White House press secretary Jen Psaki tersely cut off the line of questioning Wednesday when The Post pressed her on criticism that President Biden is himself guilty of feeding into what he’s decried as “systemic racism” in the United States.
In light of Biden’s comments after ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdicts for murdering George Floyd, The Post asked Psaki at her daily press briefing about Biden’s own role in establishing federal laws in the 1980s and ’90s that disproportionately jailed minorities.
“Well, I would say that the president’s — one of the president’s core objectives is addressing racial injustice in this country, not just through his rhetoric, but through his actions,” Psaki said.
“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passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice to address long-outdated policies and to ask his leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years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.”
Pressed further on whether Biden believes that “it’s important to accept his own culpability for setting up the system,” Psaki replied, “I think I’ve answered your question” and moved on to another reporter.
Biden described the US as systemically racist in an address to the nation Tuesday night after the Chauvin verdict.
“It was a murder in the full light of day. And it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to,” Biden said in an evening speech at the White House.
Biden authored the 1994 crime law that imposed a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a third serious drug conviction — sending some people to prison for life for marijuana dealing.
That law also incentivized states to build more prisons. In the 1980s, Biden led the push for multiple harsh drug laws, including one that in 1986 imposed a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine, which was more commonly used by blacks, and powder cocaine, more often used by wealthy whites.
Psaki also declined to say at the briefing if Biden will honor his campaign-trail pledge to release “everyone” in prison for marijuana.
She also fended off reporter questions about how Biden can pass the policing reform bill named for Floyd without compromise with Republicans, who are pushing a less far-reaching bill.