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President Biden struggled to answer a reporter’s question over the weekend on a topic he had just been briefed on, needing to reach for notes after being distracted by a cashier while checking out at a Michigan pie shop.
The exchange reinvigorated concerns about Biden’s mental acuity.
“Mr. President, let me know if I can ask you a question,” a member of the White House traveling press pool told the commander-in-chief.
A smirking Biden — who was in the midst of paying for cherry pie at the register inside the King Orchards farm store in Central Lake, Michigan, Saturday — told the reporter, “Sure.”
“With the most recent hack by the Russians, would you say that this means –” the reporter said before being cut off, asking about the mammoth cyberattack that hit over 200 US companies on Friday.
“We’re not sure it’s the Russians,” Biden said. “I got a brief when I was on the plane. That’s why I was late getting off the plane.”
Video of the exchange, taken by a different pool reporter, then becomes glitchy, though the president appeared to stop speaking entirely to insert his credit card into the chip reader.
Before he started answering the reporter again, he was asked by the cashier if he needed his receipt before the audio momentarily went out and the video froze.
“I’ll be in better shape to talk to you about it,” Biden said seconds later when the video returned, just before cutting himself off to pull out notes from his jacket breast pocket about the topic he had just been briefed on.
“I’ll tell you what they sent me, OK?” he then said, reading from the sheet of paper.
“The idea,” he began after needing a few moments to collect his thoughts, , “[F]irst of all we’re not sure who it is for certain, number one. And what I did, I directed the full resources of the government to assist in a response if we determine – what else you need?’ Biden said, redirecting his attention to the cashier.
‘Oh nothing, you’re all set,’ she responded.
“OK,” he said to the cashier, then redirecting his full attention to the reporter’s question.
“The fact is that I’ve directed the intelligence community to give me a deep dive on what’s happened, and I’ll know better tomorrow. And if it is either with the knowledge of and/or a consequence of Russia, then I told Putin we would respond,” he said, then putting the notes away in his pocket.
Asked if he had already spoken to the Kremlin, Biden said he had not, as he was waiting for the intelligence community to confirm the information before acting.
He then voiced doubts from those in the intelligence community about Russia being the source of the hack.
“We’re not certain. The initial thinking was it was not the Russian government, but we’re not sure yet.”
The clip of the pie shop encounter was tweeted out by the Republican National Committee and soon drew concerns.
“A MEME come to life,” Twitchy called the clip.
Others suggested the exchange showed that Biden could be in mental decline.
Trump administration Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell said, “Americans are horrified by these weekly videos highlighting Biden’s mental state. DC reporters ignore these moments – but we see. And we see [the media] protecting Biden.”
“A convenience store worker challenged Biden more than the WH press corps ever would,” added Twitchy writer Doug Powers.
Friday’s mass cyberattack — which cyber-security firm Huntress Labs has blamed on the Russia-linked REvil ransomware gang — hit at least 200 companies at the start of the Independence Day weekend.
Biden was in Michigan as part of a tour to mark the end of pandemic restrictions — and to tout his administration’s free-spending economic plans.
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