Mar 6, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/03/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/03/23
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/03/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 3/03/23. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):

… Awesome.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:03):

Thank you so much. Why are you guys happy?

Group (00:12):

Because it’s all ladies in the front row!

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:12):

The ladies in the front row!

Speaker 2 (00:14):

And it’s Friday.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:15):

Oh, my gosh. So, then I’ll just start in the back, then.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

No.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:22):

Look, the guys…

(00:22)
Well, Happy Friday. And, yes, it is an all-ladies crew in the front row. I wonder if there’s history-making here today. All right. Good afternoon, everyone. Happy Friday. I’m not sure what’s going on with Andrea here. You got it? You’re good?

Speaker 3 (00:40):

Somebody has got audio.

Speaker 4 (00:41):

I’m so sorry.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:42):

Yeah, it’s Andrea. She’s trying. She’s trying, folks.

(00:47)
I don’t see you very often. And when I do, you cause a ruckus.

(00:51)
Okay. So, today, President Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to a true hero of our nation, Colonel Paris Davis, for the gallantry he displayed at great personal risk that went above and beyond the call of duty during combat operations in Vietnam.

(01:09)
You all heard President Biden tell Colonel Davis’s story in powerful remarks, but I just want to say that Colonel Davis represents the best of America. Despite being wounded while leading his men in combat, he refused to leave the battlefield until all the members of his team were evacuated.

(01:28)
His bravery and devotion to our country during this battle has been recognized before in the form of a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. But until today, he never received the recognition for his extraordinary acts, and well-deserved recognition, obviously, which is a Medal of Honor.

(01:47)
We are proud to welcome Colonel Davis to the White House today as a Medal of Honor recipient.

(01:54)
Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing its 33rd security assistance package for Ukraine using presidential drawdown authorities as we continue to surge weapons and equipment that Ukraine needs to defend itself against Russian aggression.

(02:10)
This package includes more ammunition for US-provided HIMARS and howitzers that Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, armored vehicle-launched bridges, and demolition munitions and equipment.

(02:28)
The United States will continue to rally the world to support Ukraine. We have seen incredible commitment from our allies and partners, and applaud the more than 50 countries, including Germany. As you all know, Germany’s Chancellor will be here at the White House momentarily, and that have come together to provide Ukraine with military assistance. These contributions are making a significant difference, enabling Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

(02:58)
Russia alone could end this war today if they wished. They could end this war today. Until they are willing to do so, we will continue to strengthen Ukrainians’ military on the battlefield so that they will be in the strongest possible position at any future negotiation at the table.

(03:17)
Now, before we go to questions, I have a little bit of the week ahead, and I’ll lay that out for you.

(03:22)
On Sunday, March 5th, the President will travel to Selma, Alabama, where he will commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The President will deliver remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and participate in the annual commemorative bridge-crossing event.

(03:37)
In his remarks, President Biden will talk about the importance of commemorating Bloody Sunday so that history cannot be erased. He will highlight how the continued fight for voting rights is integral to delivering economic justice and civil rights for Black Americans.

(03:55)
In the evening, the President will return to the White House.

(03:57)
On Monday, the President will headline the 2023 International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference.

(04:04)
On Thursday, the President will release his budget. The budget will show how the President plans to invest in America, continue to lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, reduce the deficit, and so much more. We will have, of course, more details to share with all of you next week.

(04:23)
On Friday, the President will welcome President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission to the White House. The leaders will review the strong cooperation between the United States and the European Union to support Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and democracy, and to impose costs on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

(04:45)
They will also discuss US-EU coordination to combat the climate crisis through investing in clean technology based on secure supply chains.

(04:56)
The leaders will take stock of the joint Task Force on Europe’s Energy Security that they established one year ago, which has helped the EU reduce its independence, or dependence, pardon me, on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate its green transition.

(05:12)
They will also discuss other international security challenges, including our work together to address the challenges posed by the People’s Republic of Russia.

(05:22)
With that, Colleen, good to see you. It’s been a while.

Colleen (05:24):

Thanks.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:24):

You have the floor.

Colleen (05:26):

Karine, it is your 100th press briefing today.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:34):

Oh, my gosh.

Colleen (05:34):

So-

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:34):

I’m sure you’re thrilled.

Colleen (05:34):

Congratulations. How do you feel about that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:34):

Oh, my gosh. All right. Well, cheers.

Colleen (05:37):

Cheers. So, moving right along, I wanted to ask about the D.C. criminal code. Again, we’ve been hearing that some of the House Democrats feel like they got thrown under the bus a little bit by the President’s decision not to step in on the effort to stop the overhaul, which is a lot of negatives, I understand, but I think you know where I’m going.

(06:03)
So, I wanted to know, you know: Did the President give them a heads-up on the decision? Was there any sort of back-and-forth about it?

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:10):

So, first, let me just say that the White House notified the members at the House retreat, as you know, back… that was earlier this week or is still happening, in Baltimore. So that’s number one.

(06:23)
Number two, I do want to lay out that the President and the administration has a very close relationship with House Democrats and Senate Democrats as well. We have worked together. The President has worked very well with the members on delivering bold, historic pieces of legislation in his first two years of his administration and is very proud of the relationship that he has with them. And our teams are constantly in communication with them.

(06:48)
And so, I’ll leave that there. This is a very strong, important relationship for all of us here, including the President.

(06:55)
I also want to state that, look, the President supports D.C. statehood. That is something that you saw in his SAP for this particular D.C. crime bill. And if Congress sends him a bill making D.C. a state, he’ll always, always be sure to sign it, because he’s been talking about that for the last two decades.

(07:15)
But vetoing the bill headed to his desk now won’t make D.C. a state. And so, those are the things that the President is really… has been very clear about when it comes to D.C. and their statehood. And so, I’ll leave it there. But as it relates to the House, as it relates to Senate Democrats, it is a very important relationship for us and, clearly, very important.

(07:37)
And with the Senate Democratic Caucus, as you know, when he met with them yesterday, he provided what he was going to do and made it very clear to them, and they had that discussion.

Colleen (07:47):

I just also want to ask, Biden and the Democrats have talked a lot about the need to stem rising crime, but also the need to reform a criminal justice system that still disproportionately affects Black Americans.

(08:04)
So why not engage in some sort of compromise or why not let the D.C. bill… because the mayor vetoed the criminal code but she also proposed some changes that she thought would have made the system better on the whole.

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:18):

So, I just want to be very clear here. And if you look at the D.C. bill itself, and I know that there was a little bit of… I was asked a couple questions of what else does it do besides armed carjacking. And I don’t normally go line by line on legislation, especially legislation that we haven’t introduced. But I did talk to the team, and we have a couple things that I just want to lay out for all of you on what the D.C. bill does. It reduces maximum penalties for offenses like murders and other homicides; armed home invasion burglaries; armed carjackings, as I mentioned; armed robberies; unlawful gun possession; and some sexual assault offenses. And so, look, the President has been very clear we need to do more to reduce crime, to make communities safer, to save lives. And that’s why he put together, he put forth his Safer America Plan that does just that. That we believe does exactly that.

(09:15)
So, the way that we see this bill, it doesn’t actually reform policing practices. That’s not something that it does, reform like the ones the President has put forward at the federal level about the executive order. When it couldn’t be done on the Senate side, moving forward with police reform, the President put forth a historic piece, a piece of an executive order to try to do what we can at the federal level.

(09:40)
And so, we believe that this bill does not actually do that.

Speaker 5 (09:45):

Question on the meeting today with the German Chancellor. Not long ago, both Chancellor Scholz, along with President Macron, reportedly told Zelenskyy that he would soon have to make difficult decisions urging the start of peace negotiations.

(09:58)
Does the President see that as a sign that the united front that he has worked so hard to maintain, may be not that united that much longer? And how much does he see today’s sit-down as a chance to just urge Scholz to stay the course and stick with this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:11):

Look, the President is looking forward for a productive meeting with the German Chancellor. They first met… I don’t know if some of you have been tracking this, but they first met when he became German Chancellor early last year, I believe, on February 7th, soon after he clearly took office. And they met here at the White House. And over the past several years, they’ve seen each other at the margins of the G7, at the summit in Germany; at NATO; at the G20 Summit; and have talked by phone regularly.

(10:41)
And so this is clearly a relationship that has been growing over the last year. And so how we see this meeting is a bilateral cooperation to talk about a range of issues, global security, economic issues. And at the forefront of this meeting that they’re going to have, this bilat that they’ll pretty soon, it will be on Ukraine. And that coordination is going to continue.

(11:07)
You saw the President in Warsaw. You saw him in Kyiv. You saw him having a bilat with the B9 and… Well, a meeting with the B9, a bilat with the President of Poland. And all of the actions and the meetings that the President has had over the last just several months is showing, I think, the strength. The strength of the union, the strength of the EU, the strength of what you’re seeing with the NATO Allies and Europe and the West. And so I think that’s going to continue. We believe that’s going to continue.

(11:39)
Remember, when Russia, when Putin first started out on this war, he thought that NATO would be divided. He thought that the West would be divided. And we just have not seen that. If anything, we’re seeing more coordination and more support for the people of Ukraine, for President Zelenskyy, and the efforts that they’re doing on the ground to defend their democracy.

Speaker 5 (11:59):

But you are seeing signs

Speaker 5 (12:00):

Kind of the approach may start, it’s starting to look a little bit different, right? You say over and over again here, the president says nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. And yet you do see some allies saying it is time to get to the negotiating table. They’re concerned that they’ll be able to do this for as long as it takes, as the president says. So does that not spark concern and worry amongst the President?

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:18):

Look, Mary, we want this war to end. We do. We want this war to end, but it doesn’t look like Russia is going to do that, right? And it is up to… They could end this end war today, but they’re not. And so what we’re going to continue to do is support Ukraine the best way that we can. We just announced, I just laid out a PDA or 33rd a drawdown since this war started, and we’re going to continue to do that, continue to give them the support that they need on the ground.

(12:47)
And look, you’ve heard President Zelenskyy talk about peace and wanting to move forward with peace, but at the same time, we have to make sure we strengthen their hand when those negotiations happen, that they are in a place of strength. And so that’s what you’re seeing from this president. That’s what you’re seeing from the allies across the globe. And you’re going to see the President meeting with the German Chancellor today. We’re going to continue to show that supportive front, that coordination. They’re going to have that discussion. And you saw that last week when the president was in Eastern Europe.

Speaker 5 (13:21):

Just, it’s sort of a housekeeping matter, but has the President had a chance yet or does he plan to speak with former President Carter or members of his family given I don’t think they’ve spoken yet since the news of his hospice care.

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:30):

Yeah, I don’t have a call to preview or to announce as you know, and I’ve said this many times before, and I think many of you have reported this, that they’ve known each other since 1976. It’s a relationship that has spanned many, many decades. The president certainly, and the First Lady, their hearts are with President Carter and his family. I just don’t have a conversation to preview at this time.

Speaker 5 (13:56):

Given the importance of that relationship, it seems odd that it hasn’t happened yet, I guess?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:01):

No. I mean, look, the president, when it’s time and appropriate, certainly that conversation will happen. I just don’t have anything at this time to preview. Okay. [inaudible 00:14:11]

Speaker 6 (14:11):

So an EU official just said that the two sides are working toward an agreement in principle on a very limited agreement that would create a free trade like status for the EU that would put it on par roughly with Canada and Mexico in terms of the IRA, can you say anything more about your hopes for reaching some kind of a deal, at least on a very high level when [inaudible 00:14:37] arrives next week?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:38):

Yeah, I don’t want to get ahead of that meeting. Clearly that’s going to be another important bilateral meeting, focusing on the coordination of course on Ukraine and other important security issues and economic issues as you just laid out, that both sides care about, the American Union and clearly the United States. As it relates to the IRA investments, the clean energy future will be invented and built and made in America. That’s why we see the IRA’s investment. The president will never back down from putting American Jobs and American leadership at the heart of his strategy, taxpayer dollars should go to support American jobs and American innovation, but the IRA’s benefits expand beyond the US.

(15:22)
Our investment will help drive down costs for clean energy, which will help other nations as well. That’s how we see this important law that the president clearly fought tooth and nail for, and it’s going to go further and faster in building their own clean energy economies. I’m not going to, again, get ahead of a meeting that’s going to happen next week, but the president, and we have been very clear on how important we feel the Inflation Reduction Act is. And again, we’re always going to make sure that we support American jobs and clearly American tax dollars.

Speaker 6 (15:55):

But I think the question is, how important is it to you to remove this irritant in the relationship at a time when you’re looking at a protracted war in Ukraine, potentially China delivering lethal aid? Is it important to shore up the alliance and at this point remove irritants at this stretch?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:16):

Look, clearly the relationship is important to this president. You have seen him across two years rebuild our relationship with our allies, something that was almost decimated in the last administration. We have a president who understands the importance of those types of foreign leadership relationships who had them for many years before becoming president. And so of course, we want to make sure there’s a good working relationship and you’re going to see him continue to do that. Again, I don’t want to get ahead of what the agenda is going to be or what’s going to be discussed with the EU next week with what I can say, it’s an important conversation that they will have. It’ll focus on clearly Ukraine, that continued coordination and support for the Ukrainian people as they are bravely fighting for their democracy.

Speaker 6 (17:07):

Just one on the domestic front on the budget. To what extent are you expecting the care economy and all those proposals that got removed from the previous pieces of legislation to come back? Will we see those items come back in one by one?

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:23):

So I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s budget. It’s going to be released next Thursday, March 9th. But clearly, the president remains committed to fighting for paid leave and childcare policies, that is something clearly he fought very hard for it in the beginning of the year as we were trying to move forward with that piece of legislation. And we believe fighting for what I just mentioned, paid leave and childcare, is going to help grow the economy. It’s going to help give American families and Americans across the country a little bit of a breathing room. But again, I’m just not going to get ahead of the President’s budget. That will be out next week.

Speaker 7 (18:02):

Thanks, Karine. Just following up on Colleen’s question on the DC Crime Bill, the House Democrats who are expressing anger and frustration, they’re in part saying that they wish they had known sooner what the president’s position would be as a whole bunch of house Democrats already voted against the bill. Why didn’t the White House make this position clear before that vote had taken place in the house?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:26):

When we put out the SAP, I think it was around the State of the Union, I think that’s when the SAP came out. We were very clear on where the President was, which is making sure that he continues his commitment to DC statehood. And that’s what you saw in that SAP, in that support for DC statehood. And at the time, many times, even earlier this week, many of you were asking me, I think your colleague was asking me which direction the president was going to go. And he never made that clear in that SAP. And I think as it was becoming, we always let the process in Congress go through whatever mechanism they take, however it moves forward. So we never were always very clear and careful about that. But as it now looks like it was going to come to his desk, we wanted to communicate where we were going to go. We wanted to communicate how the President was going to move forward with this particular bill. And we did. And we laid that out. We’re explaining that now why he is moving forward in that way. And the White House and Congressional Democrats, as we have known, have come together on many different things to deliver for the American people, and the President wants to continue to do so.

Speaker 7 (19:42):

But I guess the President supports DC statehood. He’s been clear about that, but he’s not going to veto this bill from Congress, which does amount to Congress meddling DC’s own governance. Right? So how do you square that circle? Both things can’t be true.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:00):

No, we believe both things can be true. Right now, DC is not a state. This is coming to the President. This is something that’s coming to his desk and he has to take action. I just laid out a moment ago to Colleen, why we felt that this bill doesn’t actually deal with police reform. This president has been someone for many years, many decades, who has always put the safety of American, American families, certainly across the country first. That’s why he put together his Safer America plan that lays out a hundred thousand cops in communities to work with communities to make sure that communities feel safe.

(20:36)
The Cops Plan, that is something that the president started as senator. It’s actually a policy that Republicans want to not fund and take that away, take away an option to make communities safe. So this is something that the president cares about very strongly, and the way that we see it is that this is coming to the President’s desk. This is not a legislation that he put forward. DC is not yet a state, even though he supports DC statehood, and he had to make a decision and again, we let the process move forward in Congress and we felt this was the time to make that decision.

Speaker 7 (21:17):

I just had a quick call up on East Palestine. Senator Manchin said this week that the president visiting there would give confidence to the residents. Obviously, I know you guys haven’t announced anything, no plans right now for him to go there, but do you think it could make a difference for the President to go, even if all that accomplished was to give some sort of reassurance to many of the residents there who are still very worried and upset about what happened?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:43):

I believe you heard from the president just yesterday who said that he’s planning to go there at some point. What he’s going to do is when that happens, he’s going to coordinate with state and local officials to make that trip occur. What the president has been focused on is making sure that we make the community, the people in East Palestine whole again, to make sure that they get what they need to feel safe, to make sure that they feel like their community is healthy again. That’s why we made sure that the air is safe, right? That’s why we made sure the water is safe, but he understands how the community feels about what happened and what occurred in their community this past couple weeks. That’s why HHS, FEMA, DOT, EPA have been on the ground and it’s been a multi-agency effort to make sure that they get what they need to make sure that they have that safe air, that safe water, as I just mentioned.

(22:40)
And the last part of that is we’re going to make sure that Norfolk Suffolk is held to account for the mess that they created. And that’s what you’re seeing. You’ve seen the EPA administrator, he was just there for a third time, and so the president’s committed. He’s keeping abreast or updated on a daily basis on what’s going on the ground. He’s talked to the governor of Ohio. He’s spoken to the governor of Pennsylvania, the senators multiple times to make sure that they are getting everything that they need from the federal government.

Colleen (23:12):

Okay, thank you. Karine. You mentioned the SAP that the administration put out on February 6th, but it’s not a broad statement about DC’s statehood. It specifically says that the administration opposes the resolution that would dismantle the crime bill. So when was this policy reversed, and why weren’t house Democrats notified about the reversal?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:40):

I’ll say this, there was never a change of heart on where we were with the SAP. The SAP, the way that it’s laid out, speaks to the president supporting DC statehood. That is where we were. That’s what we were at the

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:00):

… time wanted to make sure that we, again, lifted up where the President has been for the past decades, making sure that DC, fighting for DC to become a state. And we actually say in this SAP, that if Congress wants to move forward in that way, we should pass HR-51, make DC the 51 state. And so, we never laid out where the President was going to go once it came to his desk, because we wanted to allow Congress to move forward in a way that they normally do with the mechanism, when a piece of legislation moves forward. And so, we never said anything at this time. Now we’re communicating very clearly, now that we know that this legislation is going to be at the President’s desk, we’re making very clear and communicating that where the President is on this legislation.

Colleen (24:55):

Wait, I’m sorry. It specifically says the word, opposes. So is it that the administration wasn’t aware of the content, the specifics of the crime bill, and now you are aware, and the President says he doesn’t support some of the changes that the DC Council put forward? Because when you released to this SAP, I’m assuming, maybe incorrectly, that you were very aware of what the council was proposing.

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:25):

We were aware of what the Council were proposing. What we’re saying was, that we wanted to make sure that we continued the President’s continued push for statehood, and that’s what we did. That’s what we did in this SAP. That was what was the most important thing that we believed. There was no veto threat in this SAP, there really wasn’t.It may have been, I just read it while you were asking me, that we didn’t oppose. We opposed it, but there was no veto threat. So I want to be really clear about it.

(25:55)
It stated our support for DC statehood, but it did not indicate what the President would do, should the bill come to the desk. It did not say that. It did not lay that out. Now we’re communicating that very clearly. We communicated with the House Democrats days ago, when they were in Baltimore. And again, I said this, I said this to MJ, I remember many of you asking where we were going to go and I said, “We don’t have a decision yet.” We don’t have anything to share on this, on where the president’s going to be with this particular bill. And now, we are. Because we know that it’s going to come to his desk.

Colleen (26:29):

There must be some state laws that the President also disagrees with, that have to do with crime. And he obviously, doesn’t have the power to do anything about that. I’m trying to square his decision to use his power to do something in DC, while he’s also saying, the federal government should allow them to be their own state

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:52):

Because DC is not a state.

Colleen (26:55):

So, he can’t-

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:56):

This bill-

Colleen (26:56):

… and therefore he should?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:58):

DC’s not a state. So therefore, the bill is coming to his desk, so he has to make a decision. It’s as simple as that Weijia, right? Because DC is not a state now. He wants DC to become a state. We’ve been very clear about that. He has said that for decades, that he believes in DC statehood. But it’s not a, it’s not. And so therefore, because DC is not a state, when bills like this come, occur, it goes to the President, and he has to make a decision. And that’s where we are. It’s as simple as that. Now, if DC becomes a state, yes, the President believes that it should be governing for, city should be governing on its own. That’s what he believes.

Colleen (27:34):

But until then they shouldn’t.

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:37):

Weijia, DC is not a state.

Colleen (27:38):

Right. But I mean he has to be… I’m asking, because he does have an option to veto. That is one action he could take.

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:46):

Right. But again, this is a president that believes in keeping communities safe. He believes in keeping the 700,000 residents in DC safe. And so, he’s taking that action because it’s coming to him. We didn’t put this legislation forth. This is not our legislation. This is a legislation that is coming before the President of the United States because DC is not a state. It’s just not. So he has to make a decision. So he’s going to make a decision that will help the residents of DC, that will deliver for the residents of DC, and it’s as simple as that.

Speaker 8 (28:24):

I’m seeing two perhaps parallels here in the discussion about the SAP, which is the statement of administration policy. Isn’t it really boiling down to, there was one train here that was saying that the administration opposed this, and then really, when the recognition takes place, this would make the President look anti-tough on crime, that the wheels stopped, and now you have a new position. Isn’t that really what happened here?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:51):

What I can tell you what happened is that, there was no change of heart. Yes. In the language. I just read it as read it again. As Weijia was talking, was asking her question. There was the word opposed, but we never indicated, which is not unusual. It is not unusual for a SAP, in the SAP, for the President to not indicate if he will veto or if he will sign. It is not unusual to do that. Now that we know that it’s going to come to his desk, we’re communicating that very clearly. The President communicated that with all of you yesterday. And so, now we have made a decision of where we’re going to go with this particular piece of legislation.

Speaker 8 (29:29):

[inaudible 00:29:29] more sense. Because those of us who cover this read these things all the time. The general public may not even know what we’re talking about here.

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:35):

No, I’m pretty sure.

Speaker 8 (29:35):

But it seems like so-

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:36):

I’m pretty sure this is-

Speaker 8 (29:40):

There was a bureaucratic push in one direction on this. And then when it reached a certain point, and crime is a big issue in America, in certain cities, we saw it reflected in the election in Chicago. We know it’s a concern. It’s been a concern in the city that many of us live in here. And then boom, the President has to make a decision and he’s going a different direction than the administration set up. Isn’t it really just that simple?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:06):

I wouldn’t say it’s that simple. First of all, let me just step back for a second. This is, when you look at crime and the rise of crime over the last couple of years, this is something that the President inherited, and he took action, right? With Safer America plan, and making sure that he did everything that he can, using the tools that he has in federal government to put forth a plan that will keep communities safe. I talked about the 100,000 cops, to put them in communities, working with communities to make sure communities feel safe.

(30:31)
And that’s not just that. There’s the COPS program, right?PAnd we’re going to see, from the President’s budget, his commitment to that, to his commitment to cops. What we are seeing is, we saw DC Council put forth a piece of legislation. They’re not a state. They went through their processes, right? They went through their mechanics. It ended up in Congress. We put out a SAP saying, “Yes, we oppose it, but also, we support a DC statehood.” That’s what it says in our SAP. But we never indicated from that, where the President was going to go, because we were also letting that process play out in Congress. Now that we know that it’s coming to the desk of the President, the President, we’re communicating where the President stands on this piece of the DC crime bill, this piece of legislation.

Speaker 8 (31:22):

The other sharp turn quickly.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:24):

Yep.

Speaker 8 (31:24):

On East Palestine, not going to go, not visiting, no plans to visit.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:28):

Not at this time.

Speaker 8 (31:28):

Okay.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:29):

As you heard from the President.

Speaker 8 (31:31):

He himself says, “Okay, we’re going to go there at some point.”

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:32):

At some point, yep.

Speaker 8 (31:33):

Okay, so there’s a political critical mass that has been building, and it would appear that this is one of those national events where people will not be satisfied until the President himself goes there. Even if you have all of your important cabinet level officials go. So it also appears as if, not going to go, not going to go. Okay, now we’re going to go. So what are the factors that will be required for the President to go? Is it a specific deliverable that he can bring? Is it a specific invitation from local officials? Is it a certain kind of window where he will feel comfortable?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:06):

Well, he already got an invitation from the governor. I think you heard the governor said he’s welcome to come to Ohio. He’s been to Ohio many times before during his administration. So it’s not unusual for him to go there. Look, I don’t have anything to preview. The President was asked a question, and he answered it very honestly. And once we have more to share as to if there is a trip ahead, we’re going to coordinate. It would be coordinated with the state and official officials on the ground, and we’ll certainly lay out what that-

Speaker 8 (32:37):

Do you see the change? I mean, the President himself said, “No, I have no plans to go.” And then yesterday said, he’ll go at some point. So I just tried to get, what is the switch?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:43):

I think he was asked a direct question, and he’s been updated throughout, being regularly updated on what has been happening on the ground by his team, by the local and state officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania. And I will just leave it there. We know the President, he answers a question very honestly, and he said, “Sometime in the future I will probably go.” But I don’t have anything to share. We don’t have a plan for the President to go at this time. We don’t have anything to preview to all of you at this time. It’s just, he was asked the question, he answered it honestly. Go ahead.

Speaker 9 (33:18):

Thanks. Just on the DC issue, just one point of clarity, does the President view this as a one time interference in DC affairs, or does he hold up the amount of money they have-

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:27):

That’s a hypothetical. I mean, that’s a hypothetical that I can’t answer from here. This is, there was a specific issue that came before us. And the pres, and the pres… Yeah, but it’s like you’re asking a hypothetical that I can’t answer at this time.

Speaker 9 (33:37):

Senator Menendez urged the President yesterday to appoint or nominate a Latino American to the, as Fed Vice Chair. Can you say, I know you don’t want to get ahead of the process, but can you say publicly whether a Latino American is under consideration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:51):

I’m not going to get ahead of the process. Okay.

Speaker 10 (33:54):

Hey, a couple questions. One is, I wanted to ask for the administration’s response to Walgreens saying that they won’t distribute abortion pills in states where Republican governors have asked them not to. I want to know what you all are thinking, and are you concerned that other pharmacies you have been threatened with potential legal action will follow suit?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:12):

Yeah. I have a statement here that I want to read out to all of you. So elected officials targeting pharmacies and their ability to provide women with access to safe, effective, and FDA approved medication, is dangerous and just unacceptable. We’ve said this before, I’ve said this before, pills, this pill that has been on the market for more than two decades, more than two decade, and is regularly used for both miscarriage, and management, and abortion, as also it’s used in more than 60 countries. The Department of Justice has already independently issued an opinion related to this issue, that is at odds with this dangerous effort.

(34:53)
This is all a part of a continued effort by anti-abortion extremists, who want to use this arcane law to impose a door, a backdoor ban on abortion. The administration will continue to stand by the FDA’s expert judgment in approving and regulating medications, and in the face of barriers to access, and concerns about safety of patients, healthcare providers and pharmacists, we will continue to support access to this critical medication within the limits of the law. Which is why the President issued his January recent Presidential memorandum, that aims to preserve continued access to a safe drug that, and will, emphasize, again, is used for a miscarriage management and abortion. So that is what we wanted to say on the Walgreens front.

Speaker 10 (35:37):

So it sounds like you all think it’s dangerous. Are there any sort of mechanisms that you see for continuing to provide access in those cases? Has the White House been in touch, or the administration been in touch with Walgreens? I mean, it’s a huge pharmacy-

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:50):

No.

Speaker 10 (35:50):

… throughout much of the country.

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:51):

No. No, totally. I totally understand. Which is why we’re saying this is unfortunately unacceptable and dangerous. Look, the Department of Justice is independently,

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:01):

… issued an opinion related to this. I’m not going to get ahead of that, or I’ll just make sure, refer you to that, but I’m just not going to have anything more than what I just laid out.

Speaker 10 (36:13):

Shifting gears totally, I wanted to ask you about inflation. The Fed said today actually on its semi-annual report to Congress, it suggested that more rate hikes would be needed to curb inflation. And I know you all have been fairly confident that inflation is slowing and that this would all lead to a soft landing. I’m curious if you all still feel that a soft landing is possible, and if so, can you help me understand why you are so confident in that assessment?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:40):

And we have said that it was going to go into a steady and stable growth and sometimes there’ll be some up and downs. We have been very clear about that. I think the last, Brian Deese’s last briefing, he actually laid that out for all of you. Look, the way that we see it, and the reason why we feel very confident in this is that the president’s economic agenda, the way that we see it and others have as well, is that it’s making progress to bring inflation down. You have inflation that’s down by 30% from last summer, but we always understand that there’s more work to do and we also understand that the way that we got here is because of CCOVID-19, is because of Russia’s war against Ukraine. All of those things have disrupted global energy, food supplies and caused inflation to spike around the world.

(37:28)
But the president’s going to continue to do everything that he can to lower costs. You’re going to see his March 9th budget in less than a week. At this point we helped to lower gas prices by a buck 60. It is now at a buck 60 a gallon from its peak from Putin’s war. The real wages are higher than they were seven months ago. And so we’re going to continue to do that. Let’s not forget, when we think about the pieces of legislations that were passed under this president capping insulin by 35 bucks per month for seniors on Medicare, those are the things that matter. Now we see farmer companies like Eli Lilly doing the same, but for all Americans capping at 35 bucks, those are the things that we’re going to continue to work on to lower costs for people. And so again, you’re going to see the president’s budget next week, but the data shows us how inflation has been moderating over the last six months and we think that’s important to speak to.

Speaker 10 (38:28):

I mean, it’s been, I would say, rather sticky.

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:30):

Well, and that’s why we say we have more work to do. We’re not saying that we don’t have more work to do. We say this every time we talk about inflation, every time we talk about the economy, we say that there’s more work to do. That’s why the president takes extra steps. Like the IRA takes extra steps to make sure that we bring down costs for the American family. But the data shows it has indeed moderated. And so that’s what we look at, that to your question, original question that what gives us some encouragement that we will get to that steady and stable growth.

Speaker 11 (39:06):

I just want to go back to the bilateral. Last time Chancellor Scholz was here was just a few weeks before the start of the war, back then in the lead up to the invasion there was really an effort by the president to sort of gather up support, unite the allies, and be prepared to sort of react as quickly as possible with sanctions, with help to Ukraine. Are these similar conversations happening right now between the US and European allies, other allies to be ready for the possibility that China sends weapons to Russia and to be ready to act quickly the way they were ready to act quickly a year ago?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:47):

So first of all, as they had a G7 call just last week, the president was in Ukraine and he was also in Poland. There’s constant communication with our allies that the president is having. They’re not one-offs here, they’re consistent and they’re continuous. And so I just want to be very clear there. And look, we have said this over and over again. We have not seen any, we haven’t seen China do anything yet as it relates to lethal weapons. And we believe that Russia’s war in Ukraine has put China in a difficult position to actually move forward in that direction. Every step China takes towards Russia makes it harder for China with Europe and other countries around the world. But want to be really clear on that piece. But as I’ve mentioned before, secretary Blinken met with Wang Yi just recently in Munich and made himself really clear. They had a very clear conversation, and keeping that communication, that line of communication open is very important to us as well. But again, we haven’t seen China take that action yet. But we’ve been very clear and had conversations with China.

Speaker 11 (41:04):

If there could’ve done another one on the IRA, this meeting with Chancellor Scholz is one of several meetings with European leaders. When President Macron was here for the state visit in early December, the message of the administration was, we are in listening mode. We are hearing the concerns of our European allies and we’re having discussions. Has there been any progress, any change, or is this still hearing, listening mode and…

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:37):

So I spoke to this a little bit. These relationships are clearly important to us. We’re still in listening mode. We’re still in discussion and just don’t have anything more to share on what’s next with that. But we think the Inflation Reduction Act is incredibly important to the American people, to our taxpayers. We’re always going to make sure that we support American job and American innovation. The president will never back down from that. And so I’ll just leave it there.

Speaker 12 (42:06):

Tennessee’s governor signed two anti-LGBTQ bills into law on Thursday, one that bans many drag performances from taking place on public property. Another band’s most gender-affirming care to transgender youth. What does the White House make of these laws and is there anything you can do or planning to do about these laws?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:25):

So I’ll say this, the American people are focused on so many issues. We just talked about economy. We just talked about inflation. We’re talking about safer communities and schools and good healthcare, all of the things that you all ask me every day, and you all know that’s what the American people care about. That’s what even when they went to vote in November, those were the issues that mattered the most to them. But instead of doing anything to address those real issues that are impacting American people right now you have a governor from Tennessee has decided to go after drag shows. What sense does that make to go after drag shows? How does that going to help people’s lives who are thinking about the economy, who are thinking about making sure their kids are going to be safe when they go to school, their communities are safe.

(43:10)
But that’s what he wants to focus on. So it’s part of a larger pattern from elected officials who espouse freedom and liberty, but apparently think that freedom of speech only extends to people who agree with them. And that’s what we’re seeing from what’s happening in Tennessee and other places as well. So don’t take my words for it on this issue, the governor himself hasn’t been able to, if you think about this particular issue, he hasn’t been able to cite any examples, anything to show that drag shows in public spaces are a problem. He hasn’t. He hasn’t laid that out at all on why this is an issue for American people. So I’ve said this before from here, I said this I believe last week, and we’ll keep saying it, that these ridiculous policies aren’t just unnecessary, they are dangerous. They vilify our fellow Americans, and at the time when LGBTQ Americans are facing higher risk in violence, mental health issues, and it is unacceptable, it is completely unacceptable for a governor to be moving in this way to be with such a bill. And it is also unfortunate?

Speaker 12 (44:19):

So what’s your message to the LGBTQ youth in the state as well as drag performers? What’s your message to them?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:25):

So the president always has been very clear when it comes to rotable communities like LGBTQ community, that he has their backs and he has a record to show that. He has a record that shows that he supports this community and will continue to be there for the community as long as it takes.

Speaker 13 (44:45):

Thanks Karine. I want to go back to something I had asked you just the other day. We’re talking about safer communities, and that is the issue of cartels. The Attorney General was asked whether or not he’d be open to labeling the top cartels in Mexico as foreign terrorist organizations. He said he didn’t oppose the idea. Just yesterday, Bill Barr, his predecessor, Merrick Garland’s predecessor went a bit further saying that the US should have the military presence inside Mexico. So now it’s the two most recent Attorney Generals, one in a Democratic administration, one in a Republican administration, basically saying, we can do more about this issue going forward. So a couple questions along that line. Does the Biden administration need to reassess its posture as it relates to taking on these cartels?

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:33):

I’m just not going to get ahead of what the Department of Justice said, of what Merrick Garland said. As you know they move in an independent way. I’m just not going to get ahead of any policies that may be coming out from the Department of Justice and I’ll just leave it there.

Speaker 13 (45:49):

What about Bill Barr suggesting that maybe we put a military presence or have a military presence inside Mexico-

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:57):

I’m not going to comment on what Bill Bar has said.

Speaker 13 (45:59):

Has the president never thought about that idea or considered that idea?

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:02):

But you’re asking me to comment on Bill Barr who was the attorney general during Trump’s administration. I’m just not going to comment.

Speaker 14 (46:08):

Karine, the pool.

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:09):

Oh, okay. Hold on. So the pool has to gather. What’s the plan?

Speaker 14 (46:13):

Yeah, the Scholz visit-

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:14):

Oh, the Scholz visit. Okay. All right. So what are we doing? We’re going to wrap it up.

Speaker 14 (46:18):

Wrap it up.

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:19):

Okay. All right. We got to wrap it up.

Speaker 14 (46:22):

Have a great week.

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:23):

Sorry guys. Have a great weekend.

Audience (46:25):

Thank you. Thanks Karine.

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