Clarifying what President Joe Biden really meant to say appears to be a full-time job.
Quick Pivot: VP Is NOT “Doing The Border.”
Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris would be taking over efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigration to the U.S. southern border—but on Friday, her team was tempering expectations for Harris’ role on the issue.
Symone Sanders, Harris’s principal spokeswoman, gave this statement to reporters: “I will just reiterate that the VP is not doing the border. The president asked the vice president to take on the diplomatic efforts with Mexico and countries of the North Triangle to address the root causes of migration.”
Sanders added, “This is a challenging situation… but it’s diplomatic work that needs to be done.”
Last week, Ambassador Roberta Jacobson, Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez, and Special Envoy Ricardo Zuniga traveled to Mexico to hold talks on the crisis with Mexican government officials. Harris did not attend the trip and has no plans to visit the border soon.
On That “Transparency” Question…
In Thursday’s presidential press conference, Biden was asked whether he would commit to improving press transparency at border detention facilities—and he replied, “I will commit to transparency, and—as soon as I am in a position to be able to implement what we are doing right now.” Naturally, press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed to clarify the statement in Friday’s briefing.
Her answer: “That’s not actually what he meant.”
Q: Just to follow up with my question with the President yesterday: I asked him about transparency and access for journalists into some of the facilities at the border. The President said, “I will commit when my plan…is underway” to have access. It sounded to a lot of people like he was saying, “I will let more cameras in once I’m satisfied with the conditions.” How is that consistent with transparency?
PSAKI: That’s not actually what he meant. I’ll first say, we did allow access, including an NBC camera, exclusively, into the shelter facility on Wednesday. And we’re committed to increasing access and doing additional pools, making it available these facilities—including the Border Patrol facilities, as well as the shelters.
What he was conveying is, right now, his focus is on moving these kids out of these Border Patrol facilities—right?—and making sure it’s done in a way that keeps them safe and keeps everyone safe. That does not imply that we are not going to allow access until that is done; it implies that is his first focus.
Weekend In Wilmington.
Biden again jetted off to Delaware for the weekend with son Hunter and other members of the Biden family. On Wednesday, Biden cited not wanting to “get in the way” as his reason for avoiding travel to the border—”I don’t want to be, you know, bringing all of the Secret Service and everybody with me to get in the way”—but traffic tie-ups throughout the area surrounding New Castle Airport haven’t seemed to hold him back.
“Whenever possible, the Bidens have made clear they would like to spend the weekend away from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Of 10 so far, they’ve gone to Wilmington or Camp David for six, with an additional trip planned but scrapped at the last minute,” NBC reported.