For the second day in a row on Wednesday, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich pressed lame duck White House press secretary Jen Psaki on both Hunter Biden’s life of corruption and the ongoing crisis at the border as the Biden administration continues to divert resources away from American citizens and toward illegal immigrants.
Heinrich sandwiched her Hunter Biden questions in between back-and-forth’s on Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD) and Title 42, stating she “want[ed] to take another stab at a question I tried yesterday.”
“We’ve heard the President say over and over again that he has never spoken to his son about his business dealings. Has he ever spoken to his son’s business partners about his son’s business dealings,” she asked.
Psaki made it as clear as day for the U.S. Attorney and grand jury in Delaware, saying “nothing has changed about what I said yesterday” in that President Biden “does not get involved in the business dealings of his son.”
Heinrich twice followed up to have Psaki repeat herself:
HEINRICH: Even through his son’s business partners?
PSAKI: Nothing has changed since what I said yesterday.
HEINRICH: Okay. I don’t believe you answered that part of my question yesterday though.
PSAKI: He’s not involved in his son’s business dealings.
On the ever-pompous WHCD, Heinrich cited Dr. Tony Fauci’s withdrawal from the dinner to wonder if there’s “any concern that the President would be seen as not following the science in some way” by still attending.
Psaki insisted it’s a personal and private decision, but for Biden and Psaki herself, both have made risk assessments and will wear masks when not speaking (on top of the fact that the dinner requires both proof of a negative COVID-19 test and vaccination).
Psaki used the question to puff up Biden’s love of the media (which the feelings are mutual), stating he wants to “showcase his support for the free press, for the work of all of you...to not only share accurate information about COVID but also report on the war in Ukraine and all of the work that happens every single day...in stark contrast to” Donald Trump.
Concerning Title 42, Heinirch started by pointing out the fact that, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s six-point plan to address Title 42’s eventual end (and impending surge), “part of it involves sending healthcare providers from the VA.”
Heinrich fired off the natural reaction, which was to question why it’s “appropriate to be taking resources away from the VA to help with the surge at the border.”
Psaki downplayed it, calling it a decision “made through the interagency process” even as “having support and resources for our nation’s veterans” remains “a top priority to the President.”
Heinrich next went to pulling apart the notion that adding only “600 law enforcement officers” would “make a dent” in the crisis as well as poke at the Democratic Party being in disarray on the issue (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: CBP has 23,000 agents working on the southern border right now. We’re already seeing 7,000 illegal crossings a day; that is expected to surge to 18,000 when Title 42 is lifted. So, how does adding 600 law enforcement officers make a dent in that?
PSAKI: Well, I would say, Jacqui, that one of the reasons that Secretary Mayorkas is participating...testifying on the Hill is to answer the questions...I would point you to his many hours of testimony today and tomorrow.
HEINRICH: And then there’s been reporting that Speaker Pelosi is unhappy with the way that the White House has handled Title 42 and worried that if it comes up for a vote...Democrats wouldn’t have the votes to defeat that. Does the White House share that concern? And what do you make of Pelosi seeming to be kind of shaky on just how close she is with the White House on this decision?
PSAKI: Well, I would say we’re incredibly close...I don’t have more to spell out or explain what her meaning was...There are many strong feelings and points of view on Capitol Hill...about Title 42...It’s a decision made to lift it by the CDC...I don’t have any more to explain about the particular comments. But we obviously work very closely with Speaker Pelosi on a range of issues, including immigration.
HEINRICH: But a number of Democrats are, you know, speaking up about their problems with Title 42....These are Democrats saying these things. They’re not wanting, you know, Title 42 to replace an immigration effort, but they’re saying that there just is not a plan in place to support what’s going to happen when Title 42 goes away.
PSAKI: Well, what I was trying to note earlier, perhaps not articulately, is that there are a range of members who have strong concerns about it being lifted....This is why Secretary Mayorkas is on the Hill doing, I believe, four hearings, answering extensive questions from a range of members, Democratic and Republican. He put out a six-pillar plan on exactly how he’s going to implement it...[H]e’s happy to be on the Hill answering their questions.
Prior to Heinrich, NBC’s Kristen Welker put the Title 42 mess in plain terms (which led to Psaki passing the buck to the CDC): “DHS announced this six-point, 20-page plan, but given that strain that DHS is anticipating, why should the American people have confidence that you’ll be able to deal with that surge of migrants if Title 42 is lifted?”
Later, Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann brought up student loan debt with one question about those who’ve paid off their debt and one about controlling the cost of higher education to stave off more financially strapped families and students in the future (click “expand”):
WEGMANN: You said that the President is looking at a range of options with regards to canceling some student debt. But is the President looking at any options for those students and parents who saved and sacrificed so that they wouldn’t have to take out such massive loans? Is he looking at including them in relief retroactively? How would they be made whole if there was some sort of canceling of debt?
PSAKI: It’s a good question. What I can tell you at this point is that there’s legislation he’d be happy to sign for individuals who have $10,000 in existing student debt. If Congress wanted to send that to him, he’d be happy to sign it, and he’s looking at executive actions and authorities. But I don’t have anything to preview on that front.
WEGMANN: Okay. Then, you know, if the President does move on canceling some of the student debt, isn’t that just one half of the equation though? I mean, what is he looking at in order to keep some of these public universities from jacking up tuition prices, despite some of the federal subsidies that they’ve been getting? I mean, what is it to stop some of these schools from just increasing tuition for the next generation of students? Isn’t that half of the equation?
PSAKI: I don’t know if people would consider it half of the equation. I don’t know. We’ll let Americans define it. I would point you the Department of Education to talk about their efforts on that front.
To see the relevant transcript from April 27's briefing, click here.