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“He knew how to play the game”: Pool Party at Joe Biden’s house with leading journalists and their families.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

How Putin pulled the plug on Biden

President Joe Biden’s longtime, former stenographer Mike McCormick recounts how his boss was ritually humiliated by world leaders; manipulated a supine press; and now, at 78 years old, is disintegrating before the public’s eyes. Comparing the Biden of today with the globe trotting hot shot he watched up close, McCormick says “he is definitely losing touch.”  

“History happened right in front of me,” Mike McCormick writes in his book, “Joe Biden Unauthorized: And the 2020 Crackup of the Democratic Party.” “I saw it and heard it firsthand.” As he notes wryly, “From what I’ve seen and heard in my years working for Joe Biden, carelessness is one of his defining characteristics.”
For fifteen years, under three American presidents, McCormick worked as a White House stenographer. For six of those years, he chronicled then-Vice President Joe Biden. As Biden’s official transcriber, McCormick traveled the world on Air Force One and Air Force Two and accompanied the second in command to countless summits and confabs around the globe.

“World leaders commanded very little respect for Biden,” McCormick tells Die Weltwoche. He often witnessed Biden “humiliated” by his foreign hosts. He saw, firsthand, how heads of state regarded Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump, and Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden. Of the latter: “The disrespect and manipulation publicly directed towards Joe Biden was unmatched.”.

Few of the veep’s diplomatic debacles ever made the papers. “Biden,” McCormick observed, “knew how to play the game.” The White House press corps, deeply invested in President Obama’s election and success, held back criticism not only only of the president, but of his deputy. Their loyalty was rewarded with pool parties and insider access which continue to pay off to this day.

We reach the gadfly turned author at his home in Washington, D. C.

Mike McCormick

Weltwoche: In his recent interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, President Joe Biden called President Vladimir Putin a "killer" and warned the Russian leader he would “pay a price” for 2020 election interference. Responding to Biden's comments, Putin withdrew his ambassador from Washington DC.You worked as Vice President Joe Biden’s stenographer for seven years. Did Biden always play tough with Putin?

McCormick: I had just started working with Biden when he made his first trip to Moscow in 2011. I was standing six feet behind Vladimir Putin when the Russian leader publicly humiliated Joe Biden. Putin was not afraid of Joe Biden then, and he is not afraid of him now. This encounter was never recorded in the press. It was this incident that started me with the idea of having to write my personal memories of my work with Joe Biden.

Weltwoche: In your book “Biden Unauthorized” you refer to this encounter as “Bitch Slapped in Moscow.” What exactly happened that day?

McCormick: It took place after the Obama administration hit the “reset” button with Russia. Biden needed to make a big impression with the American public about his international foreign policy expertise.

Joe Biden, in the early years of his vice presidency, all through his vice presidency, liked to brag. He had this tendency to talk too much about himself in front of other world leaders. They were aware of this. Early into the meeting in Moscow, Putin set a trap for Joe Biden by saying, "You've been here in Moscow before. There have been big changes since you were last here."

That led Joe Biden to want to explain how much he knew about Russian history. As soon as he started saying, "I've been around a long time. The first time I was here…,” the TV cameras and the lights in the studio shut off. Putin cut Joe Biden's mic in mid-sentence, and all the reporters present were told to leave.

Weltwoche: And then what happened? What did Biden do?

McCormick: Putin’s premeditated tactic left Joe Biden speechless and utterly humiliated in a critical world leader meeting. He stood in the dimly lit room, looking as duped as an exhausted fish in the bottom of a boat. He was silent and uttered no complaint.

I've worked in the White House for fifteen years. I've never seen one world leader be so disrespectful in public of another world leader as in that episode. That's why I say Joe Biden is not fit to be president. He doesn't understand how world leaders see him.

Interesting enough, no reporter recorded this international snub. But you can read the transcript that I published in the book. It's still on the White House website.

Weltwoche: You write that Biden “commanded very little respect on the world stage during his tenure as veep.” Can you explain?

McCormick: Many events that I saw told me that Joe Biden was easily manipulated. He was very ambitious. He desperately wanted to be the president of the United States, and I think he put himself in a position with the Russians and with the Chinese where he was easily manipulated.

Weltwoche: You also write, “Essentially, the Chinese declared Joe Biden a boorish blabbermouth.” You describe examples of Biden’s murky business in Ukraine; his “fire hosing of taxpayer dollars to Honduran drug dealers”; and you conclude that Biden’s mismanagement of the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq led to “chaos, suffering and death.” What exactly happened in Iraq?

McCormick: I went to Iraq with Joe Biden twice. His performance there was pathetic.
The big mistake was that the Obama government was trying to get out of Iraq in time to win the 2012 election. They didn't have what's called a “Status of Forces Agreement” negotiated.
They blew that agreement. They completely botched it. Tony Blinken was the guy. [Blinken was national security advisor to the vice president at the time.]

Weltwoche: You quote Tony Blinken saying, "We had to leave Iraq so they would trust us to come back."

McCormick: I think it's one of the dumbest things in American foreign policy I've ever heard. Basically, he was trying to excuse the fact that America left Iraq without a Status of Forces Agreement. They left behind a poorly trained Iraqi army who basically turned over huge piles of American armament and surrendered themselves to the ISIS uprising.

Weltwoche: "There is a genius in Joe Biden, but he's so good at camouflaging it.” What genius are you talking about?

McCormick: Underneath all the talking, the "Hey man, how you doing?", the folksy stories and all that, there's a smart guy there. There's a very manipulative guy, and part of the manipulation has always been one of his favorite phrases that he said over and over again was, "I'm going to take a point of personal privilege." That's a common term used in the United States Senate where Biden was a very active member for several decades.

Weltwoche: How did that play out in Biden’s daily business at the power?

McCormick: What it means is he can interrupt the business discussion to put in a personal note into the official record. That's a reflection of who Joe Biden really is, because whenever he was doing official business, there was always a personal privilege point. That's where his son Hunter came in. That's where Hunter got all those side deals. That's Joe Biden pulling off a point of personal privilege. He played the game. He knew how to play the game. He played the game to the point where now he's the president United States. That is genius that's well camouflage.

Weltwoche: Journalists have been remarkably soft on Biden. You write that dozens of reporters, journalists, and news anchors enjoyed a close-knit relationship with Joe Biden and his family, linked to his private parties, the so called “Biden Beach Boardwalk Bashes.” What were they about?

McCormick: This goes to the heart of why the media has been so beneficial for the Obama-Biden narrative. In 2011, Joe Biden started organizing, as a vice president, these informal pool parties at his house where he invited only specific media friendly to him. As each year went on, he invited more and more media.

Weltwoche: Who paid for them?

McCormick: The American taxpayer paid for them. It came out of the vice president's residence, his allotment, his allowance.

Weltwoche: How did you know who was invited?

McCormick: Because I saw the invitations on the White House visitors log. No reporters from right leaning or conservative outlets were invited. These are progressive journalists and their kids. Their names appear on the White House visitor logs the three years they were held in 2011, 2014, and 2016. Julie Pace, the Associated Press bureau chief, went to all three Biden Beach Bashes. AP was very deferential to Obama and Biden and critical of Trump. CNN journalists Jim Avila, Wolf Blitzer, and Jake Tapper were there, as was Jonathan Karl with ABC News. NBC News had Chuck Todd, Mike Memoli, and Al Roker of the Today Show.

It was a big deal for the journalists. I remember sitting in an interview Biden was doing with Norah O'Donnell of CBS News. My job was to sit right at the edge of the camera and record what was said between the two.

As they were getting ready, they were putting the mic on the vice president, they had a little chitchat as a warm up. She looked at him, and she goes, "Oh, Mr. Vice President. The kids had such a great time at the pool party the other day." He looked at her, and he was very happy that she said it. "Oh, that's wonderful." This is when I knew that this party meant a big deal to the journalists.

Weltwoche: What happened at those parties?

McCormick: I've seen pictures of the party on the walls in the West Wing. There was Joe Biden running around in the yard at his residence with a Super Soaker squirt gun squirting little kids — his family’s kids and the kids of these journalists.

Hunter and Beau Biden were invited with their kids. That may explain why the Hunter Biden laptop story didn't get much play. All these journalists were there with Hunter Biden being a friendly father, happy neighborhood guy. They didn't look at him the way objective journalists would look at him. That's a terrible, terrible thing for journalists to do, but that's what they did. They were easily manipulated into that by Joe Biden.

Weltwoche: The Biden Beach Boardwalk Bashes network seems to pay off still today. Norah O'Donnell is the correspondent that was selected for the first one-on-one interview with President Biden an February 5th.

McCormick: Yes, that's right. The interview was aired at prime time before the Super Bowl.
That's the kind of audience that a president wants to get a lot of time in front of. In a promotional ad for the interview with another CBS correspondent, Norah O'Donnell talked about having a twenty minute sit down with the president in the White House. But out of that twenty minutes, what actually aired was 12 minutes and 46 seconds. Seven minutes and 14 seconds were cut.

Weltwoche: Why was the interview cut?

McCormick: We don't know. She hasn't said. I think they were cut because he's old and feeble. I think they were cut because he was making flubs in what he was saying, and they edited it out.

Norah O'Donnell was at three of these Biden Beach Boardwalk Bashes with her children. She's the one I saw having this little tête-à-tête with the then-Vice President Biden in the interview. That's when, I think, she's covering for Joe Biden's diminished capacity. I think she knows him pretty well. I think she saw what was going on with him, and she's not telling us the whole truth. She is withholding the truth, and that is a form of lying to me. That's not good journalism.

Weltwoche: You said about Biden: "He's lost a step, and he doesn't seem to have the same mental acuity as he did four years ago." What makes you think so?

McCormick: There's a feebleness about him that wasn't there. He used to go and get in front of a crowd and talk for 45 minutes, just off the top of his head without needing notes. He doesn't do that anymore. He hasn't done a State of the Union speech. The speech he read from the teleprompter a year after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic was full of set pieces from old speeches. They give him support and confidence. His entire appearance seems fragile. He's a very diminished president, and the press is covering for him.

Weltwoche: If you compare Biden’s daily schedule from the last time you worked with him as VP with today, what is the difference?

McCormick: On October 31, 2016, for example, Biden did four events in one day. Each was a public event speech. It started at 9:00 in the morning and went until late at night. He did a lot of interstate travel. That's a typical Joe Biden day in 2016.

What you see now in the White House schedule, "a busy day" for Joe is: He gets up and gets the White House presidential daily briefing. That's usually not even a scheduled event on a presidential schedule. That's taken for granted. But now they put it on his schedule like he's actually doing something important. There’s so much more to a president’s day, but you don’t see that on Joe Biden’s schedule.

Weltwoche: The other day, Biden stumbled three times and fell on the stairs to Air Force One. The “wind blew Biden over” was the official explanation. Is this a credible excuse?

McCormick: It wasn’t the wind. Look at Biden’s strides on the tarmac as he’s walking to the plane. He’s quite leadfooted, almost tripping just on the pavement. I’ve never seen him walk like that. He has always been a very physically adept, athletic man and always quite energetic for his age. He’s not like that anymore. There’s definitely a physical aspect to his decline.

Weltwoche: What about the "two straight hour" phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on February 9th? Do you think Biden was capable of such a long call? If not, who would have been on that call if not Biden?

McCormick: The China Communist Party (CCP) leadership just verbally and diplomatically body slammed Joe Biden’s handpicked interlocutors, Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, at their meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Amazingly, the CCP is now out in the open with their disdain for Joe Biden’s presidency. Joe Biden would often give his opinion that “all politics is personal.” Well, so much for a two hour phone call to “build back better.”

I do think Joe Biden was on the call with Xi for two hours, but he was not alone. No doubt Blinken, Sullivan, Vice President Kamala Harris, his chief of staff Ron Klain, and many others were in the room, passing Biden notes and reminders of what to say. Thanks to Joe Biden, puppetry has arrived in the Oval Office.

Weltwoche: The fact that the press didn’t question the circumstances of the phone call, does this say they are complicit in the lie?

McCormick: The White House press is complicit in the coverup of Joe’s missteps. Pathetic, but true, to say the U.S. public is getting more truth about Joe Biden’s ineptitude from China and Russia than they are from the U.S. media.

Weltwoche: Biden keeps slipping up and referring to Kamala Harris as POTUS. Is this a symptom of Biden’s declining mental state? Would Biden have made these verbal slips four years ago?

McCormick: Short answer is, “yes.” Biden made these kinds of slips all through his vice presidency. But the press never paid attention to them. So, the world never heard about them. He is definitely losing touch, though. Joe Biden’s recent inability to recall his secretary of defense’s name [General Lloyd Austin] and the building where he works, the Pentagon, is as bad as I’ve ever seen him. I don’t think Harris is capable of calling the shots. She still has much to learn.

Weltwoche: A word about Hunter Biden. Today it is publicly known that Hunter Biden has had multiple problems with drug abuse, military expulsion, murky business dealings, et cetera. How did you witness the relationship between Joe Biden and his son?

McCormick: When I wrote the book, I had very little understanding of Hunter Biden except from one interview he did with the New Yorker magazine in the summer of 2019. It was sort of a confessional interview about some of what he was doing with cocaine use. Hunter Biden is a sleazy guy. The details are going to come out after the discovery of his laptop; after what the United State Senate reported on money transfers that happened with him from someone that was a friend of Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2014; the way he treated his family and his wife and his nieces and his sister-in-law.

Weltwoche: Did you witness any of that when he was around?

McCormick: I never witnessed it in person. All I ever heard about was Joe Biden bragging about his son.

Weltwoche: What did he say about Hunter?

McCormick: To me, that's the worst part of this. All the while I worked for him, Joe spoke about his son as though he was an upstanding model citizen, a shining light of the community. But it was all a gigantic lie. Hunter Biden right now is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for money laundering. There's a lot in my book about the background of Joe setting Hunter Biden up with the Burisma Holdings board. [Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, one of the largest private natural gas producers in Ukraine, from 2014 until 2019.]

Joe Biden went to Cyprus in May of 2014. Cyprus is the capital of money laundering, and he went there right within days of Burisma Holdings having publicly acknowledged that Hunter Biden was on their board.

Well, guess where Burisma Holdings takes all their dirty money? They're registered in Cyprus. That's where all their dirty money goes. I would hate to think Joe Biden went there to set up a dirty money exchange, laundering dirty money from Burisma Holdings. No one's ever asked. Until I raised the point my book, no one looked at it.

Yes, Hunter Biden is a big part of the story, and it's the one that no one wants to talk about. In Washington, what's important is what people don't want to talk about.

Weltwoche: When Hunter Biden's emails were published by the New York Post just before the presidential elections last October, the media largely ignored them. Were Hunter’s emails a revelation for you, after having worked with Joe Biden for years?

McCormick: I was sickened at the level of depravity of Hunter Biden. After the emails came out, I saw Rudy Giuliani [Trump’s personal lawyer at the time] do a podcast about it. He said that Joe Biden was complicit in Hunter Biden's degrading behavior as a godfather figure. He talked about it as the Biden crime family, organized crime. And I really think that's how it was. There's a stain on our democracy right now with a Joe Biden presidency.

I'd like to add one last thing. The CCP virus, the Chinese Communist Party virus, has stricken this world to its knees, and I think there should be an international boycott of the CCP Winter Olympics 2022. It's like they brought the world to its knees, and then they want to throw a party and have everybody show up. I think that's the opposite of what the Olympics represents.

The Olympic spirit is about the world coming together over sports, no matter the politics. But having the CCP host the Winter Olympics after lying to us all about the severity of that virus, not to mention their role in creating it, is an international injustice. The pandemic has killed millions and brought the global economy to a standstill. The CCP should be punished for lying about it to the world.