On Wednesday after the shocking collapse of Hunter Biden’s plea deal, there were a few White House reporters who grilled Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in her abbreviated turn at the podium (due to her use of John Kirby as her crutch for nearly 35 of the almost 58-minute briefing) on the events in Delaware as well as ongoing questions about Biden family corruption.
Along with usual suspects in Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann and CBS’s Weijia Jiang, ABC’s Ike Ejiochi also had a real question (with process questions from the AP’s Darlene Superville and CNN’s Jeremy Diamond). In contrast, theGrio’s April Ryan, USA Today’s Fran Chambers, and another report lobbed softballs at Kirby.
Ejiochi followed up on an exchange from Monday between Jean-Pierre and Fox’s Gillian Turner: “Earlier this week, you said the President was never in business with his son, but can you say specifically that the President did not have discussions of any kind with Hunter about his business dealings?”
Jean-Pierre made sure not to step in it: “I appreciate the question. I’ve been asked this question multiple times in different various...ways...Nothing has changed. I don’t have anything to add to what I stated on Monday.”
Jiang had the exchange of the day by hoping Jean-Pierre would bite if she noted Biden’s career-long commitment to gun control and thus it’s important to know whether those who break gun laws deserve to “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” but she snuffed it out (click “expand”):
JEAN-PIERRE: So, here, I’m going to be — I think I know where this question is going, and I’m just going to continue to say: As it relates to this — the case that we’re seeing in Delaware, I’m just going to not speak to that. It is an independent matter. This is up for the Department of Justice. Even with the question that you’re asking me, it’s up to — it’s up to — it’s a — it’s one of those legal, criminal matters and it’s up to that process — that legal process. I’m just not going to speak to it here.
JIANG: But, again, the President, when he was a senator, crafted gun legislation.
JEAN-PIERRE: I understand.
JIANG: As President, he talks often about the need to get illegal firearms off of our streets, so when someone possesses one illegally, what does the President believe should happen to them?
JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been very clear. You just laid out where his po- — position has been, what his policies have been, what he was able to pass into law. I’m going to be very mindful here. I’m going to be very careful because I see where this question is going and I’m just going to refer you, as this has been an independent investigation — it’s overseen by the Department of Justice — I’m going to let them speak to this as they are moving forward.
A few minutes later, Wegmann followed up on Ejiochi and called out the shifting language on what President Biden knew about or participated in his son’s business dealings (click “expand”):
WEGMANN: Moments ago, you said that nothing has changed, when you were asked about the President’s previous remarks on his son’s business dealings, but the language has, in fact, changed. So, I just want to clear this up once and for all. The President has previously said that he has never discussed overseas business dealings with his son, but the White House now says that the President has never been in business with his son. So, why the updated language? Which statement is true? Or is this semantics and they’re both true?
JEAN-PIERRE: As I stated on Monday when I was asked this question multiple times, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed on this.
WEGMANN: So both of those statements are true?
JEAN-PIERRE: Nothing has changed on this and so, you could ask me a million different ways on this question. Nothing has changed.
WEGMANN: Yeah, the only reason I ask is because the White House and the — the President’s circle — you know, that language does seem to be somewhat different, and I didn’t know if there was any distinction there.
Wegmann closed by invoking Monday’s Business Insider on Hunter’s art career and how one of his top buyers was a Democratic donor and member of a presidential commissioner:
WEGMANN: I wanted to ask, though, about Elizabeth Naftali. She’s made more than a dozen visits here to the White House and met with some of the President’s most senior advisors. Can you tell us a little bit more about those visits, why she was here?
JEAN-PIERRE: I would have to look into that. I’ve not — I’ve not been tracking the — these visits that you’re mentioning to me.
In between Jiang and Wegmann, CBSNews.com’s Kathryn Watson asked what more reporters should be asking: “The President has nothing on his schedule today other than his daily presidential briefing, so can you share with us what he’s up to? Who is he speaking with?”
Watson also resurrected the plight of East Palestine, Ohio residents and whether Biden would approve a disaster declaration and if he would finally visit the site. Of course, Jean-Pierre had nothing.
Ryan, as usual, represented the other end of the spectrum in questioning this administration. One of her questions to Kirby asked him whether the administration was, on the anniversary of President Harry Turman desegregating the military, the administration was “intertwining that with this moment, this racially and politically divisive moment, to show that patriotism is not just one group.”
A few minutes later, Chambers cued up Kirby to wonder whether Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) latest efforts to secure the border with “floating barriers” were “hurt[ing] U.S. diplomatic efforts” and “U.S. foreign policy.”
And another reporter laid into center-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni ahead of her White House visit: “I wanted to ask also about the visit with the Prime Minister tomorrow. Does the President plan to bring up issues of LGBTQ rights in Italy? That’s been something that her party has been clamping down on in the past couple of months.”
Wegmann’s art question came a day after the New York Post’s Steven Nelson brought up the “corruption concerns about art sales,” but Jean-Pierre refused as she walked off the podium.
Also on Tuesday, Daily Signal correspondent Fred Lucas made a rare Briefing Room appearance amid concerns he could soon lose his credentials. He was the lone reporter to ask former Hunter Biden business associate and friend Devon Archer being slated to testify next week behind closed doors to a House committee. Naturally, Jean-Pierre declined to comment.
A more frequent flier, Newsmax’s James Rosen asked pointed questions about the President’s views of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and whether he believes the U.S. is a racist country (click “expand”):
ROSEN: Whenever you or Admiral Kirby or even the President himself are asked about the President’s relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu...[a]ll you seem willing to say about President Biden’s relationship with Mr. Netanyahu is that the two men have known each other a long time and that they speak candidly to each other. My question is this: Does President Biden trust Prime Minister Netanyahu?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what I can tell you again, as you just stated: They have a longstanding relationship. They speak candidly with each other. They just spoke last week with each other and had a — a fulsome conversation. I’m not going to get into — into specifics about their relationship. I just laid out how long they’ve known each other and, again, they have a candid conversation to discuss their shared interest as well as their concerns and that will continue.
ROSEN: On the Emmett Till event...the President’s actions today spoke to a murder and atrocity that was one of countless perpetrated against Black Americans at that time, and all of which helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. My question is this: Does President Biden believe that systemic racism is a prevalent or defining feature of American life today?
JEAN-PIERRE: When the President walked into this administration...he talked about four crises that this country was facing...One of them was the climate change crisis....He talked about...how COVID was taking the lives of thousands of Americans a day...He talked about the economy and how the economy was upside down...and last but not least...[h]e talked about systemic racism. He’s talked about this many times. He mentioned this earlier today when he talked about Emmett Till...and as I’m talking about all these different crises, everything at the center of the policies that the President has put forward has equity at the center of it so that we do not leave anybody behind.
ROSEN: So I understand correctly, is what you just said synonymous with saying that the President believes we are still a racist country?
JEAN-PIERRE: What the President believes is...we have to deal with racial injustices in this country, that we have to deal with it in a real way...that we do not leave anybody behind and so, that is what’s important and he has shown that by action.