(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday defended Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who visited East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday, three weeks after the train derailment that led to hazardous chemicals being released into the environment.
When asked if Buttigieg was in Ohio at the president’s direction, the press secretary said, “Secretary Pete went because he believed that it was important for him to go there at this time.”
As to whether it was the right time to go, Jean-Pierre said, “I think what’s important is that he was there. I think what’s important is that we saw the Secretary of the Department of Transportation there.
“I do want to say one thing, though, which is there’s been a lot of bad-faith attacks on Secretary Buttigieg, and the reason why we believe it’s bad faith is — if you remember Elaine Chao, she was — you know, she was the head of Department of Transportation, and where — when there was these types of chemical spills, nobody was calling for her to be fired, and nobody was calling for what they’re calling on Mayor — Secretary Pete,” she said.
“It is pure politics. This is pure political stunts, what they’re doing. You have seen an administration that has — because of the leadership of this president that has taken action and multi-agency action to deal with the needs that we’re seeing on the ground with the community of East Palestine,” the press secretary said.
When NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander tried to ask the press secretary about China, she turned the subject back to Buttigieg again.
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I just want to clear something up. So, on — on Ohio for a second. So, Elaine Chao, who was the Environmental — head of the Environmental Protection Agency when she had to deal with —
ALEXANDER: When she was head of DOT.
JEAN-PIERRE: DOT. Pardon me. No one called her out. Right? When — when you think about the chemical spills, it is something that the Environmental Protection Agency has to deal with, right? They are the ones who have to take leadership, and that’s what you’ve seen.
That’s what you’ve seen from February 4th until now, which is the Environmental Protection Agency taking charge. So, Secretary Buttigieg being there now, he’s not — the Department of Transportation is not leading this effort. It’s the Environmental Protection Agency. Just wanted to be very, very clear on that.
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