After citing a secret F.B.I. file, an anonymous I.R.S. whistleblower and a Harvard-Harris poll earlier this month that found 53 percent of the public were suspicious of the first family’s ties to foreign powers, The New York Post’s Steven Nelson got to his question.
‘So what do you say to the majority of Americans who believe that the president is himself corrupt?’ he asked.
‘Jesus,’ was White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s response, muttered off camera as she stared at her feet on the briefing room podium.
That was not the official administration response, however.
The famously unflappable National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had the lectern and the microphone.
‘Wow,’ was his momentarily flustered answer, as he shook his head before regaining his balance.
‘The president has spoken to this … the president has spoken to this.
‘And there’s nothing to these claims.
‘And as for the whistleblower issue that you talked about and the document, I believe the FBI has spoken to that. You’re gonna have to go to them on that.’
Questions about the president’s son, his foreign business dealings, awkward emails from his abandoned laptop, and even a lucrative foray into the art world are frequently met with weary resignation from officials in the White House briefing room.
Those feelings were on full display midway through the briefing when things took an awkward turn after a routine question about artificial intelligence.
Nelson, standing at the back of the room, deployed an old trick to ask a question. When Jean-Pierre pointed to a journalist nearby, he simply started delivering his query as if the press secretary’s finger had been angled at him.