The Trump administration was often painted as doing nefarious things just out of the media’s eye despite reporters being given broad access to areas and events. It’s the Biden administration, however, that is actively blocking reporters from covering the border crisis in person and stonewalling every attempt by journalists to get answers for the American people.
That realization prompted Fox News host Chris Wallace to tell White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Sunday, “You are being less transparent than the Trump administration.”
Wallace opened the interview with a quote from President Joe Biden on the border crisis. Last week, Biden insisted, “Nothing has changed. … It happens every year.”
He then read a comment from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who said, “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
“So, who’s wrong, the DHS secretary or the president?” Wallace asked Psaki.
When she began her response by saying, “Well, Chris, first, factually,” one knew that what followed would be a whopper — and it was.
“There was an increase of about 31 percent of people coming to the border during the final months of the Trump administration. It’s been about a 29 percent increase since President Biden took office. But our focus is on solutions,” Psaki told him.
Dodging the question, she then went on to enumerate all of the steps the administration is taking to protect children.
Well aware that immigrants likely began planning their journeys on Nov. 4 and the 31 percent figure Psaki quoted belonged to Biden, Wallace said, “You can play with percentages, but in absolute numbers, these are record numbers. There are now 18,000 unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody.”
“Well, Chris. Our objective is to take a different approach from the last administration,” Psaki replied. “We are not going to send children under the age of 18, kids under the age of 18, back on this treacherous journey. They are fleeing challenging economic circumstances, hurricanes, prosecution in some scenarios. It does not mean they get to stay in the United States. It means their cases are adjudicated.”
Pivoting to the administration’s pledges of transparency, Wallace played a clip of Biden at Thursday’s news conference. “This is being set up and you’ll have full access to everything once we get this thing moving.” Asked how soon that would be, Biden said, “I don’t know.”
He then showed a series of photos taken last week by members of Congress who had traveled to the border.
“The only way we know how bad conditions are for some 5,000 minors in these Border Patrol facilities is because of these pictures that members of Congress have released on their own,” Wallace said.
“Jen, these kids are living in these conditions now,” he continued. “They’re not living in these conditions some indeterminate time from now when the president says everything will be fixed, so why not allow reporters and camera crews in, on a pool basis, safely to take pictures and show the American people what’s happening in those Border Patrol facilities right now?”
“Chris, we are absolutely committed to that. The president is committed to that. I’m committed to that. Secretary Mayorkas is committed to that,” she insisted. “Just last week we had a pool camera … providing footage to Fox News, just last week, into the shelters. We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities.
“We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep these kids safe, keep the staff safe. But we are absolutely committed to transparency and providing access to media to the Border Patrol facilities and we’re working to get that done as soon as we can.”
Wallace wasn’t going to let Psaki’s disingenuous statement slide.
“But just to clarify, Jen, you allowed a camera crew in to see the HHS facilities. What we’re talking about here are the Border Patrol facilities, the detention cells. The, you know, there is a law — let me just finish — that they are not allowed to be there for more than 72 hours. Many of them are there for 10 days.
“At this point, in terms of allowing access to Border Patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump administration.”
She responded, “Well, first of all, Chris, the Trump administration was turning away kids at the border, sending them back on the treacherous journey, or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents. We’re not doing that.
“I, we are committed to allowing cameras into the Border Patrol facilities, absolutely. I will also say, we are committed to solutions.”
However, according to a March 17 report, two CBP officials told the Washington Examiner that “Biden Homeland Security officials have muzzled spokespersons and top officials at the Customs and Border Protection agency from speaking with the media about the situation on the border. … Officials have been placed under a sort of ‘gag order,’ and they said they were told verbally not to communicate with media beyond statements approved from the top.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas shared a video of a woman he identified as a Biden administration staffer blocking him from recording at a CBP migrant facility in Donna, Texas.
How far is Joe Biden going to stop the American people from seeing inside the Donna CBP facility?
Biden sent a political operative from DC to block our cameras and even threatened another senator to obstruct legitimate congressional oversight. pic.twitter.com/vHT2U7Nh1z
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 28, 2021
It sure seems like the administration doesn’t want the public to see or hear about the toll of its border policies.
Switching gears, Wallace said, “The president has come out strongly for the voting rights bill that has passed the House and is now being deliberated by the Senate. But look at some of the things that are in HR 1, the House voting rights bill. It creates public financing of congressional campaigns, it takes redistricting away from state legislatures, and it opens the door to D.C. becoming a state.”
He asks Psaki, “Now, you can argue whether these are good ideas or bad ideas, but to get bipartisan agreement, to get compromise with Republicans, would the president consider supporting, taking some of those elements out and focusing just on voting rights?”
The press secretary delivers another non-answer.
“Well, the president is absolutely open to the ideas from Republicans, from Democrats, to make any piece of legislation better and stronger. But what he is not going to allow for is efforts to make it more difficult and harder to vote. And efforts to do that, people should question whether they have – why they would be doing that? If they have the best ideas, they should make it easier for people to vote.
“But you know, this is the process of a bill becoming a law and … Chris, if Republicans want to come to the table and have a discussion about what kind of package they can support to make voting more easy, easier and more accessible, the president is absolutely open to having that discussion.”
Wallace moved on to the filibuster. He noted that some Democrats were trying to convince Biden “to push to kill the Senate filibuster in order to pass legislation to protect voting rights.”
He played a clip of Biden from his news conference. “If there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”
Referencing Biden’s current characterization of the filibuster as “a relic of the Jim Crow era,” Wallace played a clip of Biden speaking out strongly in favor of the filibuster when he was a senator.
Biden said, “At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill. It’s about compromise and moderation.”
Pressing further, Wallace reminded Psaki that, “And just last year, Kamala Harris, when she was in the Senate, led the filibuster against Republican Sen. Tim Scott, an African-American, his plan for police reform. So, is the filibuster racist? Is it wrong?”
Psaki replied, “As the president said just last week, Chris, it’s been abused, and in the first 50 years of the filibuster being around, it was used about 50 times. It was used five times that many last year. The president doesn’t think that’s how the filibuster should be used.”
The Democrats often used the filibuster to block civil rights legislation. But no one is supposed to remind them of those days. Regarding its frequent use last year, it looks like Psaki forgot which party was in the minority.
Psaki continued with her deflection. “There’s an easy solution here, though, which the president would certainly advocate for, which is Democrats and Republicans, Republicans coming to the table with a willingness and an openness to discussing how we get things done. They want to come to the table and talk about how to make voting easier, more accessible, let’s have that conversation. The president is eager to have it.”
“He’s not eager to move with destroying the filibuster. He’s eager to get things done for the American people, but he’s also not going to stand by and prevent forward-moving progress from happening. So that’s what people heard from him last week.”
Wallace pointed out the obvious, saying, “If you’re talking about abuse of the filibuster over the last two years, the Democrats were in the minority, so they were the ones abusing it.”
Could it be that the radical transformation of the U.S. government under the Biden administration has become too much even for anti-Trumper Chris Wallace?
We learned nothing from this interview. From the get-go, Psaki was in defense mode. She struggled to provide cover for an administration whose real motive is to amass power for the Democratic Party and make it difficult for Republicans to ever win another presidential election.
We are witnessing the most flagrant power grab by a political party in American history.
The Trump years left the Democrats emboldened. They paid no consequences for perpetrating a plot to frame then-President Donald Trump for crimes they knew were false, two bogus impeachments and so much more.
Now that they control the White House and both chambers of Congress, they’re looking to consolidate that power so they can control the U.S. for generations to come.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.