Psaki Cuts Off Reporter Who Asks If Biden Will ‘Accept His Own Culpability’ For Alleged Racist ‘System’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cut off a reporter during Wednesday’s news conference as the reporter asked if President Joe Biden was going to “accept his own culpability” for passing laws that have contributed to a system that Biden declared this week suffered from “systemic racism.”

Biden made the remarks following the verdict of the George Floyd murder trial in which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts, manslaughter and murder. Biden said that Floyd’s death “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism” in the United States.

“But he is an architect of multiple federal laws in the 1980s and ’90s that disproportionately jailed black people and contributed to what many people see as systemic racism,” the reporter said, later highlighting a quote from a left-wing activist who said that Biden needs to take responsibility for creating the system.

“To what extent does President Biden acknowledge his own role in systemic racism, and how does that inform his current policy positions?” the reporter asked.

“Well, I would say that the President is — one of the President’s core objectives is addressing racial injustice in this country not just through his rhetoric, but through his actions,” Psaki claimed. “And what anyone should look to is his advocacy for passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice to address long-outdated policies, and to ask his team — leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years ago.”

“Does he believe it’s important to accept his own culpability in setting up a system —” the reporter pressed before being cut off by Psaki.

“I think I’ve answered your question,” Psaki snapped back as she then quickly called on another reporter.

WATCH:

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA THE WHITE HOUSE:

REPORTER: Thank you, Jen.  I have a quicker — quick follow-up question on something you were asked yesterday, and then a second somewhat-related question.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Okay.

REPORTER: Regarding yesterday, I — respectfully, I feel like you didn’t give quite a firm answer, and I wanted to try again.

PSAKI:  Okay.

REPORTER: You were asked whether President Biden will honor his Democratic primary campaign pledge to release, quote, “everyone” in prison for marijuana.  People are skeptical that he will.  President Biden is personally responsible for sending some people to prison for life for marijuana under his 1994 crime bill.  And Vice President Kamala Harris oversaw 1,900 marijuana convictions as San Francisco District Attorney.  So, will President Bonnor [sic] — will President Biden honor his commitment to release everyone imprisoned for marijuana?

PSAKI:  Well, I think what I did yesterday is reiterate what his position on marijuana was: decriminalizing, rescheduling, and certainly legalizing medical marijuana. What you’re asking me is a legal question.  And now we’re in government, and so I had to follow up with our legal team, and I don’t have any additional information quite yet.

REPORTER: So regarding rescheduling, that wouldn’t necessarily release anyone from prison.  Schedule II is — has fentanyl and cocaine.  You can’t just —

PSAKI:  That’s right.  It addresses things moving forward though, which is important and important to many advocates.

REPORTER: So should people in prison for marijuana who are asking President Biden to honor his pledge to release them — should they expect to be released or are they going to serve life in prison for marijuana?

PSAKI:  Well, again, I think I’ve stated very clearly what the President’s position is.  What you’re asking me is a legal question.  I’d point you to the Department of Justice.  And if there’s anything more we can provide from here, I’m happy to provide it.

REPORTER: My second question: President Biden, yesterday, responding to George — the George Flord [sic]– Floyd case verdict, said that George Floyd’s death, quote, “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism” in the United States.  But he is an architect of multiple federal laws in the 1980s and ’90s that disproportionately jailed Black people and contributed to what many people see as systemic racism. The activist Cornel West said that Biden is, quote, one of the “core architects” of mass incarceration, and that, quote, “I think that Biden is going to have to take responsibility and to acknowledge the contribution” he made to mass incarceration. To what extent does President Biden acknowledge his own role in systemic racism, and how does that inform his current policy positions?

PSAKI:  Well, I would say that the President is — one of the President’s core objectives is addressing racial injustice in this country not just through his rhetoric, but through his actions.  And what anyone should look to is his advocacy for passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice to address long-outdated policies, and to ask his team — leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years ago.

REPORTER: Does he believe it’s important to accept his own culpability in setting up a system —

PSAKI:  I think I’ve answered your question. Go ahead.

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