Clearly on a roll since returning to the White House Briefing Room rotation on Tuesday, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy continued his streak Thursday of asking the tough questions to Press Secretary Jen Psaki. This time, Doocy was dogged in seeking comment on the nursing home scandal and sexual misconduct allegations against Biden ally and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY).
Despite the fact that ABC had ignored it through Thursday morning (while ABC, CBS, and MSNBC waited until then with CNN first noticing in the noon Eastern hour), Doocy began his questions by invoking former Cuomo aide Linsdey Boylan’s claims in light of Cuomo chairing a virtual meeting of the National Governors Association with President Biden.
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Doocy wondered if, given Boylan’s disturbing claims about Cuomo, the White House was “worried about this becoming a distraction from an important meeting about COVID response.”
Psaki’s answer was standard for a spokesperson in that she insisted Biden “has been consistent in his position” that “[w]hen a person comes forward, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect” and “[t]heir voice should be heard not silenced and any allegation should be reviewed.”
Ruling? Pants on fire, Jen. Sure, one could say anyone and everyone should be “heard,” but as we’ve seen with Tara Reade versus Christine Blasey Ford, not all allegations are actually heard in the public square. Psaki might as well have followed up with the adage about a tree falling in the forest.
Instead, she maintained that Cuomo would still attend given his role as “the governor of one of the largest states in the country that has been one of the hardest hit with millions of people still suffering from an ongoing pandemic and an economic crisis.”
Doocy then pivoted to three questions about Cuomo’s nursing home scandal, including his own attempt to ask the question she refused to answer on ABC’s This Week about whether Biden still considers Cuomo to be “the gold standard” when dealing with the coronavirus.
By that last question, a peeved Psaki insisted that Doocy of routinely engaging in disinformation (click “expand”):
DOOCY: And to him being in charge of the governors and in charge of such big state, will the President talk to him about these accusations from Democrats in the New York Legislature that Cuomo misled the public about deaths in nursing homes throughout the pandemic?
PSAKI: Well, this is a meeting and a conversation with a range of governors about how we can all work together to address the pandemic and get relief to the American people And that’s what I expect the focus of the meeting to be on.
DOOCY: There are some Democrats in New York who want a — who want congressional hearings about these deaths in nursing homes. There was a Cuomo aide who told lawmakers in February that the Cuomo administration withheld the number of residents who died in hospitals from the public due the fear that it would be used against them by federal prosecutors. Is this something the White House thinks would be appropriate for a congressional hearing?
PSAKI: It’s really up to Congress to determine how they want to review or have hearings on those reports.
DOOCY: And I know you’re asked about this this weekend, but I’ll try again: Does President Biden still think Andrew Cuomo is the gold standard for COVID leadership, and he’s doing a hell of a job, which he has said about him?
PSAKI: Well, first of all, I think to be fair, let’s put all the comments in context, which sometimes is a missing from these conversations we have in here during interviews. At the time, which was I believe April of last year, the President spoke out and said positive things about a range of governors, Democrats and Republicans, who are stepping in when there was a vacuum of leadership at the federal level, when they were getting no information, when they were getting no help, and no guidance from the former Trump administration. He had — he made some positive comments about Governor Cuomo and his role in New York at the time, as he did about a range of governors.
Doocy closed with a query about an upcoming meeting on climate change between White House officials and airline executives, but fortunately for briefing viewers, Doocy closed out Thursday’s episode with a second round of questions that touched on the Biden’s American Rescue Plan, immigration, and the January 6 Capitol attack.
Doocy started with the ongoing discussions concerning “a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection” and Republican concerns about a partisan makeup of such a commission (which wasn’t how the 9/11 Commission was constructed). Of course, Psaki demurred, saying it was a congressional matter.
Before closing with a back-and-forth about why Biden didn’t bring up his stimulus package in a Wednesday meeting with a group of Senate Republicans (which was about semiconductors), the FNC reporter returned to the well on immigration
DOOCY: And on immigration, why does the White House think There is this surge of unaccompanied children right now? Your critics are saying it’s because you’re not sending anybody back — any of these unaccompanied children back. Do you share that?
PSAKI: Well, I think there’s a couple reasons. One, there’s conditions that are in these countries that we have not done enough to help improve, and that’s why there is funding in the President’s immigration bill, and why one of the reasons we’re eager to have it passed. We don’t feel that sending unaccompanied minors — kids — back to take a dangerous journey is the right step to take, and that’s not something that we’re going to do in his administration, and it won’t be our policy. But we always need to keep communicating more effectively about how this is a dangerous time to travel. This is a dangerous time for families to come, for children to come and we’ll continue to have work to do that more.