President Biden reversed course Sunday afternoon and decided to stay at the White House throughout the holiday weekend after initially deciding to spend part of it at his home in Delaware.
“The president had a family-related issue that was going to take him to Wilmington, DE, tonight but he will no longer be going and will remain in Washington, DC, tonight,” a White House official said in a statement.
The trip back to Delaware raised some eyebrows given the stark warnings from administration officials that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.
Since taking office last year, Mr. Biden has made 44 trips to Delaware, totaling 143 days. His days in Delaware have been split between his home in Wilmington and his beach house in Rehoboth Beach.
That’s more time away from the White House than any of his three most recent predecessors.
Administration officials appeared on Sunday’s political talk shows stepping up warnings that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is coming within days.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the U.S. believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to invade Ukraine.
“Everything we’re seeing tells us that the decision we believe President Putin has made to invade is moving forward,” Mr. Blinken said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC News that Mr. Putin is “dead serious” about invading Ukraine.
“He’s assembled the kinds of things that you would need to conduct a successful invasion,” Mr. Austin said.
Mr. Biden himself said for the first time Friday that he believes Mr. Putin has made up his mind to invade. Previously, the president has insisted that Mr. Putin hasn’t decided whether he’ll pull the trigger on a full-scale invasion.
“As of this moment, I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Mr. Biden told reporters after speaking about the Ukraine crisis.
Sunday’s trip would not have been the first time Mr. Biden mulled leaving Washington amid a foreign policy crisis.
In September, he was slammed by Republicans for spending Labor Day weekend in Delaware while Americans remained stranded in Afghanistan amid the bungled U.S. withdrawal from the war-torn nation.
The White House defended Mr. Biden’s visits home during the Afghanistan crisis, insisting he was still on the job.
“Presidents of the United States are constantly on the job, regardless of their location; whether they’re on a state visit overseas or just 100 miles from the White House for a short trip to Wilmington,” the White House said in a statement at the time.
“Wherever he is, the President spends every day working to defeat the pandemic, to ensure our economy delivers for the middle class — not just those at the top — and to protect our national security,” the statement said.