OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Joe Biden clearly does not speak for himself.
Biden’s “handlers” at the White House are “clarifying” that he did not agree to any “swaps” of cyber-criminals with Moscow after Biden appeared to agree with a proposal floated by Russian Vladimir Vladamir Putin.
Putin had suggested a proposal to extradite any U.S. ransom hackers to Russia in exchange for sending any Russian hackers to the U.S.
Biden originally told reporters that the proposal was a sign of “progress,” but then his own security advisor walked it back and said the U.S. already holds hackers to account.
“If we agree to extradite criminals, then, of course, Russia will do that, we will do that, but only if the other side, in this case the United States, agrees to the same and will extradite the criminals in question to the Russian Federation,” Putin said in the interview.
When asked about it at the G7 Summit, Biden said: “That’s potentially a good sign of progress,”
“Yes, I’m open to, if there are crimes committed against Russia, then, in fact, people committing those crimes are being harbored in the United States, I’m committing to holding them accountable,” Biden said.
Then, on a flight to Brussels, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan clarified that Biden was not contemplating any kind of a “swap.”
“This is not about exchanges or swaps or anything like that. What the president was responding to in the affirmative was not the specific proposal of the exchange of cybercriminals,” Sullivan said.
“What he was saying was that if Vladimir Putin wants to come and say I‘m prepared to make sure that cybercrimes will be held accountable, Joe Biden is perfectly willing to say cybercriminals will be held accountable in America because they already are,” Sullivan said.
Quite amazing to see Biden say one thing at a Summit with world leaders and then his advisor delivers a totally different statement to the media.
It seems to suggest that even Biden’s own team is trying to avoid a press conference with Putin because they fear the former KGB officer could take advantage of Biden.
Biden, for his part, publicly admitted he did not want to hold a side-by-side presser with Putin.
“This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other,” Biden said at the end of the G7 summit.
“It’s about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship with Russia. We are not looking for conflict. We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms,” he said.
He spoke after the White House announced Biden would address the media solo following the summit meeting in Geneva.
Biden sat for an interview with NBC News reporter Keir Simmons, which aired on Sunday, and was asked about both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.