Jan 25, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/24/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/24/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/24/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 1/24/23. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

We go a transcript, isn’t that great.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:10):

I always hear comments when I walk in, it’s always so funny. All right. Good afternoon everyone.

Audience (00:16):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:16):

For the second time in recent days, a California community has been devastated by a mass shooting, and families are mourning loved ones lost to a senseless act of gun violence. As some of the victims’ families have said, we are starting Lunar New Year broken. To read their stories is indeed heartbreaking. Stories like the 65-year-old who went to the dance studio in Monterey Park on weekends because it’s what she loved to do and tragically her family said that Saturday was her last dance. We’ve read moving tributes for the former dance student who helped manage the studio from his fellow dancers and his teachers. A grandmother whose family described how hard she worked to give back to her community and care for her loved ones, died after being taken to the hospital in critical condition.

We have mourn lives lost in mass shootings after mass shootings. The flags at the White House were already at half masked in honor of those murdered in Monterey Park when we learned of the shooting in Half Moon Bay. President Biden, like most Americans, believes that this is an urgent issue that too many of our neighbors, colleagues, kids are losing their lives to gun violence. Over the last two decades, more school age children have died from guns, then on duty police officer and active duty military combined. And we know what the policy solutions are. We know how we can address this. In fact, last night, Senator Feinstein, along alongside Senators Murphy, Blumenthal and others, reintroduced a federal assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. The last time we had an assault weapons ban on the books thanks to the president and Senator Feinstein’s leadership mass shootings actually went down.

After Republicans let it expire, mass shootings tripled. And that’s just a fact. As you all know, President Biden has taken historic executive action to reduce gun violence. And last summer he signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first significant piece of gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years. But he continues to believe, and these tragic events continue to show us there is more to be done to keep our home, schools and communities safe. The president and the First Lady are thinking of those killed and injured in these latest shootings across America. But more importantly, he’s urging both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this assault weapons ban to his desk and take additional action to keep American community, schools, workplace and homes safe. I also wanted to share exciting news about President Economic Plan continuing to create results for Americans across the country.

Today we learned 38 states are now at or below 4% unemployment and states from Pennsylvania to South Dakota to Alaska have record low unemployment. We also know a record, 10.7 million jobs were created in the last two years. Annual inflation has fallen over the last six months. The economy grew at 3.2% in the most recent GDP report and a record 10.5 million small businesses applications were filed since the president took office. And we’re continuing to lower healthcare costs for Americans. A new report shows that if inflation reduction acts insulin cap were implemented in 2020, 1.5 million senators across the country could have saved an average of $500 per year on insulin. The inflation reduction acts, health provisions including permanent affordable care acts, subsidies and Medicare and negotiations down… Medicare negotiating down certain prescription drugs mean more money in Americans’ pockets and more breathing room for American families.

As the president said in a statement this morning, and I quote, ” Americans are seeing a strong economy where they live. They are seeing their neighbors back to work with higher wages, even accounting for inflation. They’re seeing prices down at their pharmacies. They’re seeing new businesses opening with most Americans, applying to start small businesses at any time on record.” End quote. And finally, I wanted to say hello and welcome to the Park School of Baltimore students. They’re lined up to my left here who are here for their career exploration day and welcome students. I had an opportunity to meet all of you. Very impressive. And I know high school could be a lot of fun, but also very hard. Just stay focused, keep your passion and you’ll get there. So good to see you all. With that Armor, good to see you.

Speaker 2 (05:22):

Good to see you. So first I just wanted to ask, is there any reaction to Vice President Pence’s announcement of finding classified docs in his possession? And then more broadly, most of the rules surrounding classification are created and can be amended by executive order. Does the president believe the system must be performed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:45):

So on your first question, look, I’m not going to comment on any ongoing criminal investigation or any investigation. As you all know, the Department of Justice is independent and we will not politically interfere. We’ve been very, very clear about that under this president. The president’s been very clear since his campaign promises, and so I’m just going to refer you to Department of Justice on your second question. I would refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Speaker 2 (06:09):

Can I ask one on Ukraine? Is the administration ready to give Abrams to Ukraine in order? Just one, is the administration ready to give the Abrams? And two, if you are, has it been connected with Germany also giving Leopards?

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:25):

So I’m going to say we are in constant communications with Ukraine and other allies and partners as it relates to what Ukraine’s needs in the battlefield. But I don’t have anything to preview here, any announcements to make at this time of any new types of security assistance to preview for you today. Okay.

Speaker 3 (06:44):

And following up from yesterday, has the president invited the Justice Department to search his Rehoboth beach house?

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:50):

Again, I would refer you to the White House Council’s office who have been regularly in touch with all of you answering these questions about this legal ongoing matter. I just don’t have anything to share.

Speaker 3 (07:02):

And a couple follow-ups on the Pence issue. Does the White House believe that the Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate former Vice President Pence’s handling of classified documents?

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:11):

That’s for the Department of Justice to decide.

Speaker 3 (07:13):

Now that we’re seeing the two most recent Vice Presidents discover classified documents in their private homes, does this suggest that there’s a larger problem within the government were classified documents are not where they’re supposed to be? Do a lot of people have documents outside of where they’re properly supposed to be stored?

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:32):

I’m not going to comment from here on that. I would refer you to the White House Council on anything related to classified documents from here. Okay.

Speaker 4 (07:41):

Thanks, Karine. On the issue of gun control, you spoke about the president’s commitment to assault weapons ban and his view that there is more that can be done. How do, I should say, the limitations in Congress i.e. with the votes that you have or don’t have in Congress impact that view. And what can you be more specific about what he thinks can be done given the votes that he has now?

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:09):

So I just want to remind folks that this is a president who has made gun violence and dealing with gun violence his career. And he’s actually been very instrumental in pushing forward these types of gun reforms that we have seen. Whether it is what we saw with the assault weapons ban 30 years ago that he helped get done with Senator Feinstein. Or signing the bipartisan piece of legislation that he signed into law just months ago. That was again, the most significant piece of legislation that dealt with gun violence. And let’s not forget, he has made this a priority for him in his presidency since day one with historic executive action. So I say all of this to say, is this is a priority for the president. When folks thought we wouldn’t be able to get a bipartisan deal done on dealing with gun violence that was able to get done because of the president’s leadership on this. Because of the president’s focus on this. We are always looking for, his team is always looking for ways to do, to continue with gun, to do executive actions to deal with reducing gun violence.

But what we believe is that Congress needs to act, they need to put forth legislation that can go into law and deal with this issue. We cannot continue to see communities be devastated by this. As a parent, we should not be waking up every morning worried that our child or our kids may have to deal with gun violence. If you’re going to the grocery store, you should not have to worry about going to the grocery store and potentially having to deal with gun violence. Or going to the movies, watching a movie with your partner or with your kids and eating popcorn and wait, in potentially having to worry about gun violence. And so the president has been very clear, and this is not just the last two years, this has been the many decades of his career. So we’re going to have continue to have those conversations with Congress. We’re going to continue to call on Congress to take action.

Speaker 4 (10:11):

On a separate topic, US officials have determined that Chinese companies have been sending non-lethal assistance to Russia for Ukraine. What is the United States saying to the Chinese government about this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:19):

So we’re closely monitoring the situation as we have been since the war started. We will continue to communicate to China the implications of providing material support to Russia’s war against Ukraine. We have talked about this many times that we will be very clear what it means to support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. And as I’ve said many times, as my colleagues from NSC has said many times, we’ll continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as long as needed.

Speaker 4 (10:49):

But what are those implications?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:51):

I’m not going to get into diplomatic or private conversations from here. I’m just going to let you know that we’ve been monitoring this situation and we’ve been very clear with the Chinese government on this. Okay.

Phil (11:01):

Thanks, Karine. You talk about how gun violence has been a priority for this administration. It’s been a priority for the president over his entire career. How does he feel in moments like last night, his frustration, is it helplessness? Personally, how does he deal with this continuing to be a major problem in the country?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:16):

Phil, I would say that you’ve seen him out there sadly with many of these tragedies, mourning with the families, offering his support to families. And it continues to, you continue to… What you see from him is certainly how he feels when he sees these types of travesties. You saw that in Uvalde, sadly, when we saw kids were gunned down where families had to identify, the way they were to identify their own children was through DNA. That’s how horrible that situation was. You saw him in Buffalo, New York, meeting with the 10 victims who were killed, and him meeting with those families and dealing with their heartache.

And so this is a president that feels, that is able to feel what people are going through because he knows what loss means to families. So he wants to continue to fight. He wants to continue to speak out against this. You’ve seen his statements over the last several days, sadly, and what we have seen with gun violence across the country. And so you’ll continue to see that. And he will continue to speak about this in a way that lifts up the families who are dealing with this loss, very devastating loss and continue to call on Congress to take action.

Phil (12:41):

And then one more shot on the Pence documents. Is there any sense inside the White House that this perhaps shifts the political or public perception dynamics of what the president has been facing over the course of the last several weeks.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:53):

I’m just not going to comment from here. Joey.

Joey (12:56):


Karine Jean-Pierre (12:57):

I’m sorry. I thought you were there yesterday, Joey. But it was Michael. I apologize, Michael.

Joey (13:02):

No, I forgive you. Do you have any update on whether the president plans to visit California? I know you were asked yesterday, but since then, as we’ve noted, there was a second mass shooting there.

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:14):

So no plans at this time to preview about presidential travel to California. You saw his statement. I just kind of read part of his statement. His heart goes out to the families, to the victims of the families, and we will continue to fight to make sure we deal with this issue, we deal with gun violence. We started with the executive actions, the historic executive actions that the president was able to do the first two years of his administration. We were able, again, as I mentioned, sign a bipartisan piece of legislation to deal with gun violence. But we need to do more. We need to do a lot more. And so the president’s going to continue to call for that. I don’t have anything to preview about a trip.

Joey (13:54):

Yeah, yeah. And you kind of alluded to this or asked a little bit about this, but what is the strategy now to pass

Joey (14:01):

… the assault weapons span that Feinstein introduced. I mean, you’re talking, of course, about a Republican-led house now. And so, I mean, what can the White House do to actually overcome those numbers there?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:15):

Yeah. And one thing I just want to go back to on California. The President has been in touch with local and state leaders and his team continues to offer support to the local government and clearly Governor Newsom’s team in any way that we can to be helpful to what they’re dealing with today. This week, I should say. Look, it is a priority for the President. It really is. That’s why he’s taken executive actions. That’s why his team has worked with Congress on this bipartisan legislation that was passed several months ago. And he’ll continue to do that.

And I think, if you all remember, and many of you reported this, that how difficult it was going to be for the president to get any bipartisanship the first two years of in his administration. And he was able to get historic pieces of legislation done. And so the President says this all the time. He’s optimistic and I think optimism is very important to this President. But at the same time, he’s going to continue to ask Congress to act.

And he’s going to continue to see what other executive actions can be taken from here. But, at the end of the day, we need Congress to act. We need legislation that can be signed into law to deal with a matter that is really tearing apart communities.

Joey (15:32):


Karine Jean-Pierre (15:32):

Thank you. Okay.

Speaker 5 (15:33):

Thanks, Karine. Was the White House aware before this afternoon that classified documents had been found at Vice President Pence’s residence as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:43):

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

Speaker 5 (15:45):

And does the White House believe that other former high office holders should now go back and check their personal residences out of an abundance of caution, to make sure that they’re not holding onto classified documents as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:56):

That’s not something I can comment from here. I don’t even know the reasoning of what the news that we heard about Pence, so I’m just not going to comment from here. I’m not going to comment on any other former-elected official, current-elected official. With this particular case. I refer to Department of Justice. Anything that relates to this White House, I would refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Speaker 5 (16:20):

And then on the Abrams tank. Last week at the podium, John Kirby said that the Abrams is expensive to maintain, to operate, to fuel, and there requires a lot of training. Does this White House still have those same concerns when it comes to providing tanks to the Ukrainians?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:37):

So as my DOD colleagues have said very recently that … Again, nothing to preview from here. Certainly don’t have anything to share. But, they never ruled out tanks. Just want to make that very clear. I think what my colleagues at the DOD have said in the past, well, very recently, is that there were always challenges with tanks. But not going to preview anything. I think I would refer you to the DOD comments on this. Again, there have always been challenges. It’s never been taken off the table. But, as I just mentioned, I don’t have anything to preview.

Speaker 5 (17:11):

Those are the challenges. What are the benefits to potential [inaudible 00:17:14].

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:14):

I mean, we’ve always said. Again, nothing to preview. Want to be very clear here. We’ve always said that we are in constant communication with Ukraine, as they’re trying to figure out what they need on the battlefield. And we are always looking for ways to offer security assistance for them. And so, again, not going to get ahead of any potential announcement. I’m don’t have anything for preview, but we’re always in constant communication with Ukraine and what it is that they need for their success, what it is that they need to really battle the aggression that we have seen from Russia, this almost past year.

Speaker 6 (17:54):

Thanks, Karine. Germany’s ruling party just confirmed that they’ve decided to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Do you have any comment on that? And is that linked to in any way reversal of this consideration of US government sending Abrams to Ukraine as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:10):

So we have said this before. We believe it’s up to each individual country. It is their own sovereign decisions on what they provide for Ukraine. We’ve been very clear about that. And we always appreciate what our allies, our partners are doing, to make sure that Ukraine is able to defend itself. I’m not going to go beyond that. Again, don’t have anything to preview from here.

Speaker 6 (18:33):

Then, switching topics on Ticketmaster. There was this hearing in the Senate today. Given the White House’s concern about monopoly power, does the White House believe the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger should be unwound, given what we’ve heard today from senators expressing that concern as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:52):

Are you a Swiftie? Is that what it’s called? I don’t know. Things that you learn. So look, President Biden’s a strong proponent of increasing competition in our economy. As he said last year, when he signed a landmark executive order on competition, and I quote, “The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea, open and fair competition. But, capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation.” So I’ll say one more thing about the executive order. It establishes a whole of government effort to promote competition in the American economy, because we know the lack of competition leads to higher prices and worse service. So again, capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation. And that’s why he’s really made an effort with his executive actions to deal with something that truly matters to the American people.

Speaker 6 (19:48):

Does the same concern apply-

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:48):

And the Swifties, apparently.

Speaker 6 (19:50):

Does the same concern apply to Google, which is facing new DOJ action today?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:55):

Look, I’m not going to get into DOJ action, or what DOJ is potentially … Any legal matters that they potentially are taking. What I will say is, more broadly, is how the president is a proponent for increasing competition in our economy, and he has shown that through his actions. [inaudible 00:20:13]

Speaker 7 (20:12):

On gun violence. You’ve mentioned the potential for further executive action. Is there an active review underway of other potential executive actions? Where is this being worked on within the administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:25):

So, don’t have anything to share on any active review. What I can say is that the President has asked his team to do all they can through executive action to reduce gun violence. We’ve seen him make his historic progress via executive action, to deal with this dangerous violence that we’re seeing, gun violence specifically, that we’re seeing across the country in dangerous hands. So we’ll continue to pursue executive actions to reduce gun violence.

Don’t have anything right now to share or preview or list out, what is it that we’re exactly looking at. But his team is always looking at ways to improve, to deal with an issue, again, that is devastating communities across the country. But I also want to be very, very clear here. In order to deal with this, we need Congress to act. And that’s the way that we’re really going to be able to deal with a matter that is again, devastating communities, devastating families across the country.

Speaker 7 (21:22):

On documents. I realize you don’t want to comment on existing issues, but there is clearly an ongoing issue across administrations with handling of classified materials. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for this White House to lead a review of US policy on classified materials, but is that something that the White House is considering? Is there someone who would be the right person to lead a review of the current challenges that are obviously tripping up people from all parties.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:58):

Understand the question, and I know it’s going to come in many different ways, but I’m going to refer you to the White House Council’s office. They would be the best folks to talk through about that.

Speaker 8 (22:09):

Okay. Thank you, Karine I want to follow up on Ukraine. The administration has been relatively successful in forming alliances, not just in Europe but in Asia as well, Australia, New Zealand and Japan against Russia of course, and imposing economic sanction. But, is the White House satisfied with the military assistance that these countries are giving? I know you’re going to say as a sovereign state and they can decide for themselves. But, at this point as we are approaching the one-year anniversary, are you satisfied with what you asked from alliances to give to Ukraine militarily?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:46):

I mean, look. We’ve always been very appreciative of our allies and partners in their efforts to help Ukraine and what they have decided their security assistance is going to be for Ukraine. And so, we will continue to be appreciative. We will continue to thank them. Again, and you said it in your question to me, it is a sovereign decision. It is up to each individual country to decide how are they going to do their part in helping Ukraine fight against Russia aggression. But these are our allies, these are our partners and we will continue to work with them closely to make sure that Ukrainians are able to fight this brutal war.

Speaker 8 (23:29):

And you think it’s holding this alliances?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:31):

Say that last part?

Speaker 8 (23:32):

The alliances. Are they still holding?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:34):

We believe that they are. I’m going to go. I’m going to come back down. Go ahead, Steve.

Steve (23:37):

Thanks. It being the White House’s position for the last several weeks that the President’s legal team did the right thing, is it the initial observation of the White House that the Pence legal team did the right thing?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:48):

That’s not for me to comment on from here. I would refer you to the Department of Justice.

Steve (23:52):

One of the things that the Pence team seems to have done in the last week is make public disclosure of the circumstance. Advised NARA, but also advised Congress and now the public. Any reflections among the communications of press staff here as to how the Pence team handled it versus how you first handled it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:09):

Steve, I understand your question and I hear it. We’ve answered your question in many different variations. I just don’t have anything else to share from here. If you have any more specifics or details about this, about the ongoing legal matter, I would refer you to the Department of Justice. Anything else? I would refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Speaker 9 (24:27):

[inaudible 00:24:28] … for two months.

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:28):


Speaker 10 (24:29):

Thanks. Does the White House have a response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s surprise trip Jordan today to meet with King Abdullah? And do you think it could help reduce tensions in the region?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:40):

I have not seen those reports. I have not been able to talk to our National Security Council about it, but clearly we are … As you know, Jake Sullivan just recently went to Israel to meet with his counterparts, to continue the very important relationship we have with Israel. Just don’t have anything further. We normally don’t comment on and countries meeting and the agenda that they have with other countries, but don’t have anything specific to share on that.

Speaker 10 (25:08):

Can you say anything more about what’s on the agenda today for the meeting at three o’clock with Democratic leadership?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:14):

So, as you know, the president is very much looking forward to meeting with the new Democratic leadership. And that is happening pretty soon … Less than … I don’t even know. Less than an hour. And so he’s going to host them in the Roosevelt Room. You’re going to hear from him at the top. He’ll have something to share about his thoughts about the meeting. They’ll cover a wide range of issues, especially how we can make even more economic progress on top of what our shared accomplishments have led to, the creation of over 10.7 million new jobs and 10 million small business starts, bringing down inflation and a record number of Americans enrolling in healthcare coverage.

One of the main avenues for doing that is ramping up implementation of the legislation they accomplished together over the past two years. When you think of inflation reduction, when you think about the continuing implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, that’s what one of the topics that certainly that will come up. And look, the President has said this, he said this after the midterm elections. He said this many times. I’ve said this. He is looking forward to working with Republicans in good faith, to continue the work that he has been able to do the last two years, some in a bipartisan way, to deliver for the American people.

But look, he’s also going to call out, and we have said this before, continue to call out any dangerous extreme MAGA Republicans. He can do both. But, like proposals to raise taxes on the middle class or cut Medicare, cut social security, as we’ve been hearing from National Republicans. Or also, I mean, let’s not forget the national abortion ban or worsen inflation. And so those are the things that the president is very focused on. And I think the most important thing that I think you can take away from this is, he wants to continue to deliver for the American people. He’s willing to do that in a bipartisan way, but it has to be in good faith. Go ahead.

Kelly (27:09):

That was one of my questions about the preview, but one of the things I wonder is, the President has received some democratic criticism about how he has handled some of the things that he has said about the documents matter. Do you expect that he might address that with the Democratic leaders? Because, it’s obviously got political implications for just how he’s perceived and perhaps some of his political strength going forward?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:32):

Yeah. I talked about this Kelly, a little bit yesterday. And some of those same criticism from Democrats, they also said the President. They believe the President did what he needed to do and has handled it fully and in a cooperative way. But look, as it relates to the politics of this, as it relates to the American people, and we’ll continue to say this, it’s up to the American people to decide.

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:01):

They’re smart, they know what’s going on. They know what this president has been doing and delivering on. We’ve talked about the midterms, and what was supposed to be, and what was predicted to be, and it didn’t happen, right? When you think about the red wave that we had heard over and over again, and part of why we didn’t see that, is because the president led with a message that resonated and connected with the American people. He led with what he has been able to do when it comes to the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, when it comes to making sure that he’s doing the work to lower cost at the gas pump, which he has been able to do. So look, we will let the American people see for themselves what the president has been able to deliver the last two years. I’m just not going to get into any further discussion about policy.

Kelly (28:48):

Specifically, do you know if he has been briefed on the Pence matter, and has he had any outreach with former President Obama since some of the documents would’ve been from their joint administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:59):

Those two questions, I would refer you to the White House Counsel’s office. Next.

Speaker 11 (29:04):

Thanks, Karine. After a special counsel was named, but before the FBI searched, President Biden went to his house in Wilmington. What was he doing in there?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:13):

I would refer you to the White House Counsel office.

Speaker 11 (29:15):

So it was something relating to this case.

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:17):

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

Speaker 11 (29:19):

Okay. Do you think that this story was leaked by someone trying to bruise the president politically ahead of a reelection announcement?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:28):

I would refer you to the White House Council’s office as they’ve been the ones who’ve been closely involved.

Speaker 11 (29:34):

Okay. More, basically, we know the president did it. Why did he do it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:41):

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

Speaker 11 (29:43):

In the President’s own words, he admits to having information that wasn’t his. Why did he smuggle it out?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:51):

I will let the statement of the president stand for itself. I’m just not going to go down a rabbit hole with you on this.

Speaker 12 (29:58):

Why did he not tell you about it for months?

Speaker 13 (30:01):

Pierre, thanks. Slight shift to topic. Haiti, the UN Envoy to Haiti, has just been saying today that it’s basically out of control and the gangs run while they [inaudible 00:30:11] run anything, but they’re in charge. Can we expect any shift from maybe up tempo of the US response to this, given not just the humanitarian side, but may be the national security aspect for the US?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:24):

So don’t have anything new to share on any new announcement or engagement. Look, this is something that we have been monitoring very closely, and we have done everything that we can in this time to help the Haitian people, to help in a way that could really make a difference in the humanitarian aid as you just laid out, and I just don’t have anything else to share, beyond what you laid out.

But this is truly important to the president in what’s going on in Haiti, and you’ve heard us talk about it over the past several months. You heard the president talk about this at NALS when he was in Mexico City, when he met with the Canadian Prime Minister, when he met with the president of Mexico, was clearly on the agenda and a conversation that they had. We had a readout on that specifically. It was brought up in the press conference that they had. Just don’t have anything further to share.

Speaker 13 (31:31):

Karine, since you don’t have any answer of the classified document, [inaudible 00:31:34] still a good fit for this job.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:35):

Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead, my friend.

Speaker 13 (31:37):

[inaudible 00:31:38] to have any answer for you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:39):

Go ahead. Go ahead, my friend.

Speaker 14 (31:41):

Has any meeting been set between the president and the speaker yet?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:45):

I don’t have a meeting to announce from here with Speaker McCarthy. I know that we’ve commented on this. This is something that the president is certainly looking forward to. Look, he’s willing and wants to work with the speaker in good faith in delivering in a bipartisan way for the American people. Don’t have anything to preview at this time.

Speaker 14 (32:04):

This is before or after the State of the Union.

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:05):

This is something that he would, as it’s tradition for the president to meet with the new Congress before the State of the Union, just don’t have anything to share at this time.

Speaker 14 (32:13):

The meeting that will happen, I know that when the president spoke about it, it was in the context of the deficit and debt, having those conversations. Is that sort of what the engagement would be limited to, or would the president want to expand out the… You’ve talked a lot about gun violence or the border?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:32):

So look, there’s going to be a range of issues that’s going to be discussed. As you mentioned when he was talking about the deficit, he was talking about wanting to work in a bipartisan way to continue to lower the debt, which he has been able to do by $1.7 trillion, a historic record. He’s always willing to have good faith conversation to deliver for the American people in that way. But when it comes to the debt limit, the debt ceiling, the president has been very clear. I have been very clear, you’ve heard from our economics team about how this should be done without conditions that still stands, and we can’t forget that… I talked about this a little bit yesterday, the debt ceiling has been dealt with 78 times since 1960, 49 times under a Republican president, and 29 times with a Democratic president.

Let’s not also forget, I think this is something that people who need to understand, when you talk about the debt ceiling, you’re talking about not new spending, you’re talking about the bill that Congress has racked up, right? This is their basic duty to deal with the debt ceiling. Well, if you look at the debt ceiling right now, 90% of it was before the president walked into office. So this is their duty. This is their duty to do this in a bipartisan way. That’s what we’re talking about. When Republicans are saying they want to cut Social Security; they want to cut Medicare; they want to cut programs that Americans have paid into that’s going to hurt senior citizens. That’s going to hurt our veterans. That’s going to hurt taxpayers, and so that’s what we’re talking about. So it is their basic duty to deal with this. Go ahead, Steven?

Steven (34:24):

Thank you, Karine. I have two questions. The first, New York Congressman Nick LaLota is skipping tonight’s presidential reception for new members of Congress in protest of White House Coronavirus rules that require an attestation of vaccination and a negative test result. LaLota says the rules are arbitrary and unscientific and should be far behind us. Does the White House have a reaction to that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:49):

So haven’t seen that reporting or those comments from the congressman, but I’ll say this, we have protections in place to protect staff and the President of the United States. COVID isn’t over. We’ve been very clear about that. Hundreds of Americans are dying every day and cases are increasing right now, today. That’s why we take common sense measures like COVID testing ahead of large indoor gatherings at the White House. So this is an important issue that’s been important when we’re talking about COVID and dealing with COVID and coming up with comprehensive ways to make sure that people get vaccinated. That’s something that the president dealt with from day one of his administration.

Steven (35:29):

If I could just follow-up very briefly on that. I’m curious if there was a reason that we still have the vaccine attestation rule, especially considering the very highly transmissible Omicron mutations that can elude most of the common vaccines.

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:43):

So what I can tell you, Steven, is we listen to the experts and we look at the data, and we pay very close attention to science and just don’t have anything to say beyond that. That is something that our experts, we take their advice when it comes to things like that.

Steven (36:02):

My second question is regarding a comment from Senator Ted Cruz. He’s calling for a search of President Biden’s senate records at the University of Delaware for potentially classified information. Those records reportedly include about 1,850 boxes of documents as well as 415 gigabytes of electronic files. Does President Biden have any objection to such a search?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:25):

When it comes to the documents and this ongoing legal matter? I refer you to the White House Council’s office.

Steven (36:30):

I’m so sorry.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:30):

You said you had two; you’ve asked four.

Steven (36:31):

I’d just like to read up the request of our colleagues in this room for someone to answer these questions from the podium.

Speaker 15 (36:39):

Absolutely. Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 16 (36:41):

Thanks, [inaudible 00:36:42].

Speaker 15 (36:42):

I’ll come to you. Go ahead.

Speaker 16 (36:45):

Karine, the oversight chair, Mr. Comer, he wrote the head of the Secret Service, asking for the visitor information from Wilmington. Now, I know you’ve said there’s no visitor logs. But do you have any object, or does the White House have an objection to the Secret Service providing any documents or communication about who is going in and out?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:03):

Again, I would refer you to the White House Council’s office on anything that’s related to the investigation, the oversight hearing that’s happening.

Speaker 16 (37:11):

Then, just at the top, in response to the Pence question, you said you weren’t going to comment on any ongoing criminal or other investigations. Is there any reason to believe any of these are criminal?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:19):

I’m just saying, I’m just not going to comment on any type of investigation. The Department of Justice is independent and we just don’t comment on any, any investigations from here.

Speaker 16 (37:33):

Thank you.

Speaker 17 (37:33):

Yes, Karine, on gun violence. It’s very clear to everybody that gun is a problem in this country. I’m going to give you an example. In Africa, when we see news from the US, like a six-years-old boy bringing gun to school, and we see people going to the movie theater being killed by gun, and also seeing people in this country that have not seen war, but are killed by gun is extremely scared for us. We have seen that this country is very developed. What do you think is preventing the Congress to act when it comes to gun control, and what can President Biden do to move on and do something to control the gun?

My question comes because I’m a mother, I have two daughters, and when they go to school, sometimes I’m afraid that maybe he’s little colleague from school will bring a gun or even in random place, we get shot. This is very, very scary and this is a problem, and we saw recently people also dying by gun. What can president do more to move on and control the gun? Please, what do you think that Congress is waiting to act?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:52):

So when it relates to the Congress, you have to ask Congress. You have to go over to Congress and meet with congressional members and ask them that very question. Lay it out just the way that you laid it out to me. I think it’s an important question for them to answer. But also, we saw last night, Senator Feinstein, along with Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, reintroduce the assault weapons ban, which we support and we encourage for Congress to act on that piece of legislation.

Look, again, I would suggest you go talk to them about this. Look, you just laid out what I just said, right? You just laid out about going to the movie theaters and being worried about gun violence. You just laid out about being a parent and worrying about your child going to school or going to the grocery store and worrying about gun violence. That is something that we should not have to deal with. Again, if you look at the President’s record as a senator, you look at his first two years as president, he’s dealt with this issue, and he’s going to continue to do what he can from here, use the tools of the federal government to take action. He has taken historic executive actions, as I just laid out moments ago.

But when it comes to really, truly dealing with this issue, we need legislation. We need legislation. We need Congress to act. So we are thankful and we are hopeful to see what occurred with this legislation that was introduced, again by Senators Feinstein, Blumenthal, and Murphy, and we’re going to continue to encourage Congress to act. But I would pose the question that you just asked me to Congress. Okay.

Speaker 17 (40:28):

Just a follow-up quick, still on gun violence, we have spoke between me and some friends that in this country, and I’m making this point because we need to remind people that America is the only country on earth, that people die by gun without even being in war. Because I’m giving this example because in Africa there is countries in war, but people doesn’t even have access to gun. It’s very hard because the government and everybody’s very conscious that guns can cause a lot of destruction. But in this country is very normal for everybody to have access to gun, and this needs to be controlled. But what can people like me, common people, what can we do to help control guns in this country?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:18):

Well, look what I can speak to, there are many ways that people can get involved in dealing with the gun violence that we’re seeing here. I’m not going to make any suggestions, but there are ways that folks can go out there and participate in a way that’s healthy in the way that actually helps deal with a real issue. What I can speak to is what the president has done. What I can speak to is what the president believes. What I can speak to is the president’s record on this, which is you can see for yourself as a senator, this last two years as president in the executive actions that he’s taken, he signed a bipartisan piece of legislation, as I just mentioned moments ago,

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:01):

… In taking one step to deal with gun violence.

And so, look, that’s what I can speak to, that’s what we can talk about very clearly. And we are going to continue to discuss and have the conversation and call on Congress to act.

All right, go ahead.

Speaker 18 (42:16):

Thanks, Karine.

We heard you talk about the statements that President Biden put out, but why haven’t we heard the president address the American people on camera about these recent shootings?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:25):

Which one?

Speaker 18 (42:27):

The shootings that have happened recently.

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:29):


I mean, he’s talked about it many times, as you know. And I’m sure you’ll hear from him in the upcoming days to talk about what he has seen and how devastating the gun violence, especially this week, has been.

Look, you’ve seen him, as I mentioned, in Uvalde when he was comforting the parents of the kids who were murdered. You saw him in Buffalo when he was, again, comforting families who saw their family member murdered.

And it’s been too many. Too many. And so you’ll continue to hear from us.

I think when the president puts out a statement, that is a very powerful action by the president. You all take it, you all repeat what the president has said. So I would take that as a serious communication for the president, as you all already do. And he’ll continue to speak out about it.

Speaker 18 (43:32):

And have you spoken with the president about the most recent report that more documents were found at his home personally?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:39):

No. I have not.

[inaudible 00:43:41].

Speaker 18 (43:40):

Why didn’t Biden [inaudible 00:43:43] about the documents?

Speaker 19 (43:43):

Does the White House have a response to the former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who in his new book and a tweet sent this afternoon has referred to Jamal Khashoggi as an ‘activist and a part-time stringer?’

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:55):

So I’m going to let Mr. Pompeo speak for himself.

Here’s what I will say and what we will say from the White House about this issue.

From the earliest days of this administration, we took the murder of Jamal Khashoggi very seriously. That included releasing an intelligence community report on the murder, which was not done in the last administration, sanctioning a number of Saudi officials and entities, and instituting the so-called ‘Khashoggi ban.’

Again, I will let Mr. Pompeo speak for himself.

Speaker 19 (44:26):

Do you think Jamal Khashoggi, would you consider him an activist?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:31):

I’m not going to get into describing Jamal Khashoggi. I can tell you how we acted and what we have done over the past two years and be very clear on the actions that the White House has taken.


Speaker 8 (44:46):

Thank you so much.

Another Africa question for you today with news that the UN Ambassador is heading to the continent and Janet Yellen is there right now.

What messages are these two top cabinet officials trying to send to African countries broadly? How do you combat concerns and perceptions that the continent is yet again being used as a battlefield for a proxy war between east and west? And then also, how do these visits lay the groundwork for the president’s promised visit to the continent? And any details on that would be awesome.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:17):

Well, to your last question first, don’t have anything to preview about the president’s potential visit to Africa. We have said that he is going to make a visit; just don’t have anything to share at this time.

So our partnership in Africa is not about other nations. Our partnership there, as demonstrated by our commitments at the US-Africa Leader Summit, the United States sees African countries as genuine partners and wants to build a relationship based on mutual respect. That’s what you saw at the summit and that’s what the president has been consistent on. And that’s what we want to see.

Our focus is on Africa and our efforts to strengthen these partnerships across a wide range of sectors, spanning from businesses to health, to peace and security.

Building on those efforts, we’ve had Secretary Blinken and Secretary Yellen travel to the region very recently.

And as you noted, we have Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s upcoming travel to Ghana, Mozambique, and Kenya. And that’s going to be from January 25th to the 29th.

This is going to be the ambassador’s third trip to the sub-Saharan Africa. Since she took up her position as US Ambassador to the United Nations, she’s gone three times under this current tenure that she’s currently doing.

And you will continue to see us following through the President’s commitment and to step up our engagement across Africa this year and beyond.

Look, this is a commitment. We saw it when we put the summit together with 49, 50 heads of states who were right here in DC. That was over three days, and the president participated in the summit, his team participated in the summit. And we talked about issues that really mattered to the continent and issues that really mattered to us as well.

Speaker 8 (47:06):

[inaudible 00:47:06] why those specific countries were chosen? You just mentioned Kenya, Mozambique, and Ghana.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:11):

I would refer you to the UN, to the ambassador’s office.

As I said, it’s her third trip, right? So she’s gone two other times. And so I would refer you to their specific strategy on why these three countries.

Go ahead, Courtney.

Courtney (47:27):

Thank you.

I wanted to ask if you have any information at this point about the release of the budget for the next fiscal year.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:34):

So as you know, the president is looking forward to releasing his budget to the American people. Clearly that’s something that is important for this president to do.

And his team at the OMB is working very, very hard in getting that done and timing, and obviously his budget for 2024.

Don’t have a time for when this is going to happen. But again, this is something that he wants to share with Congress and the American people, and it’s a priority to him.

Courtney (48:09):

It used to be at the beginning of February, when you entered the administration. I don’t think you all have met that deadline yet or that timeframe yet.

Does that have anything to do with when last year’s appropriations were done? I mean, what’s affecting why you wouldn’t have a date yet?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:24):

So look, the timing of the Omnibus late last year certainly has an impact on the budget’s timing, but certainly will be in touch with when we’re ready to share the president’s 2024 budget.

Courtney (48:36):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:37):


Go around … Okay.

Speaker 20 (48:37):

Thank you.

There was reporting from Japan that the US decided it will not deploy land-based medium and intermediate range missiles to Japan.

Can you confirm this decision and say what is under consideration in terms of where the missiles will be deployed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:57):

So according to the Department of Defense, there are no plans to deploy capabilities to Japan that range beyond 500 kilometers. So I don’t have anything more to share. I would refer you to the Department of Defense.

Go ahead.

Speaker 21 (49:12):

When the president speaks on the economy later this week, how much of that will be talking about his own record and how much will be warning about what Republicans and Congress want to do, such as the sales tax?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:25):

So just a little bit of what he’s going to say.

As I announced last week, for those who may have missed it, on Thursday, President Biden will deliver remarks on the economic progress we have made since he took office.

The president will contrast his plan to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out and to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare with the Congressional Republican plan to cut Social Security, Medicare and other vital programs and impose a 30% national sales tax that will increase taxes on working families.

His remarks will be in Springfield, Virginia with union workers who are benefiting from his economic plan.

And so we’ll have more to share on that tomorrow. But again, as you just heard me lay out, it’s going to be a contrast with what we’re trying to do and what the Republicans have laid out.

But again, the president has always been very clear. He’s willing to work in good faith within a bipartisan way with Republicans to continue to deliver on the economic successes that you’ve seen from this administration in the last two years.

Okay. [inaudible 00:50:30]

Speaker 22 (50:30):

Thank you. [inaudible 00:50:32].

Speaker 23 (50:31):

Thanks, Karine.

Thanks, Karine. I want to follow up on the story of Chinese companies providing assistance for Russia.

Do you have now [inaudible 00:50:41] whether the Chinese government is aware or approving this or not?

And my second question is on Turkey, but can you please answer [inaudible 00:50:49]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:49):

Okay. I’m sorry. Can you say your first question again? It’s just hard to hear because you’re …

Speaker 23 (50:53):

Yeah. About the Chinese companies providing assistance for Russia. Do you have a clear sense whether the Chinese government is aware of that or not?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:02):

So can’t speak to that, if the Chinese government is aware of that or not. We’re closely monitoring the situation, as I just stated earlier, as we have been since the war started. And we will continue to communicate to China the implications of providing material support to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Don’t have anything specific on what they know or not know, but we’re certainly always communicating with them.

Speaker 23 (51:24):

And on Turkey, yesterday, President Erdogan said that Sweden should not expect that Turkey would support Sweden to join NATO [inaudible 00:51:36].

How do you respond to his comment and also to that incident?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:40):

So I talked about this a little bit yesterday, about how we see this. And we have said before, many times before, that Finland and Sweden are ready to be NATO allies. That’s how we see things. Both are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partnership. Their military’s work seamlessly with alliance’s forces.

Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments they made under the tri-lateral memorandum of agreement with Turkey, signed on the margins of the NATO summit in Madrid, as you all know, and that includes substantially strengthening their bilateral cooperation with Turkey on key security concerns.

We continue to expect that NATO will formally welcome Finland and Sweden as members. This will enhance their security, as well as that of the Euro Alliance region.

So as their membership process continues, the United States is fully committed to Finland and Sweden’s accession. The strength of that support can be seen in our senate’s overwhelming bipartisan vote for their membership.

So again, that’s where we stand on that particular matter.

Okay, go ahead again.

Speaker 22 (52:53):

Thank you. Yeah.

In the last several weeks, major IT companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon have fired thousands of IT professionals. A significant number of them are either Indian Americans or Indian IT professionals.

So two questions.

These companies are saying that a recession is on the horizon. That’s why they’re firing these people. Does the president think that there’s a recession coming up?

And secondly, these Indian IT professionals who are an H-1B visa, they have to leave the country in 16 days. These people who have their families, their kids are studying here, their house and mortgage, they’re asking for more time to stay here so that they can find an alternative way to sustain them.

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:33):

So more broadly, I’m just not going to speculate why individual companies have made specific personnel decisions. That is for them to speak to. But you don’t have to take my word for it; our economy is continuing to grow in a steady and stable manner, as you’ve heard us from here. And you just have to look at the economic data; when you look at the CPI data or you look at PPI.

And so more broadly, again, when it comes to the economy, layoffs remain near record lows according to job opening data.

Again, I’m just not going to get into specifics or why this is happening. This is something for individual companies to speak to.

And look, the president has said this many times. He’s going to do everything that he can to make sure this is an economy that works for everyone, that works from the bottom up, middle out, and that’s what you’ve seen from his economic plans.

But the president understands firsthand how the impact of losing a job can have on a family. He understands that very personally. But just not going to get into individual specifics.

Speaker 22 (54:37):

[inaudible 00:54:37] the status of those who have been fired; how can they stay here in this country?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:41):

I don’t have any specifics on that, when it comes to how they can stay here.

What I can say is speak more broadly about what we’re seeing through the data. Don’t want to comment on individual companies, but I can speak to how the economy has actually been more of a stable and steady growth because of the president’s actions.

Go ahead [inaudible 00:55:04].

Speaker 24 (55:04):

Hi. Heading into this meeting with the congressional democratic leaders, is there anything you can tell us about the relationship between President Biden and Leader Jeffries? Obviously we know his relationship with Speaker Pelosi before and he goes way back with Schumer, but what kind of relationship, if any, does he have with Congressman Jeffries?

Karine Jean-Pierre (55:23):

The president sees Congressman Jeffries, Leader Jeffries, as a vital partner in this and is looking forward to continuing to work with the congressman, and also was proud to work with the congressman closely as we push forward on our shared agenda, our shared priorities in that 118th Congress.

Okay. Thanks, everybody. We’ll see you tomorrow. Thank you.

[inaudible 00:55:55]

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