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Speaker Johnson Claims Biden Went 'Off-Script' by Threatening to Cut Off Weapons to Israel

‘I don’t think that’s something that staff told him to say ... it's a senior moment'

Speaker Johnson Claims Biden Went 'Off-Script' by Threatening to Cut Off Weapons to Israel

House Speaker Mike Johnson claims President Joe Biden betrayed him by pausing — and then threatening to cut off — U.S. weapons shipments to Israel.

“And my reaction honestly was: Wow, that is a complete turn from what I have been told even in, you know, recent hours,” Johnson told POLITICO in an exclusive interview on Wednesday night. “I mean, 24 hours ago it was confirmed to me by top administration officials that the policy’s very different than what he stated there. So I hope that’s a senior moment.”

During a Wednesday interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Biden discussed civilians in Gaza who had been killed by the type of bombs that were in the paused shipment.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” the president said.

Johnson, who handily survived a Wednesday attempt to oust him from his position, referred to an agreement he had with Biden regarding the aid package the House passed last month.

“I was in the SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility] having classified discussions with some top administration officials,” he said. “My concern was we got word about these, you know, this shipment of munitions being delayed. And that was a great concern to us because I got commitments from top administration officials before we passed the supplemental package for the aid to Israel that that would not happen.”

Even though Johnson received written and verbal guarantees from the Biden administration that there would be no pause in weapons delivery, he was skeptical enough to contact Israeli officials to confirm those guarantees.

“So yesterday, I talked with Prime Minister Netanyahu about it, and I wanted to get confirmation from him exactly what’s happening. And he described exactly what was happening before the news was confirmed,” he said. “I went straight to the White House, and I said, ‘What gives? Somebody’s going to have to explain this to me, because it’s very different than what I was told.’”

Then, the White House reportedly told Johnson that the delays were related to “earlier weapons tranches” and had “nothing to do with the supplemental package that you all passed.”

“I hope — I believe he’s off script,” Johnson said, referring to Biden’s comments to CNN. “I don’t think that’s something that staff told him to say. I hope it’s a senior moment, because that would be a great deviation in what is said to be the policy there.”

On Wednesday, Senior Israeli officials claimed the Biden administration’s pause in weapons shipments has caused “deep frustration” and could thwart negotiations for hostages and a ceasefire.

Monday marked the first time since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that the U.S. has halted shipment of weapons for the Israeli military, reports Axios.

The outlet, which broke the story based on comments from two Israeli officials, further reported that “the incident raised serious concerns inside the Israeli government and sent officials scrambling to understand why the shipment was held.”

At the time, when White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby was asked if reporting of the pause was accurate, he said, “I’m not gonna confirm that reporting.”

During a testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subpanel Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed those reports.

“We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself,” Austin told. “But that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah.”

Axios reports that sources briefed on the issue expressed deep frustration to their American counterparts.

“The sources said Israel told the Biden administration it was upset not only about the decision to put the shipment on hold, but also about the decision to leak it to the media,” per the outlet. “The Israelis are concerned that Hamas will not move from its positions when it sees the level of U.S. pressure on Israel.”

Israelis reportedly told U.S. officials the timing could thwart negotiations for hostages and a ceasefire, which are ongoing in Cairo.

Biden administration officials were further encouraged by Israelis to put pressure on Hamas, not Israel, and reaffirm their commitment to stand with their ally in the Middle East.

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