AP Reporter Shreds Biden Official for 'Taking Credit' for Trump Admin's Work
Matt Lee unloads on State Department spokesman: 'All of this work was done' by Trump!
A Joe Biden official was shredded during a Monday press conference by an Associated Press reporter who accused the State Department spokesman of "taking credit" for work done by President Donald Trump's administration.
Spox Ned Price was drawn into a heated exchange with AP's Matt Lee, who asked if the Biden admin was passing off Trump's accomplishments as their own.
Price started the briefing by telling reporters that America is seeing progress from European companies moving out of the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
In a report required by Congress, the State Department named 18 mostly Western companies that would not be subject to sanctions.
The back-and-forth came when Price said multiple companies have “engaged in good faith efforts to wind down activities” related to the controversial pipeline.
“This is a list that includes over 15 entities and it demonstrates that the legislative goals and our actions are having a good effect,” Price said.
“And I think that demonstrates that our strategy, including the legislative strategy, the strategy that, of course, Congress has been behind, has been working to good effect,” Price said in reference to the Russia-backed pipeline.
“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 and security goals.”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit disingenuous to claim credit for the 18 companies winding down?” AP reporter Matt Lee fired back at Price.
"All of this work was done in the previous administration, and you guys have only been … in office for a month. Right?" Lee blasted.
"Are you telling me that in the last four weeks, these 18 companies all of a sudden decide to say, ‘Oh my God! We better not do anything with Nord Stream 2.'”
“All of that, you guys are taking credit for stuff that the previous administration did!” Lee continued. “No?”
"Matt, I am speaking for the Department of State,” Price claimed.
"The people who have been working this, the people who are working this now, we’re the same people a month ago, were the same people three months ago, three months ago.”
Price publicly named just one firm that would be subject to US sanctions - Russian tuna company KVT-Rus, which he said had been engaged in piping activities for Nord Stream 2.
However, the Biden administration has also pledged a more cooperative approach with European powers, including Germany, which argues that the project is vital for its supply of energy despite concerns on Russia.
The Biden administration on Friday added a layer of sanctions to the Russian vessel and the shipowner for their work on the gas pipeline.
But the move was immediately criticized as inadequate by senior Republican lawmakers who noted the administration had not penalized any additional companies or individuals for work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
They also said the new sanctions were redundant as they duplicate existing penalties that the Trump administration had imposed on the pipelaying ship Fortuna and its owner KVT-Rus in January.
In an op-ed published in Politico, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba warned that Russia was "dangerously close" to completing Nord Stream 2.
If it succeeds, Ukraine will be convinced that the West did not care about their security, they wrote.
"We call on US President Joe Biden to use all means at his disposal to prevent the project from completion," they wrote.
Lawmakers of Trump's Republican Party, in turn, accused Biden of reneging on his pledges to get tougher on Russia.
"This report is a gift to the Russians and their ongoing efforts to undermine European energy security, destabilize Ukraine and facilitate corruption and malign influence throughout Europe," said Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Risch said last week that he is "deeply troubled and disappointed by the State Department's report on Nord Stream 2 activities and their decision to forgo additional sanctions on other entities involved in its construction.
"Congress has passed multiple bipartisan laws regarding this project, and specifically broadened the mandatory sanctions to include the types of pipe-laying activities occurring right now.
"The administration's decision to ignore these activities demands an immediate explanation."