WATCH: Doocy Battles Jean-Pierre Over Mar-a-Lago Raid, Politicizing the DOJ

With President Biden having spent Monday in flood-stricken Kentucky and departing Wednesday for vacation in South Carolina, Tuesday marked perhaps the week’s only White House briefing, so reporters got in their takes about the FBI raid of former President Trump’s Florida home. Of course, Fox’s Peter Doocy did battle with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the raid and whether the White House would do anything to pushback arguments that they’ve weaponized law enforcement against opponents.

Doocy led off with a round-about way of asking about the raid: “Do you consider Donald Trump to be a political rival of President Biden?” When Jean-Pierre insisted she wouldn’t “speak to that from here,” he countered with the fact that Biden “talks about Trump all time.” Incredibly, she disputed it: “Ehhh, I don’t talk about Trump all the time.”



Despite a series of audible scoffs, Doocy noted a few recent examples, starting with one of the administrations catchphrases for the GOP: “Ultra-MAGA, you guys were criticizing his handling of COVID last week. He replied to your January 6 question a few days ago. Can you tell me, based upon all of that, I didn’t mention anything about Mara-a-Lago?”

Doocy tried again, but Jean-Pierre ducked, leaving the Fox reporter with another approach in citing Biden’s own declaration against him that he’d “be very fortunate if I had [Trump] running against me” in 2024. Jean-Pierre tried to interjected that she wasn’t “going to comment on” the raid despite Doocy’s insistence that “it’s just a quote from the President”

He moved next to whether the White House would declare before the world that they haven’t turned the Justice Department and FBI on its political adversaries (click “expand”):

DOOCY: Is there a concern here that, if you guys don’t say more, then these Republicans, who are accusing this White House of weaponizing the Justice Department, weaponizing the FBI are — that’s going to become the public sentiment if you guys don’t say, once and for all, “we are not going that.

JEAN-PIERRE: First — first of all, we’re just not going to comment on the Department of Justice investigation. 

DOOCY: Ok, I’ll make it simpler.


DOOCY – Is the White House using the FBI and Justice Department against political enemies?

JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been very clear from before he was elected — very clear on this — hold on — 

DOOCY: It’s just —

JEAN-PIERRE: — throughout his time in office.

DOOCY: — he’s President now. It was a quote that I had heard. We will be playing the quote tonight at six o’clock. Are the FBI and Justice Department being used against political enemies by this administration?

JEAN PIERRE: Peter is a believer in the rule-of-law. The President is a strong believer in independence of the Department of Justice.

DOOCY: That’s — that’s a yes or no. Just is —

JEAN-PIERRE: No, that’s — 

DOOCY: — the White House —

JEAN-PIERRE: — no, it’s a yes — a no for you. You are correct. You may not like it, but I’m answering the question.

DOOCY: — I’m just —

JEAN-PIERRE: and I’m — nope, nope, nope. I’m answering the question.

DOOCY: Just trying to figure out what’s happening.

JEAN-PIERRE: And I’m telling you that we are not going to comment on a criminal investigation. He has been clear. The President was very clear when I presented his views back in January 2021 on the Department of Justice. On a current criminal investigation, we aren’t going to speak from the White House.

Doocy closed on a somewhat humorous note as he wanted to know “[w]ho around here decided that Americans were crying out for more interaction from the IRS” and whether they thought it would “be popular when the 87,000 new employees hired by the IRS go around and start auditing people to pay for the Inflation Reduction Act.”

In a response certain to come back to bite her, Jean-Pierre insisted the new employees would only target “those earning over $400,000” a year.

Both before and after Doocy, the AP’s Zeke Miller, liberal partisan Mary Bruce of ABC, CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy, and AFP’s Sebastian Smith used their unsuccessful attempts with Jean-Pierre to question whether the raid could pose problems for the credibility of the DOJ and FBI (click “expand”):

MILLER: Is the White House at all concerned given the domestic political climate, but also the signal that it sends to the rest of the world that the Department of Justice carried out this sort of operation on a former President that it could even be — create the appearance of politically-motivated prosecution?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, first off — and you’ve heard us say this times at this podium, you’ve heard the President say this the Justice Department conducts investigations, independently. They handle all matters related to law enforcement. Any ongoing investigations are too important for us not to discuss. The President Biden’s stance on the issue has not changed since his campaign. He believes in the rule of law, in the independence of Justice — of the Justice Department investigations — that those investigations should be free from political influence and he has held that commitment as President. I also want to remind you all of what he said on January 7th, 2021 when he then nominated Merrick Garland to be the attorney general and I quote: “We need to restore the honor, the integrity of the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation that has been so badly damaged. And so, many former leaders of that department in both parties have so testified and that — and stated that. Let me be very clear with those leaving this department about who they will serve. You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. You are not loyal to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice.” So, I would refer you to the Department of Justice. 





PORTNOY: Let’s talk about the reaction of people to yesterday’s events. Does the President that the FBI’s legitimacy and decision-making in the way that it handled this is on the line. 


SMITH: So, I’m not asking you to comment on the Justice Department side of this, obviously, because I know you’re out. But politically, is the President — who’s the country’s leader — is he confident that he has a plan to address the way that a lot of Americans — maybe even a very large number of Americans — are being told and may now believe that Donald Trump is being persecuted, that the Deep State’s coming after you, that the IRS and the FBI are corrupt. This is all very common stuff. Evidently, many people believe this. According to him, he’s the leader for the entire country. Is he able to handle this?

Though she didn’t tie it to the raid (and instead suggested there’s “a lot of work” left), Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann indirectly touched on credibility and divisions: “The President campaigned on binding up the wounds of the country and restoring norms and I’m wondering two years in if the President believes that he has made progress in restoring the American public’s faith in federal institutions?”

Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba did the opposite in terms of subtly, leaving even the inept Jean-Pierre in position to deflect: “[Y]You stated that President Obama believes in the rule and application of the law. Does he believe in the rule of law when it comes to the former President or even his son?”

As for acts of liberal activism and cheerleading, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins sought insight into how Biden “plan[s] to use the string of wins that he’s had lately and that Democrats had lately to turn it to a sense of momentum, not just for his own low approval ratings, but also to help Democrats in the midterm elections.”

Andrew Feinberg (of the) was on the raid Independent wanted to know if the White House and relevant agencies were “preparing for possible violence” in retaliation.

Click here to see the transcript of August 9’s briefing.

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