President Joe Biden refused to answer questions about his upcoming trip to Maui on Thursday after facing criticism for staying silent on the disaster.
“Can you tell us about your Hawaii trip, sir?” a reporter pressed the president on the tarmac.
“No, not now. I’ll be leaving and I’ll be there on Monday,” Biden responded, before walking away.
Reporter: “Can you tell us about your Hawaii trip, sir?”
President Biden: “No, not now. I’m going to be leaving — I’ll be there on Monday.” pic.twitter.com/vboUYmfMt7
— The Recount (@therecount) August 17, 2023
The White House announced Wednesday he would be visiting the island devastated by wildfires on Aug. 21. He had first spoken about the fires last Thursday at the top of his speech and then stayed largely silent before delivering remarks on Tuesday, again at the top of a speech about a different topic. (RELATED: Does The President Intend To Address The Criticism?: Reporter Presses White House On Biden’s Response To Maui)
On Sunday, Biden appeared to mouth “no comment” about the rising death toll, which has now reached 111, according to CNN.
He also avoided the press Monday and Tuesday before joking about having to speak about Hawaii on Tuesday.
“I apologize because I try very hard to keep my speeches between 15 and 18 minutes, but I gotta talk a little bit about Hawaii. I’ve been on the phone with the governor coming up here and the senators. And let me say, address the devastating wildfires, some of which are still burning in Hawaii, have claimed the lives of 99 people so far,” Biden said.
“Almost 500 federal personnel have been deployed to Maui to help communities and survivors get back on their feet. FEMA, search and rescue teams, are sifting through the ashes,” he continued, adding that he approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii.