A Republican congressman on Monday posted a fake photo of former President Barack Obama shaking hands with the Iranian president and later acknowledged that the image was falsified.
“The world is a better place without these guys in power,” Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said in his caption of the doctored photo.
Obama, who left office in 2017, never met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is still in power. The image was photoshopped from Obama’s 2011 meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Democratic Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois called Gosar’s post “irresponsible.”
“The world would be a better place if elected officials didn’t share photoshopped images and take pride in being ignorant,” Casten said on Twitter.
Gosar later defended himself, saying that it was not implied that the photo wasn’t altered.
“To the dim witted reporters…no one said this wasn’t photoshopped. No one said the president of Iran was dead. No one said Obama met with Rouhani in person,” Gosar said on Twitter.
He added, “Obama coddled, appeased, nurtured and protected the worlds No. 1 sponsor of terror. The world is better without Obama as president. The world will be better off without Rouhani.”
The tweet comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike killing Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. The same fake image was included in a super PAC campaign ad touting Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, according to a 2015 Buzzfeed report.
Gosar has a history of controversial remarks and actions. In 2017, he promoted the conspiracy theory that the white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a left-wing plot financed by Democratic megadonor George Soros.
And CNN reported that Gosar attended an hours-long dinner in London in 2018 with an extremist Belgian politician who is known for his anti-Muslim views and has a history of racist comments.