White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday declined to condemn activist plans to protest for abortion rights at the homes of Supreme Court justices — or to condemn the leak this week of a draft opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade

Psaki tried to redirect the discussion when pressed on the potentially chaotic protests at the homes of the court’s six conservative members — three of whom are believed to live in Maryland and three in Virginia.

“Do you think that progressive activists that are now planning protests outside some of the justices’s houses are extreme?” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked at a briefing.

“Peaceful protest? No, peaceful protest is not extreme,” Psaki replied.

“Some of these justices have young kids,” Doocy countered. “Their neighbors are not all public figures. So would the president think about waving off activists who want to go into residential neighborhoods in Virginia and Maryland?”

Psaki replied, “I think our view here is that peaceful protests — there’s a long history in the United States in the country of that. And we’ve certainly encouraged people to keep it peaceful and not resort to any level of violence.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki claims activists planning to march at the homes of Supreme Court justices will not create “any level of violence.”
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Doocy interjected: “These activists posted a map with the home addresses of the Supreme Court justices. Is that the kind of thing the president wants to help your side make their point?”

“The president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document,” she said. “We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected. We want people to protest peacefully if they want to protest. That is certainly what the president’s view would be.”

When Doocy continued to press on the protest plans, Psaki added, “I don’t have an official US government position on where people protest. We want it, of course, to be peaceful, and certainly the president would want people’s of privacy to be respected.

Pro-choice demonstrators scream in front of the Supreme Court on May 5, 2022.
Pro-choice demonstrators scream in front of the Supreme Court on May 5, 2022.
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

“But I think we shouldn’t lose the point here. The reason people are protesting is because women across the country are worried about their fundamental rights that had been law for 50 years — their rights to make choices about their own bodies and their own health care — are at risk. That’s why people are protesting. They’re unhappy. They’re scared.”

The press secretary, who will hand over the podium next week to her deputy, incoming press secretary Karine Jean-Pierrealso was pressed by NBC News reporter Peter Alexander on the leak itself and neither the president nor Psaki condemning the leak while blasting the potential ruling.

Alexander noted that the White House has been less friendly toward other leaks.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (R) introduces Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Karine Jean-Pierre (left) will be taking over Psaki’s White House press secretary role.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Why wouldn’t the White House condemn this leak? Do you have concerns about the sort of further politicization of one of the branches of government?” Alexander asked

“Have you ever reported anything that’s been leaked to you?” Psaki asked.

“I have and you guys have criticized leaks before… Why not criticize this leak?” Alexander pressed.

“Because I think what is happening here and what we think is happening here is there’s an effort to distract from what the actual issue is here, which is fundamental rights,” Psaki said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
Psaki argued the “fundamental rights” of abortion were more concerning than the Supreme Court leaking a decision.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

When Alexander pressed further, Psaki said, “There has been a call for an investigation by leadership of the Supreme Court. Decisions on that and how they will be pursued will be made by the Department of Justice and others. And that’s certainly their space and right to make that decision.”

Psaki added: “But at the same time, what we’ve also seen, Peter, is many Republicans who are trying to overturn a woman’s fundamental rights try to make this about the leak. This is not about the leak. This is about women’s health care.”

Alexander didn’t cite any examples, but at times, Psaki has declined to even entertain questions about leaked information. At a Sept. 1 briefing, she declined to discuss the reported contents of a call between Biden and former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, saying, “Well, I’m not going to get into private diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls.”

The Biden administration is seeking the extradition of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for allegedly working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to leak diplomatic and military documents and continues to press charges against former government contractor Edward Snowden for leaking in 2013 documents that revealed US surveillance programs, including the dragnet collection of domestic call records.

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