At Monday’s White House daily briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was called out for the hypocrisy of then candidate Joe Biden calling travel bans imposed by former President Donald Trump 'xenophobic,' travel bans which Biden himself just re-imposed after Trump lifted them.
The reported asked pointedly, "When president Trump was imposing travel restrictions in March, specifically on China, then candidate Biden called it xenophobic. And fear-mongering. So now president Biden is putting travel restrictions on people coming in from other countries. What word do we use to describe that?"
Psaki responded, "I don't think that's quite a fair articulation."
Trump’s travel restrictions went into effect on January 31. The following day, Biden tweeted: "We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency."
Psaki tried to justify the comments, parrying to non-coronavirus related travel restrictions that were imposed for national security. "The president has been clear that he felt the Muslim ban was in a phobic. He overturned the Muslim ban."
Psaki then seemed to stumble in her response. "Uh, he also though has, uh, supported, um, and he himself even before, or we did, I should say, even before he was inaugurated, steps, uh, travel restrictions in order to keep the American people safe, uh, to ensure that, uh, we are getting the pandemic under control."
However, Biden himself criticized Trump for imposing travel bans.
"A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it."
Psaki then claimed that Biden was critical of Trump for "having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions. And he conveyed at the time and more recently the importance of having a multi-faceted approach, mass squaring vaccine distribution funding in order to get a hundred million shots in the arms of Americans in the first hundred."