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Biden flashes impatience after conference with Putin

’'What the hell? . . . When did I say I was confident?’' President Biden said, responding to a question on his characterization of talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
’'What the hell? . . . When did I say I was confident?’' President Biden said, responding to a question on his characterization of talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

As President Biden turned to walk off the stage following a news conference in Geneva after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a reporter shouted out one final question.

’'Why are you so confident [Putin] will change his behavior, Mr. President?’' CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked.

The president, who had already turned away from the clutch of journalists, threw up his hands and started back toward the reporters while wagging his finger.

’'What the hell? . . . When did I say I was confident?’' Biden said as he headed back toward Collins, before launching into a tense back-and-forth with the reporter while defending his approach with the Russian president.

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Biden’s flash of frustration briefly revived memories of former president Trump’s frequent heated exchanges with the White House press corps, though Biden’s staid summit with Putin was in stark contrast to the deference Trump brought to his interactions with the Russian leader. As his exchange with Collins went viral, some critics jumped to defend the reporter, while others argued that her question unfairly reflected the president’s earlier statements.

Soon after the exchange, Biden issued a mea culpa for his tone.

’'I owe my last questioner an apology,’' the president told reporters on the tarmac as he readied to board Air Force One on Wednesday afternoon. ’'I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.’'

Biden and Putin met on Wednesday in their first summit to discuss several topics, including alleged cyberattacks and human rights violations that have strained relations between Russia and the United States. Afterward, Biden characterized the meeting as ’'positive’' and Putin called it ’'constructive.’'

But Collins, who made headlines last year when she refused to move to the back of the room during a Trump briefing, pushed back on those claims.

After she shouted her question to Biden, the president said that she was mischaracterizing his stance.

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’'I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world,’' Biden said after snapping at her. ’'I’m not confident of anything. I’m just stating the facts.’'

Collins pressed the president again, asking why the meeting, which lasted about three hours, should be viewed as constructive when Putin later downplayed human rights abuses and denied that Russia played a role in cyberattacks against the United States.

’'If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,’' Biden said to the reporter before turning and leaving the stage.

The tense back-and-forth soon staked a claim as one of the most interesting moments of the day. One clip of the video garnered more than 300,000 views on Twitter by early Thursday, and Wednesday’s late-night shows seized on the moment.

’'That was some strong ‘grandpa has had it with your lip’ energy,’' ’'The Late Show’' host Stephen Colbert said before imitating an old man scolding a misbehaving child.

’'Anyway, US, Russia, nuclear weapons - I’m sure it’s all going to be fine,’' Colbert added.

CNN did not immediately return a request for comment, but Collins on Wednesday defended her questions and said Biden had no need to apologize for his response.

’'That is completely unnecessary,’' she said of the apology on CNN. ’'. . . It is just our job to ask the president questions..’'

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Washington Post

Abrams backs voting rights compromise from Manchin

Prominent voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said Thursday that she could “absolutely” support compromises floated by Senator Joe Manchin III, the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping elections bill in the chamber.

A three-page memo circulated by Manchin’s office this week indicates the centrist’s willingness to support key provisions of the For the People Act, the marquee Democratic bill that the House passed in March — including provisions mandating at least two weeks of early voting and measures meant to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. But Manchin’s memo also sketches out several provisions that have historically been opposed by most Democrats, including backing an ID requirement for voters.

During an appearance on CNN, Abrams was asked whether she could support such a compromise.

“Absolutely,” she responded. “This is a first and important step to preserving our democracy.”

Abrams said it is a common misperception, fueled by Republicans, that Democrats outright oppose voter ID. Rather, she said, she and others object to restrictive provisions that are “designed to keep people out of the process.”

“No one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote,” she said. “What [Manchin] is proposing makes sense.”

Though Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, has no formal say in the Senate process, her support of Manchin’s proposals could help sway liberal Democrats, whose overarching aim is to counter a bevy of Republican-passed laws that have rolled back ballot access in numerous states.

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Senate Republicans have roundly rejected the voting rights bill and said Thursday that they oppose the Manchin compromise.

“I think every one of us looks for opportunities to work with Senator Manchin and we found those opportunities,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. “I actually think that when Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.”

Washington Post

‘Fire and Fury’ author set with new book on Trump


NEW YORK — The author of “Fire and Fury,” the million-seller from 2018 that helped launched the wave of inside accounts of the Trump White House, will have a last take coming out next month.

Michael Wolff’s “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency’' is scheduled for July 27, publisher Henry Holt said Thursday. Trump, who condemned “Fire and Fury” and attempted to have its publication halted, is among those who spoke to Wolff for his new book, according to Holt.

“In ‘Landslide,’ Wolff closes the story of Trump’s four years in office and his tumultuous last months at the helm of the country,” the publisher announced, “based on Wolff’s extraordinary access to White House aides and to the former president himself, yielding a wealth of new information and insights about what really happened inside the highest office in the land, and the world.”

Wolff’s first book on Trump, published in January 2018, was an immediate sensation and went on to sell more than 2 million copies. Critics questioned details of Wolff’s reporting, but his underlying narrative of a chaotic White House and a volatile, easily distracted chief executive has held through numerous bestsellers that followed, from Bob Woodward’s “Fear” to John Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened.”

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Associated Press