White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shot down questions about whether or not President Joe Biden is himself guilty of perpetuating what he has decried as systemic racism.
Biden welcomed ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdicts in the murder of George Floyd. “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” Biden said, adding that systemic racism is “a stain on our nation’s soul”. He said the outcome was “too rare” for the U.S. to turn away now from issues of systemic racism.
During Psaki’s daily press briefing, a New York Post reporter asked about Biden’s role in establishing the 1994 Crime Bill, which resulted in disproportionate incarceration of Black people that persists to this day. Part of the law imposed a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a third serious drug conviction, sending some people to prison for life for dealing marijuana, The New York Post reported.
The 1994 Crime Bill worsened racial inequality in the justice system. Black Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S population but account for 40 percent of the incarcerated, according to PrisonPolicy.org. Biden and others sought political gain from the bill.
During his run for the White House, Biden apologized for portions of his anti-crime legislation. However, “he has largely tried to play down his involvement,” The New York Times reported.
“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, mentioning Biden’s progress in trying to overcome systemic racism.
“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passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice to address long-outdated policies and to ask his leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years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,” she said.
When questioned if 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.
Some called out Psaki on Twitter. “Lazy non-answer”, one user said.
Biden has included people in his administration that had close ties to the controversial bill, such as veteran political operative Ron Klain, his White House chief of staff, The BBC reported. Klain goes way back with Biden — he served as a top aide to Biden since the 1980s.
As The Moguldom Nation founder Jamarlin Martin noted in a tweet, “The more Democrats talk about systemic racism, more people are going to want to match the term with real people and policies. Not a spook, not MAGA, & not a ghost. Joe Biden Selects Crime Bill Engineer And Longtime Advisor Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff”.
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Biden appointed Klain chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee from July 1989 to July 1992. Klain led the committee’s professional staff in its crime-fighting efforts, on matters of constitutional law, drug policy, and major judicial nominations.
As an advisor to Bill Clinton’s U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who served from 1993 to 2001, Klain had his hand in legal and policy matters, coordinating the crafting of the Crime Bill, according to Clinton White House archives.
He also worked with Biden when he was Barack Obama’s vice-president.
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