After the mayor of London penned an op-ed in which he suggested that President Barack Obama had Winston Churchill’s bust removed from the Oval Office in part because he is "part-Kenyan,” the president addressed the placement of Churchill’s bust in the White House during a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron today.
The president explained that the bust is placed outside his private office in the White House residence, known as the Treaty Room, where he sees it "every day, including on weekends, when I’m going into that office to watch a basketball game.” It was long rumored that Obama had sent the bust back to the British Embassy after removing it from the Oval Office.
The president emphasized that it’s there voluntarily, remarking lightheartedly that “I can do anything” on the second floor of the White House.
“I love Winston Churchill, I love the guy,” Obama said.
He went on to explain that “as the first African-American president” he thought it appropriate to put a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oval Office, noting that there are “only so many tables where you can put busts, otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered.”
Writing in U.K. publication The Sun today, London Mayor Boris Johnson pondered that one of the reasons the bust may have been removed from the Oval Office because it is a "a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire -- of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender."
Johnson’s accusation against the president came in an op-ed in which Johnson rebuked the president for wading into the debate over whether the U.K. should remain a member of the European Union, with a referendum to decide the matter approaching on June 23.
Johnson is a strong advocate for leaving the EU, while the president supports the U.K.’s continued membership in the alliance.
The president spoke about his views on the topic in an op-ed in the British publication The Telegraph today, imploring the British people to recognize that their membership in the EU is in Britain and the United States’ best interest.
“The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence –- it magnifies it,” Obama writes. “A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances Britain’s global leadership.”