A photographer captured Biden’s “talking points” for clarifying his apparent call for a Russian regime change.
Potential questions from reporters and Biden’s answers were printed on a notecard.
Biden largely stuck to the “talking points” when speaking to reporters.
President Joe Biden repeated almost verbatim on Monday his written talking points for how to handle questions about his unscripted call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to lose power, according to a photo of a notecard Biden held during his Monday press conference.
Presidents and lawmakers often use notes from their staff or their own extemporaneous thoughts. But every so often a well-placed photographer lifts the veil on private advice. In this case, UPI photographer Oliver Contreras snapped the perfect shot as Biden was speaking while holding the card in his hand. It’s not clear who wrote the “talking points,” which were typed and printed onto the small card.
“If you weren’t advocating for regime change, what did you mean? Can you clarify?” one of the expected questions reads.
Biden’s written response, which he largely stuck to when speaking with reporters, was: “I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the actions of this man.”
What he actually told reporters was, “Number one, I’m not walking anything back. The fact of the matter is I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing, and the actions of this man — just — just the brutality of it. Half the children in Ukraine. I had just come from being with those families.”
Reporters then repeatedly pressed Biden on his answer. In one of his follow-up responses, Biden may have referred to a possibly classified operation in which US troops are training Ukrainian soldiers in Poland, Politico reported.
Monday marked the latest attempt by the White House to clean up Biden’s words from over the weekend. During a speech in Poland, Biden said of Putin “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” An unnamed White House official soon clarified to reporters that Biden was not calling for regime change, a step the US didn’t even take during the height of the Cold War. Moscow, which has spread propaganda for years that the US wants such an outcome, seized on the remark.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the US does not “have a strategy of regime change in Russia.”
Biden’s talking points also anticipated a direct question about French President Emmanuel Macron, who appeared to criticize Biden’s remarks. Macron, who has tried to facilitate talks between the Ukrainians and Russians, said on Sunday that in order to achieve a diplomatic end to Russia’s war “we can’t escalate either in words or actions.”
“Macron said he would have …,” the card reads before it is obscured by Biden’s hand. “Is this now threatening to splinter unity with NATO allies?”
Biden’s suggested response was, “No, NATO has never been more unified.”
Photographers also got an occasional glimpse of President Donald Trump’s notes. In one such instance, Trump clutched a handwritten note in 2019 that said, “I WANT NOTHING I WANT NOTHING I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO,” as questions swirled about his administration’s efforts to bully Ukraine into investigating Trump’s political rivals. In 2018, Trump was captured holding a note that said “I hear you” when holding a discussion with people affected by the Parkland school shooting.
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