Jen Psaki retracts lie that Biden didn't check watch during transfer of servicemen's bodies killed in Afghanistan

Psaki said that future editions of the book would not have this statement.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who now serves as a political pundit and news show host on MSNBC, has been forced to retract a statement from her forthcoming book in which she said that President Joe Biden did not check his watch during a ceremony for 13 deceased military men and women killed in Afghanistan.

Psaki said that future editions of the book would not have this statement. The "detail in a few lines of the book about the exact number of times he looked at his watch will be removed in future reprints and the book," she said.

The book, "Say More," takes aim at critics of Biden, much as she did when she spoke on his behalf from the press briefing room during his first two years in office. She was later replaced by Karine Jean-Pierre. Psaki said in the book, per Axios, that the press went after Biden and the watch-check moment to make "him appear insensitive, concerned only about how much time had passed." In his defense, Psaki said he checked his watch only after the ceremony had concluded and the bodies of the military members were heading for their final resting places.

At the time, in August 2021, Biden was slammed for looking at his watch while the bodies of US armed servicemen and women lay draped in American flags before him. The photo has become iconic. While his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, stands at attention, Biden stands with his hand over his heart while checking the time on his left wrist.

When asked about it by the White House press corps, Psaki obfuscated and didn't really answer the question, instead mimicking her boss in diverting attention to his dead son, Beau, who died from cancer. Biden often brings him up when questions or circumstances become difficult. 

"One question on the dignified transfer, and then I want to get to Afghanistan," Psaki was asked by Fox News Jacqui Heinrich. "Some of the Gold Star families have criticized the President — President’s conduct at the dignified transfer. There was a father of one Marine who said that the President appeared to be checking his watch every time a flag-draped transfer case came out of the plane. And a sister of another Marine said that it felt like a fake and scripted apology. Was the President looking at his watch? And does he have a message to those people who felt that they were offended?"
"Well," Psaki began, "I would say his message to all of the family members who were there, those who were not even in attendance is that he is grateful to their sons and daughters, the sacrifice they made to the country; that he knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a child and the fact that no one can tell you anything or say anything — or there’s no words that are going to fill that hole that is left by that." 
"He’s not going to speak to and I’m not going to speak to the private conversations," Psaki continued. "Of course, they have the right to convey whatever they would like.  But I will tell you, from spending a lot of time with him over the past couple of days, that he was deeply impacted by these family members who he met just two days ago; that he talks about them frequently in meetings and the incredible service and sacrifice of their sons and daughters.  I — that is not going to change their suffering, but I wanted to convey that still."

The time check occurred at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on August 29, 2021, when President Joe Biden was present to receive the 13 fallen US soldiers killed in Afghanistan during his disastrous withdrawal of forces from that nation.

"You can see him jerk his left hand to pull the watch out from under his sleeve, then look down at it," reported Fox News Columnist Nicholas Fondacaro at the time.

The couple initially placed their hands over their hearts in a gesture of great reverence and solidarity.

Also present were top military officials Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin; Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant; and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Biden had commended the "bravery and sacrifice" of the US military. He said while the 13 deaths were "tragic," they died for a "worthy mission."

"The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others," said Biden.

"Their bravery and selflessness have enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far. May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days."

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