Deep State: Leaks Suggest Admin Staffers Intentionally Kept Biden Ignorant of Key Details on AUKUS Sub Deal


During a joint media briefing with French President Emmanuel Macron in Rome last week, U.S. President Joe Biden swore he didn’t know the French hadn’t been briefed in advance on AUKUS, a deal in which the United States and United Kingdom would provide nuclear submarines to Australia, canceling out a deal Australia had made with France for conventionally powered submarines.

“Well, the answer is: I think what happened was — to use an English phrase, what we did was ‘clumsy.’ It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened,” Biden said when asked about whether the United States’ relationship with France had been mended.

“What did you think had happened that had not happened?” the reporter asked in response.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through. I, honest to God, did not know you had not been,” Biden said, according to the White House transcript of the event. “But having said that, look, there’s too much we have done together, suffered together, celebrated together, and valued together for anything to really break this up.”

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This seemed hard to believe when it was uttered several days ago. Now, thanks to documents obtained by The Australian, we know that Biden is likely either lying, no longer possesses the memory to be president, or is not even being informed of what is happening in his own White House.

In a document published on Tuesday in Australia (Monday in the U.S.), The Australian’s Cameron Stewart, an associate editor, wrote that “there is a confidential 15-page document that raises serious doubts about the President’s claim he believed France knew ahead of time that its $90bn [U.S. $66 billion] contract with Australia would be terminated.

“The document shows Joe Biden’s advisers in the White House National Security Council were fully aware France had not been told ahead of the announcement of the new Australia-US-UK AUKUS pact in September that its contract to build French Attack-class submarines was doomed,” he continued, adding the secret document “describes, to the hour, how the world would be told of the new Australia-US-UK AUKUS pact.”

Do you think Biden really was taken by surprise on this?

The report reveals two particularly damning things. First, there were discussions between the National Security Council and Australian and British officials about how the deal would be announced and how France would be placated.

Second, judging by the amount of time in the discussions spent on the geopolitical waves AUKUS would cause, they were less worried about the fallout with France than they were with other potential rifts.

“How would China respond? How would Japan and Korea react? What were the implications for non-proliferation? How do we deal with Canada, a fellow member of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance, who also wanted technology which would be promised to Australia under AUKUS?” Stewart wrote.

Nevertheless, an Australian government official said Biden’s National Security Council was aware the French would be miffed — if not perhaps as thermonuclearly miffed as they ended up being, with America’s oldest ally recalling its ambassador briefly over the submarine pact.

“Everything was timed and understood completely,” the Australian official said.

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“We had a decision timeline that everyone had to hit on different marks. The announcement was made within the same news cycle because you can’t cancel the biggest procurement in our history and not have an answer to the question of what next? The sequencing was understood by everybody that that was the only way we could do it.”

Furthermore, Biden’s comments — and the 15-page confidential document — could open up a new diplomatic rift in Stewart’s eyes, this one with Australia.

In the document, U.S. officials predicted France’s fury to be directed at Australia, not the United States. Now that our president is denying he knew anything about whether or not France was informed, “Biden has allowed Australia to be collateral damage for what he sees as the larger issue of repairing relations with France,” Stewart argued.

Perhaps. On the other hand, The Australian’s report indicated Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had given the French more of a heads-up than French officials have let on; During a meeting in June, sources told Stewart, Morrison told Macron the conventionally powered subs France was providing might not meet Australia’s military needs.

But even if France’s claim that the Macron government was totally gobsmacked by the AUKUS deal was partly a theatrical show of Gallic temper, it doesn’t erase the fact that the leaked document raises new questions about what Biden knew about AUKUS and what it means about his statement to Macron.

While the possibility that Biden was lying outright immediately suggests itself, presidedntial mendacity is the least concerning possibility here, surprisingly.

A good deal more worrying is the conclusion that perhaps National Security Council officials considered Biden’s knowledge, input or even approval when it came to the potential of French backlash so unnecessary, they didn’t bother briefing him on it — a sign of dysfunction within Biden’s NSC if there ever was.

And then there’s yet another discomfiting alternative: Our misrecollector in chief was fully informed and simply forgot.

When former President Donald Trump sparred with our allies over our geopolitical and military commitments, the news cycle would spin for days — if not weeks — about the obloquy and the disrespect for norms Trump was evincing.

President Biden’s administration managed to alienate America’s oldest ally to the extent it recalled its ambassador and then claimed he wasn’t informed they hadn’t been informed. The mainstream media greeted this with a collective shrug.

If The Australian’s report is accurate, we now know Biden was either lying, has a grotesquely unreliable memory, or is such an empty figurehead of the White House that the deep state operatives populating the administration intentionally kept him ignorant about a key detail of one of the biggest foreign policy deals of his young administration.

None of that should be comforting to Americans, but the last one is the worst of all.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture