Jen Psaki

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: The White House

Background

Jen Psaki was born on December 1, 1978. In 2000 she graduated from the College of William and Mary with a BA degree in English and Literature. After completing her education, Psaki worked on the 2002 re-election campaigns of two Iowa Democrats — Governor Tom Vilsak and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. She subsequently served as communications director for Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and then as deputy press secretary for John Kerry‘s 2004 presidential run. In the 2006 election cycle, Psaki worked as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s press secretary for the Midwest and Northeast regions. In 2007 she was appointed as deputy press secretary for Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential bid, and she was subsequently promoted to the position of traveling press secretary. Psaki then served in the Obama White House from 2009-11 — initially as the President’s deputy assistant, and then as his deputy communications director.

Psaki was the senior vice president and managing director of the Global Strategy Group, a Washington-based public-relations firm, from October 2011 to June 2012. She worked as a traveling press secretary and senior adviser with Obama For America, the predecessor to Organizing For America and Organizing For Action, from July through November of 2012. She was a spokesperson for President Obama’s U.S. State Department from February 2013 through March 2015. And she served as White House communications director from April 2015 until the end of the Obama administration in January 2017.

Psaki and Israel & the Middle East

In August 2013, Psaki stated: “We don’t accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity” by Israeli Jews in the West Bank.

Psaki revisited this theme in November 2013, when she said it would be “unfortunate” if Israel were to go ahead with its plans to build Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem, stating that such a decision “flies in the face” of efforts to cultivate peace in the region.

In October 2014, Psaki said that if Israel were to build Jewish homes in an area of eastern Jerusalem, this would: “send a very troubling message”; “distance Israel from even its closest allies”; “poison the atmosphere”; and “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” “[I]t’s not just the United States, it’s the international community who will respond strongly to this kind of continued activity,” she warned.

Later that month, Psaki said: “We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem…. [M]oving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace, and that is certainly a message that we are conveying directly…. [I]f Israel wants to … live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps to reduce tensions and to avoid steps that are going to be incompatible with peace.”

When Secretary of State John Kerry warned in April 2014 that Israel ran the risk of becoming an “apartheid state,” Psaki defended Kerry’s remarks by tweeting links to two separate 2013 articles that had quoted top Israeli officials issuing the same warning.  

In July 2014, Psaki defended the U.S. policy of continuing to work with the Palestinians’ unity government composed of Hamas, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority, even though all three entities were firmly committed to terrorism, the annihilation of Israel, and the slaughter of Jews.

In January 2015, the Palestinian Authority (PA) breached the Oslo Accords by suing Israel for “war crimes” in the International Criminal Court (ICC). When Israel responded by suspending the disbursement of $127 million to the PA, Psaki said: “[W]e’re very concerned about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if they do not receive funds soon, either in terms of the resumption of monthly Israeli transfers of Palestinian tax revenues or additional donor assistance.” As the Zionist Organization of America pointed out: “Psaki … ignored that the PA was still spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year to pay terrorists to murder Jews and Americans – and could obviously have curtailed those heinous payments if the PA were really in such dire financial straits.”

After Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated in March 2015 that he would never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state governed by terrorists like Hamas, Psaki warned that the U.S. might withdraw its traditional support for Israel at the United Nations. “The prime minister’s recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,” said Psaki. “We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action.”

Psaki and the Hammer-&-Sickle Hat

In 2014 Psaki posed for a photo where she was hugging Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov and Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, while wearing a pink hat adorned with a hammer-and-sickle. Meant to represent proletarian solidarity between the peasantry and working-class, the symbol was first adapted during the Russian Revolution. Psaki said the hat was a gift from the Russians.

Psaki Defends Obama’s Guantanamo Prisoner Swap for Bowe Bergdahl

In 2014, President Obama traded five terrorists who had been in custody at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had deserted the American military while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. In an email he had sent to his father just days before his desertion, Bergdahl wrote: “I am sorry for everything here. These [Afghani] people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world [the U.S.] telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.” “I am ashamed to be an American,” Bergdahl added. “And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Following Obama’s 2014 prisoner swap for Bergdahl, then-State Department spokeswoman Psaki praised the deal. “Was it worth it? Absolutely,” she said in a March 2015 interview. “We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military, defending our national security every day, that we’re going to do everything to bring them home if we can, and that’s what we did in this case.”

Seven years later, in September 2021, Fox News reported:

“Four out of five Guantanamo detainees whom former President Barack Obama released in exchange for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014 now hold senior positions in the interim government created by the Taliban in Afghanistan. According to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government gave leadership positions to Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl; all of whom were released in a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl…. On [September 7], the Taliban announced that Khairkhwa would serve as acting minister for information and culture, Noori would serve as acting minister of borders and tribal affairs, Wasiq would serve as acting director of intelligence, and Fazl would serve as deputy defense minister.”

Psaki & the Iran Nuclear Deal

In 2015, the Obama administration and the leaders of five other nations finalized with Iran a negotiated agreement (Iran nuclear deal) allowing the Islamist regime in Tehran to continue to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and eventually have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. Nevertheless, Psaki and the rest of the Obama administration portrayed the accord as a flawed but highly significant step towards thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Prior to 2015, the administration had consistently claimed, among other things, that private U.S. negotiations with Iran had not begun until 2013, and that it was only the election of more moderate Iranian leaders during that year which made it possible for any talks at all to place. But by December 2013, reports were beginning to surface that the United States had actually begun secret bilateral talks with Tehran as early as 2011 — long before any purported moderation had taken place there. Against that backdrop, Fox News reporter James Rosen asked Psaki whether her predecessor at the State Department, Victoria Nuland, had lied when she said, ten months earlier, that there had not yet been any negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Psaki replied to Rosen, “I have no new information for you today on the timing of when there were any discussions with any Iranian officials…. I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress.” In June 2016, it was discovered that the State Department had deleted that particular portion of Psaki’s exchange with Rosen from the video archives of the December 2013 press briefing.

In May 2017, Psaki joined former Secretary of State John Kerry as an advisory council member of Diplomacy Works (DW), a newly formed organization dedicated to defending the Iran nuclear deal against any changes which the Trump administration might be inclined to make to the accord. Other notable members of DW’s advisory council included former Obama administration members like Robert Malley, Jon Finer, Antony Blinken, Michele Flournoy, Wendy Sherman, Puneet Talwar, Jeff Prescott, and Colin Kahl.

Psaki Joins CNN

In February 2017, Psaki joined CNN as a contributor and political commentator.

Psaki Joins WesteExec Advisors and the Carnegie Endowment

In September 2017, Psaki became a senior advisor with WestExec Advisors, a strategic advisory firm for business leaders. That same month, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hired her as its vice president for communications strategy.

How Psaki Handled Crises & Challenges during the Obama Administration

To view a series of synopses of how Psaki handled various noteworthy situations during her tenure with the Obama administration, see Footnote #1, below.[1]

Anti-Gay Slur

In August 2020, Psaki tweeted an anti-gay slur against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: “Only in 2020 does #LadyG get to push a bunch of debunked conspiracy theories while questioning @SallyQYates (aka an American hero).” (The reference to “Lady G” referred to rumors that had circulated on social media regarding Graham’s sexuality; Sally Yates had served as Deputy Attorney General under President Barack Obama.)

Psaki Joins the Biden-Harris White House

In November 2020, Psaki left CNN and joined the Joe BidenKamala Harris transition team. Later that month, the newly elected Biden administration named Psaki as its White House press secretary.

Refusal to Condemn Antifa Violence

In the aftermath of violent riots by Antifa radicals in Portland and Seattle on the night of January 20, 2021 — Joe Biden’s first night as president — Psaki elected not to condemn the violence when a reporter asked her about it. Said the reporter: “On domestic unrest: First of all, does the president have any comment on the ongoing violence in Oregon and Washington State?” Psaki replied: “Well, certainly we had our team on the ground, our national security team, even before 12:01, early in the morning on Inauguration Day because we wanted to be able to monitor events happening across the country and any unrest that was resulting from the last couple of weeks. I haven’t spoke with him [Biden] specifically about those events, but it is something out national security team, Liz Sherwood-Randall, is closely monitoring of course, but if we have an additional update I’m happy to provide it to you.”

“Circle Back”

Throughout her early weeks as President Biden’s press secretary, Psaki became known for the frequency with which claimed not to know the answers to reporters’ questions and, consequently, told them that she would have to “circle back” to the substance of their questions at a later time.

Psaki Defends Biden’s COVID Travel Restrictions & Does Not Wear Mask at Press Conference

At a January 25, 2021 press conference, President Biden — who on February 1, 2020 had characterized President Trump’s COVID-related travel restrictions against China as evidence of Trump’s “hysterical xenophobia” — reinstated COVID travel restrictions (which Trump had recently lifted) on non-U.S. citizens who had recently been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, much of Europe, and South Africa. After Biden’s announcement, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked Psaki: “When President Trump was imposing travel restrictions in March [sic] specifically on China, then-candidate Biden called it ‘xenophobic’ and ‘fear-mongering.’ So now President Biden is putting travel restrictions on people coming in from other countries. What words would you use to describe that?” Psaki replied:

“I don’t think that’s quite a fair articulation. The president has been clear that he felt the ‘Muslim ban’ was xenophobic. He overturned the ‘Muslim ban.’ He also, though, has supported — and he himself, even before, or we did, I should say, even before he was inaugurated, steps, travel restrictions, in order to keep the American people safe to ensure that we are getting the pandemic under control. That’s been part of his policy. But he was critical of the former president for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions. And he conveyed at the time, and more recently, the importance of having a multifaceted approach … not just travel restrictions.”

At that same January 25 press conference, Psaki, as she had done in previous briefings, went maskless while fielding questions from reporters — despite the Biden administration’s “100 Days Masking Challenge” that asked people to wear face masks for 100 days to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, coupled with a Biden executive order requiring masks and social distancing in all federal buildings by all federal employees and contractors.

Psaki Mocks the U.S. Space Force

During a February 2, 2021 press conference, Psaki mocked the newest branch of the American military, known as Space Force, which had been initiated in December 2019 by President Trump. A reporter asked her: “Has the president [Biden] made a decision on keeping, or keeping the scope of, Space Force?” Making it clear that neither she nor the Biden administration viewed the matter as an important one, a smiling Psaki replied with a look of surprise and amusement: “Wow, Space Force! It’s the plane of today!” She then continued: “It is an interesting question. I’m happy to check with our Space Force point of contact, I’m not sure who that is, I will find out, to see if we have any update on that.” (Click here for video.)

Supporting Athletes Who Dishonor the American Flag

On February 10, 2021, a reporter asked Psaki to characterize President Biden’s view of the recent decision by Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, to dispense with the playing of the pre-game national anthem at his team’s home games — a move that was made in the same spirit that had led many NBA players to kneel during the anthem as a gesture of protest against racism and police brutality. Psaki replied:

“I know he’s [Biden is] incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform around the world. He’d also say that, of course, that part of pride in our country means recognizing moments where we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, which is often and at times what people are speaking to when they take action at sporting events. And it means respecting the right people granted to them in the Constitution to peacefully protest. That’s why he ran for president in the first place, and that’s what he’s focused on doing every day.”

Supporting a Study on the Possibility of Reparations for Slavery

On February 17, 2021, a reporter asked Psaki whether President Biden would sign legislation authorizing reparations for slavery “if it came to his desk.” Psaki replied:

“Well, he’s supported a study of reparations, which is I believe is what’s being discussed, and studying the continuing impacts of slavery, which is being discussed in this hearing on H.R. 40, I believe it is. And he continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today…. But he certainly would support a study of reparations….”

Psaki Announces Forthcoming Executive Orders on Gun Control

Shortly after two mass shootings — one in Boulder, Colorado, and another in Atlanta, Georgia — had killed a combined total of 18 people, Psaki announced on March 24, 2021 that President Biden was planning to issue not just legislative proposals, but also executive orders, to address the issue of gun violence. The executive orders, she explained, would be forthcoming soon because Biden was “not waiting for anything to fail” in Congress.

Psaki Inadvertently Acknowledges That the Border Situation Is a Crisis

During a White House press briefing on March 18, 2021, Psaki used the phrase “crisis on the border” when referring to the massive influx of illegal migrants who, in response to President Biden’s border policies, were swarming into the United States from Mexico. In light of the Biden administration’s repeated, adamant claims that the border situation was not a “crisis,” Psaki was then asked whether she had in fact meant to say “crisis at the border.” She quickly replied: “Challenges at the border.” When Psaki was then asked whether her seemingly inadvertent use of the word “crisis” may have reflected a change in how the administration viewed the migrant influx, she said: “Nope.”

Psaki Defends UN Ambassador’s Charge about American Racism & White Supremacy

On April 16, 2021, Psaki defended United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield recent speech at Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network, where she addressed the Biden administration’s effort to have the United States rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council. In that speech, Thomas-Greenfield said that the U.S. needed to approach “issues of equity and justice” internationally “with humility” because of America’s own historical moral failings. “We have to acknowledge that we are an imperfect union and have been since the beginning,” said the Ambassador. “I’ve seen for myself how the original sin of slavery weaved White supremacy into our founding documents and principles.”

When Psaki was asked whether Thomas-Greenfield’s remarks bore any resemblance to the attacks that Chinese diplomats had made against the United States during a meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and others in March, she said: “Is the president going to remove an African American woman with decades of experience in the foreign service who’s widely respected around the world from her position as ambassador to the U.N.? He is not. He is proud to have her in that position. She is not only qualified, he believes she is exactly the right person in that role at this moment in time. I have not seen her comments. I will say that there’s no question that there has been a history of institutional racism in this country and that doesn’t require the U.N. ambassador to confirm that.”

Psaki was also asked whether President Biden agreed with Thomas-Greenfield’s comments. She replied: “Certainly I think most people recognize the history of systemic racism in our country and she was speaking to that.”

Psaki Blames Racism for Police Shooting of Teen Girl Who Was Trying to Stab a Person

On April 21, 2021 — the day after a jury had convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd 11 months earlier — a reporter asked Psaki whether President Biden had been briefed on the death of a 16-year-old black female named Makiyah Bryant, who had been shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, shortly before the announcement of the Chauvin verdict. Psaki replied that Biden had indeed been briefed, and she also read the following prepared statement:

“The killing of 16-year-old Makiyah Bryant by the Columbus police was tragic, she was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss. We know that police violence disproportionately impacts black and Latino people and communities, and that black women and girls, like black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence. We also know that there are particular vulnerabilities that children in foster care, like Makiyah, face.

“And her death came, as you noted, just as America was hopeful of a step forward, after the traumatic and exhausting trial of Derek Chauvin and the verdict that was reached.

“So our focus is on working to address systemic racism and implicit bias head-on, and of course to passing laws and legislation that will put much needed reforms into place in police departments around the country.

Contrary to Psaki’s implications, however, Bryant, at the very moment when she was shot, was armed with a knife and was in the act of thrusting it toward another young woman in an attempt to stab her.

Psaki Blames Trump for the Massive Flow of Migrants Across Southern Border

At a May 4, 2021 press briefing, Psaki blamed former President Trump’s administration for the massive influx of migrants America flowing across America’s southern border. “After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on and is building a fair, orderly and humane immigration system,” she said. “That’s our objective. After coming into office, our administration immediately jumped into action to address the influx of migrants at the border – something that began during, and was exacerbated by, the Trump administration.”

Psaki Says Biden Believes That Social Media Platforms Should Block More “Untrustworthy Content”

On May 5, 2021, Psaki said that President Biden was in favor of social media companies banning more content deemed “untrustworthy” on their platforms. “His view is that there is more that needs to be done to ensure that this type of misinformation, disinformation, damaging, sometimes life-threatening information is not going out to the American public,” she said, specifically citing content that questioned the results of political elections or the efficacy of coronavirus vaccinations. “The president’s view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans, to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation, especially related to COVID-19, vaccinations, and elections,” added Psaki.

Psaki Mocks Reporter’s Question about Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, & Systemic Racism

At a May 13, 2021 press briefing, Psaki mocked a reporter for asking a question about Senator Tom Cotton’s recent assertion that liberal educators were “indoctrinating our youth with un-American ideas.” “Now you’ve intrigued me,” Psaki responded with a grin. “What are the un-American ideas that are indoctrinating our youth?” The reporter began his reply by noting that Cotton had not defined such ideas with specificity, at which point Psaki interrupted and asked: “Oh, he’s not specific about the indoctrination by leaders from universities?” The reporter then said that Cotton had frequently denounced The 1619 Projectcritical race theory, and “a liberal bias on campus that targets conservatives.” Psaki then replied:

“Well, without much detail on where he thinks our youth are being indoctrinated — that sounds very mysterious and dangerous — I don’t think that we would think, believe that educating the youth and future leaders of the country on systemic racism is indoctrination. That’s actually responsible.”

Psaki Says Biden Believes That Illegal Aliens Are Part of “What the American Dream Represents”

On May 14, 2021, a reporter asked Psaki to explain why President Biden had just met with six illegal aliens who were enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and were campaigning for amnesty on behalf of all illegals. Said the reporter: “What message is the president trying to send by having DACA recipients come here? [You] have all these [political] priorities you have to do, [such as] jobs and infrastructure. … Where does immigration rank?” Psaki replied: “I think the president believes that DACA recipients are part of the American story and part of the fabric of who we are as a country and kind of what the American Dream represents. So bringing them here is an opportunity to highlight that.”

Psaki Says People Are Not Returning to Work Because Wages are Too Low, Rather Than Because Unemployment Benefits Are Too High

At a May 14, 2021 press briefing, Psaki rejected the notion that unemployment rates remained stubbornly high because federal subsidies to unemployment insurance benefits were making it more attractive for people to stay home rather than to return to their jobs. “What’s important to remember, and what we’ll remind people of, is that, again, we don’t see this as a major driver in preventing people from seeking employment and seeking work,” she said.

Instead, Psaki blamed the high unemployment rates on people’s continued fear of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, a lack of affordable childcare options for parents, and the inadequate wages that employers allegedly were paying their workers:

“And, actually, what we see in the data, to-date, is that the pandemic, not being vaccinated, that there’s been a massive increase in the last month in the number of people who were vaccinated, in comparison with a month ago when the data was taken, fears of not being safe, sometimes child care – and also the need to be paid a livable wage – are all factors that are contributing. What we would also suggest … is that many of these companies, big companies, let me say, who benefitted, many of them made quite a profit during the pandemic, and many of them also received quite a bit of benefits – $1.4 trillion worth – could offer to pay a little bit more and, maybe, that would incentivize more workers to come back into the work force.”

Psaki Characterizes Republican Efforts to Pass Election-Integrity Laws As the “Worst Challenge to Our Democracy Since the Civil War”

On July 12, 2021, Psaki told reporters that the Republican Party’s efforts to enact voter-integrity laws in various states represented “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.” She added that President Biden “will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws based on a dangerous and discredited conspiracy theory that culminated in an assault on our Capitol [on January 6, 2021].” Psaki also stated that Biden would attempt to galvanize public support for the Democrats’ For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Psaki Praises 1619 Project Creator & Condemns America’s Continuing “Systemic Racism”

On July 13, 2021, Psaki praised 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones’s decision to turn down a tenure offer at the University of North Carolina and instead take a tenured faculty position at Howard University. “Students at Howard are quite lucky to have her as a professor in their family,” said Psaki in response to a reporter who asked if “systemic racism” was behind UNC’s initial reluctance, in a recent highly publicized dispute, to offer Hannah-Jones a tenured position. “There’s no question that there continues to be systemic racism in our country,” Psaki continued. “We see that in a range of sectors including in some learning institutions.”

Psaki Chooses Not to Condemn Communism & Says That Cubans Seeking Asylum in the U.S. Will Be Turned Away

In a press conference on July 14, 2021 — when massive pro-liberty protests in Cuba were in full swing — Paski was asked: “Do you think that people are leaving Cuba because they don’t like communism?” In her reply, Psaki carefully avoided saying the word “communism” or criticizing communism explicitly. Moreover, she said that any Cubans seeking to illegally enter the U.S. would be returned to their homeland or resettled elsewhere:

“I think we’ve been pretty clear that we think people are leaving Cuba — or not — leaving Cuba or protesting in the streets, as well, because they are opposed to the oppression, to the mismanagement of the government in the country.  And we certainly support their right to protest.  We support their efforts to speak out against their treatment in Cuba. […] [M]igrants interdicted in the Caribbean, who manifested in fear, are referred to USCIS for protection screening.  That’s what happens.  Those who do not manifest in fear or who are not found to have a credible fear following the screening are repatriated to their country of origin.  Those found to have a well-founded fear of persecution or torture are not brought to the United States; they are referred to a third country for resettlement. ” […] We stand with the Cuban people in their call for pre- — freedom from both the pandemic and from decades of oppression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.”

Psaki Admits the Biden Administration’s Collaboration with Social Media Giants, Meaning That They Are Government Actors

At a July 15, 2021 press briefing, Psaki said that the Biden administration was actively identifying “problematic” posts for Facebook to censor or purge because they contained “misinformation” about COVID-19. “We are in regular touch with the social media platforms,” she stated, “and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team — given [that] this is a big issue, of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.” “We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s Office,” Psaki added. “We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” “Facebook,” in turn, “needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts,” said Psaki.

At the same press briefing, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said “we’re asking [social media companies] to consistently take action against misinformation superspreaders on their platforms.” “Misinformation takes away our freedom to make informed decisions about our health and the health of our loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “Health misinformation has led people to resist wearing masks in high-risk settings. It’s led them to turn down proven treatments and to choose not to get vaccinated. This has led to avoidable illnesses and deaths.”

The New York Post noted that Psaki’s and Murthy’s professed concern about “misinformation” could be used — by the government and its social-media allies — as a pretext for censoring free speech and silencing all dissent — even if the dissidents were in fact correct in what they were saying:

“The demand for censorship — and Psaki’s admission of government involvement — follows a series of flip-flops from health officials who contradicted themselves throughout the pandemic on issues such as mask efficacy, as well as censorship of claims that later gained credibility, such as the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese lab…. Facebook this year stopped censoring posts that claimed COVID-19 may have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China due to “evolving” information that bolstered the theory. Social media networks have censored other posts before backtracking — notably including Facebook and Twitter censoring The Post’s reporting in October [2020] on documents from a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter Biden that appeared to link his father to business pursuits in China and Ukraine.

John Coale, the attorney who was in the midst of filing lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google on behalf of Donald Trump, said that the Trump lawsuits would ultimately prove that the tech companies “are government actors” and that “therefore, the First Amendment does apply” — i.e., it requires them to permit freedom of speech without censorship that is supposedly rooted in a desire to stop “misinformation.”

On July 16, 2021, Psaki said that anyone who is banned from one social media platform for sharing misinformation — such as claims that COVID-19 vaccines could lead to infertility — should be banned from all of them. “You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation,” she stated.

Four Major Stories That Were “Disinformation” — and Then Were Not

On July 22, 2021, DailyCaller.com published an article explaining the inherent danger of having a government that colludes with Big Tech to be the self-declared arbiters of what should, and what should not, qualify as “misinformation” or “disinformation.” In some cases, for example, stories that are widely disparaged and dismissed as false eventually turn out to be true, and vice versa. Some excerpts from the Daily Caller piece:

The White House announced a plan to partner with Facebook to flag problematic posts that it believed contained “disinformation” about novel coronavirus vaccines. But there were many stories labeled disinformation that turned out to be legitimate.

The Lab Leak Theory

For months after the coronavirus began its spread, Democrats and media talking heads alike dismissed the possibility that the virus could have leaked from a research laboratory like the Wuhan Institute of Virology. They scoffed at Republicans like Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and former President Donald Trump for saying they believed the virus had originated in a lab, and labeled it as a fringe conspiracy theory. But over a year into the pandemic, the lab leak theory has gained stronger ground.

Russian Bounties on American Soldiers

Just a few months before the 2020 presidential election, the media began to circulate a report suggesting Russian officials secretly placed bounties on the heads of American soldiers — effectively paying the Taliban to execute Americans. Everyone from The New York Times to now White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed the narrative. The Washington Post even gave Trump “four Pinocchios” for calling the story “fake news.” But some six months after the election, the story changed dramatically. A new statement from Biden’s White House said what former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said from the beginning: that the intelligence community did not have high confidence in the information.

Hunter Biden’s Laptop

The New York Post — and a number of people who shared the Post’s exposé on Hunter Biden — found themselves at least temporarily suspended from Twitter. The reason, according to Twitter, was that the story revealed personal information and was considered to be the product of “hacked materials” — in spite of the fact that the Post did not appear to have published anything resulting from a hack. The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a forensic analysis of the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop — the source of the Post’s story — and determined the “smoking gun” email implicating his father in his overseas business dealings to be 100% authentic. Just after the election, however, outlets like NPR that had dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as “not really a story,” suddenly reversed course. […] 

Russian Collusion

Democrats and the media spent the better part of Trump’s first three years in office trying to make the Russian collusion narrative stick — and Democratic California Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell claimed to have direct evidence of that collusion. After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation came to an end with no indictment for Trump, Schiff doubled down, attacking then-Attorney General William Barr for summarizing Mueller’s report in a way that didn’t implicate Trump.

And the list doesn’t end there.

Claims that Trump snubbed veterans during a trip to France were rebutted by several close associates — including national security adviser-turned-Trump critic John Bolton.

Media outlets accused Trump of lying when he claimed senior members of former President Obama’s administration spied on his campaign — but those concerns turned out to be legitimate.

The question is obvious: with a record like that, should the White House — or anyone else, for that matter — have the authority to universally determine for Big Tech what qualifies as “disinformation”?

Psaki Says That Vaccine Mandates Are “Not the Role of the Federal Government”

On July 23, 2021, a reporter asked Psaki if “perhaps the federal government should step in and issue mandates” requiring people to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Psaki replied: “Well, I think the question here — one, that’s not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take.  That certainly is appropriate.  Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities.”

But just six weeks later, President Biden directed the Labor Department to develop a rule mandating that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to either get vaccinated or “produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.”

Psaki Reluctantly Admits That the U.S. Is Negotiating with Terrorists in Afghanistan

On August 26, 2021 — in the midst of a disastrous U.S. military withdrawal that had left Afghanistan entirely in the control of Taliban and ISIS terrorists while thousands of American civilians remained trapped inside that country — Fox News’ Peter Doocy, knowing that the Biden administration was relying heavily on Taliban leaders to allow those Americans to leave the country, asked Psaki: “Why haven’t we heard the president say, ‘The United States does not negotiate with terrorists?’ Is that still U.S. policy?” Psaki replied:

“Well, of course it is, Peter. But I would also say that there’s a reality that the Taliban is currently controlling large swaths of Afghanistan. That is the reality on the ground, and right now our focus and our priority is getting American citizens evacuated and our Afghan partners evacuated.”

Another reporter asked Psaki whether the Biden administration had offered the Taliban any cash or supplies in exchange for not disrupting America’s evacuation effort. “No, this is not a ‘quid pro quo,’” Psaki answered. “We have laid out clearly what our expectations are about moving American citizens and our Afghan  partners, allies, out of the country and that’s what we’re working to deliver on.”

Psaki Falsely Says No One Could Have Predicted the Taliban’s Quick Conquest of Afghanistan

During an August 31, 2021 press briefing, Psaki defended President Biden’s chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Asked whether the Biden administration had adequately prepared for the withdrawal process, she replied: “I don’t think anyone assessed that they [the Afghan army and government] would collapse as quickly as they did. Anyone — anyone in this room, anyone anywhere in the world.” But contrary to Psaki’s comments, ABC News had in fact reported on August 15: “'[U.S.] leaders were told by the military it would take no time at all for the Taliban to take everything,’ an anonymous U.S. intelligence official told ABC News. ‘No one listened.’  The intelligence community assessment has always been accurate; they just disregarded it,’  the official reportedly added, speaking about the Biden administration.”

Psaki Tells Pro-Life Male Reporter That He Is Unqualified to Opine About Abortion

On September 2, 2021, Psaki dismissed a question on abortion from a male reporter, Owen Jensen of the Catholic-focused Eternal Word Television Network, who asked why President supported abortion “when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong.” Psaki replied: “He believes that it is a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her choice.”

Jensen then pressed the issue, asking, “Who does he believe then should look out for the unborn child?” A visibly agitated Psaki answered: “He believes it is up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those with her doctor. I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor you have never been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices this is an incredibly difficult thing and the president believes their rights should be respected.”

When Jensen subsequently tried to ask another question, Psaki cut him off and said: “I think we have to move on, you’ve had plenty of time today.” She then proceeded to call on another reporter in the briefing room.

Psaki Defends Biden’s Decision to Cut Shipments of Monoclonal Antibodies to Florida

In September 2021, President Biden decided to restrict the federal government’s shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments for the coronavirus to Southern Republican states — most notably Florida and Texas, where COVID vaccination rates lagged behind the national average, and where demand for the antibodies was therefore high. As Breitbart.com reported on September 16, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided fewer than 31,000 doses to Florida for that particular week – less than half of the 70,000 doses requested by the state.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida condemned the president’s decision. Asserting that that the Biden administration was “punishing Florida” for electing not to impose vaccine mandates on its business establishments and other entities across the state, Rubio said: “Now they have decided they’re going to ration the antibody treatments…. These people are bordering now on tyranny and its outrageous. It has to stop.”

Psaki defended the actions of Biden’s HHS by noting that just seven states were responsible for 70 percent of the antibody orders filled by the federal government. Claiming that the governors of those seven states had failed to protect their residents by not imposing vaccine mandates – or penalties against those failing to get vaccinated – she said: “Clearly the way to protect people and save more lives is to get them vaccinated, so that they don’t get the COVID to begin with.”

A few days earlier, President Biden had announced his plan to increase shipments of the antibody treatments to states by 50 percent, and Psaki confirmed that those shipments had indeed grown from 100,000 doses per week to 150,000. But she nonetheless defended the decision to restrict shipments to the particular states in question, because the government’s supply of the antibody treatment doses was “not unlimited.”

Contrary to Psaki’s implication, however, manufacturers of the treatment had already indicated their willingness to ramp up production. Along those lines, a reporter asked Psaki: “But there have been no reports of a lack of supply, so why cut them to those states only if there’s no reports of a lack of supply?” Psaki replied: “I think our role as the — as the government overseeing the entire country is to be equitable in how we distribute. We’re not going to give a greater percentage to Florida over Oklahoma, nor do I think are you suggesting that. I think we have to move on [to another questioner].”

Psaki Defends Policy of Not Requiring COVID Vaccines for Illegal Migrants at Southern Border

During a September 10, 2021 press briefing, a reporter asked Psaki: “[W]hy is it that you’re trying to require anybody with a job or anybody who goes to school to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but you’re not requiring that of migrants that continue walking across the southern border into the country?” Psaki replied: ” Well, look, our objective is to get as many people vaccinated across the country as humanly possible.  And so the President’s announcement yesterday [mandating that all businesses with 100+ employees be required to vaccinate all their workers] was an effort to empower businesses, to give businesses the tools to protect their workforces.  That’s exactly what we did. But certainly we want everybody to get vaccinated.  And more people who are vaccinated, whether they are migrants or whether they are workers, protects more people in the United States.”

The reporter then followed up: “But it’s a requirement for people at a business with more than 100 people, but it’s not a requirement for migrants at the southern border.  Why?” Psaki replied, “That’s correct,” and then turned to another questioner and said, “Go ahead.”

False Claims That Border Patrol Agents Are Whipping Illegal Haitian Migrants

During the week of September 19, 2021 – by which time more than 14,000 Haitians had recently gathered under a bridge on the banks of the Rio Grande in hopes of gaining approval for asylum in the U.S. — the media were abuzz with accusations claiming that Border Patrol agents were using whips to prevent those Haitians from illegally entering the United States. Specifically, the controversy was sparked by photographs of agents mounted on horseback attempting to corral incoming migrants. Some photos showed the agents twirling their reins to coax the horses in certain directions. Many critics misidentified the reins as whips that were being used to harm and degrade the migrants.

Paul Ratje, the photographer responsible for the images in question, said that neither he nor any of his colleagues had seen Border Patrol agents whipping anyone. “Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses, and that’s when the whole thing happened,” Ratje explained. “I never saw them whip anyone. The agent was swinging the reins that to some can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the pictures.”

Rowdy Ballard — who, prior to retiring, had spent 17 years on horseback for the Border Patrol and had served 6 years as the horse coordinator for Del Rio, Texas — told Fox News: “We all have the same message: we don’t carry whips.” Explaining that the Border Patrol does not train its agents to whip illegal migrants, and that those agents hardly ever place their hands on people “unless they’re not compliant,” Ballard said on America’s Newsroom: “It was a tense situation. The horses were a little reluctant to do the job that the agents were asking… twirling the reins was just another tool they used to get the horses to do what they’re asking.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the “whipping” claims were entirely false, the Biden Administration quickly announced that: (a) horse patrols at the border would be immediately suspended pending further investigation of the charges, and (b) the specific agents in the aforementioned photos would remain on administrative duty while the probe was being conducted. Biden’s announcement prompted Rowdy Ballard to say: “The horse is a great tool we’ve used [at the Border Patrol] for almost 100 years now. And with that going, it’s going to be harder to patrol that area.”

Psaki told reporters that President Biden and his entire Administration were “horrified by the photos of the Border Patrol officers and that behavior.” “We feel those images are horrible and horrific,” she added.

On September 27, 2021 — after it was widely known that the alleged “whippings” had never occurred, a reporter asked Psaki: “The El Paso Times has walked back their claim that border agents were using whips to deter Haitian migrants. It is kind of a controversy with people about what is a whip, what are reins? The El Paso Times put out a clarification that it was not an actual whip? Does that change anything for the administration in light of statements that were made last week?” Psaki replied: “I don’t think anyone could look at those photos and think that was an appropriate action.”

Psaki Says It Is “Unfair and Absurd” to Claim That Companies Would Raise Prices in Response to Corporate Tax Increases

On September 27, 2021, Psaki dismissed Republican suggestions that a corporate tax-rate hike proposed by Biden and the Democrats would cause consumer prices to rise. “There are some … who argue that, in the past, companies have passed on these costs to consumers,” she said. “… We feel that that’s unfair and absurd, and the American people would not stand for that.”

But as the Washington Free Beacon pointed out: “A number of economic studies have found that consumers bear approximately 31 percent of the cost of corporate tax increases through higher prices on consumer products.”

Psaki Articulates the Biden Administration’s Desire to Make “Fundamental Change in Our Economy”

During an October 12, 2021 press briefing, Psaki discussed the ongoing negotiation between Democrat legislators vis-a-vis the the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” bill that the Biden Administration was hoping to pass. Conceding that the final product would likely be for a lesser amount because certain senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema objected to the $3.5 trillion price tag, Psaki bluntly explained why President Biden was pursuing a massive spending bill at that particular time. “The president wants to make fundamental change in our economy, and he feels coming out of the pandemic is exactly the time to do that,” she said. At other points during the briefing, Psaki made similar references to the Administration’s quest to enact “fundamental” economic changes:

  • “No matter how you cut it, though, his [Biden’s] view is we can still do something historic and that will fundamentally change the economy for the American people.”
  • “[W]hat we have to do is work with a range of [Democratic] members [of the House and Senate] who have a range of views about what should be included in the package … what is a priority to them so that we can make some fundamental changes.”
  • “And then we can move forward on key components of the president’s agenda that will fundamentally change the economy and make the lives of so many people in this country better.”
  • “[The goal is] to change fundamentally how we invest in our workforce, how we invest in American families, how we think about what our priorities are in the United States.”

Psaki Violates the Hatch Act

On October 15, 2021, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint claiming that Psaki, in remarks she had made from the White House podium the previous day regarding the Virginia gubernatorial campaign between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, had violated the Hatch Act, which forbids government officials from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Specifically, CREW objected to Psaki having said: “Look, I think the president, of course, wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia. There is alignment on a lot of their agenda, whether it is the need to invest in rebuilding our roads, rails, and bridges, or making it easier for women to rejoin the workforce…. We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.” Stating that there was “no question” that Psaki had made her comments while speaking in her official capacity as White House press secretary, CREW said: “By mixing official government business with support of a candidate for partisan political office in the weeks before the election and engaging in political activity while on duty, Ms. Psaki appears to have used her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, political activity that is prohibited by law.” Moreover, CREW called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate Psaki for her transgression.

In response to CREW’s complaint, Psaki said: “While the president has publicly expressed his support for McAuliffe, we’ll leave it to the press and the campaign to provide commentary on the race. I take ethics very seriously and will choose my words more carefully moving forward.”

Advocating More Government Regulation of Social Media

In May 2021, 37-year-old Frances Haugen, who had previously worked for Google and Pinterest, quit her job as a data scientist in Facebook’s Civic Integrity division, which focused on preventing the dissemination of what it characterized as misinformation that posed a threat to free and fair political elections. Upon leaving the company, Haugen took with her a massive trove of tens of thousands of pages of private Facebook research. Four months later, in September 2021, Haugen became an anonymous whistleblower who used that research as the basis of complaints which she filed with federal law enforcement. Those complaints alleged that Facebook’s own research showed that its Instagram platform was harmful to teenage girls and was associated with elevated levels of suicide in that demographic.

Within a few days after Haugen’s public statements against Facebook, it became clear that she was in fact a leftwing Democrat operative whose true objective — while claiming that her objective was to protect the public welfare — was to increase Facebook’s censorship of conservative speech and ideas by disguising that censorship as compliance with government clampdowns against “misinformation” and “disinformation.” For example, Haugen told a Congressional hearing: “Left alone, Facebook will continue to make choices that go against the common good — our common good. When we realized Big Tobacco was hiding the harms it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer with seat belts, the government took action. And when our government learned that opioids were taking lives, the government took action. I implore you to do the same here. Today, Facebook shapes our perception of the world by choosing the information we see. Even those who don’t use Facebook are impacted by the majority who do. A company with such frightening influence over so many people — over their deepest thoughts, feelings, and behaviors — needs real oversight.” As conservative radio host Buck Sexton put it: “[T]his woman is a Democrat operative — working with a Democrat PR firm with ties, I believe, to Jen Psaki — who is coming forward not because she wants there to be regulation that protects free speech on Facebook, but that will actually double down and create a legislative imperative for the continued suppression of conservative speech on these social media platforms.”

In an October 4, 2021 press briefing, Psaki said that the whistleblower’s revelations “validate the significant concern that the President and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed about how social media giants operate and the power they’ve amassed.”

Psaki Admits That the Biden Administration is Using High Gas Prices As a “Political Cudgel” to Push “Alternative” Energy

During a November 12, 2021 press conference, Psaki was asked what steps President Biden was taking to alleviate the already-steep rise in oil and gas prices. In response, Psaki said that the Biden administration was using the price increase as a “political cudgel” to help shift the U.S. away from reliance on oil and gas, and toward “alternative” energy sources. “Look, our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes and even stronger case for doubling down on our investment and our focus on clean energy options so we are not relying on the fluctuations and OPEC and their willingness to put more supply and meet the demand in the market,” Psaki stated.

Psaki Refuses to Say That Biden Will Apologize for Falsely Calling Kyle Rittenhouse a “White Supremacist”

On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha. When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point he was struck on the head by a 39-year-old white man who jump-kicked him. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — a domestic abuse repeater and an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man. Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha.

A jury eventually found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021. During a November 23 press briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Psaki: “Would the President ever apologize to the acquitted Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, for suggesting online and on TV that he is a white supremacist?” Psaki replied: “Well, let’s be clear what we’re talking about here.  This is about a campaign video released last year that used President Trump’s own words during a debate as he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups.  And President Trump, as we know from history, and as many of you covered, didn’t just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage, he actively encouraged them throughout his presidency. So, you know, what we’ve seen are the tragic consequences of that when people think it’s okay to take the law into their own hands, instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job….”

Doocy then responded: “But if — you’re saying that it was just a campaign video; it wasn’t.  The President also gave an interview where he said this: ‘[Rittenhouse] was part of a militia coming out of… Illinois.  Have you ever heard this President [Trump] say one negative thing about white supremacists?’  These are all things — none of this was proven in the trial. And Kyle Rittenhouse is saying that the President had ‘actual malice’ in ‘defaming [his] character.’  Is that what happened here?” Psaki, in turn, said: “The President spoke to the verdict last week.  He has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence we’ve seen around the country by groups like the Proud Boys and groups that that individual has posed in photos with.  But beyond that, I’ll leave it to his comments around the verdict.”

Psaki Blames Rising Crime Rates on Coronavirus Pandemic

During a White House press conference on December 1, 2021, Psaki was questioned about the recent spike in smash-and-grab looting and robberies — where groups of thieves would run into stores and hurriedly steal as many items as they could carry out in their arms — that had been occurring in Democrat-governed cities across the United States. “Big cities are dealing with smash and grab robberies, a record number of police officers have been shot and killed this year. What is the President going to do about all this lawlessness?” asked Fox News’ Peter Doocy.

In her response, Psaki said: “I would say that when the President proposed additional funding in his budget, over the funding that had been proposed by the prior president, to increase in support of local police departments, make sure we keep cops on the beat. And we ensure that local communities are working in partnership to crack down on on crime and any dangers they see in their communities. So that’s one of the steps. We’ve also worked with a range of communities across the country on strike forces, as you know, something we’ve talked about in the past. We’re continuing to implement that from the Department of Justice. But the President absolutely believes that community police forces can have an important instrumental effect in helping keep communities safe.”

Doocy then asked: “Does the president still think that crime is up because of the pandemic?” Psaki answered: “I think many people have conveyed that and one of the root causes of crime in communities is guns and gun violence. And we’ve seen that statistically around the country.”

That prompted Doocy to question: So when a huge group of criminals organizes themselves, they want to go loot a store, a CVS and Nordstrom, a Home Depot until the shelves are clean, you think that’s because of the pandemic?” Psaki responded: “I think a root cause in a lot of communities is the pandemic, yes.”

Further Reading: “Jen Psaki” (LinkedIn.com, OpenSecrets.org).

Footnotes

  1. Regarding U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq in 2011

In an October 2014 interview on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly confronted Psaki with evidence that former President Barack Obama had not been truthful in asserting, recently, that he had been left with no choice but to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011, and to do so without first securing a Status-Of-Forces Agreement stipulating that at least some troops would be left behind in order to maintain stability in the country and to preserve America’s military victory.

Specifically, Kelly played a video of Obama stating that “the reason that we did not have a follow on force in Iraq was because … a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there,” which, by Obama’s telling, meant that Iraqi leaders “politically … could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to [give our troops immunity from legal prosecutions] in Iraq.” To make the case that Obama was lying:

* Kelly noted that: (a) Obama’s recent statement contradicted his 2012 assertion that “what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down” and “certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”

* Kelly pointed out that Obama’s former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, Leon Panetta, had written in his new book, Worthy Fights, that while he and others in the Obama administration were objecting in 2011 to a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops — lest Iraq “become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the United States” – Obama’s “team at the White House pushed back, and … those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.”

* Kelly noted that Panetta’s assessment regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq was echoed by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a number of military generals, with the Pentagon recommending a residual force of some 24,000 troops ideally — and certainly no fewer than 10,000. But Obama, Kelly explained, was unwilling to leave any more than 5,000 troops in Iraq. And the prospect of such a small residual force left Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with no choice but to refuse, because, as Kelly put it, he “couldn’t take the political risk of going back to his country and saying, ‘Hey, give them immunity, they’re going to give us 5,000 troops’” — a force too small to offer any significant guarantee of future security.

In response to the facts that Kelly presented, Psaki said, without evidence: “Megyn, the facts just don’t align with that…. We could not force Iraq, a sovereign government, to accept a [U.S.] presence there…. [E]ven if we had had a presence there, had a residual force there, that would not have prevented and changed the facts that we’ve seen [i.e., the rapid rise and expansion of the terrorist organization ISIS] over the last eight months….”

Further Reading: “Megyn Kelly Rips State Department’s Psaki With Panetta’s Claim That Obama Wanted Out of Iraq” (Newsbusters.org, 10-4-2014); “Jen Psaki Debates Megyn Kelly on Panetta’s Criticism of Obama’s Iraq Policy” (Fox News, 10-3-2014); “Megyn Kelly Rips State Department’s Psaki with Panetta’s Claim That Obama Wanted Out of Iraq” (Newsbusters, 10-4-2014).

Regarding Syria and President Obama’s “Red Line”

In August 2012, President Barack Obama announced that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to use chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, he would be crossing a “red line” that would likely trigger a military response by the United States. But exactly a year later — on August 21, 2013 — Assad did in fact breach that “red line” when he launched a massive chemical-weapons attack that killed more than 1,300 people and injured several thousand others. On August 30, 2013, Secretary Kerry, on behalf of President Obama, delivered a passionate speech in support of a significant U.S. military response to the “moral obscenity” Syria had committed. In that address, Kerry characterized Assad as “a thug and a murderer,” and stated that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency.” Less than a day later, however, Obama announced that he had decided to refrain from authorizing any military action without first obtaining approval from Congress. Psaki defended Obama’s decision as “courageous,” adding that both “the president and the secretary strongly agreed that when the administration and the people’s representatives stand together, that that strengthens our case and makes our case even stronger internationally.”

Further Reading:Reported Chemical Weapons Attack Could Kill Obama’s Syria Strategy” (Daily Beast, 8-21-2013); “How We Got Here: A Timeline Of The Syria Chemical Weapons Saga” (ThinkProgress.org, 8-28-2013); “The White House Walk-and-Talk That Changed Obama’s Mind on Syria” (NBC News, 8-31-2013); “AP’s Matt Lee Shows Some Spine Challenging WH on Syria” (Newsbusters.org, 9-6-2013).

Regarding the Overthrow of Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi

During her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton played a major role in the Obama administration’s decision to use military force to drive President Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya by having the U.S. lead a protracted NATO bombing campaign against Qaddafi in 2011 — a campaign that lent support to opposition rebels consisting of ISIS, Ansar al-Sharia, and other local militant groups. Notably, Qaddafi at that time no longer posed any threat to American national security. Indeed, just prior to the anti-Qaddafi uprising that Clinton and Obama supported, Libya was providing the U.S. with important intelligence data. Moreover, it was a prospering, secular Islamic nation. By the time the Obama-Clinton bombing campaign was finished and Qaddafi had been driven from power, Libya’s economy had shrunk by 42%. According to Foreign Policy In Focus, the Obama-Clinton strategy “plunged” Libya “into chaotic unrest” and “turned [it] into a cauldron of anarchy” where jihadism was running amuck and ISIS was gaining an increasingly secure foothold. Yet in December 2013, Psaki said that the U.S. valued its relationship with “the new Libya,” adding that “we have a strategic partnership based on shared interests and our strong support for Libya’s historic democratic transition.”

Further Reading: “Regarding the Overthrow of Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi” (RT.com, 3-3-2016); “Hillary’s Huge Libya Disaster” (The National Interest, 6-15-2016); “Four Years After Gaddafi, Libya Is a Failed State” (Foreign Policy in Focus, 4-6-2016); “U.S. Military Personnel Released after Being Held by Libya Government” (Chicago Tribune, 12-28-2013).

Regarding the Benghazi Terrorist Attacks and Political Scandal

On the night of September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic mission and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya were infamously attacked by a large group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists with ties to such jihadist organizations as al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia. By the time the violence was over, four Americans were dead. In the aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, the Obama administration persistently and falsely characterized them not as acts of terrorism, but rather, as spontaneous, unplanned uprisings that had evolved from what began as a low-level protest against an obscure YouTube video that disparaged Muslims and the Prophet Mohammed.

At a State Department briefing in the fall of 2013, Fox News producer Lucas Tomlinson asked Psaki why two of the (known) chief suspects in the Benghazi violence — both of whom had longstanding ties to al Qaeda — had never yet been listed on the Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program, which offered money in exchange for information leading to the apprehension of terrorists. Psaki replied: “I will say, you know, the question has always been who, exactly, the attackers were, what their motivations were and how … the attack evolved. We’ve always said that there were extremists that we felt were involved. There’s an ongoing criminal investigation, as you are very familiar with, that you just referred to, so I’d refer other questions to them.” In a follow-up question, Psaki was asked: “When you call them ‘extremists,’ will you not say ‘al Qaeda’ from that podium?” She replied, “It’s an ongoing FBI investigation.”

Contrary to Psaki’s claim that the identities, motives, and terrorist affiliations of the Benghazi attackers could not be ascertained with certainty, a number of media reports by such notables as Lara Logan, Catherine Herridge, and The Weekly Standard had already established conclusively that a number of the perpetrators were intimately linked to al Qaeda. Some examples:

* Muhammad Jamal: This Egyptian had long served as a subordinate to Ayman al-Zawahiri, a top lieutenant of the late Osama bin Laden. The State Department was well aware that Jamal had cultivated relationships with al Qaeda “senior leadership” as well as with al Qaeda affiliate groups in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic Maghreb. Moreover, Jamal was known to have trained some of the individuals who took part in the Benghazi attacks.

* Faraj al Chalabi: This former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden fled Libya for Pakistan soon after the 9/11/12 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi. He was also suspected of delivering sensitive materials from the American compound in Benghazi to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan.

* Sufian Ben Qumu: A Libyan who was once imprisoned at the Guantánamo Bay detention center, Qumu trained some of the jihadists who carried out the 9/11/12 attacks in Benghazi. A known associate of Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, Qumu in the 1980s traveled to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Soviets. He also became the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Derna, Libya, and he trained some of the rebels who helped remove Muammar Qaddafi from power in 2011.

* Mokhtar Belmokhtar: On the night of the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, this longtime al Qaeda commander received a congratulatory phone call from members of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. He also served as a leading commander for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

During a June 2014 State Department briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen asked Psaki why it had taken so long for the U.S. to capture Benghazi terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala (who had been arrested by American forces in Libya just a few days earlier) — even though Khattala had openly given several interviews to the pres during the years since the Benghazi attacks and had never even gone into hiding. Psaki replied that while the Obama administration had taken “every step possible” to capture Khattala, a “range of factors” had made it difficult to achieve that objective any faster. Rosen then countered by noting that Khattala had happily given interviews to a number of journalists over the years, and asked why U.S. forces hadn’t simply disguised themselves as reporters in order to gain access to the suspect and apprehend him. In response, Psaki joked, “Well, we appreciate your view. If you’re volunteering yourself for future endeavors, we’ll take that into account.” “You’re still not answering the central question, Jen,” Rosen retorted. “You’re not answering the question of why a reporter was able to get within six inches of this guy, and U.S. Special Forces weren’t for more than two years.” Psaki replied: “Reporters have interviewed a range of terrorists in the past. There’s nothing new about that. They have their own desire to get their story heard, their agenda heard. That’s entirely different from taking the steps necessary to apprehend someone … as has happened in this case. We did it as expeditiously as possible.”

Further Reading: “Questions They Still Won’t Answer” (Frontiers of Freedom, 11-4-2013); “Fox’s James Rosen to State Dept. Spox: Why Such ‘Egregious Delay’ in Capturing Benghazi Suspect?” (Mediaite.com, 6-17-2014).

Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood

In an August 2013 press briefing, Psaki said that the government of Egypt would be ill-advised to issue a ban against the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization from which numerous Islamic terrorist groups have sprung. “We believe any process moving forward needs to be inclusive and include all parties and all sides,” she explained. When an Egyptian court did indeed proceed to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood (and seize its funds) in September 2013, Psaki reiterated that the Obama administration would have preferred to see Egypt employ a political process that excluded no one: “All parties should avoid steps that would undermine this process,” she said.

During a February 2015 meeting between the State Department and a Muslim Brotherhood delegation, one of the delegation’s members was photographed standing in front of the State Department seal while flashing the four-finger Rabia symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood. When a reporter asked Psaki “if there’s been any rethink … about the appropriateness of this visit, considering what happened afterwards and the photographs that some of the participants took,” Psaki replied: “No.” The reporter then asked, “Are you—is the [State Department] comfortable with continuing to do business with this center, this group [CSID]?” Psaki answered, “Yes. Yes.”

Deeply troubled by the State Department’s decision to meet with the aforementioned Muslim Brotherhood delegation, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said in February 2015: “[W]e do not understand that there will be such a communication with the elements involved in terrorist acts to intimidate the Egyptians.” “The Brotherhood is not a political party,” he added, but “a terrorist organization.” A few days after the State Department’s meeting with the delegation, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement calling for “a long, uncompromising jihad” and a commitment to “martyrdom.”

Further Reading: Psaki: Banning the Muslim Brotherhood Would Be a Bad Idea” (Washington Free Beacon, 8-19-2013); “Egyptian Court Bans Muslim Brotherhood” (Reuters.com, 9-23-2013); “State Dept Doubles Down on Meeting Muslim Brotherhood” (Clarion Project, 2-4-2015); “State Dept. Misled Reporters About Meeting With Muslim Brotherhood” (Washington Free Beacon, 2-2-2015); “Open Jihad Declared in Egypt Following State Dept. Meeting With Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders” (Washington Free Beacon, 1-30-2015).

Regarding Terrorist Attack Against a Kosher Supermarket

Not long after a January 2015 terrorist shooting that killed four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris, a reporter asked Psaki whether the Obama administration stood by the president’s initial claim that the victims of the atrocity were “random” (rather than specifically targeted because they were Jews). She replied: “Well … if I remember the victims, specifically, they were not all victims of one background or nationality, so I think what they mean by that is, I don’t know that they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically, but the individuals who were impacted.” In a follow-up question, the reporter asked: (a) whether “even if the victims came from different backgrounds and different religions, different nationalities, the store itself was the target,” and (b) whether “the administration believe[d] that this was an anti-Jewish attack” against “a Jewish community in Paris.” Psaki responded: “I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation [there].”

Further Reading:”AP’s Matt Lee Grills State Dept’s Psaki: Does Obama Really Think French Deli Attack Was ‘Random?’” (Real Clear Politics, 2-10-2015); “Greta: There Was Nothing ‘Random’ about Last Month’s Terror Attack on a Kosher Deli, Mr. President” (Fox News, 2-10-2015); “State Dept. Backs Obama over ‘Random’ Paris Attack” (Israel Nation News, 11-2-2015).

Regarding President Obama’s Failing Policies in the Middle East

In February 2015, Houthi rebels seized the Yemeni parliament building, forced the resignation of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and caused the U.S. to abandon its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa — making it the third embassy which the United States had been forced to vacate since the start of the Arab Spring. When Psaki was asked whether it was accurate to conclude that Americans in Yemen were “being run out of town,” she replied: “We certainly don’t look at it that way. I would remind you that we’re not the only country that moved our staff out of Yemen last night.”

Further Reading: “U.S. Not ‘Being Run Out of Town’ Despite Abandoning Third Embassy in Middle East” (Washington Free Beacon, 2-11-2015).

Regarding Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek

When Psaki was asked in a December 2014 press briefing to comment on a recent Egyptian court decision not to prosecute the country’s former president (and U.S. ally), Hosni Mubarak, she read a prepared statement from the Obama administration that said: “Generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt’s long-term stability and economic growth depends.” Immediately after the briefing was over, Psaki, not realizing that her microphone was still live, could be heard telling one of her associates: “That Egypt line is ridiculous.”

Further Reading: Hot Mic: Jen Psaki Loses It after Her State Dept. Propaganda Gaffe” (21st Century Wire, 12-6-2014).

Psaki Cannot Identify any Specific Achievements of Hillary Clinton

In an April 2014 press conference, Psaki was asked, “Can you, off the top of your head, identify one tangible achievement” of Hillary Clinton that was identified in the State Department’s most recent Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review summarizing the former Secretary of State’s goals and accomplishments. In response, Psaki forced a smile and replied: “I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort, could point out one.” Moments later she said, “I’m sure there are a range of things that were put into place that I’m not even aware of.”

Further Reading: “State Department Spokeswoman Can’t Name Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Achievements” (Daily Mail, 4-23-2014).

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