Jen Psaki is grilled at Biden and Joe Manchin’s Putin summit by a room of maskless reporters

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Jen Psaki was ravaged Monday by a room full of maskless reporters about President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Europe and his relationship with Joe Manchin as the White House press room returned to full blast in more than a year.

All 49 seats in the room were occupied and reporters lined the aisle despite a White House request not to.

“Make sure you are not in the aisles before the briefing starts,” the press office announced prior to the briefing.

But about two dozen reporters lined the room to ask questions of Psaki and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who discussed the president’s nine-day overseas trip.

It was the first time that Biden’s presidency had filled the room. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House Correspondents’ Association has reduced the number of journalists at the briefing to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The White House press room was back to full capacity with all 49 seats occupied for the first time in more than a year on Monday

The White House press room was back to full capacity with all 49 seats occupied for the first time in more than a year on Monday

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters on foreign and home affairs

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters on foreign and home affairs

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asks questions during Monday's briefing

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asks questions during Monday’s briefing

Schedule for President Biden’s Europe Tour

President Joe Biden will take a seven-day trip to Europe next week. This is the itinerary so far:

June 9: Visit to United States Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall

June 10: Meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

June 11-13: Attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall

June 13: He and Dr. Jill Biden Meet the Queen at Windsor Castle

June 14: NATO summit in Brussels

June 15: US-EU summit in Brussels

June 16: Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva

The association announced on Sunday that the chamber was returning to pre-pandemic levels. That followed an earlier announcement that fully vaccinated reporters were not required to wear face masks, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Psaki took note of the occasion and greeted the reporters by saying that it is “our first full briefing room day since the president took office.”

Sullivan started talking about Biden’s Europe trip this week.

“We believe President Biden is making this journey from a position of strength and dramatic progress against the domestic pandemic, strong expected growth that will also fuel global economic recovery,” he said.

Biden leaves on Wednesday for his first international trip as president. It includes a stop in the UK to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the G7 summit and a meeting in Windsor with The Queen. Then the president goes to Brussels for a NATO meeting and the EU summit. He concludes the trip with a meeting in Geneva with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On the president’s agenda are the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy, the threat from cyberhackers, the climate and relations with Russia and China.

“When President Biden returns to Washington next week, we believe we will be in a substantially stronger position to manage the major threats and challenges of this COVID climate, China, cyber, Russia,” Sullivan said.

Biden sits down with Putin amid mounting tensions between the two nations. He has held Russia accountable for its meddling in the US elections; Moscow’s aggressive stance towards Ukraine and the government’s treatment of dissent, Alexei Navalny.

The United States “clarifies our expectations and explains that if certain types of harmful activity continue to occur, there will be responses from the United States,” Sullivan said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefs a packed house of reporters

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefs a packed house of reporters

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said in an op-ed on Sunday that he will vote against President Joe Biden's For the People voting rights bill because it means ending the filibuster.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said in an op-ed on Sunday that he will vote against President Joe Biden’s For the People voting rights bill because it means ending the filibuster.

Psaki, meanwhile, has been asking a lot of questions about Senator Joe Machin, a West Virginia Democrat who announced this weekend that he would vote against the voting rights bill, effectively killing it.

With a 50-50 Senate, Biden needs every Democratic vote. Last week, he called on Machin and fellow moderate Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema to support the Democrats’ bill.

The White House press secretary declined all questions about what the administration was doing to address the matter.

“I’m just not going to have private conversations with Senator Manchin or any other senator,” she said.

She declined to answer whether the White House hoped Manchin would change her mind.

“I’m not going to make any predictions about Senator Manchin’s position,” she said.

I will say that the president considers Senator Machin a friend. He knows they may disagree on some issues – as they do on this particular piece of legislation – he will continue to work with him to approach him directly and through his staff about how we can work together on this,” she said.

Machin wrote about his resistance in the newspaper of his hometown on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, we are now witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself been overtly politicized,” Manchin wrote in the op/ed published Sunday morning in the Charleston Gazette-MaiI. “Today’s debate on how best to protect our right to vote and hold elections, however, is not about finding consensus, but about seeking party advantage.”

“I believe partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening ties of our democracy, and for that reason I will vote against the For the People Act,” he added.

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