White House press secretary Jen Psaki says she briefly considered cutting President Joe Biden’s press conference short when he announced he would go over the originally announced time schedule.
Psaki made the statement during an appearance on Pod Save America, saying she was surprised by Biden’s decision but allowed it to move forward because he seemed “to be having a good time.” Biden’s Jan. 19 press conference was the longest of any recent president, clocking in at nearly two hours. While Biden remained composed throughout, he made a number of statements on Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and the legitimacy of the 2022 midterm elections that Psaki later had to clean up. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
“Did [Biden] accidentally take an Adderall that [Donald Trump Jr.] left behind? Like, 90 minutes in, were you surprised by how long it was going?” Pod Save America host Jon Lovett asked.
“I was in the back and I was thinking, ‘Do I cut this off? He seems to be having a good time. He’s calling on nearly everyone in the room.’ So yes I did have that go through my mind,” Psaki responded.
Psaki stated that one of Biden’s main goals for the press conference was to highlight the lack of proactive plans from their Republican opponents. While Biden argued that Republicans had no legislation of their own and only sought to oppose his, a number of his other statements overshadowed that message.
Biden had previously stated that the U.S. and its allies would take “decisive” economic action should Russia choose to move forward with an invasion of Ukraine. He presented a very different message during the press conference, however, stating that he may allow a “minor incursion” to slide.
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera, but if they do what they are capable of doing with the forces massed on the border, it will be a disaster for Russia if they invade Ukraine,” Biden said.
The statement immediately drew the ire of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, who reminded Biden in a tweet that “there are no minor incursions.”
We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power 🇺🇦
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 20, 2022
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne later clarified Biden’s statement, saying the President was trying to convey the difference between Russia taking military action versus “non-military/para-military/cyber action.”
.@POTUS clarified this. He was referring to the difference between military and non-military/para-military/cyber action by the Russians. Such actions would be met by a reciprocal response, in coordination with Allies and partners. https://t.co/vBX7aO5B1d
— Emily Horne (@emilyhorne46) January 19, 2022
Biden also stated at the press conference that the 2022 midterm elections could “easily be illegitimate” unless Congress passed his election reform agenda.
“Oh yeah, I think it could easily be illegitimate. Imagine, imagine if in fact, Trump succeeded in convincing … to not count the votes,” Biden said at the time. “Imagine if those attempts to say that the count was not legit, you have to recount it and were … going to discard the following votes. I’m not saying it’s gonna be legit. The increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is a direct proportion to us not been able to get these reforms passed.”
Psaki later appeared on Fox news to clarify the comments, saying she “talked to the president a lot about this and he is absolutely not predicting that the 2022 elections would be illegitimate.”