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On the defensive and appearing on edge after ceding the public relations advantage to Vladimir Putin in their historic summit in Geneva, President Biden lashed out at the American press at the end of a short, 33-minute briefing.
Biden tried to wrap up his Q&A after fielding questions from just six journalists during an appearance that lasted around 30 minutes — about half the time that Putin spent during his own news conference earlier in Geneva, Switzerland.
But other reporters kept peppering him with questions as he walked off stage, including CNN’s Kaitlin Collins, who shouted out about Putin, “Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?”
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior! What the hell? What do you do all of the time? When did I say I was confident?” Biden shot back as he walked toward her with his finger in the air.
The 78-year-old president — who had earlier removed his suit jacket while standing in sunny, 88-degree heat — then walked back toward the lectern to continue his harangue.
“What I said was — let’s get this straight — I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacted to them and they diminished their standing in the world,” he said angrily.
“I’m not confident of anything, I’m just stating the facts.”
Biden erupted again when Collins followed up by noting how Putin had denied any involvement in cyberattacks against the US and downplayed Russia’s human rights violations, then asked Biden how their meeting could be considered constructive.
“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden shot back before storming off.
Before taking any questions, Biden acknowledged that his staff had told him ahead of time which reporters would get a crack.
“As usual, folks, they gave me a list of people I’m going to call on,” he said.
Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One a few minutes later, Biden apologized “for having been short” with Collins.
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