White House spokesman John Kirby posed an “insulting” question on Thursday that President Biden had time to spare while he is in isolation after repeatedly testing positive for the coronavirus.
Kirby, the communications coordinator for the National Security Council, answered the question when China took a series of aggressive actions after Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.
That included live fire drills, airstrikes across the Taiwan Strait and other moves.
“He’s been through his illness, Peter, so that’s a little insulting,” White House communications coordinator John Kirby said when asked why President Biden hadn’t called Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy wanted to know why Biden wouldn’t call Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Biden regularly says has spent hour after hour indoors and perhaps knows better than any other world leader.
“I know you said no meeting is scheduled with XI. Is there a reason why?’ doocy early it.
“Because President Biden has known him for decades. He’s got a lot of free time up there in the residence this week,” he said, after previously saying Biden was much “tougher” on Russia than on China.
Biden called Xi Jinping ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi .’s visit
“He’s got a lot of free time up there in the residency this week,” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Kirby.
Biden announced the assassination of Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri from isolation in the White House. at
Kirby, a retired Rear Admiral and former spokesman for the state and the Pentagon, is just the latest White House official to spar with Doocy from the podium.
“He doesn’t have any free time,” Kirby shot back to Doocy, who wanted to know if there was any reason he hadn’t.
“He can’t just pick up the phone and make a call.”
“He’s been through his illness, Peter, so that’s a little insulting,” Kirby told him.
“It’s not insulting for someone to isolate on their own,” Doocy retorted.
“It is. It is,” Kirby told him.
“You suggested he had a lot of free time like he wasn’t doing anything and you know he isn’t, Mr. Doocy,” Kirby said. Using Doocy’s last name. Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki had frequent clashes with Doocy, but usually just referred to him as “Peter.”
As for a phone call with Xi, Kirby said he had no information to talk to.
“He’s talked to Xi five times. He is not afraid to call President Xi. If a phone call is the right answer, I’m sure President Biden will.” He said lines of communication with Beijing were “still open.”
The back-and-forth came on a day when Biden held a “virtual” event with corporate and union leaders, but did not appear publicly further on his fifth day of “rebound” isolation.