The White House did not back away from President Biden’s remarks Tuesday saying that a “vast majority” of law enforcement officers were “decent, honorable people” after two FBI agents were killed in the line of duty.
“They put their lives on the line and it’s a hell of a price to pay,” Biden said from behind his desk in the Oval Office. “And every single day … by and large the vast, vast majority of these men and women are decent, honorable people who put themselves on the line. We owe them.”
“What did he mean by that, the vast majority part?” Fox News’ Kristin Fisher asked press secretary Jen Psaki.
“That is exactly what he meant,” Psaki responded, before moving on to another reporter.
The “vast majority” comment, though not inaccurate, didn’t sit well with some in the context of agents losing their lives.
“I find it a little offensive, especially with what happened in Miami [sic] yesterday. These men and women put their lives on the line every day,” Andrew Arena, former FBI special agent in charge, told Fox News, noting that it was one of the bloodiest days in the FBI’s history. “So, I think it’s more than a vast majority.
“I would just hope that it was just an oversight or he misspoke … I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Arena continued. “When an agent goes down like this, in this case multiple agents, it’s certainly a very sensitive time. Poor choice of words.”
Asked again later in the briefing about the “vast majority” remark, Psaki said that had long been the president’s belief, and he was restating it because some law enforcement officers in recent years “have been criticized, some have been threatened, the roles they’re playing questioned.”
“He wanted to reiterate his support for the important work they do,” Psaki said.
“But not to say that ‘all’ of them are [decent], he made that delineation,” NBC’s Kristen Welker noted.
“The point he’s making is, despite reports of individuals in different areas who may have done things problematic, the vast majority serving in law enforcement roles… do vital and essential work for the American people,” Psaki said.
The press secretary said she had not spoken with the president on if he’d contacted the victims’ families yet.
When federal agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger showed up at a home in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to serve a search warrant in a suspected child pornography case around 6 am Tuesday, the suspect reportedly fired shots through a closed door.
Three other officers were shot and wounded during the incident as well – two were hospitalized and are in stable condition while the third did not require hospitalization, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray. The suspect also died during the incident.
“I was briefed on this tragedy earlier today, and I know the FBI is gathering information about how this happened, what happened, but I can only imagine how these families are feeling today,” Biden said Tuesday. “One of the things when you are in a combat zone or the military, or you’re an FBI agent or a police officer, every family, just when they put that shield on and go out in the morning, dreads the possibility of a call … My heart aches for the families.”