The White House on Wednesday scrambled to explain what Joe Biden meant when he nodded affirmatively in response to a question about whether or not he could trust Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden briefly appeared with Putin for the press ahead of their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
During the chaotic press scrum that ensued, NBC News producer Elyse Perlmutter asked the president if he trusted Putin.
Biden looked at her and nodded in the affirmative, according to her account.
So far, at least, the entire U.S. press pool was not able to fight their way into the top of the Putin-Biden meeting. But per @elysepg, she asked the leaders if they could trust each other, and Biden nodded his head.
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) June 16, 2021
Other journalists in the room reported the same thing.
Putin looked at me but ignored my shouted questions as to if he feared Navalny or what he would do if Ukraine joined NATO
Biden nodded his head “yes” when asked if he trusted Putin
And Biden laughed when this pooler rolled his eyes and shrugged at the chaos of the media scrum pic.twitter.com/p8d5hIkaKD
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) June 16, 2021
But the White House press office scrambled to explain what the president meant by nodding, even before they had a chance to talk to Biden personally.
It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. The president was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield wrote on social media.
It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. @POTUS was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally. He said just two days ago in his presser: “verify, then trust.” https://t.co/5C9gP4XTtO
— Kate Bedingfield (@WHCommsDir) June 16, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also issued a formal statement to reporters.
“During a chaotic free for all with members of the press shouting questions over each other, the President gave a general head nod in the direction of the media,” Psaki said in a statement to reporters after the meeting began. “He wasn’t responding to any question or anything other than the chaos.”