On Tuesday afternoon, the White House press briefing with the ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had it all with some tense exchanges (Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich over anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party), softballs (the AP and USA Today on alleged treatment of illegal immigrants), and the delusional (a far-left blogger asking about potential violence from Trump supporters).
Heinrich began with a simple question in much the same manner her colleague Peter Doocy would do. This one touched on far-left Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) saying recent Israel was “a racist state”: “Did the President address at all Congresswoman Jayapal’s comments in his meeting with Herzog?”
Jean-Pierre played dumb before dancing around the subject and instead talking about President Biden’s view of the U.S. and Israel (click “expand”):
JEAN-PIERRE: What do you mean “had to address”?
HEINRICH: Did it come up all in the conversation with President Herzog?
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, they’re currently having a conversation right now in the bilat.
HEINRICH: Did he plan to address it? Did it come up in his call with Netanyahu yesterday?
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, the President has been very clear — right — and I kind of stated this at the at the beginning: The United States and Israel’s relationship is a special one. There’s a special bond. There’s a commitment, and it is a commitment to Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s security and its legit — legitimacy. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that the President spoke to the Prime Minister yesterday and is having this important meeting with the Israeli President. They’re going to have a conversation on how we continue to grow that special relationship. As I just laid out, 75 years of Israel’s independence is being celebrated this year and we think it’s important to continue that relationship.
Heinrich noted Jean-Pierre crutch John Kirby had said Monday that the White House was pleased Jayapal apologized, “[b]ut what we didn’t hear was any condemnation of her comment from the White House. Does the White House condemn that comment?”
Jean-Pierre would merely state, “The apology was the right thing to do,” adding “we’ve been very clear: When it comes to anti-Semitism, this administration and the entire Biden — Biden-Harris administration have been clear that when Israel is — is singled out because of anti-Jewish hate, that’s anti-Semitism, and that is unacceptable.”
Heinrich tried again, but Jean-Pierre wouldn’t budge beyond stating, “It’s important that the congresswoman did indeed apologize for her comments, and we’re glad to see it.”
The Fox reporter called out the lack of a yes or no before pivoting to another simple question Jean-Pierre couldn’t muster an answer on, which was whether the administration supported a House resolution “saying that Israel is not a racist state or an apartheid state.”
Since Jean-Pierre couldn’t even muster that, the sparring was on with Heinrich calling out what’s – at a minimum – a perception that Democrats were reluctant to punish their own for controversial comments (click “expand”):
JEAN-PIERRE: First of all, we condemn antisemitism. Anytime there is any anti-Jewish hate, we condemn it. We’ve been very clear. That is answering your question. As it relates to anything that’s going on on the House, I’d refer you to the House. But, again, I cannot be more clearer: You have the President right now meeting with the President of Israel, a very important meeting that they’re having. They’re doing a bilat right now and one of the things that the President is going to make very clear is the special bond and our commitment to Israel and it is unwavering, it is unshakable, and the President finds — finds that relationship, again, very deep and it — it — it started when he first walked into government.
HEINRICH: I hear you, and I’m sorry to push on it. It’s just because —
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I’ve already —
HEINRICH: — there are — there’s been criticism —
JEAN-PIERRE: We just went back and forth.
HEINRICH: — that Democrats don’t want to —
JEAN-PIERRE: We — we just —
HEINRICH: — take action against other Democrats when they have to apologize for something like this. There has been criticism —
JEAN-PIERRE: We just — we just —
HEINRICH: — that you —
JEAN-PIERRE: We just said that we’re glad that she apologized. Congresswoman — Congresswoman Jayapal did indeed apologize and we have been very clear: Anytime Israel is singled out with anti-Jewish hate, which is indeed antisemitism, it is unacceptable. It is unacceptable. You have an administration that has put forth a comprehensive plan to counter antisemitism, something that we have not seen in this way from any other administration. That shows the President’s commitment to this issue. I’m going to move on.
Yahoo! News’s Alexander Nazaryan went at this from a different angle towards the end of the briefing with Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO) calling Israel “an apartheid state” with “no respect for human rights.”
Asked whether she’s “anti-Semitic,” Jean-Pierre refused to offer a White House condemnation and, like with Heinrich, focused on Biden’s “longstanding relationship with Israel” and being “committed to continuing that relationship.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the Associated Press’s Josh Boak cued up Jean-Pierre to trash Governor Greg Abbott as a big meanie at the border: “[T]he Houston Chronicle is reporting that Texas troopers were told to push migrant children into the Rio Grande River. What steps is the administration taking to verify this report and address the findings?”
Clearly prepared to respond, Jean-Pierre denounced the claims as “abhorrent,” “completely wrong,” “dangerous,” “despicable,” “indecen[t],” and antithetical to “the bedrock values of who we are as a country”. She added it was unsurprising because Abbott “on Christmas Eve, put migrant children on the streets in below-zero-degree temperature.”
Later in the briefing, Collins asked if there’s “anything…the administration is doing to verify those reports,” but Jean-Pierre had nothing other than more Abbott bashing, insisting his actions were “abusive” and “atrocious”.
Shortly after Heinrich’s back-and-forth, The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg channeled the delusional world of, say, MSNBC’s Deadline: White House in this question: “[O]n what the former President said on his social media site today. Has President Biden asked for any sort of intelligence estimate or inquired as to preparations for potential violence in reaction to any further indictments of the former President?”
Jean-Pierre briefly played along: “Look, I could say this: We are always prepared. I don’t have anything to share beyond that.”
To see the relevant transcript from the July 18 briefing (including questions about the IRS whistleblowers hearing and Senator Rand Paul holding up State Department nominees over the origins of COVID-19), click here.