(TheConservativeNews.org) – White House spokesman John Kirby and Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy tangled during Tuesday’s briefing over a bill President Joe Biden signed on Monday.
After unanimous passage through Congress, Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) COVID declassification bill was signed by Biden Monday. However, the president was certain to add the caveat that he would “declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.”
Doocy raised that point during Tuesday’s White House press briefing and asked National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, “He says he will declassify COVID origins intel except info that would harm national security. Is there a bigger national security threat than something that killed 1.1 million people?”
In response, the NSC spokesman jumped to frame the likelihood of the lab leak theory as a partisan position as he said, “Yeah, I’ve seen some of the commentary on your network about this. The president obviously has to balance transparency with national security, Peter. Of course he does.”
He then contended that after it took nearly a week and a half for Biden to sign the bill into law, the president had always been eager to provide the public with details, belying the need for a bill requiring he do so.
“Right when coming into office, ordered the declassification of what the [Director of National Intelligence] had on COVID origins, ordered the entire intelligence community, and added the Department of Energy to that list at-,” Kirby said.
“Then where is it?” Doocy pointedly asked, noting, “If we’re talking about the beginning of his term-”
“Added the Department of Energy and the National Labs,” Kirby continued. “Told them to keep studying it. We have kept Congress informed. Some of that has to be in a classified way right now.”
“But it’s always a balance between the public’s right to know — right, not need, but right — and our obligation to protect national security,” he added.
Doocy followed up to ask whether the administration wants the Wuhan lab to be the source of Covid.
“Does the White House hope that the lab leak theory is not true?” he asked.
“We don’t have a hope one way or the other, Peter,” Kirby replied. “What we want is the ground truth wherever that takes us, where the science takes you, wherever the facts take you. President Biden wants to know so that he can help work with the scientific community to prevent a future pandemic. There’s no thumb on the scale here, Peter.”
Later, another reporter reminded, “it calls for the declassification within 90 days. Can you give us a better sense as to when the information will actually be declassified? Are we talking about days, weeks, months?”
“I can’t give you a date certain right now. I mean, he just signed this yesterday. We’re mindful of what the legislation says in terms of the 90-day…timeframe. We’ll work on this as diligently as we have been working on it,” Kirby suggested in a manner that did not instill confidence, “and we’ll be fully transparent with the American people — again, appropriately to our own national security concerns. But I couldn’t give you a date certain on the calendar.”
As a follow-up, the spokesman was asked if Biden had formed an opinion on COVID’s origin to which he replied, “No, he has not, nor would he. Why would he? He wouldn’t form an opinion before he has access to, you know, more and more intelligence about — about what happened,” which begged it’s own question: Why after two years in office has the president not seen enough intelligence on the origin of COVID to form an opinion if the declassification of those details could prove a risk to national security?