Reported by Erin Coates | June 16, 2021
The White House quickly issued a clarification that President Joe Biden’s answer to a reporter’s question Wednesday in Geneva was not what it seemed. Prior to Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland, the two leaders appeared together for a brief and chaotic photo opportunity, according to The Associated Press. When a reporter asked if Putin could be trusted, Biden appeared to nod in agreement.
“Inside, a pooler shouted Mr. President, do you trust Putin? Biden nodded yes up and down,” CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson tweeted, quoting the print pool. Political reporter Yamiche Alcindor added that it appeared that Biden “looked directly at the reporter and nodded affirmatively.”
The White House communications staff moved quickly to claim the president wasn’t answering the Putin question but was just giving “a general head nod in the direction of the media.”
“During a chaotic free for all with members of the press shouting questions over each other, the President gave a general head nod in the direction of the media,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Alcindor.
“He wasn’t responding to any question or anything other than the chaos.”
White House Communications Director Kate Beddingfield offered a similar explanation, adding that two days ago Biden said “verify, then trust” in relation to Putin.
Biden has previously called Putin a “killer” and has claimed that as vice president a decade ago he looked into Putin’s eyes and told him he was missing a “soul.”
Journalists and security officers were shoving to get into the small room Wednesday, creating a bit of chaos prior to the meeting, according to the AP.
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