Updated Feb 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democratic operative says he's behind fake Biden robocall

President Joe Biden attends a meeting of the Reproductive Health Task Force at the White House on January 22, 2024 in Washington, DC.

President Biden at the White House last month. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A former political consultant for President Biden's long-shot Democratic primary challenger Rep. Dean Phillips said Sunday he commissioned an AI-generated robocall impersonating the president.

The big picture: NBC News noted that Steve Kramer's statement first shared with the outlet showed no signs of remorse about the deepfake that discouraged voting in last month's New Hampshire primary — which triggered law enforcement investigations and which was widely condemned by lawmakers including Phillips.

Driving the news: New Orleans magician Paul Carpenter told NBC News on Friday he "created the audio used in the robocall" of Biden after Kramer hired him, but he "did not distribute it" and there "was no malicious intent" — noting he "didn't know how it was going to be distributed."

  • Kramer in his statement Sunday concurred with Carpenter's account that the operative had directed the call's content that used "a script of my specific choosing."

What they're saying: "The evening of Sunday, January 20th, 2 days before the New Hampshire primary, I sent out an automated call to 5,000 most likely to vote Democrats. Using easy to use online technology, an automated version of President Joe Biden's voice was created," Kramer said in the statement.

  • "With a mere $500 investment, anyone could replicate my intentional call," Kramer said. "Immediate action is needed across all regulatory bodies and platforms," he added.
  • "Even individuals acting alone can quickly and easily use A.I. for misleading and disruptive purposes."

Meanwhile, Phillips said in a statement posted to X that he's glad Kramer "fessed-up."

  • Phillips said the U.S. "should already have AI guardrails in place to prevent its nefarious use."
  • He added: "The next generation of executive leadership must better anticipate and prepare for the future."

Zoom out: The New Hampshire attorney general said earlier this month that officials had traced the robocalls to companies in Texas.

  • Kramer said in his statement Sunday that he hired one of these companies, Life Corporation, to distribute the calls. The Federal Communications Commission and the N.H. Election Law Unit sent a joint cease-and-desist letter to Life Corp earlier this month.
  • "They had no knowledge of the content of this call prior to delivery," Kramer said of Life Corp. "I'd use them again, but they are done with my business."

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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