President Joe Biden praised Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Monday press conference at the NATO summit and took shots at the Republican Party, including former President Donald Trump.
Biden, who was two and half hours late to the press conference, only took questions from five reporters.
The first question went to ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega who asked Biden about his upcoming meeting with Putin. Regarding what concessions he wanted Putin to make, Vega asked Biden what would make a successful meeting, what Americans should expect, and what his mindset was going into the meeting.
Included in Biden’s response, Biden called Putin “tough,” “bright,” and “a worthy adversary”:
BIDEN: I’ll tell you all that when it’s over. Look, I’ve been doing this a long time. The last thing anyone would do is negotiate in front of the world press as to how he’s going to approach a critical meeting with another adversary and/or someone who could be an adversary. It’s the last thing I’m going to do.
But I will tell you this: I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses. And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past, relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.
There need not be — we should decide where it’s in our mutual interest, in the interest of the world, to cooperate, and see if we can do that. And the areas where we don’t agree, make it clear what the red lines are. I have met with him. He’s bright. He’s tough. And I have found that he is a — as they say, when you used to play ball, “a worthy adversary.” But the fact is that I will be happy to talk with you when it’s over, and not before, about what the discussion will entail.
President Joe Biden, characterizing Russian President Vladimir Putin as bright, tough and a 'worthy adversary,' said he would offer Moscow areas of cooperation if Putin so chooses pic.twitter.com/eh1o26UuNe
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 14, 2021
Later during the press conference, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny pressed Biden on whether he thinks Putin was “a killer,” something Biden accused Putin of earlier this year.
Biden appeared to struggle in responding to the question before ultimately saying, “I don’t think it matters a whole lot, in terms of this next meeting we’re about to have.”
JEFF ZELENY, CNN: Sir, good evening. Thank you. In a weekend interview, Vladimir Putin laughed at the suggestion that you had called him a “killer.” Is that still your belief, sir, that he is a killer?
And I’ll continue the trend, if you don’t mind, of asking a second question. Do you believe — if he does agree to cooperate, then what kind of a challenge do you find yourself in? How would you ever trust him? And if Ronald Reagan said “trust but verify,” what do you say to Vladimir Putin?
BIDEN: (Laughs.) To answer the first question — (laughs) — I’m laughing too. They actually — I —
ZELENY: So he is a killer?
BIDEN: Well, look, I mean, he has made clear that — the answer is: I believe he has, in the past, essentially acknowledged that he was — there were certain things that he would do or did do. But look, when I was asked that question on air, I answered it honestly. But it’s not much of a — I don’t think it matters a whole lot, in terms of this next meeting we’re about to have.
The leader of the free world's brain just completely broke when he was asked if Putin is a "killer" pic.twitter.com/q1pEK4nMFp
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 14, 2021
Following Zeleny’s question, Anne Gearan at The Washington Post asked Biden about the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, suggesting that America’s allies were “pretty rattled by what happened.”
“What do you say to those Allies, what have you been saying to them at these meetings about how the next president of the United States can keep any promises you make?” Gearan asked.
After responding to her question, Biden continued, saying in part:
BIDEN: But I think it’s appropriate to say that the Republican Party is vastly diminished in numbers; the leadership of the Republican Party is fractured; and the Trump wing of the party is the bulk of the party, but it makes up a significant minority of the American people.
I think it is a shock and surprise that what’s happened, in terms of the consequence of President Trump’s phony populism, has — has happened. And it is disappointing that so many of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, who I know know better, have been reluctant to take on, for example, an investigation because they’re worried about being primaried. But, at the end of the day, we’ve been through periods like this in American history before where there has been this reluctance to take a chance on your reelection because of the nature of your party’s politics at the moment.
So, as I said, the proof will be in where it is, you know, six months from now — where — where we are. But I think you’re going to see that there’s — that, God willing, we’re going to be making progress, and there’s going to be a coalescing of a lot of Republicans, particularly younger Republicans who are coming up in the party.
Pres. Biden says impact of "Pres. Trump's phony populism" has been "a shock and surprise…and it is disappointing that so many of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, who I know know better, have been reluctant to take on, for example, an investigation" into the Capitol riot. pic.twitter.com/eUg5ZpzZTX
— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2021
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