During an interview with White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese on Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” host Jake Tapper contrasted revelations that President Joe Biden wasn’t informed about the baby formula issue until April with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s claim that the administration has “been doing this whole of government approach since the recall” and wondered if a whole of government approach “doesn’t include” the president.
Tapper said, “I guess I still just don’t fully understand why you didn’t tell the president until April if the problem was reported to the FDA last fall, the FDA didn’t check it out until, I think, December, and then they shut down the factory in February. The president, the guy who — the only one who can invoke the Defense Production Act to force companies to produce this incredibly, direly needed infant formula, he’s not told until April. Karine Jean-Pierre, your Press Secretary, just said this has been a ‘whole of government approach[.]’ That doesn’t include the president?”
Deese responded, “The FDA took the appropriate measures to shut down the facility in February. And when that happened, the FDA and the relevant officials from across the government were on — focused on the effort to try to increase production from other producers and also figure out how quickly they could get that facility back online. It took too long to get that facility back online. It took too long to get Abbott to agree to a consent decree. Once it was clear that that facility was not going to be able to come back online, it was clear we were going to need to even more greatly increase production, particularly of those specialty formulas. But I want to be very clear that the president’s role in this has been, at the right and appropriate moments, when we needed to do things like the Defense Production Act, when we needed to take extraordinary measures like Operation Fly Formula, he has been informed, he has directed the action that we have taken.”
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