Joe Biden refuses questions from US reporters as 'aggressive' White House aides interrupt Boris Johnson

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a bilateral meeting with the President - Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a bilateral meeting with the President - Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street

President Joe Biden refused to take questions from American reporters before his aides chivvied them away from a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

Members of the press were said to be “startled” by the "aggressiveness" of the White House communications team during the Oval Office talks.  

Mr Johnson was still speaking on the Good Friday Agreement, reaffirming a commitment to the accords with Northern Ireland, when the president’s media team began herding reporters out of the room.

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“On that point, Joe, we are completely at one. And I think nobody wants to see anything that interrupts or un-balances the Belfast Good Friday,” Mr Johnson was saying before aides began shouting over him. 

They shut down the only query from a US reporter about the current migrant crisis on the US-Mexico border, preventing Mr Biden’s response from being audible. 

“Violence is not justified,” the US president began.

White House officials then rounded up the remaining journalists before any further questions could be asked, yelling “thank you” and “let’s go”.

“Not great, folks,” Seung-Min Kim, a reporter for the Washington Post, responded afterwards.

“A chaotic scene in the Oval Office today,” White House reporter at The Wall Street Journal Andrew Restuccia said. 

Mr Biden has been under fire in recent months for his stark reluctance to engage with members of the press. 

He holds the record for the longest wait to hold a formal press conference since being sworn in as president, waiting a total of 64 days. 

Mr Biden’s answers have often outraged journalists. 

"You are such a pain in the neck..." he responded recently to a prominent US television journalist who asked about the coronavirus vaccine.

On Tuesday Mr Biden quipped “good luck” when Mr Johnson indicated he was ready to take questions from reporters.

The Prime Minister listened to the queries of three British journalists, which he and Mr Biden both answered. The president did not call upon a US reporter. 

“Why do British reporters get questions and not us?” said one American as he left the room.

Journalists making up the White House “pool” - a group who represent the press corps as a whole - immediately logged a complaint with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

CBS radio correspondent Steve Portnoy, who is president of the White House Correspondents Association, said in the complaint that “wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer”.

“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred and suggested that she was not in a position to offer an immediate solution,” he added.

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