Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich was taken aback when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki threw a question back in her face in a tone that bordered on withering.
President Joe Biden has been under pressure to include Russian oil and gas sales in the measures being used as punishment for the brutal invasion of Ukraine currently underway. Administration officials including the president and Ms. Psaki have said such measures are on the table.
But others have suggested increasing domestic oil production and criticized Biden over his decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.
At a White House press briefing Thursday afternoon, Ms. Heinrich pressed Psaki about Russian energy and the possibility of granting additional domestic energy leases. The exchange got contentious when Psaki adopted a mocking deadpan to pick apart one of Heinrich’s questions:
MS. HEINRICH: On gas, you just said that, you know, less supply raises prices, it’s not in our strategic interest to reduce the supply. We also know, you know, the president as recently as yesterday talked about increasing domestic manufacturing to bring down prices on inflated items like goods. So why not apply the same logic to energy and increase domestic production here?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are 9000 approved oil leases that the oil companies are not tapping into currently. So I would ask them that question.
MS. HEINRICH: Is there nothing that the administration can do to get those providers back to pre-pandemic levels?
MS. PSAKI: Do you think the oil companies don’t have enough money to drill on the places that have been preapproved?
MS. HEINRICH: Just asking.
MS. PSAKI: I would, I would point that question to them and we can talk about it more tomorrow when you learn more.
MS. HEINRICH: Do you think that opening the Keystone pipeline and having more energy-friendly policies might do that?
MS. PSAKI: The Keystone Pipeline has never been operational. It would take years for that to have any impact. I know a number of members of Congress have suggested that, but that is a proposed solution that has no relationship or would have no impact on what the problem is. We hear all agree is an issue.
MS. HEINRICH: So during those years where it would take to bring down prices, as you’re saying, we should just continue to buy Russian oil?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Jacqui, I think you’re familiar with a number of steps. We’ve taken a historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (crosstalk) Well, let me finish what we can do over time and what this is all a reminder of in the president’s view. Is there a need to reduce our reliance on oil. The Europeans need to do that. We need to do that, if we do more to invest in clean energy, more to invest in other sources of energy. That’s exactly what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future. We welcome any Republicans from joining us in that effort. Go ahead.
MS. HEINRICH: As long as we’re buying Russian oil, though, aren’t we financing the war?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Jacqui, again, it’s only about 10 percent of what we’re importing. I’ve not made any announcement about any decision on that front. But our objective here and our focus is making sure that any step we take maximizes the impact on President Putin and minimizes it on the American people. And anyone who’s calling for an end to the carveout should be clear that that would raise prices.
Watch above via C-Span.
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