White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tangled with questions about Vice President Joe Biden’s role in the Obama administration in light of a new memoir from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and even fended questions as to why the White House seemed to go out of its way to show the president and vice president together on Wednesday.

Chuck Todd calls out Jay Carney during press briefing

US President Barack Obama (L) and US Vice President Joe Biden talk before lunch in the private dining room at the White House January 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Gates wrote in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” that Biden was “poisoning the well” against military leadership and “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” The book is set to be released Jan. 14.

Biden was close with Obama throughout Wednesday, attending a meeting with the president with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and later meeting with intelligence officials. The two were photographed at lunch together, even though the White House has frequently blocked news photographers access in the past.

Carney noted that the two have a weekly lunch, and the photo-op was a “coincidence.”

CBS reporter Bill Plante shot back, “But it’s not normally on camera.”

Carney responded, “We had a debate and discussion with our friends in photography around here about how we can better improve access for them. This is something that they’ve raised with us in the past. So, you guys can decide for yourselves. The president greatly values the counsel of the vice president on matters foreign and domestic.”

NBC reporter Chuck Todd jumped in to ask, “What would you think if you were sitting here, Jay? I mean, that the timing was a coincidence?”

Carney snapped back, “Well again I can just tell you what the facts are. You can decide for yourselves what you want to believe.” He also had a sheepish grin.

The interaction starts at about the 8:20-mark below:

Noting their presence together, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus scoffed that Obama is trying to lift Biden up one day after the revelations from the book.

“The President with the lowest second term approval in the last 40 years is trying to provide cover for his Vice President. This is going to work well,” Priebus told TheBlaze.

Todd later pressed Carney as to why the Gates book and previous books have portrayed Biden in a negative light.

“Debates internally, the vice president is one member, and continues to be one member, of that team of rivals,” Carney said. “This is not someone the president chose to be someone who simply affirms what others are thinking. The vice president has a lot of experience.”

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