OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been on the ropes before when hit with tough questions, but she apparently did not anticipate this one.
On Friday she was confronted by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy who wanted to know why Vice President Kamala Harris was not entrusted with leading the debt ceiling negotiations while President Joe Biden was in Japan.
Doocy pointed to a time when Biden was vice president and former President Obama was not in town during debt ceiling negotiations and he entrusted Biden to handle them.
But he did not extend the same to his vice president and Doocy wanted to know why.
“So, the last time that we got this close to a debt ceiling default, President Obama deputized his Vice President to lead the negotiations. Why doesn’t President Biden trust Vice President Harris to lead these negotiations while he’s in Asia?” the reporter said.
“Well, I disagree with your — the premise of your question. The President does — does,” the press secretary said before Doocy interrupted her saying, “She’s in Los Angeles.”
“She could be at the Capitol. Why isn’t she?” he said.
“The President entrusts the Vice President, as we all know, as we have stated many times,” the press secretary said.
“She — she was in the meeting that — with the congressional members that occurred very recently, right before the President left for Japan. She has been in regular conversations, as well, and has been in — in conversations with the President. He has taken her consult and listened to her advice, as he always does on many issues. This is one of many issues. And so, that has not changed,” she said.
“And I think you actually said something that is incredibly important: The President has been there before. Right? He has dealt with these types of negotiations, these types of conversations before. He knows how this all works. This is not new to him
“And this is why he is optimistic. And this is why these conversations are going to continue and he’s going to stay on top of them,” she said.
But then Doocy hit her with another question that had her dancing around it.
“And you just said that you’re assuming the President will be updated momentarily by the team. What was he doing for the last several hours while they were in these meetings?” he said.
“Well, the — they were having conversations. Right? They were on the Hill, the negotiators,” Jean-Pierre said.
DOOCY: And it’s the middle of the night here. I’m just curious what he did —
JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, but how would he be updated if they’re still having conversations on the Hill? It just ended moments ago.
DOOCY: Couldn’t he call in?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look — look, Peter —
DOOCY: He just conducted —
JEAN-PIERRE: Look — wait — look, Peter —
DOOCY: — the first year of his term, he conducted — because of the COVID pandemic — by video conference. Is that not possible right now?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, Peter, we’re going to give the space to these negotiators — the time and the space — to have these conversations. That’s what we’re going to do.
The President is going to continue to be updated regularly, daily, as he has been for the past couple of days. And that’s how we’re moving forward. That’s how we’re — we’re seeing this process.
The President has sat down twice with congressional leaders very recently to hear them out, to have a conversation, to talk about his budget, to talk about the urgency of getting — of getting the debt limit done, of Congress doing their job.
And so, he continues to — he continue to hold the line in that very — in that way.
And so, look, we’re going to have the negotiators have their conversation. They just ended their last convening, if you will, and they’re going to reconvene. I’m certain of that.
DOOCY: "What was [Biden] doing for the last several hours while they were in these meetings?"
JEAN-PIERRE: "They were having conversations, right? They were on the Hill."
DOOCY: "Couldn't he call in?"
JEAN-PIERRE: *blank stare* "Look, Peter." pic.twitter.com/YI5jbq03jT
— Bella Smith ❤️ (@BelllllaSmith) May 20, 2023
And so, the President is going to get an update from his team, as he did last night, as he’s done the last couple of days.
I’m just going to keep going. Go ahead.