GOP Sen Risch asks Blinken who's 'calling the shots' at White House, says Biden is 'puppeteer act'

The Republican was trying to get to the bottom of whose decision making was behind the botched Afghan withdrawal

Published: September 14, 2021 1:36pm

Updated: September 14, 2021 2:54pm

Sen. James Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, demanded Tuesday to know who is in fact "calling the shots" at the White House, claiming that the current administration is a "puppeteer act" in which someone aside from President Biden is making the decisions.

The Idaho senator launched into an aggressive stream of questions during the committee's questioning of Secretary of State Antony Blinked on the subject of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Calling the botched withdrawal a "dismal failure," Risch proceeded to say, "One of the things we need to get to the bottom of is who is response for this? Who made the decisions? [Biden] can't even speak without someone in the White House censoring or signing off on it."

The senator made reference to an incident last week in which Biden was abruptly cut off during a wildfire briefing just as he was preparing to ask an unscripted question to one of the state foresters.

"This is a puppeteer act, if you would, and we need to know who's in charge and who is making the decisions," Risch said.

Blinken responded: "Ultimately, the president makes the decisions. As in every case, ultimately decisions that can only be decided by the president are decided by the president."

The country's top diplomat also argued the president "speaks very cleary and very deliberately for himself. No one else does."

In recent weeks Biden has, on several occasions, walked away from a podium after saying he wasn't "supposed to take any questions," or called on journalists from a predetermined list so that he wouldn't "get in trouble."

Biden's apparent inability to navigate public appearances without a script piggybacks reports of West Wing staffers turning off or muting televisions when their boss gets up to speak due to anxiety that he will veer off-course from the carefully selected messaging points of the White House staff.

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