White House communications director Kate Bedingfield took her turn Tuesday at the Briefing Room podium as the fifth person to speak to reporters and, predictably, the issue of Hunter Biden’s life of corruption didn’t come up over the 80 questions from reporters despite her own record dismissing the infamous laptop as Russian disinformation.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal prior to the final 2020 presidential debate, Bedingfield said giving oxygen to the New York Post’s reporting about his laptop and foreign business dealings would be “amplifying Russian misinformation.” Earlier in the campaign, she called the focus on Hunter Biden “an entirely partisan smear.” As we knew then and now (and liberal outlets would confirm years later), it wasn’t.
Instead, we had some solid questions about President Joe Biden’s statements over the past week that drew walkbacks and White House ethics, but there were a few that came from the left.
CBS’s Ed O’Keefe was in the latter camp, asking Bedingfield why up to 100,000 Ukrainians are being allowed into the U.S. despite the existence of the COVID-19-related immigration measure Title 42 (which is expected to expire at week’s end).
After Bedingfield pointed out the obvious that there’s “an extreme crisis in Ukraine” with an “incredible volume of displacement” of people so those bordering Ukraine wouldn’t “shoulder the burden” alone.
Things heated up when O’Keefe wondered why the same blanket residency isn’t given to illegal immigrants coming form Latin America even though, put simply, the two groups have stark differences (click “expand”):
O’KEEFE: Understood. So, the policy decision has been made that the war in Ukraine and the displacement of those people is more urgent to the United States than the displacement of millions of people due to earthquakes, hurricanes, and political strife in this hemisphere?
BEDINGFIELD: I think that’s a little bit putting words in my mouth. My point was only that we’re —
O’KEEFE: That’s how it would be interpreted though —
BEDINGFIELD: — that that’s —
O’KEEFE: — by immigration advocates and others on this side of the world.
BEDINGFIELD: That’s a little bit putting words in my mouth. All I’m saying is that we have put forward a process to allow a hundred thou — to bring 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the country, given the incredible duress and the crisis that they’re facing in their homeland.
Staying on that topic, the ever vocal Simon Ateba of Today News Africa later interjected to wonder why the U.S. won’t let in droves of Ethiopians as “tens of thousands...have been killed, millions have been displaced” in that country from strife like they’re offering for “Europeans.”
He also inquired about the Chris Rock-Will Smith incident, wondering if the White House would comment because “it’s the biggest story” with “the level of violence...unleashed.”
On both, Bedingfield declined to comment, arguing on the former that the administration’s current focus on helping the Ukrainians amid this hot war.
And after a solid question about whether Biden’s declaration that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin deserves to be removed went against the “the standard that he set himself” that a president’s words matter, NBC’s Mike Memoli fretted: “[I]is he frustrated or does he regret that those words at the very end of the speech overshadowed a larger message, which obviously he put a lot of thought into[?]”
In contrast to all of that, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich pressed on another Biden flub as well as giving free COVID vaccines to illegal immigrants and Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann had questions about a special, one-week job for longtime lefty Anita Dunn and then one of the White House’s Ukraine walkbacks (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: There are reports that the administration is going to require COVID vaccines for undocumented migrants at the southwest border just as Title 42 is expected to end and right after the fourth shot got FDA approval. You just highlighted the impacts of not having enough COVID funding when it comes to paying for shots for the uninsured and sending shipments of treatments to states. So, why would the administration give out free vaccines to undocumented migrants but not to, for instance, uninsured Americans?
HEINRICH: Can you clarify, though: The New York Times story framed it as something that was about to get underway in certain sectors of the southwest border. Is this some — this requirement for a vaccine. Is — is that accurate? Is that something that is going to take place? Because — and the reason I ask is you’re talking about future supply and this is a future effort. How are those two things not sort of in conflict?
HEINRICH: Can you confirm Title 42 is about to end then?
BEDINGFIELD: I have no announcement that I can make on Title — Title 42.
HEINRICH: And then, on Ukraine: Yesterday, did the President accidentally reveal a previously unknown effort for the U.S. to be training Ukrainian forces in Poland during his answer in the press conference?
WEGMANN: The Washington Post reports that Anita Dunn was here at the White House on a special one-week assignment last month. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about, you know, what was so important for her to be brought in on a one-week assignment like that? And then do any other staffers or former staffers in Biden world enjoy that sort of drop-in opportunity? And finally, is it true that Dunn avoided any ethics rules that would restrict former White House officials from lobbying one year after leaving their post?
WEGMANN: And then one more. Forty-five minutes after the President’s remarks wrapped in Warsaw on Saturday, that was when a statement landed in everyone’s inboxes from an unnamed White House official saying that, no, the administration did not, in fact, change its policy with regards to Russia. I’m wondering if you can tell us anything about what happened in the interim — in that 45 minutes. Did the President himself conclude that perhaps there needed to be some further clarification? Or did White House advisors come to him and say, “Perhaps you should revisit your recent remarks?” Why was that statement issued?
To see the relevant transcript from March 29’s briefing, click here.