New Year Psaki Show: Media Press White House on Voting Rights, Condemn Trump More


After the first White House press briefing of 2022 was delayed a day because of the snowy weather in the Washington, D.C. area (totally not an omen), Tuesday’s edition of the Jen Psaki Show saw the White House Press Secretary fielding questions from the liberal press that urged President Biden to do more to pass “voting rights” legislation and bizarre suggestions that they had never condemned former President Trump.

On the matter of voting rights and concerns from the midterms later this year, Time magazine’s Brian Bennett peppered Psaki questions as he was determined to see the Democratic initiatives passed into law. It even seemed as though he wanted there to be a way for Democrats to get more votes.

The midterm elections are 10 months away. Is the President concerned that the window is closing to pass legislation that could have an impact on how people vote in the midterm elections,” he queried.

Seeing as the only path to getting the legislation through the Senate was doing away with the filibuster, which was already out of the question because Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) had come out against it, Psaki knew it was dead in the water. But she did her best to dance around it while Bennett pestered her (Click “expand”):

PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction of that. (…) But he absolutely feels that getting voting rights done is fundamental, it’s essential. He’s going to work in close lockstep with Leader Schumer and others in Congress to get this done. But I’m not going to make a prediction at this point on the timeline. It’s obviously a first priority for them in the Senate.

BENNETT: Is it a first priority for the President?

PSAKI: Yes, he’s working with Leader Schumer on it.

But much to Psaki’s chagrin, Bennett wasn’t taking the hint as he continued to push from the left. “In December, he said – at South Carolina State University – ‘We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done.’ What does that look like? What does the fight look like for voting rights for President Biden,” he wanted to know.

 

 

The Press Secretary’s frustration was very apparent as she had this strained back-and-forth with Bennett:

PSAKI: It means getting it passed into law and signing it into law.

BENNETT: What steps is he taking over the next several weeks to make that happen?

PSAKI: Well, first, I would say that the President has – you can expect to hear more from him soon and I’m not going to get too far ahead of that. But the President has taken a range of steps within his own authority on voting rights.

Shortly before this interaction, Sebastian Smith with the AFP went after Psaki with a bizarre accusation that President Biden had never denounced or condemned President as “a threat to democracy.”

But could you talk a little bit about why he refrains – to the extent that he does – from condemning ex-President Trump personally,” he demanded to know. “Does President Biden think that his predecessor is acting normally? Or does he think he is a threat to democracy? Which is what some people would say.

And despite Psaki answering his question, Smith was like a broken record:

SMITH: Does he consider ex-President Trump to be a threat to democracy?

PSAKI: I think that he has spoken to this in the past.

If this premier press briefing of 2022 was any indicator for what’s to come, this year was going to be particularly partisan for the media.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

CBSN White House Press Briefing
January 4, 2022
3:32:29 p.m. Eastern

(…)

SEBASTIAN SMITH (AFP): So, the President, he’s making remarks on Thursday, you said. And he has often denounced the January 6th events. But could you talk a little bit about why he refrains – to the extent that he does – from condemning ex-President Trump personally? Not just for January 6th, but his ongoing campaign which is very persistent almost daily or at least weekly to discredit the Americans’ faith in the election process.

So, in short, does President Biden think that his predecessor is acting normally? Or does he think he is a threat to democracy? Which is what some people would say.

PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI: You know, I have to say, I don’t think we’ve held back on this front. I mean, President Trump’s role in subverting our constitution, attempting to block the peaceful transition of power, and defending a mob that attacked our Capitol and law enforcement has been well documented.

And it is something, obviously, the President spoke about in terms of that being one of the worst days and in our democracy. And he’ll speak to – as I noted a little bit earlier – he’s speak to the historical significance of January 6, what it means for the country one year later, the importance of the peaceful transfer of power, which obviously the prior administration and the prior President were not a part of.

But I think there’s a larger message here to the country about who we are and who we need to be moving forward.

SMITH: Does he consider ex-President Trump to be a threat to democracy?

PSAKI: I think that he has spoken to this in the past.

SMITH: Okay. Same issue but a little more broadly. The polls keep showing again and again that something like 70 percent of Trump voters think the election was rigged, that President Biden is not legitimate and so on.

Is there anything that President Biden feels he should of already done or anything he feels he can still do to actually talk directly to those people and try to get peoples’ reality to match a little bit more in this country?

PSAKI: I think what he’s going to continue to do is speak to everyone in the country, those who didn’t vote for him, those who may not believe he is the legitimate president, about what he can do to make their lives better. And he sees that as his responsibility as the president of United States. That’s what he will continue to do.

(…)

Fox White House Press Briefing
January 4, 2022
3:50:32 p.m. Eastern

(…)

BRIAN BENNETT (Time magazine): On voting rights. The midterm elections are 10 months away. Is the President concerned that the window is closing to pass legislation that could have an impact on how people vote in the midterm elections?

PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction of that.

(…)

But he absolutely feels that getting voting rights done is fundamental, it’s essential. He’s going to work in close lockstep with Leader Schumer and others in Congress to get this done. But I’m not going to make a prediction at this point on the timeline. It’s obviously a first priority for them in the Senate.

BENNETT: Is it a first priority for the President?

PSAKI: Yes, he’s working with Leader Schumer on it.

BENNETT: In December, he said – at South Carolina State University – “We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done.” What does that look like? What does the fight look like for voting rights for President Biden?

PSAKI: It means getting it passed into law and signing it into law.

BENNETT: What steps is he taking over the next several weeks to make that happen?

PSAKI: Well, first, I would say that the President has – you can expect to hear more from him soon and I’m not going to get too far ahead of that. But the President has taken a range of steps within his own authority on voting rights.

(…)



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