White House communications director Kate Bedingfield claimed Friday that President Joe Biden “never” shied away from taking questions, drawing a puzzled look from an MSNBC anchor.
Bedingfield made a brief appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and national affairs analyst John Heilemann and co-host Willie Geist pressed her on the fact that, other than his sit-down interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden had not taken direct questions from the White House Press Corps about the chaotic situation still unfolding in Afghanistan. (RELATED: Kate Bedingfield Won’t Rule Out Denying Interviews To Networks That ‘Lie’)
Heilemann began by asking about how the president planned to address the American citizens and Afghan allies who remained in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
“What’s the position of the White House going to be about what happens with those — many of them very courageous Afghans who have helped America in the course of the last 20 years there — about bringing them to America, taking them elsewhere, give us a sense how you think that debate is going to unfold,” Heilemann said, suggesting that Republicans would likely block attempts to bring refugees into the country.
“President Biden is not thinking of any of this through the lens of politics. Right now he’s thinking of getting these people who have helped us out of the country,” Bedingfield replied, adding that there would be a thorough vetting process in place to handle that.
“It’s a massive logistical undertaking but there’s the full commitment from the president of the United States and the U.S. government to help as many people who have helped us over the last 20 years in Afghanistan as possible,” she said.
“Kate, before we let you go, will President Biden after his remarks today take questions? He’s given a couple speeches, did the interview with ABC News, but the White House Press Corps and the American people have direct questions for him. Will he take those today?” co-host Willie Geist pressed.
“The president never shies from taking questions, so I’ll let it up to him whether he takes questions. He did a full sit-down interview on this, but he’ll decide if he’s going to take questions after his remarks today,” Bedingfield said.
Biden has been roundly criticized by people on both sides of the political aisle for failing to take questions after his Sunday remarks on the fall of Afghanistan and again after his address attacking Republican governors for opposing mask mandates and announcing a plan for COVID-19 booster shots.
It’s amazing that the only person Biden has taken a question from in a week is Bill Clinton’s communications director, and even that interview was a disaster
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) August 19, 2021
Today would be a good day for President Biden to take questions on Afghanistan.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) August 19, 2021
Biden walks away from the podium after talking about vaccines and mask mandates for 15 minutes.
Not a single question.
No mention of the crisis in Afghanistan.
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 18, 2021
The Hill’s Joe Concha argued that another failure to take questions after Friday’s planned remarks could cement public perception on both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — who also has not taken questions on the situation in Afghanistan.
President Biden and VP Harris will be in the East Room today. Biden to deliver remarks on Afghanistan. If both leave immediately without taking questions and call it a weekend at 2pm, there’s no going back in reversing the public perception that they’re in way over their heads. https://t.co/6c4l6Sl4sY
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) August 20, 2021
“If both leave immediately without taking questions and call it a weekend at 2pm, there’s no going back in reversing the public perception that they’re in way over their heads,” Concha said.