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Kinzinger says White House staff weakened Biden after walking back Putin comment in Warsaw

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) speaks to reporters regarding the Jan. 6 select committee following the final vote of the week on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Greg Nash

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Wednesday slammed the White House’s attempt to walk back controversial comments President Biden made in Poland last month.

Biden made headlines over an off-script comment seemingly calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be removed.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said.

The White House then swiftly sought to clarify his comments, saying the president was not suggesting a regime change in Russia, but rather referring to Putin exercising control outside of Russia.

Kinzinger said that White House effort made Biden appear weak.

“I would’ve fired everybody that clarified my statement for me,” the Republican congressman told Newsweek this week. 

“I would have done that that day if I was president, because I think even if Joe Biden had not intended to say that or for it to come across as it did, you know, the White House had a decision to make, they could have, they either could make him look weak, which is what they ultimately chose to do. Or they could have said, ‘okay, well, we wish he wouldn’t have said it, but let’s just go with it,'” he added. 

Some lawmakers have expressed similar views, including Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), who said last month that the White House’s backtracking of Biden’s remarks “damages his credibility.”

Others have criticized Biden for what they saw as a dangerous mistake, including Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), who dubbed it “a horrendous gaffe.”

Biden has since clarified his own statement, saying he was expressing “moral outrage.”

“But I want to make it clear: I wasn’t then nor am I now articulating a policy change,” he said late last month.

The Hill has reached out to Kinzinger’s office for additional comment.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Joe Biden Kinzinger Putin russia Russia ukraine Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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