Apr 5, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/04/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/04/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/04/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/04/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:03):

All right. Good afternoon, everybody.

Speaker 1 (00:05):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:05):

It’s about 1:30. Right on time for all of you. Oh, boy. Happy Monday.

(00:13)
Okay, today President Biden released a statement welcoming Finland as NATO’s 31st ally. This is a historic day for the NATO Alliance and it comes on the 74th anniversary of NATO’s founding. Welcoming Finland to NATO has been a priority for the President. He has been actively engaged throughout this process, hosting Finland’s president here at the White House several times. The Senate acted in near record time to advance the ratification process, and Finland’s ratification process, which took less than one year, is the fastest ratification process in NATO’s modern history. We also look forward to welcoming Sweden as a NATO member as soon as possible and encourage Turkey and Hungary to conclude their ratification process without delay. Both Finland and Sweden are strong democracies with highly capable militaries who share our values and vision for the world. As President Biden said, when Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong. Today we are more unified than ever and we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face.

(01:32)
Now to support Ukraine, today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing two critical new packages of security assistance, that includes significant new air defense capabilities, more ammunition for US provided HIMAES and anti-armor and motor systems, as well as rockets, artillery, and tank ammunition that Ukraine is using to defend itself. It is the 35th time the administration has authorized the use of presidential drawdown authorities to send much needed assistance to Ukraine to meet its immediate battlefield needs. And we are also providing equipment throughout Ukraine’s Security Assistance Initiative to help Ukraine with its longer term security assistance requirements. President Biden’s commitment to supporting Ukraine is clear. We will continue to work with our allies and partners around the world to support Ukraine as they defend their democracy, and to impose costs on Russia as it continues its unconscionable, unprovoked war of choice.

(02:33)
And finally today, as you will see momentarily, President Biden will meet with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The meeting will focus on the risks and opportunities that artificial intelligence technologies pose for individuals, society and national security. The President will discuss the importance of protecting rights and safety to ensure responsible, innovative and appropriate safeguards. The President believes that tech companies have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before making them public. So he will also reiterate his call on Congress to pass bipartisan privacy legislation to protect kids, limit personal data tech companies collect on all of us.

(03:18)
With that Seung Min, you want to kick us off? Sure.

Seung Min (03:20):

I have two topics.

Karine Jean-Pierre (03:22):

Sure.

Seung Min (03:22):

I was wondering on the pretty remarkable developments in the Tennessee legislature where Republican lawmakers are moving to expel Democratic lawmakers for their role in gun protests. And I’m wondering if the White House, the President, what the reaction is to today’s attempts to expel these members? Do they think it’s justified, not justified, and everything that’s kind of happening in that legislature after the national shootings last week?

Karine Jean-Pierre (03:46):

Yeah, so a couple of things. Look, as we know, and you heard me speak to it, you heard the President speak to this, the First Lady speak to this last week, what we saw in Nashville, that horrific event of three kids and three adults essentially being murdered at school was heart- wrenching and infuriating. Our hearts go out to their families. We understand that it’s going to take some time to even move forward from such a tragic loss. Look, as you saw, and I’m sure have been reporting, 7,000 students peacefully march to the capital to confront their lawmakers for their failure to keep them safe at school. And what did the Republican legislators do? As you just laid out, Seung Min, they’re trying to expel these three Democratic legislators who joined in the protests.

(04:28)
So look, what we’re seeing from Florida to Tennessee in the United States are Republican officials who are doubling down on dangerous bills that make our schools, places of worship and communities less safe. So by doing what they’re doing with these three Democratic legislators, they’re shrugging in the face of yet another tragic school shooting, while our kids continue to pay the price. That’s what we’re seeing every time that we hear one of these tragic events. President has been clear, too many lives are being ripped apart, communities are being ripped apart with this gun violence, which is an epidemic in our country. This is why he’s taken the actions that he has these first two years and continues to have with executive action, historic executive action, he’s going to continue to call on Congress to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazine, require safe storage of firearms, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability and require background checks for all gun sales, and for state officials to take action at the state level. But again, Republican legislators, to your question, want to play politics and not put the lives of our kids first.

Speaker 1 (05:36):

And on a second topic, can the White House give us an actual timeline of when they expect the wrongfully detained designation for Mr. Gershkovich?

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:47):

So I have some updates for you on that, and some of this you guys already know. Look, we’re going to continue to call for the release of Evan Gershkovich. As I said, these charges are ridiculous. Evan is not a spy. Evan has never been a spy. Evan has never worked for the US government, and he is an independent journalist employed by the Wall Street Journal, as you all know. This is a case that is a priority for this President. A couple of things that occurred over the weekend that I’ll just lay out for you here. Secretary Blinken spoke directly with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to convey that the United States is gravely concerned that Evan’s detention is unacceptable and that he should be immediately released. The Secretary also urged the Kremlin to release immediately Paul Whelan. And since the administration was first alerted to this case, the State Department has continually attempted to secure consular access to Evan as it relates to the designation of wrongfully detained.

(06:49)
And I’ll say this, that process, the State has a process that is currently ongoing. It’s playing out. And so I would refer you to the State on any specifics of that piece. There’s a couple of things I do want to add just to give some folks and the American people just more broadly what that process is, because I know there’s a lot of interest. I’m not going to get into specifics of the internal deliberate process. But the Department of State reviews, cases of US nationals detained abroad to determine if they are wrongful. The review assesses the facts of the case against criteria laid out in the Levinson Act. And so again, without speaking to this particular case, a wrongful detention determination means a couple of things, that the teams at the National Security Council, various offices at the Department of State, including the Special Envoy for Hostage affairs and other US government agency will collaboratively work with colleagues inside and outside the government to develop a strategy to secure individual’s release. And just wanted to give that kind of broad scope of how this process works and what it actually offers.

Seung Min (07:54):

Is that a matter of days? Is that more a week? More than a week? Because obviously there’s an urgency.

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:58):

I understand the urgency. There is an urgency for this President. I have just said this is a priority for the President. This is a process that is playing out currently in the State Department and they would have more specific on timeline.

(08:12)
Go ahead.

Speaker 2 (08:13):

Just to follow up on that, given that you’re reiterating what an urgent priority it is to get him back home. At this point, would the administration say that anything is on the table to try to get him back home?

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:24):

As you know, we try to be very careful, especially as we are having these conversations. I’m not going to get into specifics on what’s playing out, what’s on the table, what’s not on the table. Just not going to do that from here. Again, as I just stated, this is a priority for this President and I’m just going to leave it there.

Speaker 2 (08:42):

So at this point, you couldn’t say whether a potential prisoner swap, for example, is or isn’t on the table?

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:46):

That is not something that I’m going to be just laying into from here at the podium.

Speaker 2 (08:51):

And I did want to ask about the Donald Trump arraignment. I know you’re not going to comment about the legal proceedings, you’ve said that many times. But can you give us any sense of how President Biden is taking all of this in just as a moment in American history? Obviously, he’s a consumer of news. Has he been watching, reading the developments that are unfolding right now?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:12):

So, first, I have to say this. It’s an ongoing case, so we’re just not going to comment on the case specifically itself. Look, the President’s going to focus on the American people, like he does every day. This is not something that is a focus for him. He is going to focus on things like making sure that we continue to lower prices for the American people. Of course, this is playing out on many of the networks here on a daily basis for hours and hours. So obviously, he will catch part of the news when he has a moment to catch up on the news of the day. But this is not his focus for today.

Speaker 2 (09:52):

Have you spoken to him in recent days about these developments?

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:55):

I have not. I have not spoken to him in the recent days on these developments. Again, it’s not our focus. I will reiterate what I said last week when it occurred, when we first learned about the indictment. The President was not given a heads-up. He was briefed by his chief of staff and he learned about this just like all of you, through the reporting. Again, our focus right now is on the American people, and I’m just not going to comment on any ongoing case.

Speaker 3 (10:28):

In that same vein, do you expect the President will be briefed though on the charges once that indictment is unsealed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:33):

What I can tell you for sure is that the President’s focused on the American people. That I know for sure.

Speaker 3 (10:37):

The President said yesterday he’s not concerned about unrest because he has faith in the New York Police Department. Are you tracking any credible threats at this time?

Karine Jean-Pierre (10:46):

Not going to get into hypotheticals from here. What I will say is what I said last week, is that we are prepared.

Speaker 3 (10:52):

And just the President, can you speak at all to the inflammatory comments coming from Donald Trump against elected officials, including DA Bragg, just what’s the message from the White House that the former President is making these kinds of threats and comments?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:06):

Look, we’ve been always very clear. Any form of violence, that is something that we condemn from here. But anything that is touching or relating to the case, we’re just not going to comment from here. And I’m just going to leave it there for now.

Speaker 4 (11:24):

Thanks, Karine. Moving to the AI meeting that you referenced. Companies that develop AI saw their stocks go down on the stock market today. Is there anything they should be concerned about with regard to what the outcome of this meeting may be? You mentioned that he’s going to make this call on Congress. Are there any other specific policies that he’s looking at that could affect the industry that may result from this meeting?

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:50):

Look, a couple of things there. Nothing to announce from here at this time as far as actions. I know there were questions about enforcing a moratorium.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:00):

There’s just nothing to announce from here. Look, I mentioned this last week. There’s a comprehensive process that is underway to ensure a cohesive federal government approach to AI related risks and opportunities. And we do believe … this president believes that the tech companies have a responsibility to make sure that their products are safe before making them public. That is something that we believe, as you just mentioned, Jeff. He’s going to call on Congress. I’m not going to get too far ahead of the president. You’ll hear directly from him moments from now. But again, we believe that … the president believes that the tech companies do have a responsibility here.

Jeff (12:35):

And one other economic issue. You were asked yesterday or Olivia was asked about OPEC. There seems to be an impression that the White House is less concerned about this move by OPEC than maybe it has been by others … other moves, rather. Are you not worried about the impact on gasoline prices perhaps going up this summer, which was such a critical issue last year and would have a political impact on this president if they did it again?

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:03):

So, a couple of things there, Jeff. Look, our focus is always going to be on the American people, doing everything that we can to make sure that we lower costs, and meet the American people where they are, which is why the president took the actions that he has taken this past year. And if you remember, and I know you’ve covered this very closely, analysts have said last year that prices were going to go up and that did not happen. If anything, in fact, prices, gasoline prices went down by $1.50, when it was at its peak this past summer. A lot of that is because of the actions that this president took. And just to give you a little bit more, the price of oil has been trading around $80 a barrel over the last past month. They are around $110 and $120 a barrel last year. And I just mentioned the prices of gas.

(13:51)
So again, last year the analyst predicted prices would go higher and because of what the president did, because of the policies that he put forward, because of the actions that he put forward, we have seen those prices go down, especially if you think about gas prices. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about the summer and what the summer’s going to bring. But again, the main focus for this president is the American people will continue to work with all producers and consumers to ensure energy markets, support economic growth, and again, lower prices for the American consumer. I’ll come to that, okay.

Speaker 5 (14:27):

Thanks, Karine. Just in that vein, I mean, the president specifically said when asked about OPEC, “Look, it’s not as bad as you think.” Can you just … specifically what he was saying, and why is it not as bad?

Karine Jean-Pierre (14:41):

I mean, I kind of touched on it already, which is last year analysts were predicting that the prices were going to increase and it didn’t. And a lot of it is because of the actions that this president took, and we see that in the price of oil a gallon. We see that in the gas prices. And so, that is what the president’s going to continue to focus on, on how do we lower the prices for the American people? That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act is so important when you think about energy security. That’s why many of the other … Chips and Science Act, all of the other bipartisan infrastructure legislation, those historic pieces of legislation are so critical and important. So again, analysts were wrong a year ago, and we have the data to prove that.

Speaker 5 (15:24):

Is there any thoughts of tapping the strategic petroleum reserves again, or maybe going to Venezuela? I mean, Biden, in the fall, talked about other alternatives. Are those some of the alternatives that they’re considering now?

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:37):

So look, I’m not getting into hypotheticals, especially about any market predictions that have proven wrong in the past, as I just mentioned. Look, what we know is what the president has done has worked. And again, I’m just going to leave that there and not get into hypotheticals. Okay.

Speaker 6 (15:54):

Karine, has the president been briefed on the security operations underway in New York in advance of the former president’s arraignment?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:02):

I don’t have any preview or conversations to share with all of you. As you know, the president gets the daily presidential briefing every morning, but I just don’t have anything specifically on that. All I can say is that the president … is that we all prepared. And I don’t want to get too much into hypotheticals from here.

Speaker 6 (16:25):

And in this moment, where there are some prominent Republicans talking specifically about whether Americans can trust the justice system here, we’ve seen President Biden say he does have faith in the legal system. But can you help Americans understand why this isn’t a moment for the President to come out and speak more forcefully on the rule of law or what this could mean more widely?

Karine Jean-Pierre (16:48):

Look, I’m just not going to speak to this case. I’m not going to go beyond what the president shared with all of you, but I’m just not going to speak to an ongoing case. I’m going to leave it there.

Speaker 6 (16:59):

And finally, on my colleagues’ reporting yesterday on the Chinese spy balloon that was able to get some sensitive information and transmit it back to Beijing in real time, the administration says there’s an assessment underway about just what China may have been able to glean. Can you update us at all on the timeline for how much is left in that review and whether there are any plans to brief Congress over the President to speak publicly about that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:23):

So as you mentioned, there is a review that’s being done by the FBI. I believe my colleague spoke to this yesterday. I’m not going to confirm or address that report. But what I’ll say, I’ll say a couple of things from here. Look, we knew the flight path of the balloon before it crossed the United States. That’s something that I said from here. We took precautions and advanced to ensure that it didn’t get sensitive information. Also something that I said from this podium during that time, when it comes to technology like this balloon, it has limited additive value compared to other means of intelligent collection. So the bottom line, the administration identified this problem, and it did something about it. And again, I’m not going to confirm or address it. As you said, there’s an ongoing review. I don’t have a timeline on that. Go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew (18:06):

Thanks. Just a follow up on my colleague, Evan Gershkovich, is the president’s plan to speak to parents?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:12):

So, I don’t have any calls to read out at this time. As I said, this is a priority for this president, as I said to your colleague last week. Your colleague, Evan, is in on our minds and we are certainly thinking about them, and about him, about Evan. And so, we are doing everything that we can to get a counselor to him, and we’ll have more to update and share.

Andrew (18:37):

And just on a different subject, China announced on Friday a cybersecurity probe into Micron Technologies, a major US chip maker. Does the US view that as an effort by China to undercut the US chips industry. And do you have evidence of a broader effort by China’s do that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:51):

So, I’m not going to speak directly to China’s actions. All I can say is the Chips and Science Act, as you know, was a bipartisan piece of legislation that was historic. And it speaks to the president’s commitment to bring manufacturers back to the United States to make sure that we have manufacturing jobs right here. We’ve created, under this president, more than 800,000 jobs. And you’re seeing companies like Micron take action and continue to invest here in America, and that’s what the president is focused on. And the president has said from the beginning of his administration, “We are looking for competition with China, not conflict.” And that’s what you’re seeing in this moment as you’re looking again at these manufacturing job as these companies are investing right here in the US.

Speaker 8 (19:40):

Afghanistan, please?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:41):

Give me one second. Go ahead.

Speaker 7 (19:43):

The bill that would allow the US to sue OPEC countries from manipulating energy markets, does the White House have a position on that bill yet? It’s known as the NOPEC bill.

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:54):

The NOPEC bill? What’d you say? What are you whispering?

Ed (19:59):

I’m not whispering anything.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:02):

No whispering allowed. So, a couple of things. Look, the president is focused on securing America’s energy independence. And so, that’s the best way to ensure American families aren’t subject to the actions of those halfway around the world. And his policies are working. As I just mentioned, oil and gas prices have gone down from last year, because of the actions that this president took. US oil production is on track to break a historic record this year, and we are accelerating investments in clean energy through the Inflation Reduction Act, again, a historic piece of legislation that is going to make a difference when we talk about energy security in this country.

Speaker 8 (20:42):

Afghanistan, please.

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:46):

I’m going to come to you.

Lila (20:47):

Thank you. A US ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti is now headed to New Delhi. What’s the presence of message that Ambassador Garcetti is carrying with himself for the people of India?

Karine Jean-Pierre (20:59):

So look, this is something that I’ve said from here that the president has said. When we look at the relationship with India, it’s one of the most consequential, relationships that the United States has in the world. That still stands. And Ambassador Garcetti will be leading an ambitious effort to deepen our cooperation with India in critical and emerging technologies, expand our defense cooperation, and strengthen our economic and people-to-people ties again. One of the most consequential relationships that we have in the United States in the world … so, that the United States have in the world. So, it’s an important relationship that the president sees.

Lila (21:36):

I have one more. What is the US’s view on China renaming 11 places in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh? This is another attempt by the Chinese claim of Indian territory.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:48):

So look, the United States, as you know, Lila, has recognized that territory for a long time, and we strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to advance territory claims by renaming localities. And so again, this is something that we have long stood by. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Ed (22:09):

A few things, thanks, Karine. On this meeting regarding AI and other technology issues, has the president himself … Have there ever been shown or used these new AI tools?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:20):

I’m not going to get ahead of the PCAST meeting. I think you’ll see more and hear more from the president. So, I’m not going to get ahead of what the president’s going to be talking about and announcing.

Ed (22:29):

Okay, so that’s a tease. Following up on the Evan Gershkovich case, can you confirm here that the Russian ambassador was summoned to the State Department to discuss this detention?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:44):

I don’t have anything to confirm from here.

Ed (22:46):

You’ve covered almost everything else I wanted to ask about. So I want ask about this, Nicaragua. This week, Daniel Ortega has banned Holy Week street sessions due to unspecified security concerns, meaning people in this overwhelmingly Catholic country cannot participate, in essence, profess their faith. It comes a few weeks after Ortega detained the Roman Catholic Bishop. I know you were asked, and Kirby was asked about this recently. Just wondering if the Biden administration has any response to this.

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:13):

So, a couple of things. Yes, I know that that question I believe came up last week. Look, there has been a dramatic deterioration of respect for democratic principles and human rights by the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua, including the harassment and imprisonment of democratic leaders, members of the political opposition, faith leaders, students, and journalists as well. The United States finds this unacceptable, condemns these actions. And we have already taken a number of actions, as you know, Ed, to promote accountability for the regime’s actions, including by imposing sanctions. And we will continue to do so.

Speaker 8 (23:48):

Afghanistan, please?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:49):

All right, we’ll go to the back. Go ahead, Ed.

Ed (23:52):

Yeah, yeah, thanks, Karine. So, on the technology event coming up later, so critics are saying the president has been late on TikTok to act against TikTok. So,

Speaker 9 (24:00):

What is the timeframe then for guidelines on artificial intelligence or a pause on more powerful artificial intelligence?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:07):

So look, when it comes to TikTok, I want to be very clear, there’s a CFIUS review. You’ve heard us say that over and over again from this podium and that still stands, and the President has been very, very clear about his national security concern as it relates to the American people with this app. So just want to be very, very clear here. And so look, like I said last time, this question was asked by your colleague here who was very dramatic about AI-

Speaker 9 (24:34):

But not on the timeframe.

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:36):

Well, look, I don’t-

Speaker 9 (24:36):

Is he going to get to it quickly? Is [inaudible 00:24:39]-

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:38):

I don’t have a timeframe to share with you. As I mentioned, there is a comprehensive process mentioned this last week, which is underway to figure out how we’re going to have a cohesive federal government approach to this. And this is incredibly important. You’re going to hear from the President. He’s going to speak to this. As I mentioned, he’s going to speak to PCAST, so I’ll let you hear from him directly. But clearly, this is something that the team is looking at and is very focused on.

Speaker 9 (25:09):

Yeah. One more if I could. House Republicans are meeting with the Taiwan president today. The top lawmakers though on the hill are calling for information or hearings on information related to Chinese-made cranes at US ports. Should there be hearings or an assessment by the NSE about possible spying by the Chinese at US ports through these cranes?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:27):

Yeah, I think you’ve asked me this question before. Nothing has changed from what I shared with you the last time. I’m just not going to get into it from here about hearings.

Speaker 10 (25:36):

[inaudible 00:25:36] question about-

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:37):

Okay. But there’s a way to do this, my friend. You know that. Give me a second. Let me get around. Go ahead, Ben.

Speaker 11 (25:43):

On Evan Gershkovich’s case, how worrying of a sign is it that the US still does not have consular access to him? And what are you doing at a higher level to push for that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:52):

Well, I just laid out the conversations that Secretary Blinken had with his counterpart just over the weekend. We’re taking this very seriously. This is a priority for this President. Yes, we are concerned and we’re working diligently, very hard to get a counselor to Evan that… Again, this is a priority and so is Paul Whelan. I want to make sure I lay that out for folks as well. But yes, we are doing… The state department is doing all that they can to make sure our counselor is available to Evan. As you know, these are challenging circumstances as you all know. And we are doing, again, everything in our power to get a counselor access to him quickly.

Speaker 12 (26:32):

The journal’s lawyers have been trying to visit him in prison. Is the White House in touch with the journal about this and how soon do you expect them to visit him?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:39):

I don’t have anything to read out about a conversation with the… Are you talking about the Wall Street Journal? I just don’t have anything to read out on that. Go ahead.

Speaker 10 (26:48):

Thank you very much, Karine. Not asking about Trump, but about the precedent that this opens. Does the White House believe that a former president could or should be indicted?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:01):

I’m just not going to comment from here. Okay. All right. Oh, go ahead Peter.

Speaker 13 (27:07):

To follow up on that, President Biden is a lawyer, is he concerned-

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:11):

And the President of the United States and the Commander in Chief, but go ahead.

Speaker 13 (27:16):

He is. But as a lawyer, is he concerned at all that a local DA, indicting a former president could down the line open up the possibility, set the precedent, that local DAs that don’t like former President Biden could indict him?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:32):

I’m not going to comment from here.

Speaker 13 (27:33):

Why don’t you have more to say about the Trump indictment?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:36):

It is an ongoing case and I’ve been very clear about that. We’ve been prudent about that, not commenting on ongoing cases and we’re going to stick to that.

Speaker 13 (27:44):

But for better or worse, all that anybody in the country is talking about at this exact moment while we are in here is Trump. And they look here to find out what the White House thinks about it. And…

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:01):

Well, I think the American people should feel reassured that when there is an ongoing case like this one, we’re just not commenting.

Speaker 13 (28:10):

And so does the lack of comment mean that you do not think anything happening in New York today is one of the top issues facing the country at the moment.

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:20):

That is your assessment. That is not my assessment. I’m just laying out the facts that we are just not going to comment on an ongoing case from here. And we’ve been very consistent. We’ve been very prudent and we’re going to stick there. Courtney, go ahead.

Speaker 14 (28:36):

Thanks, Karine. I wanted to ask you about judges. Senator Hyde-Smith said today that she’s not going to return a blue slip for Scott Colom. He’s your nominee for court in Mississippi. Did you have awareness of that and are you going to proceed with the nomination?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:51):

So this is the first time I’m hearing about this, so I would have to go back to my team before I can comment fully.

Speaker 14 (28:56):

And I also wanted to ask you about unwinding the pandemic measures. Can you talk about the requirement that foreign travelers be vaccinated? Is that something that you’re reconsidering or that people should expect to unwind along with the public health emergency as we head toward May 11?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:16):

So look, I’ll say more broadly the work that this administration has done since day one since the President walked into this administration on really dealing with COVID-19 and long-COVID… And long-COVID continues, right? COVID is still with us. We are in a different place than we have been and that’s because of the work that this President has done.

(29:39)
And thanks to those actions, we have seen that progress has been made. We are in a better position to transition out of the emergency phase of this response. That is important because of the comprehensive response that we have had that this President has pushed forward. When we have more to say, I certainly will share that closer to May. I don’t have anything to preview or announce at this time.

Speaker 14 (30:02):

Thank you.

Speaker 10 (30:03):

Afghanistan. Afghanistan [inaudible 00:30:06].

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:09):

Go ahead. Go ahead, yep.

Speaker 15 (30:12):

Yeah, thank you so much. Are there any circumstances… Stepping back from New York, are there any circumstances under which President Biden would consider a pardon for former President Trump, similar to Ford’s pardon of Nixon? And has that been discussed with any advisors? Is it completely off the table?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:33):

I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. I’m not going to get into any of that. All I can tell you is that we do not comment from here on any ongoing cases or anything that is related to any of those cases. I refer you either to the DA as it relates to what’s happening today or the Department of Justice. We are just not going to comment from here.

Speaker 15 (30:54):

But if it’s President Biden’s decision, has it been discussed?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:57):

I hear you and I understand the question. I really do. I’m just not going to comment from here. Oh, go ahead.

Speaker 16 (31:02):

So I noticed when the prison was in Minnesota yesterday in what was a fairly wide-ranging economic agenda speech he did not talk much about inflation, combating inflation, and the like. I’m interested in kind of the thought process there given the strain many Americans have felt, I guess, inflation during his administration.

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:18):

So look, the President has always been very clear when it comes to lowering costs for the American people. That’s a priority. That will always be a priority for this President. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act is so important. That’s why we have seen lower prices at the pump. It has gone down $1.50 since the peak this summer. A lot of that is because of what this President has done. Anytime he talks about his economic policy, you always hear him talk about lowering costs.

(31:50)
We understand that there is more work to do and the President is going to continue to do that. That is why he went out. He has gone out there to talk about investing in America and his investing in America agenda. Also, that’s why you see his economic policies are working. When you think about job growth and job creation, when you think about the CHIPS and Science Act, when you think about the Inflation Reduction Act, when you think about unemployment at 3.6% and real wages being higher than they were eight months ago. So he has an economic policy that is going to build the economy from the bottom up, middle out. That’s going to be his focus, but also lowering costs for the American people. Something he talks about very often.

Speaker 16 (32:27):

Follow up on that though. I mean, obviously in that speech he was talking about a lot of his successes. Does he view his combating inflation to be a success?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:34):

Say that again. You’re a little…

Speaker 16 (32:36):

[inaudible 00:32:37] successful in combating inflation. I mean, that speech was so focused on what he saw as his successes. Does he view how he has combated inflation to be successful?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:46):

Look, I think that lowering prescription dark costs, capping insulin at $35 a month for seniors, helping lower energy bills, again, gas prices going down by $1.50 from its peak that it was this summer. That is the President taking action. That is the President meeting the American people where they are. Of course, there is always more work to be done, but this is a President that has taken action. And so that’s what you will hear from him. Of course, when he is in front of the American people, he is going to speak to them about what he is doing to make their lives better and that’s what you heard yesterday in Minneapolis. Go ahead. Or Minnesota, to be more specific as a state.

Speaker 17 (33:28):

The President has spoken repeatedly about January 6th. He gave at least two major speeches that I can think of. And he’s talked about that link in various forums. There were more than 500 active legal cases going on during the time that he made those speeches. All of which potentially could have been affected, would’ve been affected by whatever his opinions were on the circumstances surrounding those cases. What is different between his being willing to talk about, not the specifics of individual cases, but to talk about the issues presented by what happened on January 6th? And questions about… Just to put a fine point on that. I’m sort of going on Peter’s point. And frankly a lot of the questions here there’s an understanding about not wanting to comment specifically about this case perhaps, but there are issues that are presented. People have been talking about him for weeks now, when a former president or any former president would be indicted for the first time and arrested for the first time, what is the White House’s reticence and what’s the difference between that and this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:42):

Done?

Speaker 17 (34:42):

I’m done. Sorry.

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:46):

No, it’s okay. But with all seriousness, January 6th was a devastating day. I think if you guys weren’t there, some of your colleagues were on Capitol Hill. We had law enforcement and police officers who were attacked and died. And what we saw on that day was an attack on our democracy. It was a devastating, devastating day in our history. It was a moment for this president to have spoken to, right? You had millions and millions of Americans who watched what was happening on Capitol Hill. Something that many of us, I’ve never seen and many of us had never, ever seen before.

(35:33)
It was something that needed to be spoken to. When you see something like that, our democracy… Literally, our democracy was under attack. And so the President will never shy away when it comes to our democracy when it comes to the fabric of who we are as a country and what makes this country what it is. And so it was a different moment and a different time. What we’re…

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:00):

No, I hear.

Speaker 18 (36:02):

No, I’m just going to follow up.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:03):

But let me-

Speaker 18 (36:04):

Sure, go ahead.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:05):

When it comes to these types of cases, these criminal specific cases, we’re just not going to comment. I get you, I know there’s a broader question of what this means, the precedent and what the President is going to decide or decisions that he might make, hypothetical questions, I’m just not going to comment from here on that.

Speaker 18 (36:27):

Again, I was asking why you aren’t going to comment from there?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:31):

And I’m hoping that I laid that out for you, and I’ve just laid out why we commented on January 6th. And we’re just going to be very mindful, these are ongoing cases.

Speaker 18 (36:42):

[inaudible 00:36:42] five hundred cases involving Americans whose freedom hear was at risk.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:47):

I hear you, I hear you. But this is something that all of Americans watch in real time, in real time. And people died, people died.

Speaker 18 (36:55):

Karine, I don’t need a lecture upon the fact that people died.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:56):

But you’re lecturing me, but you’re lecturing me.

Speaker 18 (37:00):

I’m not.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:01):

Yes, you are.

Speaker 18 (37:02):

I’m asking questions. And what I’m saying is there are millions of people out there watching today. You called January 6th historic, it was absolutely historic and none of us had ever seen that before. Nobody’s seen this before either. There are millions and millions of Americans watching, the first time in 250 years, a former president be hauled into court and processed for arrest. That means something, that has some effect potentially, I suspect, on American democracy and on how the rest of the world, the President has talked a lot about how the rest of the world sees the United States in the wake of January 6th. Totally valid. Why isn’t there a similar assessment about how the world is watching us now? Good or bad, I’m not making a [inaudible 00:37:48].

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:48):

No.

Speaker 18 (37:48):

Whichever way, I’m just saying-

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:49):

And I hear your question. January 6th just was a different moment, it just was.

Speaker 18 (37:56):

Okay.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:56):

It was something that was incredibly devastating. People died on that day and were harmed, and it was just something that we saw visually, that we reacted to, and many people were scared in that moment. And as the President was taking office as the next President of the United States, a President that ran on bringing the country together, on protecting our democracy, it was something that it was important to speak to at that moment. And also, we know that Americans still very much care about this. When it comes to a criminal investigation like this, that is ongoing, we are just not going to comment, we’re not going to interfere, we’re not going to politically interfere from here. And we’ve been consistent, we’ve been very consistent. I know you’re bringing up January 6th, I just laid out why we believe that was very different, but we’re just going to be consistent on not commenting on any criminal ongoing investigation. Okay. Go ahead. Go ahead, my friend.

Speaker 19 (39:04):

Yes, thank you. Well, number one, thank you very much for your comment for my traditional dress, that Afghan people reaction and say thanks from Afghanistan. Although they are in Taliban prison, they say thank you. We were happy because Afghan woman made that dress. And my question is, what’s your assessment about Daesh in Afghanistan? Because nowadays Daesh is very active in Afghanistan.

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:33):

So a couple of things there for you, and you’re welcome. I was happy to do it, it was a beautiful attire. So when you’re talking about your question again, I was giving you a compliment and I…

Speaker 19 (39:50):

What’s your US assessment about Daesh in Afghanistan?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:55):

Oh, got it. So I know that we will judge the Taliban by their actions and not what they say. The Taliban wants to be accepted by the international community, but it’s actions over the last year, such as the increasing repression of women, which I know this is a issue that you care about, have only moved the Taliban farther from the outcome. We will continue to engage a Taliban when necessary to protect the interest of the United States. And any other specifics on that particular agreement, I would refer you to the State Department. I’m going to move around. Go ahead, Michael.

Michael (40:37):

Just a quick follow-up on Michael’s question. Are you saying that if the former President is indicted related to January 6th, that you comment on that case?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:44):

I am not going to get into hypotheticals from here, all I’m saying is I’m just not going to comment on ongoing investigation as we’re looking what’s unfolding today. I’m just not going to comment on it. All right, go ahead.

Speaker 20 (40:55):

Thank you. The Vice President just came back from Africa and it appears to be a very successful trip. She went to three nations and one of them was Ghana. I’m very curious, and so are many people commenting online with regard to Ghana being a nation that still has issues with slavery. I wonder if you could just comment on the US connecting with a nation that has that level of humanitarian crisis.

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:24):

So look, and we’ve talked about this before, when it comes to humanitarian crisis or when it comes to anything related in that vein, we are always going to speak to that. I’ll even step a little bit further back. When the President held his Africa Leader Summit, he said to the African leaders at the time that we are all in, and we are. And one of the things that we believe that’s very important, and you saw from this Vice President when she traveled to the continent, the announcement that she made on increasing investments and facilitating economic growth and opportunity, specifically in areas of empowerment for young women, which is incredibly important. Empowerment for young girls, empowerment for youth in entrepreneurship, and those are the things that is what was incredibly important to that trip as well. Digital inclusion, increasing food security, including adaptation to climate crisis, those are the things that she talked about, she had deliverables announcing investments that we were making in the continent.

(42:32)
And so look, it was an important trip and we think that, again, it was incredibly successful, and this is going to be a continuation of our commitment to continue to partner and make sure that continent, the African continent, is not left behind. And so you’re going to continue to see that from this administration. Okay, go ahead.

Speaker 21 (43:00):

Is the administration expecting or preparing for possible Chinese military trails in the event of the Taiwanese President’s meeting with the Speaker McCarthy tomorrow?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:11):

So we’ve been very clear about this. When we talk about the President Tsai’s transit, it’s a private and it’s unofficial. And look, there should be no overreaction from the PRC. This is a trip. When you look at this, the transit that is underway, that has been, for a long time, has occurred for some time. President Tsai herself has made this transit about six times before. And again, there should be no reason for China to overreact here. And I’ll leave it as that. There’s no change to our One China policy, we’ve been very clear about that. And I’ll leave it at that. Any specifics that you may have about the trip itself, I would refer you to the Taiwan authorities.

Speaker 21 (44:06):

On Venezuela, is the White House looking for new diplomatic channels with the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:14):

Don’t have any update to share on that relationship with Venezuela at this time. Okay.

Speaker 22 (44:24):

This is the 78th anniversary of the atom bomb of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the G7 next month will be in Hiroshima. Do you know if there’s a visit planned to the memorial? And last time here in Japan, you never got to see anything, so will you take a little time to see a few of the sites?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:39):

Oh, that’s so kind.

Speaker 22 (44:40):

The second follow-up is that there’s great shock in Japan about the arrest of the opposition candidate. It’s very common in many parts of the world, but most people didn’t expect it to ever happen in America. Just a comment on that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:57):

Wait, say that last part again. There’s a lot of talk in Japan.

Speaker 22 (45:01):

There’s a lot of talk in Japan as to the arrest of the opposition candidate. And it’s very common in many parts of the world.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:07):

Which opposition candidate? You’re talking about…

Speaker 22 (45:09):

The upcoming election.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:10):

Oh, you’re talking about the US?

Speaker 22 (45:12):

Yeah, and in many parts of the world, it’s very common, but people just never expected that to happen in America.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:17):

I see what you’re getting at.

Speaker 22 (45:18):

So just a view of that from outside.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:20):

I love how you guys are asking me this in different ways. Of course, you guys are clever. The first question, I don’t have anything to announce at this time about the G7. Once we have something to share, certainly we’ll share that with all of you. On the second one, I’m just not going to comment from here, and so I’ll leave it there. Okay, everybody. All right, have a great day. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Speaker 23 (45:42):

Thank you, Karine.

Speaker 24 (45:42):

Thank you, Karine.

Speaker 25 (45:44):

Thank you.

Speaker 26 (45:45):

Oh, you’re very welcome, wow.

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