Secretary of State Antony Blinken was getting grilled during his appearance before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week about the disastrous Afghan exit, so he may have seen a sudden change in the line of questioning as a welcome reprieve.
Not that the Biden administration official handled the new line of questioning any better.
U.S. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, wanted the name of the person in the White House who appears to have the power to mute President Joe Biden at will.
“One of the things we need to get to the bottom is who is responsible for this? Who made the decisions?” the senator said in his opening remarks. “There’s real questions right now as to who’s making the decisions. We know for a fact that the president of the United States is somewhat disadvantaged here. Someone is calling the shots.”
“He cannot even speak without someone in the White House censoring it or signing off on it,” Risch continued.
“As recently as yesterday, in midsentence he was cut off by someone in the White House who makes the decision that the president of the United States is not speaking correctly. So I would like to know who this person is,” the GOP lawmaker said. “This is the puppeteer act, if you would. And we need to know who is in charge and who is making these decisions. And the only way we are going to get that is when we have people like you come in and answer questions and will we get to questioning, I will have more questions in that regard.”
The muting incident referenced by the GOP senator can be seen below:
BIDEN: “Can I ask you a question?”
*White House feed cuts out” pic.twitter.com/YQ9I9u3r98
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 13, 2021
When the committee got around to questioning, Risch held true to his promise.
“Somebody in the White House has authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president’s speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?” he asked Blinken.
After letting out a chuckle, the secretary of state said, “I think anyone who knows the president, including members of this committee, knows that he speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself.”
When Risch pressed, citing the incident above, Blinken said, “There is no such person. Again, the president speaks for himself, makes all the strategic decisions, informed by the best advice he can get from the people around him.”
.@SenatorRisch: “Somebody in the White House has authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president’s speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?”
Sec. Blinken laughs and after being asked the question again: “There is no such person.” pic.twitter.com/v5y0h5dCoA
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 14, 2021
There have been multiple incidents where Biden has told reporters, “I’m not supposed to take any questions,” or has said he will “get into trouble” if he does.
At various press briefings, the president has said he was “instructed” to call on specific reporters, or that “they gave me a list of people I’m going to call on.”
Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
Oh someone does have the authority to cut off Biden’s mike
Jill Biden, & sometimes I suspect she does
— Joe Cappello (@JoeCappello3) September 15, 2021
Who is it who has the authority to decide when the president is done speaking? Who ranks higher than him? Shouldn’t he be furious his own staff is censoring him? Or does he just listen to what he’s told and quietly accept the consequences when he disobeys?
— MakeSense4America (@Sense4America) September 14, 2021
This is the most bizarre White House in my lifetime.
— RacerX (@GoSpeedGo1) September 13, 2021
He may speak for himself, but someone shuts him up. This is the point that was never answered directly… Certainly to avoid a straight lie.
— Free & Brave! (@FreeBrave99) September 14, 2021
I’m old enough to remember when lying to Congress was a big deal 🤬
— BuddyRowe (@SilverBuck3) September 14, 2021
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