WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden admitted Wednesday he didn’t know how serious the Abbott baby formula plant shutting down in Michigan and the recalls would affect supply until April, raising questions about who at the White House knew before the President.
Speaking at a White House roundtable, Biden’s admission came after multiple CEOs from companies said they knew immediately how bad the shortages could get for Americans looking for the formula to feed their babies.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the impact of one facility – of the Abbott facility,” Biden said when asked how quickly the administration acted.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed Biden about the manufacturers saying they knew quickly the plant shutting down would cause immediate problems.
“They did, but I didn’t,” Biden responded.
During the roundtable, the President asked Robert Cleveland, a senior vice president with Rickett, if they were surprised the shutdown had “this profound effect immediately.”
“No, sir, we were we were aware of the general impact that this would have,” Cleveland responded. “From the moment that that recall was announced we reached out immediately to retail partners like Target and Walmart to tell them this is what we think will happen.”
The news raises questions about who at the White House knew about the shortage before Biden did. Last month, the President pushed back when asked by reporters if the administration should have reacted faster to the shortages.
“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have,” he said at the time.
“But we moved as quickly as a problem became apparent to us,” Biden continued, “and we have to move with caution as well as speed.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was pressed on the issue at Wednesday’s press briefing but still claimed Biden wasn’t aware of the seriousness until April despite his comments from just hours earlier.
“We’ve been working on this issue since day one of the recall,” she said. “The recall happened on February 17. On February 18, USDA issued detailed guidance to states on how to seek waivers in their WIC programs.”
Jean-Pierre said she hasn’t spoken to Biden about those comments yet when asked if someone in the administration did not inform the President of the seriousness of the shortage.
“I know that he just said that a few moments ago, so I would have to … to talk to him about the April date,” she said. “But what I can tell you is what he has seen, and this I know for certain, is that seeing the empty shelves is unacceptable.”
Then Jean-Pierre was pressed if the President was unaware of the “around the clock” work and seemed to suggest yes before switching to saying she had not heard Biden’s comments.
“I mean, the President has multiple issues crises at the moment,” Jean-Pierre responded. “When he walked into the administration, he talked about the multiple crises that we needed to deal with as a country.”
“I was in my office. I did not actually hear what the President said,” she added.