Psaki Argues With NYT Reporter on Comparing Biden to Trump Over Border: ‘Who is Saying That?’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear went back and forth on Thursday over the criticism that President Joe Biden has, to an extent, acted like his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“There’ve been a number of issues in the last, say, several weeks in which advocates, allies of the president are describing him as Trump-like, less in terms of his personality in sort of tone and tenor, obviously, but in terms of policy,” said Shear at the briefing. “Even today, representative of the Cuban government describing the frustration with the president continuing to maintain Trump-era policies vis-à-vis Cuba.”
In an interview that aired on Thursday, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla told NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell, “Maybe there is an inertia effect. It’s a pity that President Biden couldn’t implement his own policy toward Cuba. It’s a terrible mistake to continue implementing this kind of cruel sanctions, even sanctions during a pandemic.”
Trump reversed most of former President Barack Obama’s policies on Cuba that included relaxing travel and trade restrictions with the Communist island nation.
“What’s the president’s reaction and does he accept that in some areas of policy he is in agreement with the former president,” asked Shear.
“So just for the sake of argument here, not argument, but discussion, beyond the representative of the Cuban government, who…,” said Psaki before being interrupted by Shear, who said, “Afghanistan, immigration,” as examples of where Biden has been compared to Trump.
“But who,” asked Psaki. “Who are we talking about here? Who is saying that the president is like Trump?”
Shear replied that he could “find” Psaki “quotes” in The New York Times and elsewhere from “immigration advocates” to “folks” in the Afghanistan debate.
“There have been numerous on-the-record descriptions of the president embracing, and it’s actually in some ways just a factual thing…,” said Shear before being cut off by Psaki, who said, “But like on what policy? On what policy, sir? You can name people or what specific policies.”
As examples, Shear cited Biden keeping Trump’s deal with the Taliban as the basis for withdrawing the United States from Afghanistan and the current administration maintaining the previous one’s enactment of Title 42, which is a category of expulsions of people who present as a potential health risk.
A reporter next to Shear interjected with the U.S. deal to give nuclear submarines to Australia – a move that angered France, which previously had a similar deal with Australia that got upended by Australia with the agreement with the United States. Shear mentioned that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian compared Biden “to Trump in terms of how he handled” the negotiations that did not include giving France notice ahead of the deal’s competition.
In response, Psaki said that, regarding Afghanistan, the Trump administration struck that deal with the Taliban, “without the Afghan government,” that resulted in the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. She said, citing senior Pentagon leadership testimony in front of Congress this week, that deal “led to the demoralization of the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government.”
“I would say the president took a pretty different approach than that in ending a war that the former president didn’t end. Something that the American people strongly support,” she continued.
Regarding Drian’s criticism, Psaki said, “I’m not even sure what that’s referring to in terms of what they’re comparing. The president worked with key partners, Australia and the United Kingdom, to come to an agreement that would help provide security in an important part of the world, in the Indo-Pacific. A priority that, frankly, of getting out of the war in Afghanistan leaves space for us to spend more time addressing.”
Asking for a refresher on the third example Shear gave, Shear said, “Title 42” and added Biden maintaining tariffs on China as another example of Biden apparently being like his predecessor.
Psaki remarked that “Title 42 is a public health requirement. Because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, which, by the way, we would have made progress on had the former president actually addressed the pandemic and not suggest that people inject bleach.”
“So I think we’re in a bit of a different place. I’m happy to discuss more examples. I think people would be pretty hard-pressed to argue that the president has taken any aspect of the former president’s playbook and used it as a model of his own.”
Psaki did not address Shear’s example of Biden keeping U.S. tariffs on China.
Watch above, via CSPAN.
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