titled "A Record of Bigotry and Hate: Donald Trump's Long History of Anti-Muslim Animus" that in January 2017 the former president issued the first iteration of his signature Muslim Ban policy, preventing the nationals of several overwhelmingly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The Intercept reported on July 11, 2023, that Trump's "Muslim ban" is back in his campaign speeches, even as the Republican Party courts Muslim voters for the 2024 presidential elections.

  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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