White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for President Biden’s refusal to answer questions while the two leaders were in the Oval Office during their meeting on Tuesday.
At the end of the conversation, Johnson took the initiative to answer “just a couple” of questions from the British reporters present, but the White House team abruptly cut the press conference short and ejected the journalists from the office before any reporters got an answer from Biden.
CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe asked Psaki his impression of why “the British prime minister in the U.S. Oval Office called a British reporter, and then when American reporters tried to call President Biden, we were escorted out.”
“Well, I think our relationship with the U.K. and with Prime Minister Johnson is so strong and enduring that we’ll be able to move forward with respect to this, but he called people from his press corps without alerting us to that intention beforehand,” Psaki responded.
Psaki received a formal complaint to his office
Immediately after the meeting, O’Keefe said on Twitter that he had tried to ask Biden about the situation on the southern border, but the president’s response was “indecipherable” due to the noise of reporters leaving the office.
“We have played back the tape and part of the president’s answer is decipherable,” he added in a subsequent tweet. “I asked him about his response to the situation on the southern border and he said in part, ‘Violence is not justified.'”
White House Correspondents’ Association President Steven Portnoy, along with his staff, filed a formal complaint with Psaki’s office.
Portnoy also took to Twitter moments later, and said Joe Biden “signaled it was time for the press to leave, without taking any questions,” after Johnson “recognized his reporters.”