Climate envoy John Kerry told a French television news outlet Monday that President Joe Biden had been unaware of a dispute between the U.S. and France last month.
A video clip of the interview went viral after Kerry tried to smooth over the international rift created when France said it had been blindsided by the Biden administration’s trilateral agreement between the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia over the exchange of submarine technology.
French President Emmanuel Macron briefly pulled his ambassador to the U.S. from the country.
“[Biden] asked me. He said, ‘What’s the situation?’ And I explained — he had not been aware of that,” Kerry told BFMTV. “He literally had not been aware of what had transpired.
“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.”
Reaction to Kerry’s comments were swift.
“@ClimateEnvoy John Kerry says @POTUS isn’t consulted on reactions of key US Allies,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., tweeted. “This could explain disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal & Biden Admin selling out Eastern European allies in NATO & Ukraine while waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”
“What else does Joe Biden not know??” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., tweeted.
“Regarding a crucial strategic decision which reverberated around the world, Kerry says of the President of the United States: ‘He literally had not been aware of what had transpired,'” tweeted Fredric U. Dicker, former New York Post columnist.
“If Joe Biden was not aware that France had recalled its ambassador, what else doesn’t he know?” The Federalist political editor John Daniel Davidson tweeted.
“Remember, questioning the 78-year-old president’s ability to remember what he’s been told in briefings, or handle the pressures of the job, is absolutely unacceptable, or at least that is what I keep getting told,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty tweeted.
The U.S. last month negotiated a military pact, known as AUKUS, with Great Britain and Australia. The deal voided a $40 billion 2016 submarine contract between France and the Aussie government, Fox News reported.
France’s minister of foreign affairs called the move a “stab in the back,” Fox News said.