This week, President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a highly anticipated bilateral talk in Geneva, Switzerland.
There was a lot to discuss. Russia is implicated in a number of recent cyberattacks on American entities, and continued its 2016 efforts to undermine American elections into 2020. The United States has also spoken out against the Russian government's retaliation against dissidents like Alexei Navalny, whom it's currently imprisoned.
While both men acknowledged conflicting agendas of their respective countries, Putin said the talks were "constructive" in a press conference following the talks, calling Biden a "balanced and professional man." In his own news conference following Putin's, Biden said he assured Putin that his agenda was not against Russia, but "for the American people," though he emphasized the United States would retaliate against further Russian aggression.
The moment was a far-cry from former President Donald Trump's disastrous joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki in 2018, when Trump sided with Putin over the findings of U.S. Intelligence officials, defending the Russian President despite the long-established fact that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in Trump's favor.
Nevertheless, the former President's first White House Press Secretary—Sean Spicer—scrutinized the officials in attendance in group bilateral talks, noting the absence of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Interesting that Putin/Russia has its Press Sec but the US does not https://t.co/PHFuDlrSBQ— Sean Spicer (@Sean Spicer) 1623855186.0
The sentiment is rich coming from Spicer, who has remained steadfast in his support for Trump even after leaving the White House in 2017.
In addition to siding with Putin regarding election interference, Trump has frequently kept his talks with Putin concealed from the public. During that 2018 meeting in Helsinki, the only American present other than Trump was the interpreter, and their discussion remains a secret to this day. Ahead of another 2019 meeting between the leaders, Trump told reporters their discussion was "none of your business."
That same year, the Washington Post reported that Trump had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to keep the details of his talks with Putin a secret not just from the public, but from his own officials.
People reminded Spicer of this when he tried to scrutinize Psaki's absence.
Sir, your comment on this is laughable. Shall we remind you that your man Trump had the notes from his meeting wit… https://t.co/UeJdj6o3SH— J. Heath (@J. Heath) 1623864296.0
@seanspicer That time Trump kicked everyone out of his meeting with Putin except his interpreter https://t.co/Li6Gbbq34h— Mike 😷 Hamm (@Mike 😷 Hamm) 1623857347.0
@seanspicer Trump met Putin on his own and never divulged what they spoke about. That's interesting.— Tomás O'Loughlin (@Tomás O'Loughlin) 1623858771.0
@seanspicer You represented the guy who allowed no one else in and took the translator’s notes. Period!— Marilyn in AZ 🌵🌊 (@Marilyn in AZ 🌵🌊) 1623857910.0
They proceeded to roast Spicer for the tweet.
@seanspicer 😂. Your relevancy in the matter, none— Purple in the Bayou (@Purple in the Bayou) 1623866606.0
@seanspicer You've proven through you own actions that press secretaries are largely unnecessary.— Chuck McAtee (@Chuck McAtee) 1623855394.0
Spicer currently works for the far-right disinformation outlet Newsmax.