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White House communications director says Biden 'never shies away from taking questions,' one day after he refused to take questions

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President Joe Biden walks away without taking questions after delivering remarks on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House August 16, 2021. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • White House communications director Kate Bedingfield defended her boss on Friday.

  • "The president never shies away from taking questions," she said.

  • Biden has refused to answer questions on Afghanistan from the White House press corps in recent days.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Friday defended President Joe Biden's interactions with the media after he's recently refused to answer questions about Afghanistan from the White House press corps.

"He's given a couple of speeches. He did the interview with ABC News. But the White House press corps and the American people have a lot of direct questions for him. Will he take those today?" MSNBC host Willie Geist asked Bedingfield in an interview.

"The president never shies away from taking questions," Bedingfield replied. "I'll let him make a decision if he's going to take questions this afternoon."

"He's always willing to take questions," she added.

Bedingfield's comments come just a day after Biden did not field any questions from reporters after he wrapped up remarks on the coronavirus pandemic at the White House.

Reporters, in their usual fashion, shouted out questions to Biden as he headed out of the room, yet the president did not turn back to reply.

The same scene unfolded on Monday after Biden delivered his first public address on the Afghanistan crisis following the Taliban takeover of the country on Sunday. Biden concluded his speech and left the podium without engaging with the press.

Biden's refusal to take questions come as he faces backlash over his administration's handling of the US' pullout from Afghanistan. The president sat down for an interview with ABC News on Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan, but he has not yet held a press conference on the situation.

Republicans, who have assailed the US' military withdrawal, ripped into Bedingfield's comments on Friday.

"Delusional and dishonest," Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted in response to a clip of Bedingfield.

"That's a lie. Is Joe Biden too scared to answer questions about the catastrophe that has unfolded Afghanistan? Yes. He. Is," Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina also wrote on Twitter.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the president's top spokesperson, held only one news briefing this week on Tuesday, despite typically holding them on a daily basis.

She has previously said that she advises Biden not to take impromptu questions from the media, which he often does after public appearances.

"That is not something we recommend," she told CNN's "The Axe Files" in May. "In fact, a lot of times we say 'Don't take questions,' you know, but he's going to do what he wants to do because he's the president."

Biden received criticism earlier this year for waiting longer than any of his recent predecessors to hold his first solo presidential press conference. He's mostly stuck to cable-news interviews and briefly answering questions after giving public remarks.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks about Afghanistan on Friday afternoon.

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