Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on Tuesday confronted White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on her past claims that the 2016 election was "stolen" after Democrats and President Joe Biden have tied election denial to "fascism."
As the November midterm elections approach, Biden has used increasingly incendiary rhetoric against so-called "MAGA Republicans," accusing GOP officials who followed former President Donald Trump and challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election of embracing "semi-fascism." In a highly controversial prime-time speech last Thursday, Biden denounced Trumpism as "extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic."
In remarks on Friday, Biden attempted to clarify what he meant, saying that he was not referring to Trump voters, but rather the failure of certain politicians to condemn the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, or "failure to acknowledge when elections were won or lost."
During Tuesday's press briefing, Jean-Pierre emphasized that Biden is not labeling GOP voters extremists, just the elected officials who represent their interests and beliefs.
"He has been very clear that he's talking about office-holders, he's talking about elected officials who have these MAGA, ultra-MAGA Republican agendas," she told reporters.
But Doocy questioned whether the president's remarks also apply to Democrats who falsely claimed the 2016 election was rigged by Russia in favor of Trump. "If we're all in agreement that it is incorrect to say the 2020 election was stolen, what about the 2016 election?" Doocy asked. But Jean-Pierre dodged the question.
"Look, I'm not going to go back to where we were or what happened in 2016. We're going to focus on the here and now, we're going to focus on what's happening today," she replied.
Doocy followed up with questions about Jean-Pierre's own statements. In December 2016, she tweeted, "Stolen emails, stolen drone, stolen election. ... welcome to the world of #unpresidented Trump."
And in 2019, Jean-Pierre denied that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was the legitimate winner of the gubernatorial election against Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who alleged Republicans cheated with voter suppression and did not concede the race.
"Yes - the race was stolen," Jean-Pierre tweeted in response to someone who called the 2018 contest a "stolen election." She later said in April 2020 that Kemp "stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams."
"With the new attention on the 'MAGA Republicans,' you tweeted in 2016, 'Trump stole an election,'" Doocy said.
"Oh, I knew this was coming," Jean-Pierre interrupted, smiling and laughing. "I was waiting, Peter, when you were going to ask me that question."
"Well, great, here we go," Doocy said. "You tweeted Trump stole an election. You tweeted Brian Kemp stole an election. If denying election results is extreme now, why wasn't it then?"
"So let's be really clear, that comparison that you made is just ridiculous," Jean-Pierre responded.
"I was talking specifically at that time of what was happening with voting rights and what was in danger of voting rights. That's what I was speaking to at the time," she continued. "And here's the thing: I have said, Governor Kemp won the election in Georgia. I've been clear about that. I have said President Trump won the election of 2016, and I have been clear about that."
Jean-Pierre seized on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to draw a distinction between her false claims and those made by Trump, who she said "incited" an "insurrection."
"It was an attack on our democracy," she said. "Let's not forget, people died that day. Law enforcement were attacked that day. That was the danger that we were seeing at the time. That's what the president has called out and that's what he's going to continue to call out.
"So yes, when you have MAGA Republicans, an extreme part of Republicans who just deny or do not want to really say what exactly happened on that day, or say it was a protest when it clearly was not a peaceful protest, that's not what we saw on that day, yes the president is going to call that out."