The big day is finally here. For months, President Joe Biden and his administration have amped up the first meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even the Times painted a favorable portrait of Biden taking on Putin, but while the Democrats and the media might have helped boost his confidence, Biden was on full display today as he sat across from a man he once labeled a “killer”. And if you haven’t guessed by now, Biden didn’t disappoint as he was sure to bring his trusty “cheat sheet” to help him navigate the tense conversation. 

After several days of conferences at the G7 Summit, Biden traveled to Geneva where Putin had been waiting for him. Both leaders shook hands and appeared cordial with each other as the cameras rolled. It was when both parties moved to a more private room that tensions seemed to escalate. 

For starters, before a single question could be asked, American reporters tussled with Russian security as they tried to remove some of the media from the room. After an intense shoving match, order was somewhat restored and the two leaders were able to continue. A reporter nearby Biden was able to quickly ask the President if he trusted Putin. Without answering, Biden looked directly at the reporter and nodded. And as you might imagine, the White House jumped into damage control as communications director Kate Bedingfield tweeted in defense of Biden. 

“It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. @POTUS was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally. He said just two days ago in his presser: ‘verify, then trust.’” 

Finally, after the room calmed down, both leaders were able to face each other and before Biden could say a word, he gradually reached over and grabbed what looked to be yet another cheat sheet. While it’s unclear what was on the paper, Biden was sure to look down at it more than once while talking to Putin. Not to mention, this isn’t the first time the President has been caught with notes. During his first press conference, Biden needed the faces and names of reporters to help him give a simple Q&A. 

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But despite all his prepping and cheat sheet, Biden still couldn’t make it through the meeting without stumbling his words and saying the U.S. ranked 85th in the quality of its infrastructure. For those unaware, America actually ranks 13th. 

This piece was written by Jeremy Porter on June 17, 2021. It originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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