Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy brought up the recent Christmas-tree fire outside the News Corporation building in Midtown Manhattan during Monday’s press briefing, asking White House press secretary Jen Psaki whether the Biden administration considered it “good governing” for the vagrant who was arrested for the crime to be released the same day without bail.
Leading up to the question, Doocy noted the growing trend of smash-and-grab robberies in big cities by looting mobs to ask if prosecutors are “too soft on crime,” prompting Psaki to point to the pandemic as a contributing factor in an increase on crime.
“We have seen — I’m not going to attribute the reasoning from here — what I will tell you is that we have seen an increase in crime over the course of the pandemic,” she claimed. “There are a range of reasons for that. And what our focus is on is what we can do to address it. The president has proposed funding in the budget to make sure local police department and cops have the funding they need. We have also worked directly with police departments in areas where they are seeing the highest impact of the crime, the retail theft that we have great concern about. That’s what our focus in on currently, is action and doing what we can to make sure funding is out there to the communities that need it the most.”
Doocy countered to ask, “What good does it do if you’re going to give police departments extra money if they arrest bad guys and they bring them to jail and then they’re not prosecuted, they’re right back out on the street.”
Pointing out that the fire destroyed a “half-million-dollar” tree, Doocy sought to link it to New York’s bail-reform law and nationwide crime.
Psaki insisted the administration is working “around the clock” to ensure local authorities “have the assistance and the funding they need, ” which runs counter to the defund the police efforts embraced by many Democratic leaders.
“So the final one would be, just in the last week, we saw a New York Post item about a pickpocket with more than 30 arrests back out on the street,” Doocy said. “We’ve seen an arsonist burn down a half-million-dollar Christmas tree in New York City back out on the streets. Does the president think that’s good governing?”
The alleged arsonist, Craig Tamanaha, 49, a vagrant with a long arrest record, was apprehended after the fire and freed after his arraignment later that same evening because his charges were not eligible for bail under NYC’s new progressive criminal reform laws. The other incident involved Gary Teasley, 65, who was released after being arrested for allegedly pickpocketing tourists at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Tamanaha was charged with “a slew of misdemeanor charges — including arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass,” the New York Post reported, adding that under New York law a suspect would have to be charged with at least third-degree felony arson to set bail and arson “is only a felony if the suspect tries to harm a person or commits a hate crime.”
Psaki had clearly grown impatient with the line of questioning, the tell tale sign being the smirk on her face.
“Again, I think I’ve spoken to the president’s concern about retail theft,” she said. “If you have specific — and any actions we’ve taken, for specific cases, I would point you to the local police departments or the Department of Justice.”
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