Jun 19, 2022
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/16/22 Transcript
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on 6/16/22. Read the transcript here.
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Hello, hello. Good afternoon everybody. Oh, good afternoon, everyone. All right. Woo hoo. It’s Thursday.
[inaudible 00:00:11] on time.
Oh, what are you trying to say? What are you trying to say, Steve? I hear you. Okay. All right. As the President has made clear, lowering prices for Americans is the President’s top economic priority. And today he will sign the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, passed on a bipartisan basis, which will help lower costs for American retailers, farmers, and consumers. He will be joined by bipartisan members of Congress and key stakeholders at the signing. In the President’s State of the Union address, he called on Congress to address ocean carriers, high prices, and unfair practices because rising ocean shipping costs, which are a major contributing factor to increased costs for American families. During the pandemic, ocean carriers increased their prices by as much as 1000%, and too often these ocean carriers are refusing to take American exports back to Asia, leaving with empty containers instead. That’s costing farmers and ranchers and our economy a lot of money. This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses, including farmers and ranchers. The President looks forward to fulfilling this promise and signing this bill into law.
Next, as a former chair of the Senate judiciary committee, the President is proud to announce… Proud of the federal judges he has nominated and the unprecedented diversity that they represent. Yesterday we continued that trend by putting forward Bradley Garcia who would be, if confirmed, the first Latino to ever serve on the DC circuit. The grandson of immigrants from Cuba, Mr. Garcia’s credential are already being praised out of the gate by legal experts across the political spectrum. He has represented clients in over 50 cases before Federal and state appellate courts, and argued 13 cases before Federal and state appellate courts. And with that, Will you want to kick us off?
Yeah. Thank you. When was the last time the President was tested for COVID, and can you please give us more guidance on why the White House isn’t announcing these tests unless we asked about them?
Well, the President has a regular testing cadence determined by his doctor. As we have said many times, if he were to be a close contact as defined by the CDC, because that’s what we follow, we would update his testing cadence accordingly and share that with all of you with transparency. Clearly. He has not had a close contact that would change that cadence so it stays as a regular cadence that is in close coordination with his doctor.
Wouldn’t we not know about the close contact until the test?
If there were close contact, we would share that. We would have the transparency and share that. He just has not been a close contact. Okay.
On another topic, is the White House concerned that European leaders might be pressuring Zelensky to make concessions? I’m interested that the visit by European leaders today, was that a show of support or is that an intervention by people that are looking for the war to stop?
So I would let the European leaders speak for themselves on their country’s travel, and their goals and agenda for that travel. Nothing has changed about what the President’s view here is. He stated it very clearly in his New York Times op-ed not too long ago, and it is basically nothing. And he said this before even before the op-ed, which is nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. And that Ukraine is a sovereign country. President Zelensky is the democratically elected leader of that country, and only he gets to determine how this war ends. He gets to determine how he defines victory, and he gets to determine how the outcome will be. Go ahead.
Speaker 1: (04:09)
Thank you. I wanted to follow up on the military mission that captured this senior ISIS leader. Can you just sort of take us behind the scenes here a little bit? When was the President briefed? How long has this mission been under consideration? What more can you tell us about?
So I can say the operation was successful. No civilians were harmed, nor were there injuries to coalition forces or damage to coalition aircraft or assets. I would have to refer you to the Operation Inherent Resolve. They’re the ones who ran this process and they put out a statement and I’ll let them speak to that.
Speaker 1: (04:42)
Can you tell us though any more about this individual and just speak to the continuing threat from ISIS both abroad and here at home?
Here’s what I can say and I, again, I’m going to let the Operation Inherent Resolve speak to this. It was a senior ISIS leader, I can confirm that. I just don’t have more to share from here. I’ll let them speak to it more broadly.
Speaker 1: (05:01)
And the ISIS threat?
I’ll let them speak more broadly since this just happened, but we’ll go.
Speaker 2: (05:05)
Karine, the stock market dropping again today. How confident are you that the big rate hike yesterday will tap down on inflation?
So here’s what I will say is that we understand what American families are going through. As you know, this has been a priority, bringing down in inflation and doing everything that we can from our perch to make that happen. We, as the President has said and he’s written about, we are going to give the Federal Reserve their space to… Their independence to deal with the monetary policies as they have the ability to do, and it’s important to do that. Many presidents before had not allowed that to be moved forward and that to happen. But because it is well established that countries with independent central banks have better economic outcomes over time, this part of our transition to stable and steady growth with lower inflation, that is the kind of economy that delivers for working families. And so we’re just going to give the Federal Reserve the space to do what they need to do.
Speaker 2: (06:14)
And then secondly, there are reports that the U.S Innovation and Competition Act to expand production of semiconductors could be slimmed down. What do you think about this? Would you still support a slimmed down version?
Well, we appreciate, we know the House and the Senate have been working very hard to get a bipartisan base, on a bipartisan basis through the conference process. So we’re encouraged by the process in that, by the progress in that. And we support an effort to find common ground to reach a final agreement. And so the President and Congress share the same goal, which is to have something done by this summer. And so we know that companies are making decision this summer on where to invest next year, but we know that they’re currently working really hard to make sure that this is a bipartisan process. Okay.
Speaker 3: (06:59)
Two quick ones for you, or two subjects for you, Karine. Thank you. Is there any change in the White House’s involvement in this ongoing attempt to get back two missing Americans in Ukraine, or any coordination with the Ukrainian government in trying to do so? And has the President either been in touch with or sought to speak with their families?
So we can’t confirm these reports. We don’t know where their whereabouts are. We are working very hard to learn more about this, about these Americans who are now missing. Our hearts go out to their families during this difficult time that they’re going through. It’s worth repeating, and we have said this many times, that it is not the time to go to America to… Sorry, not the time for Americans to go to Ukraine during this time of war. The state department has put out numerous travel advisories warning Americans not to travel there and use, and urging Americans to leave immediately if you are.
Speaker 3: (07:59)
You mentioned the President’s, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was involved in the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. There are reports this morning about his wife and her interactions with John Eastman, the attorney who was pushing the idea that vice President Pence could do something to block the certification. And now the January 6th committee says they are planning to talk to her.
Speaker 3: (08:19)
Does the President have any concern about Justice Thomas continuing to serve on the court, or would he perhaps suggest that he should recuse himself from any cases that come before it regarding January 6th?
So, that is something that the court has to decide. That is not for us to comment on. I can say this, we have full confidence in the Select Committee, January 6th Select Committee.,And it is for them to decide how they’re going to move forward on their particular process that they’re going through.
Speaker 3: (08:49)
Does he plan to watch the hearings today or in the coming weeks?
Well, I think he had said this before and I’ve said this a couple of days ago. He’s probably going to catch it here and there. He has a busy schedule. I’m sure folks around him and senior staff will update him as needed. Okay. Go ahead, Peter.
Thanks, Karine. Why is the President saying that in… Pardon. Why is the President saying that inflation is worse everywhere but here?
Because what we have seen across the globe, first of all, inflation is a global challenge as we have said. It is caused by clearly the pandemic, this once in a generation pandemic that we are coming out of. And also, most recently, the war that Putin started in Ukraine that has caused inflation as we look at food and as we look at gas prices. So if you look at globally, other countries, and if you look at where we are economically, when you think about the group seven, the G7, we are in a much stronger place than we are economically than the rest. And also… yep.
Speaker 3: (09:55)
I did look globally though. He says that inflation is worse everywhere but here. That’s not true. U. S has worse inflation than Germany, France, Japan, Canada, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia. So why is he saying that?
I think what we are saying is that when you talk about inflation, it is a global thing, and it is not just about the United States. This is something that everyone is feeling because of coming out of once in a lifetime pandemic, because of the war that Russia has started in Ukraine.
Speaker 3: (10:25)
Okay. Why isn’t the President asking oil companies to drill more here in the U.S?
Let me just give you a little bit of a rundown of why we are here.
Speaker 3: (10:35)
And just, I know his letter was a lot about refining and increasing refining, but that’s a lot of oil that comes in from overseas. So why isn’t he asking companies to drill more here in the U.S?
Well, hold on. So here we go. So this is where we are, I’m going to give you a little bit of a rundown of why we are here and what’s going on and why we wrote the letter. So due to decreased demand at the start of the pandemic, U.S oil refineries reduced their capacity by more than 800,000 barrels per day. Now that consumers demand has returned thanks to the President’s recovery plan, oil refineries have still not bought refinery capacity back to the pre pandemic level. So that is the problem and that is what we’re trying to address.
At the same time, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine put pressure on global supply and gas prices have gone up by nearly $2 since before the invasion. So President Biden has taken historic actions to elevate this pressure, releasing record amounts of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and relaying the world to release oil too, that’s at 240 million barrels of oil that he was able to do with his partnership. And so we are now at the highest levels of domestic production. So we actually have, of crude oil since April 2020, with an additional 9000 approved drilling permits that remain unused. But refinery capacity needs to come back too so that is what the problem is. We need them to actually refine the crude oil, which is…
… what the problem is. We need them to actually refine the crude oil, which is not happening. And that’s what we’re calling on oil companies to do.
Speaker 4: (12:07)
Why not drill more here in the U.S. though?
We, because we don’t need to do that. What we need them to do is, with the oil that’s out there, we need them to refine that oil, so that the capacity could go up and then prices would go down, inherently go down.
Speaker 4: (12:22)
And so, I know the President once said that he was going to end fossil fuel. Is that now off the table?
No, we are going to continue to move forward with our clean energy proposal, our climate change proposal.
Speaker 4: (12:36)
And so is that the priority, climate change, over gas price?
No, that’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying-
Speaker 4: (12:40)
What is the priority? [inaudible 00:12:43] President for two and a half more years guaranteed.
I’m answering the question.
Speaker 4: (12:44)
Is his priority lowering gas prices, or is it addressing climate change?
First of all, you can do both at the same time. What we’re trying to deal with right now is, how do we lower cost for American families? And one of the things that we are seeing currently right now with oil refineries is they are using this moment, that there is a war in Ukraine, to actually make a profit, when there are steps that they can take so that we can actually lower gas prices for families. And so the President has taken action. We’ve talked about the strategic petroleum that he’s done tapping into-
200 million barrels, how much has that lowered prices?
Here’s the thing, Peter, if the President had not taken the actions that he’s taken in the past several months, the prices that we see now would be a lot worse. It’s actually blunted some of the increase that could have been. And so the President has taken action, he has been a leader. Now he’s asking Congress clearly to act in certain ways and also asking for the oil refineries to do their part, and not make money off of a time of war. That’s what we’re talking about here. Go ahead Peter.
I’ll follow up on a couple questions first. The AP asked you the first question out of the gates, was when the President was last tested. We just didn’t get an answer to that. You said it was a regular cadence.
It’s a regular cadence. That’s what we do. We will share per CDC when he is a close contact, and he has not been a close contact. If he were a close contact, we will let you know.
Again, I’m just confused, because in the past you guys have always told us the date of the most recent test. So why can’t you tell us the date of the most recent test.
Well right now I’m telling you he has a regular cadence. I just don’t have a date to share with you, but he does have a regular weekly cadence.
We trust that as soon as you find out today, your staff will share with us [inaudible 00:14:29].
We will be transparent about that, but he does have a weekly cadence. I just don’t have a day in front of you, of when he was last tested.
As soon as you go back there and find out the day, you’ll share with us, you’re saying?
I’m not saying that. I’m telling you that he has a weekly cadence.
I guess that’s my question. Why has that changed, because in the past they always told us?
Well, we have always said, it’s a weekly cadence. We’ve always said that.
But Jen would say it happened on Tuesday, just yesterday he had a test, or on Sunday he was tested. It was negative.
But he hasn’t been a close contact. What we have said now is that if he is a close contact, according to the CDC, the definition of a close contact, we will share that with you. And then that’s when his testing cadence would change. His testing cadence have not changed. He gets tested once a week. I don’t have the date in front of me at this time.
So he gets tested once a week, because in the past it had been more regular than that?
It’s a weekly … No, it actually has never. It’s always been a weekly cadence of getting tested.
So he’s only been tested once a week for the entirety of the time the President-
That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is what we normally do is, he gets tested weekly and that’s been his cadence, as when he’s talking to … as in coordination with his doctor. There has been times where he’s tested more than that because we’ve traveled. When we traveled, we’ve all had to take tests as we’re traveling or other things, or when he went to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, we had to test as well. So sometimes it’s not once a week. But I’m saying to you right now, it’s a weekly testing cadence. That’s what we do, as it’s coordinated with his doctor.
Okay. Please understand that we’re requesting to know if soon as you can tell us when the most recent test was, acknowledging it’s a recent test. Let me ask you, we saw the letter he wrote-
Well, I’m already tell you, he’s get tested weekly, regularly, in a weekly test.
But I’m saying, our request continues. So the gist is-
And I’m telling you that he gets tested weekly. Okay. Go ahead.
Let me ask you about the oil companies if I can really quickly.
Yeah, for sure.
We saw the letter that he wrote to them. They called for them to be in touch with Energy Secretary to convene an emergency meeting on that topic. Can you have any update on when that meeting will take place?
So we’re finalizing details. And we’ll be sure to pass that along as soon as we can, the President noted in his letter, what he wants to do. And what he wants to make sure, is that we create a forum so that the oil companies are able to put forth ideas. But he’s willing to do everything he can, using reasonable tools to get things done.
And he wants him to put forward ideas. But beyond that, I think, he wrote a letter and he said, “Hey, I’m calling on you to do this.” You said, “They need to be patriotic.” In real terms, what power does the President have here? How can he compel these companies beyond, in effect, begging them, asking them to do anything?
Well, that’s one of the things that we want to do is have this meeting and hear from them and hear what the ideas that they come forth with. And maybe there’s a way that we can help them meet that capacity. So he does want to create an environment, which is what the energy department is going to do, hopefully in the next couple of days, to sit down with the oil companies and try to figure out, how do we do this in a way that both sides can agree on.
Thank you for that.
Okay. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (17:33)
I have two topics, but really quickly just following on Peter, has the White House changed its policy and how much he will disclose to us about COVID testing?
It’s not. I was asked, has he been tested? I’m saying that he gets tested weekly, and that’s what we actually have said. I do not have a date when he was tested this week, but he is tested weekly, as it is in coordination with his doctor. We’ve always said that. We have always said that he tests weekly.
Speaker 5: (18:00)
Just seems different than the past.
Well, you’re asking me when he was tested. I’m saying that I don’t have a date for you at this time.
But you’re also saying you’re not going to share with us today.
Well, because he gets tested weekly and we have said, if he becomes a close contact, we will share that with you. But if he’s not a close contact, then you just know that he gets tested weekly.
Speaker 5: (18:21)
So if he has not had a close contact you’re not going to tell us the date of his most recent test?
I’m telling you, he gets tested weekly.
Speaker 5: (18:27)
Speaker 6: (18:27)
Why is there no [inaudible 00:18:31] for that?
This is definitely different.
Speaker 5: (18:33)
This is different than in the past.
Speaker 6: (18:33)
Yeah. I don’t get that.
Speaker 5: (18:35)
We have previously been told when he got his most recent test.
I am saying to you, I don’t have a date for you right now. But he gets tested weekly. As we’ve said, many times, if he were a close contact, as defined by the CDC, we would update his testing cadence accordingly and share that with you transparently. That’s what, if he’s a close contact, we will share the date with you. He has not had a close contact that would change that cadence.
Speaker 5: (18:59)
Okay. I want to move on. The second thing we would like to know [inaudible 00:19:02]-
I mean, that’s what we’ve been saying for some time now.
Speaker 5: (19:06)
There are reports the White House is weighing a series of executive actions, if Roe is overturned, things like a national health emergency or fighting state efforts to criminalize travel for abortion. Can you confirm these things are under consideration? Are there other actions you’re looking at?
So the administration continues to explore every possible option in response to the anticipated Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, which would take away women’s rights guaranteed for nearly 50 years under Roe V. Wade. To make their own choices about their reproductive health, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, we will need Congress to take action to restore Roe. I don’t have anything else to share on that.
Speaker 5: (19:43)
And the President’s meeting yesterday with Schumer and Pelosi, did that yield any new plans on how to fight inflation, and why wasn’t this meeting on the President’s public schedule ahead of time?
It was a private meeting that the President had. We don’t advise all the meetings, just like his conversations that he has with members of Congress. I’m not going to go into detail what was discussed, but he has regular conversations with members of Congress. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (20:11)
On housing, Karine, given the rising interest rates for mortgages, can you say if the White House is concerned about housing affordability or a slowdown in the housing market? As you know, rates for the 30 year mortgage average nearly 6% this week, and that jumped by more than half a percentage point, was the largest one week increase since 1987.
So we know that housing affordability is a central challenge for families. The President understands that, and this is why he’s put forward the Housing Supply Action Plan, which includes steps to help boost housing supply and ease the burden of housing costs on families over time. So now with the federal actions, constitute monetary policy, as we know, which is different, monetary policy actions help bring inflation down. As mortgages rates increase, demand in the housing market should cool. This is part of our transition to stable and steady growth with lower inflation. That is the kind of economy that delivers for working families. But again, that’s why the President put forth the Housing Action Plan as well, to help families as best that he could.
Speaker 8: (21:22)
Karine, I know this has come up a number of times in recent weeks, the question about tariffs and when a decision, specifically regarding China, and exclusions might be made. And I guess I’m wondering, can you give us any sense of sort of, what is under consideration and what possible timeline we might be looking at?
So we don’t have anything to share or preview at this time. It is under consideration. We are discussing this. We just don’t have anything for you … to share at this time.
Speaker 7: (21:47)
Nothing about what is being considered?
No. Not at this time. Okay. Go ahead.
Speaker 9: (21:52)
Hey Karine. Not to bully over this too much longer, but can you articulate a little bit when the White House is committing to releasing results of the President’s testing, because it’s not only the cadence that we’re asking about. It’s when the last time you tested negative for …
No, I understand. And so what I’m trying to say, and this is in consultation with his doctor, the President has a regular testing cadence. We have said before that he tests weekly. And again, as we’ve said many times, if it were to be a close contact, as defined by the CDC, we would update his testing cadence accordingly and share that. We would share what that would look like and be transparent about that. He has not had a close contact. Because he has not had a close contact, we have not changed that cadence. And it’s something that happens with his doctor. I do not have a date for you as to when he was last tested.
Speaker 9: (22:48)
Has he ever tested positive?
No. He has not. Not that I know of. We would share that. I think that is something we would share because then that would change his testing cadence clearly … well, if he had a close contact. And so we would share that with you and be transparent about that. We would be transparent about that.
Speaker 9: (23:06)
Okay. Quickly. I wanted to return to something earlier in the week, you were asked whether the President believed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death, and you didn’t fully answer that. And I wanted to sort of give you another opportunity on that, but also ask, if he disagrees with the U.S. Intelligence assessment, which has reached that conclusion?
So let me just say this, as we’ve said, many times here. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was something that many of us around the world took very, very seriously. But I can say that, when the President walked into this administration, this his first year, he made sure that there was a report, the report was released. And in that report, it had the Khashoggi ban, which is a Visa restriction policy. He wanted to make sure-
… And which is a Visa Restriction Policy. He wanted to make sure that was out there. And let me tell you a little bit about that. It allows the State Department to restrict visas for individuals who are acting on behalf of a foreign government, use tools of oppression against people abroad who criticize their government. This includes those who suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work. And we can tell you, we’ve used that ban 70 times. The Visa Restrictions applies to countries worldwide. And so, that was something that was incredibly important for the president to do. And look, when it comes to human rights, when it comes to that type of leader to leader conversation, this is a president, who’s a straight shooter and who will not shy away from having that conversation. So again, we issued an extensive report in Khashoggi’s murder, and we instituted that ban as I just laid out. And so, that was something that was important for the president to do. And you’ve heard from him, and he’s talked about that.
Speaker 9: (25:07)
But, I’m still not hearing you say, “Yes. He agrees with that assessment, that MBS authorized the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”
What I can say to you is that again, we issued this extensive report and we imposed sanctions, or visas restrictions on over 70 Saudi individuals and entities, including the Saudi Royal Guards Rapid Intervention Force. And as we have emphasized then, it was important to reorient, but not rapture relations with Saudi Arabia. And so, that was something that was important to do, but we released the report, we’ve used the ban multiple times, and this is something that we take very, very seriously when it comes to human rights. The president, will not shy away from having those conversations, especially when he is on this trip.
Speaker 9: (25:56)
But, in the executive summary of this report says, “We assessed that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman approved-
And he released-
Speaker 9: (26:03)
An operation to capture and kill.
And he released the report, right? This is a report- [inaudible 00:26:07].
Speaker 9: (26:07)
I’m telling you, this is something that the president took very, very seriously. And he released that report. So, clearly, he would not release that report, if this is not something that he believed in, right? So…
Speaker 9: (26:20)
So, yes. So-
I mean, I’m trying to answer the question. All right.
Speaker 9: (26:24)
[Inaudible 00:26:24] Follow up.
Yup, go ahead, go ahead. [inaudible 00:26:27].
Speaker 10: (26:27)
On baby formula. Back on May 22nd, Secretary Vilsack said that an abatement of the shortage will be seen within the next 30 days. We’re coming up on that 30-day mark, you guys keep announcing regular announcements-
Speaker 10: (26:40)
Of these flights that are coming over, millions of bottles worth of formula. But, when are American families going to see this situation resolved? And actual progress, where the shelves are full once again, and this problem go away?
So, as you know, the president has made this a priority, right? He has used his authorities, to make sure that we can do everything we can, to help get baby formula on the shelves. And that’s what he’s done with the DPA, that he authorized, which has helped. And I can say that, we announced the seventh Operation Fly Formula mission, which will transport… This happened yesterday, which will transport the equivalent of close to 550,000 bottles of Nestle specialty formula from Switzerland to Louisville. Some of the most high- demand formula in the United States right now. In addition, when working with domestic manufacturers to ramp up production, including by invoking the domestic production, as I just mentioned. If you look at Abbott, their supplies plan increase production by 25%. Reckitt has said, it has been able to increase its amount, put to the market by 30%, Gerber has said it increased additional supply to the market place by 60%, since the recall.
So, we are doing everything that we can, entering into a consent decree agreement between the FDA. So, we’re going to continue to work, we’re going to continue to make sure that we deliver for the American families, get that. Make sure that we get healthy formula. We have to remember how this all started, right? This all started, because there was a safety concern at Abbott. FDA acknowledged, that called them out on that. And then, they had to shut down their facility in Michigan. And so, we have continued to work with them and the other manufacturers, to make sure that we get as much baby formula, as we can. And clearly, with the operations that we’re doing overseas.
Speaker 10: (28:41)
We’re coming up to the end of the 30-day assessment that he had said at the end of May. I mean, can you put a timeframe on this now?
Speaker 10: (28:46)
Are family’s going to be scrambling the entire Summer still?
Well, I don’t have a timeline for you on this. But, what I can say, is we’re doing everything that we can, from here, to make sure that we get healthy baby formula for American families. We know how hard this is at this time. We know how difficult it is, but we have up production, as I just laid out, working with these different manufacturers. We have brought baby formula overseas. We just had a seventh Operation Fly Formula mission just yesterday. So, this has been a priority for this president. Okay.
Hi there, thank you. I know you just said you don’t have your own confirmation about the reports to these two Americans in Ukraine. But, given that their families, I remember people saying this happened, it does seem like something has happened.
So, given the three other foreigners, who have been taken prisoner, have been sentenced to death, does the White House have a message to the Kremlin, on treatments of these two Americans? Should they have been captured? And specifically, on whether, you would like to send a message from and vis-à-vis death sentences?
So, when it comes to wrongfully detained and holding hostage Americans, as bargaining chips, represents a threat to the safety of everyone traveling and working and living abroad, the United States opposes practice everywhere. And we have been very clear about that. The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad, is among the highest priorities of the government. And so, we continue to work aggressively, in trying to get back some of the wrongfully detained Americans out there, abroad, who are being held hostage. I don’t have anything more to say on that. When it comes to the two who are reportedly missing, we just can’t confirm that, at this time. And again, our hearts go out to the family, but it’s not something that we can confirm from here.
Whether, they’ve been taken prisoner, or not, there are a bunch of Americans in Ukraine, in combat and so on. Would there be consequences for Russia, if they do to them, what apparently they’ve already decided to do to three other foreigners?
I can’t speak to that at this time, but I can say, it is something that we are watching, that we call out. I just don’t have anything to share on what our actions are going to be. Go ahead, Ed.
Yeah. Thank you Karine.
Go, ahead Ed.
Yeah. Thank you Karine. So, the federal service is predicting that GDP growth for the next two years will be 1.7%, under 2%. Under 2% for the next three years. So, is this what the president considers stable and steady growth?
What I can tell you, is that we believe that we are in a transition right now, coming out of a economic recovery, a historic economic recovery, because of the work that the president has done this past year and a half. And so, we believe that we’ll be in that transition, we’re going into that transition of stable and steady growth and we’re going to continue to do the work that the president has laid out to lower inflation. And so, part of that is letting the federal reserve do their part, they have the strongest monetary policies, to really deal with this. We’re not going to speak to that. We’re going to let them be independent. But, the way that we’re seeing this, is we are on a track to have that transition, to be in that stable growth.
But, are you just lowering expectations then? For the economy.
What do you mean by lowering expectation? [inaudible 00:32:17].
Economy going forward for Americans, to expect growth and see inflation come down?
Well, what we’re saying is that, we’ve had this economic growth, right? We’ve had this historic growth, because of what the actions the president took with the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well, and all of the other actions that he has taken, when it comes to the economy, which has been very important to meet the moment that we were in a year ago, which we can’t forget. There were 20 million people who were on insurance benefit. When we first walked in, 3000 people a day were dying from COVID. This was a very different time. And now, what we’re seeing, is that, that transition of that economic growth, is going to get more stable. We saw that with the jobs report that came out about two Fridays ago. And so, that’s what we’re looking at and that’s what we’re seeing. That’s what our experts here, are looking towards too. But, we’re also going to continue to try to do everything that we can, to lower prices and to lower cost, for American families as well. [inaudible 00:33:25]. Wait, let me come… I’m so sorry MJ, go ahead. Yeah, yeah. I’m so sorry.
I have a baby formula-
Follow up. The-
Abbott plant in Michigan has stopped production again, because of severe flooding. It sounds like it could be another additional few weeks of delay. Is that something that the White House is monitoring? Do you all have an assessment of how much longer this could delay things?
So, obviously, we know about the news from Abbott and it’s disappointing. It is a disappointing- [inaudible 00:33:55].
… You? Sorry.
Oh, okay. All right, well going to disregard. But, we can’t control their timeline. What we can do is continue to focus on what we’re going to do, which is ramping up production, increasing supply, and making sure that American families only have access to safe formula. That is the focus for us. That is what we control and what we’re making strong progress on, through actions like the DPA Operation Fly Formula. We just announced our seventh flight yesterday, and FDA’s use of enforcement discretion. FDA has said that it’s working closely with company to identify next steps, to get the plant open and providing only safe product to the American people. The work that we’re doing right now, is what we can control. And we’re going to continue to make that a priority. That’s what the president wants to do, and we’re going to continue to ramp up production. As far as a timeline for Abbott, that is for them to speak to.
And a different shortage question. There’s a shortage of tampons. And just wondering, if that is on the White House’s radar? I mean, is that something that the White House is concerned, could turn into a whole long crisis? And are there any other essential products that the administration is watching closely, that could come down the pipeline as another shortage crisis?
That’s a great question. I would have to check in with the team on what they’re tracking. I don’t have a list for you right now, but I would just have to track it with the team.
Can I just do one-
To follow up to Peter’s question about the letter to the oil companies? You were saying yesterday, that a part of the plea to these companies, is that it is their patriotic duty to act and do something. Especially, at a moment when so many Americans are having a hard time with the high gas prices. I mean, these are for profit oil companies we’re talking about, right? So, does the president have any reason to think that these companies, because of a letter from him, will behave differently? And barring that, I mean, are there any policies, regulations that he can resort to, to make sure that he is forcing their hand?
So, the way the president sees this, is he has to do everything that he can, to make sure that he, in this…
… that he can to make sure that he, in this particular scenario, try to make sure that we lower gas prices for the American public. He has taken actions, as we’ve listed out, when it comes to the Ethanol 15, the homegrown biofuels, which is going to lower prices in more than 1,000 gas stations around the country. That’s going to be really important. The strategic petroleum is going to be very important, and it has actually had an effect. But we’re still, because of Putin’s war, we’re still seeing, Putin’s tax hike, we’re still seeing $2 more of an increase per gallon since Putin started amassing his forces on the Ukraine’s border.
So what we are trying to do is, by sending out this letter, we want to try to start that conversation and get something done. They’re going to meet with the Energy Secretary, so we have to see. We shouldn’t say that it’s failed yet or it’s not going to happen, because a meeting is going to come forth in the next couple of days. They’re going to have the conversation, and we are willing to help the oil companies in any way, hear their ideas and see what we can do. So we should let this play out and see where we are in a couple of days.
Speaker 11: (37:12)
He will be in that meeting though?
The President? I don’t have anything to preview about his schedule about him being in a meeting. This is Granholm as far as I understand. This is Secretary Granholm’s meeting, and she will be moving forward with putting this meeting together. Great. Thanks.
Speaker 12: (37:30)
Human rights follow up? Human rights follow up?
Speaker 13: (37:34)
Does the White House have a comment about the decision of Florida officials not to request delivery of a pediatric vaccine?
Yes, we do. We heard about this, and we have a little bit for you here. So we have been talking to states for some time, well, in early June, so the process has been, HHS opened up pre-ordering for vaccines for the possibility of kids’ vaccination. That ensures that if authorized by the FDA, these vaccines can be shipped to places like pediatricians and children’s hospitals, places where parents would get healthcare for their youngest, or as quickly as possible. By being the only state, this is Florida, not pre-ordering, which means that pediatricians, for example, in Florida, will not have immediate ready access to vaccines. Some pharmacies and community health centers in the state get access through federal distribution channels, but those options are limited for parents. We encouraged Florida on several occasions to order vaccines, so we’ve been aware of this, and we will continue to do so.
Speaker 13: (38:44)
Bottom line, is this going to make it harder for parents in Florida to get vaccines for their kids?
If they’re not pre-ordering, it will. It will make it harder for them. That’s why we continue to, on several occasions, encourage Florida to do this.
Speaker 13: (38:59)
Thanks, Karine. Since it’s the first time I’m getting a question for you-
Oh no, I was, I was… Go ahead. This young lady.
Speaker 13: (39:07)
Maybe I can go after.
Speaker 14: (39:07)
I just had a question about the president’s trip to Israel. The administration has said that they’re calling for a thorough and independent investigation of the killing of the American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.
Speaker 14: (39:21)
What’s your assessment of where this investigation is, and is the president going to raise that issue during his trip?
So I can say we are in close touch with both Israel and Palestinian authorities and are working to bridge cooperation between the parties. We have made clear our view to both Israeli and Palestinian officials the administration’s call for thorough, transparent and impartial investigation of Abu Akleh’s killing. We expect full accountability for those responsible. We have also urged that both sides share their evidence with each other, and we continue to call on sides to maintain calm and avoid further escalation.
As far as what will be on the agenda, what will be spoken about, I don’t have an agenda to share with you. But, as I’ve said many times from here, as we have said many times, is that the president will not shy away to having a conversation about human rights. That is something that’s important to him. He said that most recently. So that’s what I can tell you, but I don’t have anything to read. I don’t want to get ahead of his trip.
Go ahead. Go ahead. I was trying to give her-
Speaker 14: (40:29)
Speaker 13: (40:30)
Well, thank you very much for coming back to me. Thanks for calling on me.
Speaker 13: (40:34)
So this is the first time I’ve been able to ask you a question, so I’d like to ask you two, if that’s all right. First is just a clarification on the new Online Policy Task Force that was set up that the vice president is leading. Then the second one, about a significant press access issue that’s impacting a lot of us in this room.
Speaker 13: (40:52)
The first one on the Online Policy Task Force that the vice president’s leading that’s getting kicked off today, on a background call last night, we were told that it’s going to be different from the Disinformation Governance Board in that it’s going to focus on illegal conduct online, but the memo creating it was a little bit broader and mentioned… and I’m quoting from the document, quote, online harassment abuse and disinformation campaigns targeting women and LGBTQI-plus individuals who are public and political figures. Could you clear up the disinformation charge of this?
So I would need to talk to her team. I was not on the background call, so that specific language that you’re providing to me, I would just have to check in with her. I would also encourage you to check as well with her team. I can’t say more because I wasn’t on the background call.
Speaker 13: (41:39)
The press access issue, for more than a year now, the White House Press Office has been having everyone in this room RSVP to presidential events in the East Room, State Dining Room, the Executive Office Building, and then there is a process where people are selected and able to go into these presidential events, where the president often takes questions. The Correspondents’ Association has tried in vain to figure out how this process works, and over time it has kind of morphed into a bit of a black list where certain large media outlets such as my own are almost-
A black list. That’s-
Speaker 13: (42:10)
I’m just saying I represent the fourth largest newspaper in the country, and I haven’t been selected since November. So could you-
That’s a jump for, to a blacklist, but I’m listening, I’m listening.
Speaker 13: (42:19)
I mean, it’s not just me, certain others are-
Oh, okay, I didn’t realize that.
Speaker 13: (42:23)
And the Correspondents’ Association actually wants this to be done away with, but I was hoping that you could… I know you’re new in the position, but perhaps explain how the process works.
Can I look into it? Can I look into this, because I actually don’t know what the process that you’re speaking of? I think blacklisting is a very strong word to use. We try to make sure, do our best, to make sure that press gets to hear from the president directly. It is important for us. It is important for you all. It’s important for the American people, and so that has been a priority. So let me look into this process that you’re speaking of. Without having all the-
Speaker 13: (43:02)
[inaudible 00:43:02] an answer to the Correspondents’ Association?
You’re talking about Steve Portnoy? I talk to Steve all the time. We’re talking, I believe, if not today, tomorrow we’re checking in, and we’ll have that conversation for sure. I’m sure he’ll bring it up, and so we’ll have that conversation.
Speaker 16: (43:16)
Why do you keep doing this, saying that you will call upon people you’ve never called on but you don’t really-
I just called on someone.
Go ahead. You have the last question.
Speaker 16: (43:24)
A really great job as press secretary, really great job-
Speaker 15: (43:27)
So you took a question earlier about Clarence Thomas, and you said it was up to the court to decide.
Speaker 15: (43:33)
My understanding, it’s not really up to the court to decide. It’s up to him to decide. So the question is can he-
Well, no, I think the question that I got was, do we think Clarence Thomas should recuse himself? Is that the question that you’re asking?
Speaker 15: (43:44)
Yeah. He’s in the position of deciding whether he ought to recuse himself.
Well, then it’s up to him. I’m just saying that I’m not going to comment from here really was what-
Speaker 15: (43:51)
[inaudible 00:43:51] impartially-
That’s not for me to decide.
Speaker 15: (43:54)
And just last one on MBS. Is it the White House policy to not publicly identify MBS as being responsible for authorizing the killing of Khashoggi?
What I’m saying to you is that we take the killing very seriously. We put out a report. I just laid out what the Khashoggi Ban actually did just to be more… the visa and what specifically the ban did, and also how we’ve enacted it. This is something that we take very, very seriously. That’s why we released the report. You have heard from the president directly speak about the killing of Khashoggi. The president does not shy away of having conversations about human rights with leaders. He’s had them many times before, and he will continue to do that. Again, this is something that we take very, very seriously.
Thank you all.
Speaker 17: (44:45)
Human rights followup-
Speaker 18: (44:46)