For the Hump Day edition of the White House press briefing, Fox’s Peter Doocy grilled Press Secretary Jen Psaki on whether then-candidate Joe Biden and his campaign created vaccine hesitancy because of their efforts in 2020 to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the coronavirus vaccines since they were developed during the Trump administration.
And later in the briefing, Psaki faced incoming on ambassadorships, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Hunter Biden’s art career, travel logs for who meets with the President when he’s in Delaware, and when the administration believes Delta variant-related Covid will peak and subside.
Doocy started off easy by asking Psaki about something Biden was asked a day earlier about when he plans to appoint a permanent FDA commissioner. But the small talk went out the window when he fired off this hardball about how Biden said during the campaign that Americans shouldn’t “trust Donald Trump.”
Of course, Psaki replied that Biden and company had always been on board with the vaccines because approval came from government health experts (ignoring the fact that now-Vice President Kamala Harris directly questioned their efficacy) (click “expand”):
DOOCY: [A]s the President tries to reach unvaccinated Americans, has there been any thought given, looking back, to the possibility that he may have created some vaccine hesitancy when last year around this time the previous administration was rushing to get a vaccine authorized, and the now President said, “I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump and at this moment, the American people can’t either.”
PSAKI: Well, I think it’s safe to say he still doesn’t trust Donald Trump, so that hasn’t changed. But he does trust scientists. He does trust data experts and he does trust the people leading the CDC, the FDA, which is the gold standard of approval for vaccines. I’d also note, because this question often comes up, that the President has repeatedly given credit to scientists and experts from the prior administration, even as recently as just a few weeks ago, for their role in moving the vaccines forward.
DOOCY: Yes, but at the time when Donald Trump is out there saying, “We’re going to have a vaccine in the next couple of weeks, the next couple of months.” And Joe Biden is out on the campaign trail saying, “Don’t trust Donald Trump.” Did that create any kind of vaccine hesitancy?
After Psaki dismissed Doocy’s line of questioning by citing Trump’s bleach comments, Doocy closed by pointing out that Biden had said we needed “to wait until something is fully authorized” while Psaki dismissed that line because “the FDA works on the timeline of science.”
A few minutes later, NBC’s Peter Alexander twice sought answers on when government projections believe “this Delta variant would reach its peak” and then subside, but Psaki demurred, arguing it’s dependent on not only Americans getting vaccinated, but everyone universally resume wearing masks.
NPR’s Franco Ordoñez similarly had little success when he pointed to the fact that “a few of the recent nominations” for ambassadorships were major Biden donors and thus one could argue it flies in the face of how “some diplomats feel” that “after four years of Trump and the withdrawal from the world, need — there should be more career people.”
The New York Times’s Zolan Kanno-Youngs and the New York Post’s Steven Nelson brought excellent questions on the transparency front concerning Hunter Biden’s upcoming art sale and Nelson also asking about presidential visitor logs (click “expand”):
KANNO-YOUNGS: Also, the gallerist who’s managing — who has been tasked with ensuring the buyers of Hunter Biden’s artwork remain anonymous — he said that Hunter will be attending his — his opening as well next month and has said friends and families will be attending as well. Does the President or First Lady plan on attending that — that opening?
PSAKI: I’m not aware of plans for them to attend.
NELSON: [T]he President’s been to Delaware 17 times, soon going to be 18 and 19 times over the past six months. I want to know how visits from visitors and from family members with potential conflicts of interest are being treated for the purposes of White House visitor log disclosure. Also, I was hoping that you could respond to Walter Shaub’s criticism of the First Son’s art sales. He says he wants the — shame on the President if he doesn’t ask his son to stop. What exactly has the President said to his son?
PSAKI: I would say, we have spoken extensively to the arrangements that are not White House arrangements. There are arrangements between Hunter Biden’s representatives and ones that we certainly were made aware of. I don’t think I have anything to add in that regard. And no, I can confirm we are not going to be providing information about the comings and goings of the President’s grandchildren or people visiting him in Delaware.
In between Kanno-Youngs and Nelson, Real Clear Politics’ Philip Wegmann brought up inflation concerns in light of the trillions being spent on infrastructure and the possibility that the New York legislature could still impeach Cuomo (despite his promise to resign):
WEGMANN: And then, even though he’s now out of office, would this President support the New York legislature if they decided to impeach Governor Cuomo?
PSAKI: That’s a decision for them to make. The President made clear his views. Obviously, the former — the governor announced his steps yesterday. We’ll leave it at that.
To see the relevant briefing transcript from August 11 (including one from EWTN’s Owen Jensen on the Hyde Amendment), click here.