White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s explanation for why President Biden left the previous day's Medal of Honor ceremony early didn’t go over well on social media Wednesday.
Reporters questioned Jean-Pierre on Biden leaving right after placing a medal on former U.S. Army Captain and Vietnam War veteran Larry Taylor but before the concluding prayer. Biden had stayed for the benediction at other Medal of Honor ceremonies. While his early exit was criticized online, the press secretary insisted that it was all planned.
"He left as planned, as it was planned," Jean-Pierre told reporters. "He left when there was a pause in the program in order to minimize his close contact with attendees who are about to participate in a reception."
She added, "We've got to put this all in context. We planned for the president to leave when there was a pause in the program so that it would minimize him being in the room. He did just that. And I also would want to add that before the event started, the president spent a good amount of time with the captain, Capt. Taylor and his family. And everybody was masked because he wanted to spend that quality, important time."
Users on "X," formerly known as Twitter, didn’t believe the explanation and mocked Jean-Pierre for attempting to spin the situation.
"Don’t lie," conservative media personality Graham Allen insisted.
"Biden was in close contact with people while maskless for the entire ceremony to that point. The way this press secretary continues to insult the intelligence of anyone above a 50 IQ is breathtaking," FOX News contributor Joe Concha wrote.
Former Virginia congressional candidate Jeffery A. Dove Jr. asked, "If this is the case why didn’t they just say that? This is a whole lot of ‘CYA’ if you ask me."
"So, Biden ‘very purposefully’ abandoned a Medal of Honor recipient on stage before the ceremony was over — meaning the situation was as bad, if not worse, than it looked?" Townhall.com managing editor Spencer Brown wondered.
Former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrote, "is there anything the White House press corps won't buy? He left before the benediction."
Video from Medal of Honor awards ceremonies in 2021 and 2022 showed that Biden remained on stage with medal recipients as the concluding prayer was offered. Biden only left after the event was dismissed and the White House band began playing.
Jean-Pierre also responded to criticism of Biden removing his mask during Tuesday's ceremony despite the White House previously stating that he would follow COVID-19 protocols after first lady Jill Biden’s positive test.
"The president took off his mask, as I said he would, to deliver incredibly powerful remarks about this captain, Capt. Taylor, and what he did in service to our nation," Jean-Pierre acknowledged. "And for a brief time afterwards, he also didn't have his mask on."
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Fox News' Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.