White House aides late Tuesday shouted down reporters’ questions to President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during an Oval Office meeting, leaving the president’s answer to an immigration question undecipherable.
The pool of reporters covering the event immediately filed a formal complaint with White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s office.
The two world leaders had met at the White House to discuss trade, the Afghanistan exit, COVID-19 and other issues.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Biden did not engage in the traditional post-meeting press conference that U.S. presidents traditionally have with visiting world leaders. Instead, they briefly met with reporters before the meeting.
While Mr. Biden opted to tell a lengthy story about how many miles he has traveled on Amtrak, Mr. Johnson suggested they take questions from the press.
The prime minister called on a British reporter who asked about a United Kingdom criminal case involving a U.S. official claiming diplomatic immunity. A second British reporter posed a question to Mr. Johnson.
When it was time for U.S. reporters to ask questions, White House aides shouted over them and rushed them out of the Oval Office.
“White House aides shouted down U.S. attempts to ask questions,” CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe tweeted. “I asked Biden about the southern border and we couldn’t decipher what he said.”
Mr. O’Keefe later said it appeared that Mr. Biden said: “Violence is not justified.”
“As we were leaving, I asked the president for his reaction to the situation on the southern border. Due to shouting by White House aides, the noise of everyone leaving the president wearing his mask, we could not make out his answer,” he said in a second tweet.
Other reporters also griped on Twitter, and British journalist Pippa Crerar chimed in, saying the shouting was “totally out of order.”
“An unwelcome lack of accountability,” she tweeted.
In a statement, White House Correspondents Association President Steven Portnoy, a CBS News reporter, confirmed that the press pool spoke with Ms. Psaki about the incident.
“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred and suggested that she was not in position to offer an immediate solution. Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week,” Mr. Portnoy said.