Despite the White House offering several venues fit for presidential remarks — including the Oval Office, the East Room, the State Dining Room and even the Brady Press Briefing Room — the administration has increasingly opted to use the model set up in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across from the executive mansion itself.
According to the White House website, the South Court Auditorium has been used for 36 official events involving Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris fewer than nine months into their term of office. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield have also used the set for events.
The set caused a social media frenzy Wednesday during Biden’s call with CEOs when viewers noted a digitally created view of the White House Rose Garden behind one of the cutout windows.
Former President Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller suggested on Twitter that the auditorium was chosen “because it allows him [Biden] to read a script directly from a face-on monitor (& w/out teleprompter glass that can be seen on camera).”
Other social media users ridiculed the president for using a “literal game show set,” while others accused him of deliberately trying to deceive Americans into thinking he was in the White House.
“Why did the White House build a literal game show set complete with fake windows for Joe Biden???” tweeted Abigail Marone, press secretary for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), summing up the views of many. “So weird.”
Social media users ridiculed President Joe Biden on Wednesday after he once again used a fake White House set, this time featuring a digital monitor displaying the Rose Garden with flowers in full bloom.
“The reason Biden uses this bizarre virtual set for televised meetings — and not an actual room like East Room, Cabinet, Oval, Roosevelt, Sit Room, etc. — is because it allows him to read a script directly from a face-on monitor (& w/out teleprompter glass that can be seen on camera),” Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, wrote on Twitter.
The reason Biden uses this bizarre virtual set for televised meetings—and not an actual room like East Room, Cabinet, Oval, Roosevelt, Sit Room, etc.—is because it allows him to read a script directly from a face-on monitor (& w/out teleprompter glass that can be seen on camera). https://t.co/Uc4Ly9kL7T
The set was constructed across from the White House in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The set looks a bit like the Oval Office, with big windows along a white wall. Biden uses the set for video conferences and other events that are broadcast online.
Biden used the same set when he received a booster shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Just as last time Biden used the set, the move drew scorn on social media.
“Truman Show Presidency,” tweeted Human Events Senior Editor Jack Posobiec.
“Do they not allow him in the actual White House,” New Hampshire journalist Kimberly Morin asked.
“Is that a common thing,” Fox 19 anchor Tricia Macke asked. “I saw pics of the set when he got the booster shot. I actually didn’t believe it was real.”
Is that a common thing? I saw pics of the set when he got the booster shot. I actually didn’t believe it was real.
After Biden took the booster shot using the set, fact-checking website PolitiFact wrote a piece to fact check the claim that the White House “created a fake set for (President Joe) Biden to get his booster shot. The entire Biden presidency is one giant charade.”
“No, White House didn’t create fake set just for Joe Biden’s booster shot,” said the site.
The piece cited several social media posts before saying, “Our research uncovered no evidence that the White House intended to mislead anyone by using the windows-and-white-columns background. The backdrop had already been used in one official event five days before Biden received his booster shot.”
The booster shot was held in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex but separate from the White House itself.
The auditorium is used often for White House media events. Since early this summer, it has hosted Biden’s remarks on the June jobs report, a bill signing, a meeting on Western wildfires, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ remarks on broadband. It’s bigger than the White House press room where the press secretary’s daily briefings are held, so it’s better suited to some events.
Raw footage of the booster shot event uploaded by NBC News shows Biden making remarks on vaccinations at a lectern in the auditorium, then walking across the stage to a chair where he received the vaccination. Behind him was a backdrop featuring white walls and columns, along with “windows” seemingly looking out toward the White House itself. After the event, Biden took a few questions.
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It was not immediately clear which vaccine or how many doses each had received.
The revelation comes after the former President urged his followers to get vaccinated for the virus during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, telling the audience, “How unpainful that vaccine shot is, so everybody go get your shot.” That encouragement marked a notable shift as Trump, during his time in office, had long dismissed the gravity of the virus and eschewed practices like social distancing and mask wearing.
CNN previously reported that a White House official had said in mid-December that Trump wouldn’t be administered a coronavirus vaccine until it was recommended by the White House medical team.
During his CPAC speech, Trump, who oversaw the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines through the Operation Warp Speed task force, said his administration deserves much of the credit for the current pace of vaccinations in America and repeatedly referred to Covid-19 using a racist term. “Never let them forget this was us. We did this,” he said of the vaccine development.
The former President’s speechwriting team from his days at the White House had returned to duty to assist him in drafting his Sunday address to the conference, an adviser told CNN on Monday. Among those speechwriters was Trump’s former top domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller.
Trump’s remarks on vaccine development ran counter to CNN reporting in January that Biden and his advisers weren’t inheriting any coronavirus vaccine distribution plan from the Trump administration.
In the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration’s Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
CNN’s Maeve Reston, MJ Lee and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.
While U.S. ports faced anchor-to-anchor traffic and Congress nearly melted down over the president’s infrastructure bill in recent weeks, the usually omnipresent Transportation secretary was lying low.
They didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies.
“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” As he does that, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson added.
That ramp has been steep this week, as Buttigieg reverts to his “go everywhere” media habits.
Since Oct. 7, Buttigieg has appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” “MSNBC with Geoff Bennett,” CNN’s “New Day,” CNBC’s “Morning Bell,” Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power,” and the NPR Politics Podcast. He participated in virtual events to promote the infrastructure bill with the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Citizen Budget Commission of New York. He also attended a high-profile meeting with President JOE BIDEN Wednesday on supply chain bottlenecks.
In case reporters missed the flurry, the department blasted out an email to the press noting several of Buttigieg’s media appearances with the subject line, “ICYMI: Secretary Buttigieg Highlights Administration Efforts to Address Ongoing Supply Chain Disruptions.”
Buttigieg’s time away to help care for his children is the latest example of paid leave for new parents becoming more common in the United States, even at the highest levels of government.
Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget SHALANDA YOUNG is pregnant and is planning to take “time away from the office to be with her daughter after she’s born in the next few weeks,” according to an OMB spokesperson. Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-Ill.), the first senator ever to give birth in office, took 12 weeks maternity leave when her daughter was born in 2018, though she famously appeared on the Senate floor with the newborn to cast a vote.
Advocates of paternity leave cheered Buttigieg for setting an example. “It absolutely reflects changing norms and changing needs,” said DAWN HUCKELBRIDGE, the director of the group Paid Leave for All. “I’m thrilled that the secretary did that and showed that work and family go together.”
In the past, Cabinet secretaries felt compelled to come back sooner. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development JULIÁN CASTRO took about a “week or so” of leave after his child was born, his spokesperson told us.
In part, that’s because Cabinet secretaries are not eligible for the same paid family leave benefits that federal workers are. “Individuals in the executive branch who are appointed by the President to positions in the Executive Schedule are not covered by the leave system,” a spokesperson for the Office of Personnel Management said. “They do not earn leave and serve at the pleasure of the President. The President can choose to allow him to take time off.”
Asked if Biden approved the leave, a White House official didn’t directly answer but said in a statement that “Pete’s been a key member of the team since Day One, and has been critical as we shepherd the President’s agenda across the finish line. We’re overjoyed for him and Chasten, and believe every American should have access to paid family leave.”
Do you work in the Biden administration? Are you in touch with the White House? Are you DANIELLE MILLONES, director for leadership and training?
Our call out yesterday was to MYLES MANN. But sources tell us that Mann recently left the White House to attend Stanford Business School. We still want to hear from you though, MYLES!
Or if you want to stay really anonymous send us a tip through SecureDrop, Signal, Telegram, or Whatsapp here.
Today’s trivia is courtesy of journalist BEN JACOBS. Which president was sworn into office in what is now an Indian grocery store?
KAMALA SHOUT-OUT — Vice President KAMALA HARRIS gave a nod to the outgoing executive chairman of Mastercard in remarks today at the Global Inclusive Growth Summit hosted by Mastercard and the Aspen Institute. “Thank you to the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth for hosting this summit. And in particular, I want to thank AJAY BANGA for your invitation to join today and for your leadership of the Partnership for Central America.”
Banga has a developing relationship with the VP. He sat next to Harris at her May 27 event on private sector investment in the Northern Triangle countries and sits on the board of the “Partnership for Central America” that was launched in conjunction with that meeting. MICHAEL FROMAN, the trade representative during the Obama administration, is also on the board of the partnership.
White House rapid response director MIKE GWIN tweeted a White House statement on the jobless claims data, which was extremely cheery, noting that with Covid-19 cases and unemployment claims declining, “it is clearer than ever that America is in the midst of an historic economic recovery.”
WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ: A CNN Business story by MATT EGAN with the headline, “Biden alone can’t end the supply chain crisis.” Egan notes that there’s only so much that the federal government can do to help a system controlled in large part by private businesses.
“Industry sources described the effort as a significant move that will help, but hardly end, the supply chain crisis that’s hovering ominously over the U.S. economy this holiday shopping season,” Egan writes.
“‘The White House is doing the right thing,’ said Moody’s Analytics senior economist Tim Uy. ‘But I wouldn’t characterize it as a gamechanger. It’s a step in the right direction.’”
ABOUT THOSE AMBASSADORS — Yesterday, we quoted an Insider story penned by BRETT BRUEN, whom we called a frequent Biden basher and a former Obama administration official. Bruen, in the Sept. 26 piece, said the State Department only advanced a long list of career diplomats set to take over ambassadorships to the White House in late September.
We asked the White House about the notion that the administration has moved slowly to advance the nominations of career diplomats, and Bruen’s claims, specifically, and they did not offer a response. But State Department spokesman NED PRICE later reached out to WWP to push back on Bruen’s claim: “The allegation that the Department only recently put forward career officials for senior postings, including Ambassadorships, is entirely false. We have done so routinely,” Price said via email, characterizing Bruen as “a source who routinely peddles inaccurate information.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Califf would take over the FDA as it is poised to make key decisions on coronavirus vaccines and treatments while facing criticism of recent controversial drug approvals and widespread burnout due to the ongoing pandemic. Califf previously served as commissioner for nearly a year in Obama’s second administration after an overwhelming vote in his favor.
ANOTHER TARGET FOR TED CRUZ: The president has tapped veteran diplomat CHRIS HILL to be ambassador to Serbia. Hill is best known for serving as ambassador to Iraq during President BARACK OBAMA’s first term, but he was also part of the negotiating team whose efforts led to the Dayton Peace Agreement, ending the Bosnian war in the 1990s. Hill was one of five new nominees the White House announced this afternoon.
DEBT DOUBLE DOG DARE —Sen. Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL may be insisting that he won’t help Democrats solve a debt ceiling impasse again. But CHRIS CADELAGO reports White House officials are still anticipating that the Kentucky Republican will climb down as yet another deadline approaches in December, after he convinced 10 Republican colleagues to break the logjam last week.
MEET THE POPE: The president will embark on a three-leg trip to Europe starting at the end of October that will include a Vatican meeting with POPE FRANCIS, the White House announced today.
NICK NIEDZWIADEK writes that prior to the G20 summit in Rome, Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, will visit the Vatican for an audience with the pope. The confab will cover “working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” according to the White House.
He gave remarks in the South Court Auditorium about the administration’s Covid-19 response and vaccination program.
Later, he held a bilateral meeting at the White House with Kenyan President UHURU KENYATTA. Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN, deputy national security adviser JON FINER, USAID Administrator SAMANTHA POWER, Assistant Secretary of State MOLLY PHEE, NSC senior director for Africa DANA BANKS and NSC coordinator for democracy SHANTI KALATHIL also attended the meeting.
She and Sen. Duckworth participated in a virtual town hall organized by Care Can’t Wait, and moderated by AI-JEN POO, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance to discuss the different care policies in the president’s Build Back Better agenda.
She also addressed the Global Inclusive Growth Summit virtually.
The Oppo Book
When one thinks of RAHM EMANUEL, romance may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Japan was there the day that press secretary JEN PSAKI met her future husband, GREGORY MECHER.
The two were working for Emanuel who, at the time, was running the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but Psaki had only been on the job for a short while. As she was trying to set up a web video for her boss, a call came in that the driver who was tasked with bringing him to an event in Philadelphia was lost.
Emanuel, with his world famous patience (lol), was dropping expletives in the backseat and next to him was Mecher, who was the committee’s deputy finance director.
Psaki tried to guide them (tried being the operative word). And eventually they found their way to the location. We’ll let the Washington Post’s 2010 write up take it from here: “Mecher moved on from thinking, ‘Why did she get us lost?’ [to] ‘She’s cute.’”
CHESTER A. ARTHUR. Then-Vice President Arthur was sworn in as president on the first floor of his New York City home at 123 Lexington Ave, per Atlas Obscura. It was the second NYC inauguration, with GEORGE WASHINGTON’s being the first.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s disastrous economic policies during her briefing Wednesday; bizarrely claiming gas prices aren’t surging “in all parts” of the country.
“The American people are -of course- impacted by rising prices of gas, in some parts of the country, not all!” declared the Press Secretary.
Drivers in the heart of New York City are now paying more for gasoline than any point since 2014, with some motorists shelling out upwards of $5 per gallon in midtown Manhattan.
“Gas prices are on the rise and they have hit nearly $5 for regular and are now about $5.40 a gallon for supreme in Manhattan. A Mobil station on 11th Ave. on the West Side had the eye-popping prices on Monday evening,” reports Fox New York.
“Gas prices have jumped across the nation as oil prices reach a 7-year high. The average price of gas across the country is about $3.25 per gallon according to GasBuddy and $3.31 according to the Lundberg Survey,” adds the outlet.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted the reason behind a national spike in gasoline pricing last Thursdasy; telling reporters the “threat of climate change certainly can’t wait any longer.”
“Certainly we all want to keep gasoline prices low, but the threat of the climate crisis certainly can’t wait any longer,” said Psaki.
Watch Psaki’s comments above.
PRESS SEC GOES SILENT: Psaki Dodges When Asked If Biden Will Host First Solo Press Briefing
posted by Hannity Staff – 3.02.21
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki continued to deflect questions surrounding Joe Biden Monday; refusing to answer when asked if the President plans to hold his first solo press briefing anytime soon.
“Can you update us on his first press conference?” asked one reporter.
“Ummm, not yet! But we will definitely have one. We’ll schedule it, and you’ll be the first to know!” deflected Psaki.
SPIN BEGIN: Jen Psaki Dodges When Grilled Over Kamala’s ‘Abusive’ Work Environment
posted by Hannity Staff – 7.05.21
White House Press Secretary deflected recent criticism of Kamala Harris’ “work environment” after a report from Politico claimed employees feel as if they are treated “like s**t.”
“Is the White House concerned that some vice presidential staffers reportedly feel like they work in a quote ‘abusive environment?’” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked.
“Well I would first note that I try not to speak to or engage on anonymous reports or anonymous sources,” Psaki said. “I will say that the vice president is an incredibly important partner to the president of the United States.”