Former Vice President Joe Biden’s team declared the beginning of a “new phase” of the campaign as it explained why a reporter was unceremoniously kicked off a fundraising call with Wall Street donors.
NBC News reporter Marianna Sotomayor, the pool reporter covering the Friday evening event for other news organizations, described how suddenly being shut out was a break with the norm.
“At tonight’s fundraiser with Wall Street donors, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered roughly five minutes of remarks focusing on how unprepared President Trump was to handle the health and economic consequences brought forth by the global pandemic,” Sotomayor wrote in her press pool report.
“This pool report was written based just on his opening remarks because your pooler was quickly kicked off the phone call when Biden said he was ready to take questions from any of the 25 donors present, a move that goes against traditionally covering these pooled fundraisers in their entirety,” she added.
Biden’s campaign has been quite good about opening fundraisers so the public can get a sense of what he says to wealthy donors
— Matt Viser (@mviser) May 22, 2020
Word quickly got around of the swift dismissal.
“Not a great look for Biden camp, resorting to far more secretive coverage protocols when he’s talking to Wall Street donors,” tweeted Sam Stein, the politics editor at the Daily Beast and an MSNBC contributor.
Within the hour, the Biden campaign offered an explanation, promising to “continue to ensure” media access.
“Tonight’s event was a new format as we enter a new phase of the general election campaign, but we will continue to ensure press access to our virtual finance events as part of our campaign’s commitment to transparency — one that vastly exceeds anything that Donald Trump and his campaign have offered the American people,” said Rufus Gifford, Biden’s deputy campaign manager.
The Biden campaign limited press access to a fundraiser with Wall Street donors per @MariannaNBCNews, who wrote that she was kicked off the call as Biden began to take questions. It’s “a move that goes against traditionally covering these pooled fundraisers in their entirety.”
— Sarah Mucha CNN (@sarahmucha) May 22, 2020
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Biden campaign for clarification to see if reporters will be barred from listening to Biden’s interactions with donors in the future but did not receive a response for publication.
The Trump campaign also acknowledged the unorthodox shift to their followers on Twitter, writing, “Joe Biden held a virtual video fundraiser tonight with wealthy Wall Street donors. But reporters weren’t allowed to see the video or know the identity of the donors. And the Biden campaign kicked the reporters off the phone before Biden started to answer questions.”
Joe Biden held a virtual video fundraiser tonight with wealthy Wall Street donors.
But reporters weren't allowed to see the video or know the identity of the donors.
And the Biden campaign kicked the reporters off the phone before Biden started to answer questions.
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 22, 2020
Earlier in the day, Biden made headlines upon the announcement of a June 2 fundraising event with Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department lawyer who was a top prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The event will be hosted over a Zoom call with other donors.
Biden received criticism for the announced fundraising event with Weissman, including Donald Trump Jr.
“Nothing says ‘it wasn’t a witch-hunt’ quite like doing fundraisers with the partisan hack leading the investigation!,” the president’s son tweeted.
Nothing says “it wasn’t a witch-hunt”quite like doing fundraisers with the partisan hack leading the investigation! https://t.co/8ekdx1tPDs
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 21, 2020
Reports indicate Biden is beginning his search for a vice presidential pick, asking Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar to undergo a vetting process. Others have also said they’re being considered for the position, including New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Florida Rep. Val Demings. Other potential candidates for Biden’s VP pick reportedly include Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Biden has a 5.5 point lead ahead of President Trump nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Still, recent polls show Trump leads in every battleground state, giving him the Electoral College advantage.
Author: Anthony Leonardi
Source: Washington Examiner: ‘New phase’ of the campaign: Team Biden boots reporter from Wall Street fundraising call