White House Attempts Damage Control For Biden’s ‘No Comment’ On Wildfires

The White House is scrambling to deflect backlash after President Joe Biden refused to comment on the deadly wildfires in Maui while he was vacationing on the beach in Delaware.

Critics are condemning Biden for spending the weekend on the beach when he should have been on the Hawaiian island of Maui surveying the damage and coordinating relief efforts after the island faced the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in the last 100 years. Reports indicate that at least 96 people have died and over 1,000 people are still unaccounted for, while the wildfire has caused an estimated $6 billion in damage to the historic town of Lahaina.

As Biden was leaving the beach, he was asked by reporters about the deadly wildfire. His only response was: “No comment.”

After backlash began to spread over Biden’s response, the White House attempted to do damage control.

During the Monday briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked how the White House would “respond to critics who have suggested that the president should not have been vacationing at the beach” in Delaware in the aftermath of the disaster.

“The president is certainly deeply concerned about the people in Maui to the point where he has mobilized a whole-of-government approach here,” Jean-Pierre claimed.

The press secretary went on to detail the efforts of federal agencies to provide aid to survivors, then insisted that the president has “also committed to being there for the government of Hawaii — the people of Maui for as long as it takes.”

However, it appears that Biden’s commitment doesn’t actually involve traveling to Hawaii — as his official schedule has him making a trip to Lake Tahoe at the end of this week, rather than Maui.

When asked about Biden making a trip to Hawaii, Jean-Pierre said she had nothing to announce.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell was asked the same question while she joined the press briefing remotely, to which she responded that federal officials have other priorities.

“We just want to make sure that we are working to help this community identify everybody that’s missing and we need to stay focused on that right now,” Criswell said.

Biden’s official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, also appeared to do damage control after his failure to respond to reporters’ questions at the beach. Prior to Monday, Biden had not mentioned Hawaii’s wildfires in a tweet since August 10.

“As residents of Hawai’i mourn the loss of life and devastation taking place across their beautiful home, we mourn with them. Like I’ve said, not only our prayers are with those impacted — but every asset we have will be available to them,” the tweet read.

The Messenger columnist Joe Concha pointed out the lack of attention to the disaster in a post on X — noting that Biden had not tweeted about the wildfires for several days until the backlash began. Concha pointed out that Biden’s last 24 posts on X were “pats on the back from protecting land to Bidenomics.”