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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre became flustered on Friday after she was pummeled with questions about the most recent scandal involving President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The questions from nearly a half-dozen reporters stemmed from newly released testimony by two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers indicating that Hunter Biden once invoked his father when he appeared to threaten a Chinese business partner for payment.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond led off by asking about Hunter, who also pleaded guilty earlier this week to federal tax and gun crimes.
“The president invited his son, Hunter, to the state dinner last night,” Diamond began. “I’m wondering if you could take us into the thinking and decision-making of why the president decided to …”
At that point, Jean Pierre cut him off by saying she wasn’t going to comment on a “personal family discussion.”
Not being satisfied with the answer, Diamond pressed on: “If Hunter Biden wasn’t the president’s son, would he have invited someone who had just reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors to dinner?” he asked.
“Well, a couple of things,” Jean-Pierre said. “Again, that’s his son. It’s a family member. It is not uncommon for family members to attend events at the White House. Look at past presidents. I’m sure you have, so that is not uncommon.
“As it relates to anything related to Hunter, I’m just not going to respond to it from here.”
As noted in a video of the briefing, she began to lose the press room at that point.
Another reporter said that Diamond’s question was “not an unreasonable question to ask” before pressing Jean-Pierre even more, as the tension rose.
“I just don’t have anything to share outside of what my colleagues have shared … [I’m] just not going to comment from here,” Jean-Pierre said.
Several other reporters then began to pepper her for a more substantive response, including Steven Nelson of the New York Post, whose questioning led the press secretary to snap at him.
“Steven,” she said, visibly upset. “Steven, I just answered the question. I just said … I just… It’s not up to you how I answer the question.”
Mainstream media reporters push back on Karine Jean Pierre not answering questions pic.twitter.com/Nrqxhrla3U
— • ᗰISᑕᕼIᗴᖴ ™ • (@4Mischief) June 23, 2023
During a press conference addressing the allegations of the Biden administration interfering with U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s investigation into the president’s son on Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) made the revelation about the IRS whistleblowers.
One of the IRS agents told Smith’s committee that in August 2020, agency investigators found messages from an iCloud search warrant, but prosecutors “denied investigators’ requests to develop a strategy to look into the messages and denied investigators’ suggestion to obtain location information to see where the texts were sent from.”
One message investigators managed to obtain was sent via the WhatsApp platform from Hunter Biden to Henry Zhao on July 30, 2017.
Smith’s committee provided a transcript of the exchange where it appears Hunter Biden name-dropped his father, Joe Biden:
I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.
According to author Peter Schweizer, Henry Zhao is a Chinese Communist Party official and previously was a business partner with the daughter of China’s former state security minister.