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White House rejects allegations that Biden froze at LA fundraiser

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday dismissed speculation that President Biden froze in the spotlight at a high-profile Hollywood fundraiser on Saturday night and had to be escorted to the exit by former President Barack Obama.

“Let's not forget that President Obama and President Biden have a relationship. They are friends. They are like family to each other, and I think that's what you saw,” she told reporters during a press conference in response to a question from The Daily Post based on a viral clip shared by The Hollywood Reporter. “You saw the president put his hand on President Biden's back and they walked off the stage after answering questions from Jimmy Kimmel. That's what you saw.”

There was a flurry of theories, attacks and speculation about what exactly people think they saw from the stage after this reporter shared a 42-second clip from the final moments of the fundraiser. Conservative supporters of Biden's Republican nemesis Donald Trump are using the clip to claim Biden's mental acuity remains questionable, while Democrats dismiss it as much ado about nothing.

After host Jimmy Kimmel thanked both presidents for their participation and called out an audience full of “teachers, doctors and nurses” and other professionals who are “optimistic about the future,” Biden and Obama waved to the audience. Obama started to head for the exit, but then noticed Biden lingering on the stage for less than 10 seconds. Obama is then seen grabbing Biden's wrist and leading him off the stage with his hand on his shoulder.

While some believe the exchange is open to interpretation, it didn't take long for the clip to go viral and theories to emerge. Was it a case of longtime political allies soaking up the scene and a lengthy standing ovation before shuffling away together as the curtain fell? Or was Biden caught in another moment similar to what happened at a recent Juneteeth concert at the White House?

The New York Post was the first major publication to run an article based on the video, headlined “Biden appears to freeze and has to be escorted off stage by Obama at mega LA fundraiser.” Dozens of media outlets followed, and the discussion on X, formerly Twitter, reached overdrive. Piers Morgan reposted that reporter's video, and it has since been viewed over 10 million times. Then came the counterarguments.

Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary and deputy assistant to the president, criticized the post in a series of tweets seen below. “Your ethical standards could use a little thawing,” Bates wrote in response to the article, which was published exclusively by THRs Video coverage of the event.

Bates also pointed out that Sunday's headline came shortly after similar reports about the G7 summit, which were proven to be edited videos designed to show Biden out of context of a larger scene and make his behavior seem questionable. But specifically about the fundraiser, Bates wrote: “By pretending that it's somehow wrong for the president to take in an applauding crowd for a few seconds, they're really just admitting — again — that they can't take on the leadership that's driving the world's strongest economic growth and driving violent crime to 50-year lows.”

Obama's senior adviser Eric Schultz also responded to X by posting: “That didn't happen.”

During Monday's briefing, Jean-Pierre also took aim at the other clips that have recently circulated, including the one in question from the fundraiser, as well as from the Juneteenth celebration and the G7 summit. She made a more general statement by lumping them together as doctored videos. “Instead of talking about the president's performance in office, and by that I mean his legislative accomplishments, what he's been able to do for the American people across the country, we see these deep fakes, these doctored videos,” she continued. “It was done, once again, with bad intent.”

Aside from the departures, there was plenty of other news from Saturday night's fundraiser. George Clooney and Julia Roberts unveiled a record-breaking total of over $30 million. Jack Black became known for wearing a “wicked American flag jumpsuit” and a “Dark Brandon” T-shirt. Jimmy Kimmel, who moderated the 40-minute chat between Biden and Barack Obama, invented nicknames for Biden's Republican nemesis Donald Trump, calling him everything from “Orange Julius Caesar” to “Donye West.”

Biden underscored the importance of the upcoming election by focusing on the Supreme Court, saying the ruling body had never strayed so far from the line of the American people, while Obama minced his words, pointing to Trump's freshly stamped criminal record of 34 felony convictions. “We have normalized behavior that used to be disqualifying.”

First Lady Jill Biden praised her husband's character and said Trump was only running for a second term “to give himself absolute power.” Barbra Streisand gave a long speech and Sheryl Lee Ralph returned to the stage where she had previously won an Emmy to sing “God Bless America.”