In Tuesday’s press conference, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened by discussing gas prices, the newly signed CHIPS Act and — perhaps especially — the administration’s investments in Africa.
Jean-Pierre hyped up the U.S. state secretary’s recent visit to South Africa… but she ignored questions from certain African reporters.
The reporters weren’t happy.
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“The strategy articulates our new vision for a 21st century U.S.-African partnership,” Jean-Pierre said of the State Department’s proposal for Africa. “It recognizes the tremendous positive opportunity that exists to advance shared interests along our African partners, and it reframes and recognizes Africa’s importance to U.S. national security interests. This strategy also parallels many of the themes we look forward to addressing in December at the U.S.-African leaders’ summit.”
Naturally, some African reporters has questions… but Jean-Pierre pushed them aside.
“One question for Africa, Karine,” the Angolan television anchor Hariana Veras said, according to Mediaite.“Karine, one question for Africa.”
Simon Ateba, the White House correspondent for Today News Africa, appeared to be asking for a question as well.
Jean-Pierre told them, “I’m gonna come back guys.”
At first, Veras thanked Jean-Pierre for acknowledging her… but then she lost her patience.
“Why do we always have to beg for questions,” Veras asked, according to Mediaite. “Africans deserve questions as well, Karine! Come on!… Can I have a question, Karine? One question. One question for Africa.”
Jean-Pierre called on someone else over these African reporters.
“Guys, give me a second,” Jean-Pierre told the crowd. She told another journalist, “Can you start again, because someone was yelling over you?”
Jean-Pierre eventually called on Ateba… more than 50 minutes into the press conference.
Ateba asked two questions: one about Africa and one about the Justice Department.
The new U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa,” Ateba asked. ‘That strategy [hasn’t said] how the U.S. would counter China and Russia in Africa. Why is that?”
“So, I can say this. We want to make sure that — One of the things that we made sure about this, our strategy — It had a different approach, a unique approach on how we are doing it. So seek to engage not only government leaders but a wide range of African and U.S. stakeholders, such as youth business, civil society, and the diaspora. As you know, there’s going to be a summit here in December,” “There’s going to be many issues to talk about, and as we lay out our strategy for Africa. It’s going to be national security we’ll talk about national security for Africa. We’ll talk about food security. We’ll talk about COVID. We’ll talk about other items as well. That’s going to be important to both global challenges. That’s going to be important to African nations and the U.S.”
Ateba also asked about the Justice Department’s handling of both the FBI raid into former President Donald Trump and the federal investigation into Hunter Biden.
Specifically, Ateba asked whether the president believes that “the rule of law” applies to his own son or only to the former President.
Jean-Pierre declined to answer. She referred Ateba to the Justice Department’s spokesperson.
“I don’t have anything more to share, Simon. I’ve said all that I can about the topic,” Jean-Pierre said. “I’m not going to comment anymore on both of the topics that you just mentioned. The Department of Justice is independent with their criminal investigation. The president has been very clear on that, and we — I would refer you to the Department of Justice on those two topics.”
Jean-Pierre shot down almost all questions about Monday’s FBI raid. However, she explicitly denied that the White House had was given advance notice.
“That did not happen,” she said. “The Justice Department conducts investigations independently, and we leave any law enforcement matters to them. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on any ongoing criminal investigations. I can say that President Biden has been unequivocal since the campaign. He believes in the rule of law and the independence of the Justice Department.”
Ateba last made headlines in December for heckling Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, Jen Psaki. Ateba has struggled to pry answers out of both Psaki and Jean-Pierre.
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The Horn editorial team