You don’t see Democrats get their feet held to the fire much by reporters, so enjoy this:
AP reporter Matt Lee didn’t pull any punches when he called out Biden Spox Ned Flanders Price for taking credit for the work the Trump administration did in stalling the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline from being built.
Below is the initial question on Nord Stream 2:
QUESTION: If I could follow up on Nord Stream 2? So you said you had consulted with your allies ahead of the report, but does it concern you at all that Ukrainian and Polish foreign ministers wrote an op-ed calling for further action? And what is your response to Republicans who say this just doesn’t go far enough to actually halt the pipeline?
MR PRICE: Well, I think I said before that we will continue to monitor activity that could lead to additional penalties, including sanctions, but I think it would be wrong to think of sanctions as the only tool in our toolbox here.
But the other element that I would stress – and I said this earlier – is that yes, we did announce the designation of KVT-RUS, but the part I don’t want to get buried is that the report that we sent to Congress last Friday also includes a list of entities that have engaged in good faith efforts to wind down activities related to Nord Stream 2 during this relevant time period. Of course, those entities are not subject to U.S. sanctions precisely because they have taken these good faith steps, steps in the right direction. There are 15 – there are over 15 of them and I think that demonstrates that our strategy, including the legislative strategy, the strategy that of course Congress is – has been behind has been working to good effect.
So we’ll continue to work closely with Germany, we’ll continue to work closely with our other allies and partners in Europe to uphold Europe’s own stated energy security goals.
The “our strategy” portion I bolded above is what set reporter Matt Lee off:
LEE: Ned, don’t you think it’s a bit disingenuous to claim credit for the 18 companies winding down? All of this work was done under the previous administration.You guys have only been in a month for — I mean, only been in office for a month, right? Are you telling me that in the last four weeks these 18 companies all of a sudden decided to say, “Oh my God, we better not do anything with Nord Stream 2. All of that you’re taking – You guys are taking credit for stuff that the previous administration did, right? No? Yes or no?
MR PRICE: I am speaking for the Department of State.
LEE: Okay. All right.
MR PRICE: The people who have been working this and the people who are working this now were the same people a month ago or the same people —
LEE: Three months ago?
MR PRICE: Three months ago.
LEE: Four months ago?
LEE: Okay, all right. So I just don’t want to – I just —
I’ve included more from the transcript below than what the video contains, just for more context:
OTHER REPORTER: Just one following up on that? So the administration is committed to ensuring that that pipeline is not completed?
MR PRICE: Our position on this has not changed. To Matt’s point, we have the same position that the previous administration had. It is a bad deal, it is bad for Europe, it is in contravention of Europe’s own stated energy goals.
OTHER REPORTER: Is it a bad commercial deal or a bad geopolitical deal or a moral deal?
MR PRICE: We’re talking in terms of geopolitics. I think we are concerned about the influence that it would allow Russia and the leverage that it would give the Russian regime over some of our closest allies and partners in Europe.
I love how passionately Lee called out Price and forced him to acknowledge the fact that this work was done three and four months ago under the Trump administration. What’s amazing about this is that it’s something we hardly ever seen with this very partisan Democratic news media. We have written articles about Matt Lee doing similar things in the past though and I believe he is, at least some of the time, one of the better reporters.
MORE CONTEXT: The reason why this whole Nord Stream 2 pipeline has become an issue for the Biden administration is because they are essentially winking and nodding at Putin to go ahead and finish building it. Price referenced a report that they sent to Congress last week and Ted Cruz blasted it a few days ago as an abdication of their duty to impose sanctions mandated by Congress:
“The State Department’s report on Nord Stream 2 is an abdication of the Biden administration’s legal responsibilities to impose sanctions mandated by Congress, of public commitments made by Secretary Blinken and other State Department officials to block the pipeline, and of the president’s responsibility to ensure the national security of the United States.
“For the last two years, members of both parties from Congress worked with the Trump administration to fashion a bipartisan, bicameral, whole-of-government policy that successfully stalled the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Publicly available tracking information indicates that Russian President Putin has successfully revived the project and is now within months of finishing it. The Biden administration is signaling it is willing to let the pipeline be completed with catastrophic implications for American national security and for the energy security of our European allies.
“This report names just two Russian entities, both of which had already been sanctioned. It names just one vessel, the Fortuna. The report names none of the other ships or the legal entities that are linked to renewed, ongoing construction.
“There is no coherent legal justification for this report. Congress has mandated sanctions not just against vessels installing pipes for Nord Stream 2, but against vessels that engage in related pipelaying activities, insurers of those vessels, and companies providing certification services. If the State Department has found that the Fortuna is engaged in sanctionable activity, then the law requires those related entities also be named and sanctioned.
“There is also no coherent national security justification. Without immediate and strong action, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be completed. Our allies across Europe will be subject to Putin’s blackmail and aggression, NATO’s ability to act will be severely constrained, and billions will flow into the Kremlin’s coffers.
“Over the past few years Democrats have been ceaseless in calling for ever-stronger measures sanctioning and cutting off Russia. It is startling to see the Biden administration begin by handing Putin a victory he has been building towards for over a decade.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Biden administration in reversing the deeply disturbing policies and implications of this report.”
Winking and nodding, just like they are doing with China’s human rights abuses.