No matter how many times White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeated her talking points Thursday on CNN, host Jake Tapper refused to budge from his tough line of questioning.
The questioning concerned President Joe Biden’s clear-cut insistence during his solo press conference Wednesday that the 2022 midterm elections will be illegitimate unless his so-called “voting rights” proposal first makes it into law.
The discussion began with Tapper drawing attention to remarks Psaki had made earlier that morning “that President Biden was not casting doubt on the potential legitimacy of the 2022 election if those election reform bills are not passed.”
The CNN host then played one clip of the president’s remarks and noted that, yeah actually, the president had been casting doubt on the 2022 election.
In fact, it wasn’t even his first time talking this way:
It’s ok when you did it, Joe? Video surfaces of Biden considering Trump an ‘illegitimate president’ https://t.co/ec2ZiYHetN
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) January 6, 2022
Psaki responded by playing the “intention” game, claiming that the president “was not trying to predict that the 2022 elections would not be legitimate.”
“Quite the opposite. His view — and he’s told us this privately a lot — is that, in 2020, the American people rose to the moment. We had COVID. People were trying to suppress the vote. They still turned out in record numbers,” she said.
“What we also, though, need to be clear-eyed about — and this is what he was trying to convey last night — is that there were efforts in 2020 by the former president and his supporters to attempt to overturn the outcome of the election,” she continued.
“We need to be clear-eyed about that possibility or about the effort to try to do that. We need to educate voters. We need to make sure they know what their rights are. And that’s what our focus is going to be on moving forward.”
Tapper was completely unimpressed with her non-answer answer.
“He was directly tying the legitimacy of the November elections with the election reform bills that failed last night. He was asked a clear question. He said it depends,” he said.
The CNN host then played another clip:
“I mean, isn’t the correct answer, if this isn’t passed, do you believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and legitimate, isn’t the correct answer, yes, it will be fairly conducted and legitimate?” Tapper then asked.
“That is his view, Jake,” Psaki promptly replied before contradicting herself.
“But we also have all lived through, you have done extensive reporting on the attempts to change the outcome in 2020. We know voters need to be clear-eyed and need to be aware and educated about what is facing them,” she continued.
This time, Tapper lent credence to the Biden administration’s flawed theory about there being “efforts on the state level to make it more difficult to vote” and even attributed it to CNN’s favorite topic, the so-called “big lie.”
But after conceding Psaki’s flawed talking points, he turned up the heat again.
“I guess my bigger question is, if we’re saying that there’s no election that’s legitimate if there are efforts to suppress the vote, then when has there ever been a legitimate election in this country? Trying to suppress American votes has been going on since the founding of this country,” he said.
In other words, was the 2020 election that Biden won illegitimate? How about the 2012 and 2008 elections that former President Barack Obama won?
“That’s not what we’re saying, Jake. People should be confident in the protections that we are going to continue to enforce. But, also, we know it’s not long-ago history. It is recent history when the former president tried to overturn the outcome,” Psaki responded.
“Tried” and failed because the system did work.
“That is different than the effort to suppress the vote. We need to fight against both. We need to ensure we’re using every tool at our disposal,” Psaki added.
Tapper quickly pushed back again, saying, “But he didn’t say, the elections are going to be legitimate, and I’m going to be there making sure that they are legitimate, and we’re going to fight, and you need to turn out to vote.”
He also pointed to the words of Vice President Kamala Harris, who “today … also refused to say that the results will be legitimate. … So, I hear what you’re saying. But you do not seem to be on the same page as the president and vice president.”
The discussion concluded with Psaki again repeating her talking points.
“I have spoken with the president about this extensively. I speak on his behalf. He is not questioning the legitimacy of the 2022 elections. But it is also his responsibility, and the vice president’s too, to be very candid and clear-eyed and communicate with the American people about what is at risk and what they need to ensure they know what their rights are and what the former president attempted to do in 2020. And we can’t forget and stop talking about that,” she said.
She was correct in that regard, as the Democrats’ entire 2022 strategy centers on using the Jan. 6th riot to inspire fear in the American people.
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