By Brian Hughes, Washington Examiner
Josh Earnest hasn't been on the job as White House press secretary for long. But he's already mastered the art of creatively not answering reporters' questions.
On topics ranging from the border crisis to additional sanctions against Russia and the violence in Gaza, Earnest on Tuesday either didn't know the answer, passed the question along to another agency or simply chose not to give a response.
However, unlike his predecessor, Jay Carney, Earnest doesn't use the phrase “I appreciate the question.”
In fairness, it’s best for Earnest to not speculate if he doesn't know an answer. Still, here is a sampling how he handled inconvenient questions on Tuesday:
Q: Does treating Central American individuals, minors who cross the border, the same way that Mexican border-crossers are treated now … is that adequate due process for a Central American minor, for which that process does not exist?
Earnest: I'm not in a position to get — to shed a whole lot of more light on the details here. We've been pretty specific about the principles that are at stake.
Q: And have you had an opportunity since yesterday to review the (John) Cornyn-(Henry) Cuellar proposal?
Earnest: We have not. It's my understanding that bill has not yet been filed.
Q: Do you expect to see further flights (carrying unaccompanied minors back to their home countries) like this coming up, and will any of them have unaccompanied minors without their family units that were characteristic of yesterday's flight?
Earnest: For those kinds of questions -- because these flights are carried out by [the Department of Homeland Security] through their law enforcement capacity -- I would encourage you to direct your questions along those lines to them.
Q: All right. And one separate issue. Can you discuss the administration's efforts right now to encourage European partners to go further on sanctions with the -- against Russia with regard to Ukraine?
Earnest: I'm not into specific — I'm not in a position to read you in on specific meetings, but over the last several weeks you have seen readout calls between — or the readouts of calls between the president of the United States and a number of our allies from Western Europe.
Q: Back on immigration. These families that were flown from Artesia back to Central America, were they — did they ever leave American — the supervision or detention of American authorities, and were they given an opportunity to make their case that they may or may not deserve asylum?
Earnest: I would encourage you to ask these specific questions about these individual cases to DHS. I'm not in a position to talk about individual cases from here.