President Biden ignores a question repeatedly shouted at him by a reporter about whether or not there is a border crisis as Biden’s handlers immediately interfered to prevent him from answering the question by stepping in to usher away the traveling press corps to leave the event.
On Tuesday, Biden visited “W.S. Jenks & Son,” a hardware store in D.C. that benefited from receiving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The forgivable loan program was spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who developed the program under the CARES Act last year as businesses faced an immediate cash crunch because of the pandemic.
The White House ahead of the visit sent background notes claiming the hardware store was able to obtain the PPP loan during the last two weeks due to the president’s changes in temporarily opening the small business loan application process. Biden administration announced changes last month to the PPP forgivable loans, overhauling the way small business loans are doled out by giving a two-week opening for businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply. They also changed the eligibility rules to include self-employed, sole proprietors, and independent contractors to qualify for more money under the program.
The president used the visit to knock former President Trump for not sending enough aid to small businesses.
“Well, one of the reasons why I changed the rule for, it was 20 days to make sure only employers that had 20 or fewer employees could qualify for PPP. And the reason for that was: 400,000 small businesses went out of business. They got in line, but they couldn’t get the help,” Biden said during his tour of the hardware store.
The president went on to claim the reason the Trump administration failed to properly direct the loans to small businesses was attributable to the removal of the inspector general early on in the pandemic.
However, the hardware store got its PPP loan last April and was able to save 17 employees jobs, according to the former communications director for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.
“During his campaign, Biden endlessly trashed PPP, saying it wasn’t helping small businesses,” Tim Murtaugh tweeted. “The place he visited today got its PPP loan in APRIL OF LAST YEAR, saving 17 jobs.”
After spending several minutes interacting with the store owner and employees, reporters began shouting questions at Biden, to which the president didn’t acknowledge or responded to the question repetitively shouted.
“Mr. President is there a crisis at the border, sir?” a member of the press corp shouted at Biden, who was about 10-15 feet away the question in his direction.
Immediately after, Biden’s aides began to rush the press corps out to the exit door, yelling back assertively to mute out the shouting question from reporters while escorting them away.
“Come on, press, you gotta go. Press let’s go you guys. Let’s go you guys,” the aides are heard shouting at the reporters as they were quickly removed from the store.
Upon taking office, Biden made unraveling Trump’s immigration policies a priority by quickly ordering a halt to Trump’s signature border wall construction, curtailing deportations, and ending the “Remain In Mexico” policy. Now just seven weeks as president, Biden appears on a path to a mounting crisis that he can’t contain.
Last week, Biden told reporters following an event said there was no crisis at the border,
“No,” Biden replied when asked if there is a border crisis. “We’ll be able to handle it. God willing.”
The president confirmed he was briefed on the visible surge of unattended migrant children at the U.S. southern border and when asked what he learned, Biden replied, “A lot!”
Tuesday marks the 48th day of Biden’s presidency and still has not held a formal solo press conference. Almost halfway to his first 100 days in office, Biden has also set a new 100-year record for the longest a new president has gone without holding a press conference. According to data from The American Presidency Project, an analysis of the past 100 years shows that Biden is behind his 15 most recent predecessors, who all held a solo press conference within 33 days of taking office
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week was asked why Biden is bucking from tradition in delaying to hold a solo press conference. Psaki responded that one would probably take place by the end of the month before arguing that the president is too busy focusing “his energy and his attention” on “two historic crises” to answers reporters questions.
“He’s answered questions. I believe that count is almost 40 times,” Psaki said last Friday during a daily White House press briefing. “And I would say that his focus, again, is on getting recovery and relief to the American people and he looks forward to continuing to engage with all of you and other members of the media who aren’t here today, and we’ll look forward to letting you know as soon as the press conference is set.”
Biden has only field one or two shouting questions after making public statements mostly about the coronavirus. However, Biden has not faced reporters alone since becoming president. He is scheduled to deliver his first prime-time speech Thursday night to commemorate a year since the Covid-19 pandemic effectively shut down American society.