Apr 11, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/10/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/10/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/10/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 4/10/23. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 7 (00:00):

Hi Miguel.

Speaker 1 (00:08):

Okay, silence, you can come out now. There we go.

Speaker 8 (00:11):

[inaudible 00:00:16].

Speaker 1 (00:11):

Settle down now.

Speaker 2 (00:11):

Good question.

Speaker 4 (00:11):

Is that Sean?

Speaker 8 (00:23):

Maybe you can comment on the Trump indictment?

Speaker 2 (00:35):

Easter.

Speaker 4 (00:35):

Do you sign?

Speaker 3 (00:41):

Do you prefer carrots or sticks?

Speaker 7 (00:48):

Oh, you want a question? Where’s the chocolate? Hey, there’s a question. That’s it.

Speaker 1 (00:59):

Thank you. Thank you very much.

easter helper (01:00):

Thank you.

Speaker 2 (01:05):

You got it. [inaudible 00:01:09] my daughter. She doesn’t really need skills.

Speaker 4 (01:13):

There you go.

Speaker 5 (01:16):

That’s so special, that’s so nice.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:20):

All right, hop on out of here. Hop on out of here. So for the second year in a row, thank you Easter Bunny.

Speaker 5 (01:30):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:31):

For the second new year in the row, we’ve turned the south lawn of the White House into a school community where 30,000 people from across the country will participate in one of the White House most cherished traditions. This year’s theme is Eggucation and we’re remain and we’re reminding families that education can be fun and that it never stops. So I hope that some of you had the opportunity to get out there and hop on it. Sorry, my team wrote that. Apologies hop on it with your families and enjoy the beautiful, beautiful day outside with that. So we would like to thank our Easter bunny here. On a more serious note, today we saw another senseless act of gun violence, killed at least four Americans and injured at least eight others. This time in Louisville, Kentucky, the president and the first lady are praying for those killed and injured in the tragic shooting in Louisville and for the survivors who will carry the trauma for the rest of their lives.

(02:35)
They are grateful for the LMPD off officers who quickly and courageously stepped into the line of fire to save others. Once again. Today the president has called on Republicans in Congress to work together with Democrats to take action, to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, to require safe storage of firearms, to require background checks for all gun sales, to eliminate gun manufacturers immunity from liability. These are common sense actions we can ask for and should be getting right now, and it’s what Americans want. We know that majority of the American people support this. Instead, we’ve watched Republican official after Republican official, after Republican official double down on dangerous bills that make our schools, that makes our places of worship, that makes our communities less safe while too many Americans are paying with their lives.

(03:36)
So again, we need to act and we need Republicans to show some courage, republicans in Congress. Over the weekend, a single court in Texas has taken the dangerous steps of rejecting FDA’s scientific approval of mifepristone, a medication that has been on the market for more than 20 years and is used safely in more than 60 countries providing critical care for women. This court decision threatens access to this medication which is used not only for abortion, but also for other critical purposes, like helping women manage miscarriages. If the decision stands, it will put women’s health at risk and undermine the FDA’s ability to ensure patients have access to safe and effective medications when they need them the most. This decision further stripes away Americans’ fundamental freedoms and interferes with a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body. And it’s another step towards the ultimate goal that we’ve heard over and over again from anti-choice officials that both the state and at both the state and national level eliminating access to abortion for all women in every state.

(04:50)
It is also an attack on FDA’s authority to review and approve a ride range of safe and effective medication for Americans and could open the floodgates for other medications to be targeted and denied to people who need them. So we were prepared for this outcome and as you all saw, the Department of Justice appeal, the court’s decision and is seeking a stay pending appeal. But I want to be clear because there is a lot of bad misinformation out there. Mifepristone continues to be available and approved for the time being. Again, Mifepristone continues to be approved and available for the time being. This administration stands by the FDA and is prepared for this legal fight, and we will continue our work to protect reproductive rights to ensure that women can make their own decisions about their own bodies without government interfering with that.

(05:47)
I have some more guests that are supposed to come through that door. Any moment now? Timing. Okay. And so finally today.

Speaker 5 (05:58):

You looked better in a rabbit suit.

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:02):

He was actually in the suit. No, just kidding. Just kidding Admiral.

Admiral John Kirby (06:05):

Interesting time.

Karine Jean-Pierre (06:06):

He was not in the suit. Right. Okay. So finally today, as you can see, Admiral John Kirby, my colleague from NSC is here to join us to talk about, to give a preview of the president’s trip abroad, where the president’s going to leave tomorrow morning for the United Kingdom and also Northern Ireland. Ireland a trip that the president is definitely looking forward to. And with that, Admiral, the floor is yours.

Admiral John Kirby (06:31):

Thank you. Afternoon everybody. So as Karine just mentioned, president is traveling to the United Kingdom in Ireland this week. And as I think you all also know, he’s very excited for this trip and has been now for quite some time tomorrow, he will depart for Belfast where he’ll be greeted upon arrival at the airport by Prime Minister Sunak, who we also just saw last month in San Diego at the August announcement. On Wednesday, President Biden will meet with Prime Minister Sunak bilaterally. From there, President Biden will head to Ulster University to deliver remarks, marking the tremendous progress since the signing of the Belfast Good Friday agreement 25 years ago. And he’ll underscore the readiness of the United States to preserve those gains and support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities.

(07:17)
Now, today, I think you all know is actually the 25th anniversary Since the Belfast Good Friday agreement was signed, ending decades of violence and bringing peace and stability to Northern Ireland. President Biden cares deeply about Northern Ireland and has a long history of supporting peace and prosperity there. As a US senator, Joe Biden was an advocate for how the United States could play a constructive role supporting peace. Now following his speech at Ulster University, the president will travel to Ireland on Wednesday afternoon. He will visit County Louth, where his great-grandfather James Finnegan was born and the Finnegan family lived before they cross the sea to begin a new life in America. And he’ll tour Carling Ford to Castle. On Wednesday night, the president will spend the night in Dublin. On Thursday he will meet with President Higgins of Ireland and participate in a tree planting ceremony and ringing of the Peace Bell. Following that ceremony, he will meet again with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whom the president just hosted here for St. Patrick’s Day as I think y’all remember.

(08:16)
In both meetings the president will discuss our close cooperation on the full range of shared global challenges. He will then address a joint session of Irish parliament, about US Irish cooperation to advance democracy, peace, security, and prosperity, as well as the shared deep history between the United States and Ireland. Today, one in 10 Americans claim Irish ancestry and Irish Americans are proudly represented in every facet of American life. Ireland’s a key economic partner of the United States and the United States and Ireland are working closely together to make the global economy more fair. Ireland has been a key partner for 21st century challenges as well. And the Irish government has been strong supporters of Ukraine providing vital non-lethal assistance, including medical supplies, body armor and support for Ukraine’s electric grid as well as their agriculture. They have supported EU sanctions on Russia and the people of Ireland have generously welcomed nearly 80,000 Ukrainians offering refuge to those who were forced to flee their homes in search of safety.

(09:19)
On Thursday night, President Biden will attend a banquet dinner at Dublin Castle and on Friday the president will travel to County Mayo where he will tour the sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock and visit the North Mayo Heritage and Genealogical Center’s Family history research unit. He will then deliver remarks at St. Murdoch’s Cathedral, which his great, great, great-grandfather, Edward Blewitt sold 27,000 bricks to in 1827. Those bricks were used to construct and support the Great Cathedral and helped Edward afford to buy tickets for himself and for his family to sail to America decades later in 1851. President is very much looking forward to that trip again and to celebrating the deep historic ties that our two countries and our two people continue to share with that, let me take some questions.

Speaker 4 (10:08):

Thanks John. If you can start on the classified document leaks. Has the president been briefed on this breach and does the US government at this point have any sense of who was behind him?

Admiral John Kirby (10:20):

The president has been briefed to you, was first briefed late last week when we all got word that there were some documents out there and he has been stayed briefed and in contact with national security officials throughout the weekend. So he has been briefed. And as for the source, as you know, the Department of Defense has referred this to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation and I certainly would refer you to them, but I’m not aware that they’ve come to any conclusions at this point about where they’re coming from.

Speaker 4 (10:49):

And just to follow up on that, at this point, do you believe the leak is contained? Are there more documents out there that have not been released publicly? Is this an ongoing threat?

Admiral John Kirby (11:00):

We don’t know. We truly don’t.

Speaker 9 (11:02):

Moving to the tension between China and Taiwan, we know the president can pick up the phone any time and call President Xi. We’ve been told that this call is coming for months. Why hasn’t he just picked up the phone and called President Xi to say, “Knock it off.”

Admiral John Kirby (11:16):

The president looks forward to having another conversation with President Xi. And we’ll do that at the appropriate time and we’ll certainly keep you apprised to that. It’s important that those lines of communications stay open. The tensions are certainly high right now. We like to see this relationship get onto a better footing and when it’s appropriate for the two leaders to talk then that’ll happen. I want to stress that said that we are and have been able to maintain lines of communication between our two countries even throughout all these tensions. And in fact, we’re still working to get Secretary Blinken back on a plane over to Beijing as he was planning, planning to do a couple of months ago, and we’re in talks with the PRC about potential visits of Secretary Yellen and Secretary Raimondo at their invitation, by the way, to talk about economic issues.

Speaker 9 (12:04):

And while it’s not popular, would the president ever speak directly to President Xi? Would there be a conversation there perhaps? What is his take on this meeting between House Speaker McCarthy and president side?

Admiral John Kirby (12:16):

Not uncommon for presidents of Taiwan to transit the United States as president Xi did, and it’s also not uncommon for Taiwan officials, certainly at the president level to meet with members of Congress as president Xi did. It’s very typical. There’s again no reason for any overreaction here.

Speaker 6 (12:35):

Yes sir.

Speaker 10 (12:36):

Thank you. Still on Taiwan, how does us see the latest Chinese military exercises there and is the US confident that Taiwan and help from the US could continue to deter China from military solution as they would see it? Because that saber rattling we call it was a lot more than sabers and it’s more than rattling at this point.

Admiral John Kirby (13:00):

Yeah. So we’re monitoring the exercises as closely as I think you might imagine. They appear to be a reaction to something that didn’t need to be reacted to in my previous answer. This is not uncommon for presidents of Taiwan and this one in particular to transit the United States. So there was no reason to react in any way militarily or otherwise. They also reacted rhetorically, but we’re very comfortable and confident that we have in place in the region sufficient resources and capabilities to protect our national security interests in the Indo-Pacific. I would add more specifically to your second question, there’s no reason for tensions across the Taiwan Strait to devolve into any kind of conflict. Nothing’s changed about our one China policy. Nothing’s changed about the fact that we don’t support Taiwan independence and nothing’s changed about the fact that we don’t want to see the status quo change unilaterally and certainly not by force.

Speaker 10 (14:06):

Yeah. Just a quick one, if I might, on Macron’s visit to China, how did you react to his comments about wanting to create a third superpower in [inaudible 00:14:10], do you wish him luck? Is it just rhetoric or is it kind of annoying to the US administration?

Admiral John Kirby (14:16):

I’ll let the [inaudible 00:14:19] speak to President Macron’s comments. We are again, comfortable and confident in the terrific bilateral relationship we have with France and the relationship that the president has with President Macron and the fact that we’re working together on so many different issues and the French are stepping up in the Indo-Pacific. I mean, they’re conducting naval operations even as you and I are speaking right now in the Indo-Pacific. All in keeping with a concerted effort by all of us, this vast alliance or network of alliances and partnerships that we have to continue to make sure that we’re standing up for stability, security, prosperity, and a free and open.

Speaker 11 (14:59):

Thank you Karine, and thank you Kirby. In light of the classified documents, I wonder if you could tell us when was the last time the protocol to grant security clearances was updated or revised in the government and in light of the leaks, does the president believe you should take another look at that?

Admiral John Kirby (15:23):

I think the Department of Defense has already started to take a look at distribution, for instance, at the Pentagon. I’ll let them speak to that. I don’t know the answer to your question on protocols for who is or who is not. Granted security clearances there is already in place and remains in place a very diligent, deliberate effort to manage security clearances. And sometimes we get knocked because it takes a little too long for people’s clearances to get approved because the process is so careful and deliberate. I think to your question, I think we just need to be careful right now speculating or guessing what might be behind or who might be behind what looks like a potential leak here of classified information. So we need to let the process bear itself out.

Speaker 11 (16:17):

So are you saying there’s a question over whether this was a leak by someone who had access to the material?

Admiral John Kirby (16:23):

I’m saying we don’t know, which is why I’m going to… I think you’re getting to remedies and I understand that we’re only a couple of days into this. We need to let the Department of Justice do their job, investigate this, see what they learn. Now again, that said, the Department of Defense has already said that they’re taking a look at distribution and looking if there’s changes they need to make administratively there at the Pentagon since it appears that they have the locus of most of the documents. But again, before we start making major muscle movements, we really need to know what we got here and have a better sense from the Justice Department.

Speaker 11 (17:05):

Thank you.

Speaker 12 (17:06):

Just a couple of quick follow up. Do you have a sense of the number of people who would’ve had access to these documents currently prepared for the joint standard?

Admiral John Kirby (17:15):

I do not.

Speaker 12 (17:15):

Is it hundreds, thousands?

Admiral John Kirby (17:15):

I do not. I’d refer you to the defense department.

Speaker 12 (17:17):

And then given this leak and previous leaks, should the American people think that the administration’s losing the battle against whoever wants to steal our secrets, whether it’s foreign adversaries or hackers or whomever.

Speaker 2 (17:31):

I think the American people need to know and deserve to know that we’re taking this very, very seriously. The president-

Speaker 12 (17:36):

[inaudible 00:17:37].

Speaker 2 (17:37):

The president has been briefed on this. He will stay briefed on this. The Department of Defense is looking into this. They are leading an inter-agency effort here to review whatever national security implications might come out of all this. And the Department of Justice is leading a criminal investigation. So we’re taking this very, very seriously. There is no

Admiral John Kirby (18:00):

… Excuse for these kinds of documents to be in the public domain. They don’t deserve to be in the public domain. They deserve to be protected. So we’re going to get to the bottom of this. And then, if there’s actions that need to be taken as we learn more about the extent of what happened here, we’ll obviously take those.

Speaker 13 (18:18):

Monica, [inaudible 00:18:18].

Monica (18:19):

Are there plans for President Biden to speak with President Zelensky over the leak or is the White House offering any kind of reassurance to Ukrainian officials about the safety of some of their most sensitive information?

Admiral John Kirby (18:32):

US officials have been in touch with relevant allies and partners over the last couple of days at very high levels, and I’ll leave it at that.

Monica (18:39):

And can you speak to, not just the potential leak here, but what appears to be some doctoring of the information? Is this something where it’s possible that there may have been a leak but then a different actor came in, manipulated the information and posted it online? What’s the working theory in terms of the actual altering of this information?

Admiral John Kirby (18:59):

I don’t know that we’ve arrived at a working theory. It does appear that, at least in some cases, the information posted online had been altered from what we think would be the original source. But there’s just no way I could tell you with any granularity right now how that came to be. We’re, again, diving into this as strenuously as we can to try to understand that. And keeping with your point, I mean, we urge all of you to be very careful about how you report on this story since we know at least in some cases that information was doctored.

Speaker 13 (19:39):

Okay.

Brian (19:39):

Thanks, [inaudible 00:19:40]. Two questions, John. First on China, you said that was a reaction that didn’t need to be made. Someone called it an overreaction, but how confident are you that there won’t be further overreaction leading to actual conflict if this reaction was an overreaction?

Admiral John Kirby (19:59):

Well, we certainly don’t seek any conflict. And again, there’s no reason, Brian, for there to be any conflict over this, or confrontation, quite frankly. Since, really, this is all very status quo and nothing’s changed. It’s certainly not about our policies, and it’s not uncommon for a president of Taiwan to transit the United States.

(20:17)
But to the exact question you asked, that’s a question that needs to be asked in Beijing about what next. What we hope is next is that, again, tensions deescalate and that we can continue to communicate with the Chinese, that we can continue to work on getting Secretary Blinken over there.

(20:36)
The whole purpose of that trip was to restore some of those additional lines of communication that are still closed after Speaker Pelosi’s visit. The mill to mill lines, the climate change lines, that was what Secretary Blinken was heading over there to do and we’d like to see him get back on that plane and head over to do that.

Brian (20:52):

So, and the second question on the classified documents, has any of that leak led to a direct compromise of efforts to support Ukraine from this administration? And secondly, those who are in that business say that the biggest problem we have is that we need software and hardware upgrades to guarantee that we don’t get hacked. Is there any indication that the government is going to invest in the infrastructure to make sure they can block that in future?

Admiral John Kirby (21:21):

So on your first question, no, we continue to support Ukraine. That’s not going to change. President’s been…

Brian (21:25):

Has it compromised it?

Admiral John Kirby (21:27):

I’m not going to talk about the specific documents that are out there or speak to intelligence. I think you can understand why I wouldn’t do that. Your question was, has there been any effect on support to Ukraine? The answer is no. We’re going to continue to support Ukraine as the president has said, for as long as it takes.

(21:42)
On technological upgrades, again, I don’t have anything to speak to today and I don’t know that even if we did, that we would talk about that in a public setting. But again, we’re only a few days into this. We’ve got an investigation going on at Justice. We got DOD looking at their processes over there. I think we need to let those two agencies do their job, do that work.

Speaker 13 (22:01):

Naomi [inaudible 00:22:02].

Naomi (22:02):

Thanks. Just to follow up on the documents, is the White House concerned about the period of time that elapsed from when they were posted to when they sort of gained attraction?

Admiral John Kirby (22:11):

We’re worried that these documents are out there, ma’am. They shouldn’t be out there, period. That’s the big worry. And in trying to figure out how that happened, and I’m sure as a part of that, the timeline will be looked at as well. But the main concern is that they’re out there, period. They don’t need to be and shouldn’t be, absolutely shouldn’t be in the public domain.

Speaker 14 (22:30):

Thanks, [inaudible 00:22:31]. John, has the US changed its timeline for getting the necessary weapons to the Ukraine military in any way?

Admiral John Kirby (22:38):

I’m not going to… I wouldn’t even in the wake of, even before this story, I would not sit here and talk about specific timelines of equipment deliveries. You guys know that. I’ll go back to what I said to Brian, we’re going to continue to support Ukraine. That hasn’t changed. It’s not going to change.

Speaker 14 (22:53):

And then a second question, separately, on NATO expansion now that Finland is officially a member of NATO. What’s the timetable for Sweden being a part of the defense alliance?

Admiral John Kirby (23:06):

We would like to see Sweden join the alliance as soon as possible, but that is going to be a discussion between Sweden and the alliance. And as you know, there’s still some work being done in that regard, but we think they’re ready now and we’re excited to have them as new members.

Speaker 13 (23:20):

[inaudible 00:23:21].

Speaker 15 (23:22):

As in Ukraine. John, hi, back here. Good afternoon. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, but this is making a lot of headlines today, this story. Walter Reed up the road in Bethesda, a leading Catholic bishop says Walter Reed Medical Center is violating the religious freedom of service members who are at the facility. And they say that because Walter Reed just ended its contract with the archdiocese for the military services for providing pastoral care. The archdiocese calls the move “Incomprehensible.” Are you familiar with the story and can you expand on that, and why the contract… ?

Admiral John Kirby (23:55):

No, I’m afraid I’m not. And even if I was, really, this is a better question for the Department of Defense.

Speaker 13 (24:00):

[inaudible 00:24:01].

Steve (24:02):

John, is it true that China refused to open their channel of communications with the Pentagon over the Taiwan issue in the last several days?

Admiral John Kirby (24:09):

I don’t. I can’t confirm that reporting, Steve, I don’t know.

Steve (24:13):

On the documents, have you been contacting any of these governments mentioned in the documents to talk about it, to try and smooth things over?

Admiral John Kirby (24:20):

As I said, US officials have over the last couple of days, certainly throughout the weekend, communicated with relevant nations, relevant allies and partners, as appropriate, at very high levels to communicate with them about this.

Steve (24:35):

Would he bring this up when he speaks to the British prime minister later this week?

Admiral John Kirby (24:38):

I won’t get ahead of specific items on the agenda and that bilat, but we’ll certainly be able to communicate with you after the fact.

Speaker 16 (24:47):

Thanks, John. Is the president concerned about recent threats of violence in Belfast? And then more broadly, can you just walk us through the decision to visit Northern Ireland at a time in which their assembly isn’t functioning?

Admiral John Kirby (24:59):

So on the recent violence, certainly we’ve seen that over the last couple of days there have been some and the president’s grateful for the work that Northern Ireland security forces have done and continue to do to protect all communities and certainly the people in Northern Ireland. And he’s, again, very much looking forward to going to Belfast.

(25:17)
The timing of this is really timed round the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. An agreement that the president has a personal connection to and, obviously, is very proud to see has really changed lives and livelihoods in Northern Island. And again, that’s really what’s driving this.

Speaker 16 (25:41):

And I just have to try again on President Macron. Do you have a response to him saying that essentially Europe doesn’t want to be seen as following the United States’ lead on China?

Admiral John Kirby (25:51):

Again, I’ll let President Macron speak to his comments. We’re very comfortable and confident in the strong alliance and the strong friendship that exists between our two countries. And the fact that we have been working together on the continent, and elsewhere around the world with France, whether it’s… I mentioned the Indo-Pacific, certainly on Ukraine, in Africa, in the Sahel going after terrorist threats there. I mean there’s a lot of terrific bilateral cooperation just alone between the United States and France. We’re focused on that. We’re focused on making sure that together we’re meeting the national security requirements of both our peoples.

Speaker 13 (26:28):

[inaudible 00:26:27]. Thanks.

Jeremy (26:30):

[inaudible 00:26:29]. These leaked documents show that the US has pretty in-depth contemporaneous information about Russia’s military operations inside of Ukraine. Has there been any impact on US intelligence gathering efforts in Russia as a result of this leak? And then in terms of the impact on allies who may be concerned that the US simply can’t keep this kind of classified information, which is shared among allies, safe, what’s the reassurance to them?

Admiral John Kirby (26:55):

I won’t, Jeremy. I won’t speak to intelligence collection one way or another on any given day about any other, around any topic. So I’m just not going to go there. And as I said, US officials have been in touch with relevant allies and partners, given some of these disclosures over the last few days, and will continue to have those conversations as appropriate.

Jeremy (27:16):

And then quickly, it’s been nearly two weeks now since Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia. Why has he not yet been officially deemed wrongfully detained by the State Department?

Admiral John Kirby (27:25):

The State Department has a process that can take a matter of days and sometimes weeks, as they work through that. And I would refer you to the State Department to speak to that in any event. That said, you already heard Secretary Blinken say that in his mind he’s wrongfully detained.

Jeremy (27:42):

So why is it taking so long since the arrest?

Admiral John Kirby (27:43):

Again, I’d have to refer you to the State Department. They’ve got a process here that they run through, Jeremy, to make these determinations and we need to let that process bear out.

(27:54)
But setting aside for a second that he hasn’t been declared wrongfully detained, at least not as of yet, doesn’t mean that we haven’t condemned his detention. We have. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been in touch with his family. We have. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t also working as stringently as we can with Russian officials to get him released. He doesn’t belong there. He needs to be released. He’s a journalist, not a criminal. And it doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to continue to follow this case as closely as we can. We still don’t have consular access and we’re also trying to get that too.

Speaker 17 (28:27):

Just a quick follow, I know you’ve said a couple of times that the administration has been in touch with allies. Does that include specifically South Korea and Israel, given the described sensitive material as pertains to those two allies?

Admiral John Kirby (28:37):

We’ve been in touch with allies and partners, relevant allies and partners. I’ll leave it at that.

Speaker 18 (28:42):

Thanks, John. I understand that you’re saying some of these documents might have been altered, but is it your assessment that at least some of them are authentic?

Admiral John Kirby (28:50):

We know that some of them have been doctored. I won’t speak to the validity of all the documents, the ones that don’t immediately appear to be doctored. We’re still working through the validity of all the documents that we know are out there.

Speaker 18 (29:06):

[inaudible 00:29:07].

Admiral John Kirby (29:06):

The Department of Defense has stood up an inter-agency effort to try to look at the national security implications, which includes taking a look at these documents to determine whether they’re actually valid or not. And I’m just not in a position to speak to that work, which is ongoing.

Speaker 18 (29:22):

You’re assuming some are valid at this point?

Admiral John Kirby (29:24):

We’re saying we cannot speak to the veracity and the validity of any of those documents at this point. We’re studying that, DOD is leading an effort to study that, to figure that out.

Speaker 13 (29:34):

A couple more. [inaudible 00:29:35].

Speaker 19 (29:36):

Thank you. Thanks, Kirby. I have a couple questions about the Ireland trip. I didn’t hear you mention a meeting with King Charles in the president’s schedule. Is that not happening?

Admiral John Kirby (29:43):

The president had a terrific conversation with the King last week to talk about certainly his upcoming trip here, but also to let the King know that the First Lady would be representing the administration at the coronation. It was a terrific conversation and the King was very grateful for it and the president was grateful for the time that the King afforded him. These are two leaders that have known each other a long time and have a very good relationship.

Speaker 19 (30:07):

And then I want to follow up again about the warnings of violence in Northern Island, especially these reports there starts of terrorist attacks. Is there concerns about the president going there now? And then also, I’m curious why he is making the trip when he’s making it, instead of going to the official celebration, which is around April 17th and it’s going to see President Clinton and all those leaders there, why is President Biden making a separate trip from that?

Admiral John Kirby (30:27):

I think I already answered that one. I mean, this is really timed closer to the actual anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. And as for security concerns, we don’t ever talk about security requirements of protecting the president, but the president is more than comfortable making this trip and he’s very excited to do it.

Speaker 13 (30:47):

Okay.

Speaker 20 (30:47):

We’re just finishing up the cherry blossom season in Washington and it’s 111 years since the Prince Tokugawa planted them and much of it was to prevent a war. Is there a role that Japan can be playing, especially China’s next door, in some of these different crises? And his grandson just took over, is there some role that Japan can be playing in some of helping the US with some of these crises, especially in terms of China?

Admiral John Kirby (31:13):

I would argue that Japan already is and has been for quite some time. I mean, they just rewrote their national security strategy that allows them to be on a more assertive footing in the Indo-Pacific in terms of exporting security. And Japan has been a strong supporter of Ukraine. They have participated, and we hope will continue to participate, in both bilateral operations and exercises with the Republic of Korea, but also trilateral with the United States, South Korea and Japan. So they’ve been really stepping up in a big way. We’re grateful for that.

Speaker 19 (31:48):

And then just to follow up, for those of us that were embedded during the wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of this is really personal. Some of our friends, people we know, haven’t been able to come back. Is there an update on what’s going to happen to all those that trusted us and are left behind?

Admiral John Kirby (32:06):

I’m not sure I understand what…

Speaker 19 (32:08):

Some of those that are still in Afghanistan that assisted us and [inaudible 00:32:13]

Admiral John Kirby (32:13):

Afghan allies there. Yeah. I’m sorry I didn’t understand the question. As I mentioned last week, there are Afghan allies still arriving back here in the United States and are able to leave the country on a fairly routine basis. That mission, that work is not stopped and it’s going to continue. Yeah.

Speaker 13 (32:33):

Go ahead.

Speaker 20 (32:34):

All right. One more on the documents leak specifically about the allies. Some of them have already said that they were eagerly awaiting a sort of assessment of what happened from the United States. Is that something that the US will do down the line when you guys have more information as to brief those allies who were involved in those leaks?

Admiral John Kirby (32:56):

We will keep relevant allies and partners as informed as we can.

Speaker 20 (32:59):

And just a quick follow up on Taiwan. You said that this was a reaction that didn’t need to happen. Is the US sort of considering changing its posture in the Indo-Pacific, looking to what happened over the past three days over these military drills? Is that changing in any way the US’ posture in the region?

Admiral John Kirby (33:22):

No. As a matter of fact, today there are naval exercises in the Philippine Sea that the United States Navy is conducting. We’re going to continue to fly and sail and operate in international waters and international airspace, as required, to protect our national security commitments. Again, I’d remind five of our seven treaty alliances are in the Indo-Pacific region. We take those commitments very seriously.

Speaker 21 (33:45):

Can you lay out what the consequences will be for the people, or the person, responsible for the leaks of these classified information? And secondly, have you been able to gauge what their motive is just based on how they’ve released this information?

Admiral John Kirby (33:58):

The answer to both questions is no, I can’t. There’s a Justice Department investigation going on right now, a criminal investigation. I’m certainly not going to say anything that would prejudice that. And that work is just starting. So we don’t know who’s behind this. We don’t know what the motive is. And I think, I can’t remember who asked before, but we don’t know what else might be out there.

(34:20)
So we’ve got to let the Department of Defense run their process with the inter-agency and taking a look at the national security implications of it. And we got to let the Justice Department be able to pursue their investigation, again, completely unfettered and let the facts and the evidence take them where they may and we’ll deal with it on the back end.

Speaker 21 (34:43):

What’s your message to them or anybody else who’s considering leaking information?

Admiral John Kirby (34:44):

Again, without confirming the validity of the documents, this is information that has no business in the public domain. It has no business, if you don’t mind me saying, on the front pages of newspapers or on television. It is not intended for public consumption and it should not be out there.

(35:05)
What we’re going to try to do is do the best we can to figure out how this happened. And again, the Justice Department will take it from a criminal investigative procedure and if the Defense Department has to change processes, they’ll do that.

(35:21)
But I think every American can understand, at least I would hope every American can understand, that in order to protect this country every day the way we do, one of the things we have to protect is information, not only the information itself, but the manner in which we glean that information. And so I think you can understand why everybody has taken this particular set of disclosures very, very seriously.

Speaker 13 (35:53):

Go ahead.

Speaker 22 (35:53):

John, the US and the UK started negotiations on a trade deal nearly three years ago. What is the status of those talks, and do you expect that to be on the table at all

Speaker 23 (36:00):

… this week when the president meets with the Prime Minister.

Admiral John Kirby (36:02):

We’re not in active discussions with the UK about a free trade agreement. That said, even out at San Diego, when the president had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Sunak, they talked about trade issues and they talked about trying to find ways to increase and to improve the economic exchanges between the United States and the UK. And that kind of discussion will continue, but there’s no active discussions about an FDA.

Speaker 23 (36:29):

Do you expect a news conference on this trip? I’m sure the Press Corps would be interested in one.

Admiral John Kirby (36:34):

I don’t expect there’ll be a news conference on this trip.

Speaker 24 (36:38):

James.

Speaker 25 (36:39):

Thank you very much, [inaudible 00:36:40]. Thank you, Admiral. A couple on the documents and then one on Taiwan, if I may. I don’t think that you would be telling us that this information has no business being publicly shared if you weren’t prepared to confirm the authenticity of it. If they were completely spurious documents, I think you would say so and you wouldn’t be very concerned about that.

Admiral John Kirby (37:03):

I didn’t say they were spurious documents.

Speaker 25 (37:05):

They’ve been compromised.

Admiral John Kirby (37:06):

I’m not going to get into process, James. The Department of Defense has taken a look here at the national security implications of what has been out there to date. And they’re doing the forensics. I’m not going to get into that process.

Speaker 25 (37:20):

Last on the documents before we hit Taiwan.

Admiral John Kirby (37:22):

Can’t wait.

Speaker 25 (37:23):

Because you tell us that you simply don’t know what’s coming next, is the US government effectively in the position of crouching and waiting for the next bombshell to hit on Telegram or Twitter? You’re in a position where you simply don’t know how long this is going to go on or how many documents are going to be published.

Admiral John Kirby (37:41):

We don’t know what’s out there, James. We don’t know who’s responsible for this and we don’t know if they have more that they intend to post, so we’re watching this and monitoring it as best we can. But the truth and the honest answer to your question is we don’t know. And is that a matter of concern to us? You’re darn right it is.

Speaker 25 (38:04):

On Taiwan. In different respects, you have been candid in saying what you are able to discern about intentions of other countries. For example, you have told us that you discern no immediate plans by China to aid materially in the Russian war effort in Ukraine. You’ve told us that you discern no immediate plans or movements by President Putin to install tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Along those lines, with respect to Taiwan right now, do you discern any movements by China that would indicate an imminent plan to launch military actions against Taiwan?

Admiral John Kirby (38:44):

President Xi has said he wants his military ready by 2027, but saying you want to be ready by a certain time doesn’t mean that you have an intent. President Xi would have to speak to that specific intent himself. We’re not seeing any overt indications. That kind of movement militarily is either imminent or inevitable.

Speaker 25 (39:13):

Thank you.

Speaker 24 (39:13):

All right. Two questions [inaudible 00:39:18].

Speaker 26 (39:18):

Thank you. Mr. Kirby, talking about Afghanistan, when the US was withdrawing, one of the closest ally of the US was Pakistan and the president did not call either the prime minister of Pakistan at that time, neither the weapons that many claimed that around six billions weapons were left, neither they moved to Pakistan to be moved out. Why Pakistan, one of the strongest ally, which sacrificed many lives, was not taken on board and why their services were not required?

Admiral John Kirby (39:45):

Taken on board for what? I’m not sure I follow you.

Speaker 26 (39:48):

For removing the US citizens, for removing the Afghans who were coming to the US.

Admiral John Kirby (39:54):

Well, I mean, we set up a vast network of what we call lily pads to help get those evacuees to safety. And we were grateful for many countries’ assistance. And without that assistance, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. As for Pakistan, I think it’s important to remember they also suffered from the threats and still do from terrorist groups that occupy that spine between the two countries. And we continue to talk to Pakistan about those ongoing threats, about what they’re facing. But Pakistan was helpful in the withdrawal and when we had to use… Well, with their permission, they allowed us to move some helicopters over to Pakistan so that they could be out of harm’s way.

Speaker 26 (41:03):

One other question please. Former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan has been shot four bullets and President Biden has had kind relations with international leaders for decades. He’s one of the US politicians who has been known for kindness among international leaders. He did not call the prime minister and now the country is in a lot of turmoil as well. Is there any chance the president can bring at least all the parties, the military, the judiciary, the politicians on board so the country can be stopped from further deterioration?

Admiral John Kirby (41:32):

Now look, we firmly believe and have for some time that is strong, stable and secure, Pakistan’s good for the region.

Speaker 26 (41:39):

[inaudible 00:41:41].

Speaker 24 (41:40):

Okay. Go ahead. Last question.

Speaker 27 (41:43):

Could you just clarify, is the first lady going on the Ireland trip?

Admiral John Kirby (41:48):

I don’t have the actual traveling party here complete for you.

Speaker 24 (41:50):

All right. That’s it.

Speaker 26 (41:52):

One more last question.

Speaker 24 (41:53):

That’s it. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks, [inaudible 00:41:54].

Admiral John Kirby (41:55):

Thanks.

Speaker 27 (41:56):

Thank you.

Admiral John Kirby (41:57):

Thank you guys.

Speaker 25 (41:57):

Thank you. Thank you, John.

Speaker 28 (41:59):

All right, let’s get going. Go ahead, Zee.

Speaker 29 (42:03):

[inaudible 00:42:03] just started a Kentucky shooting in your statement at top of the briefing. You’re critical of Republicans but you didn’t mention anything that the president wants to do, is doing himself about this. Is he at the end of his ability to do anything when it comes to gun violence in the US? Is he effectively at this point powerless?

Speaker 28 (42:21):

Look, Zeek, as you know and as I’ve talked about, the president has talked about many times, the president in his first two years of the administration has done more executive action than any other president when it comes to gun violence, when it comes to stemming gun violence, when it comes to protecting our communities, our schools. And so he’s taken action. He’s taken action over and over again. Just last month he was on the West Coast announcing another executive action. And we are seeing from these executive actions that he signed, more than a dozen, that the Department of Justice has taken some actions and pushing forward some of the provisions in those actions, especially as you look at red flag laws and those types of programs. More than $300 million went to about 49 states and territories to put that into place in those states. So there is actions that we have taken.

(43:18)
The thing is, the president cannot do it alone. You know this. There is a legislative process that needs to happen and congress needs to act. And I listed out to ban assault weapons. Yes, the president mentions that over and over again. In high capacity magazines, require safe storage of firearms, require background checks for all gun safeties, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. Those are the things that needs legislative actions and so he cannot do it alone and so we need Congress to act. And if you think about assault weapons ban, when the president was involved in 1994 to get that done, we saw gun violence go down. And when it’s sunset 10 years later, it went back up. So we know what could work and that’s why you continue to hear the president calling on Congress to take action.

Speaker 29 (44:15):

But you’re not announcing new actions now, and is the sense the president’s done everything that he can himself?

Speaker 28 (44:15):

Look, the president is always going to find ways. So is his team. So here, we have the Domestic Policy Council, you have other offices here at the White House, you have the Department of Justice. We’re always going to find and figure out ways that we can take another step, outside of all of the historic steps that this president has taken, to announce another way to protect communities. But the president has done the work. Now we need Congress to act.

Speaker 29 (44:42):

And just about the [inaudible 00:44:42] question to Kirby before about the press conference on this trip, four-day trip to two countries, why can’t the president take questions from the press?

Speaker 28 (44:51):

Right now, we just don’t have anything on the books for a press conference at this moment. The president always loves to take your questions, shouted questions. No, but no. Look, when it comes to these types of events, as you know, being the president, at one point, of the association, these are relationships that we have with these countries. So when it comes to two plus twos or anything like that, clearly that is not just on us, that is also on the country that we’re visiting. But as far as a standalone press conference, I just don’t have anything to share at this time.

Speaker 30 (45:26):

Beyond seeking a stay, how do you plan to respond to the abortion group?

Speaker 28 (45:31):

So look, I don’t want to get ahead of the courts here. As you know, that’s something that we’re very mindful of. The Department of Justice were quick to act, as you know, as you mentioned the stay, and we’re going to continue to move forward in that fashion. It probably is going to go up to the Supreme Court, which we feel pretty confident that we’re going to win. But we’re going to be very clear here. And I talked about this at the beginning, the disinformation, misinformation that’s out there. Mifepristone is still very much available right now for women who need it or providers who need it at this time. And so look, this is a president and an administration that’s going to continue to fight to make sure that women have the healthcare that they need to make sure that they make the own decision when it comes to their own body.

(46:18)
And I also mentioned this too. This is what we’re seeing currently right now. It’s part of the plan. It’s part of what we’ve been hearing from extreme MAGA Republicans in these different state houses. And I’ll call it, of course national Republicans saying that they want a national abortion ban. This is part of this. And so they’re going to continue to take those actions. I think we’ve seen more than 300 pieces of legislation coming out of state houses to take away a woman’s freedom, a woman’s right to make her own decision, a decision that should be between herself and her doctor. And so look, the president’s going to continue to fight for people’s freedoms and this particular women’s freedom. And we saw what the American people said during the midterms. They want us to continue to do that, continue to fight for their freedom. [inaudible 00:47:09].

Speaker 30 (47:08):

Let’s just confirm on that. So the administration is going to comply with this federal judge’s order?

Speaker 28 (47:13):

Look, we are going to always follow the law. Always. But doesn’t mean that we’re not going to fight. Doesn’t mean that we’re not going to… As you know, DOJ has continued to appeal this and will continue to fight in the courts.

Speaker 30 (47:27):

And so will the administration then move to expedite reapproving of mifepristone?

Speaker 28 (47:35):

Look, what I can say is that right now, DOJ has already stayed, as Steve mentioned, and is fighting to maintain the stay and ultimately win the case as we believe in the Supreme Court. And so we’re going to let DOJ do their work, the Department of Justice do their work.

Speaker 30 (47:55):

Can the FDA reapprove this quickly?

Speaker 28 (47:55):

So what I can say is that we stand by the FDA’s approval of mifepristone and we are prepared for a long legal fight. That’s what I can say from here. That’s what we are committed to doing for the providers who are making sure that this is available to women and also for women out there. But again, it’s still available and as we know, this is a decision, is stayed for seven days starting from this past Friday, and so the status quo remains. But again, we are ready to fight. Okay.

Speaker 31 (48:27):

Thank you, Karine. AOC suggests that the administration should just ignore the ruling and she said that, “We know that the executive branch has an enforcement discretion.” Is that true?

Speaker 28 (48:37):

So this is similar I think to what Terry was asking me. Look, we understand the frustration. We get the frustration regarding this decision. Absolutely. And that’s why we were quick to act. That’s why you saw DOJ take action. Basically what I said to Terry, we stand by FDA’s approval of mifepristone and we are prepared to have a long legal fight here. That is our commitment to women out there, that is our commitment to Americans across the country. But I’ll say this, it is dangerous… But as a dangerous precedent is set for court to set aside the FDA’s expert judgment regarding a drug safe safety and efficiency, it would also set a dangerous precedent for this administration to disregard a binding decision. So that’s what I’m getting to. But again, we are ready to fight. This is going to be a long fight. We understand this. We stand by FDA’s approval of mifepristone. This is a pill that’s been around for more than 20 years, I believe 22 years. It’s been used in 60 countries. So of course this is something that we approve and we stand by FDA.

Speaker 31 (49:47):

Just to be clear, for people watching at home who are listening to Progressive saying, the administration actually has an enforcement discretion and they could ignore this, you disagree with that?

Speaker 28 (49:58):

So what I’m saying is there is a process in place for appealing this type of decision and we will pursue that process vigorously. That’s what the American people can count on from the Biden-Harris Administration and do everything that we can to prevail in the courts. That’s the commitment that we have.

Speaker 31 (50:17):

Okay. And to follow up on Zeek, you mentioned that the decision whether to hold a two by two here at the White House is made by both the administration as well as the visiting party. But is the decision whether to have a press conference abroad in Ireland a unilateral decision or are the Irish weighing in on that too?

Speaker 28 (50:38):

No, I think I was very clear. I said when it comes to a standalone press conference, which does not include the country, we just don’t have a decision… Well, we’re just not going to happen. It’s not in the books to happen on this trip.

Speaker 31 (50:50):

And it’s your decision alone, right? The Irish aren’t weighing-

Speaker 28 (50:53):

I mean, if it’s a press conference that the president is leading on his own, yes, it’s a standalone. That’s why I said a standalone press conference. That is not happening on this trip.

Speaker 31 (51:01):

I’m just not hearing a reason why you’re not having one then because to not have one here, you’re saying it’s because it’s not just up to us.

Speaker 28 (51:08):

No, I didn’t say that. I said when it comes to a two plus two, regardless if we’re away or regardless if the country’s coming here, we do have… That is a discussion that we have with the country. That is a conversation that’s had and we do not do that unilaterally. So I was making a comparison. I was laying that process, which I know every time a head of state visits or even if we go to another country, this question comes up, of a two plus two. And so I was just laying out the process as I’ve done many times at this podium. I’m just saying, at this time, we do not have a standalone press conference for this president. I know that it is of interest. I’m just giving you the answer on that. Go ahead.

Speaker 32 (51:48):

Karine, did the White House ask HHS Secretary Becerra to clarify his comments on possibly ignoring the Texas order and saying everything is on the table when he was on the Sunday shows yesterday?

Speaker 28 (52:01):

I believe they put out a statement, HHS put out a statement making that clear that the administration is not going to ignore a ruling. So I’m going to just point you to the statement from HHS.

Speaker 32 (52:12):

And then to be clear, you also mentioned you expect this could go up to the Supreme Court. Are you suggesting that the White House supports the Department of Justice seeking an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court now while it is still trying to get it blocked?

Speaker 28 (52:26):

I’m just not suggesting that. I’m just saying ultimately, we believe we can win this case in the Supreme Court if necessary. But this is something that the Department of Justice certainly is going to go through their process. What we’re saying is we’re prepared for a long legal fight and that’s the promise that we can make to millions of women across the country right now.

Speaker 32 (52:47):

And can you share what, if anything, Vice President Harris is doing on this issue today or in the coming days, given her work on abortion?

Speaker 28 (52:54):

I think you’ll continue to hear from the Vice President on this issue. This is an issue that’s very important to her. She has been very vocal on what’s currently happening, especially when you see extreme Republicans continuing to want to take away the rights of women when they make this important decision about their own body. I’ve mentioned 300 plus pieces of legislation that has come out of state houses. She’s been very vocal. She’s been steadfast on this. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing from her in the near future. Go ahead.

Speaker 23 (53:26):

We’re expecting the EPA to issue new tail pipe emission rules this week. How do you expect those to go beyond some of the targets the president has made for getting new electric vehicles out in the open? And also, just how does he balance this need of having tougher emissions on one hand while the possibility that this will raise costs for consumers?

Speaker 28 (53:49):

So look, I’m certainly not going to get ahead of an ongoing policy process. Want to be careful here. But look, when it comes to climate crisis, it requires ambitious actions. And the

Speaker 28 (54:00):

President has been delivering on those ambitious actions. As you know, when he walked into this administration, he said climate change was one of the four crises that he believed his administration needed to deal with. So his Investing in America agenda has already sparked over a hundred billion in private sector investment in electric vehicle charging and manufacturing. Since 2020, the number of electric vehicle models has doubled, EV sales have tripled, and the number of EV charging posts is up 40%. So look, this wouldn’t be the first time that someone has bet against this president, as you hear us say many times, you hear him say about himself, and it certainly won’t be the last time. He’ll continue to prove them all wrong. When it comes to lowering cost for the American people. This is, as you know, something that the President, when you look at his economic agenda, when you look at his economic policy, lowering cost for the American people, something that is at the center of that, is a priority for him, and he’ll continue to certainly do that. Go ahead.

Speaker 33 (54:59):

Thanks. Karine, as we sit here, we just now have another notice that there was another shooting in Louisville, with one injured and one dead, unrelated. Let me drill down a little bit on what you’ve said. I know the administration has taken action the most that it can, but has the action this administration has taken regarding gun violence in this country, including speaking to members of the GOP, inviting them up here to discuss the issue with other legislative leaders, because as you well know, the President has a great reputation for making deals, he did it with the bipartisan infrastructure deals, so what has he done specifically?

Speaker 28 (55:38):

So, look, Brian, first of all, as you know, I have not seen those reportings. If that certainly is the case, certainly I want to say our hearts go out to the injured and their families, and so again, another devastating day of shootings that we’re seeing in our communities, and this is why we continue to call on Republicans in Congress to take action. This is not okay, our communities need to be safer. I’m going to get to your question. Our communities need to be safer, our schools need to be safe, there’s no reason that kids should be going to school and teachers should be teaching at schools and be worried about their safety, be worried about an active shooter coming into their school. There should be no reason why places of worship should be concerned about that as they’re praying, as they’re in their, again, place of worship.

(56:28)
And so this is devastating, this is devastating to hear and we need to see some courage. I’m going to keep saying that because that’s what we need to see from Republicans in Congress. Now to your question, there was a bipartisan piece of legislation that was passed just this past summer on gun violence, and it was called the Safer Communities Act, as you know, and so that was something because of this president, because of this administration, was able to bring both sides together, the other side in particular, to come up with this piece of legislation that is now into law clearly, and it was the first major piece of legislation on this issue that we had seen in 30 years. And so that is something that the President was able to do, but as grateful as he was to both Democrats and Republicans for that piece of legislation, we need to do more, and he’s going to continue to do that.

(57:18)
And to your other part of your question, look, we have our White House offices here, including the Ledge Affairs Office, who’s continuing to have conversations with members of Congress. I don’t have anything to read out on particular conversations on any issues, but there are tons of issues as you know that we are always having conversations about when it comes to Congress. But look, we’ve taken action, this president has taken historic actions on this issue. He’s not set back, he’s not put his feet on the table and let the issue pass him by, he’s taken action.

Speaker 33 (57:52):

Is he inviting him up here?

Speaker 28 (57:52):

But he has, he has, we were able to do a bipartisan piece of… Look, we have done the work, there’s been a bipartisan piece of legislation that was signed into law by this president this past summer, and he has done a historic amount of work. Even recently, the last time he visited the West Coast to deal with this issue, to deal with this very issue. I’m going to keep going.

Speaker 33 (58:17):

Finally, anytime he’d like to show up here in this room, I’m sure all of us, I can speak for all of us to say we’d welcome here him here at any time. I

Speaker 28 (58:25):

Understand. Go ahead.

Speaker 34 (58:27):

Karine, there have been several questions about presidential travel. About five weeks ago, President Biden said that he would be going to East Palestine, Ohio at some point. Does the President still feel the need to visit Ohio?

Speaker 28 (58:41):

Well, the President said it, he keeps his word. Don’t have a trip to lay out or previewed for you at this time, but I’m going to just let the President’s word stand.

Speaker 34 (58:54):

So we should expect him there at some point?

Speaker 28 (58:56):

If he says the President said he’s expecting to at some time, the President means what he says, I just don’t have a trip to preview at this time.

Speaker 35 (59:04):

Thanks Karine, I wanted to follow up on electric vehicles. You mentioned the investment, some of the companies investing in EV battery plants here in the US are Chinese companies. Is the administration doing anything to stop China from cashing in on green energy goals?

Speaker 28 (59:21):

I don’t have anything to share on China specifically as it relates to electric vehicles. As you know, the President is committed to this. You see that in his inflation reduction act, you see that in the bipartisan law, which are very keyed in on making sure that his agenda in dealing in climate crisis is dealt with, so don’t have anything on China. You know where we stand on China, we want competition, not conflict, that’s where we have always moved with China. You heard my colleague speak specifically on where that relationship is, just don’t have anything specifically on the electric vehicles.

Speaker 35 (01:00:04):

Do you support Chinese companies coming in and building EV plants.

Speaker 28 (01:00:06):

Again, I just don’t have anything specific as it relates to China electric vehicles. Okay. John,

Speaker 36 (01:00:11):

Thank you, Karine. Two questions, two different issues. First of all, on the abortion pill case, you said earlier in the briefing that you believe that this particular case will get to the US Supreme Court and you also express confidence that you’d win at the US Supreme Court. What gives you that level of confidence?

Speaker 28 (01:00:31):

Let’s not forget, we’re talking about Mifepristone, which has been around for 20 plus years, which is also around in 60 different countries, and it is something that FDA is allowed to approve. They have approved this, and we stand by the FDA when it comes to this, and I said, “If necessary, we believe we will win this long fight if it goes to the Supreme Court. If necessary, if that’s what indeed occurs.” Because we are committed, we committed to this issue, we are committed to making sure that women have access to Mifepristone, but also can make their own decision when it comes to their own body, when it comes to this type of important reproductive healthcare decision that women should have, it is their freedom, it should be their freedom to have this.

Speaker 36 (01:01:25):

And then the second question has to do with the lack of a press conference during the President’s upcoming trip and the lack of press conference that we see in general from this White House. I represent a news organization that owns 113 television stations, and a question that I’m often asked and I don’t know the answer to, so I’ll ask you that question. Is the administration trying to protect the President from our questions? Please, I ask you that question.

Speaker 28 (01:01:53):

Absolutely not, absolutely not.

Speaker 36 (01:01:54):

So why the lack of any interaction in a formal setting to have a press conference?

Speaker 28 (01:02:00):

the President takes shouted questions. I understand, John, I understand, I understand. I’ve dealt with this question about three times already. I understand, it is the job of you all to ask this question to me, totally get that, and that’s not a problem at all, but certainly the President many times has stood in front of all of you, has taken questions on his own because he wanted to see what was on your minds, he wanted to see what the questions you all were going to ask him, and he wanted to answer them directly. That has happened multiple times, many times during this administration, and that will certainly continue to be. When it comes to a formal press conference, I don’t have anything to share with you at this time.

Speaker 36 (01:02:43):

Just one last thing, just to button up. You recognize that as it relates to prior administrations, the President’s predecessor, President Obama, President George W. Bush, I’ve been here long enough to have covered President Bill Clinton, this is not the norm. The norm is we do get an opportunity, ask the questions to the President about domestic and foreign policy issues in a formal setting at some point, and you choose that point, but we haven’t had that opportunity in quite some time.

Speaker 28 (01:03:15):

So I’ll say this, it is also unprecedented that a president takes as many shouted questions as this president has, and he has.

Speaker 36 (01:03:21):

[inaudible 01:03:22]. almost every

Speaker 28 (01:03:23):

Okay, well, we’ll certainly get the data and share that with all of you. John, I hear your question, I heard Zeke’s question, I hear you, I hear you on the press conference, on a formal press press conference. We get this probably every couple of months when you guys ask us about a formal press conference. I don’t have anything to share with all of you at this time, and I’ll just leave it there. Okay, Jeremy.

Speaker 37 (01:03:49):

Thanks Karine. A few moments ago, you reiterated the President’s support for an assault weapons ban, but in his statement this afternoon, the President called for safe storage of firearms, universal background checks, and eliminating liability protections for gun manufacturers. Was that an intentional omission of the assault weapons ban or is that a shift in strategy?

Speaker 28 (01:04:09):

Not a shift in strategy at all, we were just being mindful to the incoming information that was currently coming in from Louisville, and so at the time, we didn’t have all the information, so we just wanted to be mindful to that specific event, if you will, in Louisville. But our commitment and our calling out for the ban of assault weapons has not changed.

Speaker 37 (01:04:34):

And in that statement, the President lays out the pretty dire consequences of inaction, talking in particular about Republicans. We hear from the President when these shootings happen, obviously, but does the President feel that he has made full use of the bully pulpit to match the dire consequences that he’s warning of? Is there not more that he could be doing to lobby Republicans to bring this issue to the fore every day?

Speaker 28 (01:05:01):

I would say this, Jeremy, anytime the President uses the bully pulpit, he is talking directly to the American people, and I would say directly to Congress as well. This is a president that has been committed to this issue, not just as president, but as vice president and also a senator. He talked about the 1994, the assault weapons ban that he led on and what we saw, the data that came from there and what we saw in those 10 years before at Sunset. And so I’ve said this many times before today in this briefing room, and I’ll say it again, this is a president that has taken historic actions when it comes to gun violence and protecting communities and really dealing with an issue that is an epidemic, an epidemic. Sadly, when we saw the shooting in Nashville, he spoke on it about three times on that issue, and I would easily argue when the President speaks, people listen and want to hear what he has to say.

Speaker 37 (01:06:01):

Does he feel he’s doing the most he possibly can?

Speaker 28 (01:06:03):

I think when you’ve taken historic action on an issue from this executive branch, and trying to find, telling your teams to do everything that you can to figure out what else can be done, that is the President that is active, that is taking action, and it is a legislative process to this, we need Congress to take action, and that’s where we are. Charlotte, I forgot about you, Charlotte, I’m so sorry. Yeah, yeah, really quickly, and then we have a guest.

Speaker 37 (01:06:40):

So what kind of guidance has the White House been providing to states and to medical providers in the wake of this ruling on Mifepristone, and what is your message generally to women around the country, to medical providers who may not be sure what the future of this drug is and may have concerns?

Speaker 28 (01:07:01):

Look what we have said, taking your last question first, is what we have said is reproductive rights is a fundamental freedom. It is a fundamental right, and it is a medical decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor, without government interference, again, without government interference. And so we’ve been clear about that, a vast majority of Americans agree with us, we saw the outcomes of the midterms, but again, Republican officials, I’ve said this again over and over again, in the State House across the country have introduced more than 300 bills restricting abortion so far this year alone. So what we have done is we’re coordinating with state leaders who are fighting to protect reproductive rights and we’ll continue to do that as we’re going through this fight. Okay, Charlotte, we have Charlotte in the room here from Skid Scope Media. Welcome, Charlotte. I know you have a question for me.

Speaker 38 (01:07:59):

First off, thank you for hearing my question. And recently the number of children with mental health issues is on the rise. How is the White House positioned to help specifically kids?

Speaker 28 (01:08:12):

So mental health issues affect so many people, including children as you just laid out, and kids across the nation. And the COVID-19 pandemic sadly disrupted routines and relationships and led to increases in social isolation, anxiety, and learning challenges. And so this is something that the President and the First Lady certainly has led on this issue, and we’ve done that, we’ve done that by making sure that schools have the ability to have extra resources, to hire social workers, to hire psychologists, to hire what is needed, experts, so that children in schools in particular have an opportunity to talk to someone. And so this certainly has been, when it comes to national mental health, this is a strategy that this administration has taken very, very seriously, and he believes that making sure that a kid’s mental health and they have the services that they need is important.

(01:09:13)
And it’s okay to ask for help, it is okay, it is not weakness to ask for health. And so that’s why we’ve put together this help hotline called 988, and we are telling, telling people, if you are having a hard time and you need someone to talk to, call 988. You can call them, you can text them, and there are experts who are going to be there to help you. It’s 24 hours, seven days a week, this is such a critical question and important issue. So thank you so much for asking Question Charlotte.

Speaker 39 (01:09:48):

Thanks, Karine. Picking up on what Jeremy was asking, a couple questions. One, when did the President find out about the Louisville shooting?

Speaker 28 (01:09:57):

He found out this afternoon or late morning.

Speaker 39 (01:10:03):

So before or after the strike rule?

Speaker 28 (01:10:07):

I don’t remember the exact timing, but he was certainly briefed on this by his senior staff. I can’t tell you exactly the timing because it’s been a wild day.

Speaker 39 (01:10:17):

And has he reached out today to Mitch McConnell, or Rand Paul, or any other members of the Kentucky delegation?

Speaker 28 (01:10:21):

As you know, this is a president that regularly reaches out to leaders and elected officials. In the state, I just don’t have anything to read out to you as far as any calls that have been made, but certainly the President was briefed earlier today, I just don’t have a specific timeline.

Speaker 39 (01:10:37):

And you’re not aware of whether he’s spoken to any other Republican lawmakers, just considering you also raised the issue of Republicans in Congress need to act?

Speaker 28 (01:10:42):

Totally understand the question, I just don’t have anything to read out to you at this time.

Speaker 39 (01:10:46):

And lastly, do you have an update on when the President might visit Nashville, where another mass shooting recently occurred?

Speaker 28 (01:10:52):

Well, as you know, the first lady went to Nashville for the vigil, and she clearly represented the administration and offered her condolences and support from the administration to the community and to the families that lost their three kids and three administrators, a very, very sad, horrific day. And as you know, this is a president that has visited many communities. You think about Uvalde and those 19 kids and two adults that were murdered, you think about Buffalo at the grocery store, when everyday people just on a Saturday doing things that many of us do on a Saturday, go shopping, and they were gunned down, and he visited there with the First Lady. And so don’t have a trip to read out to you, but again, the first lady was there just days after the shooting and offered her condolences, and prayed with the family, and supported the community while she was there on behalf of the administration.

Speaker 40 (01:11:48):

Thanks Karine.

Speaker 28 (01:11:49):

All right everybody. Gosh, I’ll see you on the road. Thank you everyone.

Speaker 41 (01:11:53):

Thank you.

Speaker 40 (01:11:54):

Thank you.

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