President Joe Biden declined to answer questions during the pool spray with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. This is a direct contradiction to the promise White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made on Thursday.
Biden and Varadkar spoke about the mutual friendship between the United States and Ireland, their joint support for Ukraine and St. Patrick’s Day, but journalists were ushered out of the room immediately following the conclusion of their remarks.
BREAKING: The Prime Minister of Ireland is meeting with the US President.
Joe Biden told the Irish PM that “we have a lot to talk about”, while Leo Varadkar thanked the US President for supporting “our position on Brexit”.https://t.co/PAiZ4D1jU3
Sky 501 / YouTube pic.twitter.com/MPwg3AFmoN
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 17, 2023
Reporters had expressed their disapproval over Biden’s lack of press availability. On Thursday, Jean-Pierre promised that they would get the opportunity to question the president during the function.
“I’ve spoken to this many times … I’ve brought it up many times and I gave an explanation that these are diplomatic conversations that happen with the countries that are visiting, and it is something that is decided in that way,” she said.
“You’re going to have an opportunity, or your colleagues are going to have an opportunity, to ask questions during the pool spray at the Oval that happens every time a head of state visits. So that is an opportunity to be able to pose a question to the president or the head of state that is visiting at the White House on that day,” she promised.
Reporters pushed back, pointing out that over the last two years, Biden had never taken questions from the press pool during these events. Jean-Pierre disagreed.
“That’s not true,” she insisted. “He’s answered questions.”
It is unclear how this style of leadership will serve him heading into the 2024 presidential campaign, and whether his unwillingness to speak with the press will impact their coverage of him.
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