White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not deny that President Biden looked at his watch during a dignified transfer ceremony in honor of the 13 U.S. service members killed by ISIS-K in Kabul.
On Sunday, Biden met with the families of the troops killed in the Kabul attack and attended the ceremony to receive the remains of the service members at the Dover Air Force Base.
During the event, Biden appeared to look down at his watch, sparking criticism from conservatives and also from the families of the deceased service members.
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Psaki sidestepped a question by Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich during the daily press briefing Tuesday about criticism of the president’s conduct during the dignified transfer ceremony for the fallen troops, specifically for checking his watch in front of grieving families and the American flag draped caskets.
“Some of the Gold Star families have criticized the president’s conduct at the dignified transfer. There was a father of one Marine who said the president shouldn’t be checking his watch every time a flag draped transport case came by the plane. And a sister of another Marine said that it felt like a fake and scripted apology,” Heinrich stated during the briefing.
Heinrich asked Psaki, “Was the president looking at his watch and does he have a message for those people who felt that they were offended?”
Psaki did not answer Heinrich’s question about the watch, and instead offered condolences to the families on behalf of Biden.
“Well I would say his message to all of the family members, who were there, those who were not even in attendance, is that he is grateful to their sons and daughters, the sacrifice that they made to the country. That he knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a child and the fact no one can tell you anything, or say anything, that there’s no words that are going to fill that hole that is left by that.”
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“He’s not and I’m not going to speak to the private conversations, of course, they have the right to convey whatever they would like,” Psaki continued, referring to the Gold Star families.
“But I will tell you, from spending a lot of time with him over the last couple of days, that he was deeply impacted by these family members who he met, just two days ago. That he talks about them frequently in meetings and the incredible service of their sons and daughters. That is not going to change their suffering, but I wanted to convey that still.”
Sister of fallen Marine Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, Cheyenne McCollum, told Fox News that Biden’s apology to her family wasn’t “sincere.”
Cheyenne said that the president would not look at the family in the eye and spent the three-minute conversation talking about his late son, Beau Biden, rather than Rylee or the other 12 service members who perished last week in the ISIS-K attack near Kabul airport.
Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.