The White House has pointed the finger at Boris Johnson for causing upset among journalists during his US trip.
The prime minister was in the Oval Office during a pivotal meeting with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday when he suddenly decided to take questions from two British journalists – White House aides then cut him off mid-sentence.
White House aides then told everyone to leave, leading The Wall Street Journal’s reporter Andrew Restuccia to claim it was “a chaotic scene”.
But according to press secretary Jen Psaki, Johnson had not warned the White House he was planning on starting a conversation.
She told the media on Wednesday: “I think our relationship with the United Kingdom and prime minister Johnson is so strong and abiding we will be able to move forward beyond this.
“But he [Johnson] called on individuals from his press corps without alerting us to that intention in advance.”
She was smiling as she spoke, but it remains unclear if this was a minor slap on the wrist for the prime minister or a joke.
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When asked if Biden was concerned about being overshadowed by Johnson during their meeting, Psaki said: “I think the president has not spent a minute worrying about it.”
The White House Correspondents Association lodged a formal complaint that US reporters had not been able to ask questions with Psaki.
According to CBS’ Steve Portnoy, Psaki replied that she was “unaware that the incident had occurred and suggested that she was not in a position to offer an immediate solution” when responding to the media’s protests.
Biden has faced significant criticism for not facing press scrutiny enough throughout his presidency so far.
He waited 64 days after his inauguration before holding a formal press conference, the longest period among all his predecessors.
He also caused a stir when told a US journalist recently, “you are such a pain in the neck”.