Biden to limit his time at White House correspondents dinner to avoid COVID exposure

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U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Defense Secretary Austin and military leaders at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will limit how much time he spends at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner on Saturday as he works to limit his potential exposure to the coronavirus, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

A day after Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for the virus, Psaki said Biden would not attend the dining portion of the dinner early in the evening, but will be on hand for the speakers program later in an effort to limit the chances he will contract COVID-19.

The Saturday event is being held for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic

Barack Obama was the last president to attend the dinner in 2016 as Donald Trump refused invitations while he was in office.

Psaki noted that Trump “questioned the legitimacy of the press” on a daily basis and did not attend the dinner. She said Biden may wear a mask while there.

Biden wants to attend to show his support for the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which codifies freedom of speech, she said.

The White House Correspondents Association was founded in 1914 and has held a dinner nearly every year since then to celebrate the reporters who cover the presidency and raise money for scholarships.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland; Editing by Marguerita Choy)