Biden Misspeaks, Giving Mask Mandate Answer to Title 42 Question

Biden Misspeaks, Giving Mask Mandate Answer to Title 42 Question
President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
Nick Ciolino

President Joe Biden misspoke while fielding questions from reporters Thursday, giving an answer on a topic unrelated to the question posed and forcing White House staff to once again issue a correction on behalf of the president.

Following a live address April 21 on renewed military aid to Ukraine, a reporter asked Biden whether his administration is considering delaying the end of Title 42—the public health policy that limits immigration and is set to end next month.

Biden, 79, then proceeded to give an answer conflating the Title 42 issue with that of federal mask requirements on planes.

“No,” he began. “What I'm considering is continuing to hear from my, my—

"First of all, there’s going to be an appeal by the Justice Department (DOJ), because as a matter of principle, we want to be in a position where if, in fact, it is strongly concluded by the scientists that we need Title 42, that we’d be able to do that.”

The Justice Department is not appealing the decision to end Title 42—a call that was made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—but the DOJ is appealing a ruling by a federal judge this week that the CDC’s mask requirement for public transportation is beyond its legal authority.

Biden finished his answer by returning to the issue of Title 42 saying, “there has been no decision on extending Title 42.”

Following the press conference, White House staff issued a statement to reporters on behalf of President Biden:

“I want to clarify that, in comments at the conclusion of my remarks this morning, I was referring to the CDC’s mask mandate and there is no Department of Justice action on Title 42.”

The White House has had to clarify the president’s comments after the fact many times in recent months.

During a press conference in January, as Russia was massing troops along Ukraine’s border in preparation for an invasion, Biden said that Russia might face fewer penalties from the United States for a “minor incursion” into Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by saying there “are no minor incursions on small nations.”

And White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement seeking to clarify Biden’s comment by saying the president was “clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response.”

About two months later, during a press conference in Belgium, Biden said that the United States would respond “in kind” if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine. National security adviser Jake Sullivan later had to make clear to reporters aboard Air Force One that “the United States has no intention of using chemical weapons, period, under any circumstance.”

While on the same European trip, Biden told a group of Army paratroopers in Poland that they would witness the bravery of Ukrainian civilians defending their country “when you’re there.” The White House had to mop this up as well, releasing a statement saying, “the president has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”

Also in Poland, Biden ended a speech by saying Putin “cannot remain in power,” causing confusion as to whether the United States was seeking to topple the Russian regime.

White House staff again had to clarify saying Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia.” Biden, himself, later said he is “not walking [the statement] back” but sought to add context by saying “I was talking to the Russian people” and that “it’s more an aspiration than anything he shouldn’t be in power.”