White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday insisted that President Biden was not casting doubts on the legitimacy of the 2022 midterms when he said the elections could “easily be illegitimate.”
“He absolutely is not predicting that the 2022 elections would be illegitimate,” Ms. Psaki said, adding the clarification that it would be illegitimate if states acted as former President Donald Trump demanded after the 2020 election.
“The point he was making was that the former president asked a number of states — seven or more in fact — to overturn the outcome of an election. Now obviously if there is an effort to do that, we’ve got to fight against that. That’s what our commitment is to doing,” she said on Fox News. “He was not making a prediction. He has confidence in the American people.”
It was Ms. Psaki’s second attempt to clean up the president’s remarks at a press conference Wednesday. She also issued a statement about it earlier Thursday.
“Let’s be clear: @POTUS was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted,” she said in the statement.
During the nearly two-hour press conference, Mr. Biden refused to say if the 2022 election results would be legitimate without the passage of Democrats’ sweeping changes to the nation’s voting laws, which died Wednesday night in a Senate Republican filibuster.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be legit,” Mr. Biden said. “The increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed.”
He also said that it “depends” when asked if he thinks the upcoming election results will be legitimate if the election reforms don’t pass.
“Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s plan to force through the partisan election bills by blowing up the filibuster rules also failed when Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refused to go along with it. The president needed all 50 Senate Democrats on board to change the longstanding filibuster rules that require 60 votes for most bills to survive in the 100-member chamber.