A cadre of MSNBC personalities challenged White House press secretary Josh Earnest Thursday morning over the administrations refusal to dial back its propping up of Yemen as a counterterrorism “success story.”
Appearing on “Morning Joe,” Earnest tried pushing back against host Mika Brzezinski and White House correspondent Chris Jansing, telling them the U.S. still has “resources in the broader region” to carry out their counterterrorism operations even though Yemen isn’t a stable state anymore.
“Should we dial back on the words that it is a success story, when you have the president fleeing on a boat?” asked Brzezinski, who asked if the state is a success multiple times.
“The fact is that even though U.S. personnel is no longer in Yemen, the United States continues to have the capacity and resources and reach to be able to take strikes when necessary against extremists operating there,” Earnest said.
“How, Josh? How, when you have the embassy closed, Americans have left, you have the parliament that has been dissolved, you have the president fleeing on a boat, maybe towards Djibouti?” asked Jansing. “You have so many less possibilities for intelligence on the ground. How can you say that we are still in a counter-terror situation there?”
“We do continue to be in touch with some elements of the Yemeni government. Obviously, that effort at security cooperation is not as robust and as successful as it would otherwise be if the Yemeni government were stable,” Earnest said. “But the United States continues to have resources in the broader region that we can use to strike terrorists if necessary, and the president has indicated a commitment to using those resources to keep the American people safe.”
Brzezinski and Jansing’s questioning of Earnest comes a day after the White House spokesman was grilled by the likes of ABC’s Jon Karl and Fox’s Ed Henry, who both openly questioned how the administration continues to downplay the Yemen situation.