Blinken denies senator's claims that a White House staffer can 'press the ...

Blinken denies senator's claims that a White House staffer can 'press the ...
Blinken denies senator's claims that a White House staffer can 'press the ...

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visibly baffled on Tuesday when a Republican lawmaker quizzed him on claims that someone at the White House is controlling when and how President Joe Biden speaks. 

Blinken was there to testify on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, ranking member Jim Risch grilled Blinken on how much control Biden had over decision-making in Afghanistan. 

He seemed to doubt the president had much of a say, pointing to a Monday incident where Biden's livestream was cut off mid-sentence after the president went off-script to ask an audience member about the Idaho wildfires.

'Somebody in the White House has authority to press the button and stop the president - cut off the president's speaking ability and sound. Who is that person? Risch asked.

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The chief diplomat chuckled at the claim.

'I think anyone who knows the president, including members of this committee knows that he speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself. No one else does,' he defended.

But the Idaho lawmaker pressed on.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was grilled by senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday

Senator Jim Risch claimed someone else is making decisions for Biden and cutting his mic when he goes off-script

Senator Jim Risch grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken over who was making the top calls in Afghanistan - and claimed it didn't even look like President Biden was calling the shots at the White House

'Well are you saying that there is no one in the White House that can cut him off because yesterday that happened and it is happened a number of times before that,' Risch said, referencing the Monday incident.

'It is been widely reported that somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and something from speaking. Who is that person?' 

Blinken, laughing again, said 'There is no such person.'

'Again, the president speaks for himself. Makes all of the strategic decisions, informed by the best advice that he could get from the the people around him,' he said. 

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Biden was at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Monday for a round table with federal and state officials on on the wildfires - which Biden blames on global warming.

The meeting was being broadcast live but as the president went to pose a question to George Geissler of the National Association of State Foresters, the White House appeared to cut him off mid-sentence.

'One of the things that I've been working on with some others is —' Biden said before the livestream ended abruptly prompting many viewers to question what had happened. 

Risch continued to press Blinken at the Tuesday hearing, asking him if he was challenging the claim in front of the committee. 

'That is correct,' Blinken said.

During a recent roundtable in Idaho, President Joe Biden blamed the wildfires engulfing parts of state and other western states on climate change - seconds before his feed was cut off

'So this didn't happen yesterday nor on the other occasions where the media showed the American people that his sentence was cut off in mid sentence. Are you saying that didn't happen?' Risch grilled. 

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