Jun 26, 2022

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/23/22

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/23/22
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/23/22

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 6/23/22. Read the transcript here.


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Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
Hi. Good afternoon, everybody. Today, we have John Kirby who has joined us and he’s going to talk to you all a little bit about the trip, give a preview of the trip, G7 and NATO. The President, as you all know, is leaving on Saturday for five days and give a little bit of an update on the PDA, right?-

John Kirby : (00:27)
Yes, ma’am.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:27)
… and our next security assistant to Ukraine. Okay. All yours, Kirby.

John Kirby : (00:30)
Oops, thank you. Okay. Just off the top here, I think today you saw that the United States announced another additional $450 million worth of security assistance to Ukraine as part of our commitment to help Ukraine defend its democracy in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression. This package contains weapons and equipment, including new high mobility artillery rocket systems, tens of thousands of additional rounds of ammunition for the artillery systems that have already been provided as well, and patrol boats to help Ukraine defend its coast and its waterways. Now, this is the 13th time that President Biden has authorized a presidential draw down package during this crisis, bringing the total amount of security assistance that we provided to Ukraine to approximately $6.1 billion just since February 24th; approximately 6.8 billion since the beginning of this administration. As President Biden told President Zelensky when they spoke last week, the United States will continue to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and support its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.

John Kirby : (01:34)
The bravery and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces let alone their fellow citizens continues to inspire the world and we are committed to standing with them as they fight for their freedom. Now, this announcement comes just before the President’s trip leaving Saturday for Europe at a watershed moment in transatlantic solidarity in the post-Cold War era, not just for European security, but for alignment like we’ve never seen before and how we confront some of the biggest challenges of our time, and not all of those challenges are driven by borders. Throughout the G7 Summit in Germany and NATO Summit in Spain, you’re going to see clearly how the President’s day one focus on revitalizing alliances and partnerships has allowed us to seize this moment to benefit the American people, support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable, all while staying focused on the other challenges that define coming decades, and that includes the challenges posed by China.

John Kirby : (02:28)
The president will be conducting in-person face-to-face diplomacy with a diverse range of leaders in international organizations throughout this trip. He knows, he knows better than most that there’s no substitute for that kind of personal engagement. You don’t surge trust, you got to build it. In Germany, the President will meet with Chancellor Schultz who holds the G7 presidency to continue close coordination on the G7 agenda, and the core priorities we will advance together in the coming days. Some of these priorities include new commitments to further isolate Russia from the global economy, target the Russian defense supply chain and continue cracking down on the evasion of these unprecedented sanctions. Because of our actions, Russia is struggling to make bond payments, edging closer to default, and our measures will only tighten the screws and restrict revenue Mr. Putin needs to fund this war. You will also see new commitments on managing the impact that Putin’s war has already had on energy and food prices.

John Kirby : (03:22)
All this is in keeping with the principles President Biden outlined before Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, that is that we will work together to ensure Ukraine can defend itself on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table as we maximize the cost of Putin and his enablers and minimize the impact of his war in the U.S. and our allies. You’ll also see the G7 come together on some of the key challenges posed by China, as I said. Last but not least, President Biden will formally launch the Global Infrastructure Partnership that G7 leaders agreed to explore last year to offer a positive alternative to infrastructure models that sell debt traps to low and middle-income partner countries and advance U.S. economic competitiveness on our national security. These lines of effort at the G7 will build on the work we’ve done over the past year to drive the global economic recovery and serve as a leader in imposing significant and swift costs on Russia for its war.

John Kirby : (04:18)
We’ve heard for years now, people talking about how the G7 was becoming a spent force, but President Biden’s leadership in this pivotal inflection point have buried that storyline. The G7 is among the most potent institutions in the world today with like-minded democracies solving problems. Now after the G7, the President will meet with President Sanchez and the King and Queen in Spain. Spain, as you know, is hosting the NATO Summit. At the NATO summit, leaders will announce new force posture commitments to strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrent posture. The U.S. will announce steps to strengthen European security alongside expected major new contributions from allies. For the first time, the Summit will include Indo-Pacific leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea making clear that whether it’s in Europe or the Indo-Pacific region, the United States and our allies and partners will defend the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

John Kirby : (05:10)
Now, finally, the trip will also serve as a clear contrast to some early predictions that never really played out. Instead of a shaken West, for instance, we are more resolved than ever to support Ukraine and are leading that effort head on at both the G7 and the NATO Summit. Instead of distracting us from the Indo-Pacific and China, the President’s leadership with respect to supporting Ukraine has actually galvanized leaders in that region and effectively linked our efforts in Europe and in Asia. Those Asian countries that will be participating in the NATO summit, I think, speak volumes about that fact. On top of all that we’ve strengthened our determination to advance a democratic vision that will define the coming decades in terms of building fair economy, shaping the rules of the road for tech cyber quantum space, climate change, and a whole lot more. The President has never been more confident that this vision will win out over more autocratic and corrupt visions, and he’s looking forward to this trip to advance all those elements. With that, we’ll take questions.

Speaker 1: (06:06)
John, NATO is expected to come out with a new strategic concept aimed at China. What is that, and why is it necessary?

John Kirby : (06:14)
The strategic concept last was written in 2010 and my goodness, a lot has changed in the world and on the security landscape since 2010, and certainly a lot has changed in the Alliance’s focus. Back in 2010, you might recall NATO was very deeply involved in the war in Afghanistan. Again, the security landscape has changed and it’s time now for a new strategic concept 12 years later. Not only has the landscape changed, particularly from Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine, but the military capabilities and organizational concepts and operational concepts have changed as well, and it’s time for the Alliance to step up to those new developments.

John Kirby : (06:56)
You asked about China, specifically. I think it’s a reflection of our allies’ equal concerns over the effect of Chinese economic practices, use of forced labor, intellectual theft, and coercive aggressive behavior, not just in the region, but elsewhere around the world, that they believe it’s important to factor China into this new strategic concept. It builds on, you might remember less than a year ago, the defense ministers for the first time in NATO put mention of China in the communique. So it’s building on what has been months and months of discussions and deliberations with the allies about the threat that China poses to international security well beyond just the Indo-Pacific region. [inaudible 00:07:46]

Phil: (07:46)
Hey, John. Thanks for the notice. The durability of the coalition or alliance that had been put into place to respond to?the invasion. What’s the level of concern right now about how that can be sustained? You mentioned food and energy crisis, are there things that the President of the U.S will specifically put on the table to try and ease some of the issues that have been rattling elements of that?

John Kirby : (08:05)
To your second question, the answer’s yes. I don’t want to get ahead of specific deliverables right now, Phil, but I think it’s fair to say that there will be announcements forthcoming about how to impose further costs and consequences on Russia. But again, I don’t want to get ahead of that. On your first question, my goodness he’s going into a NATO Summit where the Alliance has truly never been more unified, and now there’s active discussions about adding to that list of nations another two countries willing to seek a session in NATO. It’s just truly never been more relevant or viable, and the same goes for the G7.

John Kirby : (08:42)
If you just look at the scope of the things they’re going to be talking about from climate, energy, food, food security as well as the war in Ukraine, and the fact that there are additional countries coming to the G7 for additional countries, there’s an awful lot of unity to see here. We’ve had this discussion since before the invasion, can NATO stay solid? Are they going to be fractured? Because, of course, the last thing Mr. Putin wants is a strong NATO on his Western flank, and of course, he’s gotten just that and we haven’t seen any fractures or fissures. Every country speaks for themselves. Every country has concerns for what they’re willing to do or not do. But as far as the Alliance goes, it truly has never been stronger or more viable than it is today. The President’s looking forward when he gets to Spain to seeing that, to seeing that in real time. [inaudible 00:09:34]

Speaker 2: (09:35)
Thank you. John, I noticed that you have invited other countries to join, like South Africa, Argentina, Senegal, and India-

John Kirby : (09:44)
India and Indonesia.

Speaker 2: (09:46)
… and Indonesia. Some of them have huge economy and others have lesser economy. What was the significance of inviting these countries? Is it a attempt from the administration to splinter them off from any Alliance with Russia?

John Kirby : (09:59)
To splinter them off from alliances with Russia?

Speaker 2: (10:02)
It could be, potentially it could be some of them, not all.

John Kirby : (10:06)
These additional countries that you mentioned, they have been invited because there’s certain agenda items at the G7 that will apply to them and I’ll let them speak for their involvement in those sessions and the relevance to them. But because the agenda is so diverse and so deep, it was deemed appropriate to bring them into that discussion. It is not about trying to splint through them off or coax them away from any other association or partnership that they might have with another country. That’s not the goal here. The goal is to unify around a set of common principles and initiatives that we’ll hear more about this at the summit, but that the G7 wants to advance in terms of climate change, energy and food security. As I said, adding additional costs and consequences to Mr. Putin, further isolating Russia, all these nations have a piece of that. Certainly, in the G7 there’s unity around that sort of an agenda. Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 3: (11:09)
You were talking about the effort to add two additional countries to NATO right now. There’s obviously been real challenges as it relates to Turkey with the addition of Finland and Sweden. Can you take us as best possible behind the scenes of the status of that, if there’s going to be a direct contact between President Biden and President Erdogan and how you go about shifting that, because I know there’s unity among the members of NATO, but there’s not unity among the members of NATO about the addition of the fast track of those two countries?

John Kirby : (11:32)
Yeah, so clearly the potential session here of Sweden and Finland will be on the agenda at the summit, no question about that. Actually, there is terrific support inside the Alliance for their session. Right now, the conversations are trilateral between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey. We’re confident that they’re going to be able to get there, that they’re going to be able to work out the differences that they have and that Sweden and Finland will be able to join the Alliance. When, exactly, I couldn’t tell you that. These discussions are still ongoing, but we’re confident that it’s going to lead to 32 nations in the Alliance. We have also indicated that should it be desired, we’d be willing to help in those conversations, but right now it’s between those nations. I don’t have anything in particular in terms of bilateral discussions to speak to it or announce today with respect to President Erdogan.

Josh: (12:26)
Thank you. John, you mentioned food security is-

John Kirby : (12:30)
Yes, sir.

Josh: (12:30)
… one the topics a couple days ago you spoke to a bit about the grain track in Ukraine. Is that going to be a subject of conversation at the G7, or can you give us an update on either the blocked efforts or us efforts specifically to get some of that grain out?

John Kirby : (12:43)
Well, I do think food security in general will be a topic at the G7. I certainly think that with in inside the context of what’s going on in Ukraine, it absolutely will as well. Again, I don’t want to get ahead of specific announcements one way or the other. I would tell you that we are already working with allies and partners to help try to get this grain out of the country. As I said the other day, we know it’s a perishable good and it’s an important good, and we have been able to increase the flow of some grain through the West, by ground routes out of Ukraine, but it’s not sufficient.

John Kirby : (13:14)
It’s not enough given the immense amount of grain that’s sitting unused right now inside Ukraine. So we know we have to find other ways to do this and we’re willing, as I said, the other day, the President’s willing to keep an open mind about that. Obviously, it would certainly help if the Russians would lift what is essentially a blockade in the Black Sea and a blockade over Odesa, which they have obviously shown no desire to lift, but that’s a real key here. So I know you know, you’re aware that Turkey’s talking to Russia about this. We certainly welcome Turkey’s involvement in trying to broker some sort of arrangement where that grain can be transferred by sea, but I think it just remains to be seen whether that’s going to be viable.

Josh: (13:59)
There were reports that in Turkey that there might be some kind of meeting next week on this. Is there anything you can share on that?

John Kirby : (14:03)
I don’t have any details on that. I’d refer to our Turkish counterparts and our Turkish allies on that. Again, we welcome their efforts to try to get this to happen because it is absolutely, it’s critical. As we see, Putin is weaponizing food literally, and this is a prime example of that.

Josh: (14:20)
Thank you.

John Kirby : (14:20)
Sure. [inaudible 00:14:21]

Speaker 4: (14:21)
Yes. If I may ask you a question on a different topic, is there any consideration being given to fully unfreezing Afghan reserve funds? I know that given the devastating earthquake this week, there has been an appeal to do that. Is that something you all are considering?

John Kirby : (14:35)
What I can tell you is two things: one, we’re still working through the processes here with respect to that three-and-a-half billion dollars that you’re referring to that was assets frozen here in the United States. We’re working through a series of processes, including on the legal front to see how we can get that access quicker than we can right now, but we want to make sure it has to be done the right way, and so there’s a process here that we’re working through, but we’re not waiting. That money is set aside. President Biden was wise to do that, to set that money aside for use in Afghanistan for humanitarian assistance purposes.

John Kirby : (15:16)
That’s still the intent in every way, but there’s an urgent need now. So the President, while we’re working on that process and we want to get it solved as quickly as possible, and there’s a lot of hoops to jump through, we’re also working very, very stridently right now through USAID and their international partners to get aid in assistance to the Afghan people now. I think the death tolls now is over 1,000. We understand that, and we’re working hard to get that aid and assistance to them. Frankly, it’s already starting to show up through our international partners, through USAID’s international partners.

Speaker 4: (15:50)
Can you articulate at all when you say that there are some loopholes to go through and that it may take some time, some of the legal challenges? Can you help us understand what has been some of the hangups?

John Kirby : (15:59)
Yeah, it’s not loopholes. There’s a legal process here that has to be pursued to be able to apply that funding for that purpose, and we’re still working our way through that. I think because we’re still working through a legal process here, it wouldn’t be wise for me to talk in too much detail here from the podium about that.

Speaker 5: (16:22)
Thank you, Karine. Thank you, John. Earlier, you talked about the death trap that [inaudible 00:16:29] addressed on this trip, the global infrastructure partnership, which is going to be announced on this trip, how is it a reboot on the Build Back Better world, and is it supposed to be and alternative to China’s One Belt and One Road initiative? I want to add a question on the allies, you’re talking about the allies have never been stronger; however, we see yesterday, China’s hosting a Greeks business forum, and we see India and Brazil sitting down with Xi Jinping and Putin. So what’s the White House reaction on that?

John Kirby : (17:01)
So let me take the second one first.

John Kirby : (17:03)
So let me take the second one first because I tend to forget questions if I do them in the order you ask them. No, it’s okay. It’s just age. Sad, but true. Thanks. So on the bricks, we will let those countries speak for themselves, and for the meetings they’re having and the discussions and whatever outcomes there might be from that. They can speak for themselves. What I think is important for us to speak to today is this weekend, is G7 and the NATO summit, and the multilateral efforts that president Biden is applying to revitalizing these allowances and partnerships, and really putting forth ideas, concrete initiatives, that are going to help.

John Kirby : (17:54)
Help our national security, help economic security, help food security. And so that’s what we’re focused on. Those countries can speak for themselves and it’s, obviously, not the first time that they have gotten together, but I’ll let them speak for their agenda. I can only talk about ours .and I just laid that out in the opening statement on the global infrastructure partnership, I think, you know this was something that the president unveiled at the G summit, the G7 summit last year.

John Kirby : (18:21)
And so this year, what you’re going to see is him and his G7 partners, really, actualizing this. I don’t want to get ahead here of announcements, but you’ll see the G7 really putting some energy and some resources behind this going forward. And it is about, as I put in my opening statement, it is about alternatives to other models out there that are highly transactional and actually work to the disadvantage of lower middle income countries. We think there’s better ways of doing business. There’s better ways of fostering economic development and infrastructure than some of the models out there. And we believe that this is one of them and we’re excited to get it started.

Speaker 6: (19:06)
Oh, okay.

Speaker 7: (19:09)
Thank you. I had a question about NATO and Sahel because you mentioned Russia, China, but I understand Spain and also France push for the summit to also address threats originating on the southern front. Like Jihadism and nonmilitary threats linked to climate change, food insecurity, migration, et cetera. So will this part be part of the discussions as well?

John Kirby : (19:32)
Look, in general, the security situation on the Southern Flank of NATO is almost always on the agenda and we recognize the challenges and the threats that continue to affect security of our NATO allies on that Southern flank. There are a lot of focus right now on the Eastern flank, as it should be, but there remains a continued effort to make sure we’re also paying attention to the Southern flank. So I think, in general, it will come up. I won’t get into details about the Sahel, specifically, and that’s really a better question left to those countries in the alliance to speak to. But just in general speaking, security along the Southern Flank remains key.

Speaker 8: (20:17)
John, how much longer does The White House believe the war in Ukraine will last? How much longer would you say that The White House believe the war in Ukraine will last? Weeks, months, or years?

John Kirby : (20:24)
I don’t think anybody can know for sure, sir. We’ve said, when Mr. Putin decided that he was going to focus on the Donbas region, which is a more confined geographic space, that it could be a prolonged fight. And that was, what? A couple months ago. And we’re starting to see that, now, play out. This is an area of Ukraine that both armies know well. They’ve been fighting over it since 2014, and it’s largely a gun fight. It’s largely about artillery. And what you’re seeing now is movement in almost block by block, street by street. I mean, much smaller movement of smaller size units and smaller progress. The Russian progress has been incremental, at best, and they have been forted at almost every turn. The Ukrainians continue to fight hard for this. So I think if anybody told you they could predict how long this was going to go, they’d be fooling you.

Speaker 8: (21:17)
Let me follow up on that. The longer it drags on, does that increase the risk US soldiers could be pulled into a hot war with Russia? The longer everything goes by.

John Kirby : (21:24)
The president has been crystal clear that there’s not going to be US troops fighting in Ukraine. What we are going to do is continue to help Ukraine defend itself. And that’s why we just announced yet another package, $450 million today, to help that be the case.

Speaker 9: (21:39)
What about Russia condemning Israel? Russia has been threatening Israel for helping Ukraine and also for Israel bombing the Damascus Syria Airport. Any response to Israel that’s being threatened by Russia?

John Kirby : (21:54)
I think our response will be the same as it has been now for the last several months. I mean, obviously Russia’s feeling the pressure, the pressure being isolated. The pressure of having a military on the ground that clearly has not performed as advertised. I mean, they still haven’t solved their command and control problems, their logistical problems, their unit cohesion problems, their joint fires integration problems. And so they tend to lash out at countries that are providing support to Ukraine. We’re grateful for the support that Israel has been providing, as well as so many other nations. More than 50 have signed up to provide some measure of security assistance to Ukraine and that shows you that this is not just a Europe problem. It’s nations around the world that are stepping up to defend Ukraine

Speaker 9: (22:38)
Regarding [inaudible 00:22:40].

Speaker 10: (22:39)
Given President Biden.

Speaker 9: (22:41)
Regarding knowledge with G7 and concrete initiatives, does the administration support Germany’s proposal for G7 countries to set specific minimum standards for each country to cut fossil fuel emissions and combat climate change or climate club?

John Kirby : (22:56)
Again, I don’t want to get ahead of specifics here on the discussion. Obviously climate change and cutting emissions is a key component of President Biden’s agenda here. I mean, he just met today with executives for offshore wind capabilities. I mean, that’s a key focus of our agenda on climate, but I don’t have anything specific with respect to this proposal and to what degree it’s going to be.

Speaker 9: (23:22)
Do you expect this to be part of the bilateral with Scholz?

John Kirby : (23:24)
I think there’ll be a whole range of issues he’ll be talking about with Chancellor Scholz and I have no doubt that climate change will be on that.

Speaker 6: (23:32)
Jane and then the woman behind you.

Speaker 11: (23:33)
Thank you, Kelly.

John Kirby : (23:33)
Janey, how you doing?

Speaker 11: (23:33)
Good to see you.

John Kirby : (23:33)
Been a long time.

Speaker 11: (23:38)
Yeah, thank you.

John Kirby : (23:39)
I know what’s coming.

Speaker 11: (23:43)
Yes. I give you a lot, 100 time for penny. I have two question for you at NATO summit in Korea. Do you have any plans to hold the try out of the summit between US and South Korea, Japan at the NATO summit?

John Kirby : (24:01)
I don’t have any additional meetings to talk about today, outside of the agenda of the G7 summit. So I don’t have anything to announce with respect to a trilateral meeting. I think you know, and we’ve talked about this many times, that President Biden is keen to see greater trilateral cooperation between us and our two allies. In fact, he just visited there not long ago, Japan and South Korea. We also are keen to see increased bilateral cooperation between Japan and South Korea, and that’s happening. So he’s very much looking forward to seeing them.

Speaker 11: (24:35)
Yeah. Segregation of China approaches South Korea’s participation in the NATO summit. Although, do you think if South Korea cooperating defensibly within NATO, it’ll sufficiently contain China and Russia?

John Kirby : (24:58)
So a couple of thoughts there, China doesn’t get a veto on what meetings the South Koreans attend and associate themselves with. And this isn’t about an Asian version of NATO. NATO is a transatlantic security alliance. The most effective, the most viable one in the world, the most successful one in the world. And we’re excited that the South Koreans are going to be there to talk about this. And as I said, to be part of the agenda there. And as I said at the outset, it’s an indication of the linkage of global security between Europe and the Indo-Pacific. It’s not one or the other anymore. It’s not binary. The same kinds of assaults on territorial integrity and sovereignty, that we’re seeing in Europe, can happen in the Indo-Pacific. And, of course, our South Korean allies know that better than most. So we think it’s significant that they’re going to be there. We’re excited to have them there, but this isn’t about creating some like version of NATO in the Pacific.

Speaker 13: (26:11)
Thanks. You just noted that the US intends to continue, obviously, supporting Ukraine, but I’m wondering how much the administration’s weighing its aid to Ukraine in terms of the economic hardships here at home, and if there’s a point at which the US will curb its support for Ukraine down line.

John Kirby : (26:31)
Can you repeat the first part? How much what?

Speaker 13: (26:34)
How much the administration is weighing its aid to Ukraine with the economic hardships that Americans are seeing here at home?

John Kirby : (26:41)
That’s a great question. So you know we just got an additional supplemental from Congress for $40 billion. Not all of that is designed for security assistance, a lot of it is for humanitarian assistance as well. And it was passed on a bipartisan basis. It’s clear that members of Congress, from both parties, believe strongly that we have to continue to support Ukraine, and so we’re going to do that. And will we need to go back for additional funding? We just don’t know right now. I mean war is, by nature, unpredictable. And so president Biden has made it clear. We’re going to continue to support Ukraine as much as we can, as fast as we can, and we’re doing that. And we’ll see where this goes going forward.

John Kirby : (27:24)
But obviously the president’s not insensitive to the pressures, particularly in gas and food prices that the American people are facing. And you have to balance that. And he’s trying to strike that balance. He said, and he has said this since he said it, but when he made clear that we were going to support Ukraine in this fight, literally for their lives, let alone their democracy, that there were going to be costs incurred by that. And we’re starting to see, we are seeing that happen right now. The president was nothing but honest with the American people about that

Speaker 12: (28:00)
[inaudible 00:28:00].

Speaker 6: (28:00)
We’ll get to you, Simon, right after the gentleman in blue.

Speaker 15: (28:07)
Thank you.

John Kirby : (28:07)
They’re all in blue.

Speaker 6: (28:13)
Well, this guy has the light blue, aqua thing going.

John Kirby : (28:13)
Oh, okay. I got you.

Speaker 6: (28:13)
Yeah, looks good.

Speaker 15: (28:13)
That’s how we’re deciding, by the way, fashion.

Speaker 6: (28:16)
Not fashion, just [inaudible 00:28:20].

Speaker 15: (28:19)
If it’s okay, I want to go off the topic just for a second and ask you about a letter that’s been sent by democratic senators to the president regarding the Shireen Abu Akleh killing, asking for a full US investigation. I’m wondering if the NSE has seen this, do you have a reaction and do you support or agree with their assessment that the Israelis can’t be trusted to conduct their own investigation?

John Kirby : (28:47)
I don’t know the status of the letter here, The White House, sir. So you’re going to have to let us take that question and get back to you. I’m not aware, but I can tell you that we’ve been nothing but consistent that this death needs to be fully, and transparently, thoroughly investigated. And that’s our expectation. We’ve made that very, very clear to all parties and we’re going to continue to.

Speaker 15: (29:13)
Is there any discussion about an independent US investigation?

John Kirby : (29:17)
I know no discussion about an additional independent US investigation.

Speaker 6: (29:21)
Simon, go ahead.

Speaker 17: (29:24)
Okay. On the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa, there has been debated or prepared in the Senate to actually compel African nations to choose between Russia and the US. Does the president support it? And is he concerned that by trying to, almost, compare African nations to choose between working with Russia and working with the US, he’s really making it difficult for those nations, especially because African nations have had really good relationships with the US and good relationships with Russia at the same time.

John Kirby : (30:03)
Look, every nation has to make a sovereign decision for itself, but who it’s going to associate with.

Speaker 14: (30:08)
The act. The acts says, “You will identify Africans who continue to work with Russia, will identify government and sanction government that continue to work with Russia.” So I’m asking you, does the president support that act in the first place?

John Kirby : (30:25)
I’d have to get back to you on that. I don’t know if we’ve taken a position on this, pending legislation. We understand that there are a range of security challenges in Africa and those challenges aren’t getting any easier or any better by the involvement of nations, like China and Russia, on the continent. Now every nation there has to make their own decisions about who they’re going to associate with. But one of the things that, back to the G7, that this partnership for infrastructure, that global partnership for infrastructure that the president’s looking forward to actualizing, will do is help economic development and infrastructure in places like the continent that empower these nations to improve them, to prove their own situations and that of their citizens.

Speaker 6: (31:14)
Okay, last question.

Speaker 16: (31:14)
Thank you. Since we’ve been here, there’s been some reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, when they were marking up the intelligence authorization, included a provision from Senator Wyden seeking to end the practice of denying security clearances based on past marijuana cannabis use. I don’t know if the administration has seen that yet, or if there’s a position on that.

John Kirby : (31:39)
You’re going to have to let me take that question, sir. I don’t have any for you on that. James, why don’t you go ahead.

Speaker 18: (31:45)
Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Wanted to ask two questions about Russia and Ukraine. First, I wonder if you could address a disparity that has exhibited itself in the president’s conduct and rhetoric over the course of the Russia, Ukraine crisis. At certain times, he opts to withhold of certain lethal forms of assistance from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and he says that he does this because to provide those forms of assistance would be to risk initiating World War III. At other times, he opts to provide more lethal forms of assistance and even boasts publicly, as has the secretary of defense and others, that it is this very USA that is helping the brave and skillful Ukrainian Armed Forces to inflict casualties on the Russians and to destroy their hardware. So my first question is, I wonder if you could address for us the president’s decision making surrounding these steps up, what you all have called, the Escalatory Lab.

John Kirby : (32:39)
So couple of thoughts there. The one escalating here is Mr. Putin, James. He’s the one who decided, on the 24th of February, that he was going to invade a sovereign, independent nation next door. He’s the one who flowed in more than 100,000 troops, thousands of tanks, aircraft. Has launched literally thousands of missiles into Ukraine. That’s the escalation. And I think quite frankly, I would, with all respect, take issue with the premise of the question that we have been sort of not consistent in the kind of aid and assistance that we’ve been providing to Ukraine.

John Kirby : (33:27)
We are working with Ukraine lockstep every day about what their capabilities gaps are, what they need for the fight, and the reason, James, that we do it in parcels like this is so that we can keep it relevant to what’s going on, on the battlefield. And so you remember in the opening weeks, everybody wanted to talk about stingers and javelins. And you know why? Because stingers and javelins were relevant to the fight at the time when Mr. Putin was advancing on Ukraine along three major geographic axes. North, south, and from the east. He has now constrained and limited himself to the Donbas to a flat.

John Kirby : (34:03)
[inaudible 00:34:00] and limited himself to the Donbas, to a flat, more rural environment that is very reliant on artillery. And so we started throwing in Howitzers.

John Kirby : (34:10)
The other thing that we started to do was to train on some of these systems. The early goings, we were focused on systems that we knew the Ukrainians could use quickly because they’d already been trained on it, because they knew they grew up with these systems. And so that’s why we were working so hard with other countries to provide long-range air defense systems, like the S-300, because that’s what they’re used to using. So as the war has changed and evolved, which war does, their needs have changed and evolved, and our contributions have changed and evolved.

Speaker 18: (34:38)
And my follow-up, if I may. A few weeks into the conflict, the administration declassified and disclosed fresh intelligence, passed to us through a number of administration spokespeople, including yourself, suggesting that President Putin was receiving sanitized and inaccurate reporting from his own team about the status of the Russian war effort in Ukraine. Is that still your assessment or is it the assessment of the United States that somewhere along the line, and if you could tell us when, that would be helpful, President Putin rectified this problem? And do you believe that he has, for some time now, been receiving accurate reporting from his own team about the status of the war effort?

John Kirby : (35:20)
We did provide some context about that intelligence reporting, which was relevant and true at the time. I don’t have additional intelligence or context on intelligence to provide today. So I can’t tell you definitively exactly what briefings and reports Mr. Putin is getting, and how accurate they are or inaccurate, or frankly, how that information changes his decision-making calculus.

John Kirby : (35:46)
It is clear to us just in the main that he very much is in charge of this war, that he very much is making the decisions, that he very much is responsible for the activities, the actions, the atrocities that his troops are conducting on the battlefield.

Speaker 18: (36:00)
Thank you.

John Kirby : (36:00)
Thanks everybody. I’ve got to. Karine’s going to kick me out. I’ve got to go.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:05)
We’ll never kick you out.

John Kirby : (36:06)
I need my old man glasses.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:07)
Don’t forget your glasses.

Group: (36:10)
Thanks, John. Thank you, John. Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:12)
Okay. Thanks, John. I just have one thing for all of you. This morning, the number of American’s uninsured unemployment hit the lowest level since 1970, lower than any year of the presidencies of Reagan, H.W. Bush, W. Bush or Trump. Today’s weekly UI data is consistent with a job market where unemployment is low and people can seamlessly find jobs. That’s not all what a recession labor market looks like. We brought unemployment below 4% four years faster than forecasters thought was possible before we passed the American Rescue Plan. We have added an average more than 400,000 jobs per month in recent months. And as we make a transition to steady and stable growth over the course of the next year, even something closer to the range of 150,000 jobs per month would be consistent with an unemployment rate as low as it is now, and a sign of a healthy economic transition.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:18)
With that, [inaudible 00:37:20], you want to kick us off?

Speaker 19: (37:20)
Yes. Thank you. On the Supreme Court decision today on New York’s concealed carry law, is the administration concerned that, and this comes, on the cusp of major legislation here in Washington, but I was wondering is the administration concerned that for whatever efforts you might make on gun legislation, we’re now in an era of conservative high court that’s probably be conservative leaning for a while, that is oriented toward gun owner rights. Are we now in a period where, for whatever the President may try, that gun owner rights are just going to be expanded?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:00)
Well, let me just say that we are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. The Second Amendment, as you’ve heard the President say, is not absolute and permits common sense gun regulation. Justice Department defended New York’s concealed carry law, which had been in place since 1911, and imposed only a modest burden on most gun owners. The law applied only to handguns and public places and contained an exception for people who could establish an actual articulable need for self-defense.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:35)
Despite the setbacks, the President earlier urged states to continue to enact and enforce common sense laws to make their citizens and communities safer for gun violence. As it relates to what’s happening in Congress right now, we think that’s separate and apart. Clearly that is a bipartisan effort. The President is encouraged by what he is seeing. The culture vote happened today. So it’s moving along in the right direction.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:02)
When the President went to Uvalde, when he went to Buffalo with the First Lady, those are trips that he does not want to do again. The President understands he’s had a long career in doing gun reform, in ending gun violence since he was a Senator. We have not seen this type of bipartisan type of coming together to push this legislation in decades. So we are definitely encouraged, by what we’re seeing and the President wants them to move quickly so he can get to his desk and he can sign that.

Speaker 19: (39:33)
If I could ask just one more.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:34)

Speaker 19: (39:34)
Secretary Granholm met with oil executives today. Has peace between the administration and the oil executives broke out, and more importantly, have some concrete ideas come out of this meeting? And finally, just why did the President… He stopped by [inaudible 00:39:50] executive meeting we were just in. Why didn’t he spend some time with the oil executives as well?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:55)
Well, let me take your first question, and I have a bit of a readout for you here on the meeting. So at President Biden’s direction, Energy Secretary Granholm, who was in front of you all yesterday, met with the CEOs and executives of the seven major US oil companies this morning at the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C. The meeting was a productive dialogue, focused on creating an opportunity for industry to work with government to help deliver needed relief to American consumers. The Secretary highlighted the fact that the US has achieved record oil production under the Biden administration, and that President Biden is taking historic actions to add to that supply.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:38)
So the Secretary made clear that the administration believes it’s imperative that companies increase supply of gas, and she reiterated that the President is prepared to act quickly and decisively using the tools available to him as appropriate, on sensible recommendations as well.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:58)
So this is ongoing dialogue. I think some of you may have heard from the oil companies themselves saying it was productive. And so what Secretary Granholm has called on is for her team to continue having conversations with the oil companies.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:16)
As to your second question, look, the President, it was a stop by. This is something that he does very often. There were governors in that meeting who were virtual and in person. So we see this as a part of his schedule, where there was actually a meeting here at the White House.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:35)

Speaker 20: (41:35)
Just to follow on that, you’ve described this as a productive dialogue. They’re going to continue to have ongoing conversations. But should we take that to mean that there were no sort of concrete steps taken? I mean, yesterday you said that the hope was that some solutions would come of this. Were they able to identify and agree on any solutions?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:50)
Yeah, I think what I was saying and Secretary Granholm was conveying as well, this is a first step, with a continued dialogue. Clearly we want to come to solutions, and I think there’s going to be multiple other steps to get there. Look, the President asked Secretary Granholm to do this so that ideas can come forward and hopefully we can get to a solution. We want oil company to get to a higher capacity. That’s what we’re asking for, so that we can bring down gas prices, as you know, as we have been saying. So they’re going to continue to have dialogue, and hopefully we get to a point where there is a solution and we can figure this out together.

Speaker 20: (42:32)
And on the Supreme Court, as we await a decision on Roe, you’ve said that the administration is looking into options for executive action. I understand you’re not ready to detail what those might be, but does the administration have executive actions that are ready to go, that we could expect to see if and when a decision is announced?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:50)
So I appreciate the question, and it’s an important question because this decision that we are all anticipating coming forth, is going to change so many people’s lives, take away women’s rights. So we understand the question. We are just still trying to go through and having that discussion to see what our options are before we move forward. We don’t want to get ahead of the President, clearly. But if, and I’ve said this before, if indeed the Supreme Court in the decision, the Dobbs decision, overturns Roe, we will ask Congress to restore Roe.

Speaker 20: (43:30)
And just to be clear, will the President accept this decision as legitimate, even if he disagrees with it?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:35)
It’s going to come from the Supreme Court, so it’s going to be a decision that we’re certainly are going to respond to. So I’ll leave it at that. It’s just like any other Supreme Court decision, just like the one that they did today on guns. So as we know, the draft was leaked. So we don’t want to speak to that too much until there’s an actual decision, which we know is supposed to be coming. So we’re all just like you, waiting to see when that happens. But in the meantime, we’re doing our due diligence to be prepared. I just don’t have anything for you at this time.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:11)

Nancy: (44:12)
Thanks. Back to the gas tax. I see you have a graphic up there on the screen.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:15)
Oh my gosh, I have a graphic.

Nancy: (44:19)
Was the President surprised or disappointed by the lukewarm reaction that his gas tax holiday proposal got on Capitol Hill?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:28)
So I just want to step back for a second, because this is very important. So the President wanted to be sure and wanted to find a straightforward way to give consumers a relief at the gas pump, the next three months. This is a three-months, 90-day suspension on the gas tax. A gas tax holiday, as we all know it’s called. And it’s an important time when people are driving a lot around the country, visiting their families, going on vacation. So it is important to give people a little bit of relief.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:07)
If you think about it on the federal level, that’s 18 cents. He also called on states. We’ve seen some states, this is a one of the states here, Maryland, do the same and the average amount in states is about 30 cents. So already you’re at 48 cents right there, almost 50 cents.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:27)
That matters for people. That matters for people like teachers, like healthcare aids, like construction workers, like plumbers, who spend a lot of time driving from one place to another as part of their jobs. That’s going to make a difference. And if the oil refineries do their part, we’re looking at a dollar being taken off per gallon. So that matters. And we know it works. We know the policy works.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:53)
I mentioned Maryland up here. Connecticut has done the same. Georgia has done the same, suspended their gas tax, and most of their tax relief was passed to consumers. And as you see from this chart here, you see here’s where it was when it was enacted and then it dropped. And then at the end, it went back up. So it did make a difference. So President is calling on other states to take similar measures and for Congress to suspend the national gas tax on oil companies to pass that relief onto consumers.

Nancy: (46:25)
But Maryland’s now actually getting ready to increase its gas tax next month, I guess, to make up for some of the revenue that it lost when it imposed this gas tax holiday. Given the level of ambivalence or opposition on Capitol Hill, how hard is the President willing to fight to try to convince Congress to change its mind?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:47)
This is important to the President, which is why he asked Congress to take this on. The way that we see it is a simple, fast way to give American families, the American public, a little relief for 90 days. As you know, there are plenty of legislation that’s on the Hill right now that talks about cutting taxes. This is one of them. This is something that’s simple, that’s easy, that’s 90 days, during a critical period for the American public.

Nancy: (47:18)
So he’s going to keep fighting for it.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:19)
He’s going to keep fighting for it. We think it’s a simple thing to do, and he’s going to keep fighting for it.

Speaker 21: (47:24)
Supreme Court follow up. I wanted to go a little bit deeper on the trip or the ramifications of it. The President heads overseas at sort of a thorny time for his domestic agenda. The gas tax holiday. There could be the first movement on gun reform in a generation. We’re all waiting the Supreme Court decision. Is there any concern about his ability to shepherd his domestic agenda from 4,000 miles away? Is there anything different being done given how many balls are in the air at the same time?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:54)
Look, we believe that a president could do his job any place, anywhere, at any time. So that is not a concern for us. Clearly, yes, to your point, [inaudible 00:48:03], there is a lot going on in the world, but that is what is expected of a president. There are always multiple issues, sometimes multiple crises that a president has to deal with, but it doesn’t stop them from doing the work that they need to do. What he’s doing abroad, as you heard from my colleague, is critical, it’s important. That leader to leader engagement, talking to our NATO allies, being there at the G7, especially what’s going on with Russia’s war, for the President to be there and to continue to be a leader in bringing those countries together and talk about real issues that matter to all sides, is also an important agenda for the President to continue to move forward.

Speaker 21: (48:45)
All right. And to the second question, is there anything special or different being done about this trip as opposed to other foreign trips given how many things are… Yeah.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:53)
No, not at all. We’re moving forward like we do with any [inaudible 00:48:57] trip that we have had. I think this is, I’ve lost track, maybe the fourth or fifth trip, as you guys are probably keeping track better than I am that the President has done. And during a time, I mean this past year and a half has not been an easy year. The President walked in having to turn back on the economy, if you will. He walked in having to deal with a COVID crisis, a pandemic, once-in-a-generation pandemic. So he has had to deal with multiple things on his plate. So this is just part of another trip that he’s gone on. Go ahead, Pete.

Pete: (49:31)
Thank you, Karine. The President isn’t really doing everything he can to bring gas prices down, is he?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:40)
I feel like there’s a… Is there something else to the question?

Pete: (49:43)
Oh, there’s a lot to the question.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:44)
Oh, okay.

Pete: (49:45)
For example, as you mentioned earlier, he’s meeting today with people installing offshore wind equipment, but not oil and gas CEOs who are rarely ever in town. But they are today. So how did that help lower gas prices?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:59)
Well, the President has done a… Let me step back for a second.

Pete: (50:03)
But no, no-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:04)
No, no, no, no, no-

Pete: (50:04)
By meeting with onshore wind folks and not with-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:06)
You’re asking me-

Pete: (50:06)
Not with oil and gas CEOs-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:07)
You’re asking me the questions-

Pete: (50:09)
… how does that lower gas prices? You said-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:10)

Pete: (50:11)
… he’s done everything in his power. They were a mile away.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:15)
Peter, you’re asking me a question. May I answer?

Pete: (50:17)
Yes, please.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:18)
Okay, here we go. I just want to take us back a second on how we got here. So we have seen gas prices go up by $2 a gallon. The reason we have seen that is because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And once that happened, once we saw what that impact was going to be, the President took action. He took action. He made a historic choice to tap the strategic petroleum reserve. One million barrels a day. And that was for six months. And that helped blunt the impact of what we’re seeing right now with prices going up. So that matters.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:59)
The Ethanol15, the action that the President took, that-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:02)
Ethanol 15, the action that the President took, that matters, because it’s going to bring down gas prices in gas stations, over a thousand gas stations, across the country, including the Midwest. That matters. And so the President is trying to figure out and take steps in how we can bring the gas prices down. And we have a high level of oil production, so what we are asking the oil refinery companies to do is to take that production, refine that oil, so that there is capacity. We are not at capacity right now. And it does matter that the Secretary of Energy, which is her purview, that is her portfolio to meet with these oil execs, that she does on a pretty regular basis.

Pete: (51:47)
But your point was about how we got here, the President said, as a candidate, no more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling, including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. Aren’t some of those things that would bring the price of gas down now?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:03)
Let me tell you how we got here, since you just said how we got here. Due to a decreased demand of the start of the pandemic, US oil companies reduced production and refinery capacity, which is what I was just saying, Peter. Refiners, for instance, cut their capacity by more than 800,000 barrels per day in the year before the President took office. Oil production is now back to near pre-pandemic levels. In fact, we produced more oil in the first year of the President’s administration than in the first two years of the previous administration, and we are on track to set a new record for oil production next year, this time.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:42)
But oil refiners have still not brought refinery capacity back online. At the same time, as I was just stating to you about Putin’s war, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global oil supply and gas prices have gone up nearly to $2.00 since the beginning of the year, before the invasion. President Biden has taken historic actions, again, to alleviate the pressure and to blunt what the impacts that we have seen because of Putin’s war. And that matters. And that’s what the President has been focused on.

Pete: (53:14)
Okay. And the President yesterday was talking about this transition to greener energy, someday. A lot of people can’t afford a $60,000 electric car, and they also are having a hard time affording gas right now. That sounds like a painful transition, so how much of that kind of pain is the President okay with?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:32)
No, that transition, we are in a transition to clean energy. That is something that is important, it is going to create jobs. When you think about electric vehicles, it is going to give families some tax credits, it’s going to be really important to have.

Pete: (53:49)
People can’t afford an electric car, the average price is $61,000.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:53)
We’re going to continue to move forward with what we have put forward, the bipartisan infrastructure-

Pete: (53:59)
So it’s $5.00 a gallon gas, or a $61,000 electric car?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:01)
That is not, first of all, that’s apples and oranges, it’s not the same. What we’re trying to do, right now, is to deal with an acute problem, right now, which is why the President, again, asked for a 90 day suspension of the gas tax, the gas tax holiday. It is going to make a difference. Peter, we’re talking about 18 cents on the federal level, we’re talking about an average of 30 cents on the state level, and if the oil refinery does their job, if they do what we are asking them to do, which is put their profits back in so that gas prices can go down, that’s almost a dollar per gallon. That matters, that matters, this matters to teachers, that matters to home healthcare aids, that matters to construction workers, that matters to plumbers, that matters to lifeguards. Those are the people, and many others, who are going to feel this in a way that will give them relief at the pump. All right, we’re done.

Steve: (54:55)
Supreme court follow on, on the Granholm [inaudible 00:54:59], the refiners wanted to dissuade the White House from any sort of ban on fuel exports. Did Granholm agree to that?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:04)
I’m sorry. I was distracted. Can you say that one more time, Steve?

Steve: (55:06)
The ban on fuel exports, the refiners don’t want that. Was that discussed at the meeting today? Did Secretary Granholm agree to set it off the table?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:16)
I can tell you, Steve, that decision has not been made. There’s no decision on that at this time.

Steve: (55:21)
Secondly, on the gas tax holiday, has the President talked to lawmakers today about this, to try to get them on his side?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:27)
So I don’t have any meetings to preview for you at this time, but we are going to, our Office of Leg Affairs is in constant communication with folks on the Hill. So that is going to be an ongoing conversation, and the President, this is something that the President thinks it’s going to be really important for the American people, to give them that relief, a little bit of breathing room, as you heard the President. I’m going to just take a couple more. [inaudible 00:55:49].

Phil: (55:49)
On refinery capacity, refineries right now are operating at about 93, 94% capacity. When you talk about asking them to increase their capacity, bringing other refineries online is not as simple as flipping a switch. Do you want them to take 93, 94% up to 98%? How are you guys thinking through the problem as it exists in terms of what they can do?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:07)
So there’s a difference between the share of existing capacity being utilized and the amount of total capacity available. The overall capacity of the US refining industry fell due to the pandemic, which is what I was going through earlier. And that capacity has not been brought back online, even as consumers demand has returned, thanks to the President’s recovery plan. So the President is calling, again, on US refiners to increase capacity and output in the near term, and making clear he is committed to using all reasonable tools and authorities as appropriate to help. And so there is a difference there, and so we’re asking them to increase that capacity, which we have not seen yet.

Phil: (56:51)
As it goes back online, one of the issues has been willing to invest, or on the CapEx side, is the administration looking at anything on the regulatory side they think they can do to help that process along?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:00)
So I don’t have anything here to share on what else we might be looking at. Again, the President is willing to use his executive authorities, we just haven’t made a decision. We want to come to a resolution here, or solution. That’s why Secretary Granholm had this meeting today, they’re going to continue to have the discussion. And so that’s what we would prefer, and so that’s the direction that we’re going. At the same time, making sure that, the gas tax holiday, making sure that we’re doing other things as well to do our part. Again, the gas tax holiday is one of the solutions, right? It’s not the whole thing. We’ve done a series of things, and the President’s going to continue to see what else he can do to give relief to the American people. Okay, I’m just going to take a couple more.

Speaker 4: (57:49)
Does the administration have any response to intel announcing that it is indefinitely delaying the groundbreaking of its very large semiconductor facility in Ohio?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:01)
I don’t have any more information on that. I heard that reporting. I would have to check in with our team, but I don’t have anything to share from the podium today.

Josh: (58:11)
One of the things that has come up before today’s meeting with Secretary Granholm was a Jones Act waiver. Is that something that was discussed in the meeting? Or do you know if that’s still on the table for the President?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:22)
I don’t have more to share from the meeting, from what I just read out.

Josh: (58:27)
So we don’t know whether it was?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:29)
I just don’t have anything, from what I just read out.

Josh: (58:31)
So the President hasn’t ruled it out?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:33)
I just don’t have anything for you right now, Josh.

Josh: (58:35)
Okay. Going on to Bill’s question then, I mean, part of the reason capacity has shrunk, these facilities are being converted to produce, or some of them are being converted to produce renewable diesel instead of petroleum based fuels. Others are simply old, they’re like old cars being taking off the road, they can’t just turn on again. So do you think those conversions should be reversed or halted? Or do you think the refiners are overstating the sort of pain that they’d have to go through to turn on some of these plants again?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:01)
What we believe is that they are not operating at full capacity. That is what we believe. So, just to give you a little bit here, and I said this yesterday, I’m happy to share it again. Yesterday I said crude oil prices have dropped by nearly 15% from two weeks ago, but prices at the pump have barely budged. The last time, the price of crude oil was $110 a barrel, and the price of gas was $4.60 a gallon. Today, it’s about 35 cents higher. That difference is a result of companies record high profit margins for refining oil. Refinery margins have tripled since the beginning of the year. It’s just the first three months of this year, the biggest oil companies made $35 billion, four times what they made in their first quarter of last year.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:54)
We want them to put their profits back into refining oil so that we can bring prices down. And that is what we are seeing, and there are 9,000 approved drilling permits that remained unused. So there are things that could be done that we are just not seeing happen, this is why we’re having the conversation. This is why the President wrote the letter. I’m just going to try and get other questions.

Josh: (01:00:18)
Sure. On the G7, very quickly, one of the things the President has tried to do is boost gas shipments to Europe that aren’t coming from Russia. Is there any discussion about that, that we should expect, back at the G7, or is that more of a medium term thing?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:32)
I just don’t have more to add. I don’t want to get ahead of what the agenda is going to be on G7. Thanks, Josh. Go ahead.

Speaker 22: (01:00:37)
In terms of ensuring that savings from any sort of gas tax holiday would be passed along to the consumers, Secretary Granholm seemed to say yesterday that the administration, at least at first, would be relying on asking them, just dialogue with these companies. Is it the White House’s view that is the only option to actually ensure savings or pass along to the consumer? Or is there anything Congress could mandate or any regulatory action you could do to force those companies?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:03)
I mean, I can’t speak to what Congress could do to mandate it. Here’s what we know, we know that this has worked, it’s worked in Maryland. It’s worked in Connecticut. It’s worked in Georgia. Maryland and Georgia, Republican governors who have made that decision, and consumers have felt the relief. So it’s doable, we have examples of doing that. And so, we’re going to, like Secretary Granholm said, we’re going to talk to the companies and make sure that the families and American people should feel that directly. They should not be holding on to any of the funds, any of that 18 cents on the federal level.

Speaker 22: (01:01:45)
At this point, though, is that the only option for the administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:48)
At this point, that’s basically what Secretary Granholm stated, is where we are at this point.

Speaker 22: (01:01:53)
On expanding capacity of refineries as well, you’ve talked about the need to do that, but there are some options the administration could take. There’s a refinery that has had plenty of accidents in the past, has sparked environmental concerns, and some have said the administration could also loosen permit regulations. This refinery is in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, it’s had environmental concerns in the past. Would the administration consider loosening any permitting regulations for refineries that have had environmental concerns to expand capacity?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:02:28)
We don’t have anything to share on the two points that you just made. All I can say is the President is willing to use his executive authority to do what he can to give relief to the American public. Right now we’re focused on calling on Congress to do the gas holiday tax, or the gas tax holiday, and also having this conversation with Royal refinery to make sure that they are refining that crude oil. That is at a high level that they can do to help bring down gas prices. I’ll take one last-

Speaker 23: (01:03:04)
Supreme court follow up.

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:03:04)
I’m trying to call-

Speaker 23: (01:03:04)
Supreme court-

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:03:07)
I’ve never called on you before.

Speaker 23: (01:03:09)
Thanks. Great. I know you’ve addressed this a little bit before, but I’m wondering if you can quantify how much of these January 6th hearings the President’s been watching, and what his overall reaction is?

Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:03:19)
So I can say that the President catches it from time to time, he has a busy schedule, obviously, and we have said this before, and keeps updated on what’s happening. We’ll just continue to reiterate that what we saw on January 6th, 2020 was one of the darkest chapters of our nation. And it was a brutal attack on our democracy, a brutal attack on law enforcement, and we believe that Americans should be watching and paying attention to learn exactly what happened on that day. And we have full confidence in the January 6th select committee and the work that they’re doing. Okay, thanks everybody, we’ll be back tomorrow. We’ll be back tomorrow.

Speaker 24: (01:04:04)
Surviving a child.

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