Dodges questions on whether Biden supports impeachment trial or nixing filibuster
For the second time in two days, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who promised “transparency” in the briefing room, refused to reveal President Biden’s position on critical issues facing Congress.
In her Thursday White House briefing, Psaki repeatedly dodged questions on President Biden’s stance on the Senate filibuster, which Republicans fear Democrats running the chamber may move to eliminate.
The new press secretary wielded a similar deflection tactic Wednesday as reporters pressed her for answers about Biden’s opinion on whether Biden supported an impeachment trial amid his calls to unify the country.
Both NBC News’ Kristen Welker and Politico’s Anita Kumar Thursday asked Psaki where Biden stood on the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold the Senate currently needs to end debate on most bills.
“I don’t think I heard an answer about whether the president supports keeping the filibuster, where he sits on that. Has he talked to Senator Schumer about that?” Kumar asked.
“The president has been clear he wants to work with members of both parties and find bipartisan paths forward,” Psaki said. “I don’t have any more conversations to read out for you at this point in time.”
“That doesn’t specifically answer that unless I’m not understanding you,” the reporter pressed.
“I don’t think I have more to add to my answer,” Psaki said.
Psaki, in her debut as press secretary Wednesday, said Biden had asked her to bring “transparency” back to the briefing room.
With a 50-50 split Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been trying to take nuking the filibuster off the table under a power-sharing agreement with Democrats. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has not obliged.
The House impeached President Trump last week, for the second time, on charges of inciting an insurrection after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Doocy asked Wednesday if the president thinks the impeachment should be dropped by the Senate in the spirit of unity.
Psaki said Biden was confident the Senate could “multitask,” likely meaning pursuing impeachment and Biden’s legislative agenda. But the answer diverted the subject to Senate procedures and away from Biden’s views on whether a trial should be held at all.
“Well, he spoke today, as you all saw, about unity in his inaugural address and the importance of unity and bringing the country together and the resolve of the American people in helping to get through this moment,” Psaki said. “You know, we are confident, though, that just like the American people can, the Senate can also multitask and they can do their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people.
“And so that means getting this Covid relief package through, having Democrats and Republicans take a serious look at that and have conversations with each other about how to move it forward,” she said.
As for impeachment, Psaki said Biden will “leave the mechanics, the timing, and the specifics” to Congress.