Along with the return of Fox’s Peter Doocy on Wednesday to the White House Press Briefing Room and some tough questions for the ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on TikTok, there were a host of other topics that piqued our interests, including Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) revoking Disney’s self-governance status, the D.C. City Council attempting to rewrite their criminal code, the murder of a Catholic bishop, and the alleged bigotry from the Richmond, Virginia FBI field office.
Reuters’s Nandita Bose shrewdly invoked DeSantis as he “sign[ed] a law that ended Disney’s self-governing status in Florida that essentially provided the company with a favorable tax structure, they were able to get away without paying taxes around regional infrastructure developments.”
Citing the desire for the White House do more “cracking down on corporate tax evasion,” she asked whether Biden “supports” DeSantis on this issue.
Jean-Pierre showed they’re not serious about the issue because she refused to engage:
So, I’m going to be very frank with you, Nandita. I have not read the op-ed and I frankly, I don't plan to. Look, the President has been very clear here. He's going to deliver for the American people…[W]e're not going to pay political games. That's not something that we do here. We're going to continue to stay very focused, laser focused on delivering for the American people. And I'm not going to be that op-ed.
Surprisingly, the D.C. City Council’s hijinks came up thanks to The New York Times’s Katie Rogers and CBS’s Steven Portnoy. Jean-Pierre refused to engage, seeing as how supporting it would go against the left’s desire for D.C. to govern itself and opposing it would make him soft on crime (click “expand”):
ROGERS: I just wanted to circle back to crime. As soon as next week, Congress could end up overturning a new sentencing law in D.C. that reduces penalties for some violent crimes, among other measures. Is the President prepared to issue a veto if that vote passes and it crosses his desk?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know we’ve been asked this question before.
ROGERS: Yeah, but given that Manchin has signaled support, I thought (inaudible) update.
JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President takes this very seriously when it comes to crime. I’m not going to get ahead of — of what — of what the — you know, of what the decision is going to be or of what it’s going to ultimately look like. Don’t want to get too much into hypotheticals, but what I can state clearly, and I’ve said this before: The President is very committed to make sure that our communities are safer, that families feel safer. That’s why he put forth a plan very early on, making sure that we put more police in — in communities, that work with communities so that they feel safer. That’s — and you’ll see that as it — as it relates to funding, you’ll see that in his budget next month. I’m not going to get into too much of hypotheticals from here. But the President, I believe, in the last two years and throughout his career has shown his dedication in making sure that we keep communities safe.
PORTNOY: If I could go back to the question about the D.C. Council action and the likelihood that the Senate will send the President a bill that forces him to make a decision. Is it fair to say the President is at this moment undecided? Has he not yet decided what he’s going to do?
JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here. I just — what I can say to you is the President’s commitment just more broadly, as it relates to crime, as it relates to making sure that Americans and families feel safe, and what he’s done in the past two years but also beyond and so, that’s what I can speak to at this time. Just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.
PORTNOY: Okay. So let me ask you it this way: There — basically there are two ways to look at the question. One is to side with the mayor, who said that the Council’s action went too far and she vetoed it. The other is to side with members of the Council who insisted on enacting it against her objections. But has the President decided where he stands? Does he stand with Mayor Bowser? Does he stand with mayors — members of the Council?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, what I can say — so as it relates to D.C., I’ll say this and the President has been very clear about this: You know, we think that we must do more to — to reduce crime and save lives and that’s why the President has taken those actions. As it relates to more — D.C. more broadly, and the President has said this as well, it’s a clear example of why D.C. deserves statehood, right? And that’s something that the President has called for since the campaign, but again, I’m not going to get into — into particulars, into hypotheticals. The Safer America Plan was something that the President has put forward to lay out how he sees making communities safer, how he sees dealing with an increase of crime that happened — that he inherited, that happened before he walked into office, so I’ll just leave it there, and I won’t speak further to any hypotheticals.
Jean-Pierre ended her opening remarks by claiming Republican opposition to ESG was not only anti-free market, but a move by “MAGA Republicans” to put the financial solvency of millions of retirement accounts at risk. Thankfully, NPR’s Scott Detrow and another reporter pointed out the bipartisan nature of fighting ESG (click “expand”):
DETROW: A follow on the ESG labor rule. You had — you framed — the White House has framed this as kind of MAGA Republicans imposing their views on the free market. The fact that two Democratic senators say they’re going to vote for this bill — does that undermine that argument.
JEAN-PIERRE: No, not all because this is a — this is something that Republicans have put forward. This is their — this is their — this is their agenda, which is kind of in line in how they want to move forward with a very extreme ideology the MAGA — the MAGA Republican ideology — ideology and what they're doing again, is they're really pushing down the throats of private sector. That's what we're seeing. This is what this piece of legislation is.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: About Labor Department’s ESG rule. I have a follow-up question on that. Today, Senator Jon Tester joined Senator Manchin, and he — he voiced his opposition to this ESG retirements rule. I understand the President will veto this bill, but what’s your reaction to his statement today? And how does the White House feel about growing opposition to the ESG investment in Congress and in general?
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I spoke to this at the top of the briefing, and I laid out where the President is on this. I — as it relates to the dynamics of the Senate and where this is going to go, I’d leave that to the — to Senator Schumer. That’s something for him to speak to. What I can say is that if this bill reaches the President’s desk, he will veto it and I’ll — I’ll leave it there for now.
EWTN’s Owen Jensen was not only called on Wednesday, but was given the floor to ask two pertinent questions. The first of which was the first question at a briefing on the February 18 murder of Los Angeles-area Catholic Bishop, David O’Connell. Sadly, the White House had yet to offer any sort of comment.
Jean-Pierre read from a prepared statement that President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden “join Archbishop Gómez, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the entire Catholic community in the mourning of Bishop David O’Connell” and “express our sympathy and prayers for the family and friends of the Bishop, who will certainly — certainly remember his legacy of service to those on the margins of society and so, again, we offer up our condolences to — to the community.”
Jensen also called out the FBI’s alleged hatred of conservative Catholics in their Richmond field office, including those who prefer Latin mass, as potential domestic terrorists.
Of course, Jean-Pierre said she hadn’t and hasn’t “spoken to the President about it,” but would be “happy to” check.
Hunter Biden also came up with Gray TV’s Jon Decker mentioning Attorney General Merrick Garland telling senators Wednesday that, in Decker’s words, “it would be a ‘national security problem’ if the President’s son had been receiving payments from a foreign government as a means to influence the administration.”
Jean-Pierre again ducked, saying she’d “be prudent from her and not speak to any investigation.”
To see the relevant transcript from March 1’s briefing (including a softball question asking her to denounce Congressman James Comer’s invoking of the late Beau Biden), click here.