The Biden administration has been on the defensive for weeks now, as the classified documents scandal continues to be a source of bipartisan outrage and frustration. During Wednesday’s White House press availability, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attempted to deflect questions by bringing in National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby.
Unfortunately for Jean-Pierre, Kirby ended up being her undoing as he exposed her repetitive, tiresome answers by actually providing general explanations for why handling classified information is incredibly serious.
Kirby went beyond Jean-Pierre’s standard lines, saying that the administration takes the treatment of classified materials very seriously and that the National Security Council staff deals with classified material every single day. He added that the process of classified material handling changes as technology changes and that the intelligence community is always reviewing procedures to make sure they’re fully appropriate.
Kirby also addressed questions Jean-Pierre refused to consider, such as whether there’s a problem with the overclassification of documents, and what the fallout would be for someone who leaves with a piece of classified material that they are not supposed to have.
It was clear that the real battle came with NBC’s Kristen Welker, who asked whether Biden regrets not being as transparent in immediate public disclosure as former Vice President Mike Pence’s team was, and if Biden believes it’s “his responsibility” to fix the bipartisan problem. Jean-Pierre, however, refused to answer, citing the fact that this is an “ongoing legal matter”.
It’s clear that Jean-Pierre was hoping to use Kirby as a crutch, but ended up getting outmaneuvered by him. It’s disgraceful that the Biden administration continues to refuse to answer questions about some of the most basic issues related to the handling of classified documents. It’s time for President Biden to step up and take responsibility for this scandal, instead of letting his Press Secretary do the talking.
Erica Carlin is an independent journalist, opinion writer and contributor to several news and opinion sources. She is based in Georgia.