State Dept. Official Takes Excruciatingly Awkward, 20-Second Pause When Asked to Explain Trump's Foreign Policy

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It was supposed to be a routine State Department briefing on President Donald Trump’s recent trip overseas. Instead, a Tuesday press conference with Stuart Jones, an acting assistant secretary of state, became a perfect encapsulation of the ongoing friction between this administration’s attitude toward foreign policy, and...well...reality.


Jones, a longtime foreign service veteran who joined the president on the first leg of his international trip, was asked to explain Trump’s criticism of Iran’s democratic process, which he made while standing alongside officials from the repressive Saudi theocracy.

“How do you characterize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to democracy?” the reporter asked. “And does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or a barrier against extremism?”

In response, Jones pursed his lips, grasped his fingers, and simply stared off into space for what seemed like an eternity (but was actually an agonizing 18 seconds) before finally breaking the uncomfortable silence with the sort of answer we’ve come to expect from career public servants forced to opine on U.S. foreign policy to the press.

“I think what we’d say is that at this meeting we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] co-partners in both making a strong statement against extremism,” Jones said. “And also putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism.”

The whole thing starts at around the 15:50 mark:

If pauses truly can indeed be pregnant, let’s all congratulate Jones on his impending triplets.

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.