As something of a COVID-19 wave continues to hit official Washington, D.C., White House press secretary Jen Psaki got herself into a bit of a pickle regarding Vice President Kamala Harris’ apparent violations of mitigation protocols despite being a “close contact” of someone with a positive test result, as Fox News reports.
Last week was an active one for the vice president, filled with procedural and ceremonial duties related to the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, and her seeming disregard for the type of coronavirus rules her party has so aggressively tried to impose on the citizenry raised more than a few eyebrows.
Ms. Psaki explains
As Fox News noted, Psaki was asked by network correspondent Peter Doocy on Friday to elaborate on why Harris was seen embracing Jackson maskless, despite having already acknowledged close contact with her communications director, Jamal Simmons, who had a positive COVID-19 test result earlier in the week.
Brushing off concerns about Harris’ apparent breach of protocol, Psaki declared that the vice president had experienced an “emotional moment” while honoring Jackson, but “was socially distanced for 99.9% of the event today, and added the additional excuse that the hug at issue took place outdoors.
Not satisfied with that answer, Doocy asked, “Does the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] say that people who are in close contact can give people hugs outside?”
“We know, Peter, that outside you can benefit significantly being outside,” Psaki flailed, also claiming that Harris had been wearing a mask inside the White House before heading out to the Rose Garden, where the close encounter with Jackson happened.
Psaki’s attempt to downplay Harris’ maskless hug by observing the outdoor setting in which it occurred was, however, substantially undermined in short order when a video shared to President Joe Biden’s Twitter account depicted Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, first lady Jill Biden, and some of Jackson’s relatives all standing around the president’s desk, all unmasked.
Yesterday, we witnessed a truly historic moment. pic.twitter.com/bHVifYyXyw
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 9, 2022
Harris’ maskless appearances in the Oval Office and the Rose Garden come after she presided over the Senate on Thursday, again without a face covering, despite Simmons having tested positive just one day prior, a scenario which Politico’s Alex Thompson noted would trigger CDC guidance calling for her to wear a mask for 10 days due to her status as a close contact of a confirmed case.
In attempting to explain away that particular faux pas, Psaki said of Harris, “She was playing an important role in confirming or overseeing the confirmation of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court,” adding that the vice president was “socially distanced from people for the vast, vast majority of her time overseeing that confirmation yesterday.”
The hypocritical beat goes on
Underscoring the “do as I say, not as I do” approach taken by Democrats throughout the pandemic was the added wrinkle this week that came when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also tested positive for COVID-19, yet was present at a White House ceremony at which she exchanged cheek kisses with Biden himself.
Engaging in a staggering display of mental gymnastics to declare further adherence to mask or distancing protocols unnecessary for the president, Psaki said the CDC’s standard for a “close contact” involves 15 minutes of contact [with an infected person] within a set period of time” and that the Biden-Pelosi kiss “did not meet that bar,” in yet another glaring reminder that in the eyes of Democrats, the rules really are just for the little people.