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Karine Jean-Pierre rushes to Biden’s defense after president laughed at story of fentanyl deaths

By Sarah May
|
March 5, 2023

President Joe Biden is taking heat for what many claim was a flippant, dismissive response to the grief of a mother who lost two sons to fentanyl overdoses, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has rushed to the rescue to claim that her boss was actually displaying sympathy, as the Daily Mail reports.

In the wake of the controversy over Biden's response to a reporter's question about the mother's tragic story, Jean-Pierre asserted that it was all much ado about nothing, as the president's words had simply been “mischaracterized.”

Mother's plight laid bare

The firestorm began when Michigan mother Rebecca Kiessling appeared before Congress to provide testimony on the fentanyl to which she believes there has been an insufficient response.

Kiessling recounted the manner in which she lost her two sons, Caleb, 20, and Kyler, 18, in July of 2020 from fentanyl poisoning after they took what they believed to be Percocet pills, but which actually contained a lethal amount of fentanyl, as the Detroit News reported.

Arguing that the Biden administration's lax border policy is exacerbating the fentanyl epidemic that claimed her sons, Kiessling said, “This should not be politicized. It's not about race. Fentanyl doesn't care about race. You talk about welcoming those crossing our border seeking protection? You're welcoming drug dealers across our border. You're giving them protection. You're not protecting our children.”

“I don't use the term 'drug overdose because this was not an overdose,” Kiessling added. “This was murder. This is a war. Act like it. Do something.”

Greene concurs, Biden chuckles

Reacting to Kiessling's testimony was Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), who also laid blame on the federal government's doorstep for allowing the flow of illicit drugs to gain steam at the southern border, as Fox News noted.

Speaking during the hearing at which Kiessling appeared, Greene said, “This government has failed you, and it's failing American families, and it's failing, most of all, it's failing our children and our young people.”

Greene went on to say on Twitter, “Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son's murders because of the Biden administration's refusal to secure our border and stop the cartels from murdering Americans everyday by Chinese fentanyl.

It did not take long for the congresswoman's comments to elicit chuckles from the commander in chief, however, who declined to accept the underlying premise presented by Kiessling and Greene. When asked specifically about the issue, Biden replied through laughter, “Isn't [Marjorie Taylor Greene] amazing? Oof,” also pointing out that the “fentanyl [Kiessling's sons] took came during the last administration.”

Jean-Pierre attempts cleanup

In response to Biden's apparent indifference, Kiessling posted a video about which she later spoke to the Washington Examiner, saying, “I was completely disturbed. I had to respond. He still needs to apologize to all of us.”

However, based on Jean-Pierre's words from the White House press room, a mea culpa is likely not on the cards. “When it comes to this president, I believe the American people know who he is. They have watched him go through grief.”

Jean-Pierre further suggested that Biden “expressed sympathy for [Kiessling] last night. And his heart goes out to any person, any person who has to go through that type of trauma, that type of hurt.”

The press secretary also appeared to take aim at Greene, saying that Biden's “words are being mischaracterized by someone who is regularly discredited for things that she says that are really conspiracy theories.”

Presidential reaction panned

It was not just Kiessling and Greene who were outraged by Biden's reaction to questioning on the topic of fentanyl trafficking at the border, with Republican Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) retweeting a video of the president's comments and writing, “Shameful and embarrassing...”

The editorial board of the New York Post pulled no punches in blasting the commander in chief not just over his inappropriate laughing, but also about the policy decisions he was essentially attempting to defend.

“Just remember, America: If your kids overdose on fentanyl, President Biden will laugh about it to score cheap political points,” the Post board declared.

Underscoring the open borders policies on which the president has insisted, and which have caused an explosion in the deadly fentanyl pouring into the country, the board wistfully posited that “[m]aybe, just maybe, getting caught chuckling at the carnage will embarrass our president enough to finally pull the plug on his border insecurity machine.”