After already having answered — in detail — questions implying any action supportive of Ukraine and/or retaliatory towards Russia would "escalate" the war crimes Vladimir Putin is already committing, NBC News' Kristen Welker brought up this
hairball breaking news.
"The U.S. has expelled twelve diplomats, twelve Russian diplomats. The Russian ambassador said just a short time ago that that move was a hostile step towards Russia," Welker said. "Can you give us the thinking behind the decision, and again, following up on some of the lines of questioning you've already gotten, could there be a backlash from this step? Does this escalate things?"
I love how the inference — considering the dirty bombs Putin is already dropping on Ukrainians, his army taking control of Chernobyl, holding its staff hostage, and his missiles targeting civilian apartment buildings — is that it would be WE who would be escalating by sanctioning him. WE are the ones who should be concerned about backlash from PUTIN?
Someone inform the press corps that Trump is no longer in office.
Given the breaking news about the expulsion, (and of course, her professionalism,) Psaki indulged her.
"Let me first say that today's action has been in the works for several months," Psaki began patiently. "We informed, the United States informed the United Nations and the Russian mission to the United Nations that we are beginning the process of expelling twelve intelligence operatives from the Russian mission who had abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security. So, it takes some time to make those evaluations, and that, again, those actions were in the works for months."
Espionage is frowned upon, especially when you've enjoyed the lifestyle of a diplomat in the United States. Is it that difficult to understand? Actions have consequences. Bad actions have consequences that are unpleasant. But Welker insisted on further explanation, as if the Russians being expelled needed advocates, and their voices amplified.
"And your response to the Russian ambassador who called this a hostile act?" she pressed.
"I think the hostile act is committing espionage activities on our own soil," Psaki responded pointedly.
I'm not against reporters pressing representatives of an administration for answers. I'm also, however, not against reporters using some judgment in framing their questions so that they reflect reality and some ability to distinguish between the actions of a megalomaniacal, murderous dictator and a competent administration willing to expel that dictator's spies when they're discovered on our soil.