Out Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had no time for a Fox News journalist trying to make a mountain out of a trivial molehill.
Supporters of Donald Trump have been flogging a story that broke this weekend that involves a filing by U.S. Attorney John Durham that conservatives have been using to accuse Hillary Clinton and her campaign of spying on Trump and his campaign.
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The story is that the Clinton campaign “infiltrated” or “hacked” the Trump campaign during the final days of the campaign and the early days of Trump’s presidency.
Trump called the allegations a “scandal far greater in scope than Watergate” and said that in “a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death.” Other Republicans have called for a House investigation of Clinton if Republicans take the majority in that chamber this November.
The data, though, is about internet traffic that wasn’t obtained through any sort of wire tapping or hacking, and it’s unlikely that it was illegally obtained at all. The tech firm that worked to compile the data insists that it was legally obtained, and Durham’s court filing doesn’t indicate any connection to Clinton herself.
Despite the small potatoes nature of the supposed scandal, Fox journalist Jacqui Heinrich tried to get Jean-Pierre to comment on it at the White House press briefing yesterday.
Jean-Pierre wouldn’t take the bait.
“Does the president have any concerns about a candidate for president using computer experts to infiltrate computer systems of competing candidates, or even the president-elect to — for the goal of creating a narrative?” Heinrich asked, even though there isn’t any evidence of “infiltrating” in this case. “Is that something that-”
“That’s something I can’t speak to from this podium, so I refer you to the Department of Justice,” Jean-Pierre said, cutting Heinrich off.
“Is what [was] described in that report — monitoring Internet traffic — is that spying?” Heinrich pushed again.
Jean-Pierre again refused to get into an argument about Clinton, who hasn’t held a public office in almost a decade and is unlikely to run for another office again.
But Heinrich wasn’t deterred.
“Generally speaking though, would monitoring Internet traffic be-” she pressed on.
“Jacqui, my answer is not going to change,” Jean-Pierre said. “I refer you to the Department of Justice.”