Genocide, Butker, Alito, & Scheffler: The Best and Worst of This Week’s WH Briefing

May 17th, 2024 6:04 PM

This week marked a rare occasion in which President Biden remained at the White House all five weekdays and thus allowed for five press briefings from the ever-inept press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre (and John Kirby only serving as a crutch on Friday).

The questions were, not surprisingly, all over the place given the lunacy of the week, ranging from accusing Jews of genocide to harassment at the FDIC to Biden’s unpopularity to fact-checking Biden to smearing Harrison Butker (one exchange we wrote about separately here), and Justice Samuel Alito.

Below are some of the smartest and dumbest questions of the briefing, presented in chronological order.


Of Course the Al-Jazeera Reporter Asks About Genocide in Israel

“I looked up Francesca Albanese, the Special U.N. Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine presented one in March. Her — she presented it in Geneva. The three criterion she used, citing international law, three acts: Israel’s intent to destroy national ethnic, racial, or religious groups; serious bodily or mental harm to a group; inflicting on a group conditions of life calculated to bring physical destruction, in whole or in part, with imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group; process of erasure of the native Palestinians. So, those three things are happening.  How can you say genocide is not being committed?”

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, May 13, 3:10 p.m. Eastern.

A Question No Liberal Wants to Answer: Will You Stop Spending Money?

Fox Business’s Edward Lawrence: “So, Warren Buffett this month said that taxes will have to be raised to pay for the national debt. He said the government may want to decrease spending. So, with — we've had announcement after announcement of — of taxpayer money being doled out — we’ve seen almost weekly now. Is the federal government spending too much money?”

Jean-Pierre: “So, let me just say a couple things that Warren Buffett did say that we certainly agree with and I'll quote him: “The wealthy are definitely under taxed, relative to the general population,” which is why the President has a plan to make sure that wealthiest among us, the billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share and we've been very clear about that. They pair — the pay their fair share in order to pay for — for his investments in America and cut the deficit by $3 trillion and it — and Buffett also said it “doesn't matter bother him to pay taxes” and so it has been very clear — the President has said that he will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000. That is what the President has said. Warren Buffett pretty much agrees with us. We agree, obviously, with him, and this is very different than what Republicans want to do. They put out their plan. They put out what they want to do. They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid give tax breaks to billionaires and corporations. We do not agree with this and what we want to do is continue to make sure that we're lowering cost for Americans for families, whether it is Big Pharma — fighting Big Pharma, lowering health care costs, making sure that we go after corporation as we — as we — you hear us talk about junk fees. Those are the ways that we want to move forward. That's what our focus is.”

Q&A on May 13, 3:18 p.m. Eastern.

Ducking Biden’s ‘Fire on Spot’ When It Comes to FDIC Harassment



Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann: “There's new reporting in The Wall Street Journal found that the FD — FDIC director Martin Gruenberg, disrespected, disparaged and treated unfairly officials there and he was known to be someone who can control his temper. Obviously, President Biden said early on in his administration that he would fire on the spot anyone who bullied or unfairly belittled coworker. So, has the President seen those reports and — if those reports proved to be accurate. Will he take action?”

Jean-Pierre: “So I don't have any personal announcements to make at this time. The FDIC administrator — chairman to be exact — made, apologized, and spoke to this. And so, certainly I would — I would send you there. The FDIC is independent agency, so would refer you to them as to anything else coming out from the FDIC on this particular matter, but I just don't have any policy — personnel announcement to make at this time.”

— Q&A on May 13, 3:22 p.m. Eastern.

Sorry, Folks, We Know This Is a Reelection Ploy for the Rust Belt

Lawrence: “So, this is an election year. Why did it take three years to impose these tariffs?”

U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai: “So, this is where I put my lawyer hat back on. Under the 301 statue, in the fourth year of the tariffs, if there is a stakeholder that has benefiting from the tariffs, who asked us to keep them, we keep them. That is what happened in 2022 because the tariffs first went on in 2018. As a result of that, in the fall of 2022, we started a process. We opened up a portal that was open, I think, in the end of 22 to the very beginning of 23, notice and comment. We wanted to hear from all of our stakeholders, their views on the tariffs, the pros and the cons — please inform us. That — that elicited, I think, about 1,600 comments. So, that's at the beginning of 2023. And then, we started a whole of government, interagency review within the Biden administration. That process has taken us to today and the unveiling of this finalized package which the President approved.”

Lawrence: “So, it took three years to figure out the Chinese were flooding the market and stealing technology? I mean, it's pretty evident that they've been doing that all along.”

Tai: “No, it took — it took a year and a half for the course of the review. You will see the amount of care that we put into our investigation and our findings. Yes, there continue to be problems, but then the question is: What do you do about the tariffs? For this administration, it is extremely important that we approach a relationship like the one between the U.S. and China and these issues around the industries and the jobs of the future with discipline. That's what takes so long — is the design and the architecture of the tariff defense system that you will see.”

Back and forth on May 14, 1:29 p.m. Eastern.

Wow: NBC Reporter Calls Out Biden Flip-Flop on Tariffs

“You said that the President has been consistent on this issue, but back in 2019, when he was a candidate, he said that “any freshman economics student could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs”, referring to his opponent at the time. And he also said that he would reverse what he called ,senseless policies’. Why’d he change his mind?...Previously, he called them “senseless”. They're no longer senseless?

White House correspondent Gabe Gutierrez’s questions to Tai, May 14, 1:33 p.m. Eastern.

Doocy Time Asks KJP Why Americans Have the Sads With Ole Joe

“Why do you think Americans are so down on President Biden right now?...I know you don't like to talk about polls, like, the five of six swing states that he is losing right now to somebody who is a criminal offender. But, more broadly, it doesn't seem like anything you guys are doing, is making him more popular. Why do you think that is?”


“So, more broadly then, have you considered in the White House that some of President Biden's recent policy positions could be a turn off to the people that used to like him?”

Doocy, May 14, 1:55 p.m. Eastern.

FBN’s Lawrence SCHOOLS KJP on Biden’s Inflation Lies

— Back and forth on May 15, 2:43 p.m. Eastern.

ABC, AP Throw Hardballs at KJP Over Biden Blocking Release of Hur Tapes

“President Biden decided to block the release of the audio interview with the special counsel. And, obviously, the letter from the White House counsel laid out the reasons about the concerns of being used for political purposes. But that seems to imply that the White House is concerned that these could be politically damaging. So why not just release that, especially with this White House’s commitment to transparency?...But does the White House feel that the recording — the audio could be politically harmful since that point was also raised in the letter?”

AP’s Seung Min Kim, May 16, 2:20 p.m. Eastern.

“Just to follow up on what Seung Min was asking for. Speaker Mike Johnson said that President Biden is ‘apparently afraid for citizens to hear’ his interview with special counsel Robert Hur. How is the White House responding to that criticism?...You talked about transcripts being released, but as you know, hearing something and reading it is very different and if the transcript is already out there, why is it different to have the audio there?

ABC senior White House correspondent Selina Wang, 2:22 p.m. Eastern.

Leftist Coordination: ABC, AP, CBS Team Up to Invite to Smear Justice Alito

“Does the President, who is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agreed with the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Justice Alito should recuse himself from 20 cases involving the 2020 election or January 6 because of the reporting of the upside down flag flown outside of this house?”

AP’s Darlene Superville, May 17, 3:12 p.m. Eastern.

“So, given the flag incident, does President Biden believe that Justice Alito can rule in — with impartiality for all the cases involving January 6?”

CBS’s Weijia Jiang, May 17,  3:15 p.m. Eastern.

“So the President concerned that having a Supreme Court justice who is it such a high position of power, displaying a flag in his house in such a way that that could fuel more extremism and division in this country?”


“[W]hat is the sense here about the wive’s role here? Whether it is a Supreme Court justice, whether the senator or president, should she be able and entitled have our own political opinions and views without having them tied to her husband or not?”

Wang, May 17, 3:22 p.m. Eastern.

Doocy Steps Up to Ask KJP About Scheffler’s Shocking Arrest



Doocy: “President Biden think about the world's number one golfer, Scottie Scheffler, being cuffed and then hauled in for a mug shot for what appears to be a misunderstanding at a traffic stop?”

Jean-Pierre: “So I — I've seen the reports of — uh — Mr. Shuff — Scheffler’s arrest. I just want to say that our hearts go out to the individual that was killed.”

Doocy: “Unrelated.”

Jean-Pierre: “No, let me finish in the auto — in the auto accident that preceded his arrest. Obviously, someone did die. Someone was killed, preceded his arrest that, obviously, he was not involved in. Uh — so, I want to make sure that we share our condolences to that family and their loved ones. Anything else as specifics to his arrest, that would be something for local authorities to speak to.”

Doocy: “I think — just — I — you guys have spent a good chunk of this week —”

Jean-Pierre: “Yep.”

Doocy: “— talking about how you don't want anybody to ever go to jail again for possessing marijuana. Do you think that somebody who was involved in what appears to be a misunderstanding of a traffic stop should be facing 10 years in prison?”

Jean-Pierre: “There — we've seen the reports. There — there's a process there. We have to let the legal authorities do — go to their — you know — process and how this all works. I can't comment from here, from the lectern about something that's being looked into by local authorities. I got to be mindful about that, but let's not forget. Someone lost their lives [sic]. Not obviously — that preceded this, but there was an individual that was killed and there's a family that’s mourning a death of a loved one. And so, we want to be sensitive to that as well.”

— Back and forth on Scheffler’s arrest, May 17, 3:19 p.m. Eastern.

CNN Reporter Tries to Get KJP to Have Butker Banned From WH

“Can we still assume that the Kansas City Chiefs will be visiting the White House this year celebration of their Super Bowl victory?”


“So, can you confirm — you said everyone on the team is obviously invited. Is the Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker welcome at this White House?”


“Given his recent comments, is he specifically welcome at this White House?”

CNN’s MJ Lee, May 17, 3:31 p.m. Eastern.

Taxpayer-Funded Journo: Does Biden Know African-Americans See Themselves in Gazans?

“[I]s the President mindful of how black students were protesting in campus might see a parallel of their experience of injustice between themselves and the Palestinians? Has he [OTHER REPORTER COUGHS] input about this? Is he sympathetic to that?”

Voice of America’s Patsy Widakuswara, May 17, 3:35 p.m. Eastern.


To see the relevant transcripts from this week’s briefings (including even more questions), click here (for May 13), here (for May 14), here (for May 15), here (for May 16) and here (for May 17).