President Joe Biden has long faced criticism for being overly affectionate and touchy with women and girls during photo opportunities and other public events.
The latest incident deemed by some viewers to be inappropriate occurred during a bill-signing ceremony on Thursday.
Daughter of fallen Capitol officer
As a number of social media users opined, the president appeared too hands-on with a girl he invited to stand near him in the Rose Garden at the White House, wrapping his arm around her waist and seeming to whisper something in her ear.
Biden spots a little girl out of the crowd, calls her over to sit on his lap, then tries to sniff her pic.twitter.com/0W0K4lADFL
— Jewish Deplorable (@TrumpJew2) August 5, 2021
According to the New York Post, the 7-year-old girl was Abigail Evans, the daughter of a U.S. Capitol police officer killed at a barricade near the Capitol Building in April. Suspect Noah Green, a follower of the Nation of Islam, was reportedly shot and killed by officers after fatally striking Billy Evans with his vehicle.
The girl had been invited — along with older brother Logan and their mother — as guests to the White House as Biden signed into law a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to officers who served at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, including Billy Evans.
Following prepared remarks but before the bill was signed, the president motioned for Abigail and Logan to come up and stand beside him.
Pattern of behavior
Biden reportedly enlisted the girl to assist in handing out ceremonial pens to those in attendance, presumably allowing her to keep one for herself.
Notably, the president had interacted with her at least once before. In April, he met her during a ceremony inside the Capitol building.
At that time, The Hill noted that Biden attended the ceremony honoring her father after his death. He reportedly spent time speaking directly with the family after delivering a speech.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivered her own remarks during that ceremony, Biden noticed that Abigail had dropped a small toy replica of the Capitol and got up from his seat to retrieve it for her.
To be sure, the president has plenty of defenders who will dismiss the latest interaction as the innocent grandfatherly embrace of a girl who lost her father. In light of several other prior episodes, however, others are quick to assert that the overall pattern of behavior is concerning.