Jen Psaki Hits Back at Hawley’s ‘Attempts To Smear Or Discredit’ Ketanji Brown Jackson on Child Predators — In Detail


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki smacked down Sen. Josh Hawley’s “smear” of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record on sex offenders who prey on children with a quip and some facts.

Hawley has been a vociferous critic of President Joe Biden’s historic nomination to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, including a lengthy Twitter thread Wednesday.

When Psaki briefed reporters Wednesday, she went out of her way to respond to Hawley’s attacks when she was asked about a different senator’s comments on Judge Jackson. She summoned a U.S. Sentencing Commission report from Judge Jackson’s tenure, a complete hearing transcript that Hawley took out of context, and her judicial record:

Q: Thanks, Jen. This morning, Senator Mitch McConnell was talking about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Senate floor, and he was specifically talking about how some of her supporters have framed her experience as a public defender. He said, quote, “If any judicial nominee…does have special empathy for some parties over others, that’s not an asset. It’s a problem.” He also said the President is “deliberately working to make the whole federal judiciary softer on crime.” Do you have a response to that?

MS. PSAKI: He also said he expected her to get confirmed with some Republican votes.

What I would say, though — because there are others in the Senate who have made faulty accusations about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record and specifically about her record on child sex crimes, so let me just take the opportunity to clear that up — not that most people have confusion about it.

But in the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation recommended. For example, there are — there are arguments that have been made out there by Senator Hawley and others that — where he took a snippet of a transcript out of context, when, in fact, Judge Jackson was repeating something a witness said in order to ask a question about their testimony.

So some who are accusing her of being, quote, “soft on crime” also failed to note that what was omitted is a sentencing commission report that’s been touted out there, was unanimously supported by a bipartisan Sentencing Commission.

She comes from a law enforcement family, has devoted her career to standing up for the rule of law, which is why she is endorsed by so many leading law enforcement organizations in the country. And attempts to smear or discredit her history and her work are not borne out in facts.

Psaki was asked about Hawley once more toward the end of the briefing, and quipped “Well, I’m not sure that someone who refused to tell people whether or not he would vote for Roy Moore is an effective and credible messenger on this.”

Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates sent this statement to Mediaite in response to a request for comment:

“Judge Jackson is a proud mother of two whose nomination has been endorsed by leading law enforcement organizations, conservative judges, and survivors of crime. This is toxic and weakly-presented misinformation that relies on taking cherry-picked elements of her record out of context – and it buckles under the lightest scrutiny. It’s based on a report unanimously agreed to by all of the Republicans on the US Sentencing Commission, on selectively presenting a short transcript excerpt in which Judge Jackson was quoting a witness’s testimony back to them to ask a question, and on omitting that her rulings are in line with sentencing practices across the entire federal judiciary regarding these crimes. In the overwhelming majority of her cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. Probation recommended.”

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