The incompetence of White House Press Secretaries has been a feature — not a bug — during the Biden administration.
From Jen “Circle Back” Psaki to the current embarrassing performance of Karine Jean-Pierre, ineptness and negligence at communication act as a shield against transparency about what Biden and the staff who control him are up to.
So when an underling press secretary deflects a question by passing the buck to another federal entity, most reporters will take it in stride as a typical lack of preparation and move on.
However, when the subject of the question is Biden’s unfolding classified documents scandal, there is another possibility for why the press secretary played dumb: They need to hide as much information as possible.
Biden’s document scandal began in early November 2022 — a week before the midterm elections — but the information was withheld from the public until January 2023. So far, classified and official documents have been found at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington, D.C., and stored in Biden’s garage and home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The subject came up on Thursday during a press gaggle on Air Force One. In media terms, a gaggle refers to an informal but on-the-record briefing where no video recording is allowed.
When a reporter asked if Biden had any other stashes of classified documents waiting to be discovered, principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton referred the question to the White House counsel. The Post Millennial tweeted an audio clip of the exchange.
Reporter: Can you guarantee the president no longer has classified documents in his possession?
WH press sec: “I need to refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office” pic.twitter.com/NgByK72n0c
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) January 19, 2023
The reporter said, “You mentioned that tomorrow is two years since the president took office. It’s also six years since he left office as vice president. Can you guarantee that the president no longer has any classified or official records in his possession anymore from his time as vice president?”
Dalton’s non-answer was, “Again, I need to refer you to White House Counsel’s office on any questions on this.”
There are signs even the establishment press is tired of the Biden administration’s dissembling. According to CNN’s Reliable Sources, unnamed reporters said of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “She is arguably the least effective White House press secretary of the television era,” and that her briefings are “A painful waste of time.”
CNN also reported on increased pressure on White House staff due to Biden’s muddled response to the growing crisis, stating aides were struggling with “a misfiring communications strategy that worsened the impact.”
Biden is facing investigation by a special counsel, Robert Hur, appointed by Biden’s own Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The mishandled documents will also be investigated by the House Judiciary Committee, led by Republican Jim Jordan.
It seems obvious the Biden administration is trying slow-walk revelations about the scandal to see how little they can admit about the details. When Biden’s staff refuses to say whether there may be more documents yet to be found, it may mean either even White House officials do not know for sure, or that they do know, but want to suppress disclosure. Neither of those options is reassuring.
Even the ultra-liberal news media have been calling out the Biden team for poor judgment. CNN political analyst David Axelrod, a former Obama administration adviser, said, “On this particular story, they just don’t look good.”
Also not reassuring is the two-tier system of justice on display. When it was found Donald Trump had documents he had the authority to declassify in his possession, the FBI mounted an intrusive raid on his Florida home.
Biden is allowed to have his own attorneys conduct the searches, with no FBI involvement. The double standards are appalling.
Now Biden himself probably could not even identify all the places where he stored documents he should not have had, as he consistently has memory lapses.
This might be what is keeping White House officials in a state of deflection and tension. The more documents that appear in a dramatic drip, drip, drip fashion, the bigger the story becomes.
With the amount of stonewalling and modified limited hangouts already attempted by the Biden administration over the documents, suspicions of a cover-up are justified. Trust in the investigations and the justice system will be questioned until the American people get transparency.
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