From President Joe Biden's news conference in Brussels on Thursday, held after an extraordinary summit with NATO member states and before the president huddled with counterparts from the G-7 group of industrialized nations and the European Council, the major headline that emerged was his acknowledgment that Washington is leading an effort to eject Russia from the G-20.
"That was raised today," the president told reporters. "And I raised the possibility, if that can't be done — if Indonesia and others do not agree, then we should, in my view, ask [about] Ukraine being able to attend the G-20 meetings and observe."
Indonesia holds the rotating presidency for the G-20 and has balked at excluding Russia from the group gathering to be held in Jakarta later this year. The Kremlin has said Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend.
Yet the news conference was unusual for a number of other reasons. At one point, Biden effectively lost control of the proceedings, shouting and pleading with reporters to quiet down: "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," he said. "Hold on a second! Please!"
He also appeared to grow visibly irritated when Christina Ruffini of CBS News asked: "Deterrence didn't work. What makes you think Vladimir Putin will alter course based on the action you've taken today?"
"Let's get something straight," President Biden snapped. "I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter." He went on to say that his whole point in convening the trio of summits with European and Asian allies was to persuade them, where the economic sanctions are concerned, to "sustain what we're doing not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year."
That marked the first time the president has placed a potential end-frame around the sanctions activity targeting Russia's economy.
Biden also declined, when asked about former President Donald Trump, to leave domestic politics at the water's edge.
"The next election, I'd be very fortunate if I had that same man running against me," he said, before leaving the stage.
As if that were not unusual enough, the president, earlier in the news conference, had felt compelled to declare himself fit for the office.
"One of the things that I take some solace from," he said, "is I don't think you'll find any European leader who thinks that I am not up to the job."
James Rosen is the chief White House correspondent for Newsmax and has covered the State Department, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and the Pentagon. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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