Still Obsessed: Trump Questions Consume Third Biden WH Press Briefing

Despite the fact that Donald Trump is no longer the President and the liberal media now have their friends returned to the White House, the White House press corps couldn’t shake their Trump addiction. On Friday alone, Trump and his administration were pertinent to roughly 16 out of the 45 questions to Press Secretary Jen Psaki (including 15 of the first 23), according to a NewsBusters count.

The Associated Press’s Aamer Madhani led off and used three of his four questions to harp on the impending Senate impeachment trial. His second was about timing and Congress being able to continue confirming appointees and passing Biden administration priorities, but he showed the media’s priorities by having his first deal with Biden has “an opinion on whether or not former President Trump should be convicted.”

 

 

Psaki was non-committal, so Madhani tried again: “Does he believe that former President Trump should be convicted?”

NBC’s Kristen Welker was the second reporter called on and she used three of her four to talk about impeachment (click “expand”):

On impeachment, did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi consult with President Biden before sending the article of impeachment over to the Senate?

(….)

And just on the timing, Leader McConnell said he will push for a February timeline. I know that you don’t want to comment specifically on the timeline of this, but how would a February trial impact the effort to get COVID relief passed?

(….)

Is that fast enough for him? Is mid-February fast enough?

CBS senior White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe followed his broadcast network compatriot with two of his three focusing in on Trump. His first invoked Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the other pertained to the dismissal of the chief White House usher (who had worked in the Trump Organization).

Here was O’Keefe’s first: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is calling on President Biden not to extend the courtesy to President Trump of getting access to intelligence briefings. Has a decision been made on that?”

In a second round of questions, O’Keefe asked an excellent question by wondering what the administration made of the latest left-wing violence in Portland and Seattle. Unfortunately, Psaki offered a non-answer (click “expand”):

O’KEEFE: On domestic unrest, first of all, does the President have any comment on the ongoing violence in Oregon and Washington state that we’ve seen in recent days? 

PSAKI: Well, certainly we had our team on the ground, our national security team even before 12:01, early in the morning on Inauguration Day because we wanted to monitor events happening across the country and any unrest that was resulting from — from the coming weeks. I haven’t spoken with him specifically about those events, but it is something that our national security team, Liz Sherwood-Randall, our homeland security advisor, is closely monitoring, of course, and — but if we have an additional update I’m happy to provide it to you.

With this White House back to first calling on their friends at the major outlets, Psaki called on ABC’s Mary Bruce and she doled out two more questions that involved Trump (out of her four total). This included one about how Biden has “made it pretty clear he believes President Trump is unfit to serve,” so Bruce wanted to know if “he think[s] [Trump] can be barred from holding federal office going forward?”

The remaining Trump-specific questions dealt with Trump’s plans for redesigning Air Force One, whether the Biden administration will follow through on any big ideas for fighting the virus (in a direct slight to Jared Kushner), Oval Office privileges, Dr. Deborah Birx, Chinese Uighurs, and Chinese sanctions.

CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy quizzed Psaki about walk-in privileges since it was a frequent topic (read: in anonymously-sourced items) during the Trump regime: 

There was curiosity about the Trump administration, so I’ll ask you: Who has Oval Office walk in privileges in this White House? Do you have Oval Office walk-in privileges as you speak for the president and how is that access to the President controlled here?

Real Clear Politics correspondent Philip Wegmann had the Uighurs question and, like she was with O’Keefe’s on Antifa, Psaki came off as flat-footed (click “expand”):

WEGMANN: And then the previous administration, on their way out the door, declared that China’s human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims were “crimes against humanity” and “a genocide.” Does the president agree with that determination and will he keep it? 

PSAKI: Well, I know that our secretary of state is just about to get confirmed or so — Senator McConnell tells us. And I’m sure he will be reviewing. I know he will be reviewing a number of the decisions and assessments that have been made. Obviously, the President has spoken before to the  — to the horrific treatment of Uighurs, but I don’t have anything more for you on it. I can check with our national security team and see if we have a more up-to-date statement.

So in the first three Biden White House briefings, we’ve had roasts of the Trump administration (alongside Dr. Tony Fauci), softballs, and now a Trump obsession. It’s quite the opposite of the Trump briefings, which came off like Swamp versions of UFC matches.

To see the relevant transcript from January 22’s briefing, click “expand.”

White House Press Briefing
January 22, 2021
1:32 p.m. Eastern

AAMER MADHANI (x2): I know this has been asked of you several times but now that there is an impeachment trial imminent, does President Biden have an opinion on whether or not former President Trump should be convicted? Secondly, how this is going you’re getting a bit of momentum on confirmations. You have all that you need to get going on coronavirus, on the economy and so forth. Is this just going to slow everything down and does it also take away from the ability to unify? 

(….)

1:33 p.m. Eastern

MADHANI: Does he believe that former President Trump should be convicted?

(….)

1:35 p.m. Eastern

KRISTEN WELKER: On impeachment, did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi consult with President Biden before sending the article of impeachment over to the Senate?

(….)

1:36 p.m. Eastern

WELKER: And just on the timing, Leader McConnell said he will push for a February timeline. I know that you don’t want to comment specifically on the timeline of this, but how would a February trial impact the effort to get COVID relief passed?

(….)

1:36 p.m. Eastern

WELKER: Is that fast enough for him? Is mid-February fast enough?

(….)

1:39 p.m. Eastern

ED O’KEEFE: Two other quick ones on the previous occupant. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is calling on President Biden not to extend the courtesy to President Trump of getting access to intelligence briefings. Has a decision been made on that?

(….)

1:39 p.m. Eastern

O’KEEFE: Can you clear up the confusion here about the — who exactly dismissed the chief White House usher? Was it the Biden administration or was it the previous occupant?

(….)

1:39 p.m. Eastern

MARY BRUCE: Not to belabor this point but you said that congress can walk and chew gum, which is true. But there are also so many hours in the day. Has the President expressed any concern that a Senate trial will slow down additional confirmations or movement on a COVID relief bill?

(….)

1:40 p.m. Eastern

BRUCE: President Biden made it pretty clear he believes President Trump is unfit to serve. Does he think he can be barred from holding federal office going forward?

(….)

1:42 p.m. Eastern

JUSTIN SINK:  I had a question on COVID but I want to start with just some housekeeping from questions that you had earlier in the week that you might circle back on, so I was wondering if — 

JEN PSAKI: The plane? 

SINK: Sure. We can start there.

(….)

1:44 p.m. Eastern

SINK: And then the COVID one, quickly A trade mark of the last administration’s efforts would there would be a big announcement like Jared Kushner testing website and then no time line put on that. That it never materialized, so I was interested when the chief of staff there would be a clearinghouse for central clearinghouse for vaccine information. I was wondering if you could provide sort of an expectation or timeline on when Americans could expect that there’s a dot gov email address — or dot gov website or a phone number that they could go to to find out their specific vaccination information?

(….)

1:45 p.m. Eastern

STEVEN PORTNOY: The first is having to do with operations of the West Wing. There was curiosity about the Trump administration, so I’ll ask you: Who has Oval Office walk in privileges in this White House? Do you have Oval Office walk-in privileges as you speak for the president and how is that access to the President controlled here?

(….)

1:46 p.m. Eastern

PORTNOY: One more question for you, is Dr. Debra Birx still a member of this President’s COVID response team?

(….)

1:47 p.m. Eastern

PHILIP WEGMANN: And then the previous administration, on their way out the door, declared that China’s human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims were “crimes against humanity” and “a genocide.” Does the president agree with that determination and will he keep it? 

PSAKI: Well, I know that our secretary of state is just about to get confirmed or so — Senator McConnell tells us. And I’m sure he will be reviewing. I know he will be reviewing a number of the decisions and assessments that have been made. Obviously, the President has spoken before to the  — to the horrific treatment of uighurs, but I don’t have anything more for you on it. I can check with our national security team and see if we have a more up-to-date statement. 

(….)

1:58 p.m. Eastern

O’KEEFE: On domestic unrest, first of all, does the President have any comment on the ongoing violence in Oregon and Washington state that we’ve seen in recent days? 

PSAKI: Well, certainly we had our team on the ground, our national security team even before 12:01, early in the morning on Inauguration Day because we wanted to monitor events happening across the country and any unrest that was resulting from — from the coming weeks. I haven’t spoken with him specifically about those events, but it is something that our national security team, Liz Sherwood-Randall, our homeland security advisor, is closely monitoring, of course, and — but if we have an additional update I’m happy to provide it to you.

(….),

2:03 p.m. Eastern

SINK: Just a quick one on — on inauguration day, China sanctioned a number of outgoing Trump administration officials. I know the NSC has put a statement out kinda denouncing that, saying that it was a — a political, but there’s been a call from some Republicans on Capitol Hill to either retaliate with sanctions against Chinese officials or to expel the ambassador here in Washington. I’m wondering if you’re contemplating either of those actions.

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