Biden Contradicts Clinton’s Account of Bin Laden Raid Decision
Joe Biden offered his account of the Osama Bin Ladin raid, dismissing Hillary Clinton’s claim that she fully supported the decision.
According to Biden, then CIA Director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were the only individuals who fully supported the raid.
“Panetta said go, Bob Gates said don’t go,” Biden said during a panel discussion with former Vice President Walter Mondale at George Washington University.
Biden added, that he advised President Obama to carry out the raid, but only after he was able to talk to him one-on-one in the Oval Office.
“I told him my opinion that I thought he should go but to follow his own instincts,” Biden said. “I never, on a difficult issue, never say what I think finally until I go up in the Oval [Office] with him alone.”
The Hill reports:
Biden’s account, however, differs from the one he gave in 2012. At that time, he told House Democrats he warned against the operation, one of the most consequential decisions of Obama’s presidency.
“Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go,” Biden told lawmakers, according to The New York Times. “We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”
And the new account is different from Clinton’s claim that she advised Obama to carry out the raid. During last week’s Democratic debate, Clinton said she was “one of his few advisers” on the discussions surrounding the mission.
“He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues,” Clinton said of the president.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday dodged multiple questions about Biden’s latest account of the raid, saying he would not comment on private conversations between the president and the vice president.
“I am going to leave the dissection and the oral history of those days to those who were actually there,” Earnest said. “I don’t have any new insight to share with you about the president’s recollection of those events.”
Earnest, who said he was following Biden’s remarks on Twitter, said he was “not particularly” surprised by the vice president’s new account but declined to elaborate further.
Biden used the hour-long appearance on Tuesday to draw sharp distinctions with Clinton while touting his close relationship with Obama.
He argued he would be best suited to work across the aisle with Republicans and carry on the legacy of Obama, who remains extremely popular with Democratic voters.
The vice president, who is expected to announce a 2016 decision in the coming days, did not mention Clinton by name, but he took a subtle jab at the former secretary of State, who said during the debate she sees Republicans as her “enemy.”
“I still have a lot of Republican friends,” Biden said. “I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party. This is a matter of making things work.”
Biden said he’s fond of former Vice President Dick Cheney, a deeply unpopular figure with Democrats, even though he disagrees with how he used his office.
“I actually like Dick Cheney, for real,” Biden said. “I get on with him. I think he’s a decent man.”
Biden said he agreed to become Obama’s vice president because of their close personal relationship and their nearly identical views on policy.
“It started off that I knew I was simpatico with the president-elect,” Biden said. “We had a genuine relationship.”
Biden said Obama granted him the ability to sign off on all Cabinet picks, implying that he agreed to allow Clinton to become secretary of State.
And he suggested he had the upper hand on Clinton and her successor, John Kerry, when speaking with foreign leaders.
“We’ve had two great secretaries of State, but when I go, they know that I am speaking for the president,” Biden said.
Photo credit: Time Inc.