‘Are You Suggesting The President Wasn’t Being Honest?’: Psaki Plays Defense To Doocy Question On China And COVID

‘Are You Suggesting The President Wasn’t Being Honest?’: Psaki Plays Defense To Doocy Question On China And COVID

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took issue with a question posed Wednesday by Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy, asking whether he had meant to insinuate President Joe Biden had lied about conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Amid a series of questions about the reportedly-imminent retirement announcement from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and possible sanctions against Russia, Doocy asked several questions about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic — namely whether the Biden administration was also considering sanctions if the Chinese Communist Party leadership did not cooperate with investigators.

“On COVID origins, you guys are talking a lot about sanctions for Russia if they dare to invade Ukraine. What about sanctions for China?” Doocy asked, noting that most believed the Chinese were at least guilty of “misleading the world about the early days of the global pandemic?”

Doocy: “On COVID origins, you guys are talking a lot about sanctions for Russia if they dare to invade Ukraine. What about sanctions for China…for misleading the world about the early days of the global pandemic?”

Psaki punts, saying there’s “nothing to preview.” pic.twitter.com/n8uLG61xIv

— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 26, 2022

Psaki noted that sanctions were often used as a tool to address concerns about the behaviors of other nations, but did not give a direct response as to whether they might be considered with regard to China.

Doocy followed up, asking if perhaps “some other form of punishment for their actions in the early stages of the pandemic” would be a consideration — to which Psaki replied that the Biden administration was committed to ensuring that the Chinese government was “transparent” in its dealings with the United States.

Doocy: “Is it possible down the line…that sanctions would be considered some other form of punishment for their actions in the early stages of the pandemic?”

Psaki: “You know we strongly believe in…the importance of [the Chinese] being transparent[.]” pic.twitter.com/a3iOQjCKlv

— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 26, 2022

Doocy then asked about Biden’s relationship with President Xi, saying that Biden had “changed his story” when it came to conversations the two may or may not have had. Doocy noted that Biden had said months ago that he “had not spoken directly to Xi about the COVID origins investigation,” but then later said that he had — although no one else had been there.

“If [he] had that conversation, did it work, and is Xi now playing ball?” Doocy pressed.

Doocy: Biden “said for months…he had not spoken directly to Xi about the COVID origins investigation. Now, he says he did talk to Xi…but nobody else was there. If [he] had that conversation, did it work, and is Xi now playing ball?”

Psaki: “What are you getting at[?]” (6/6) pic.twitter.com/A1C7UcoR8g

— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 26, 2022

“What are you getting at?” Psaki asked. “Are you suggesting the president wasn’t being honest about his own conversation with Xi?”

Doocy pressed again, noting that the story had changed over time.

“We don’t share every detail of every diplomatic conversation. You know that the president answered a direct question just a week ago, or I think it was a week ago, yes, and provided that information,” Psaki pushed right back, to which Doocy said simply: “Ok.”

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