There’s been a concerning turn of events during President Joe Biden’s trip to the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Biden was noticeably absent as the conference wrapped Tuesday night with its traditional gala, which included some of the world’s most powerful leaders.
According to Fox News, the president instead returned to his hotel room for the evening.
At the same time, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and skipped the gala as a result, according to The Associated Press.
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy seemed genuinely surprised that Biden suddenly decided not to attend the event.
“The breaking news would be that President Biden is missing the G-20 leaders dinner,” Doocy reported.
“He is supposed to be at a supper right now … with everybody that flew in,” he said. “If you’re the U.S. president, you spent basically two days flying to get here for a dinner like this.”
As Doocy noted, Biden coughed during a briefing the day prior and told reporters he had “a little cold.”
“We do not know what exactly is going on with the president,” the Fox News reporter said. “They called an early lid. So we will keep you posted on what exactly is going on.”
Peter Doocy: “The breaking news would be President Biden is missing the G20 leaders dinner. We don’t know what’s exactly going on with President, they called an early lid.” pic.twitter.com/xQmkjs3yDC
— Becker News (@NewsBecker) November 15, 2022
Sen and Biden were close together on several occasions in previous days. Still, even though the president was reportedly later seen coughing, the White House said the U.S. president had tested negative for the virus, according to The Telegraph.
The White House also said Biden was “not considered a close contact as defined by the CDC.”
White House: “The President tested negative this morning and is not considered a close contact as defined by the CDC.” h/t pooler @GeoffEarle
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) November 15, 2022
Shaking hands, standing together without masks and sitting together — all of which happened between the two leaders — apparently does not meet the “close contact” standard of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Biden met with Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia to discuss the importance of ASEAN centrality. pic.twitter.com/VvlVLQTVCp
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 12, 2022
Notably, Biden’s schedule earlier in the day indicated that he was, in fact, set to attend the G-20 gala.
The White House’s explanation for why the president skipped out was that the nearly 80-year-old leader had experienced a “full day” of meetings and “needed to attend to a few items tonight,” according to Fox News.
The second part of the White House’s excuse raised eyebrows. It’s unclear what those “few items” were, though whatever happened was clearly significant enough to risk drawing even more attention to the situation in the headlines.
According to Fox News, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Biden’s decision to pass on the event “was not an issue.” It also said Biden was on track for his schedule for Wednesday.
The AP reported that the summit’s Indonesian organizers required delegates and journalists to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, be subjected to temperature checks and test daily for COVID-19 infection. The report said it wasn’t clear if government leaders were required to do the same.
We should be used to Biden’s handlers calling early lids at the weirdest times, but this particular lid certainly raises questions, given the context of a possible COVID-19 outbreak among some of the world’s top leaders.
On the other hand, he might be totally fine and just a bit tired from his “little cold.”
If Biden sticks to his public schedule, Doocy and other reporters in attendance will be able to get a closer look at the president on Wednesday.
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