Politics

Jen Psaki slaps back Fox reporter’s claim by quoting a Fox News article

Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a Press Briefing, Wednesday June 2, 2021, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a Press Briefing, Wednesday June 2, 2021, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room.Photo: Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded succinctly to a Fox News reporter’s question accusing the Biden administration of wanting to defund the police… by quoting an article from the Fox News website.

This week, Fox reporter Peter Doocy has tried multiple times to get Psaki to admit that President Joe Biden will defund the police, despite the fact that he signed a bill that provided federal money for police departments to operate during the pandemic and the resulting economic slump.

Related: Jen Psaki patiently teaches Fox reporter how the First Amendment works

His latest attempt to get Psaki to trip up came earlier today when he asked her about U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who was nominated by Biden.

“You say the president doesn’t want to defund the police,” Doocy said. “Is the president concerned then that now-Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said it was, quote, ‘critical for state and local leaders to heed calls from Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives activists to decrease police budgets’?”

Psaki wasn’t bothered and immediately responded by quoting Fox News.

“Well, let me first say that, as a Fox News report that came about in February- quote, ‘Current and former police chiefs in more than 53 cities across the country, as well as the National Fraternal Order of Police, are issuing their support of the nomination of Vanita Gupta – President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general – praising her leadership and record and urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to quickly confirm her to the post,'” Psaki said, referring to an article that is still on Fox News’s website.

“I don’t know that that was your report or not,” Psaki said, gesturing towards Doocy, “but it was certainly one from your network.”

Doocy tried to bring up statements from Gupta’s confirmation hearing, but Psaki cut him off.

“She also made it explicitly clear in her confirmation process that she opposes defunding the police,” Psaki responded. “And the president, most importantly, did not run on defunding the police. He has always opposed defunding the police.”

Doocy has been bringing up Biden’s supposed opposition to funding the police all week. The issue first came up when White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told Chris Wallace on Fox News last Sunday that it’s actually Congressional Republicans who have materially opposed funding the police. Richmond said that the American Rescue Plan (also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package) contained funding for “state and local governments to replenish their police departments,” but all Republicans in Congress voted against it.

On Monday, Doocy asked Psaki about Richmond’s statements, saying that it’s not fair for him to accuse Republicans of opposing the police funding they voted against when “the president never mentioned needing money for police to stop a crime wave when he was selling the American Rescue Plan.”

“As you know, it didn’t receive a single Republican vote,” Psaki replied. “That funding has been used to keep cops on the beat.”

“I think that any local department would argue that keeping cops on the beat to keep communities safe when they had to, because of budget shortfalls, fire police is something that helps them.”

Doocy was back at it on Wednesday, saying that Republicans didn’t say that they were voting against the American Rescue Plan because it has funding for police departments, so it doesn’t count as opposition to police funding even though they voted against a bill with funding for police.

“Which Republican ever said that they did not like the American Rescue Plan because they wanted to defund the police?” he asked Psaki.

“Well, first let me just note that the president ran and won the most votes of any candidate in history on a platform of boosting funding for law enforcement,” Psaki said. “Republicans spent decades trying to cut the COPS program. There’s record of that.”

When Doocy pressed her to point to statements from Republicans calling for defunding the police, she replied simply: “I think most people would argue that actions are more important than words, wouldn’t you say?”