Psaki mocks Trump’s CPAC address as a mere ‘performance’

The White House is insisting that President Biden is not concerned about former President Donald Trump’s political return this weekend as his predecessor prepares to headline the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“I wouldn’t say he’s thought a lot about the former president’s visit to — I was going to say ‘performance,’ maybe that’s appropriate — at CPAC,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, taking a jab at the 45th chief executive.

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Trump is set to speak at the conservative calendar staple this Sunday in Orlando, Florida, as he slowly reemerges since Biden’s inauguration and following the death of radio host ally Rush Limbaugh last week. Aides have said Trump will use Sunday’s speech to cast himself as the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee while criticizing Biden, particularly over the new administration’s immigration policies.

Psaki countered that Biden is focused on helping the country rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, but she appeared to be open to the possibility of a response, depending on the content of Trump’s remarks.

“There’s been more than enough time spent on former President Trump, and so, if there’s not a reason to do it, we’re probably not going to be adding more commentary on it,” she said.

During Tuesday’s wide-ranging briefing, Psaki confirmed that the United States would announce how it planned to deal with Russia over the suspected government hack and the poisoning of President Vladimir Putin’s political opponent, Alexei Navalny, within “weeks, not months.”

Psaki also stood by Neera Tanden, the embattled White House Office of Management and Budget director nominee, saying that Tanden had been calling senators in the hope of earning their support.

The nomination of the former president and CEO of the liberal Center of American Progress think tank is in trouble after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia released a statement last week outlining why he will not back her. His statement referenced her tone as a partisan, including on Twitter. Several GOP senators followed suit, leaving the White House a tight margin to get the nomination approved on the Senate floor.

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Psaki, too, didn’t directly answer questions regarding whether Biden endorsed Manchin’s compromise proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $11 in two years rather than $15 in five years. The latter is being pushed by socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats. Biden needs both men if he wants to pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package through the Senate, given the chamber’s 50-50 seat deadlock.

“The president proposed $15 because that’s what he feels is right for the American worker,” Psaki said.