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White House accused of deliberately cutting Biden audio when he goes off script on west coast tour

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US president Joe Biden was abruptly cut off in a live feed mid-sentence by the White House on Monday during a briefing on wildfires with federal and state officials.

After speaking during much of the briefing – which took place during a visit to Boise in Idaho – Mr Biden said he wanted to hear more from George Geissler of the National Association of State Foresters.

“Can I ask you a question?” Mr Biden asked.

“Of course,” Mr Geissler answered.

“One of the things that I have been working on with some others is...” the president was heard saying, before the telecast was cut off mid-sentence.

A clip shared by the research arm of the Republican National Committee on Twitter showed the live-stream was ended abruptly with a “Thank you for joining” message.

The incident comes at a time when some White House staffers have allegedly stopped listening to Mr Biden speak in public when he goes off script.

He was interrupted last month as well at a press conference, when his audio on the White House feed was cut off as he was about to answer a reporter’s question on his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The president, while making concluding remarks in honour of labour unions on 8 September, made an apparent reference to the instructions his aides give him. “I am supposed to stop and walk out of the room,” he said.

Earlier in May, during a press conference on the country's coronavirus situation, he said: “I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions.”

A report by Politico quoted White House officials as saying that “when Mr Biden gives public remarks, some staffers will either mute him or turn off his remarks.”

His press secretary Jen Psaki, on a podcast with Democratic strategist David Axelrod, candidly admitted that Mr Biden has been asked “a lot of times” not to take questions.

“But he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States.”

Mr Biden, currently on his first tour of the country’s west coast as president, pointed to instances of increasing wildfires and the climate crisis to push for his $3.5 trillion rebuilding agenda.

His two-day western swing comes at a critical juncture for a central plank of his legislative agenda.

Apart from Idaho, Mr Biden also visited California on Monday and took an aerial tour of land affected by the Caldor Fire.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that Mr Biden would host the first-ever in-person Quad summit on 24 September which is likely to be attended by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison and Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga.

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