ICYMI: Jacqui Heinrich Grills Flustered KJP Over the Biden Border Crisis

March 4th, 2024 11:56 AM

In a Friday White House press briefing that perhaps flew under the radar, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich threw down with a flustered Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over the ongoing Biden border crisis, including her pointing out the President’s hesitation to act via executive order on the border was curious given his penchant to use the pen on issues like student loans.

Heinrich cut right to the case: “Is the administration coming around to the idea that physical border barriers work?”

As Heinrich’s colleague Bill Melugin tweeted, Jean-Pierre was clearly not ready: “Can you say more? Where is this — what do you mean? Where’s this coming from?”

Heinrich then explained: “[I]t’s been six weeks since you guys won the Supreme Court case that would have allowed you to remove razor wire at the Texas border that you guys argued was — there’s an emergency, immediate need to take down, but it’s still up.”

Asked why that’s the case, a flat-footed Jean-Pierre punted to the Department of Homeland Security, insisting “I just don’t have anything for you on that.”

The back-and-forth then shifted to executive action and whether he’d move to undo executive orders he signed from early in his administration “that largely loosened immigration policy” (click “expand”):

HEINRICH: And the President said at the border yesterday that it’s long past time to act...[T]he President took 94 or so executive actions in his first 100 days that largely loosened immigration policy.  One of those was narrowing who ICE could remove and the administration, as of yesterday, I believe, is now calling on sanctuary cities to cooperate with ICE. So, why doesn’t the President act like he said it’s time to do and start undoing some of those policies that he put in place right when he got into office?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I think a couple of things. On — since day one, the President took action. He did. He put forth a comprehensive immigration policy and he read — he did that because he understood what was happening — right — he understood that the immigration system was broken. He understood that we needed to take action and he did — three years and during those three years, Republicans got in the way. Anything — any resources — any additional resources that we asked for, they voted down. They didn’t want to move forward with it and so, the President tried to do the best that he can with what he was able to get and, you know, we get to a point at the end of the year where we start negotiating with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, we come up with a piece of — piece of legislation, a proposal that is supported by the Department of — pardon me — the Border Patrol — right — union, that’s supported by U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I mean, we took action. We have taken action over and over and over again, and Republicans reject it.

HEINRICH: It’s a comprehensive immigration —

JEAN-PIERRE: They get in the way —

HEINRICH: — overhaul versus narrow action that he could take to secure the border, improve the situation that we’re seeing ravaging communities.

JEAN-PIERRE: But we — we took action at the end of this — at the end of last year, worked with Republicans in the Senate, Democrats in the Senate, came up with a bipartisan agreement that would actually make a difference. I mean, it’s Congress’s job to legislate. It is their job to legislate.

Heinrich eventually had enough: “But you were never afraid of legal challenges with things like student loans. I mean, you’ve used executive orders when you wanted to.”

Jean-Pierre countered Biden has “taken action over the last three years” but “Republicans [are] getting in the way” of making lasting changes.

To this, Heinrich noted how, “in the meantime, while [the President’s] shaming people for not acting, he is also not acting.”

Jean-Pierre lost it, declaring “[t]hat is so false” and Republicans need to answer “what’s the problem” with backing Biden’s policies.

Okay, sure.

At the other end of the spectrum, The Hill’s Niall Stanage blasted Jean-Pierre’s frequent briefing co-host John Kirby from the left, arguing “Israel is starving” Palestinians and, in turn, America is also starving them by supporting Jews. 

Despite the administration’s recent movements to throw Israel under the bus to appease pro-Hamas, pro-October 7 Arabs in Michigan, Kirby held firm (click “expand”):

STANAGE: You’ve laid out now, a couple of times, the practical challenges that will be part of this airdrop or these airdrops? And I’m kind of curious about that, because those are risks that the United States now has to take on for itself, conducting those airdrops. The reason that those risks might fall to the United States is because Israel is starving those people. So, why are we still so supportive of Israel when it is the one that is creating the problem that the United States now has to try to ameliorate?

KIRBY: Israel itself has tried to — to help with the delivery of humanitarian assistance. As I said, they tried airdrops themselves just a week or so ago, on their own accord.  And we —

STANAGE: So, why are so many people still starving?

KIRBY: We — there — it’s a — it’s a warzone And they — and there’s — there’s nowhere else for them to go. It’s not like in some other con- — conflicts where they can — they can easily flee And — and let’s not forget how this started, okay? There’d be no need for airdrops if Hamas hadn’t chosen to break what was a ceasefire in place on the 6th of October, so let’s not forget how this — how this started. There is a need. Many people are in desperate need of food, water, medicine, and fuel and the United States was and remains and will continue to be the leading provider of humanitarian assistance to them and we’ll — we take that responsibility seriously.

STANAGE: But also remain — continue to be the main supporter of the people who are causing that assistance to be necessary.

KIRBY: We also know and recognize that Israel has a right to defend itself against a still-viable threat. Again, please, if you haven’t done it, I encourage you to go online and read the 2017 manifesto of Hamas. I know you’re smiling, but you should do it.  Because if you don’t have any —

STANAGE: [Inaudible].

KIRBY: Wait, let me finish. Let me finish. This is an organization that has military capabilities and has every intent of wiping Israel and the Israeli people off the map. That has to be unacceptable to everybody. Mr. Sinwar chose to start this war. There was a ceasefire in place; he broke it. 

And, moments later, Politico’s Eli Stokols appeared to imply last week’s deadly scene near an aid distribution in Gaza City was due to the U.S. halting funding of the United Nationals Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over some of their workers having ties to Hamas.

Kirby correctly dispensed with that narrative, seeming to suggest the issues with aid in Gaza has nothing to do with how the international concerns about actions from UNRWA employees.

To see the relevant transcript from the March 1 briefing (including a question about Afghanistan), click here.