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Psaki Sidesteps Question on Backlash from Families of Fallen Marines after Biden Meeting

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addresses the attack in Afghanistan during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 26, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday dodged a question about the relatives of the service members who died in an ISIS-K attack in Kabul last week who said President Biden was dismissive and rude during their meeting with him over the weekend.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, a reporter noted that some of the families had criticized Biden’s conduct when they met with the president after receiving the remains of their loved ones at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. 

The reporter noted that the father of one marine said that the president appeared to be checking his watch repeatedly during the dignified transfer and the sister of a marine said that the president’s remarks felt “fake and scripted.” The journalist asked Psaki if Biden was looking at his watch and if he has a message to the family members he offended. 

Despite the fact that much of the criticism of Biden’s behavior was around how much time he spent talking about his own experience grieving the death of his son, Beau Biden, Psaki responded by saying Biden “knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a child.”

“His message to all of the family members who were there and those who were not even in attendance is that he is grateful to their sons and daughters, the sacrifice they made to the country,” Psaki said. “That he knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a child and the fact that no one can tell you anything or say anything or there’s no words that are going to fill that hole that is left by that.”

She went on to add that neither she nor Biden would “speak to the private conversations” but that the family members “have the right to convey whatever they would like.”

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