Asked at Tuesday’s White House press briefing whether Biden had made a decision on keeping the Space Force or changing its scope, Psaki said with a smile, “Wow, Space Force, it’s the plane of today,” apparently likening the query to a January 22 question on the president’s plans for the color scheme of Air Force One. For the record, the plane answer was that Biden “has not spent a moment” thinking about the paint job for his presidential aircraft.
Psaki agreed to ask the White House’s Space Force contact for an answer, though she added, “I’m not sure who that is.” Nor was it clear why a Space Force contact would have better information than the White House press secretary on any decisions that Biden may have made about the military branch.
Former president Donald Trump touted the December 2019 founding of the Space Force, the sixth branch of the US military, as one of his major accomplishments. The force was created largely to protect strategic US assets in space, such as satellites, from Russia and China, but Trump also touted the development of “some of the most incredible weapons anyone’s ever seen” and said the new branch would be important “from a defensive standpoint, from an offensive standpoint, from every standpoint there is.”
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Biden has not commented publicly on his view of the Space Force, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been noncommittal.
Bloomberg News journalist Josh Wingrove, the reporter who asked the Space Force question, was frustrated by Psaki’s response. “She poked fun at the question about an entire branch of the military as the ‘plane of today,’” he said.
Washington Post correspondent Seung Min Kim defended Wingrove against mockery over the question. “The Space Force is an actual branch of the military, so questions about its status/future are totally legitimate,” she said.
But actor Matt Doyle said of Psaki, “How you just don’t scream, thousands of people are dying every day and you’re asking me about f**king Space Force.”
Biden’s higher-priority actions in the early days of his presidency have included sending troops back into Syria, banning use of the term “China virus” in reference to Covid-19, ending Trump’s ban on transgender troop enlistment in the military, and restoring critical race theory training at federal agencies.
US Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) demanded that Psaki apologize for her “disgraceful” response to the Space Force question. “It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny,” Rogers said.
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