Speed Reads

questionable questioning

Senate Republican grills Antony Blinken as to who can 'press the button' and stop Biden from speaking

When given the opportunity, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) — ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — only asks the hard-hitting questions.

As a perfect example, Risch began Tuesday proceedings for a hearing on Afghanistan by fervently asking who has the power to cut off President Biden's mic and therefore censor him while he's speaking. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was fielding Risch's questions, denied the accusation multiple times (with a somewhat-amused expression on his face).

"We've all seen this," Risch said. "We saw it as recently as yesterday. Somebody in the White House has the authority to press the button and ... cut off the president's speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?"

Risch seems to have latched on to a moment during an Idaho wildfires briefing on Monday, in which a White House live feed cut out just as Biden asks an official a question. A clip of the moment was later shared by the Republican National Committee, and reported on by the New York Post as well as Fox News

However, as journalists have been quick to point out, the feed's abrupt conclusion was simply a part of a normal, planned "pool spray," in which press and cameras are allowed in for a meeting's start, but must be ushered out once Biden begins interviewing officials. 

When questioned by Risch, Blinken repeatedly insisted that "there is no such person" monitoring Biden's microphone and that the president speaks "very clearly and very deliberately for himself."

"Senator, I really don't know what you're referring to," Blinken added. "All I can tell you is having worked for the president for now 20 years ... the president very much speaks for himself."