President Joe Biden stood frozen at the podium Friday as he tried to think of a way to insult former President Donald Trump for inviting Russia to invade NATO allies.
Biden was in the Roosevelt Room speaking to reporters about the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, 47, who was imprisoned in a penal colony in Siberia.
After blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for Navalny’s death, he turned his attention to Trump, the likely 2024 Republican nominee.
‘All of us should reject the dangerous statements of the previous president, who invited Russia to invade our NATO allies if they did not pay. He said that if an ally didn’t pay his debts, he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wanted,” Biden said.
He then stopped speaking briefly as he gathered his thoughts.
“I guess I should clear my head a little bit and not say what I’m really thinking,” he continued after the break. ‘But let me be clear. “It’s a scandalous thing for a president to say.”
“I can’t understand it, I can’t understand it: from Truman on down, they are rolling in their graves hearing this,” Biden added.
President Joe Biden took a long pause to collect his thoughts before insulting former President Donald Trump from the Roosevelt Room on Friday. Trump said he had told a NATO ally to pay because he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever it wanted.”
The former president’s controversial comments were made at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday.
Trump said that while he was president he told a NATO leader to pay or “encourage” Russia to “do whatever they wanted.”
“As long as I am president, the United States will uphold our sacred commitment to our NATO allies, just as they have repeatedly upheld their commitments to us,” Biden said Friday. “Putin and the entire world should know that if any adversary attacked us, our NATO allies would back us up.”
“And if Putin were to attack a NATO ally, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory,” the president continued. “Now is the time to achieve even greater unity among our NATO allies.”
At the beginning of Biden’s remarks, the president spoke of Navalny’s bravery in standing up to the “corruption” and “violence” of Putin’s government.
“In response, Putin poisoned him, arrested him, prosecuted him for trumped-up crimes, sent him to prison, kept him in solitary confinement – not even all of that stopped him from exposing Putin’s lies,” Biden said. . “Even in prison he was a powerful voice for the truth, which is amazing when you think about it.”
Biden noted that Navalny could have lived his life safely in exile after the 2020 assassination attempt, but decided to return to Russia “knowing he would likely be imprisoned or even killed.”
A photograph taken on Thursday of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russian media reported Friday that Navalny died at age 47. He was imprisoned in a penal colony in Siberia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is photographed in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Friday. Biden said during his remarks Friday in the Roosevelt Room that “Putin is responsible” for Navalny’s death.
“If reports of his death are true, and I have no reason to believe they are not, Russian authorities will tell their own story,” Biden said. ‘Make no mistake, make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible.”
“What happened to Navalny is further proof of Putin’s brutality,” the president added.
Biden said Navalny was “so many things that Putin was not.”
“He was brave, principled and dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and applied to everyone,” Biden said. “Navalny believed in that Russia, he knew it was a cause worth fighting for and, obviously, even dying for.”
In June 2021, Biden promised that there would be consequences if Navalny died in prison.
“I made it clear to him that I think the consequences of this would be devastating for Russia,” the president said at the time, immediately after meeting Putin in Geneva.
When asked about that threat on Friday, Biden said Russia was already suffering that fate.
“That was three years ago,” he said. “In the meantime, they faced a lot of consequences.”
Biden highlighted the 350,000 Russian soldiers killed or injured by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the heavy sanctions the United States has deployed against Russia.
“And we’re contemplating what more could be done,” Biden said. ‘But what we were talking about at the time was not taking action against Russia. And look at everything that has happened since then.
“We’re looking at a lot of options, that’s all I’ll say for now,” Biden added.
The president also stated that the United States could not give additional ammunition to the Ukrainians without Congress passing the supplemental funding bill.
‘It’s time for them to step forward, don’t you think? Instead of taking two weeks of vacation,” Biden said in a whisper before raising his voice. ‘Two weeks. They are moving away. Two weeks! What are they thinking? My God.’
‘This is strange. And this just reinforces all the concern and almost, I won’t say panic, but real concern about the United States being a reliable ally,” Biden continued. ‘This is outrageous.’
He told reporters: “I hope Navalny’s death sparks action on Capitol Hill to get the funding bill passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
‘Come on. What are these guys doing? What are they doing?’ Biden urged.