Biden says he regrets referring to ‘an illegal’ and defends direct criticism of Supreme Court in State of the Union

Biden says he regrets referring to ‘an illegal’ and defends direct criticism of Supreme Court in State of the Union

President Joe Biden in a wide-ranging interview with MSNBC on Saturday defended his direct criticism of the Supreme Court for its 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health and said that he regrets having referred to an undocumented immigrant as an “illegal.”

“I think they made a wrong decision. I think they read the Constitution wrong. I think they made a mistake,” Biden told Jonathan Capehart, host of MSNBC’s “The Saturday Show” and “The Sunday Show,” during an exclusive interview on the campaign trail in Georgia.

He echoed remarks he made during his State of the Union address on Thursday when he addressed Supreme Court justices in the room, telling them, “With all due respect, justices … you’re about to realize just how much you got right” about women’s electoral power.

“They used the phrase that women can vote making change, if they want to,” Biden told Capehart on Saturday, adding, “I found that somewhat insulting, the idea that they don’t think [women] can. Women are speaking now. They spoke out in 2022. They spoke out in 2024 — 2020. This is what’s going to happen. And I was just making clear, women speak up. This is going to change.”

Biden’s campaign also doubled down on his attacks on former President Donald Trump and the Supreme Court justices he appointed in a statement shared first with NBC News.

In the statement, a campaign spokesperson responded to news about the passage of a fetal personhood bill in the Iowa state House that could have negative implications for patients seeking in vitro fertilization treatments.

“IVF is at risk across the country and there’s one man to blame: Donald Trump. Donald Trump proudly brags he was able to ‘kill’ Roe and now women across the country are facing the consequences. Trump’s record speaks for itself: his Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett refused to say if she would oppose criminalizing IVF,” senior campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in the statement.

In Saturday’s interview, the president also said that he regrets using the word “illegal” to describe the undocumented immigrant who is charged with killing a 22-year-old nursing student in Georgia.

“During your response to [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s] heckling of you, you used the word ‘illegal’ when talking about the man who allegedly killed Laken Riley,” Capehart said.

“An undocumented person. And I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal.’ It’s ‘undocumented,’” Biden said.

“So you regret using that word?” Capehart pressed him.

“Yes,” Biden replied.

The statement marks an apparent reversal from what Biden said Friday. While at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the president was asked, “Do you regret using the word ‘illegal’ to describe immigrants last night, sir?”

“Well, I probably — I don’t re — technically not supposed to be here,” he responded.

During his State of the Union speech Thursday night, Biden used the term “an illegal” to describe Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan who was previously arrested by federal authorities after having crossed the border into the U.S. Ibarra has been charged with killing 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley. The president did not mention Riley’s case in his MSNBC interview.

Biden said Saturday that in his speech to Congress, he was attempting to highlight the differences between rhetoric offered by himself and former President Donald Trump about the border, pledging not to “treat any of these people with disrespect.”

“He talks about ‘vermin.’ The way he talks about these people ‘polluting the blood.’ I talked about what I’m not going to do. What I won’t do, I’m not going to treat any of these people with disrespect,” Biden said.

The president added, “I don’t share [Trump’s] view at all,” saying that immigrants “built the country, [are] the reason our economy is growing,” but still, “we have to control the border and more orderly flow.”

Ahead of a rally in Georgia on Saturday night, Trump met with Riley’s parents backstage.

When he took the stage later that evening, he mocked Biden’s apology for using the word “illegal,” telling the crowd, “They have a new name that’s even worse. They have a new name. You know what the new name is? Neighbor. They want to call them neighbor.”

Chris LaCivita, a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign, told reporters before the rally that Biden’s apology was “tone deaf,” saying, “I mean he should be apologizing to the family, as opposed to apologizing for the word that he used.”

In his State of the Union, Biden did address Riley’s parents, saying he understands the pain that comes with the loss of a child having lost two himself.

Asked on Saturday about whether he has a “red line” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid Israel’s actions in the Israel-Hamas war, Biden suggested that some steps Netanyahu could take would be going too far.

“What is your red line with Prime Minister Netanyahu? Do you have a red line? For instance, would invasion of Rafah, which you have urged him not to do, would that be a red line?” Capehart asked.

“It is a red line,” Biden said, adding, “but I’m never gonna leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical.”

Still, Biden was firm that Israel “cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead as a consequence of going after [Hamas],” likely citing figures showing that more than 30,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

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