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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Wednesday's press briefing that John Kerry didn't actually mean what he said when he claimed during an interview this week that President Joe Biden "literally" did not know what was happening with the recent crisis involving France.
The Daily Wire reported yesterday that the crisis erupted between the U.S. and France last month after Australia dumped a multi-billion dollar contract with France for submarines, then signed on with the U.S. and the U.K. instead.
"The move by the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. caused France to cancel a gala in the U.S. and to recall its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia,
" the report said. "French leaders described the incident as a betrayal and said that they had been lied to by the Biden administration.
"He asked me. He said, 'What's the situation?' and I explained exactly, uh. He wasn't, he had not been aware of that,
" Kerry said. "He literally had not been aware of what had transpired, and I don't want to go into the details of it, but suffice it to say, that the president, my president is very committed to strengthening the relationship and making sure that this is a small event of the past and moving on to the much more important future.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Psaki about Kerry's remarks, noting that Psaki has indicated in the past that Biden's first love is foreign policy.
"I would encourage you to ask John Kerry specifically about the context of his comments,
" Psaki said. "The president and John - and the former secretary are also good friends. He relies on his counsel, and - as he does with many members of his national security team. But that certainly is not what he was intending to convey.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to John Kerry saying Biden "literally had not been aware
" that the French were upset about the U.S. submarine deal with Australia:
"Ask John Kerry"
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA THE WHITE HOUSE:
REPORTER: Just one more. John Kerry says that after France was cut out of the nuclear submarine deal, and they were upset enough about being left in the dark that they pulled their ambassador, he went to the president and, quote, "The president, literally, had not been aware of what had transpired." So what else are you guys not telling the president?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Of course, he was aware of the French being upset - let me finish -
REPORTER: No, Kerry -
PSAKI: Let me -
REPORTER: - said he "literally..." -
PSAKI: Let me - let me finish.
REPORTER: - "had not been aware."
PSAKI: I know John Kerry quite well. He, of course, was aware - the president - of the French being displeased about the deal with the Australians. John Kerry also speaks regularly to the French, as a part of his role as the Climate Envoy. He's someone who also served as Secretary of State. He's someone I - alone - traveled to France with him 25 times.
He, of course, conveyed to the president what his read is - was of what they were specifically unhappy about and how to help address it.
REPORTER: A follow-up on France, Jen?
REPORTER: You said - you've said this president's first love is foreign policy. So, why doesn't he know about these things in real time?
PSAKI: Of course, he knew about the French being displeased about -
REPORTER: John Kerry said -
PSAKI: Let me finish.
REPORTER: - he "literally had not be aware."
PSAKI: Peter, I would encourage you to ask John Kerry specifically about the context of his comments. The president and John - and the former secretary are also good friends. He relies on his counsel, and - as he does with many members of his national security team. But that certainly is not what he was intending to convey.
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