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Reporters grill top WH official for allowing Taliban to harbor al Qaeda — then Peter Doocy ratchets up the pressure

By CHRIS ENLOE | August 03, 2022


National Security Council coordinator John Kirby was peppered with questions Tuesday over how the Biden administration will respond to the Taliban violating the Doha Agreement.

The United States carried out a successful counterterrorism strike against the leader of al Qaeda over the weekend, killing Ayman al-Zawahiri. American operators were successful partly because al-Zawahiri was “hiding” in plain sight in a wealthy Kabul neighborhood, thus underscoring the type of impunity the Taliban have extended to al Qaeda after the fall of Afghanistan last year.

The close relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda violates the Doha Agreement, a peace treaty negotiated under former President Donald Trump between the U.S. and the Taliban. Specifically, the agreement bars the Taliban from allowing al Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan, a provision the Taliban have clearly violated. With the Taliban in clear violation of the Doha Agreement — a reality Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged — reporters from multiple media outlets grilled Kirby over how exactly the Biden administration will respond.

“What will the repercussions be for the Taliban harboring al-Zawahiri?” ABC News chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega asked.

“I’m not going to telegraph moves and decisions that we might make,” Kirby responded. “I’m certainly not going to get ahead of anything at this point.”

Kirby, however, disclosed that U.S. leaders have spoken with Taliban leaders for harboring al-Zawahiri, which he admitted is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement. But when NBC News chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander pressed Kirby on whether the Biden administration would hold accountable the Taliban, Kirby obfuscated, saying only that he will not “telegraph punches” and the Taliban know the U.S. is aware they violated the Doha Agreement. Kirby even suggested the Taliban might shape up because they want legitimization from Western powers.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John

Then Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy ratcheted up the pressure.

“You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI Most Wanted list. What did you think was going to happen?” Doocy pressed.

Kirby responded by saying he takes “issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups.”

“The Taliban was harboring the world’s number-one terrorist. How is that not giving a country to a terrorist-sympathizing group, if not giving them permission to have terrorists just sit on a balcony?” Doocy pressed.

Engaging in circular reasoning, Kirby then told Doocy the strike against al-Zawahiri is proof the U.S. is not idly permitting the Taliban to harbor al Qaeda terrorists. And in the end, Kirby praised Biden.

“I would go so far as to say not only the American people are safer as a result of President Biden’s decision, but the rest of the world is safer,” Kirby said.

Other reporters asked Kirby similar questions about the Taliban and their violations of the Doha Agreement, but he never offered substantive answers.

Kirby said violations of the agreement will “lead to consequences not just from the United States, but from the international community” — but he never said what any of those consequences would be.

Peter Doocy leaves new WH press secretary stumped with single question he is forced to ask three times

CHRIS ENLOE | May 17, 2022


Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy left White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stumbling on her first official day behind the lectern after Jen Psaki’s departure. The topic? Inflation and President Joe Biden’s claim that raising corporate taxes will help the ongoing economic crisis. Referring to a tweet that Biden published last week, Doocy lobbed a softball question at Jean-Pierre, “How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?”

But the new press secretary appeared unaware that such a tweet from Biden existed, asking if Doocy was, in fact, referring to a specific tweet. When Doocy informed her that Biden’s official Twitter account made such a connection between corporate taxes and inflation last week, Jean-Pierre stumbled her way through recycling Democratic talking points about taxes and corporations paying their “fair share.”

Look, you know, we have talked about — we have talked about this this past year, about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share. And that is important to do. And that is something that, you know, the president has been, you know, working on every day when we talk about inflation and lowering costs. And so, it’s very important that, you know, as we’re seeing costs rise, as we’re talking about how to, you know — you know, build an America that is safe, that’s equal for everyone, and doesn’t leave anyone behind, that is an important part of that as well.

05/16/22: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

Because Jean-Pierre did not answer the question, Doocy then asked again, “But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?”

This time Jean-Pierre invoked climate change and collective bargaining rights while injecting several mentions of a “fairer tax code,” but she still did not answer the question.

Look, it is — you know, by not — if — without having a fairer tax code, which is what I’m talking about, then all — every — like manufacturing workers, cops — you know, it’s not fair for them to have to pay higher taxes than the folks that — who are — who are — who are not paying taxes at all or barely have,” Jean-Pierre added.

Doocy then asked his question a third time and included criticism from Jeff Bezos. But Jean-Pierre, again, refused to answer the question and instead attacked Bezos and regurgitated debunked talking points about deficit reduction.

“It’s not a huge mystery why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth — right? — opposes an economic agenda that is for the middle class, that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul — right? — and that’s what we’re talking about; that’s why we’re talking about lowering inflation here — and adds to the historic deficit reduction the president is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share. That is what we’re talking about,” she said.

Larry Summers, who has been highly critical of the Biden administration amid the inflation crisis, explained Monday that he actually agrees with Biden that hiking corporate taxes would positively impact inflation.

“I think @JeffBezos is mostly wrong in his recent attack on the @JoeBiden Admin,” Summers declared. “It is perfectly reasonable to believe, as I do and @POTUS asserts, that we should raise taxes to reduce demand to contain inflation and that the increases should be as progressive as possible.”

He added, “I say this even though I have argued vigorously that excessively expansionary macro policy from the @federalreserve and the government have contributed to inflation. I have rejected rhetoric about inflation caused by corporate gouging as preposterous.”

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