WASHINGTON — It’s their party and they’ll deny if they want to.
President Biden will ban journalists from covering any part of his granddaughter Naomi’s Saturday wedding at the White House — before celebrating his 80th birthday with a Sunday brunch, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Friday.
The administration’s chief spokesperson added the coverage restrictions for the 11 a.m. South Lawn ceremony and evening reception were put in place at the request of Naomi, whose father is scandal-plagued first son Hunter Biden.
“Naomi and Peter [Neal] have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we are respecting their wishes,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is their wish and we should be thrilled and happy for them in making this really important step in their lives.”
It’s unclear if reporters will be able to attend the brunch marking Biden’s 80th birthday the following day — as he becomes the first president to ever reach that milestone amid increasing questions about his mental acuity.
There have been only 18 weddings at the White House — and just five in the past 100 years, according to the White House Historical Association. The most recent one involving a president’s family member was the 1994 wedding of first-brother-in-law Anthony Rodham, though first daughter Jenna Bush Hager held a 2008 reception at the White House one month after getting married in Texas.
Journalists pressed Jean-Pierre to allow at least limited coverage of the event by noting that it’s a break from historical precedent.
“Looking at all of this video and images that we have of Tricia Nixon’s wedding, Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s wedding, [first daughter Lynda Bird Johnson’s] wedding and the historic record that now exists because the press was let in and able to get a glimpse of it — why not just let the press in for a few minutes to have access?” NBC reporter Kristen Welker asked.
Welker went on to note that “this is a wedding that’s happening here at the people’s house, not at a private residence.”
“I totally understand that. It’s happening at the people’s house. It’s a beautiful moment. It’s a joyous moment,” Jean-Pierre replied.
“It is a family event, it is. And we are going to respect Naomi and Peter’s wishes. This is going to be the wedding of the first lady and the president’s first grandchild, and these are their wishes. They want it to be private and we’re going to respect their wishes. We are going to provide a photo and a statement from the president and the first lady after the wedding. And again, these are their wishes and we’re going to respect that.”
Naomi Biden, 28, is an attorney at the firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP. Neal, 25, is also a lawyer and works at the Georgetown University Law Center on National Security.
Naomi Biden and Neal have lived at the White House since August, CNN reported Friday. The first granddaughter previously lived in an apartment building nearby.
The president’s birthday brunch is being organized by first lady Jill Biden, but Jean-Pierre didn’t share information on the venue or who would be attending.
Biden says he intends to run for a second term in 2024 despite already being the oldest-ever president. He would be 86 if he wins reelection and leaves office in 2029.