White House Insists President Joe Biden 'Top of the Totem Pole' Despite Unscripted Moments on Russia

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The White House defended President Joe Biden’s decision to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as “genocide,” as he used his trip to Iowa for another unscripted moment in reaction to events engulfing Eastern Europe.

White House Press secretary Jen Psaki reminded reporters Biden was the president and he could escalate his rhetoric at any point of his presidency if he wanted to.

“I think we shouldn’t misunderstand who he is and where he stands on the totem pole, which is at the top,” she said during the daily briefing.

Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promoted himself as a stable leader, reminding the world that “the words of a president matter.”

But Biden on three different occasions has emotionally escalated his rhetoric against Putin, calling him a “war criminal” who “cannot remain in power,” and is guilty of “genocide.”

Psaki defended Biden’s use of the word “genocide” to describe Putin’s actions in Ukraine, even if official U.S. policy had not changed.

“He’s the President of the United States and the leader of the free world, and he is allowed to make his views known at any point he would like,” she said.

The Kremlin responded by describing Biden’s moment as “hardly acceptable from a president of the United States.

French President Emanuel Macron warned that escalating rhetoric against Russia and Putin would help the goal of peace.

“I look at the facts, and I want to continue to try the utmost to be able to stop the war and restore peace,” he said. “I’m not sure if the escalation of words serves our cause.”

The Biden administration now has to explain why the president does not want to send in American troops into Ukraine, despite his belief that “genocide” is underway.

Psaki noted Biden was expressing his personal feelings, not an official change in policy.

“The president was speaking to what we all see, what he feels is clear as day in terms of the atrocities happening on the ground,” she said.

Psaki also recalled Biden promised the American people during the campaign he would “shoot from the shoulder” and “tell it to them straight.”

“His comments yesterday — not once, but twice — and on war crimes are an exact reflection of that,” she said.

A global legal investigation into Putin’s actions as genocide, Psaki said, would continue despite Biden’s assessment.

“He wasn’t getting ahead of that, he was speaking to what we feel — he feels we see on the ground,” she said.

Psaki said the White House would continue to represent Biden’s feelings on the matter.

“Of course, he’s the President, and we are here to implement his views,” she said.


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