Jun 7, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/06/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/06/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/06/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/06/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:04):

Hey, good afternoon everyone.

Ms. Ryan (00:05):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:09):

Thank you. Thank you there, Ms. Ryan. First, I want to wish a very happy birthday. I’m going to embarrass him right now. Justin Sink, happy birthday, happy 21st birthday. Don’t look a day over 21. So, happy birthday my friend.

I also want to congratulate Scott. Scott, this is your last day in the briefing room. It’s been a pleasure having you here. I know your new role, and congratulations on your new role as the weekend host of All Things Considered and Consider This. Very exciting. We’ll be listening while I’ll be looking out for your voice. But today, as I said, is your last day in the briefing room. We will miss you around here and we wish you the best in your next chapter. So, good. Congratulations my friend.

All right, just a couple of things before we move forward with the briefing. Today we launched invest.gov, which shows how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is bringing jobs and investments to every state. Invest.gov features an interactive map that shows the 470 billion in counting in private sector investments, in manufacturing and clean energy mobilized by the president’s agenda.

It also shows the 32,000 infrastructure projects announced or underway thanks to the president’s bipartisan infrastructure law. The president’s Investing in America agenda is bringing manufacturing back to America, strengthening America’s energy security and supply chains, repairing roads and bridges, delivering clean water, deploying high speed internet, and so much more. The site breaks this down by state and territory with detailed stats about how the president’s agenda is rebuilding infrastructure, spurring investments, creating jobs and lowering costs.

The bipartisan budget agreement, the president, secured, protects these investments that you just heard me speak of. They will continue to power the economic progress we’ve made over the last two years, bringing more jobs and opportunities to communities across the country. To highlight the impact of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, members of his administration will fan out across the country later this month for a second installment of the Investing in America Tour during the congressional recess around July 4th.

Now, as just one example of Investing in America, President Biden today announced that the EPA is deploying $115 million to help repair Jackson, Mississippi’s water system and deliver clean water to the community. As you all may remember, the city’s water system was in crisis at some point last summer. And even long before then, the people of Jackson have lived under constant threat of boil water orders. This initial investment will help stabilize and rebuild the city’s water system, and it’s part of the president’s commitment to ensure every American has access to safe, clean drinking water.

And finally, I just want to touch on a lawsuit that was brought by big pharma, challenging Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices. Last year, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which for the first time in our nation’s history allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors, caps the cost of insulin at $35, and requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if any raise their prices faster than inflation year after year. Pharmaceutical giants make record profits as they charge middle class families astronomical prices, often for drugs invented generations ago. For decades, the pharma lobby has blocked efforts to let Medicare negotiate lower drug costs. The Biden administration finally got it done. President Biden took on big pharma in legislative process and he won.

So now big pharma is challenging this historic action in court. The Biden-Harris administration is going to fight attempts to go back to the way things were before.

We are confident we will succeed. There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices. Anytime profits of the pharmaceutical industry are a challenge, they make claims about it hindering their ability to innovate. Not only are these arguments untrue, but the American people do not buy them.

So President Biden is going to remain focused on lowering America’s healthcare costs, ensuring the benefits of the law reaching the American people.

With that, I have my colleague Admiral Kirby is here joining us again today to talk about the news out of Ukraine that you all have been reporting on with the dam explosion, to answer some of your questions at the top. So we’ll have us join. As you know, we don’t have a lot of time because the president’s going to be holding his cabinet meeting, so I’m sure Kirby will be as brief as he can and take as many questions-

Admiral John Kirby (05:23):

Yes ma’am.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:23):

… as he can.

Admiral John Kirby (05:24):

Brief as I can.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:25):

Thanks, Kirby.

Admiral John Kirby (05:26):

Yes ma’am. Hey, everybody. Look, I know there’s been a lot of interest in the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine and I wanted to just take a minute to address it. As you might expect, we’ve been closely monitoring the impacts of that destruction, which has triggered massive flooding in Ukraine and resulted in the evacuation of at the very least thousands of Ukrainians.

We know there are casualties, including likely many deaths, though these are early reports and we cannot quantify them right now. We’ve seen the reports that Russia was responsible for the explosion at the dam, which I would remind Russian forces took over illegally last year and have been occupying since then.

We’re doing the best we can to assess those reports and we are working with Ukrainians to gather more information, but we cannot say conclusively what happened at this point. We will certainly share more information when we can.

What is clear and what we absolutely can say is that the damage to the Ukrainian people and to the region will be significant. This dam, which was built in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant sits astride Ukraine’s Dnipro River. It’s about 30 yards high and about 100 yards or so wide. The reservoir protects, holds about as much water as the Great Salt Lake in Utah. So, that’s a lot of water.

Now that water helps supply southern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula as well as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. And I would add we were relieved to see the statement today by the director of the IAEA asserting that there was no immediate risk to the safety of that plant.

And as I mentioned, the dam also helps power the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. So in addition to loss of life and livelihoods, its destruction could very well have a devastating impact on Ukraine’s energy security and it will certainly have an impact on Ukraine’s canal system.

So we’re in touch, as I said, with Ukrainian authorities on how we can provide assistance to the many Ukrainians who have been displaced and forced to flee their homes for safety. We’ll continue to work with humanitarian partners on the ground to supply aid.

Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the Ukrainian people and brought terrible suffering to them. We will continue to support Ukraine in any way we can, including through military, humanitarian and economic support.

As I said earlier, we’ll monitor this as best we can. We’ll stay in touch with our Ukrainian counterparts. And as we have more information, we’ll certainly provide it to you.

Journalist 1 (07:59):

What impact do you think the dam’s destruction could have on counter-offensive operations [inaudible 00:08:04]?

Admiral John Kirby (08:04):

I think it’s too soon to know, to be honest with you. Again, I won’t speak to Ukrainian military operations in any way whatsoever, but right now the immediate focus is rightly on all the Ukrainians whose lives and towns and villages are affected by this flooding, and making sure that they have the aid and assistance that they need. But right now, too soon to assess what kind of impact it’s going to have on the battlefield.

Journalist 1 (08:28):

And one more in the Discord leaks. There’s a report in the Washington Post that the US has reports that Ukrainians were planning an attack on the Nord Stream pipeline. Do you have any comment on the intelligence report of that?

And there were also suggestions that Russia may have been responsible for that. Why was initially fingers pointed at Russia when the US might have had information that Ukrainians were planning this?

Admiral John Kirby (08:49):

I’m certainly not going to engage in a discussion about intelligence matters here from the podium specifically with regard to that disclosure, or any of the other. And in this case, certainly not going to speak to one that the Washington Post even said was not corroborated by US intelligence agencies.

Now, I think there are three countries conducting an investigation of the Nord Stream sabotage, and we called it sabotage at the moment–Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Those investigations are ongoing. And again, the last thing that we’re going to want to do from this podium is get ahead of those investigations.

Journalist 1 (09:22):

Thank you.

Journalist 2 (09:22):

Thanks. John, you just said that you can’t say conclusively what happened at this point with regards to the data. You also did note, though, that the Russian forces have been occupying this dam since last year, so is your assessment at this point that it is more likely than not that Russian forces are responsible for this rather than Ukrainian forces?

Admiral John Kirby (09:39):

We haven’t made that determination.

Journalist 2 (09:40):

And have you determined whether this was an intentional act?

Admiral John Kirby (09:43):

Again, we’re still trying to gather information and talking to the Ukrainians about that.

Journalist 2 (09:47):

And then thirdly, President Zelensky said that he believes it’s impossible to blow up this dam from the outside by shelling, for example. Is that also the US’ assessment that this would have to be done from within?

Admiral John Kirby (09:58):

Haven’t come to a final conclusion.

Journalist 2 (09:59):


Journalist 3 (10:01):

Thanks, Karine. Hi, John. A couple of questions on Iran. Iran launched today a hypersonic ballistic missile that can reach 1,400 kilometer. Your assessment of that and its implication to the region.

And second, Senator Risch has been very critical of the administration towards-

Admiral John Kirby (10:19):

I’m sorry, who?

Journalist 3 (10:21):

Senator Risch. He just actually tweeted and he said basically that the administration doesn’t have a clear policy towards Iran. And let me just briefly tell you what he said. He said the Biden administration has been put flatfooted and has failed to articulate a broader Iran strategy, and he’s referring to the exploration of the ballistic missile at the UN in October. So, how-

Admiral John Kirby (10:44):

I wonder if he’s talked to the Iranians about that because I don’t think that they would respond that we’ve been flatfooted. I think, if anything, the Biden administration has been very clear, very concise and very firm on pushing back on Iran’s destabilizing activities

Admiral John Kirby (11:00):

… In the region to include the development of an improving ballistic missile program. I’m not going to talk about the specific reports of this alleged hypersonic missile, but we have laid down very clear sanctions and other activities to push back on what Iran’s doing in the region, again to include their ballistic missile program. So I would not assess that the Iranians would say we’ve been flatfooted or ignorant of what they’re doing in the region.

Karine (11:26):


Justin (11:27):

Thanks, Kirby. You mentioned that we’re going to evaluate how we can assist Ukraine after the attack on the dam. Speaker McCarthy on the Hill today warned against trying to use Ukraine funding to bypass the defense caps that are part of the deal. So to kind of reconcile those into some questions, is there a concern that this dam attack might accelerate the timeline for when the White House needs to go back to Congress for additional Ukraine assistance? Do you have a general sense of what that timeline is? I know that in the past you’ve said you still have kind of a good amount of funding to work through. And are the speaker’s comments consistent with what you guys kind of understood out of the deal that was brokered last week?

Admiral John Kirby (12:12):

So to level set, we’ve been grateful for the bipartisan and bicameral support that we’ve had for Ukraine. We have every expectation that that’s going to continue. That’s one.

Two, we’ve got enough funds, as I said earlier, to help support Ukraine on the battlefield throughout the rest of this fiscal year. Again, we’re just now assessing the damage done by this dam explosion, so it would be imprudent for me to try to speculate as to what impact that might have. It’s certainly difficult at this early stage to see that there’s going to be an impact on supplemental funding either this year or going forward into next year based on the explosion. But again, we’re in the early hours here and we’re going to take a look at this. And we’ve said before that if we feel like we need to go back to Congress for additional funding for Ukraine, we’ll do that. But we’ll do that at the appropriate time and now’s not the appropriate time to have to have that conversation with them.

Justin (13:09):

You used the phrase supplemental funding, so is that an indication that you see this as differently from the House Speaker who is saying now that he wants additional Ukraine funding to come out of [inaudible 00:13:20]-

Admiral John Kirby (13:19):

What I’m saying is our focus is on executing the funding we’ve got this fiscal year and making sure Ukraine can succeed on the battlefield, and we’re just not at a decision point to talk about the need for additional funding later on in whatever form that might take. We’re grateful for the supplemental funding we got for this fiscal year. Terrific support on Capitol Hill, again, both chambers, both parties, and we fully expect that that will continue.

Speaker 1 (13:42):

Just push it on the NORAD intercept over the weekend. That plane stopped responding to air traffic controllers 15 minutes after taking off, but it took an hour and a half until F-16s were able to intercept it. Is that okay with you? Do you think that the underlying protocol needs to change here?

Admiral John Kirby (13:57):

Yeah, I’m not going to litigate the actual event over the weekend here from the podium, the DOD will take a look at the process. Again, as I said yesterday, they responded in a very textbook fashion here, but I also said they’ll take a look at this and if they determined that there might have been a procedure that needed to be done differently, they can speak to that.

Ed (14:20):

Two for you, John, first, back on the Nord Stream pipeline, you say there are three European investigations underway?

Admiral John Kirby (14:26):


Ed (14:27):

Does the US know when any one of those may be concluded?

Admiral John Kirby (14:30):

I’d have to refer you to those three countries.

Ed (14:32):

Is the US actively investigating who did it?

Admiral John Kirby (14:35):


Ed (14:35):

Why not?

Admiral John Kirby (14:36):

There are three European countries that have embarked on independent investigations of this and were comfortable in their ability to take a hard look at this and to come up with conclusions.

Ed (14:49):

So, there’s this gas pipeline situation, there’s the drone attack in Moscow a few weeks ago, there’s the missile attacks in the Moscow. Is it fair to say Ukraine itself may be doing a lot more of these more brazen things than the US is willing to admit?

Admiral John Kirby (15:06):

I’ll let Ukraine speak to their activities. What I can tell you, Ed, we’ve said it before, we don’t support attacks inside Russia and we don’t encourage or enable Ukraine to be able to do that. We’ve made those concerns known to Ukrainian officials, certainly privately, absolutely publicly. And we’ve received assurances in return.

Ed (15:27):

On the other issue I wanted to ask about, does the Biden administration have any concern with a major US sports league getting into business with the Saudi Public Investment Fund?

Admiral John Kirby (15:35):

I think we’ll let the Saudi government speak to that.

Karine (15:38):

[inaudible 00:15:40]

Speaker 2 (15:40):

Does it seem believable to you that Russia would destroy a dam and flood ethnic Russian villages and cut off of water supply to Crimea? I mean that doesn’t seem logical. It seems about as logical as blowing up one’s own pipeline, doesn’t it?

Admiral John Kirby (15:57):

We’ve come to no conclusions on this. We’re working with the Ukrainians. We’ll try to get as much information as we can.

Speaker 2 (16:03):

Okay. I have one more question. French and German leaders have called for new elections and cost vote given the low voter turnout, it’s causing a lot of tension. What’s US position on that?

Admiral John Kirby (16:11):

I think I will have to get back to you. I refer you to the State Department, but I’m happy to take that question back. I mean, obviously we support free and fair elections everywhere they’re held, but I don’t have anything specific on that.

April (16:22):

Another question this time on Africa, is the President still on tap to go to the continent later this year?

Admiral John Kirby (16:30):

I don’t have any on the calendar April, but the president is absolutely intent on visiting Africa as he said he would, and I just don’t have any a trip scheduled to speak to right now.

April (16:41):

Is it still planned to happen?

Admiral John Kirby (16:42):

He still intends to visit the continent, absolutely.

Speaker 3 (16:46):

Just one more quick follow on the NORAD event over the weekend. I know you said DOD is investigating it, but-

Admiral John Kirby (16:52):

I did not. Did not say they’re investigating it.

Speaker 3 (16:54):

Looking into what happened.

Admiral John Kirby (16:55):

No. I didn’t even say that. It is common practice when DOD conducts an operation for them to take a look and just walk through sort of a hogwash of it. I’ll let them speak to whether they’re doing that and what that looks like-

Speaker 3 (17:08):

My question for you on it is, if you look at the timing and the data from the plane, it seems like the intercept happened after the plane had flown over Washington DC. Was that, from your understanding, an intentional choice or was that an issue of the planes catching up and trying to get there-

Admiral John Kirby (17:28):

I don’t don’t know. I’d refer you to DOD.

Speaker 4 (17:31):

John on the dam explosion specifically, can you just speak to the President’s engagement on this when he was briefed and is one of the steps here that he is ordering the declassification of some of the information that would help be able to reveal publicly who the US suspects was behind this?

Admiral John Kirby (17:46):

President was certainly kept informed of the event earlier this morning. I don’t have the TikTok for you on that and I know of no decision to downgrade anything at this point.

Speaker 4 (17:58):

And then separately, we understand Secretary Blinken will be traveling to China in the coming weeks after of course the visit that was canceled earlier this year. Can you speak to the US officials who were there in the last couple of days, what role they may have played in trying to finalize this trip that had been tried to be rescheduled?

Admiral John Kirby (18:16):

Certainly one of the purposes of Dan and Sarah’s trip was to, again, as I said yesterday, to make sure the lines of communication remain open and to talk about the potential for future visits, higher level visits. I think I said that yesterday. And they felt that they had good useful conversations with PRC officials about that, and to that end, and I think you’ll see us speak to future visits here in the near future, but I just don’t want to get ahead of the schedule.

Karine (18:47):

Just a couple more.

Speaker 5 (18:48):

Thank you Karine. Quick one on Lavrov and his comments on F-16 fighter jets. He said that US built F-16 fighter jets can accommodate nuclear weapons and warned that supplying Kyiv would then will escalate the conflict further to have a response.

Admiral John Kirby (19:04):

The first thing I would say to Minister Lavrov is, if you’re worried about Ukrainian military capabilities, then you should take your troops and leave Ukraine…

Training program for Ukrainian pilots and that hasn’t started yet. And it really is about helping Ukraine with its self-defense needs. And the last thing I’d say is that that President Biden has been extremely consistent that we don’t want to see this war escalate, certainly not into the nuclear realm. And it’s not the United States who’s tossing around reckless nuclear rhetoric, it’s people like Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin and Putin’s Press Secretary Peskov, the ones that are out there bantering around about nuclear capabilities, not the United States. Nobody wants to see this escalate beyond the violence that’s already visited upon the Ukrainian people. There’s no reason for that.

Speaker 5 (19:52):

I mean, are you saying that F-16s cannot accommodate nuclear weapons?

Admiral John Kirby (19:56):

I’m not going to talk about the nuclear capabilities of any platform in the American arsenal. The purpose of providing advanced fighter aircraft is to help Ukraine defend itself, defend its airspace and its territorial integrity period. And there’s no interest by the United States in escalating this conflict, certainly not into the nuclear realm.

Karine (20:15):

[inaudible 00:20:15]-

Speaker 6 (20:16):

Thank you so much. On the dam in Ukraine, I understand it’s too early you say to assess who responsible for it, but can you already say that ultimately this will qualify as a war crime?

Admiral John Kirby (20:28):

I don’t have a determination on that to speak to today. I would just say again, we’re still trying to assess what happened here, but the Russians had illegally taken over that dam and the reservoir many months ago and they were occupying it when this explosion happened. It’s very clear that the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure is not allowed by the laws of war and in the additional protocol to the Geneva Convention, that the Russians have themselves signed, the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as dams and dams are clearly articulated in there, violations of that code. But again, we haven’t made a decision. We’re still talking to the Ukrainians about this.

Speaker 7 (21:17):

Yeah, thank you. Excuse me. Did your previous response to Ed’s question on the golf leagues mean that the White House has no position on today’s announced merger between-

Admiral John Kirby (21:27):

I don’t have anything to say about that today position. I have no comment on that today.

Karine (21:34):


Kim (21:35):

I was going to ask that.

Karine (21:36):

Oh, great. [inaudible 00:21:38]-

Admiral John Kirby (21:37):

Save me the breath.

Karine (21:38):

[inaudible 00:21:42]

Speaker 8 (21:42):

Moments ago you reiterated the administration position that you do not support attacks inside of Russia. I’m wondering if the administration has communicated that there would be any potential consequences to Ukraine if attacks like that do continue. For instance, have you made military aid

Speaker 9 (22:00):

Conditional on preventing some of those attacks, or is Russia on the hook here because this is an illegal invasion?

Admiral John Kirby (22:07):

Well, as I said earlier, if Russia’s concerned about Ukrainian military capabilities, the best thing that they can do would be to leave Ukraine. We have made our concerns about strikes inside Russia very clear to Ukrainian officials. They’ve acknowledged that we have, and they have assured us that they won’t use US made equipment to strike inside Russia. We don’t want to see the war escalate, and there’s no apologies for that. But I won’t go into detail about the private discussions that we’re having with Ukrainians.

Speaker 9 (22:41):

So, other than expressing that you don’t want an escalation, you can’t tell us if there’s any conditional-

Admiral John Kirby (22:48):

Oh, this is the repercussions. Look, I mean, I think just take a look at everything we’ve done in the last 15 months, and I guarantee you’re going to see additional security assistance packages in coming days and weeks. We’re going to continue to make sure that Ukraine can succeed on the battlefield as President Biden has said, for as long as it takes.

Eli (23:06):

John, yesterday when the Danish Prime Minister was here, you reiterated that the president is not yet settled on a candidate to be the next Secretary General of NATO, but you also went out of your way to praise Secretary General Stoltenberg in the job that he’s done. Does the president by chance, want the Secretary General to extend his term another year? Given everything that’s going on in Europe?

Admiral John Kirby (23:27):

Secretary General has done a superb job, and particularly at a unbelievably critical time in history, particularly on the European continent. But the President has not settled on a candidate as the next Secretary General, and I just won’t get ahead of his decision making-

Eli (23:47):

Has he made any-

Admiral John Kirby (23:48):

The president has made no decisions with respect to the position of the NATO Secretary General.

Eli (23:54):

But he’s not pressuring Secretary General Stoltenberg-

Admiral John Kirby (23:57):

He’s made no decisions one way whatsoever.

Eli (23:59):

Is there a timeline for figuring that out? The NATO summit is in July. Is it important for when all the leaders come together for there to be some clarity on,

Admiral John Kirby (24:07):

I think we all know, we mean the timeline’s really driven more by the Secretary General’s tenure, which obviously this latest extension is coming to a close, and so that’s going to be driving the discussions inside the alliance. But President hasn’t made a decision one way or the other.

Speaker 15 (24:23):

Last question.

Speaker 10 (24:25):

In regards to Chinese [inaudible 00:24:27] in the Indo-Pacific, what should you say to those who are criticizing the both parties, the United States and China that are acting poorly on instigating, actually escalation? What will these administration do to lower those tensions in the Indo-Pacific?

Admiral John Kirby (24:44):

Well, we’ve been talking about it now for two days, trying to keep the lines of communication open. Having a visit to Beijing just this week to see if we can’t get more transparency and get more communication open, including through the military, to military lanes. What are we doing? I mean, Secretary Austin, again attempted to have a discussion with his counterpart in the PLA and they rebuffed that. So to those saying, we’re not doing it enough, it’s interesting you, you’re criticizing, or not you, but people are criticizing us for not doing enough, and then I hear from others, we’re doing too much, or we’re bowing down to China that we’re trying too hard. I mean, I think anybody that’s taken a look at this bilateral relationship, the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world right now can see that the tensions are high and we all want to see the tensions come down, and the president believes that the best way to do that is through diplomacy. And it boggles my mind that anybody anywhere would think, A, that we’re not engaging in diplomacy, and B, that diplomacy and the use of it and the attempt at dialogue and diplomacy is somehow weakness. It just absolutely boggles my mind. We’re working on this very, very hard and the president’s confident that we’ll be able to get back to the spirit of volley between the PRC and the United States. Thanks everybody.

Speaker 11 (25:59):


Karine Jean-Pierre (25:59):

All right.

Speaker 11 (25:59):

Got away with it today.

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:05):

Mauritius. Okay, go ahead, Chris.

Journalist 1 (26:07):

I obviously know that John didn’t have any comments on the golf merger, but I want to see, do you have any comments to that? What I concerns about the Saudi’s human rights record, now you have a merger between an American PGA and the Saudi backed [inaudible 00:26:21], what are the feelings on that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:23):

Look, certainly, I’m going to be in line with my NSC colleague and say the same. I’m not going to be commenting on that particular merger, so we don’t have anything to share at this time. But when it comes to human rights, as we have said over and over again, this is something that the president has been very clear about and has brought that up with leaders that he’s met with. And so, that is never anything that we shy away from. But on this particular merger, we’re just not going to comment from here.

Speaker 12 (26:52):

Can you just one small thing, because I don’t think Kirby mentioned this specifically; has the president spoken to President Zelensky about the explosion at the dam or do they have a plan to talk today? I mean, I know they talk frequently.

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:03):

Yeah, I was going to say, as they talk frequently, we talk to their team pretty frequently, especially over the last 15 months. Don’t have a call to read out with President Zelensky that the president would’ve had. Just don’t have anything at this time to share.

Speaker 12 (27:19):

Just on the work lawsuit, Karine, I know you said that the administration is confident that it’ll succeed in the courts, but as it plays out in the courts, how concerned are you about the impact that this will have on President Biden’s efforts to lower drug prices?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:36):

Look, we’re going to continue, I laid out kind of our position on Merck, and the lawsuit, we’re always going to be very careful on commenting on an ongoing lawsuit, but I will say that it’s not going to stop the president from continuing to lower prices for Americans, especially healthcare costs, as we’ve seen him do with the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a historic piece of legislation, as we talk about making sure that we are lowering costs for Americans, making sure that insulin’s at $35, that’s something that came out for seniors, that’s something that came out of that piece of legislation. So we are just going to continue to do the work. That’s something that the president has made when it comes to lowering costs. His number one priority, as in economic policy, is to do just that. So we’re going to let the lawsuit, and that process go and continue, but we feel very confident and we’re going to continue doing our work here. Are you

Speaker 12 (28:34):

Are you preparing for more litigation filings by the end of this year?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:35):

Well, I’m certainly not going to get ahead of what DOJ might be doing. Not going to get into hypotheticals from here, but what we can say is that we are confident and we’re certainly going to continue to do the work that we have been doing the last two years, that the president has been doing the last two years to lower cost for Americans and American families. And you’ve seen that; we have actually executed on doing that, the president has with the historic pieces of legislation that we’ve gotten done. Okay.

Speaker 13 (29:02):

Thanks, Karine. Merck says that the Medicare drug price negotiation provision is going to hurt their ability to invest in developing new drugs. Are you guys confident that this will not have that impact? And if not, why not?

Karine Jean-Pierre (29:16):

So look, I mean for a long time, pharma lobbyists has blocked efforts to let Medicare negotiate lower drug costs. And why is that, right? That is a question for them. Why would they block something that is actually going to help Americans? That is actually going to… And I had mentioned at the top, some of these drugs are decades old. And so look, we’re going to do our job. We’re going to let the DOJ do their job. The president’s going to continue. He’s never going to stop and putting forward legislation or policies that’s actually going to make sense for American families, make sense for our seniors, make sense for Americans who truly need a healthcare. So that’s just not going to stop.

And we’ve talked about big pharma, we’ve talked about pharmaceutical gains, we’ve talked about the record profits that they’re able to get, and they’re doing it, many of them on the backs of middle class families. And the president is saying, “No, we need an economy that works for all, that leaves no one behind, that has equity at the center of it,” but this is part of his plan.

Speaker 13 (30:21):

Is there any risk though to their ability to innovate and to create these lifesaving drugs?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:26):

Look, I can’t speak for them. I know that’s what they’re laying out. When it comes to drug prices, we believe that families and Americans should be able to not have to struggle, not have to go bankrupt to pay for a drug that they need, that’s going to save their lives or save someone that they love. So that’s the focus that this president’s going to have. What can we do to make you talk… We talk about giving families a little bit of breathing room and that’s what the president’s going to focus on. All right, good.

Speaker 14 (30:59):

Are you concerned that other drug companies might now follow Merck’s lead and file suit?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:03):

So look, I can’t speak for other drug companies. Not going to speak for them here. What I can speak to is what the president’s going to continue to do, and that is, make sure that we deliver for American families, make sure that we lower cost. That has been something that we have said the president have said for some time when it comes to his economic policy. The number one component of that is, how do we continue to lower costs for Americans?

Speaker 14 (31:27):

Thanks, Karine. I want to ask about UFOs, but I should ask border first. On the 11th Circuit ruling yesterday, blocking quick releases of migrants, does the administration plan to appeal to the Supreme Court?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:38):

It’s ongoing litigation, so certainly I’m not going to comment on that at this time.

Speaker 14 (31:42):

The New York City mayor floated plans to have migrants be housed with residents. Is that something the administration would support? And if that ends up becoming necessary, would that be a poor reflection on the administration’s ability to manage the-

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:56):

So I haven’t seen those reports. I kind of saw some chirons on the Cable News network, I think yours, coming out to the podium. What I can say is that we have been in touch with the interior cities, the cities like New York City, like Chicago and others who are dealing with this issue. And we’ve had conversations with them, we are in touch with them. As there is more than 200 million in funding that has gone to these interior cities. A majority of that has gone to New York City. But just not going to speak to the mayor’s policies. I just don’t know enough about it to speak to it at this time.

Speaker 14 (32:36):

And the retirements upcoming, the Border Chief and the ICE Chief, is that going to impact the administration’s ability to manage the border and the near term?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:45):

So, look, from what I understand, their retirements has been planned for some time now, and so, I’m just going to leave that piece to them and certainly they can speak to their retirement. What I can speak to is what we

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:00):

We have seen these past couple of weeks since Title 42 has been lifted, we’ve seen legal migration go down, go down significantly, and that’s because of the plan that this president has put forward. You think about diplomacy, you think about deterrence, you think about making sure that we’re expanding legal pathways, that’s what the president and his administration has been able to do and that’s why we have seen such a decline at the border. And I think that speaks to the president’s leadership and what he’s been able to do with his team, and I think that’s incredibly important. Go ahead, Steve.

Speaker 16 (33:30):

On UFOs real quick though, this whistleblower report alleging that the US military has been retrieving craft of non-human origin for at least several decades, are we alone, and if we were not, would you even tell us?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:44):

I would refer that question to the Department of Defense and let them answer that question for you. Go ahead.

Steve (33:50):

Back on the Merck lawsuit, just to go down just a little bit, you said at the top that there’s nothing in the Constitution that prevents Medicare from negotiating. The lawyers for Merck are arguing that it violates the Fifth Amendment, The Takings Clause, the First Amendment’s too coercive. Do you have a specific response to those lawyers?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:04):

I don’t have a response to that. I can just say clearly there’s going to… There’s a lawsuit, clearly it’s being litigated. I will leave it the Department of Justice to deal with. I’ve been very clear that it is in the Constitution to do what it is that we’re moving forward with. This is a piece of legislation clearly that was passed, the president signed it to law and it’s going to help American families. It’s going to help Americans that really, truly need it. We should not be in a situation in 2023 where you have American families who are sitting around the kitchen table every month trying to figure out how are they’re going to pay for these bills and what is it that they’re going to cut so that they can get a drug that is lifesaving?

And that is something that the president is aware of, you hear him talk about. He’s talked about how he grew up and how those conversations are incredibly difficult, and so this is what the president’s been talking about, making sure, again, we don’t leave anybody behind. We have equity at everything that we do and that we have an economy that grows from the middle up and the bottom up, middle out, and that’s the president’s plan. He’s going to stick to it. Go ahead, April.

April (35:15):

On Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, and this $115 million towards repairing their water infrastructure, Mississippi isn’t alone. Flint, Michigan still has infrastructure problems. What’s happening not just with Mississippi but also with Flint as you’re in these efforts to repair?

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:33):

No, it’s a good question, and certainly EPA is going to be running this process so I would refer you to specific programs on this particular $115 million that we announced today. This is an initial investment, let me just say that first, that the president fought for and that was secured and that’s over $600 million from Congress for the city’s water system as we talk about specifically on Jackson. And in the fiscal year 2023 government funding bill, that’s where that’s coming from. And so it is on top of 10s of millions of dollars we’ve already deployed as it relates to the city, and let’s not forget this is through the president’s bipartisan infrastructure law and also the American Rescue Plan. Because of these two pieces of historic legislation, one was bipartisan, one was the American Rescue Plan was just by Democrats who pushed that along and the president’s first major piece of legislation, they’re going to help cities like Flint. It’s going to help, as I just mentioned, Jackson.

And so this is really important as we talk about how we’re moving forward as a country, our economic system, how we’re going to make sure that we take care of areas like this that have been left behind, that has not had any really much investment to deal with the water situation that they’re having to deal with. This is why it’s so important that we have the infrastructure, it’s why we’re so important that we’re able to get the American Rescue Plan. As it relates to Flint, I would refer you to the EPA. Well, they have more information in how these two pieces of historic legislation are going to be deployed and helped in Flint.

April (37:13):

On the broader piece though, beyond Flint, beyond Mississippi, this is a nation that has a lot of antiquated systems underneath.,So you’re saying that this will be more broad-based [inaudible 00:37:23]?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:23):

Oh, absolutely. I think that’s why… Again, that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure law is so critical because it is meant to more broadly deal with communities just like this, and other communities as well as they deal with the water system, as they deal with broken roads, as they deal with trying to fix their bridges, all of the things that is so important. Let’s not forget this is a president who has said when it comes to his infrastructure bill that is now law, clearly it’s about the decade, infrastructure for a decade. It is incredibly important and it’s going to change lives for Americans across the country. Go ahead.

Speaker 17 (38:05):

Understanding that you’re not going to get into the position on this Gulf merger, do you know if this merger would be subject to federal regulatory oversight from the FTC or DOJ?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:15):

I’m just not going to get into it from here. I’m just not.

James (38:20):


Karine Jean-Pierre (38:20):

Go ahead James.

James (38:20):

[inaudible 00:38:22].

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:22):

Go ahead.

James (38:24):

Thank you Karine. I want to ask about the president’s tumble that he took on the stage in Colorado the other day. It’s absolutely true that any one of us could trip over an object just happens to be in our path. Nonetheless, we’ve all observed the difficulty this president has in certain settings, steps are one of them, and of course there was no sandbag in his path on the steps up Air Force One on any of those occasions. And I was struck particularly by the incident on May 19 in Hiroshima where the president descended down a set of stone steps toward a shrine at the bottom of which steps he was greeted by the Japanese prime minister. And if you look at that footage, the president slipped and caught himself on those steps, and as he greeted the prime minister, you could even see on the president’s face pursed lips as if to say this was a close one.

And I know I watched that scene with my heart in my hands because this was a set of stone steps, and even though there were handrails on either side, he was directed by his advance team presumably to descend at the middle of those steps unaided by the handrails, the Japanese Prime Minister, an aide or anything else. And that could have been really catastrophic, and so my question to you is whether this whole series of incidents has led the White House chief of staff to direct some kind of review of the advance procedures that are employed on behalf of this, the nation’s oldest president.

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:59):

Let me say, you’ve paid a lot of attention to that particular situation. I actually did not see that. I was with him in Hiroshima, so this is something that I was not aware of so I can’t speak to that particular moment. Here’s what I will say. This is a president that has had an incredibly impressive first two years. When you think about what he’s been able to get done, when you think about the record historic pieces of legislation that are now into law, I just went into it with the different pieces of legislation that’s actually going to make a difference and change Americans lives, Americans who truly need it, and that I think is what the American people are looking for. They’re looking for someone that can actually deliver like the president has done.

And even last week, when you think about the budget negotiations, you heard, you heard from Republicans, Congressional Republicans ranging from the right MAGA and members to Speaker McCarthy emphasize the president’s smarts and capabilities in making sure that there was a bipartisan, reasonable, common sense piece of legislation, a fiscally responsible piece of legislation that is going to help American families. And so you see him again and again and again over the past few years deliver, whether it’s 2020 where people underestimated him and he got that done, whether it’s 2022, again where people underestimated, got that done, whether it’s this budget agreement, he got that done. And I think that is the most important thing that the Americans are going to care about and that Americans are going to look to, and so I will leave that there.

James (41:54):

[inaudible 00:41:55] what Americans are looking at, I’m asking a specific question-

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:56):

Well, isn’t what it’s important as a reporter? Don’t you think it’s important what Americans care about?

James (42:02):

I appreciate [inaudible 00:42:03] answer my questions, but my question was-

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:04):

I’m just saying. I’m just saying that is something that Americans want. Isn’t that not true, that they have a leader that’s going to deliver for them?

James (42:10):

Your proposition may or may not be true, but it’s not responsive to my question. My question is-

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:13):

Oh, I think it’s very true. You’re… No, I know what your question is. You’re asking me if we’re going to change anything from here, if the chief of staff has asked for it to change anything from here.

James (42:21):

[inaudible 00:42:22].

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:22):

And here’s the thing, here’s the thing, we are not. Things happen. Other presidents have had similar situations, as you know, and I’m sure you’ve reported on the last president who’s had a similar situation. And so look, things happen. This is a president that delivers and will continue to deliver for the American people, and that’s what he cares about. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Thank you.

Speaker 18 (42:45):

You have to stop the discrimination against me. You have to stop the discrimination.

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