Jan 19, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/18/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/18/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/18/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/18/23. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:00):

Good afternoon, everybody.

Audience (00:02):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:02):

Okay. Tomorrow President Biden will travel to areas impacted by the recent extreme weather in California. Stops include the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties where storms have caused severe floods and landslides. During these stops, the President will meet with first responders, state, and local officials and communities impacted by the devastation, survey recovery efforts, and assess what additional federal support is needed. FEMA administrator, Deanne Criswell, will travel with the President, and while in California the President will be joined by Governor Newsome and other elected officials. The President has been closely monitoring the situation in California over the past several weeks and is being regularly briefed by his Homeland Security team throughout this time. He has remained in close touch with the Governor and also local officials on the ground. As you all saw, President Biden approved Governor Newsome’s request for an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration Saturday evening, providing federal support for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and individual assistance to survey whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the storm. We have over 500 FEMA and other federal personnel have already deployed to California to support response and recovery operations and are working side by side with the state to ensure all needs are indeed met on the ground.

This Sunday, the White House will commemorate what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Vice President Harris will travel to Florida to deliver a major address on the fight for women across America to have access to reproductive care and make their own healthcare decisions. 50 years after the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, ultra MAGA Republican officials continue to push at all levels of government for extreme legislation rolling back women’s fundamental rights, including a national abortion ban. At the state level, more than 60 anti-choice bills have been produced for the 2023 legislative session, including extreme proposals going as far as threatening women with felony charges for accessing care. In stark contrast, the President and the Vice President remain committed to fighting these extreme attacks on women and expanding access to reproductive care however they possibly can. This Sunday the President will speak about the fight to secure women’s fundamental right to reproductive healthcare in the face of these attacks. She will talk about what’s at stake for millions of women across the country, and most importantly, the need for Congress to codify the protections of Roe into law.

The President and the Vice President, and a strong majority of the American people, believe that women must be empowered to make decisions about their own lives and healthcare and that those decisions should not be politicized or second-guessed by politicians. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Republican officials are doing in Congress. Despite the outcome of the midterm elections in which millions of Americans went to the polls just across the country to protect women’s constitutional rights and reject extreme proposal to sell out the middle class, we have seen House Republicans abuse their narrow majority to take aim at the very issues the American people care about the most.

In addition to attacking women’s healthcare, we’ve already seen House Republicans try and undercut the progress President Biden has made rebuilding the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. Today, we got our news of even more progress tackling inflation, bringing costs down for Americans. Both producer and consumer inflation has now fallen for about six months straight. Consumer spending remains strong with retail sales in December, about flat when adjusted for inflation. That adds up to historic progress. President Biden inherited an economic crisis and turned it into the strongest two years of job growth on record.

The United States just hit the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years because of his economic plan. Again, his economic plan for the American people is indeed working. But as President is fighting, as he is fighting to bring costs down more and ensure that middle class families get a fair shake, House Republicans are advancing an economic plan that will take tax cuts for the rich, higher prices, and cutting Social Security, and cutting Medicare as well.

Their very first vote of the new Congress was a bill to worsen inflation and tax welfare for the rich. They want to impose an unprecedented tax increase on middle class families in the form of a 23% sales tax in order to provide even more tax giveaways to the super rich and big corporations. They’re going to vote to raise gas prices and deprive Americans of relief at the pump, and they’re threatening to kill millions of jobs and, and 401(k) plans by trying to hold the debt limit hostage unless they can, again, cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid.

On this last point, the President has been clear. He will not allow Republicans to take the economy hostage or make working Americans pay the price for their schemes to benefit the wealthiest Americans and also special interest. With that, I say this all the time, Josh, I haven’t seen you in a long time.

Josh (06:15):

Good to see you, Karine.

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:15):

You always tell me you’ve been here. Hi. Good to see you, Josh. Kick us off, please.

Audience (06:19):

Given everything you just laid out with regard to House Republicans, what has the White House seen or heard from House Republicans that gives you confidence that we can avoid a default?

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:32):

Look, we’ve been very, very clear and I’ll say this again. Let me first say this part that after the midterm elections, the President was very clear. We saw a historic when it comes to a Democratic President in 60 years being able to have a successful midterm. When you look at what we saw in the Senate, and when you look at the red wave that never happened, the President said the American people spoke very loudly and very clearly. They want to see us work in a bipartisan way. The President wants to do that. He’s looking to do that.

But also when you think about the debt limit, we’ve been very clear. The debt limit has been something that has happened three times, if you look at just the last administration in a bipartisan way, it is something that should be done without conditions. We should not be negotiating around it. It is the basic duty of Congress to get that done. We’re just not going to negotiate about that, because again, under the last President, it was done three times, again in a bipartisan way.

There is no alternative to Congress’ responsibility here to address the debt ceiling. The Treasury makes millions of payments each day. Their system is built to pay our country’s bills on time. It’s not set to make the United States delinquent by paying our bills. There is a reason that the treasury secretaries of both parties, if you think about it and if you all remember, rejected this incredible risky and dangerous idea that has never been tried before. It is essential for Congress to recognize that dealing with the debt ceiling is their Constitutional responsibility. This is an easy one. This is something that should be happening without conditions.

Josh (08:33):

Just to make sure I understand, do you think House Republicans in this Congress see their responsibilities the way that you just outlined?

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:43):

They should. I just laid out why they should feel the responsibility. I talked about this yesterday. I quoted the Chamber of Commerce said it would have catastrophic economic consequences. A former economist to Republican senators, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, called it, “A really bad idea and disaster.” In 2011, then Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, called it, “Unworkable and harmful.” The precedent has been for both parties to come together and to get this done. We are talking about the full faith and credit of our country.

Josh (09:25):

Then secondly, real fast, help us understand, given the frequency with which President Biden works in Delaware, what is the case against having visitor logs for his house?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:38):

I am going to refer you to the White House Counsel. They actually addressed this. They answered this question that you are asking me, I believe on Sunday. I also believe the Secret Service put out a statement. I would refer you to those two statements that came out from the White House. I’m actually going to go around. I got a lovely letter from Tamara Keith, your President of the White House Correspondents Association. She asked that I go around, so I’m going to do that. Okay, Courtney.

Courtney (10:09):

Thanks, Karine. I wanted to ask about the FAA issue last week with the ground stop that was called at airports across the country. When is the President expecting to receive an after-action report?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:22):

As DOT said, the issue was a damaged database file with no evidence of a cyberattack. I want to be very clear about this. You heard Secretary Buttigieg say that there is going to be an after-action report. I don’t have a timeline for you to share from here. I would refer you to the Department of Transportation, but this is something that we obviously take very seriously when it comes to the safety of Americans. That is something, who are flying, something that we make a priority. When the timeline of the action report, I would refer you to Department of Transportation.

Courtney (10:59):

Also, this year Congress will have to reauthorize funding for the FAA. Is there anything that the President wants to see specifically in that bill that pertains to what happened last week?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:10):

Again, that’s something, as I mentioned last week, that happens every five years. We’re up. This is the time that we’re going to see Congress act on this. Don’t have anything to share on specifics. Again, as you know, this is something, as I just mentioned, when it comes to the safety of the American people, this is something that is a priority for us. We want to get to the bottom of what occurred just days ago, not too long ago. I don’t have any specifics on the action that Congress is going to take.

I’m going to go wait to the back. Go ahead, Wes? Owen, sorry.

Owen (11:43):


Karine Jean-Pierre (11:43):

Owen, I’m so sorry. That’s my bad. Sorry, Owen.

Owen (11:45):

Hi, Karine. Good afternoon. Thank you. I’d like to turn your attention to Nigeria. Just a few days ago, an absolutely horrific story. A Catholic priest in his rectory early Sunday morning was literally burned to death. Bandits burned the rectory. Today, as a matter of fact, Pope Francis asked the world to pray for Father Isaac Achi. Two questions here. One, will the Biden administration forcefully condemn acts of violence against Christians in Nigeria?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:14):

Let me just say, we are saddened by the senseless killing. We have seen the reports. We are certainly are saddened by that. We are monitoring the situation as information develops. We hope the Nigerian authorities will quickly bring the perpetrators to justice. Of course, we condemn violence of any kind. That is something that you’ve heard me say many times from this podium. That is something that we will continue to condemn.

Owen (12:41):

Just to follow up on that, how many more Nigerian priests have to be so brutally murdered before Nigeria is placed back on the Countries of Particular Concern List, the State Department’s list?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:54):

That is something I would refer you to the State Department about, that particular list.

Go ahead, Niles. Neils?

Niles (13:00):

Thank you. On this question, it was the debt limit, which was a lot of the talk in here the last couple of days, is there any way that if the President meets with Congressional leadership on other matters between now and when Secretary Yellen says we’ll reach the default point, will he entertain discussions at all during meetings that may be on some unrelated topic with members of Congress about debt limit negotiations? Or will he just sort of say, “No, we’re not going to do this. We’ll discuss the topic at hand, but we won’t talk about negotiating over the debt limit.”?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:46):

Let me be clear, I don’t have a meeting with leaders to read out at this time or to announce, but we’ve been really clear. There will not be any negotiations over the debt ceiling. We will not

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:00):

… do that. It is their constitutional duty. You think about how Congress has dealt with the debt ceiling for the past several decades. It is their responsibility, their constitutional responsibility to act, and so … But more broadly speaking, at the start of this new Congress, I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, we’re reaching out to all members from both sides of the aisle, so they make sure that we are … They know who to reach out to when it comes to the office of leg affairs, so that we continue to build those relationships.

Again, in the past, there has been bipartisan cooperation to address the debt ceiling, and that’s how it should be. It should not be used as a political football. That is not how we should be moving forward here. Our outreach is deliberate to ensure that Congress knows that the debt ceiling must be addressed, again, without conditions but always … I’m not going to read out any specific meetings or any … I don’t have anything else to read out about the president meeting with leadership.

Speaker 1 (15:02):

Can I just call on something Courtney just asked actually, the Senator Schumer says that the FAA administrator nomination is going to be a priority in the coming weeks. Are there any … I understand that’s a priority for the president as well. Do you have any other priority nominations that you would like Senator Schumer and the Senate Democrats to take up first?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:22):

Let me just say we certainly welcome and appreciate Senator Schumer’s supportive comments this weekend, as you just mentioned, and look forward to working together to confirm Phil Washington, specifically, as FAA administrator.

Let me just add the FAA, as I just said to Courtney, is a key agency with crucial safety mandate, and the president has nominated an experience qualified candidate, who currently runs one of the busiest ports, airports in the world, to lead the agency, and so we will continue to work with Senator Schumer, Senator Cantwell, and others to seek the swift confirmation, so, clearly, that is important to us.

Look, we’re going to continue, as I talk about the swift confirmation, not just of the FAA administrator but many other crucial high qualified nominees to serve across the administration and we will be re-nominating a number of officials in the upcoming weeks, and when we have updates to share we certainly will share that.

Okay. Go ahead [inaudible 00:16:25].

Speaker 2 (16:27):

You mentioned Vice President Harris is going to speak up on the anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Is the administration going to announce any initiatives or policies for protecting abortion access, particularly, to women who get their pills by mail?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:43):

Let me just say, the administration has taken actions with our limited authorities to expand access to care. The president has issued two executive orders. You’ve heard myself talk about it, Jen Klein, from the gender policy council has been here to talk about the executive orders that the president has put forward. It is to safeguard access to abortion and contraception, ensure that everyone has access to healthcare free from discrimination, defend the right to travel across state lines from medical care, protect the physical safety and security of clinics, providers, and patients and also earlier this month, the FDA announced an independent, evidence-based decision to expand access to medication abortion through Telepath and at pharmacies.

But we’ve been very clear, the president has been very clear, the vice president has been very clear, the only way to restore the protections of Roe is for Congress to pass a national law codifying the right to choose. No executive action will actually deal with the issue that I just laid out. We need to codify Roe, and that’s what you’re going to hear, continue to hear from the president and from the vice president.

Don’t have any other specific actions than what I just laid out. Okay, who else? Todd.

Speaker 3 (17:59):

Thank you. On the president’s visit to the border last week, is there any followup, any new policies, as you’ve spoken with Governor Abbott, to followup on the governor’s request?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:12):

I don’t have a conversation or a call to read out. I do want to say I’ve been asked about if we’ve seen an impact from what the president laid out a couple of weeks ago, of the actions that he was taking at the border, I want to say that we are seeing some impact. The numbers of migrants arriving from those countries are low. We look forward to sharing more, once we have more data to go off of.

Additionally, the first individuals authorized to live and work legally in the United States under the expanded program started arriving just last Tuesday, within five days after the launch of the program. Hundreds more have been vetted and approved for travel and can book a flight to the United States to arrive on time, but I want to be very clear, again, we need Congress to take action.

The president has done what he can, from using his … From the executive, from the White House, but what we’re seeing is Congress still refuses to act. The president is going to use every tool available, as you have seen him do these past two years to deal, to manage a mass migration event impacting the entire western hemisphere but just only … But not only just one city, right? We’ve seen it just across the board.

He’s taking the steps, he’s going to continue to take this very seriously, and we think about the border security but, again, Congress needs to act, Republicans need to act, and if they really care about this issue, this is an opportunity to reach across the aisle and work with us on this.

Okay. Let me see. Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 4 (19:51):

Thank you, Karine, I want to reference an interview that President Biden did in mid-September with 60 Minutes and in that interview, he chided former President Trump for having in his possession classified documents. He called it irresponsible.

First of all, do you think it was proper for President Biden to comment on an ongoing DOJ investigation?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:18):

I’m going to say this, and going to keep it really short today, as it relates to this particular issue, as it relates to an ongoing legal matter, I am going to refer you to Department of Justice, with that specific.

As it relates to anything that you want to ask of us about this legal matter, I would refer you to the White House council office. I’m going to leave it there. I’m not going to go into it further.

Speaker 4 (20:49):

I’m simply asking you to comment on the person that you work for [inaudible 00:20:50].

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:49):

I just commented. We’re moving on. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. No, go ahead. I already answered your question. Go ahead.

Speaker 4 (20:55):

You really didn’t.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:55):

I did.

Speaker 4 (20:58):

No. You didn’t.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:59):

Well, it’s your opinion, it’s your opinion.

Speaker 4 (21:01):

You did not answer.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:02):

It’s your opinion. That is your opinion. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Speaker 5 (21:05):

I have two domestic questions today.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:07):


Speaker 5 (21:07):

First of all, can you just walk us through the administration’s rationale for wanting [inaudible 00:21:11] and your reaction to [inaudible 00:21:16].

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:19):

Look, we have addressed this, the Democratic National Committee has addressed this, I’m just not going to go any further to what we’ve already shared about this, so I’m just going to leave it to the statements that we put out just a couple of weeks ago on the process. I’m just not going to dive into the process from here.

Speaker 5 (21:38):

Okay. Then let me ask about the [inaudible 00:21:40] take another stab at it but we don’t know what’s in these documents but can the US and is the US working to reassure allies and partners that you can still participate in intelligence gatherings, still be trusted with secrets. Are those conversations that the president is having right now or that top administration officials are having? For example, Jake Sullivan, in Israel?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:04):

I’m going to say this, the president takes classified information seriously, you heard that directly from him, to classify documents seriously. You heard that directly from him last week and I’m just going to leave it there. I’m not going to open this up for discussion. We have answered many questions as it is related to the documents.

Any specifics that’s related to this review, this legal process, I will refer to the Department of Justice and any questions that you may have of us, I will refer you to my colleagues at the White House council office. I’ll leave it there.

Okay. Go ahead, Joey. Go ahead.

Speaker 6 (22:48):

The president is scheduled to meet on Friday with a group of mayors. Can you just give us a preview of that meeting? How many mayors? What’s on the agenda? What’s the president’s message? What does he hope to accomplish with this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:00):

As you know, he’s going to … As you just mentioned, he’s going to meet with mayors, bipartisan mayors, who are attending the US Conference of Mayors. This is something that the president certainly is looking forward to to attending, and to interact with the mayors who will be here.

Don’t have any more specifics as the list, certainly, as we get closer we will be sharing a list with all of you, and more information about the remarks that he’ll be giving. Again, it’s going to be bipartisan mayors, an opportunity, as the president has said, and he has said during his Senate years, as a vice president, during the campaign, and now as president, he looks forward to working in a bipartisan way and continuing to deliver for the American people, and that’s what you’ll probably hear from him on Friday, but don’t want to get beyond that.

Hariana, way in the back, I’m going to go way in the back.

Speaker 7 (23:53):

Thank you. It’s been over a month since the US/Africa Leaders Summit take place. I would like you to give us an update what has been done so far in order to accomplish all the agreements and projects that are being agreed upon during the summit.

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:14):

It’s a very good question. President Biden was very pleased with the summit and its outcome, including his personal engagement with many of his counterparts, that week. The summit was an effective demonstration of our renewed partnership with the regions governments, business community, and civil society, as well as the broader African diaspora.

The president and the African leaders worked together to define a shared global agenda and to set the stage for deeper cooperation and engagement in 2023, and beyond, so it was just the beginning and we’re truly looking to continue those conversations, clearly, on the staff level, as we continue throughout the year.

Speaker 8 (24:58):

Thank you. [inaudible 00:24:56] question on the classified documents, how the president is feeling, is he worried about those documents that were found or did he somehow regret to what he has done with those documents being found at his property? Is he worried about that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:16):

First, I’m going to repeat what I have just said moments ago. He takes this very seriously when it comes to classified documents, when it comes to classified information. He was unaware that the documents were there. You heard that directly from him, from the president. Twice, he spoke to this just last week.

His team is fully cooperating with this process, with this ongoing legal process. Anything specific dealing with this, dealing with this issue, I would refer to Department of Justice or the Special Counsel and I’ll leave it there.

Okay. I’ll come down. I’ll come down. [inaudible 00:25:54].

Speaker 9 (25:54):

Thank you. I appreciate it. The White House [inaudible 00:25:57] really sharply worded statement about the committee assignments and oversight committee assignments, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Representative Gosar, Representative Boebert, [inaudible 00:26:06] assignments on the oversight committee the statement said, “Handing the keys of oversight to the most extreme MAGA members in the Republican caucus who promote violent rhetoric and dangerous conspiracy theories.”

Given the statement, does the White House view the oversight committee as even legitimate?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:19):

Look, I’ve been very clear and I just said this moments ago, the president intends to work with both parties in good faith, if they choose to, and make more progress on behalf of the American people. He has said this, we will continue to say this, but, unfortunately, to your point, Mary, on some of these key committees, it appears that House Republicans have handed over the keys to the most extreme MAGA members of the Republican caucus. This is what we’re seeing from the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

These are members who have promoted violent rhetoric and dangerous conspiracy theories, including suggesting violence against political opponents, trafficking in anti-Semitic lies, and defending and downplaying a violent insurrection against our democracy. You all, many of you covered what we saw on January 6th, 2021, and so Republican leaders should explain, they should have to explain, not us, they should have to explain why allowing these individuals to serve on these committees and come clean with the American people about the secret agreements, the secret deals that were made with these extreme MAGA extremists that are currently in the House.

That is something for them to respond to, that question goes to them.

Speaker 9 (27:36):

Sounds like you don’t view the committee as very [inaudible 00:27:38].

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:37):

I did not say that. I laid out what the president intends to do. I laid out what unfortunately … What the actions that they have taken, how unfortunate it is, to basically hand over the keys to some of the most extreme people in the Republican Party, the MAGA, ultra-

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:00):

Ultra MAGA Republicans and what they’ve done, but it is not for me to answer that question. It is for them to answer why is it that they chose to move in that direction.

Speaker 10 (28:11):

And can I just follow up what you just said earlier about the president being surprised the documents were even there, that he said multiple times, you’ve said again he was unaware that these classified documents were even in his garage, in his residence. Given that you could actually just be surprised that documents were there, does that suggest to you, to this White House, that reform is needed? There needs to be changes for how classified documents are tracked through the US government?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:38):

I’m not in a position to talk about reform or how this process should go forward. What I will say is this is something that’s being reviewed by the Department of Justice. I would refer you to them, I would refer you to the special council. I’m just not going to go any further than that. Okay, go ahead. Aria.

Speaker 11 (28:54):

Thank you so much. I would have two questions. One is Ukraine, one on the economy on Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal and the Journal newspapers [inaudible 00:29:03] are now reporting that the Germans won’t provide security for Ukraine unless the US does exactly the same. So this seems to be a kind of deadlock situation here. What’s the administration doing about it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:16):

So I was asked this question yesterday. When it comes to the US, we’re in constant communication with Ukraine and we’ll continue to provide them with what they need as they defend themselves against Russian aggression and against this brutal war that we have seen from Russia for almost a year now. But I don’t have any new announcements to share of any types of security as assistance to preview. Look, when it comes to other countries, the president believes that each country should make their own sovereign decisions on what steps of security assistance and what kinds of equipment they are able to provide. Ukraine, as again, Ukraine defends itself against Russian aggression.

So for instance, we welcome Germany’s recent announcement that they will send infantry fighting vehicles and a patriot missiles, battery system to Ukraine. We also support the decision by the UK over the weekend to send challenger tanks to Ukraine, and we have seen incredible solidarity by nations around the world to support Ukraine. But it’s not for us to speak to. That is each country’s decision to make that their own sovereign decisions on this. As it relates to the US, we have been, as you know, the largest provider of security assistance, of humanitarian aid. We will be standing by with the Ukrainian people and helping them in any way that we can to defend themselves throughout this process. But I don’t have any announcements to make at this time.

Speaker 11 (30:48):

On the economy, the president has been quite optimistic in his latest statements about the possibility of a soft landing for the economy but at the same times we also have massive layoff announcements like Microsoft just today. Is this a matter of concern for the White House?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:05):

That is something as you know that we watch closely, anytime there are reports of Americans losing their jobs. President Biden knows firsthand the impact of losing a job and what that can have to your entire family. This is something that he knows and understands very well. I don’t have a comment on specific moves announced by particular companies. As you know, we are very careful from here talking about private companies, but more broadly speaking, layoffs remain near record lows according to job openings data. We found out this week that 10 million new small businesses have been created since President Biden took office, I talked about this from this podium just yesterday. And similarly, third quarter GDP revision shows that the US economy continues to grow and add jobs. We’ve also seen companies like TSMC, IBM, and Hyundai announce new investments doubling down on building technologies of the future like chips and AI and electric vehicles in the US. Companies across the economy are continuing to grow and invest in the United States. But again, of course this is something that we watch very closely.

Okay, go ahead, Sabrina.

Sabrina (32:20):

Thank you so much.

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:21):

And welcome back.

Sabrina (32:22):

Thank you. China reported that its economic growth fell to 3% last year and its population dropped for the first time since 1961. Is the administration concerned about China’s relative economic weakness and do you think that this raises the likelihood of an economic downturn in the US and of the global economy this year?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:41):

Look, I’m not going to comment on how China handles its own economy, but what we are focused on is our approach, which has to ensure that the United States economy remains resilient and that’s the president’s focus. When we’re talking about resilience, we’re talking about resilience in the face of global challenges and has helped spur a historic recovery. That is what we have seen in this president’s first two years, as of his administration. We’ll continue our work to make progress on reducing prices and investing in our infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy economy. We of course monitor all global developments and will continue to stay in touch with our partners, allies, and key market sectors including China. As you have seen, Secretary Yellen is in China and she’s going to be meeting with China’s vice president on one Wednesday, which is today. Again, she’s there currently right now in China.

Sabrina (33:41):

There have been more allegations about Congressman George Santos’s misuse of finances. Of course, this is in addition to him fabricating key details of his background while running for office prompting more calls from both parties for his resignation. Just wanted to check back in. Does the White House think he should resign?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:55):

Look, we’ve said this before, and I think I said it probably the first few days of this new congress in this new year, which is it is up to the Republican conference who have to decide what they owe the American people. It is their decision to make on what it means, what they see as it relates to the terms of standards and service. They have to decide that. It is their conference, he’s part of their conference clearly. But sadly we have seen that they feel they owe the American people when it comes to standards by the actions that they have taken on this particular individual.

Look, just looking at the committee that he has been assigned to when it comes to Biden’s economic plan and when it comes to the announcement that I made yesterday, when it comes to small business, we have seen a business application with over 10 million new small businesses created under this leadership. The president takes that very seriously. He takes making sure that we’re building an economy from the bottom up, the middle out, very seriously. And you see that at every part of his policies, in every economic policy that he pushes forward. But again, this is up to the Republican conference to show what they think they owe the American people. It’s their decision to make. Yeah.

Speaker 12 (35:17):

Thank you, Karine. Just a quick follow up on the economy and job cuts. Amazon announced 80,000 job cuts today, Microsoft announced 10,000 job cuts today. All these thousands of job cuts are coming on top of tens of thousands of jobs being cut across the tech sector and across sectors in corporate America. Obviously the White House and the administration, like you just pointed out a couple minutes ago, still believes the economy is resilient, does not expect it to slip into a recession, but as we talk about mass layoffs and as the White House continues to point the strong economy and overall recovery in the labor market, how do you expect some of these numbers and some of these statistics to impact that recovery in the economy?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:00):

Let me just be clear. When you talk about recession and you talk about what we’re seeing currently with the economy, these are the data points, right? This is the data points are showing that this is not what we see, what with the economy is currently to pre-recession or a recession. That is what the experts are saying as well and that’s what the data points are proving. With the PPI today, we’re seeing that inflation is actually indeed moderating and a lot of that is connected to the president’s economic policies. That is something that we’re going to continue to highlight, we’re going to continue to point to the data, not just our words, but that’s what the data is showing.

Look, again, as I mentioned to your colleague, I’m not going to comment specifically on what’s currently happening with particular companies with private companies. Clearly we’re closely monitoring, but like I said, the layoffs remain near record lows according to the job openings data. Again, looking at the data, looking at the numbers. We found out, again, I talked about the small businesses, 10 million new small businesses have been created since the president took office. That matters. Those data points also matter. The third quarter GDP revision shows that the US economy continues to grow and add jobs. That’s what I will point you to in answering your question as I just laid out. But again, we’re seeing the president’s economic policy actually working and I think that’s important as well. Is there more work to do? Always more work to do and you hear that from us as well. Go ahead.

Speaker 12 (37:31):

So no media concern from these tens of thousands of [inaudible 00:37:35].

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:34):

What I’m saying is we’re going to closely monitor this or we are always keeping an eye on these things, but these are private companies that are making decisions and we’re just not going to comment.

Speaker 12 (37:48):

Quick point on China if I may, you were talking about Secretary Yellen, Treasury announced today that she’s planning to go to China. Secretary of State is planning to go to China. The president met with Xi in Bali in November. Clearly there is some momentum in some sort of rebuilding of ties between the two nations. Going forward this year, should we expecting the administration on the White House to perhaps ton down its rhetoric against China and really focus on rebuilding the relationship between the two?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:19):

I think we’ve been very clear on our approach with China, that hasn’t changed. We’re looking for a competition. That’s how we see our relationship with China and that hasn’t changed. It’s not going to change when we walked in, when the president walked into the administration in 2021, it’s certainly not going to change in 2023. Go ahead, Karen. I actually have an answer for you on the question you asked me yesterday.

Karen (38:45):

I was going to ask …

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:46):

Because I said I would follow up.

Karen (38:47):

Yes, okay, but if you have a response to-

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:51):

This is the New Mexico.

Karen (38:51):

The New Mexico.

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:52):

I believe, right?

Karen (38:52):


Karine Jean-Pierre (38:53):

Okay. The allegations here are horrifying and shocking, and it’s a miracle that no one was hurt. The president has spoken out repeatedly and emphatically about how our nation rejects violence as a political tool. That is a bedrock principle of our democracy. It is important for leaders in both parties to reaffirm that particularly as we’ve seen an increase in violent rhetoric and political violence like we’ve seen most recently again in New Mexico.

This administration has also emphasized the dangerous ways in which conspiracy theories and disinformation can lead some individuals to violence. Again, we urge leaders in both parties to reject lies and conspiracies. Finally, let me add, it’s worth emphasizing that those intending to use violence as a political tool often choose firearms to intimidate and inflict carnage. That is why this administration has made strides to address firearms, but also has urged more to be done against our … It’s horrifying and shocking and we are just glad that no one was hurt in this event.

Karen (40:03):

If I can also ask you, I asked you last Friday, and I know that there was a formal request from the WHCA to have Richard Somber come to the briefing and take questions to follow up on that. Would you commit to having the White House Council come here and take questions?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:17):

That is something that I would refer you to the White House Counsel’s office. They have been engaged with all of you. I know, again, they did a 45 minute call with if not you, many of your colleagues. Somebody here had said 30, 30 minutes, but it was not, it was actually 45 minutes. They miscounted. That was important. They will continue to engage with all of you. Again, I would refer you to the White House Counsel’s office on this and any specifics to the ongoing legal matter, I would refer to Department of Justice.

Speaker 13 (40:50):

Could you pass along the request? Could you pass along-

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:54):

I’m happy to pass it along.

Speaker 13 (40:55):

Thank you.

Speaker 14 (40:56):

I have two questions. One on NATO, one on Belarus. There’s an impasse between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey over [inaudible 00:41:06] demands related to Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession, so I’m wondering if you considered those demands reasonable? And if not, does the president consider Turkey a reliable NATO ally?

The second question on Belarus. A trial of a prominent Polish-Belarusian activist, [inaudible 00:41:30], has started in Belarus yesterday and he’s facing 12 years in prison for just criticizing Lukashenko’s regime. Can you comment on that and is there anything that the US can do to help to press Belarus on this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:48):

Let me just say that we do see Turkey as a reliable ally, so I’ll answer that question that you just asked me. Anything specific about

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:00):

Out the agreement and what’s currently happening, we would refer you to the Turkish government to speak on their own position. That’s not something that I will do for them. I would not speak for them here. What I can say is that, we have been a strong supporter of Finland and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership, and worked with the Senate to move quickly to ratify their applications. You all were here, and saw Finland and Sweden’s leadership here with the president not too long ago. We have welcomed the rapid ratifications by our allies, and we urge all remaining allies to complete their own ratification process as quickly as possible.

To your question about Belarus, so we condemn the regime’s blatant attempts to intimidate and harass peaceful protestors, members of the Democratic oppositions, journalists, unionists, activists, human rights defenders, and ordinary Belarusians. These politically motivated trials are just the latest examples of the regime’s effort to intimidate and repress those who seek justice, respect for human rights and democratic Belarus. And a democratic Belarus, I should say. To respond to these human rights abuses, the State Department recently took action to impose visa restrictions on 25 individuals for their involvement in undermining Belarus’s democracy. The United States stands firmly with Belarusian people and their democratic aspirations. I’m going to keep going.

Speaker 15 (43:28):

Thank you, Karine. Just to be clear, my question’s about procedures here at the White House, and not about anything specific related to the DOJ investigation. So, I’m just wondering how this episode has prompted a review of the process in which staffers handle classified information, and how they are turned over to National Archives during a transition?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:52):

And to be clear, I’m going to refer you to my colleagues at the White House Council’s office. They will be able to address that particular questions. I’m just not going to address something that is even related to an ongoing legal process.

Speaker 15 (44:06):

But why not? I’m having a hard time understanding why-

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:09):

I just said-

Speaker 15 (44:09):

… questions about procedure [inaudible 00:44:13]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:13):

And I just said to you, the White House Council’s office will be able to address that question.

Speaker 15 (44:17):

Is President Biden satisfied with the current SOP of handling classified materials here, and turning them over to National Archives?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:27):

Again, I will refer you to the White House Council’s Office. They are the people who would be able to answer that question about classified information.

Speaker 15 (44:35):

So, just be clear from this point on, are you not going to be taking questions about the classified documents?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:40):

I have been very clear over and over again. We are going to be prudent here. We’re going to be consistent. This particular matter is being looked at. There’s a legal process currently happening at the Department of Justice, and I’m going to refer you to the Department of Justice on any specifics to this particular case, and anything that has to deal with, are what we’re doing here, I would refer to the White House counsel’s office. And let me remind you, this is not a new process here. We’ve been doing this for the past two years. Anything that is related to a legal process, a legal matter, we refer to the Department of Justice. There’s nothing new in our process here.

Speaker 15 (45:22):

Thank you, Karine.

Speaker 16 (45:24):

Since so many of our questions have been referred to the DOJ and to the White House Counsel’s office, I’m sure you can understand that we’re in information blackout where DOJ refers us to the special counsel. They’re not holding any briefings. White House counsel refers us to DOJ. So, if you are not able to talk about this from the podium, would you invite a DOJ official to take our questions here to the briefing?

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:49):

No, you would have to go to the Department of Justice. This is a legal matter that is currently happening at the Department of Justice. And the president has been very, very clear when it comes to these types of legal matters, when it comes to investigations. He’s not going to interfere. He wants to make sure that we give back the independence that the Department of Justice should have when it comes to these types of investigations. So certainly, would not be bringing them here. So, I would refer you to the Department of Justice.

Speaker 16 (46:15):

[inaudible 00:46:17].

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:17):

I was just very clear. If you have any questions, I would refer you to the White House Council’s office. They did a call for 45 minutes yesterday, speaking to many of you. I believe there were more than 200 people on that call. And so, I would refer you to my colleagues at the White House Council’s office.

Speaker 16 (46:36):

I’m sorry, but on questions that you should be able to answer here, that shouldn’t have to go to any other agency or entity. Can you tell us if there’s any assessment that has been planned or launched, to determine if National Security has been jeopardized at all?

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:51):

Again, that’s for the Department of Justice.

Speaker 16 (46:52):

Why is it a DOJ question?

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:53):

And let’s be clear, it’s not your decision to make on what I can or can’t answer from here. What I am telling you is that we are respecting the process, we are being prudent from here. There is an investigation currently happening. And when there are investigations that are happening, that the DOJ is currently reviewing or looking at, we have been very consistent to say that you need to go to the Department of Justice.

Speaker 16 (47:18):

Are they working with NSC, or with any other intelligence agent? See, I don’t understand why we’re being referred.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:21):

Again, I would refer you… It’s very clear, I just laid out. There should be no confusion here. There is a legal process happening, and I would refer you to the Department of Justice. Okay. Go ahead, Peter.

Peter (47:34):

Can I just follow-up on that? We’ve all reached out to the Department of Justice. The law enforcement official tells NBC News the Justice Department has not told the White House that it cannot talk about the facts underlying the Special Counsel investigation into classified documents. So, trusting that you’ve received that same information, understanding the desire to be prudent, then why can’t you speak about the underlying facts?

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:55):

We’ve been very clear when it comes to even underlying facts, when it comes to specifics, when it comes to something that is under the purview, that the Department of Justice is looking at, especially legal matters, investigations. We do not comment from here, Peter. That has been consistent. We’ve been very consistent.

Peter (48:13):

Got it. So, interested in that Bob Bauer. Bob Bauer, who represents the president’s personal attorney over the weekend said, that one of the reasons why… And Ian Sam’s, your colleague who speaks on behalf of the special counsel at the White House, spoke to this in some form yesterday. But he said, one of the reasons why they shouldn’t reveal further details right now was regular ongoing public disclosures, also pose the risk that as further information develops, answers provided on this periodic basis may be incomplete. When the White House did release a statement, the President spoke out on January 9th. The risk of incompletion was a function of the White House’s decision not to share all the information it knew, in fact. Because we knew on November 2nd, then the first discovery was made. We knew the second discovery was made on December 20th. So, there’s a risk of incompletion, but will you concede that it’s the White House that has been incomplete in its provision of information when it did choose to speak out publicly on January 9th?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:08):

So, my colleague actually dealt with this question on the call yesterday, on the White House Council’s office.

Peter (49:13):

He made the same [inaudible 00:49:14], a risk of incompletion.

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:16):

And I would refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Peter (49:19):

Then, is the White House having any conversations internally about finding someone much the same way John Kirby has spoken on behalf of national security issues at this podium, as your colleague, as their representative? Is there someone, is the White House in talks right now to find someone either outside the White House or internally who can speak on behalf of the White House representing the special council office within the White House from this podium, or any of those talks?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:39):

I would refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Peter (49:41):

But you’re the communications… You run communications. So, I’m asking about you as a communications matter, having [inaudible 00:49:47] those conversations existing.

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:49):

Peter, you have spoken to my colleague who did again, a 45 minute call with all of you, answering questions about-

Peter (49:56):

If you would acknowledge it’s on background that Karine, not on the record until the call ends. That means the American people can’t see it in public. So we’re asking, will there be a representative who would speak on camera, and see it in public?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:06):

But the call was indeed… He was quoted, it was in papers. It was on networks.

Peter (50:12):

Correct. But because they can’t witness it happening live, Americans don’t get the same transparency into this back and forth. I’m asking, is the White House having a conversation? This is just with respect. You guys brought John Kirby. I’m asking if that conversation exists?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:24):

Peter, the fact that he spoke to all of you reporters who report on this, and then you all reported on it back to the American people, I believe that is transparency. I believe that he shared information, he answered your questions, that you believe that the American people wanted to hear, and he answered those questions.

Peter (50:42):

I understand. So my question-

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:42):

And he took 45 minutes to do that. Anything else that you have on this, Peter, I would refer to the White House councils. Peter, we just went back-

Peter (50:53):

I just want to be clear, are you having… So the question is, are you having a conversation about adding a member to the staff to speak publicly on this? [inaudible 00:51:00]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:00):

I actually just answered that question. I said we have someone currently-

Peter (51:04):

So, that means no?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:07):

We have someone currently who answered your questions for 45 minutes on a call, and took your questions. Took your questions about this particular issue.

Peter (51:16):


Karine Jean-Pierre (51:17):

He will continue to do that. He will continue to engage with all of you on this issue, on this legal process that’s currently happening, from the White House counsel’s office. After that, Peter, I don’t have anything else to share. Go ahead. Go ahead. Last question.

Speaker 17 (51:35):

On the debt limit. I know that the White House says that you’re not going to negotiate with Republicans on concessions, or anything tied to it. Does that mean that the White House, the President, is dissuading other Democrats on the hill from engaging in those conversations and those negotiations with Republicans?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:52):

What we’ve been very clear about is that in the last administration, the debt ceiling was dealt with three times. Three times in a bipartisan way. And so, that’s what the president wants to see. It is their constitutional duty for Congress to deal with this issue. And again, it’s been done in a bipartisan way, and we should not put the full faith and credit of our country, take it hostage. We should not do that. And so, that’s what we’ve been very clear about. It’s been done in a bipartisan way. Three times under the last administration, and that’s what we want to see.

Speaker 17 (52:35):

So, just to be clear, Democrats and Republicans, in a bipartisan way, reached an understanding, reached an agreement as it relates to the debt limit? The President would accept that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (52:42):

We’ve been very clear, there should not be any negotiations around here. We should not be stepping around dealing with the debt ceiling. We’ve been incredibly clear here. This is an issue that is a… The basic duties of Congress to take care of, to handle. And so, we’re going to be continue to say that. We’re going to be very clear. It should be done without conditions. Thank you everybody.

Speaker 18 (53:06):

[inaudible 00:53:05] Biden find out about [inaudible 00:53:07]?

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.