President Joe Biden’s communications staff have probed White House reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during briefings, The Daily Beast reports.
During a White House Correspondents Association video call last week, WHCA leaders advised reporters to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries.
“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said, according to The Daily Beast. “That’s not really a free press at all.”
“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” another source said.
At Psaki’s debut briefing on Inauguration Day, she promised to restore regular briefings, saying she had a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press,” and that they shared “a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
So far, at each early press conference, Psaki has fielded questions from every reporter in the room.
Biden’s press team did not deny that they have been probing reporters but explained that talking to reporters is part of an effort to foster a better relationship with the press than the previous administration. The press team reportedly reaches out to reporters directly in order to avoid appearing to dodge questions during briefings.
“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a White House spokesperson reportedly said. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”
Under previous administrations, many White House reporters would gather informally in the morning to talk with the press secretaries. During these gatherings, White House communications staff could get a sense of the topics reporters were interested in that day, and would come prepared for questions during televised briefings later in the afternoon.
Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary in the Obama administration, told The Daily Beast that finding out what reporters are focusing on was standard procedure in most pre-Trump White Houses in order to reduce the number of questions that go unanswered during televised briefings.
The Biden administration is taking a different approach in order to restore normalcy to the briefing process, Schultz said.
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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Biden’s Email Controversy Deepens: A Saga of Aliases, Whistleblowers, and Shadowy Communications
In a bombshell revelation, new records released by the House Ways & Means Committee expose a labyrinth of email aliases and private addresses used by then-Vice President Joe Biden to communicate with his son Hunter and key business associates, according to metadata obtained from IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler.
Furthermore, according to reports from Fox News, the data, covering the span of nine years from 2010 to 2019, reveals an astonishing 327 exchanges between Biden and his son, notably during Biden’s tenure as vice president.
The majority of these clandestine communications were exclusively with Eric Schwerin, a pivotal figure described as “the architect of the Biden family’s shell companies.” The emails were conducted using aliases such as “robinware456,” “JRBware,” and “RobertLPeters.” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer had previously hinted at the existence of Biden’s email aliases earlier this year.
According to reports, the whistleblowers, still actively employed as IRS investigators, ran a search for Biden’s email aliases in their existing files, revealing the 327 exchanges with Hunter Biden and Schwerin. The metadata access, however, falls short of scrutinizing email content, requiring a search warrant for deeper investigation.
Schwerin, former president of Hunter’s Rosemont Seneca Advisors, has found himself under the spotlight. In a March 2023 meeting with the House Oversight Committee, Schwerin claimed he was unaware of any transactions related to Biden family business in the then-Vice President’s bank account.
This assertion aligns with the White House narrative, pushing back against Republican scrutiny and an impeachment inquiry.
Amidst the rising scrutiny, House Oversight Committee Chairman Comer has subpoenaed Schwerin for a deposition on Nov. 9, indicating a deepening probe into the financial intricacies of the Biden family.
The data also reveals a spike in emails between Biden and Schwerin during the vice president’s travels to Ukraine, a period significantly coinciding with Hunter Biden’s board membership at Burisma Holdings.
The information underscores the increased communication between the two during crucial junctures, raising questions about the nature of their discussions and the potential intersection of official government business with family interests.
Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, spearheading the impeachment inquiry against President Biden, asserts that the evidence points to Joe Biden’s use of private email accounts with aliases while conducting official duties on international trips.
The broader investigation by Smith, alongside House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Oversight Committee Chairman Comer, delves into foreign money received by the Biden family and whether President Biden was involved in their foreign business dealings.
As the House intensifies its scrutiny, Hunter Biden’s scheduled deposition on Dec. 13 promises further revelations, with House Republicans pledging transparency by releasing the transcript and advocating for a public hearing. The saga of Biden’s emails unfolds against a backdrop of denial from the White House and Justice Department officials, creating a complex narrative.
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