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Psaki Claims Joe Manchin Wasn't Bullied Over 'Build Back Better'

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) claiming that Democrats tried to “badger and beat” him into supporting President Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

“Is there going to be a softer, I guess, approach … in dealing with Sen. Manchin and some of the other … Democrats in the party who have been very vocal about being disappointed in him,” Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich asked. “Is there sort of a shift in strategy since this all blew up over bullying?”

“Well, again, I wouldn’t characterize it that way, Jacqui,” Psaki said. “But I would tell you that Senator Manchin is somebody who has won many tough-fought fights in West Virginia. He comes proudly from a coal-mining family, he’s a pretty outspoken advocate for the things he believes in and the things he doesn’t — and I would doubt he’s a withering flower on the side of the road.”

During an interview on Monday, Manchin said that the way he was treated by the president’s staff largely contributed to his opposition to the bill.

“It is not the president. This is staff,” Manchin said in a local radio interview. “And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”

“I’m always willing to work and listen to try. I just got to the wit’s end and they know the real reasons what happened,” he continued.

The interview came after Manchin publicly announced on Fox News that he would be voting “no” on the “mammoth piece of legislation” and that he had “reservations” on the bill since he had first heard about it “five and a half months ago.”

Manchin explained that Democrats thought they could “badger and beat” him into supporting the bill because he is just one person.

“They figured surely to God we can move one person. We surely can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough that they’ll just say, ‘OK I’ll vote for anything,’” he said. “Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.”

In response to Manchin’s announcement, Psaki released a lengthy statement claiming that Manchin’s comments were “at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.’”

Psaki also claimed that “if [Manchin’s] comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues.”

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