May 10, 2022

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki 5/09/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki 5/09/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsJen Psaki White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki 5/09/22 Transcript

Jen Psaki speaks to the press on 5/09/22. Read the transcript here.


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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
A few minutes ago, you heard the President talk about Victory in Europe Day, which the world commemorated this weekend as a celebration of the end of World War II and a victory for the United States and the allied forces over the scourge of fascism and aggression in the defense of freedom and democracy. While President Putin and the Russian people celebrated victory day today, we are seeing Russian forces commit war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine as they engage in a brutal war that is causing so much suffering and needless destruction. This day is supposed to be about celebrating peace in unity in Europe and the defeat of Nazis in World War II. That is what is celebrated every year in Russia as well. And instead, Putin is perverting history, changing history to try… Or attempting to change it, I should say, to justify his unprovoked and unjustified war, which has brought catastrophic loss of life and immense human suffering.

Jen Psaki: (00:57)
We’re continuing to do what we can to provide support for Ukraine at this pivotal moment, flowing security, economic, and humanitarian assistance. Today, the president signed the Lynn Lease Act into law, which adds to our suite of tools as we provide Ukraine with the weapons and equipment they need. Yesterday, as you all know, the First Lady visited Ukraine in a historic visit to meet with the First Lady of Ukraine. She did that purposefully on Mother’s Day to be there and recognize the sacrifices of so many mothers during this time in Ukraine and send an important message of solidarity. And our [inaudible 00:01:32] on the ground led a group of diplomats temporarily returning to Kyiv to demonstrate our unity with the people of Ukraine on Victory in Europe Day, as they fight to defend their freedom and their democracy. President Biden also spoke with RG-7 partners yesterday and President Zelenskyy about our collective response to President Putin’s brutal war.And we announced a new round of actions to ratchet up the pain on Putin. This includes banning US services that help Russian elites and companies build wealth, innovate sanctions, additional restrictions on a broad range of inputs and products like bulldozers and industrial engines that Putin needs for his military, and sanctions on big executives at Russia’s largest banks and Russian military officials.

Jen Psaki: (02:13)
The United States also sanctioned the top three most watched TV stations in Russia that bolster Putin’s war by spreading his propaganda. And for the first time ever, the G-7 agreed as a whole to ban or phase out Russian oil. We will keep building on our unprecedented sanctions that are enacting a heavy toll on Russia’s economy with GDP expected to collapse by double digits. Our export controls with more than 30 other countries have throttled Russia’s access to critical technology it needs to maintain its military. With that, [inaudible 00:02:44], why don’t you kick it off?

Speaker 1: (02:45)
Thank you. We have the prime minister of Italy who’s coming on Tuesday and there’s some pressures on the European bond market. I’m wondering, does the Biden Administration believe that the European economy is facing recession solely because of the effects of Putin’s war? Or are there other factors at work?

Jen Psaki: (03:07)
Well, we’ve seen the impact of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine here in the United States. We’ve seen in our own economy, how inflation and inflationary data over the last several weeks or even months has been impacted a great deal by energy prices and a great deal of that is because of President Putin’s invasion. I don’t have an assessment from here on the European economy, other than to say, we know if we look at the past several months, even before the invasion that the GDP here and our economic growth here was higher than the rest of the world including Europe, because of the strength of the steps the president took earlier last year.

Jen Psaki: (03:45)
So they will have a range of topics to discuss, including ongoing efforts to hold President Putin and the Russian leadership to account to continue to put in place crippling sanctions, to continue to support Ukrainians as they bravely fight this war against the Russians. And they will, of course, also discuss our close cooperation on promoting economic prosperity, increasing Europe’s energy security, and combating climate change, all topics that we expect to be part of the preparations and on the agenda for the G7.

Speaker 1: (04:20)
One more on another topic. You suggested that peacefully protesting outside the homes of judges and Supreme Court justices is part of freedom of expression and part of what we do in the United States. But there’s a law in Virginia that actually prohibits protests outside private residents, even when it’s done peacefully. So I’m wondering if any sort of demonstrations outside private homes might follow up that law and other laws like it in [inaudible 00:04:50]?

Jen Psaki: (04:49)
We’re certainly not suggesting anyone break any laws. I would note that the president’s view has long been and I tweeted this earlier this morning and repeated and made a number of these comments last week as well, that violence, threats, and intimidation have no place in political discourse. Yes, we are country that promotes democracy. And we certainly allow for peaceful protests in a range of places in the country. None of it should violate the law. No one is suggesting that, and it should never resort to violence, to threats, to intimidation in any way, shape, or form. But that is what our position is and the resident’s position is. Go ahead.

Mary: (05:25)
Thank you. On abortion, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said that a national ban on abortion could be possible depending on the votes. Without court intervention, just how at risk does the administration believe the US is to completely outlaw abortion?

Jen Psaki: (05:40)
I think we’re at serious risk. You noted Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in Congress are talking about a national ban on a woman’s right to choose. There were a number, I think it was something… I can get the exact number here, but dozens and dozens of Republicans in Congress signed on to the Mississippi court case and advocating for severe restrictions on a woman’s right to choose and a woman’s right to make choices about her own body. And we’ve seen in other places in the country. Just yesterday, the governor of Mississippi said directly… Just yesterday, the governor said directly, they would wouldn’t say whether they would directly go after the right to use contraception, meaning that’s another area where… So as the president has said over the course of the last nearly week, his concern is about yes, a woman’s right to make choices about her own healthcare, about what this final opinion could be.

Jen Psaki: (06:37)
It’s also about what choices could be made that go beyond that. I’d also note that Louisiana legislators advanced to bill to classify abortion as homicide, which would allow women who terminate their pregnancies to be charged with murder and potentially criminalize in vitro fertilization and forms of birth control. So in some ways, yes, you’re seeing an outcry by the nearly two thirds of the public, many of them peacefully protesting, who are concerned about what this opinion will say, but you’re also seeing a number of Republicans in states and some in Congress double down on this potential to overturn a law that has been the law of the land for 50 years.

Mary: (07:16)
You mentioned that the Mississippi governor and his comments on the possibility of banning certain types of contraception. Is the administration planning to take steps to try and preemptively safeguard access to contraception?

Jen Psaki: (07:28)
Well, I would say there’s a range of considerations that are underway both by our council’s office, by the Department of Justice, led by the Gender Policy Council to take every step we can to protect women’s fundamental rights and protect rights beyond that. I would note that, and the president talked about this a little bit last week, but when we’re talking about Roe. Roe has been the precedent for a number of other laws passed by the Supreme Court that impacts people’s fundamental lives, their basic rights, their freedoms, their privacy, and their protections, including if you look back, Griswold versus Connecticut, [inaudible 00:08:03] versus Baird, which ensured the right to use contraception was protected. That is law now, but we are clear eyed about this being a precedent for that and what could come next. Overfell versus Hodges, which protects the right to marry. Lawrence versus Texas, which stopped government from preventing sexual relationships between consenting adults. For 50 years, Roe has been the basis for a number of these decisions that have impacted and changed people’s lives and our view for the better.

Mary: (08:29)
You mentioned again, I mean, obviously you’re discussing next steps here. You’ve said before that you’re not going to detail what’s sort of on the table, especially until the final ruling comes down, but why not? I mean, especially when states have trigger laws, why not communicate at least what the options are to try and get ahead of some of this, give women some assurances as we see obviously growing concern across the country?

Jen Psaki: (08:50)
Sure, Mary. Well, what I’ve talked about a little bit in here in the past, which people can look to as a model for what we’re trying to do is what we’ve done in response to SB-8 in Texas, right? We created the Dire Need Grant awards to provide funding to expand access to emergency contraception and family planning services. In addition, you also saw the Department of Justice and the attorney general release a statement in response to Texas SB-8 that reaffirm their commitment to using existing federal law to protect the safety of patients seeking access to reproductive health services. The Department of Health and Human Services has also been implementing a three pronged department wide response to protect patients and providers. We’ve also talked in here a great deal about the fact that we know that 26 states have indicated their plans on a varying levels I should say of overturning women’s fundamental rights.

Jen Psaki: (09:40)
13 have trigger laws and what we’re looking at… And some states have also taken steps, Connecticut, California are two of them, others are also examples, to protect women’s rights. What we’re looking at here is nearly half the country potentially not allowing women to have access to choices about their own bodies and their healthcare that has been the law of the land for 50 years. And we know who that will impact because 75% of people seeking abortions make less than 200% of the poverty level. We know the majority of people seeking abortions are women of color. So we are taking into account all of that as we look at options. Go ahead.

Ed: (10:15)
Just to follow up on all that. Mary asked what I would for the most part, but-

Jen Psaki: (10:21)
Collegiality at play.

Ed: (10:24)
When are we going to hear from the president on this issue? We’ve heard from just about every other Democrat. You’ve clearly come prepared with all the details today. We have to wait until the court ruling is official, or might he speak out beforehand?

Jen Psaki: (10:36)
I would say he spoke multiple times last week and I expect you’ll continue to hear him speak about this issue.

Ed: (10:42)
He spoke on the tarmac. It was noisy.

Jen Psaki: (10:43)
Does that not count?

Ed: (10:44)
I just wanted to know if there’s going to be something slightly more prepared and thoughtful to try to make use of the presidential bully pulp with the way he can. When he wants to, he can draw attention to issues.

Jen Psaki: (10:55)
You’re right. And what I was pointing to, Ed, is that obviously this was in his mind, in front and center for him last week, because he spoke multiple times to this unprompted in some cases, some prompted by questions, of course, and I expect he will continue to do that. What I don’t expect he will do is speak to an opinion that is not yet final, that has not yet been released, but certainly speaking to the protection of women’s fundamental rights, of their rights to make decisions about their own healthcare. And certainly his concern, which he’s talked about for decades about privacy and privacy protections, which he said last week was the basis of his leading the fight against the board count nominations. So I expect you’ll continue to hear him talk about that and hopefully there will be more opportunities for you all to ask good questions.

Ed: (11:41)
Two other, if I could real quick. Tomorrow, he’s giving a speech on inflation. Wondering if you can give us some sense of what more he’ll get into.

Jen Psaki: (11:48)
Sure. Well, I would note that as we announced and previewed a little bit, the president will be speaking to his continued plan to continue the fight to address inflation.

Jen Psaki: (12:02)
Continued plan to continue the fight to address inflation in the coming months. There’s a lot of work that has been done to date on this front, whether it was the steps he’s taken to address energy crisis, the release from the strategic petroleum reserve, additional steps he’s taken on that front, or whether it was steps he’s taken even in recent weeks to fix the family glitch, to help more people have access to healthcare, or steps he announced in the last couple of weeks to make E15 available to thousands of people at gas stations across the country. But what you will also hear him talk about tomorrow is the contrast and the contrast that his plan and the plans he’s been implementing for months now draws with those on the other side of the aisle who have not put forward any plan to lower cost for the American people. So, it will be his opportunity to lay that all out together.

Ed: (12:50)
And there is growing concern about a persistent supply issue with infant baby formula, about 40% shortage right now, major retailers having to limit how much people can buy, especially acute in places like Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa. This is partly an FDA issue, but it could be a Biden administration issue, just wondering if you guys are planning on taking any steps to help remedy that?

Jen Psaki: (13:13)
Well, let me first say, as you know, but the FDA issued a recall to ensure that they’re meeting their obligation to protect the health of Americans, including babies, who of course were receiving or taking this formula and ensure safe products are available, that’s their job. Ensuring the availability of these products is also a priority for the FDA and they’re working around the clock to address any possible shortage. [inaudible 00:13:37]. Okay. That is like hearing your voice on the answering machine, which I know that’s a very outdated reference, but we’ve all been there.

Jen Psaki: (13:47)
Okay. So what the FDA is doing, which while they’re independent, they are part of the administration, is taking a number of steps to address. That includes working with major infant formula manufacturers to ensure they’re increasing production because part of this issue is, of course, making sure there’s stock on the shelves, right? And working with the industry right now to optimize their supply lines, product sizes, to increase capacity and prioritizing product lines that are of greatest needs. Because obviously, as someone who my child has long been out of formula, fortunately, but it’s close enough that I remember when you were trying to go to the store and get the specific kind of formula for your aged child or whatever their needs are. So they are taking steps with that in mind. They’re also exercising flexibility and expediting review of notifications of manufacturing changes that will help increase supply, particularly in the case of specialized formula, so that applies to that as well for medical needs. And they’re also trying to streamline import entry review processes for already notified infant formula products coming from notified foreign facilities. So what they’re trying to do in the short hand of it is increase supply by working with a range of manufacturers and what their capacity is to ensure that the kinds of formula that was recalled is where they’re able to help ensure it’s on the shelves.

Ed: (15:06)
That isn’t something that’s kept in a national stockpile, do you know?

Jen Psaki: (15:10)
I don’t believe there’s a national stockpile of baby formula, but the FDA is not just their responsibility in their view to ensure that we are meeting our obligations to protect Americans, it is also their obligation to take steps to ensure supply can be met when they take these steps. So, that is what they’re very focused on.

Speaker 2: (15:31)
What’s an answering machine, if you know?

Jen Psaki: (15:35)
Since you’re 25, I’ll explain it to you after the briefing.

Speaker 2: (15:39)
Could you say, just give some general reaction to Putin’s speech this morning?

Jen Psaki: (15:43)
Sure. I tried to do it a bit at the top, but what I will say is that what we saw President Putin do is give a version of revisionist history that took the form of disinformation that we have seen too commonly as the Russian playbook. Now, what is fortunate is that we are all aware, reporters around the world are aware, Europeans are aware, Americans are aware of the disinformation factory that President Putin and the Kremlin seemed to be.

Jen Psaki: (16:17)
But the suggestion that this war that was prompted by, directed by President Putin was prompted by Western aggression or Western plans is patently false and absurd. And otherwise, I would say, our view is that we should remember, and this is why I did this at the top, what this day is actually about, which is something that we have all celebrated, which is the defeat of Nazis after World War II, something that Russians have celebrated in the streets for many years.

Speaker 2: (16:47)
Great question on a totally unrelated topic. Biden has blamed large meat packers for the run of the meat prices. And today Tyson’s Foods have another record, or very good earnings out that showed its average prices for beef had climbed nearly 25% compared to the same quarter last year. I wondered if you all have any reaction to that, is this the sort of price gouging that the administration is seeking to stop?

Jen Psaki: (17:12)
I don’t have any reaction directly to one company’s earnings, but what the President’s concern is, and what Secretary Vilsack, who’s been here a number of times, is concerned about is that the meat industry, the conglomerates are so small, I mean not small, they’re very large, but they’re so dominant that they are elbowing out, of course, smaller producers and that they have this capacity and ability to jack up prices and pass those onto consumers when they should not. But I don’t have any direct reaction to one company’s reports. I am not aware of this issue and our concern being addressed though, so it’s an ongoing concern. Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (17:50)
Just a little bit more on the Victory Day speech. Given that he didn’t really point to specific victories and he also didn’t signal some kind of upcoming massive escalation or some pathway to ending the war, I’m just wondering if there were any takeaways for US officials specifically related to the trajectory of the war from that speech?

Jen Psaki: (18:14)
I would say what we’re watching closely is what we’re seeing on the ground. And what we’re seeing on the ground is right now, a great deal of the war, as you all know, and my colleagues at the Department of Defense have briefed on this even as recently as this morning, has obviously moved more to the East and that terrain is very different. The Donbas is a lot more flat, it’s little small villages, it’s very different from what we were seeing in Kiev. That is a terrain that the Ukrainians know well, and what we look at as we look to the totality of the country, and if we go back to mid-February when President Putin was giving speeches basically declaring he was going to subsume Ukraine, take over the country, the territorial integrity of the country, and go beyond that is that is exactly not what’s happening today.

Jen Psaki: (19:03)
President Putin and the Russians are not marching through Kiev. They are struggling to fight in other parts of the country and the Ukrainians are bravely and courageously fighting every day. So we look at what’s happening on the ground, though it is important to note and to call out the revisionist history that we saw in this speech and the fact that any such statements that we saw, we’ve seen for months from President Putin, that the war was prompted by the West is just patently false and accurate and we can’t state that too often.

Speaker 3: (19:33)
And on the First Lady’s trip to Ukraine, is there anything more you can share? You’ve talked a little bit about why she wanted to choose Mother’s Day to travel into Ukraine. In terms of the security concerns, which you’ve talked about a lot, how were you all able to get to a point where you could feel confident, the President could feel confident that she would be totally safe?

Jen Psaki: (19:54)
I’m not going to get into behind the scenes security concerns or considerations. Obviously she would not have gone if we did not feel comfortable with the security arrangements. I will note that she went there, as you said, because she wanted to go on Mother’s Day because she thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that the war has to stop, that the war has been brutal, and that the people of United States stand with the people of Ukraine. That’s why she went yesterday to show that the hearts of the American people are with the mothers of Ukraine.

Jen Psaki: (20:24)
She also, of course, she’s been back now and she’s had an opportunity to speak with the President and has conveyed, she said this publicly directly to him, what she saw on the ground, the need to support the people of Ukraine. She saw the horrors and the brutality that the people she met had experienced. And that was something she conveyed directly to him. But in terms of security, obviously we have a range of security considerations we make and I’m not going to detail those from here though.

Speaker 3: (20:50)
Just have a quick COVID question.

Jen Psaki: (20:52)

Speaker 3: (20:53)
The warning about the 100 million potential COVID infections by the fall and winter if new COVID funding isn’t approved. Dr. Jha has said that this is based on a range of internal and external models. Could the White House point us to which specific models were used to get to that number?

Jen Psaki: (21:11)
There are a range of, as he said, internal and external models. Well within that range is that number. The point he was making is that we know what we need to do. We have put out an entire playbook to address the pandemic, to help a preparedness plan, to ensure Americans are protected and that we stay on the front foot in our fight against COVID. If we do not take action, we also know that the virus is going to continue to evolve. And without us staying vigilant and prepared, like not having access to life-saving vaccines, testing therapeutics, it has the ability to upend our lives. So, he is a doctor himself, as you know, a very experienced one. He talks to a range of experts internally and externally. There’s a range of models that are out there and this is well within that range. And the point he was making is about the impact if we do not act, if Congress does not act.

Speaker 3: (22:05)
Would the White House be able to make public-

Speaker 4: (22:06)
Jen, can we spread out the questions a little bit? Can you yield to your colleagues please?

Jen Psaki: (22:11)
I would be happy to, but I think it would be polite if you let MJ finish her question.

Speaker 4: (22:15)
Several, can she yield to her colleagues?

Speaker 3: (22:17)
Could the White House make public the range of models so that we’re able to see how we got to that 100 million-

Jen Psaki: (22:24)
I’m happy to see if there’s more specific data we can make available, but what I can assure you of is that Dr. Jha is a very experienced public health expert, he talks to a range of officials internally and externally, that’s what he’s basing it on. Let me go to the back. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Speaker 4: (22:43)
[Japanese 00:22:43]. That means many in Japan are welcoming the upcoming visit. And two quick questions. One, Japan has a population of 130 million, but only 39,000 deaths from the virus. I’m wondering if the [inaudible 00:22:57] is aware of that and maybe some best practices can be studied while we’re there. And second, will there be a reaffirmation of the security treaty, especially about the Senkaku Islands? And then I have one quick follow up.

Jen Psaki: (23:10)
Sure. Well, what I can tell you is that we will certainly be doing a formal preview of the Asia trip, probably early next week I would expect before the President departs. While he is there, as you know, he’s going to be holding bilateral meetings, including with his counterpart from Japan, and certainly discussing the ongoing COVID pandemic and the global fight to address the pandemic will be on the agenda. We’re grateful for Japan’s contribution to that.

Jen Psaki: (23:39)
They’re also going to discuss a range of security issues, enhanced economic ties, climate change. There are a lot of topics that are on the agenda for this meeting. And of course, in light of North Korea’s continued destabilizing actions in the region, including the test launch recently of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles, the President will also make clear that our commitment to the security of Republic of Korea and our Japanese allies as well…

Jen Psaki: (24:03)
… security of Republic of Korea and our Japanese allies as well, range of topics, and we will have more, I promise too. Go ahead.

Speaker 4: (24:07)
Just a follow up. I brought this up before, but many of us who were embedded during the wars, we have a lot of personal relationships with people, Afghanistan, as well as Iraq.

Jen Psaki: (24:18)

Speaker 4: (24:18)
We have one family, the [inaudible 00:24:21] family that have still haven’t been able to get out. Just any update on … it’s been almost eight months, and these are really people that gave their lives for us.

Jen Psaki: (24:29)
For the specific family? I’m more than happy to take their information and check in with the state department after the briefing. Go ahead.

Speaker 5: (24:36)
Jen. Thank you. Lots of summits and meetings in the next couple of weeks.

Jen Psaki: (24:41)

Speaker 5: (24:42)
Even ahead of the travel. Do you have any preview on what the president’s participation will be in the COVID summit?

Jen Psaki: (24:48)
Sure. He will be addressing the COVID summit. We are, of course, convening the COVID summit in order to have an opportunity for the global community to continue to discuss our fight against the pandemic. I would note just to get everybody up to speed, as you’re preparing for your coverage, we committed to sharing 1.2 billion doses of safe, effective vaccines with the world. We’re making good on that commitment.

Jen Psaki: (25:14)
We’ve shipped over 530 million doses of vaccine to 115 countries around the world, over four times more than our next closest donor. But what we expect to be a topic or what part of our agenda is for this meeting is to talk about the fact that those doses are getting harder to place because countries freezers are simply full. We have tens of millions of unclaimed doses because countries lack the resources to build out their cold [inaudible 00:25:39], which basically is their refrigeration systems, to fight disinformation, and to hire vaccinators.

Jen Psaki: (25:44)
There are actually some good examples of where we’ve had funding, where we have worked with countries. For example, in Zambia, the US government programs engaging local leaders in vaccine programs help double vaccination rates from 12% to 22%. We know meaningful gains are possible, but part of this is also going to be an opportunity to elevate the fact that we need additional funding to continue to be a part of this effort around the world.

Speaker 5: (26:09)
And is it going to be a problem if over on Capitol Hill, they move ahead with the Ukraine aid package and sort of leave that COVID funding to the side, right as this summit is convening?

Jen Psaki: (26:22)
Well, that’s an active conversation, literally, as we speak right now on Capitol Hill. What I will tell you is that the president is absolutely committed to signing into law both the Ukraine funding and also COVID funding, and he will continue to fight for both. Go ahead.

Speaker 6: (26:39)
Thanks Jen. Last week you mentioned that the administration is talking to a wide range of people about how to respond to this upcoming decision on abortion.

Jen Psaki: (26:47)

Speaker 6: (26:48)
You mentioned business leaders. I’m just curious if you could elaborate on that. What kinds of businesses and how do you see their role in this response?

Jen Psaki: (26:56)
I think the point I was making … I don’t have business leaders to read out for you and we’re going to keep a lot of these conversations private, but I would note that two thirds of the public, even in Fox News polls have said that they don’t want to overturn Roe V. Wade. This is a mainstream position for the majority of the public. I’m not saying everyone agrees on it. That’s not at all what I’m saying, but it is about two thirds of the public. There are a lot of stakeholders, a lot of private sector citizens and leaders who are concerned about what they could see if this opinion is a final version or close to a final version of the opinion. Part of our role here is to engage with leaders, whether they’re on Capitol Hill or they are women’s leaders or they’re in advocacy groups and certainly private sector leaders as well.

Jen Psaki: (27:39)
Go ahead.

Speaker 7: (27:39)
Thank you. The president and you have talked about the MAGA crowd or the ultra MAGA. How does that jive with his desire to be the bipartisan guy?

Jen Psaki: (27:52)
Well, the president’s view is you can do both. He believes that there is work we can continue to do together. We’re actively advocating for. He was out traveling in just last Friday on the Bipartisan Innovation Act. We believe that needs to move forward. It should move forward. That can build on the nearly 80 bills that we signed into law last year that are bipartisan, but he is also not going to stand by and not call out what he sees as ultra MAGA behavior, ultra MAGA policies that are out of the mainstream of the country and are not in the interest of the American people. Whether that is efforts to prevent a woman from making choices about her own healthcare or whether that is Chairman Scott’s policy and proposals that would raise taxes on people making less than $100,000 dollars a year.

Jen Psaki: (28:40)
He’s going to continue to call that out, but he believes there is still a path to move forward on where we have agreement.

Speaker 7: (28:46)
On the first lady’s trip to Ukraine, does that change the calculations at all about the president making a visit to Ukraine since this presumably worked?

Jen Psaki: (28:56)
Their travel is a little bit different. I think you all know from traveling with the president. There’s not a trip currently planned, but again, he would love to go to Ukraine. I just don’t have anything planned or anything to preview at this point. Go ahead.

Speaker 8: (29:09)
Thanks Jen. There are reports now, you just alluded to this a minute ago, that Democrats are in fact going to bring forth that Ukraine aid without the COVID funding attached. I know you’ve told me last week that that was something that the White House wanted to see them attached, but we’re being told that the president actually had said, Look, the Republicans don’t support that. Let’s leave it aside.” Can you confirm that? Was there a change in thinking over the last few days at the White House over how this package should proceed?

Jen Psaki: (29:36)
Well, that has been his preference to get both of them done and done together, which he has thought that would be the most efficient process. Since this is actively happening right now, I don’t have any confirmation of it from here. I expect we’ll have more. Even though I have dwindling days left here, I’m still not going to get ahead of the president, because I want to enjoy those last few days, but hopefully we’ll have more to say on where we stand soon. Go ahead.

Speaker 3: (30:01)
Does the president plan to condemn the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion or the doxxing of the justices now that we’ve seen violence unfold?

Jen Psaki: (30:11)
Well, I would say that we have been clear and the president’s position has long been that we should not see protest that takes the form of violence, that takes the form of vandalism, and that threatens anyone. That has long been his position for his entire career and continues to be his position.

Speaker 3: (30:28)
And for tomorrow your office released that-

Jen Psaki: (30:31)
But can I say one more thing? Sorry.

Speaker 3: (30:33)
Please do.

Jen Psaki: (30:33)
We have not seen violence or vandalism against Supreme Court justices. We have seen it at Catholic churches. That’s unacceptable. The president does not support that. We have seen it at some conservative organizations that we don’t support that. And we certainly call for, we know the passion, we understand the passion, we understand the concern, but what the president’s position is, is that should be peaceful, the protest. But continue, go ahead.

Speaker 3: (30:56)
And as for tomorrow, the president plans to offer, as you said, a contrast. It was written, “To congressional Republicans ultra MAGA plan to raise taxes.” Now the Washington Post has called that claim false that there was a Republican congressional plan to raise taxes. Why is this statement still being shared?

Jen Psaki: (31:13)
Because Chairman Scott’s plan, and we welcome … we know he’s asked for people to go to his website. We would encourage people to do the same thing and check out his plan that raises taxes for people making less than $100,000 a year.

Speaker 3: (31:24)
Mitch McConnell and this report, there aren’t any other Republicans signing onto this at this point. Is it fair to say that Republicans as a whole are pushing-

Jen Psaki: (31:33)
He’s the chairman of the committee, if Republicans want to repudiate his plan, they should go do that. But otherwise that continues to be what they’re running on. That’s their position, not ours. Go ahead.

Speaker 9: (31:43)
Jen, is the White House satisfied with the legislative strategy on abortion rights, which appears to be, to have this vote on Wednesday, which will fail and then make this a midterm issue?

Jen Psaki: (31:52)
Well, we support leader Schumer’s decision to get people on the record on codifying Roe. That’s something the president would be happy to sign into law. At the same time, we certainly recognize that we don’t have the votes. You can tell me. You cover the hill closely, you can tell me if I’m wrong. We understand that, but we think it’s important and an important issue to get people on the record on. Without getting into politics from here, again, I don’t make the rules, I just try to follow them.

Jen Psaki: (32:23)
In the president’s statement last week, he noted that in order to take legislative action, we would need more Democratic senators and we would need more pro-choice house members after the election in November. We certainly recognize that and we know that’s on the minds of many people across the country.

Speaker 9: (32:43)
And if I could follow up on that, one of the votes you don’t have is probably Joe Manchin’s. I’m curious, when was last time the president spoke to him about either this issue or his domestic agenda, which Manchin has been signaling he’s open to maybe reviving some of these conversations that basically died in December.

Jen Psaki: (32:59)
Well, we are open to this moving forward as well. I will say that just because we don’t confirm conversations happening, it doesn’t mean they’re not happening, but the president has asked us not to get in specific details or confirm the timing or specifics of their conversations, so I’m not going to do that.

Speaker 9: (33:16)
Is it fair to say they’re still actively happening?

Jen Psaki: (33:19)
I can tell you that we are still in touch with Senator Manchin. We certainly are in touch with a range of Democrats about the need and the importance of moving forward. As it relates to the president’s remarks tomorrow, obviously moving forward with a reconciliation package that would lower costs on American people on elder care, on healthcare, on childcare, would be a step that would help address how inflation is impacting people across this country. We’re having range of conversations. A lot of Democrats are having a range of conversations with each other. I’m just not going to detail them more from here. Go ahead.

Speaker 10: (33:53)
Jen, on the sanctions against Russia, what would it take to lift those? Say, if Ukraine agreed to a peace deal, is that enough? Or would the US want something more?

Jen Psaki: (34:03)
I’m not going to negotiate from here on that. We do know that an end to this will require a negotiated diplomatic process and we support that. But our role is to continue to strengthen the Ukrainian’s hands, whether it’s through military assistance, economic, humanitarian, continuing to keep the world united. We’re just not going to get ahead of the process.

Speaker 10: (34:25)
And just real quickly, back on the Rick Scott question. Senator McConnell did repudiate that plan. How can you say it stands for what Republicans-

Jen Psaki: (34:32)
Well, he’s the chairman of the committee. I wouldn’t say every Republican has repudiated it. If that’s not at all the plan they’re running on and none of them are for it, then they can speak for themselves. Go ahead.

Speaker 2: (34:42)
Jen, on abortion, this country is about to engage. Some states that don’t have trigger laws are going to decide what they think the restriction should be on abortion. That’s going to be a tough question in many of these states. Does the president have a clear belief in what he thinks the restrictions should be on? Or if there should be any restrictions on abortion? You’ve been asked this before, but I just want to get a clear answer.

Jen Psaki: (35:05)
The president’s view is that women should be able to make choices about their own healthcare. I’m not going to detail it further beyond what he said in the past from here.

Speaker 2: (35:12)
[inaudible 00:35:12] restrictions?

Jen Psaki: (35:12)
Again, I’m not going to detail his opinion. He’s spoken to this a number of times. Go ahead.

Speaker 11: (35:16)
Thank you, Jen. I have one question on ASEAN and one question on Russia.

Jen Psaki: (35:20)

Speaker 11: (35:21)
The rotating chair of ASEAN, Cambodia, say prior to the upcoming summit, that it’s a normal practice that the host of the nation to meet with the chair of ASEAN. We know President Biden actually wrote a letter to a Prime Minister Hun Sen and will the president have a bilateral meeting with the prime minister?

Jen Psaki: (35:51)
I’m very happy to check on that, the schedule. I know it feels very close, because it is, it’s in a couple days, but I will check and see. He obviously invited the leaders of ASEAN from Brunei to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos-

Jen Psaki: (36:03)
… of ASEAN, from Brunai to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as the ASEAN secretary general to Washington to participate in the summit. But in terms of bilateral meetings, I can check and see if there’s any on the schedule.

Speaker 11: (36:18)
I have a question about Russia about the intel leaks by the American officials. Thomas Freeman say that he was told that the person Biden called the director of national intelligence, director of CIA and secretary of defense to make clear in the strongest and most colorful language that this kind of [inaudible 00:36:41] is relentless and has got to stop immediately before we end up in an intended war with Russia. Is that true, and is the president worried about the unintended war with Russia?

Jen Psaki: (36:52)
Well, what I will tell you without confirming private internal calls, that the president was displeased with the leaks. His view was that it was an overstatement of our role and an accurate statement and also an understatement of the Ukrainian’s role in their leadership, and he does not … did not felt they were constructive. Go ahead. Did not feel … that was grammatically inaccurate. Okay, go ahead.

Speaker 11: (37:16)

Speaker 1: (37:16)
There seems to be a lot of bipartisan support for listing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Is that something on the Hill I’m talking about … is that something being discussed in the White House? And if the president’s not there, how would you define the line that would have to be crossed to go there?

Jen Psaki: (37:34)
I know we’ve talked about this quite a bit in the past. I would note that to be named a state sponsor of terror, you … there’s only about four countries that have been named state sponsors of terror in the world. There are a number of actions that are often taken if a country is named a state sponsor of terror. A number of those we have already taken, including economic crippling economic sanctions, sanctions on individuals, other restrictions for the country. And obviously making the country a global pariah is part of that objective. Those are all steps that we have already taken and implemented as it relates to Russia. I don’t have anything to preview in terms of a consideration here, and certainly we’ll see what happens in Congress. Go ahead.

Speaker 12: (38:16)
Thanks Jen. What’s the White House’s reaction to Sinn Féin’s gains in the Northern Ireland assembly over the weekend?

Jen Psaki: (38:22)
Let me check with our national security team and we’ll see if we can get you a comment on that specifically. Go ahead, John.

Speaker 13: (38:28)
Hey Jen, you were critical in condemning violence, but as you know, there’s also some allies who are protesting outside justice’s homes, including Brett Kavanaugh, who, if there’s any kind of a compromise, conservative ruling that preserves some of Roe, he could be part of that with Roberts. So my question is it appropriate to protest outside people’s homes, and is it productive or not productive?

Jen Psaki: (38:49)
Look, I would say in terms of the productive question, that’s not for me to speak to. Obviously these justices make decisions as an independent body. How they are influenced or if they are influenced is not for me to make a determination of. We do believe in peaceful protests. We do not believe in or support any intimidation of any kind, obviously the violation of breaking of any law as somebody raised before, or threats or intimidation of any individual. What we do support is people peacefully protesting, and they do that in a range of places.

Speaker 13: (39:23)
But you wouldn’t wave anybody off for tactical reasons.

Jen Psaki: (39:26)
We’re not here to give tactical advice to protesters. What we are here to call for is peaceful protest for people not to resort to violence, to vandalism, or certainly intimidation of any kind. Go ahead.

Speaker 14: (39:40)
As we look ahead to tomorrow’s inflation speech, let me ask you to look back at some of the warnings that were issued last year by Summers and Ratner. And so in retrospect, were they right that some of the government policies were going to lead to inflation?

Jen Psaki: (39:58)
I wouldn’t say we agreed with them then, and we don’t agree with them now. I would note that as it relates to actions like the American Rescue Plan, the alternative to not putting in place and advocating for the American Rescue Plan would’ve been the economy continuing to spiral, right? We would, we were providing assistance and relief in the form of checks to people who needed that assistance at the time. That package also helped fund and prepare for a fighting against COVID. It helped keep schools open. 100 percent of schools are open today in large part because of the American Rescue Plan. It helps states and localities support and keep teachers, keep police, keep local authorities, keep local governments open at a time where that was in question.

Jen Psaki: (40:42)
So we know if we look at the recent inflation data, depending on which data you look at, two thirds to even 70% of inflation data is a result of energy crises. A large part of that is the result … and Chairman Powell has spoken to this, and Secretary Yellen has also spoken to this … as a result of president Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact on the global energy markets. Those are all steps and impacts that I don’t think anyone could have predicted a year ago. Go ahead.

Speaker 4: (41:14)
Thanks, Jen. So on that, the economy is signaling some weakness going forward. What’s the level of concern? First of all, is the president watching the markets in the data coming in, and what’s his level of concern there’s a recession in the next 12 months?

Jen Psaki: (41:29)
Well, without … as you know, we don’t really speak to, or comment on the judgments ups and downs of the stock market or the daily movement of the stock market, I should say. While it’s volatile, we’ve seen that, and we certainly monitor it from here, I would note that since president Biden took office, the market is up considerably.

Jen Psaki: (41:48)
When we look at economic data internally, when a lot of external economists look at economic data, they look at the fact that we’ve created over 8 million jobs since the president took office, that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6%, that GDP grew up 5.7% last year, the fastest rates in 1984, and also that household balance sheets are strong and businesses are investing in the United States. So we look at that base data, that data as we look at the economy. And of course we continue to monitor as data comes in and as we see fluctuations.

Speaker 4: (42:19)
So what’s his level of concern about a recession?

Jen Psaki: (42:21)
Again, we monitor it. We are continuing to. We’re not predicting that at this point in time.

Speaker 4: (42:25)
One more thing on new sanctions that was just announced on Russia, but China last week cut tariffs on coal from Russia coming in to zero. The Chinese have also had record imports last month from China, from Russia to China. 57% was the increase. At what point is China breaking the sanctions? And then when is the president going to stand up and say … and call out China to stop this behavior in supporting Russia?

Jen Psaki: (42:52)
We clearly will watch closely, and if that were to happen … I don’t think we have seen to date a breaking of the sanctions at this point in time. Go ahead.

Speaker 15: (43:02)
Thanks, Jenn. Thanks. So I’d like to ask you first about the coronavirus and then about a transparency matter. On the coronavirus, the CDC data indicate that we are getting pretty close to the 1 million death mark. Some say we’ve already crossed a million deaths. I was hoping, as we’re talking about potentially rolling back tariffs on Chinese goods, can you say where the tariffs question comes into pushing China to be transparent on the origins? And can you detail anything that president Biden has done with his levers of power, be it sanctions or tariffs or anything else to press for transparency from China?

Jen Psaki: (43:38)
Okay. There was a lot packed in there, so let me do my best here. I would say first, as you noted at the top, or at the top of your question, we track the CDC data as well as John’s Hopkins data and you are right. We are getting close to a million and we will be marking that from here. And as we get closer, we’ll have more to mark from here.

Jen Psaki: (43:55)
The president has had recent engagements with president Xi, as we have had at a very high level, from a range of national security officials, and we always raise transparency in those conversations, but I don’t have more to read out from those at this point in time. And what was the third part?

Speaker 15: (44:10)
Are tariffs or [inaudible 00:44:12] Russia …

Jen Psaki: (44:11)
There’s an ongoing review. I would look at it separately from the COVID deaths or from Russia. There’s an ongoing review on Chinese tariffs. We’ve been looking at those through the prism of how they’re impacting industries here in the United States. We feel that a number of them have not been constructive and have hurt … had a negative impact on a number of industries. So we’re looking at and we’re continuing our review of that, which is being led by our ambassador, Katherine Tai.

Speaker 15: (44:37)
Would tariffs be used to pressure China, to be transparent though? I mean, is that part of the consideration at all when considering rolling them back?

Jen Psaki: (44:43)
Well, again, we consider a range of factors as we look at the tariffs. So the largest factor is the impact on the economy and a range of industries.

Speaker 15: (44:51)
And the transparency question I have, in 2017 and 2018, the president routed 13 million of income through S corporations. There are some ethics experts who are calling on him to divulge the specific sources of income in those revenue streams. Richard Painter, who ran for the Senate as a Democrat has been among those who are calling for this. Will president Biden be releasing the sources of income that were in that 13 million, particularly as there’s attention being paid to his son, and whether he earned any money from his businesses?

Jen Psaki: (45:25)
Well, again, the president doesn’t have dealings with his family members about business, and he has released decades of tax returns, which is more than I can say for his predecessor. Go ahead.

Speaker 16: (45:35)
Thanks, Jenn. I wanted to ask about North Korea. So some South Korean officials are saying that North Korea is likely to conduct another nuclear test around the time that President Biden goes to South Korea. Is the president monitoring this and is the White House going to roll out any preemptive sanctions in the next week or so?

Jen Psaki: (45:54)
Well, I will say we are certainly monitoring. And I would note that when the president goes to South Korea and Japan, North Korea, especially given their recent tasks, will be front and center in the agenda and discussing security in the region with them. I don’t have anything to predict or preview in terms of any preemptive sanctions or actions.

Speaker 16: (46:11)
If I could just ask, the new South Korean president is coming in tomorrow and he’s expected to take a much more hawkish stance on China and North Korea compared to his predecessor, who wanted to really work closely with North Korea. So does the White House welcome this kind of new hawkish stance against the two countries?

Jen Psaki: (46:27)
The president looks forward to having a conversation with him about security in the region, and of course, denuclearization of the peninsula. Go ahead.

Speaker 17: (46:34)
Thank you so much. Just a few follow-up questions. About the Cambodian prime minister, he’s been in power since 1985, which is the last time answering machines were a thing.

Jen Psaki: (46:45)
Yeah. More recently than that, I would say, but …

Speaker 17: (46:49)
He’s been accused of corruption, of violence, of repression. This is the first time he’s come to the White House. How does White House respond to criticism that by allowing him in here and meeting with him, you’re legitimizing that?

Jen Psaki: (47:02)
I would say that the president has never held back in raising concerns about human rights when he has conversations with leaders where that’s relevant. And this is an ASEAN meeting where all of the ASEAN member nations are included and invited. It’s not isolating, it’s not doing a state visit or anything along those lines. It’s an opportunity to discuss with leaders in the region a range of topics that we work together on, whether it’s COVID or economic growth or security in the region. And that’s exactly what will be the focus, but he has never held back in raising concerns where he has them, including with countries where we have a range of work we do together. Thanks everyone. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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