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Psaki says Biden was referring to Trump’s TWEETS when he called ex-president ‘xenophobic’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was referring to former President Donald Trump‘s tweets when he called Trump ‘xenophobic’ on the heels of Trump implementing the travel ban last year with China. 

‘What the president was critical of was the way that the former president put out, I believe, a xenophobic tweet and what he called the coronavirus and who he directed it at,’ Psaki said at Monday’s press briefing. ‘The president has not been critical of travel restrictions, we have put those in place ourselves in the spring,’ she added.  

Psaki was responding to Fox News’ Peter Doocy, who also asked her why the president was spotted maskless while out shopping in Nantucket this weekend.  

‘The president is somebody who follows the recommendations and the advice of the CDC,’ Psaki said. ‘I don’t know what the circumstances were at that particular moment.’

Doocy first pounced on comments Biden made in the past, which could make him look like a hypocrite for his decision this weekend to bar entry to most travelers from eight African countries, where the new Omicron COVID-19 variant is prevalent.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was referring to former President Donald Trump’s tweets when he called Trump ‘xenophobic’ on the heels of Trump implementing the travel ban last year with China

President Joe Biden

Former President Donald Trump

Psaki was asked about previous comments then candidate Joe Biden (left) made the same day former President Donald Trump (right) announced the travel ban with China. Biden’s campaign and later Biden said he was referencing previous comments Trump had made, not explicitly calling Trump’s travel ban ‘xenophobic’ 

Biden, however, long criticized Trump's use of the 'Chinese Virus' to refer to COVID-19

Biden, however, long criticized Trump’s use of the ‘Chinese Virus’ to refer to COVID-19 

On the same day Trump announced he was banning travel from China in January 2020, Biden appeared at an Iowa campaign stop and spoke of Trump’s ‘hysterical xenophobia’ and ‘fear mongering.’ 

Biden took to the stage about 15 minutes after the ban was announced, with his campaign later denying he was linking the two things.   

In an op-ed several days earlier, however, Biden knocked Trump’s response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when Trump was a private person and Biden was vice president. 

‘I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic,’ Biden wrote for USA Today, adding that Trump wrongly backed ‘reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse.’  

At the time, Trump had tweeted ‘close down the flights from Ebola infected areas right now.’   

Several times during the campaign, Trump went after Biden for suggesting it was racist to cut off travel with China during the beginning of the pandemic. 

‘When I closed he said I should not have closed,’ Trump said when the two men debated each other in October 2020. ‘He said this is a terrible thing, you are a xenophobe, I think he called me racist. Now he says I should have closed it earlier.’ 

Biden responded by saying Trump had taken the jab out of context. 

‘I did not say either of those things,’ Biden said. ‘I talked about his xenophobia in a different context, not about closing the border to Chinese coming to the United States.’   

A number of fact-checkers have sided with Biden on the matter, though The Washington Post suggested there was evidence to support Trump’s thinking. 

As Psaki said Monday, Biden was long critical of Trump using ‘China virus’ to refer to COVID. 

Doocy then asked Psaki about Biden wearing his mask under his chin while shopping at the Nantucket store Murray’s Toggery Shop, which had ‘Required: Face Covering’ signs on the windows. 

Fox News' Peter Doocy also asked Psaki about Biden not wearing his mask to shop indoors while visiting Nantucket over the Thanksgiving break

Fox News’ Peter Doocy also asked Psaki about Biden not wearing his mask to shop indoors while visiting Nantucket over the Thanksgiving break  

Biden was captured at Murray's Toggery Shop, which had a sign that said 'Required Face Covering,' with his face mask under his chin, while he carried around a chocolate milkshake

Biden was captured at Murray’s Toggery Shop, which had a sign that said ‘Required Face Covering,’ with his face mask under his chin, while he carried around a chocolate milkshake 

Biden was carrying a chocolate milkshake at the time.  

Nantucket island brought back an indoor mask mandate as of November 18. 

Nantucket has a fairly low number of cases, but sewage from the island showed  a prevalence of the virus, which triggered a return to masking indoors.  

The Centers for Disease Control recommends vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they’re in an area of high virus transmission. 

Biden told Americans Monday they should wear masks indoors as he addressed the Omicron variant at the White House. 

‘I encourage everyone to wear a mask when they’re indoors in a crowded circumstance, like we are right now,’ he told the dozen or so reporters covering his remarks. ‘And unless you’re eating or speaking at a microphone.’  


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