Joe Biden reportedly spent Sunday afternoon in an unscheduled meeting in the Oval Office with his ‘senior team’, according to the White House. Biden, who is spending a rare weekend at the Executive Mansion, also had an unscheduled meeting with his senior team on Saturday. The unusual meetings come as Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned both Russia and China about military attacks on Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, in response to threatening military maneuvers in recent days. (Also in the news was Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz going dark, with some reports crediting an alleged cyber attack by Israel.)
Screen image via Meet the Press/Twitter
NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell posted a screen image Sunday afternoon of a Marine guard posted outside the West Wing of the White House, an indication that Biden was in the Oval Office, “Sunday late afternoon update. Marine stationed at West Wing door for a time. WH aides tell us “The President is meeting with members of his senior team in the Oval Office.””
Sunday late afternoon update. Marine stationed at West Wing door for a time. WH aides tell us “The President is meeting with members of his senior team in the Oval Office.” pic.twitter.com/EVgJAwNDJ0
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) April 11, 2021
Reporter Devon Heinen posted on Saturday that the White House said Biden had met with his senior team at the White House, “JUST IN (via WH press pool) WH provides info re: #Biden’s Saturday agenda: “Today, the President is meeting with members of his senior team. The President has no public events scheduled.” As seen below, Biden had no meetings planned for the weekend.
JUST IN (via WH press pool)
WH provides info re: #Biden's Saturday agenda:
"Today, the President is meeting with members of his senior team. The President has no public events scheduled." pic.twitter.com/WTZkDwrYza
— Devon Heinen (@DevonHeinen) April 10, 2021
Blinken appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning. In an interview with host Chuck Todd, Blinken warned both Russia and China, however Todd brought up Russia taking Crimea from Ukraine by force during the Obama administration. Interview excerpt via Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD: Are we prepared to defend Taiwan militarily?
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: So, Chuck, what we’ve seen, and what is of real concern to us, is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan, raising tensions in the Straits. And we have a commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, a bipartisan commitment that’s existed for many, many years, to make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself, and to make sure that we’re sustaining peace and security in the Western Pacific. We stand behind those commitments. And all I can tell you is it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force.
CHUCK TODD: I understand that. So it does sound like you’re saying that, look, we have commitments. And if China does try something in Taiwan, we will militarily respond?
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. All I can tell you is we have a serious commitment to Taiwan being able to defend itself. We have a serious commitment to peace and security in the Western Pacific. And in that context, it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo by force.
CHUCK TODD: Why — do you understand, if China looks at what our reaction was to Crimea and Russia, and think, think those commitments are not as rock-solid as you just outlined them as?
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s true. In the case of Crimea, in the case of the Donbas, the United States back then led a very significant international effort to impose real costs and sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Crimea, in the Donbas. We’ve —
CHUCK TODD: How’s that worked out? In fairness, sir?
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, — so what we don’t —
CHUCK TODD: I mean, it hasn’t worked out very well.
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: What we don’t know is, would — has this deterred Russia from doing even more? And as we speak right now, I have to tell you I have real concerns about Russia’s actions on the borders of Ukraine. There are more Russian forces massed on those borders than at any time since 2014 when Russia first invaded. That’s why we’re in very close contact, in close coordination, with our allies and partners in Europe. All of us share that concern. And President Biden’s been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences. He’s equally clear-eyed about the proposition that, when it comes to Russia, there are areas where our interests align, or certainly overlap, and we have an interest in working together. For example, on arms control, as we did in extending the START Agreement. So the question is, “Is Russia going to continue to act aggressively and recklessly?” If it does, the president’s been clear, there’ll be costs, there’ll be consequences.
CHUCK TODD: Mr. Secretary, what you just outlined on Russia sounds like the exact same policy the Obama-Biden administration had towards Russia on this. That was — that has not positioned Russia to be better actors. That didn’t — that policy, arguably, didn’t work. We’re not saying that Trump’s policy worked either. What do you say to that?
SEC. ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, I say, first of all, we can’t go, we can’t go back to four years ago, or six years ago, or eight years ago. Pick your, pick your year. We have to deal with the world as it is now and as we anticipate it will be. What I can tell you is this: the president, before he was elected, made clear that, again, when it comes to Russia’s actions, there’ll be costs and consequences if it acts recklessly and aggressively and you could hold him to that word.