Karine Jean-Pierre says Biden PLANNED to walk out of Medal of Honor ceremony because he didn’t want to ‘expose’ anyone – even though he took his mask off when he got on stage
- Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden’s hasty exit yesterday from a Medal of Honor ceremony was intentional
- Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that Biden left before the final prayer to minimize COVID risk
- The president received criticism for both his hasty exit and inconsistent mask use at the event, held on the heels of Dr. Jill Biden testing positive for COVID-19
She also tried to defend his inconsistent mask use on the heels of first lady Jill Biden testing positive for COVID on Monday.
Biden’s hasty exit Tuesday afternoon after honoring retired Army Capt. Larry Taylor for his Vietnam War piloting heroics prompted criticism, as did the president’s decision to stay unmasked while placing the medal around 81-year-old Taylor’s neck.
Asked if it was a ‘mistake’ for Biden to remove his mask indoors, Jean-Pierre said the president removed his mask ‘to deliver incredibly powerful remarks’ and that he ‘wanted to honor the captain.’
‘And for a brief time afterwards, he also didn’t have his mask on, as you just laid out, and he left, as planned, as it was planned, he left when there was a pause in the program in order to minimize, to minimize, his close contact with attendees who were about to participate in the reception,’ Jean-Pierre said at Wednesday’s briefing.
With Biden dipping out before the final prayer, Taylor was left lingering onstage.
The president did not put his mask back on as he departed.
The event wrapped up moments later.
On Wednesday, when he addressed a group of union workers, the president also appeared unmasked.
He walked into the State Dining Room holding a black mask in his hand.
‘They keep telling me because it has to be 10 days or something, I gotta keep wearing it,’ Biden said. ‘But don’t tell them I didn’t have it on when I walked in,’ the president joked, motioning toward the press.
During the briefing, which was held ahead of the union event, Jean-Pierre insisted that reporters ‘take this all into context.’
‘I think what’s the most important is the president tested negative a couple of hours before this event. He tested negative yesterday, as I just mentioned. He tested negative Monday, he tested negative today,’ she said.
‘He has no symptoms,’ she continued. ‘And I think it’s important to look at the context as well.’
‘For a brief moment afterward, yes, his mask was not on and then when the program paused for a moment he stepped out,’ she said.
Subtly addressing the criticism Biden received for leaving Taylor onstage, Jean-Pierre also noted that Biden ‘good amount of time with the captain’ prior to their joint appearance in the East Room.
‘And everybody was masked because he wanted to spend that quality, important time hearing from this hero, hearing his stories and thanking him one-on-one, and also with his family around him, and so the president in every way that we could yesterday followed the CDC guidelines,’ she said. ‘And again, yes he had his mask off briefly, and then when there was a pause he walked out,’ she added, reiterating her previous point.