In the wake of the first Biden-run press conference in months, Jen Psaki, the White Hour Press Secretary, was forced to rush in and start damage control as she walked back the president’s extremely confusing claims that were issues about the potential illegitimacy of upcoming elections.
“[Let’s] be clear: [President Biden] was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted,” claimed Psaki in a tweet first thing the morning after Biden’s press conference. “He was explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president asked them to do after the 2020 election: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact. The Big Lie is putting our democracy at risk. We’re fighting to protect it.”
Psaki then doubled down on the claim during her first-ever segment on “America’s Newsroom” by Fox News on Thursday morning.
“I’ve talked to the president a lot about this, and he absolutely is not predicting that the 2022 elections would be illegitimate,” Psaki stated to Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer, co-hosts of the show. “The point he was raising was both that in 2020, even amongst challenging circumstances, efforts to suppress the votes in the midst of a pandemic there was record turnout. Democrats and Republicans, record turnout to go to the polls.”
“And the point he was making is that the former president asked a number of states, seven or more in fact, to overturn the outcome of the election,” stated Psaki. “Now obviously, if there’s an effort to do that, we’ve got to fight against that. That’s what our commitment is to doing. But he was not making a prediction. He has confidence in the American people, and we’re going to do everything we can to protect people’s rights.”
.@DanaPerino: "I'm curious if you'll continue to say the 2022 elections will be illegitimate?"
Psaki: "First I talked to the president a lot about this & he absolutely is not predicting that the 2022 elections would be illegitimate." pic.twitter.com/8qsCkisPW1
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 20, 2022
At multiple instances throughout the press conference, however, Biden seemed to be implying that any future elections may not, in fact, be legitimate.
“Speaking of voting rights legislation, if this isn’t passed, do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate?” one journalist questioned.
“Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election. And it’s one thing — look, maybe I’m just being too much of an optimist. Remember how we thought not that many people were going to show up to vote in the middle of a pandemic? We had the highest voter turnout in the history of the United States of America,” claimed Biden. “Well, I think if, in fact — no matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you’re going to see them willing to stand in line and — and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote. I think you’re going to see the people who they’re trying to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice that needs to make in order to change the law back to what it should be.”
“A moment ago, you were asked whether or not you believed that we would have free and fair elections in 2022 if some of these state legislatures reformed their voting protocols. You said that it depends. Do you — do you think that they would in any way be illegitimate?” questioned another journalist a bit later.
“Oh, yeah, I think it easily could be — be illegitimate,” Biden responded. When the journalist clarified that the question was regarding “2022, sir — the midterm elections,” Biden then adamantly confirmed that he did mean 2022.
“Oh, 2022. I mean, imagine if those attempts to say that the count was not legit. You have to recount it and we’re not going to count — we’re going to discard the following votes. I mean, sure, but — I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit. It’s — the increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these — these reforms passed,” concluded Biden. “But I don’t think you’re going to see — you’re not going to see me and I don’t think you’re going to see the Democratic Party give up on — coming back and assuming that the attempt fails today.”