White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wouldn’t directly comment Tuesday on Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s call for being “balanced” about Hamas’ use of rape as a weapon of war, telling “The View” that the Progressive Caucus chair could speak for herself.
“The View” co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin said Jayapal, D-Wash., seemed to downplay sexual atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 during a recent media interview, where she called for being “balanced” in not forgetting “outrages against Palestinians.” Griffin asked Jean-Pierre if the progressive congresswoman should clarify her remarks.
“I’m going to let the representative speak for herself. I just can’t speak for her. I speak for the President of the United States. I am the White House press secretary obviously, so that’s who I speak for,” she responded.
“When it comes to rape, that’s reprehensible. When it comes to using rape as a weapon of war, that’s reprehensible, we are very clear about denouncing Hamas’ actions and that’s what the president has been clear about, and as an administration more broadly, we’re going to continue to be very clear about,” Jean-Pierre added.
After claiming Sunday she had spoken out against Hamas’ rape of Israeli women, Jayapal quickly turned a conversation with CNN’s Dana Bash back to Israel and argued that “we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians. Fifteen thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes, three-quarters of whom are women and children.”
Griffin asked Jean-Pierre again about whether she thought Jayapal should clarify her response because of “her perch as a progressive leader.”
“I speak for the president, she has to speak for herself,” Jean-Pierre said.
Jean-Pierre was asked about Jayapal’s comment during the White House press briefing on Monday.
“I can only speak for the president — that’s who I can speak for,” Jean-Pierre told Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. “We’ve been clear that what Hamas did is absolutely reprehensible, full stop. We’re going to continue to be clear about that.”
Several House Democrats condemned Jayapal’s remarks on Monday, including Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y.
“Hamas terrorists raped Israeli women and girls. The only ‘balanced’ approach is to condemn sexual violence loudly, forcefully and without exceptions. Outrageous for anyone to ‘both sides’ sexual violence,” Schultz wrote on social media.
“Public officials have a moral obligation to speak with clarity rather than caveats… For me, this is not about politics. This is about decency. It is indecent to deny or downplay or ‘both sides’ the rape and sexual violence against Israeli women on October 7,” Torres told CNN on Monday.