Biden denies blundering on regime change, troops, chemical weapons

President Biden responds to a question at the White House from Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on March 28, 2022 (Video screenshot)
President Biden responds to a question at the White House from Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on March 28, 2022 (Video screenshot)

While the White House has tried to walk back Joe Biden’s apparent endorsement of regime change in Russia during a speech in Poland, the president insisted at a White House news conference Monday that the statement and two others he made over the weekend didn’t need to be walked back.

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Biden,  “Are you worried that other leaders in the world are going to start to doubt that America is back if some of these big things that you say on the world stage keep getting walked back.”

“What’s getting walked backed?” Biden interrupted.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the leaders of NATO countries who showed concern about Biden’s regime-change remarks, warning they could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin to escalate tensions with NATO.

Biden ad-libbed in his speech Saturday: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” referring to Putin.

Doocy explained to Biden that it sounded like he told U.S. troops they are going to Ukraine, that the U.S. could use a chemical weapon against Russia and that he was calling for regime change in Moscow.

“None of the three occurred,” Biden replied. “None of the three. You interpret the language that way.

“I was talking to the troops – we were talking about helping train the troops in, that are, the, the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland,” he said. “That’s what the context. I saw with those guys for a couple of hours. That’s what we talked about.”

Doocy asked Biden what he meant when he said a chemical attack by Russia would “trigger a response in kind.”

“It will trigger a significant response,” the president said.

“What does that mean?” Doocy asked.

“I’m not going to tell you,” Biden replied with indignation in his voice. “Why would I tell you? You’ve got to be silly.”

Doocy offered: “Because the world wants to know?”

“The world wants to know a lot of things,” Biden replied. “I’m not telling what the response would be. Then Russia knows the response.”

See Biden’s remarks:

The news conference followed the introduction of Biden’s latest budget proposal, which includes $6.9 billion to help Ukraine.

The first question was: “Do you believe what you said, that Putin can’t remain in power, or do you now regret saying that? Because your government has been trying to walk that back, did your words complicate matters?”

Biden said he stood by his words, insisting he was “expressing moral outrage” while not “articulating a policy change.”

“Number one, I’m not walking anything back,” he said. “The fact of the matter is I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the acts of this man just — brutality, half the children in Ukraine. I had just come from being with those families, and so — but I want to make it clear, I wasn’t then nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing the moral outrage that I feel, and I make no apologies for it.”

Biden maintained that his comment doesn’t make diplomacy more difficult.

“The fact is that we’re in a situation where it complicates the situation at the moment is the escalatory efforts of Putin to continue to engage in carnage. The kind of behavior that makes the whole world say, ‘My God, what is this man doing?’ That’s what complicates things a great deal and – but I don’t think it complicates it all,” Biden said.

“I was expressing my outrage. He shouldn’t remain in power. Just like, you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things. But it doesn’t mean we have a fundamental policy to do anything to take Putin down in any way,” Biden said.

ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked Biden if he’s confident Putin doesn’t regard his remarks as escalatory.

“I don’t care what he thinks,” Biden replied.

“Given his behavior, people should understand that he is going to do what he thinks he should do, period. He’s not affected by anybody else including, unfortunately, his own advisers. This is a guy who goes to the beat of his own drummer. And the idea that he is going to do something outrageous because I called him for what he was and what he’s doing, I think is just not rational.”

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