Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki was cornered Wednesday by a student reporter who told her we was entering "Peter Doocy mode."
While speaking at a forum hosted by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, freshman student Daniel Schmidt, a student journalist with the student-run Chicago Thinker, asked Psaki about encouraging protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices.
After Schmidt read Psaki's own words, the forthcoming MSNBC pundit claimed she did not say what Schmidt claimed she said.
"I never said that," Psaki challenged.
"I'm quoting from —" Schmidt responded.
"I said peacefully," Psaki interjected, adding, "That's a key word in there."
After Psaki's interruption, Schmidt completed his question.
"Do you regret encouraging people to protest outside of justices' homes?" he asked, noting that protesting outside the homes of judges likely violates federal law.
In response, Psaki appeared to contradict herself. She again claimed that she "never encouraged anyone to protest," then immediately admitted that she encouraged Americans to "engage" — albeit peacefully.
Well, first, thank you for your question and bringing it forward. Let me first say, because I think facts matter and facts are important. I never encouraged anyone to protest. I encouraged them to do engage peacefully, and to do it without violence, without threats, and without intimidation. And that’s something I said many, many times and I think is vitally important.
It is also true that peacefully protesting in places where it is legal — and it is legal in many places in the country, including outside of some places in the country for sure — is something that is, that is allowed. And I’m not going to tell people, I don’t think it’s the role of the government to tell people where they can or cannot peacefully protest. If they’re breaking the law, of course they shouldn’t do that. And I also said that, too. Thank you for your question!
So what did Psaki say?
The comments in question stem from a White House press briefing on May 10 in which Psaki was asked about protests happening outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. A reporter asked Psaki whether Biden believed the protesters were attempting to intimidate Alito.
In response, Psaki — like Schmidt recounted — said Biden encourages protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, though she did qualify her statement with the adjective "peaceful."
"I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date — and we certainly continue to encourage that — outside of judges’ homes. And that’s the president’s position," Psaki said.
05/10/22: Press Briefing with Press Secretary Jen Psakiyoutu.be