May 8, 2022
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki 5/05/22 Transcript
Jen Psaki talks to the press and introduces the future Press Secretary on 5/05/22. Read the transcript here.
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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
Hi, everyone. It’s been a bit of an exciting day around here. So before I get to the briefing, I just want to start by… I’m going to cry. Okay, I want to talk about my friend Karine. You got to come up here.
Jen Psaki: (00:21)
So I just want to take the opportunity to celebrate and congratulate my friend, my colleague, my partner in truth, Karine Jean-Pierre, the next White House Press Secretary. Now, many people in this room have known her for some time, but for anyone who does not know her, I want to provide a little bit of a primer for you, so settle in. First, as you all know, she will be the first black woman, the first out LGBTQ+ person to serve in this role, which is amazing because representation matters and she is going to, she will give a voice to so many and allow and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big, and that matters. And we should not… we should celebrate that. But I also want to make clear what all of her qualifications are, what a remarkable person is.
Jen Psaki: (01:18)
She got her start in New York City politics. She comes to this job with decades of experience, even though she looks very young. We’re both in her 20s.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:26)
Jen Psaki: (01:27)
Having served in communications and political roles on many campaigns in the Obama Biden administration and for both of former President Obama’s campaigns. She’s a longtime advisor to President Biden and Dr. Biden. They are partners, having served in senior roles for him and for both of them back to when he was Vice President. And she’s worked for a number of advocacy organizations fighting for issues and justice for so many Americans. And I just want to say, I will have a lot to say about how grateful I am for being… For the trust the president and the first lady and the whole team have given me and entrusted me in the last 15 months. But this day is about Karine and I want to celebrate her.
Jen Psaki: (02:09)
And on a personal note, I want to say that one of the first conversations we had when we both found out we were getting these jobs was about how we wanted to build a drama-free on your best days, place, workplace, where everybody worked hard, where we, on our best days, we’re rebuilding trust with the public. And I am just so grateful to have had Karine by my side for this over the last 15 months. And I just can’t wait to see her shine at the podium. So congratulations and I can’t wait to see you bring your own style and brilliance to this job.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:45)
Love you, Jen.
Jen Psaki: (02:46)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:46)
Jen Psaki: (02:50)
I promise not to cry again, so that’s it.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (02:51)
We do a lot of crying though.
Jen Psaki: (02:51)
We already cried. We already cried. Okay, with that note, this is going to feel like an abrupt turn, but I’m going to give you an update on a Russian oligarch’s yacht that was seized that you may have seen.
Jen Psaki: (03:05)
It’s not meant to be funny, but I did want to note and make sure everybody saw it. Today, the Department of Justice announced that the Fijian law enforcement executed a seizure warrant freezing the motor yacht Amadea, a 348-foot luxury vessel owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The yacht is worth approximately $300 million or more. This was done with support and assistance from the FBI and Fiji acted at the request of the Department of Justice, following issuance of a seizure warrant from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Fijian authorities executed the request, obtaining a domestic seizure warrant from a Fijian court. As you know, the President has made clear, we will go after Russian oligarchs and their ill-gotten gains using every authority we have to hold them accountable. Oh, and here is the yacht. Look at that. I want to really go out with a bang, so we got a yacht just to make the point about oligarchs.
Jen Psaki: (04:02)
Also just wanted to note, as you know, the President nominated Steve Dettelbach to lead ATF and our nation’s fight against gun crime just a few weeks ago. And just today, he was endorsed by a group of over 140 former high ranking federal prosecutors and DOJ officials, including more than 30 Republican appointees, two former AGs and six former deputy attorney generals. Last note for you, as you know, the President is going to be traveling to Cincinnati tomorrow, where he’ll meet with manufacturing leaders, see new additive manufacturing technologies at work and discuss his plan to make more in America by passing the bipartisan Innovation Act. Since he took office, we’ve created 473,000 new manufacturing jobs, which is more manufacturing jobs on average per month than any other president in the last half a century. And we’re building on that progress through the infrastructure law, of course, and with the bipartisan Innovation Act, we can help lower prices by strengthening our supply chains and domestic manufacturing. With that, I promise we will not make it a marathon today. I know it’s 5:20, so why don’t you kick it off and we’ll get around to as many people as possible?
Speaker 1: (05:10)
Jen, congratulations to both of you.
Jen Psaki: (05:14)
Speaker 1: (05:17)
First, will the President and/or White House people participate in any way in the May 14th Abortion Day of Protests.
Jen Psaki: (05:25)
I don’t have any schedule plans to preview for you at this point in time. We are certainly aware of the protest, but our focus right now is on overseeing and running a policy process to do everything we can to protect women’s right to make choices about her own healthcare.
Speaker 1: (05:40)
And secondly, Senator Minority Leader McConnell today again, he made clear that he wants to see clean Ukraine bill. Considering that, what other options is the White House looking at to secure money for therapeutics, other COVID-related needs, as it seems that Congress is unlikely to approve any more money soon?
Jen Psaki: (06:01)
Well, as we look at recent data, and we’ve seen obviously the growth of some sub variants BA.4, BA.5, what it makes clear is that we are in dire need of being able to plan ahead and take steps to ensure that we are able to be ahead of the rest of the world in ordering supply we need, especially if there are better vaccines, if there are better boosters, et cetera. So we are going to continue to advocate, continue to sound the alarm on what the impact will be if we don’t get funding in terms of the exact vehicle, which I think kind of what you’re asking. I don’t have any update on that for you. We are continuing to have conversations with Congress. Obviously, the President sent up both together because he feels it’s essential. If we don’t get this funding, we will have fewer vaccines, treatments and tests. We’ll watch others around the world have the best life saving tools. Americans will literally die. Businesses will be hurt. There is not a plan B here. We need Congress to pass this funding, so we have this funding to continue to prepare and continue to fight the pandemic. Go ahead.
Speaker 2: (07:05)
First of all, congratulations. This is not your last one though.
Jen Psaki: (07:08)
No, don’t worry. I’m still here through next week.
Speaker 2: (07:12)
There have been concerns and there’s stepped up monitoring among law enforcement across the country for potential violence around this draft majority opinion and the ultimate decision by the Supreme Court. The justices have had to see their security stepped up in the last few days. Just curious what the President would make of that, if he’s aware that that’s ever happened, what the message might be to those who are upset by this and are contemplating the unthinkable.
Jen Psaki: (07:41)
Well, first I would say the President for all those women, men, others who feel outraged, who feel scared, who feel concerned, he hears them. He shares that concern and that horror of what he saw in that draft opinion. It’s not a final opinion. What has prompted is a redoubled effort across the administration and with Congress to take every step we can to protect women’s healthcare. What his message directly would be to anybody out there who is feeling that frustration is participating in peaceful protest is ensure it’s peaceful. Have your voice heard peacefully. We should not be resorting to violence in any way, shape or form. That’s certainly what he would be conveying.
Speaker 2: (08:24)
Other day you hinted there might be plans for the U.S. to join the Ukraine or other European allies in some kind of May 9th commemoration as Russia holds its holiday. Any update on that?
Jen Psaki: (08:36)
I don’t have any update. I will note that what our plans are that are in the works. We are working to finalize a G7 call that will likely happen in the coming days. What our effort and our focus is on is continuing to emphasize unity, but also lift up that unity as we look and face Russian aggression, but in terms of what we will do to mark Monday, I don’t have anything to preview for you at this moment. We’ll have more as time proceeds. Go ahead.
Speaker 3: (09:06)
Thank you and congratulations. In the Senate, they’re moving forward with plans to vote on a bill that would codify the principles of Roe v. Wade. Right now that bill seems doomed to fail, but there are at least two Republicans who do support legislation that would guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion, Senator Murkowski and Collins, but they oppose the current bill because they feel it’s too expansive and too broad. So would the President like to see legislation that is perhaps more narrowly focused just on guaranteeing the right to an abortion, codifying Roe V. Wade, if it was able to get more Republicans on board?
Jen Psaki: (09:41)
Sure. The President, as you stated, and I’ve stated a number of times, absolutely supports and would love to sign a bill into law codifying Roe. What he said in his statement the other day, as you know, is that there will be a need, as his sense is, there will be a need for additional members who would support that in the Senate, in order for that to happen. We are in a range of discussions with leadership in Congress, with a range of members in Congress about the path forward and what’s possible, but I just don’t have the details of what that might look like. And so I can’t speak to it at this point in time, but
Speaker 3: (10:14)
Might he encourage Democrats to take a more targeted approach?
Jen Psaki: (10:17)
I don’t have any details to preview at this point in time. We’re having a range of conversations.
Speaker 3: (10:21)
And you have said that the administration is considering of course, additional options and steps that you may be able to take to support women’s reproductive rights. I know you haven’t wanted to get into the details of what those options may be, but are you confident that there are additional executive actions that you can take, options that can have an impact that can withstand legal scrutiny?
Jen Psaki: (10:41)
Well, yes. I mean, I would point to the fact that after Texas and SBA passed, we did take steps and we did take steps to secure funding, to secure grants. Obviously, the Department of Justice made clear in response to Texas SBA, they reaffirmed the Department of Justice’s commitment to using existing federal law. We also created a grants program and the Department of Health and Human Services announced a three prong department wide response. I think what’s important to remember here in part is who will be impacted across the country. And we are mindful of that as we are planning and thinking about what our policy options are. We know that 75% of people who are having abortions or pursuing an abortion are under 200% of the poverty level. We know that the majority are women of color. And we know that there are 13 states that have trigger laws and a total of 26 states, including those 13 that have indicated plans to put in place more restrictive abortion, restrict abortion more. And so this is not, there are states, they’ve also affirmed that they would take steps to protect. So we are mindful of all of this, what the impact could be if this draft opinion or a version of this draft opinion becomes the final. And we are thinking about that, the Gender Policy Council, the department…
Jen Psaki: (12:03)
Comes the final. And we are thinking about that. The Gender Policy Council, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and all of us working with Congress as well to see what actions we can take. Obviously, codifying Roe is a way to protect. Go ahead.
Speaker 4: (12:14)
Thanks Jen. Present Biden just met with organizers, labor organizers from Amazon and Starbucks and others. Could you just talk a little bit about what was discussed and if he offered any specific commitments to perhaps support the Amazon labor union or the different unionization drives that are underway?
Jen Psaki: (12:33)
Well, the President has long been a supporter of the rights of workers to organize, the rights of collective bargaining. And he dropped by this meeting to simply offer his support for those efforts. But we don’t engage or get directly involved in individual labor disputes, obviously, but he certainly supports the rights of workers and we’ve seen that take place across the country in a range of cases.
Speaker 4: (12:57)
So should this then be viewed as his support only for the labor movement and not necessarily for Amazon, I mean, that has to be a part of it, right?
Jen Psaki: (13:07)
We don’t weigh in on individual labor disputes, those are up to the workers and the organizers. But throughout his career for decades, he’s always been a supporter of organized labor of the rights of workers to seek collective bargaining. And certainly we’re seeing that across the country.
Speaker 4: (13:23)
One quick question on Senate judiciary. Earlier today, passing a bill from Senators Klobuchar, and Grassley that essentially exposes OPEC to lawsuits for colluding to raise prices of crude oil. Given sort of the inflationary environment that we’re in and how bigger concern inflation is for this administration, does the White House support that piece of legislation? Is the President looking at it? If you can talk about that.
Jen Psaki: (13:51)
Sure. It’s called NOPEC, which is creative, even if you don’t like what the outcome is of the legislation I will say. The President has been clear that strong competition policy is essential to ensuring fair markets and lower prices as is evidenced by the actions we have taken, like the President’s executive order to support the promotion of competition and innovation by firms, large and small.
Jen Psaki: (14:12)
I don’t have a official position on this legislation right now, but we do believe that the potential implications and unintended consequences of this legislation require further study and deliberation, particularly during this dynamic moment in the global energy markets brought about by President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. So we’re taking a look at it and certainly have some concerns about what the potential implications could be.
Speaker 4: (14:36)
Are those concerns perhaps tied to this idea that analysts are talking about, which is if you actually go after OPEC in that way, they could either potentially refuse supplies to the US or maybe flood the oil market. I mean, is that what the concern is broadly?
Jen Psaki: (14:50)
Without detailing it further, obviously our objective is ensuring the supply in the oil markets meets the demand. OPEC has a role to play there. We’ve obviously been working with them, have had a great deal of engagement with them even prior to President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And that is what our overarching objective is, so we’re taking a look at what the implications and impact would be.
Jen Psaki: (15:11)
Speaker 5: (15:11)
One area that’s coming to focus in the abortion debate is the use of medication abortions. The FDA relaxed, some of the federal regulations tied to that, allowing them to be sent by mail. But does the White House feel like they have other viable options to possibly expand the access to these abortion pills?
Jen Psaki: (15:27)
We are looking at a broad range of options. As we detailed earlier this week, when this leak document came out, I would expect we wouldn’t have more to preview before there’s a final opinion issued.
Speaker 5: (15:38)
And US intelligence assessments have shown that North Korea may be ready to conduct underground nuclear tests within the coming months. Are there concerns from the White House about that? And also specifically related to the President’s travel, given that you’ll be in the region later this month.
Jen Psaki: (15:51)
Well, I would say we certainly always assess security, as we do with any of the President’s travel, but that has not been a concern as it relates to his travel coming up in just a few weeks. There’s no question that North Korea is going to be on the agenda when he visits South Korea and Japan. I can give you a little bit more, I know that some asked this yesterday, so I got a little bit more on the trip. So let me venture to do that as well.
Jen Psaki: (16:14)
While he’s there in the South Korea and Japan, the President will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts, newly elected president of the Public of Korea and Prime Minister Kishida of Japan. The leaders will discuss opportunities to deepen our vital security relationships and enhance economic ties. They’ll also discuss climate change, COVID 19 and other shared challenges. In light of North Korea’s continued destabilizing actions in the region, including the test launch of multiple Intercontinental ballistic missiles. President Biden will make clear that our commitment to security of the Republic of Korea and Japanese allies, reiterate our commitment I should say, including our extended deterrence commitments is ironclad. So that will certainly be a part of the discussion.
Jen Psaki: (17:00)
Naturally, they will also be talking about joint efforts to support the people of Ukraine hold Russia accountable. And you’ve seen South Korea and Japan join us in the unprecedented sanctions and export controls we’ve imposed so far. While in Tokyo, the President will also meet with the leaders of the Quad grouping of Australia, Japan, India, and the United States. The administration has made history already by establishing for the first time the Quad meeting at the leader level. So this will be a continuation of that. So North Korea will certainly be discussed, of course, given the importance role that South Korea and Japan both play in security in the region. Go ahead.
Thank you, Jen. Sorry to see you go.
Jen Psaki: (17:39)
Yes. And you always been a good sport.
Jen Psaki: (17:45)
Thank you. As have you.
So on behalf of everybody, thank you. Of you top of everybody. Thank you for everything.
Jen Psaki: (17:48)
I can’t wait to see you out there, Karine.
So you guys spent some time yesterday talking about what you think are the extreme wings of the Republican Party. Do you think the progressive activists that are now planning protests outside some of the justices houses are extreme?
Jen Psaki: (18:09)
Peaceful protest, no. Peaceful protest is not extreme.
Some of these justices have young kids, their neighbors are not all public figures. So, but would the President think about waving off activists that want to go into residential neighborhoods in Virginia and Maryland?
Jen Psaki: (18:26)
Peter, look, I think our view here is that peaceful protest. There’s a long history in the United States and the country of that. And we certainly encourage people to keep it peaceful and not resort to any level of violence. Let me tell you what I was referring to and what the President was referring to yesterday-
Not about yesterday, though, just about moving forward. These activists posted a map with the home addresses of the Supreme Court justices. Is that the kind of thing this President wants to help your side make their point?
Jen Psaki: (18:54)
Look, I think the President’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document. We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected. We want people to protest peacefully if they want to protest. That is certainly what the President’s view would be.
He doesn’t care if they’re protesting outside the Supreme Court or outside someone’s private residence?
Jen Psaki: (19:20)
I don’t have an official US government position on where people protest. We want it of course to be peaceful. And certainly the President would want people’s privacy to be respected. But I think we shouldn’t lose the point here. The reason people are protesting is because women across the country are worried about their fundamental rights that have been law for 50 years, their rights to make choices about their own bodies and their own healthcare are at risk. That’s why people are protesting. They’re unhappy. They’re scared.
The President’s position on choice has evolved over time, so just checking for his official position. Does he support any limits on abortion right now?
Jen Psaki: (19:59)
Peter, the President has spoken, has talked about his position many times. He supports the right of a woman to make choices about her own body with her doctor.
I know that one of the Democrats that he endorsed and who won their primary this week, Tim Ryan, said yesterday that he does not support any limits on abortion. Is that where the President’s thinking is now?
Jen Psaki: (20:20)
The President has stated his view many times.
So does the President support abortion up until the moment of birth?
Jen Psaki: (20:26)
The President has spoken about this many times Peter and I would refer you to his own comments about abortion and a woman’s right to choose and make decisions about her body with her doctor, which is what any of those women would do. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (20:38)
Jen, does President Biden support Leader Schumer’s strategy to hold a vote next week on abortion rights, even though votes are not there, that it’s doomed to fail?
Jen Psaki: (20:46)
We certainly are working in lockstep and closely with Leader Schumer. Obviously we have stated and the President’s statement the other day made clear that he did not feel we had the votes at this point in time, but certainly providing a moment for people to voice their view and voice their strong opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade as something we support Leader Schumer doing.
Speaker 6: (21:06)
I guess the fact that there are only so many moments, obviously that exist right now and only so much political capital in this moment. So, I mean, doesn’t it highlight divisions within the party? A not to dissimilar vote back in February had only 46 votes, are there any concerns about that? Is this the best use of time for this administration given all the urgent needs on COVID funding, the Ukraine funding that you’re looking for and beyond?
Jen Psaki: (21:28)
Well, certainly we think that Congress should forward on all of those objectives, but having a vote and allowing people to voice their view and voice their support for the protection of a woman’s fundamental rights is something we also support.
Speaker 6: (21:42)
Let me ask you, yesterday you were asked, I know that the White House has been heavily focused on the substance, obviously as it relates, and that’s the biggest impact on Americans broadly. But you were asked about the leak itself and given the historic nature of the leak, which was so unprecedented as you acknowledge, you said, I don’t think we have a particular view on that other than to say that we certainly note the historic or unprecedented, excuse me, nature of it. Why wouldn’t the White House condemn this leak? Are there any concerns? Do you have concerns about the sort of further politicization of one of the branches of government?
Jen Psaki: (22:15)
Have you ever reported anything that’s been leaked to you?
Speaker 6: (22:17)
I am. And you guys have criticized leaks before as it’s been provided. So you’ve criticized in the past. Why not criticized this leak?
Jen Psaki: (22:23)
Again, because I think what is happening here and what we think is happening here is there is an effort to distract from what the actual issue here, which is the fundamental rights-
Speaker 6: (22:32)
Jen Psaki: (22:33)
I don’t think they’re at the same level. We don’t think they’re at the same level.
Speaker 6: (22:36)
So they’re not at the same level but would you agree that it’s still worthy of condemnation?
Jen Psaki: (22:39)
Well, look, I think there has been a call for an investigation by leaders of the Supreme Court, decisions on that and how it’ll be pursued will be made by the Department of Justice and others. And that’s certainly their space and right to make that decision in government. That’s how government is set up. But at the same time, what we’ve also seen, Peter, is many Republicans who are trying to overturn a women’s fundamental rights, try to make this about the leak. This is not about the leak. This is about women’s healthcare and women having access to healthcare and making choices with their doctors. And we are working to not allow that to be the distraction.
Speaker 6: (23:13)
Jen Psaki: (23:13)
Thank you. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (23:15)
Speaker 8: (23:16)
Is the President planning on meeting with abortion providers or activists at all next week?
Jen Psaki: (23:21)
I don’t have anything about his schedule quite yet to preview. Obviously we are deeply engaged with a range of healthcare officials and experts from the government, both from the Department of Health and Human Services, from our DPC team here. And we will continue to maintain that engagement.
Speaker 8: (23:37)
I mean, you’ve said a few times that this is obviously a priority for the President. Just a sense of what he is doing specifically on this issue would be good for us to know, just given how much of a priority you said this is for him.
Jen Psaki: (23:50)
Well, I think it’s important for everybody to know, including the American people of course, that the President of course oversees the whole of the government. He has launched a whole of government effort to look at options and pursue options from every department-
Jen Psaki: (24:03)
… look at options and pursue options from every department, whether it’s the Department of Justice and what they do, the Counsel’s Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Domestic Policy Council to put together a range of steps we can take to protect women’s fundamental rights. And that is what his focus is on and reviewing those in considering those. And obviously, he’s spoken to this over the last several days, multiple times, and I think he will continue to. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (24:26)
The prime minister of Italy is coming to Washington on Tuesday. Italy like Germany has done a U-turn on its Russia policy. How much has the US taken note of this, and does it elevate Italy in the eyes of the US in terms of being a key interlocutor in Europe?
Jen Psaki: (24:42)
Well, I think it’s really important to note, in that there were a number of countries, some you noted, where the world and journalists who have covered this closely were skeptical that they would remain as unified and take steps as aggressive as they have to stand up against Russian aggression. This is an example of that. Certainly, there’s a lot we work with Italy on and we’ll continue to, and the meeting will have a range of topics discussed, but of course, we’ve taken note of the efforts they have and their leadership in standing up against President Putin and Russian aggression. Go ahead.
Speaker 10: (25:15)
Thanks, Jen. Congrats to you.
Jen Psaki: (25:17)
Speaker 10: (25:17)
And thanks for your words. I wanted to ask Karine, though, if she could share some words about what this means to her.
Jen Psaki: (25:23)
Speaker 10: (25:23)
What this means to you, Karine. And if you could talk a little bit about the historic nature of what you’re about to …
Jen Psaki: (25:31)
Come on up. The good news is the podium height is the same because we’re both very short. So go ahead.
Well, thanks for your question. I first want to take this opportunity while I have it to thank Jen. She has been just a wonderful colleague, a friend, a mentor during this past year and a half. And I don’t think I would be here without so many people, but including her. And she is just a true, solid, amazing person. And so we were very lucky to have her here this past year and a half. So I wanted to make sure I had the … since I have the opportunity to say that.
Jen Psaki: (26:10)
Let me give you another hug.
Thank you. We were doing a lot of crying.
Jen Psaki: (26:14)
So I’ll try not to do it now. Wow. I’m still processing it because as Jen said at the top, this is a historic moment and it’s not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career. And so it is an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium in about a week or so when Jen is ready. And that is something that I will honor and do my best to represent this president and this first lady the best that I can, but also the American people. And so it’s a very emotional day. That’s probably the best way that I can explain that, a very emotional day. And I just appreciate this time and this moment. And I hope that I make people proud.
Speaker 10: (27:16)
Karine, I mean, there’s a lot of folks who questioned when this day would happen. I mean, what is your message to those? And what is the message to young girls, to minority girls?
And young boys too? Yeah, young girls and young boys. Let’s not … I think this is important for them to see this as well. I used to teach college students. I had the pleasure of doing that for about six, seven years and they would ask me a similar question like, how did you get to where you got to? And I would say to them, and it took me a little bit of time to figure this part out that I’m about to share with you, which is follow your passion, follow what you believe in, and just keep that focus because that matters. I think if you are passionate about what you want to be or where you want to go and you work very hard to that goal, it will happen. And yes, you’ll be knocked down and you’ll have some tough times and it won’t be easy all the time, but the rewards are pretty amazing, especially if you say true to yourself.
And so that’s what I would tell them. And I see them from time to time and they always mention those words that I just shared with all of you. And so that’s what I would say. And there are people who support them, people who will lift them up when they’re down. And so I think that’s really important to know. And I think so many of them as well, they are standing on shoulders, on folks who came before them and are creating these opportunities that I currently have and will take that on the best as I can.
Speaker 10: (28:56)
Speaker 11: (28:56)
Karine, have you ever doubt … Being a woman of color, have you ever doubt being in this position one day?
No, not at all. Just worked hard towards it, but I understand how hard it is. I do. We all do, but just keep working hard towards it. I’m going to give it back to Jen. Thanks, everybody
Speaker 12: (29:19)
Jen, the Catholic church was just vandalized with pro-abortion slogans in Colorado. It just happened recently. Is the White House aware of that, first of all?
Jen Psaki: (29:26)
I have not seen that report. Obviously, we don’t condone vandalism. We condone peaceful protests and that’s something certainly we’re encouraging with everybody who feels passionate.
Speaker 13: (29:35)
[inaudible 00:29:35] and Catholic churches, especially when it involves Roe. That’s what they’re basically focusing on.
Jen Psaki: (29:39)
Again, we don’t condone vandalism. We condone peaceful protest. I think it’s important to note that 60% or 70%, depending on the poll you look at, of the American people do not want Roe to be overturned. I’m going to move on. Go ahead.
Speaker 13: (29:53)
Will the president respect the High Court’s final decision if Roe is overturned?
Jen Psaki: (29:55)
I think we’re moving on. Go ahead.
Speaker 13: (29:56)
Jen, this is a follow-up. That’s all. Just like everyone else is given.
Speaker 14: (30:00)
Jen, a coalition of racial justice advocates sent a letter to the White House asking Biden to issue an executive order about reparations. Has Biden seen the letter, has he read the letter? Is there a response to the letter?
Jen Psaki: (30:12)
I’m not aware of the letter. I’d have to take a look at it and we can see if there’s more of a substantive response to you after the briefing.
Speaker 14: (30:17)
Okay. And just to follow on executive actions.
Jen Psaki: (30:19)
Speaker 14: (30:20)
As things get sort of harder to pass through Congress, is there a sense of whether or not the White House is looking more at executive actions as a means of getting things that are not able to get through Congress?
Jen Psaki: (30:32)
Well, you know that there are a range of executive actions we’re concurrently looking at, right? We’re looking at one on police reform. The president’s certainly looking at steps he can take on student debt and there are others we’re looking at as well. But at the same time, we’re also looking to get the Bipartisan Innovation Act through. We’re looking to see what can be done on a range of issues where we feel there is bipartisan support. And we’re continuing to engage closely with Democrats in Congress about a reconciliation package to lower costs for the American people. So we’re doing both and we’re pursuing both paths. Go ahead.
Speaker 15: (31:04)
On the police performance executive order, we reported in January, there was a draft of that executive order that was shared with stakeholders. It seemed like it was getting near to being issued. It’s now May, can you just explain what the delay is and what exact work is being done?
Jen Psaki: (31:21)
Yeah. Sure. I would say it was some good reporting on your part and it was an early part of the process and it takes months to get executive orders through the full legal and policy process, but it is still something the president has every intention of doing. We just haven’t finalized it yet.
Speaker 15: (31:39)
Can you specify what work is still being done on that executive order? What needs to happen at this point, or-
Jen Psaki: (31:43)
Policy and legal review process.
Speaker 15: (31:45)
It doesn’t have anything to do with not wanting to issue it before the midterms?
Jen Psaki: (31:49)
Speaker 15: (31:51)
You were asked earlier this week, I think it was Monday, that on the president’s phone call with López Obrador-
Jen Psaki: (31:59)
Speaker 15: (32:00)
You were asked about whether or not he asked for an increase in troops on the Mexican southern border and you said there’s going to be ongoing conversations. I just wanted to follow up on that. Did the president ask anyone in the Mexican government or in that conversation for an increase of troops on the Southern border?
Jen Psaki: (32:20)
Speaker 15: (32:20)
He has not?
Jen Psaki: (32:21)
He did not and did not on that call. Go ahead.
Speaker 16: (32:24)
So yesterday, going back to executive orders.
Jen Psaki: (32:26)
Speaker 16: (32:27)
Yesterday the president met with a group of Democratic senators to discuss immigration. And Senator Menendez said today that one of the things they discussed was looking into executive actions that the president can take to provide relief to some immigrant families. I guess, what are those actions? Can you give us a little bit more details on what that meeting was like, what actions is the White House looking into, and kind of is there a timeline for that?
Jen Psaki: (32:56)
I don’t have a timeline to preview for you. I would say that the president met with Senator Menendez and a group of senators, members of the CHC yesterday as a continuing part of his engagement with different caucus groups from Congress. And there’s a range of topics that’s often discussed in these meetings, of course, immigration, but they discuss a range of issues typically. And it’s an opportunity for the president to hear, to listen, to understand what there’s an opportunity to move forward, what there is not an opportunity to move forward. And we’ve said before, and he reiterated during this meeting that we are certainly open to and looking at what executive actions could be taken on immigration and on that front, even though obviously passing a law through Congress would ensure that it was permanent.
Speaker 16: (33:36)
And going to that, there is a group of bipartisan lawmakers that met today to discuss immigration reform. Has the president been in contact with them at all? Has he discussed kind of what would he like to see in a bipartisan immigration legislation? I know he introduced his own kind of outline of what he would like to see in immigration legislation, but has he talked to any of these [inaudible 00:33:57]?
Jen Psaki: (33:56)
He’s talked … Well, he met with the CHC yesterday and he met with the House CHC members just a couple … in the last couple of weeks. And certainly, he’s discussed with those pivotal members recently what he would like to see and his interest in moving an immigration bill forward. I would say the bill he put forward on his first day in office, he very much thinks could be a bipartisan bill. It includes smarter security, something everybody should support. It includes efforts to fix our asylum processing system, to protect DACA recipients. Those are all steps and components that have had bipartisan support in the past, so he continues to see that as a model.
Speaker 16: (34:37)
Has he reached out to any Republican senators, Senator Tillis, Senator Cornyn on this topic?
Jen Psaki: (34:39)
I don’t have any individual calls or engagements to read out. I would just tell you that the fact that he put forward this bill his first day in office shows you how important he thinks this issue is and he is open to working with anyone who wants to play a constructive role in fixing the broken immigration system. Go ahead, Karen.
Thanks, Jen. Our ABC poll with the Washington Post this week found that in the states where abortion restrictions have been passed in recent years, only 30% of residents in those states were actually aware of the restrictions. What role does the White House have in raising awareness of those specific state restrictions, and what will you do about that in the coming months?
Jen Psaki: (35:16)
Karen, I’m not sure that’s the White House role, right? We obviously are in this moment now where the world, the country is tuning into the fact that women’s healthcare and women’s basic rights, fundamental rights that have been the law for 50 years, could be at risk. And that will likely alert many Americans to that as well as state laws in their own states because there’s more reporting and there’s more talking about it. And certainly, that’s something we fit into and we engage with. But it will also be leaders and elected officials in these states that will continue to educate their public about this as well.
And just on a different topic, the country’s closing in on a grim milestone of a million deaths from COVID. We saw the White House mark the 500,000 deaths in February. How will the president mark that-
Speaker 17: (36:03)
In February. How will the president mark that milestone? Will he, at the White House?
Jen Psaki: (36:06)
He certainly will. We look at the CDC, as well as John’s Hopkins data. I know different media organizations track it differently, just so you know how we track it from here. Once we hit this milestone, the president will certainly mark this incredibly somber moment. This moment will call on all of us to remember the tragedy of this number, and the importance for all of us to act. That’s what the president has done. Standing up a historic vaccination program, investing in lifesaving treatments and tools for the American people. Americans have acted, too, by getting vaccinated and boosted. We have more to do more, and we can honor those who have lost. I don’t have anything to preview at this point in time, but he certainly will be marking it here. Go ahead.
Speaker 18: (36:48)
Thank you so much. Sweden has said that they have gotten security guarantees from the United States, in case they decide to apply to join NATO. Can you maybe offer a comment, and tell us whether those guarantees would apply to other countries willing to join NATO?
Jen Psaki: (37:05)
Well, our militaries have worked together for years, and we are confident that we could find ways to address any concerns either country may have about the period of time between a NATO membership application, and the formal session to the Alliance. We, obviously, strongly support NATO’s open door policy, and the right of each country to decide its own future, foreign policy, and security arrangement. Both Sweden and Finland are close and valued defense partners of the United States. We’ve worked with them for years, and we are confident we’ll be able to work with them to address any concerns either country may have, but those are ongoing discussions.
Speaker 19: (37:39)
Jen, in the wake of the draft Supreme Court decision.
Jen Psaki: (37:44)
Speaker 19: (37:45)
Texas governor Abbot indicated that Texas may seek to overturn the 1982 Supreme Court decision that found that states were required to offer free public education to all students, including the children of undocumented immigrants. Does the White House have any response to those comments from Abbot?
Jen Psaki: (38:02)
Well, that’s ultra MAGA right there, that the president talked about yesterday. We’re talking about, just to restate that, denying public education to kids, including immigrants to this country. That is not a mainstream point of view. What I will tell you, as the president has looked at, and since you referenced the draft opinion, and he’s talked about this a little bit, but just to build this out a little bit more for you. He’s talked about how it raised the alarms for him, and how the draft decision would endanger other American rights, in addition to the basic right of every woman to keep her personal healthcare decisions between herself and her doctor. Obviously there are decisions like that, way out of the mainstream, that Governor Abbot has announced. If you look at Roe, Roe is the precedent for the right to privacy, and that decision has been upheld numerous times since, and everybody doesn’t make the connections between what Roe has been the basis of.
Jen Psaki: (39:01)
Let me just spell it out for you, and this is what’s on the mind of the president. The right to privacy has been the basis for other landmark decisions that safeguard our basic rights as Americans, including who we choose to marry, with whom to have romantic relationships, and whether to use contraception. For example, I mentioned Griswold versus Connecticut yesterday, Eisenstadt versus Baird, which ensured that the right to use contraception was protected. Obergefell versus Hodges, which protects the right to marry. Lawrence versus Texas, which stopped government from preventing sexual relationships between consenting adults. The basis for the draft decision would cut against decades of precedent, and throw millions of lives into turmoil. When he talks about this, and when he talks about privacy, and when he goes back and talks about the fight against Borg, he’s talking about this as a precedent for a lot of these decisions that have enormous impacts on people’s lives. Go ahead.
Speaker 20: (39:52)
Yesterday, the House Whip Clyburn appeared alongside Congressman Cuellar. He’s facing a primary challenger who supports abortion rights, he doesn’t. Does the president think that Democratic leadership should be standing behind a member of Congress, who’s part of the Democratic party, who opposes abortion rights at this time, especially in Texas, which has a trigger law?
Jen Psaki: (40:13)
I certainly understand your question. I’m not going to get into political politics, or political primaries, from here. Go ahead. Oh, go ahead. Do you have another question? Go ahead.
Speaker 20: (40:21)
[inaudible 00:40:21] to that.
Jen Psaki: (40:21)
Speaker 20: (40:22)
On the confirmation process.
Jen Psaki: (40:22)
The Hatch Act. It is the law. It is the rule. I don’t make the rule. Go ahead.
Speaker 20: (40:27)
There has been a lot made of what justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett said during their confirmation hearings about Rowe, versus what we assume where they would’ve come down in this draft opinion. Obviously, the president was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee for a long time, and we’ve seen senators on the committee now say that this is more evidence that these aren’t informative, or a productive process, if they’re not willing to answer these questions. What does the president make of this kind of debate happening right now, between the utility of the confirmation hearings?
Jen Psaki: (41:02)
I don’t think the president…we have not seen a final opinion, and I don’t think the president’s going to weigh in on that, may not even weigh in on that afterwards. Obviously, they will all be judged by what their comments were. Now, at the same time, no one is questioning, including certainly not the president, as you noted, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, checks and balances, or the legitimacy of the court. We are certainly not, from here. As a former chair of the Judiciary Committee who has been steeped in these issues for decades, he disagrees with the reasoning behind this draft opinion profoundly, because it would throw he the healthcare for millions of families into turmoil, and would also threaten protections, as I noted. That goes back to the precedent for a number of important cases that have determined who people have the right to marry, the privacy over contraception.
Jen Psaki: (41:49)
Remember, it used to be that there you wouldn’t have the privacy of deciding to get contraception with your husband. Imagine how crazy that is. That’s what we’re talking about right now, these type of rights that the American people have. He may strongly agree with the outcome, or the final opinion of that, but he, of course, believes in the legitimacy of all three branches of government. Go ahead.
Speaker 21: (42:14)
Jen, thank you. First of all, congratulations to both you and Karine.
Jen Psaki: (42:19)
I appreciate I’m getting congratulations, I guess it’s so that I can sleep and read books, and I’m taking all of the recommendations. Huge congratulations, really, to Karine. Yes. Thank you though, yes.
Speaker 21: (42:30)
I have two questions. The first is, yesterday, you were talking from the podium, the Fed Chair, during his press conference as well, about the strength of the economy.
Jen Psaki: (42:37)
Speaker 21: (42:37)
The possibility for a soft landing. Today, it’s a little bit of a different story. The stock market is down more than 1000 points. A CNBC survey shows 80% of small business owners see a recession in the next 12 months. I’m wondering if the White House took note of the market route today, and what, if anything, it signals about the health of the underlying economy?
Jen Psaki: (42:56)
We don’t judge the economy by the daily movement of the stock market. That has been true of most presidents, and most White Houses in the past. We look at main street, and not just Wall Street. I would note, just for fact’s sake, that since President Biden took office, the stock market is up approximately 9%. I still think that’s true as it closed, you can check me on that. Our focus, and the focus of many economists who look at this question of whether we’re headed toward a recession, is on fundamental economic data, including the number of jobs that have been created, the growth of GDP. Obviously, we have the unemployment rate at 3.6%, the biggest single year drop in us history. Household balance sheets are strong. Businesses are investing in the United States, and we even saw the high level of investment, even with the GDP numbers that we saw earlier this week? Last week? We still saw high levels of business investments.
Jen Psaki: (43:52)
That’s all the data we look at. That’s the data most economists look at. We certainly understand that, in terms of consumer confidence, and I don’t know what this small business data looked at. It may be that people seek costs, they see the stock market. We understand that, when you’re measuring people’s emotions, or people’s reaction, that’s what that captures. We’re still looking at the basic fundamentals, as are many economists on the outside, including Jason Furman, and others. Go ahead.
Speaker 21: (44:18)
I have one more question, which is about operation KleptoCapture. You talked about the yacht that was seized in [inaudible 00:44:22].
Jen Psaki: (44:22)
Speaker 21: (44:23)
What does the U.S. do with all the assets that it’s getting? Where do these yachts go? What are you using all of the money for, that you’re obtaining from these oligarchs?
Jen Psaki: (44:30)
There is actually legislation that we’ve proposed, and that we’re working with Congress on, on where some of this could go. I can check on that for you, and where the yacht is parked right now. I’m now very interested in that question as well. Go ahead.
Speaker 22: (44:43)
Thank you Jen, just a quickie for you. Can you tell us your plans, now that you have the successor?
Jen Psaki: (44:48)
I have nothing to announce on my plans, other than, as I said earlier, to sleep, to read books. If there’s anything I should stream on Netflix or wherever. Hulu, other places, I’m happy to do that. I take recommendations. I’m today, obviously, celebrating Karine, and I will have a lot to say about my team, the president, Dr. Biden, all of you. I’m just kidding, it’ll be nice things about all of you, next week. Nothing to say or announce about what’s next. Go ahead. Okay, last one. Go ahead. Sir, I think I’ve taken two questions from you. I’m going to take a question over here. Go ahead.
Speaker 23: (45:25)
Let me, first, also say congratulations to you, and also to Karine, excited to have you as a new person in this position. Two quick questions. My colleague, before, talked about what Texas is doing.
Jen Psaki: (45:37)
Speaker 23: (45:38)
In DC, tomorrow there’s going to be a new bill introduced by a council member that would prohibit the city from cooperating with any other state’s investigation into someone who’s gotten or performed an abortion. As states are trying to scramble what to do, is that something that you would even see the administration getting behind, as we’re seeing all these things pop up in different states?
Jen Psaki: (45:59)
Yeah. If I understand it correctly, it’s to protect people’s rights, so that they can’t be investigated.
Speaker 23: (46:04)
Jen Psaki: (46:05)
Right. The Department of Justice, I’d have to check with them and our council’s office on this. One of the things they reiterated, when we saw SB Eight and the Texas law, is people’s rights. I think it’s important for people to remember now, even in this moment, that this has not been overturned, at this point. The final opinion has not been out. People across the country still have fundamental rights to make choices about their own healthcare. That sounds, to me, like it’s an effort to protect people’s rights, and those who support them. That’s something the Department of Justice has spoken out, to make sure people understood that. I can certainly check on this specific law. We’ve got to wrap it up, because it’s 6:00, but anyone going to Cincinnati, it’s going to be great. Okay. Thanks everyone.
Speaker 24: (46:48)