Despite Tuesday featuring the start of the second Trump impeachment trial, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki still held a briefing and faced tough questions from reporters such as Axios’s Hans Nichols, Real Clear Politics White House correspondent Philip Wegmann, and a daily dose of FNC’s Peter Doocy. But most surprisingly, NBC’s Kristen Welker offered a hardball on liberal hypocrisy on violent rhetoric.
Unfortunately, the briefing wasn’t carried on any of the cable news networks (aside from C-SPAN3), so Welker’s tough question lacked both the eyeballs and teeth it normally would have.
Welker was the third reporter called on when she offered one of many trial-related questions in the briefing room, but hers took a different tract by invoking none other than Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and her ugly 2018 comments.
The NBC reporter noted that Americans will likely hear former President Trump’s lawyers note “that some Democrats have used incendiary rhetoric” and will point to Waters, who “called on supporters at a rally to confront and harass Trump officials over their support of the child separation policy — the zero-tolerance policy.”
“That’s something that Cedric Richmond said she had a constitutional right to express those views. So, how does the White House view that as any different,” she added.
Psaki refused to engage in that line of thinking, stating that while Biden was President, “[h]e’s not a pundit” and thus won’t “opine on the back-and-forth arguments, nor is he watching them that are taking place in the Senate.”
Doocy appeared a few reporters later and started with the $15/hour minimum wage seeing as a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report found it “would lift 900,000 people out of poverty but it would cost 1.4 million jobs,” so he then asked: “What happens to them?”
Psaki defended the proposal as a wholly positive change that would have only a “minimal impact” on employers.
Doocy’s second of five questions was whether Biden “support[s] sending stimulus benefits to undocumented immigrants,” but Psaki put that to rest by citing the need for a Social Security number.
After his third touched on the publication of executive orders, his last two pertained to an ABCNews.com story about Biden son-in-law Dr. Howard Krein advising during the campaign on the coronavirus pandemic while he invested in companies set to benefit from vaccination distribution.
In what lefties probably thought of as a “#PsakiBomb,” Psaki lacked anything close to a coherent response, dismissing it since Krein was in Washington for the inauguration and Biden family members wouldn’t be joining the White House in any capacity (click “expand”):
DOOCY: And one quick one of conflicts of interest and some reporting that’s been done by our colleagues at other networks, the President’s son-in-law Dr. Howard Krein was advising candidate Biden on COVID-19 response while he was investing in companies involved with the COVID-19 response through his company, Start-Up Health. Dr. Krein has been at the White House since the inauguration. Is he still advising the President on COVID-19 response?
PSAKI: Well, Dr. Krein is his son-in-law. The President.
DOOCY: But there are questions about potential conflicts of interest.
PSAKI: — he was here because the President was inaugurated recently, which is understandable. The President has made clear that there will be an absolute wall between him and any businesses connected with his family members and as he reiterated just last week, no family member is going to have an office in the White House or be involved in any government policymaking, that applies to his son-in-law and every member of his family.
DOOCY: Just from a broad perspective, though, like the 30,000 foot view of this, candidate Biden was very concerned about the last President’s potential conflicts of interest. At one point in 2019, he tweeted, “hosting the G-7 at Trump’s hotel, the President should not be able to use the office for personal gain.” So, how is the White House going to guarantee to members of the public that nobody in the family is using the office for personal gain?
PSAKI: We’ve put in place stringent policies in order to ensure it’s not being used for personal gain. There is not a single member of the family who is employed at the White House, will have an office at the White House or will benefit financially and those are strict ethics requirements that have been put in place and the President has approved.
Three reporters later, Wegmann got his chance and wondered what were the current prospects on Beto O’Rourke joining the Biden administration to lead on gun control policy (as Biden had stated during the campaign).
Like most things, Psaki didn’t have anything in terms of an answer, so Wegmann pivoted to investigating COVID-19’s Chinese origins and reforms to the World Health Organization then a follow-up to Doocy’s query on the minimum wage (click “expand”):
WEGMANN: And then you talked about hopes for transparency from China and you talked about the need to get that data from the World Health Organization. Earlier in the pandemic, you know, April and May, there was a lot of criticism that the World Health Organization was praising China for its transparency at a moment when China certainly wasn’t. Are there any type of reforms now that the United States has rejoined that President Biden would like to see from the World Health Organization?
PSAKI: Well, you know, one of the reasons, of course, that we want to take a look at the data ourselves is because we were not involved in the planning and implementation of the investigation. We also feel, of course, we support, we rejoined the World Health Organization, it’s imperative that we have our own team of experts on the ground in our embassy in Beijing and otherwise to make sure we have eyes and ears on the ground, but I don’t have any more reforms or anything to announce for you at this point in time.
WEGMANN: And then back to the CBO report that Peter was asking a second ago.
WEGMANN: Is there a specific plan for anyone who would lose their job if the minimum wage is increased or is it just a hope that CBO is wrong about those numbers?
PSAKI: Well, remember that the plan, the American Rescue Plan, why there was a score of any component of it, would put millions of people to work and that is also something that outside economists and many studies have shown and so our whole objective here is to make sure — I should say, make sure we are getting people the assistance they need, make sure we are putting vaccines in the arms of Americans and make sure we are, you know, reopening schools. And let me just remedy something I just said. The President is going to roll out a build back better agenda, a jobs agenda, in the coming weeks. Part of his objective is combined with this package to make sure we are not only addressing the pandemic, but we are also reinvigorating the economy. So, his goal with all of these plans is to work with Congress to put people back to work and the minimum wage — increasing the minimum wage is a way to insure that workers are pulled out of poverty, that millions of workers are doing honest work and making an honest living are not living on the poverty line. He thinks that’s right and that’s something that should happen, but he has had no shortage of proposals to put people back to work and part of the reason this was scored is because he’s starting to put proposals forward.
Nichols came after Wegmann and, following a question on the U.S.-Canada border, he sought to drill down on what the administration actually meant when it came to reopening schools, and whether it means “teachers in classroom teaching students in classroom” or “kids in classroom with a remote screen.”
In a response roundly called out on Psaki’s hated “conservative Twitter,” she insisted that the goal by day 100 of the Biden White House that a “majority of schools” would be open with “some teaching in classrooms” with students appearing “at least one day a week.”
As our friend Ken Gardner wrote: “This is what the Democratic Party being owned lock, stock, and barrel by the public teachers unions looks like.”
And since the liberal media won’t fact-check this, Purple Strategies managing director Rory Cooper did just that: “This is so misleading and maddening. 2/3 of public schools ARE OPEN TODAY at least two days a week. We’ve already met the metric they set for 3 months from today. Biden’s goal is for us to move backwards?”