Heinrich, Wegmann Grill WH Over Biden Border Deal, Iran Killing Americans

On Monday, the border crisis and Sunday’s Iranian proxy attack that killed three American soldiers dominated the White House press briefing and, amid over a dozen liberal reporters asking process questions on Iran and open-ended questions on the Senate border deal, there were a rare few who actually pressed the administration on their weakness in the Middle East and the border deal that has conservatives and the far-left incensed.

Starting with the crisis at our doorstep, Franco Ordoñez of taxpayer-funded NPR chose Monday would be one of the rare days he’d make himself useful with this astute question to the National Security Council’s John Kirby:

Kirby fumbled his way in much the same way his colleague Karine Jean-Pierre might: “He has said he’s — he’s willing to use executive measures and, um — and if he gets he gets the bill passed, if he gets border funding and — and — and — and includes those authorities, he’ll use those authorities.”

Ordoñez tried again and asked, “why not,” but all Kirby would commit to was the deal must pass to give Biden “the funding to be able to put in place border security measures that the President can utilize.”

Far more reliable of a probing questioner, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich picked up the baton from Ordoñez

Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann was also locked and loaded with a simple yes or no question: “The terms of the Senate deal that are under discussion would give DHS expulsion authority if border encounters head an average of 4,000 a day over the course of a week. Does the President consider that threshold of daily encounters a crisis?”

“I’m not going to negotiate in public….You’re asking me about a specific provision that the — that you allege in the deal…We’re not going to negotiate here…what’s in and what’s not in this in this deal,” he replied.

Wegmann zoomed out to see if there would be “a number…with regard to border great crossings that the President would see as a crisis,” but Kirby again punted other than to say Biden believes “there’s a crisis going on at the border and the numbers are too high”.

During Jean-Pierre’s rotation, ABC’s Selina Wang pressed her from the left on “immigration advocates” (read: illegal immigration advocates) being “anger[ed]” by this “callous” and “unworkable” Senate deal about the border (click “expand”):

WANG: This deal is angering immigration advocates. What’s being negotiated does not include anything to address the root problems of migration. It has nothing included to provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, which is something that President Biden called for legislation proposed on his first day. So, why is the President okay with this?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, we don’t — we don’t even have the text yet to what’s being, you know, what the bipartisan agreement is going to be, right? So, I don’t want to get ahead of that. I’m not going to dive into what’s in it and what’s not in it. Let’s see what the senators put forward in the text. I think that’s important to see. And one — once it’s out there, folks will take a look. We believe it’s going to be — it’s going to be tough but fair and it’s going to provide new enforcement tools. Obviously, that’s going to be important. Policy changes, it’s going to be important, but also resources. That’s what that’s what we believe. But we’re not going to get into what’s in it, what’s not in it? Let’s let the senators continue to do their negotiations and put forward this — the text.

WANG: But we’re already seeing immigration advocates slam what’s being proposed — 

JEAN-PIERRE: I understand.

WANG: — as callous, as unworkable. So. how does the President respond to the message from some people that he’s going back on his campaign promise?

JEAN-PIERRE: I understand. What I’m saying to you is that let’s see what the Senate bipartisan agreement is. Let’s let them put out the text. And then we can have that discussion on whatever it is that they — they want to look through and discuss. But right now, we believe this is the best way forward. A bipartisan agreement is the way forward in dealing with this immigration system and bipartisan agreement is what we need to deal with. What’s the challenges that we’re seeing at the border? That’s what we want to see, and that’s what the Senate is working towards. 

The New York Times’s Michael Shear came next and also whacked the administration from the left, nothing that, “[b]ack in the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019, President Trump vowed to shut down the border with Mexico using almost the identical language that the President used on Friday” and, back then, “[m]any, many, if not most, if not practically all Democrats called that xenophobic and even racist.”

“Why shouldn’t people make the same conclusion about this President’s threat to shut down the entire border with Mexico,” he asked.

Jean-Pierre fumbled her way through in describing the “tough, but…fair” “agreement” that will have “new enforcement tools” (so, nothing to do with his question). 

This led Shear to press even harder from the left, bemoaning that shutting down the border as Biden said this weekend would be “a total rejection of all people attempting to cross the border without — without a visa or without — without proper authorization, which you know, stands in contravention to decades of international and U.S. law that — that governs the movement of people around the globe and the refugees and asylum system.”

Incredibly, this went on and on with the entire bout going on for more than four minutes.

Shifting to Iran, USA Today’s Francesca Chambers gently stated the obvious seeing as how there had been over 160 prior drone and missile attacks on U.S. troops by Iranian-backed proxies:

As for Heinrich, she had a litany of questions, including this zinger about Biden having previously muttered “don’t” to encapsulate the U.S.’s message to Iran and their proxies using drones to attack our soldiers: “So if it’s clear obviously, that ‘don’t’ didn’t work, does the President have any regret over not pushing, punching back harder in any of the prior responses that he’s taken to these proxy attacks on U.S. forces?”

Kirby comically said he’d “push back on the idea that we didn’t push back harder” because “we have taken significant action against Iran, economically” and “additional and more aggressive steps to go after these groups” such as the Houthis in Yemen.

“I mean, this idea that somehow we just, you know, whistle past the graveyard here and — and — and walked away from the challenge that Iran poses is — just isn’t borne out by the facts,” he huffed.

Heinrich had one last question, citing Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL) as believing the administration’s weakness toward Iran has led to American “blood” being “on” their “hands”.

For his part, Wegmann brought up comments from Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX):

To see the relevant transcript from the January 29 briefing (including Newsmax’s James Rosen calling out Jean-Pierre’s waffling on the border), click here.

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