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White House reporters slam Jean-Pierre for stonewalling over Biden classified docs: 'Painful waste of time'

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Reporters are growing increasingly frustrated with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for not providing answers to critical questions about President Joe Biden's retention of classified documents.

What are they saying?

More than a half-dozen White House reporters spoke with CNN reporter Oliver Darcy about their frustrations with Jean-Pierre's stonewalling.

Speaking behind anonymity, the reporters did not hold back.

  • "She is arguably the least effective White House press secretary of the television era," one reporter said.
  • "It's just a painful waste of time," another reporter said. "You just get the feeling that you're wasting your time and whatever is in front of her in the binder is all she is going to say, no matter how many times you ask the question."
  • "There is the expectation that when you say something, it's going to be true. That's been the biggest credibility hit for her, it's answering a question in a way that ends up not being true," another reporter said.

Meanwhile, another reporter told Darcy that most of the press corps likes Jean-Pierre personally, but "that shouldn't be an excuse for her competence professionally."

What is the background?

For more than a week, reporters have grilled Jean-Pierre for specifics about the multiple discoveries of classified documents, purportedly from the Obama administration, that were discovered at Biden's post-vice presidential office and his Wilmington, Delaware, residence.

The chief question has been why the White House declined to disclose the discoveries in a more transparent way.

Specifically, the White House revealed last Monday the discovery of classified documents at Biden's office on Nov. 2. But a batch was also discovered at Biden's residence on Dec. 20.

However, when the White House admitted to the first batch, officials did not admit to the second; it was only after NBC News reported on the existence of the second batch that the White House confirmed that discovery.

Indeed, Jean-Pierre's press briefings have become, in the words of Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich, an "information blackout."

That's because when reporters pose a question that Jean-Pierre won't answer, she refers reporters to the Justice Department or White House counsel's office. But when the reporters reach out to those entities, each of them refers the reporters to each other or to special counsel Robert Hur. In the end, no new information is released.

Tension in the White House briefing room has led some Democratic strategists to suggest the White House appoint one person, not Jean-Pierre, to handle all communications about the classified documents scandal.

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