On Thursday and Friday’s editions of The Psaki Show, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich repeatedly took the outgoing White House press secretary to task over the appointment of Nina Jankowicz, a far-left Resistance fiend to run what many have deemed a real-life Ministry of Truth out of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Heinrich wrapped her Thursday Q&A by invoking the so-called “Disinformation Governance Board” that’s set to fight “misinformation ahead of the midterms” and “Hispanic communities especially.”
After she asked about “what this board is going to be doing” and the depths of “their authority,” Psaki claimed she hadn’t “dug into this exactly” other than to state “there has been a range of disinfo out there about a range of topics — I mean, including COVID, for example, and also elections and eligibility.”
Heinrich pressed with pointed questions about past comments from Jankowicz denouncing Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and dismissing the validity of Hunter Biden’s laptop (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: There’s been some criticism of the person who’s been chosen to oversee this board. She had previously called the Hunter Biden laptop a “Trump campaign product,” seeming to discredit its validity — or validity of reporting surrounding that. How can you assuage concerns of people who are looking at this person who’s been appointed to this position and wondering if she’s going to be able to accurately judge misinformation now that a lot of that reporting has been proven to be factual in some ways?
PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any comments on the laptop. But what I can tell you is that it sounds like the objective of the board is to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities. I’m not sure who opposes that effort, and I don’t know who this individual is, so I have no comments on it specifically.
HEINRICH: Her name is Nina Jankowicz. She also just recently made some polarizing comments about the Twitter — Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase. It’s just getting some pushback from critics who are saying this person may not be the right choice for a board that is run by the Department of Homeland Security. Can you speak to that at all?
PSAKI: I don’t have any information about this individual. I — I can check on more information about the board.
Heinrich made sure Psaki had checked with a series of queries Friday afternoon. Along with inviting Psaki to provide an update, she wondered how the administration hired her to begin with if they were unaware of her past political statements.
Sure enough, Psaki was ready to circle back and rattled off Jankowicz’s professional biography, including a stop at the Wilson Center and a Fulbright (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: Yesterday you had told me you were not familiar with Nina Jankowicz. I’m wondering if you have more information on her today. Also, Secretary Mayorkas said that he was not familiar with statements she had made surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop. And I’m just wondering, how is she hired if you and the White House are not familiar with her, Mayorkas is not familiar with her statements? What's the process for putting her in a position like this? Who’s in charge of her hire.
PSAKI: Well, let me give you a sense of who she is. She's an expert on online disinformation. She was formerly in the Wilson Center’s Disinformation — she was formerly a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center. She's testified before Congress as well as the United Kingdom and European parliaments, advising Ukrainian foreign minister — particularly relevant in this moment — under the auspices of a Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship and overseeing Russian/Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute. Any hiring decisions are up to the Department of Homeland Security but this is a person with extensive qualifications. What I will tell you about the board and what the board is doing, this is a continuation of work began at the Department of Homeland Security in 2020 under former President Trump.
The Fox reporter kept up the pressure by citing her TikTok profile and comments in one video in which she accused conservatives and Trump voters of “laundering [disinformation]” and “not support their lies with our wallet, voice, or vote.”
Psaki countered by again blaming Trump and insisting the real mission of the board is “protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties and the First Amendment” while also countering “disinformation.”
The future MSNBC analyst added that examples include combating terrorism and “misinformation...spread by human smugglers that prey on vulnerable populations attempting to migrate to the United States.”
Heinrich noted it all “sound[s] very worthy, but you've got someone in — from the Department Homeland Security telling people how they should vote,” so it’s worth considering the fact that “critics...say that doesn’t sound right.”
Of course, Psaki ducked by brushing off Jankowicz as just someone “overseeing the work of that board” conceived by Trump.
Elsewhere in the briefing, Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann scorched the administration over its refusal to explain what victory in Ukraine looks like for the U.S. and if Americans should buckle up for a decades-long involvement.
Needless to say, Psaki’s meandering answers didn’t sit well with the ace reporter (click “expand”):
WEGMANN: The administration has not said how long they expect the war in Ukraine to last and that’s understandable because no one knows what —
WEGMANN: — the future holds. But the administration — and also in this room yesterday — the administration has declined to say how much the United States is prepared to spend long term or to get a real definition of what a victory in the war in Ukraine will look like. So my question is how long does President Biden — the same President who got us out of Afghanistan because he said it was a costly and unwinnable quagmire — how long does he expect the American people to back this war when they don't know how long it will last, how much it will cost, or what the ultimate definition of victory actually is?
PSAKI: Well, I mean, let me just reiterate something the President has said from the beginning — I will get to your point.
PSAKI: I will get to your questions, I promise — that combating Russian aggression has costs, leaving it unchecked would be even more costly, allowing Russia to run rampant around Europe beyond Ukraine, which is what president Putin outlined in his speech right before he invaded, would be incredibly costly to the world and to the United States. We calculate that as well. Right now, I know — let me — I will get there. I promise. I know you’re raising your hand. You asked me a few questions. I'm going to get there. Right now, the importance of this package to the President is because every day Ukrainians pay the price of freedom in their lives and he feels we providing the one arms and food is the right thing to do and trying to plan for — and I noticed some components of the package are not limited. It is not the spending will and in five months. It’s just allowing the ability for us, the Ukrainians, and the Europeans to plan over the long-term. In fact, much of the assistance will be much longer than that. The reason it’s difficult to define what winning is is because obviously, our — our view continues to be that and an ends will be through a diplomatic process and a diplomatic conversation. The Ukrainians are the ones to determine what the outcome of that will look like, not for us to determine on their behalf.
WEGMANN: So, should we expect a line item appropriation for military aid to Ukraine for the next five, 10, 15 years? I mean, is this open ended?
PSAKI: We, of course, want the war to end as quickly as possible and President Putin could do that tomorrow. Right now, what we are making a decision about, what we’re advocating for is trying to support and have the backs of an incredibly brave country and their people who are kicked out of their homes, fighting an aggressive dictator and his military, lacking food, lacking economic assistance in preventing content from rampaging through Europe, which, by the way, would be much more expensive than what we are talking about here.
WEGMANN: And then one quick follow-up then. So, the United States’s definition of success or victory in the region is contingent on how long Ukrainians are willing to combat the Russians and whether or not they want to, you know, fight them and force them to the negotiation table or push them out of, you know, their borders, that's up to them? But we’re — we’re —
PSAKI: That is not exactly what I said. What I will say is what President Putin defined as his own version of winning and victory at the beginning was taking over Ukraine, their sovereignty, their, territorial integrity. Obviously, he’s already failed at that, right? So, in that sense, they’re already defeating Putin’s effort to envelop them into Russia. But this is an ongoing war, we know that. We know that diplomacy and having a discussion and negotiation is the way to get an end to it. Our effort and our focus is on strengthening them at the negotiating table and that’s the role we feel we could play.
To see the relevant briefing transcripts, click here (for April 28) and here (for April 29, which includes more questions on the economy and one softball about Biden attending the White House Correspondents Dinner).