NBC News White House correspondent Mike Memoli asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s call with a golf course-bound ex-President Donald Trump is an “indication of bad faith” in the debt limit negotiations.
On Thursday, Trump told a reporter on the golf course that he’d just spoken to McCarthy, showing them his phone.
“It’s going to be an interesting thing — it’s not going to be that easy,” Trump said, and added “They’ve spent three years wasting money on nonsense. Republicans don’t want to see that, so I understand where they’re at.”
At Thursday’s briefing, debt limit talks were once again the dominant topic, and Memoli did not veer from the subject, asking about Trump’s call with McCarthy.
Jean-Pierre tried to walk the line between expressing urgency and presuming the good faith of the deal-making that has continued as the deadline comes perilously near:
MIKE MEMOLI: The former President is in the area. He was spotted on —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Which one?
MIKE MEMOLI: Former President Trump.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. There’s a few formers out there —
MIKE MEMOLI: Yes, there are.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — so you have be clear.
MIKE MEMOLI: He was spotted across the river at the LIV Golf Tournament that’s coming up this weekend here in the area. And a reporter from the New York Times covering the tournament spoke with him, and the former President showed, in fact, that he had recently spoken with Speaker McCarthy, said that they had a “little, quick talk,” and he predicted that the debt talks were going to be — getting a deal would be harder than people were expecting.
I wonder if the White House has a reaction to the fact that the current Speaker is speaking to the former President at the time his team is talking to the current President.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the Speaker is allowed to speak to whoever he chooses and wants to speak to. So I’m not going to, certainly, dive into that or step in — step on that.
What I can speak to is what the Speaker has said very publicly himself just this week: that default is off the table.
We are continuing to have productive conversations. Negotiations continue.
Again, I just mentioned how the — the two teams met this morning virtually at 11:30. That is a good sign. That is a good sign that those talks are certainly continuing.
And, look, we have said we think there’s a path forward. There’s a path forward to a bipartisan, reasonable budget agreement. And — and as long as both sides understand that no one is going to get everything that it wants, then we can get there. We can get there.
This is about the American people. This is about American families, making sure that we are meeting their needs. And that — that should be the focus.
MIKE MEMOLI: So, that’s not an indication of bad faith if the Speaker is either receiving —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, all I —
MIKE MEMOLI: — or placing a call —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean —
MIKE MEMOLI: — to the former President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I can’t — I don’t know what the Speaker said to the former President. I cannot speak to that. You would have to speak — ask the Speaker directly.
What I can speak to is what we heard from — direct from the Speaker directly and what his team — what his team is doing. It is co- — we’re continuing to have these good-faith conversations. That’s what’s important. The negotiations continue. And so I think that’s what’s important here.
I — I cannot speak to a conversation — a hearsay conversation that is occurring — that occurred. I just can’t speak to that.
Watch above via The White House.
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