(Adrienne Ferguson, Headline USA) Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent his long-delayed trip to East Palestine, Ohio, the site of the toxic train derailment that he has downplayed and largely avoided, dodging responsibility and spewing platitudes, while his press secretary sparred with the media.
While Buttigieg, who has claimed that his visit was delayed for nearly a month as he sorted his “personal time,” tried on Thursday relating to the embattled residents during a tour of the town, he ducked media questions and in the process triggered a heated exchange between his press secretary and reporters, according to Fox News.
“Mayor Pete, why did it take you an entire two-and-a-half weeks to actually get here to respond to East Palestine? Will you apologize to the residents of this city for the slow response?” Turning Point USA’s Savannah Hernandez asked.
When Buttigieg’s press secretary Kerry Arndt tried to field the question and cover for her boss, she became agitated that her response was being filmed. She become more flustered when other reporters started asking questions.
After Arndt repeatedly refused to provide any answers on camera, a frustrated Hernandez asked, “Well if you’re the press secretary of the secretary of the Department of Transportation, don’t you think you should be able ask [sic] questions of the American public that you serve?”
A police officer eventually intervened, as the encounter grew increasingly tense under Arndt’s continued stonewalling and insistence to only provide answers off-camera. The officer asked Arndt to step away from the situation, essentially directing the press secretary to avoid the press, and Arndt complied after dodging another question.
Buttigieg’s Ohio trip came on the heels of former President Donald Trump’s visit the previous day, which many have claimed shamed Biden’s transportation secretary into finally visiting the town.
Look who got a construction worker costume for Christmas! https://t.co/TLmh3DWrLA
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 23, 2023
“I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, including Biden, they get back from touring Ukraine, that he’s got some money left over,” Trump told East Palestine residents, who greeted him with cheers during his Wednesday visit.
Headline USA’s Mark Pellin contributed to this report