Biden Gets Nailed With Khashoggi Questions as Handlers Get Aggressive With Press

Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP

Joe Biden’s time in Israel did not go well, with everything from appearing lost and confused on stage twice to having multiple gaffes that insulted our allies.


He is now in Saudi Arabia, meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and a variety of other Saudi officials. Among other reasons, he’s meeting to talk about them producing more oil.

Biden has hedged when asked about meeting with MBS personally because he had previously termed the nation a pariah over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Indeed, that was why some speculated that he might suddenly be adopting a “fist bump” policy while in the Middle East, so there wouldn’t be the image of him shaking hands with MBS. Biden had no problem shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.

They may have been on to something there because when Biden met MBS, that’s exactly what he happened. Biden gave him a fist bump.

Whoever told Biden to take that strategy doesn’t seem to get that fist bumping the guy you deemed a pariah and a murderer doesn’t look any better than a handshake, particularly when you’re all smiling together.

When they sat down in the meeting that Biden had suggested they wouldn’t have, the U.S. press then began to pepper both Biden and the Saudis with questions about Khashoggi.


Here’s what looks like the smirk.

NBC’s Peter Alexander was one of those people. He asked if they were going to apologize to Jamal Khashoggi’s family. Alexander didn’t think MBS looked “uncomfortable” — indeed, he described MBS’ reaction as a “smirk” — before the reporter was grabbed by a Saudi aide.

Another reporter asked Biden if “Saudi Arabia was still a pariah.”

Then you can hear what sounds like the Biden communications people trying to push the press out of the room, with “Thank you, guys, THANK YOU” (meaning: Get out now).


It is not clear yet if Biden has raised the issue with MBS about Khashoggi. Biden had previously tried to evade the question about whether he would, suggesting that they knew already how he felt. Not exactly a great response on an issue you supposedly care about.

But as we previously reported, the word is that even though he’s going to talk about “energy security,” he’s not going to walk away from the meeting with any new promises to pump more oil. So, we’ll have to see if that report gets confirmed, but it doesn’t look good for Biden’s chances. What was the point of this trip then? So far, it doesn’t look like much.


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