Aug 2, 2022
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby 8/01/22 Transcript
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby 8/01/22. Read the transcript here.
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Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
Good afternoon, everybody.
John Kirby: (00:00)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:03)
All right. I see, oh my goodness, some waving happening. And welcome back. I see some folks are back. All right, and happy Monday, everyone. So joining me today is NSC coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby. We know there’s a lot moving today, so Kirby will provide updates on security assistance for Ukraine, the grain exports coming out of Odessa, and other foreign policy news of the day. He’ll be with us for about 15 minutes or so, and then we’ll end his portion and then get to the other parts of the briefing, and I’ll take some questions after that. Everybody okay? Everybody settled back there. All right. Kirby, it’s all yours.
John Kirby: (00:53)
All right. Good afternoon, everybody. Just a few things at the top. Today, I think you were tracking, the first ship successfully left the port of Odessa in Ukraine under this recent deal between the United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. Now, we obviously welcome this important step and we hope to see more ships depart in the coming days to travel onward to world markets with agricultural products such as grain, wheat, sunflower oil and corn. The ship left today, had something like 26,000 tons of corn. Russia has of course weaponized food and has effectively blockaded Ukraine’s ports since the beginning of this crisis, and we urge Russia to meet its commitments under this new arrangement, including by facilitating unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports in order to ease the food insecurity around the world, so we’re going to be watching that closely.
John Kirby: (01:50)
Also on Ukraine today, national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, the secretary of state, Tony Blinken, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley spoke together with their Ukrainian counterparts about the enduring US support to Ukraine as the Ukrainian people continue to stand up to Russian aggression, and to inform them about a new $550 million security assistance package that the Biden administration will authorize today. This follows Secretary Austin’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart on Friday where he previewed that package. Today’s announcement’s going to include more ammunition for the high mobility advanced rocket systems, otherwise known as high MARS – I know you all are familiar with that – as well as ammunition for the 155 millimeter artillery systems, which have already been supplied to Ukraine and are in the field. This will be the 17th now, time that the Biden demonstration has authorized a security assistance package using presidential draw down authority since President Biden took office, and it brings to more than $8 billion draw down authority alone in material and security assistance for Ukraine just since the invasion began in late February.
John Kirby: (03:03)
Now, on Taiwan, because I know that’s on everybody’s mind today. I want to reaffirm that the speaker has not confirmed any travel plans, and it is for the speaker to do so and her staff so we won’t be commenting or speculating about the stops on her trip. We have been clear from the very beginning that she will make her own decisions and that Congress is an independent branch of government. Our constitution embeds a separation of powers. This is well known to the PRC, given our more than four decades of diplomatic relations. The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan and a speaker of the house has visited Taiwan before without incident, as have many members of Congress, including this year. The world has seen the United States government be very clear that nothing has changed. Nothing has changed about our One China Policy, which is of course guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint US PRC communiqués and the six assurances.
John Kirby: (04:04)
We have repeatedly said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence and we have said that we expect cross strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means. We have communicated this directly to the PRC at the highest levels, including as recently as last week in a phone call between President Biden and President Xi. The national security advisor, the secretaries of state and defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff have also made this very clear to Beijing in a half a dozen recent high level conversations. Put simply, there is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding US policy into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.
John Kirby: (05:02)
And yet, over the weekend, even before Speaker Pelosi arrived in the region, China conducted a live fire exercise. China appears to be positioning itself to potentially take further steps in the coming days and perhaps over longer time horizons. Now, these potential steps from China could include military provocations such as firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait or around Taiwan, operations that break historical norms such as large scale air entry into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone – ADIZ, I think you all know that acronym – air or naval activities that cross the median line, and military exercises that could be highly publicized. This could also include actions in the diplomatic and economic space such as further spurious legal claims like Beijing’s public assertions last month that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway. Some of these actions would continue concerning trend lines that we’ve seen in recent years, but some could be of a different scope and scale. The last time Beijing fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait was 1995 and 1996 after Beijing reacted provocatively to Taiwan’s president’s visit to deliver an address at his alma mater.
John Kirby: (06:23)
I want to contrast this now between the United States and China. We and countries around the world believe escalation serves no one. Beijing’s actions could have unintended consequences that only serve to increase tensions. Meanwhile, our actions are not threatening and they break no new ground. Nothing about this potential visit, potential visit, which, oh, by the way, has precedent, would change the status quo and the world should reject any PRC effort to use it to do so. We will not take the bait or engage in sabre-rattling. At the same time, we will not be intimidated. We will keep operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific as we have for decades. We will continue to support cross strait peace, stability, support Taiwan of course, defend a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we’re still going to seek to maintain lines of communication with Beijing. All of that is important and all of that, all of it is preserving the status quo.
John Kirby: (07:32)
We expect to see Beijing continue to use inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation in the coming days. United States by contrast will act with transparency. We’ll stand up here, we’ll answer your questions, we’ll give you the facts. We are also committed to keeping open lines of communication with Beijing as I said. This is what the world expects of not just the United States but of China, and we encourage Beijing to keep that commitment as well. With that, we’ll go to some questions.
Speaker 1: (08:03)
Thanks, John. So given all the sabre-rattling that’s being done by China and the fact that speaker Pelosi is still considering a trip, the fact that you’re laying out all the possible reactions that China could have, should we take this as a sort of test of China’s willingness to make good on some of its designs on Taiwan, or a test of whether they’ve learned some of the lessons that Russia learned by invading Ukraine?
John Kirby: (08:32)
The short answer to your question, and then I promise I won’t just leave it with a short answer, is that’s a better question for President Xi and what’s in his mind over this. I think we’ve laid out very clearly that if she goes, if she goes, it’s not without precedent, it’s not new. It doesn’t change anything. What we would hope they infer from everything we’ve done and everything we’ve said, including during the president’s phone call, is that we’re being consistent. There’s no change. We’ve not ramped up the rhetoric. We’ve not changed our behavior. Everything we’ve done is consistent with our obligations and our commitments.
Speaker 1: (09:16)
But if the policy hasn’t changed, then why was the speaker being urged not to go?
John Kirby: (09:22)
I don’t know that she was urged not to go. Who urged her not to go?
Speaker 1: (09:25)
The president said on August 20th that the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea for her to go.
John Kirby: (09:29)
The speaker makes her own decisions. What we did was provide her context, analysis, facts, information, so that she could make the best decision possible for every stop, for every overseas travel. And again, I’m not going to get ahead of her or her staff here with respect to the rest of this trip.
Speaker 1: (09:48)
Does the US military still think it’s not a good idea?
John Kirby: (09:50)
I would refer you to the military. Again, we as a national security team, not just DOD, we are obligated and we take that obligation seriously to make sure she has all the context she needs before she travels overseas, and we did that. And, oh, by the way, we’ll continue to do that throughout the remainder of her trip for anything else that she needs, to make sure she has a successful visit.
Speaker 5: (10:14)
Russia follow up?
Speaker 2: (10:15)
John. Thank you. You’ve been emphasizing the separation of powers and the separation of the legislative branch from the executive. Does the White House feel confident that President Xi understands that separation?
John Kirby: (10:30)
As I said in my opening statement, we’ve had diplomatic and bilateral relations with the PRC for decades. They understand well. I can’t speak for President Xi, I wouldn’t do that, but our assumption is they understand very well how our constitution is organized and that there are three equal branches of government.
Speaker 2: (10:56)
I don’t think I’m hearing you say yes to that question, am I?
John Kirby: (11:01)
I said it in my opening statement, that the PRC understands well the separation of powers.
Speaker 2: (11:08)
If you are confident about that, was this an issue that President Biden raised directly with President Xi during their phone call? We didn’t get a very detailed readout of the detailed discussions they had during that phone call last week.
John Kirby: (11:23)
The president in this conversation with President Xi made clear that Congress is an independent branch of government and that Speaker Pelosi makes her own decisions, as other members of Congress do, about their overseas travel. That was made clear.
Speaker 2: (11:42)
Can I just do one more follow up? If the policy is that the president wouldn’t encourage or discourage a lawmaker from traveling to a specific place because of the separation, if a senior lawmaker were to plan a trip right now to, say, North Korea or Moscow, would we not hear the president weigh in in those instances?
John Kirby: (12:04)
I think you would see the president be consistent. We provide members of Congress facts, analysis, context. They make their own decisions about where and when they’re going to travel. We do the best we can to provide advice and counsel and context and information, and that will continue. There’s nothing inconsistent about that at all. I just realized I have my badge on. I got to take this off.
Speaker 3: (12:28)
Has anyone in the administration or in this White House explicitly spoken with the speaker and said, “You should not go on the trip”? I know the president has not done that, but has there been any communication from senior national security officials inside this White House?
John Kirby: (12:43)
There have been direct conversations with the speaker and her staff before she left at various levels in the national security establishment. The president did not speak directly with the speaker about this trip. I am not going to divulge the contents of those conversations that we have with her, particularly with the speaker. I will just go back to what I said before, Tyler. Fulsome discussions, context, analysis, facts, information about her overseas travel, which is completely consistent with the way we do it in the past.
Speaker 3: (13:17)
Understood. It seems like this trip obviously is sparking a little bit more anxiety inside this building and throughout the administration, and I understand that you said the president respects the independence, but given the national security risks at play in China’s escalating rhetoric, was there not a discussion inside this administration of whether or not you should take a more urgent sense as MJ just alluded to? If there were other countries at play here, we might see a different response. Given what China has said it might do in response to a trip, that puts all Americans at risk in their national security. Could the president feel that maybe this is a different case, that he should be more involved or his team should be more involved than he might get [inaudible 00:13:53].
John Kirby: (13:53)
Again, I’m not going to get into the details of the conversation. They were comprehensive discussions about what she wanted to achieve on this trip, where she wanted to go, and we provided her the same set of context and information that we have in the past with respect to her overseas travel. I’m not going to get into the details of that.
Speaker 5: (14:12)
[inaudible 00:14:12] in the back.
Speaker 4: (14:13)
Thank you. I guess I’m wondering, why did the president bother with this drama from the beginning? Rather than saying the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go, why not call the Chinese bluff or tell them to pound sand when they started bellyaching about the possibility of this trip given, as you pointed out, there’s no change in policy and there’s precedent for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.
John Kirby: (14:36)
So what’s the drama?
Speaker 4: (14:39)
Have you watched the briefs the last couple of weeks? There’s been this question of [inaudible 00:14:42]-
John Kirby: (14:41)
Yeah, I’ve been here the last couple of weeks. I haven’t seen any drama. I think you’re manufacturing it with your question. Look, we have been nothing but clear with the Chinese about where we stand on the issues and the One China Policy and our support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Look, I want to go back to what I said at the beginning, and I hope you took note, nothing has changed. There’s no drama to talk to. It is not without precedent for a speaker of the house to go to Taiwan. If she goes, and I’m not confirming that she is, and it’s certainly not without precedent for members of Congress to travel to Taiwan. It has been done this year and I’m certain that it will be done in the future.
John Kirby: (15:27)
We have no interests, as I said in my opening statement, of increasing tensions here. We have no interest in changing any of the approach that we take as a government or in keeping with our allies and partners to wanting to see cross strait tensions be resolved peacefully without a unilateral change. So I don’t know about the drama that you’re claiming exists. It’s quite the contrary here. And the point that we have made, I’ve made it again today and President Biden…
John Kirby: (16:03)
… I made it again today and President Biden made it with President Xi. Everything here is consistent. There’s no reason to use a potential visit to justify or to spark some sort of crisis or conflict. We certainly have no interest in that. And there’s no justification to use a potential visit as a pretext to conduct what could be escalatory measures, such as the ones I detailed in the opening statement.
Speaker 6: (16:31)
Hi, John. You keep saying that the speaker has a right to make her own decision. And another speaker visited before, which I believe you talked about Gingrich when he visited in ’97. But it’s different timing. There’s more tension and the speaker represents the president’s party. So while she has a right to make her own decision, why can you say that the White House disagree with her decision because that will cause more tension? Can’t you just say categorically now that she basically, that the White House disagree with her visit?
John Kirby: (17:03)
I’m sorry, but you’re asking me why I can’t just say we disagree with the visit?
Speaker 6: (17:07)
Correct. Because for all the conversation we’re just having now, it would cause more tension.
John Kirby: (17:12)
All right. So two things. One, there’s been no discussion by the speaker about what’s next on her trip. So you’re asking me a question as if she’s already somehow confirmed that she’s going to Taiwan. I haven’t seen any such confirmation. And again, I would point you to the speaker and her staff to talk about her itinerary. And number two, again, our responsibility is to make sure that she and her team have all the information they need. And we keep that line of communication throughout a trip as we should. Of course, it’s a requirement. But the speaker and her staff who advises her, they make the decision.
John Kirby: (17:53)
So you guys seem to be, or your question seems to presume that we should have stamped the trip with some sort of approval or disapproval. That’s not the way this works. Congress is an independent branch of government.
Speaker 6: (18:08)
Can you confirm if she’s traveling on commercial flight or is she going officially on a government plane? Because that will be interpreted by the Chinese differently, not what we say here.
John Kirby: (18:20)
It is commonplace for the speaker to travel aboard a US military transport aircraft. That’s very typical.
Speaker 7: (18:26)
Has the administration been in touch with the Chinese government since the president’s last conversation with President Xi?
John Kirby: (18:32)
I’m sorry, say that again.
Speaker 7: (18:34)
Has the administration, people in the administration been in touch with the Chinese government since the president’s conversation?
John Kirby: (18:40)
I’m not aware of any specific communications after that call.
Speaker 7: (18:44)
Okay. And what planning is being done in advance to ensure that there won’t be any dangerous fallout if she does indeed go to Taiwan?
John Kirby: (18:51)
Well, without getting into details, I think you can understand that part of our responsibility is to make sure that she can travel safely and securely. And I can assure you that she will.
Speaker 8: (19:02)
What about Russia banning a Jewish agency and-
John Kirby: (19:06)
Sir, sir, tell you what, please let Karine go.
Kelly O’Donnell: (19:12)
In terms of the speaker’s agenda and her motivation for going, which does seem to be different than the president’s set of issues since he has said publicly the military doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He has not come out and given a full [inaudible 00:19:26] support for this trip if it happens. What is your sense about her advocacy for democracy, for self rule in Taipei if she were to go there and the impact of that if she were to make that kind of a statement, long held views on the part of the speaker and how that might have an impact?
John Kirby: (19:45)
Well, the speaker can speak for herself, and whatever she wants to say on this trip is really her prerogative. That’s why it was so important for me and my opening comments, Kelly, to make clear what this administration’s policy is with respect to the one China principle, I’m sorry, one China policy, as well as not wanting to see cross strait tensions resolved by any other than peaceful means and the fact that we don’t support Taiwan independence. It was important for me to lay that down right at the outset. That’s our policy, that’s this administration’s approach. I can’t speak for what Speaker Pelosi may do or say on this trip.
Kelly O’Donnell: (20:30)
One question here if I may follow-up, Karine. Because of the closeness between the speaker and the president, it does raise the question about, is she sort of pressing a foreign policy that may in fact put the president in a bad position? Is that the sense of this White House?
John Kirby: (20:49)
The president is comfortable with the position that this administration continues to take, which has longstanding historic precedents. And I went through it all at the opening statement. President’s very comfortable with our policy with respect to China and to Taiwan. And he had an opportunity last week to reaffirm those policies and his views in his to direct discussion with President Xi.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (21:16)
Okay. Just a few more. Go ahead, Jeff. And then Joey.
Thanks. John, you mentioned the potential of missile launches by China. Are the people of Taiwan at risk if Speaker Pelosi makes this visit? And is she at risk if she makes this visit?
John Kirby: (21:30)
Well, we certainly don’t think there’s any reason for anybody to be at risk here with a potential visit. Again, hasn’t been announced and I won’t speak for Speaker Pelosi, but there’s certainly no reason for this to come to blows. There’s certainly no reason for this to escalate. And as for the potential risks, I think that is a better question put to the PRC and to the PLA Army and Navy and the Air Force. We’re going to watch this very, very closely. We’re going to make sure that she has a safe and secure visit because that’s our responsibility. And we urge, as I said at the outset, we urge China to, if she goes to see this, for exactly what it is, nothing new, no change to our policy. And certainly not an unprecedented visit by the Speaker of the House.
You also said the US will not be intimidated. Do you feel that using language like that right now will be viewed by China in a way that you were also raising rhetoric the way they have?
John Kirby: (22:40)
You said it right at the top that they have. They have been out there in recent days with some irresponsible rhetoric. We feel it’s important for everybody in the region to understand how seriously we take our security commitments in the Indo-Pacific and that’s why we put it that way. There’s no reason Jeff, for this to honestly, there’s just no reason for this to escalate. And in fact, there’s every reason given our national security interests, as well as the interest of our allies and partners that are at stake in the Indo-Pacific on any given day, there’s every reason for this to not escalate and for the lines of communication to remain open between Washington and Beijing. And that’s what we’d like to see happen.
Speaker 12: (23:34)
Yeah. Thanks, John, does the White House currently know whether Speaker Pelosi is planning to go to Taiwan? I realize she’s not announced anything publicly. You’ve also said White House officials have been talking to the speakers staff. So does the White House currently have knowledge whether she’s planning to go to Taiwan?
John Kirby: (23:51)
I am not going to talk about the speakers itinerary. I’m just not going to do that. And Jeff, I want to go back to one other thing if I may because it was in my mind and it flew out of my mind as I was answering your question is, when you talk about, or you threaten these kinds of potential operations, military operations and exercises and missile launches that I talked about, what that does is it does increase the risk of miscalculation, as I said, and which could lead to unintended consequences. And that’s really the risk. You asked specifically are they at risk? That’s where the risk comes in. It’s not so much that there might be a direct attack, but it raises the stakes of miscalculation and confusion, which could also lead to unintended consequences.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:38)
Okay Darlene and then I’m going to take some in the back.
Darlene Superville: (24:41)
John, given everything that you’ve laid out here, why do you think China is reacting the way it is reacting to this speaker and this trip?
John Kirby: (24:50)
It’s difficult to know specifically, and you’re kind of asking me to get inside their brains and I don’t know that I’m comfortable doing that. I think again, that’s a question better put to President Xi and the PRC and their military leaders. There has been, you’ve heard Chairman Milley talk about this, even before we were talking about a potential visit by the speaker of increasing aggressiveness by PLA military forces in the region alone, violations in air and sea space across the strait, more aggressive and approximate military exercises, and of course in their rhetoric. This has been going on now for months. And if you really want to, you can go back years in terms of Chinese coercion and intimidation tactics, even just in the military environment in the South China Sea, East China Sea. So been building. I can’t account for why they have answered just the possibility of this visit in the manner in which they done.
John Kirby: (26:13)
I can only account for President Biden and for this administration and for how we are trying to manage tensions, and quite frankly, manage one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world. And that is by making it clear what we’re seeing, sharing it with you, making it clear that there’s no reason, for whatever the reason is, there’s no reason that it should spark some kind of conflict or that it should precipitate increased tensions or serve as some sort of pretext for some sort of what they would consider a reaction.
John Kirby: (26:56)
If the speaker goes, completely consistent with what’s been done in the past, and certainly not at all a statement about any change to American policy with respect to one China and to cross strait tensions and quite frankly, to our obligations under the law to continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense.
Speaker 9: (27:17)
If she does go to Taiwan, how will the White House find out about it? Will she call someone on the NAT SEC team? Will you see it on television? How will you know?
John Kirby: (27:28)
Well, look, the speakers flying aboard a military aircraft, so we’ll know.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:32)
All right, we’re just going to do two in the back, and then we got to wrap it up. Go ahead Espy.
Speaker 10: (27:39)
[inaudible 00:27:39], you talk about the separation of the Congress and the White House and the executive branch, but when she takes a military aircraft, which is under the control of the president, how do you make the case that “Well, we had nothing to do with this at all.”
John Kirby: (27:55)
I didn’t say we had nothing to do with this at all. And no, we’ve never said that at all. From the time she informed us that she was going to go overseas, we put the gears in motion like we always do. And that is to provide military transportation. Nothing new about that. Provide her team with information, context. You’ve heard me, you’ve heard Karine talk about that. Nothing new about that. It’s not that we’re not involved, but we don’t make the decision for the speaker. She makes her own decisions. We give her advice in counsel and context. She makes her own decisions. And the president, having long served in the Senate himself, he understands and respects the institutional prerogatives of members of Congress.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:37)
All right. Last question. All the way in the back with the glasses.
Speaker 11: (28:43)
Thanks Karine. I have a quick question about the Iranian American dissident journalist Masih Alinejad. During an interview on CNN this morning, she called on the Biden administration to expel Iranian diplomats, contending the regime has now twice challenged the US government on US soil, alluding to the kidnap plot last year and then the arrest last week of a man near her home with a loaded rifle. Is that something that the White House is even considering, or if there are other diplomatic levers the president is prepared to pull?
John Kirby: (29:17)
There’s somewhat of a limit to what we can say on that. So let me just lay it out for you. The United States condemns the apparent attempt to harm leading Iranian activist and US citizen Masih Alinejad at her home in New York last week. We commend law enforcements swift and effective response to this apparent threat to her. This is an open criminal investigation and so I’m going to refer you to law enforcement for any further comment.
John Kirby: (29:44)
While we wait to see the results of that investigation, we do want to reaffirm that it is a first priority for the Biden administration to counter the threat posed by Iran, including against dissidents that are living in the United States and current and former US government officials. Okay. Thank you everybody. Appreciate it.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:01)
Thank you. All right. Thanks, John. All right. Just have one thing at the top, gas prices. Just to provide you all an update on where we are currently with gas prices. We have now been falling for almost seven straight weeks. As of this morning, gas prices have dropped 81 cents per gallon since their peak in June as you’ll see from the chart to my left here. That means American families with two cars are saving $80 a month. Drivers can now find gas for $3.99 or less at around half of all gas stations across the country. And average gasoline prices have come below 3.99 in 19 states.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:57)
Putin’s war is still putting pressure on global oil supply, but President Biden is taking historic action to mitigate its impacts on American families. He is releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is a historic action that he’s taken. He rallied global partners to release millions of barrels of oil. And under President Biden, US oil production is up and on track to reach a record high.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:28)
The Treasury Department estimates that the historic release of oil by President Biden and international partners has reduced gas prices by up to about 40 cents per gallon, as we have shared with you all last week. More work remains, but the fact is that we are currently experiencing the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade. And with that, Darlene.
Darlene Superville: (31:53)
Thanks Karine. A couple of questions about the president and his latest bout with COVID. The first time he tested positive, the White House had identified 17.
Darlene Superville: (32:03)
The first time he tested positive, the White House had identified 17 contacts. Can you update us on those? And then were there any additional contacts from him testing positive again over the weekend that we should be aware of?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:13)
So those 17 continue to test negative. So that’s the update on the first positive test that the President had that we shared with all of you. With this positive test that we saw and shared with all of you again on Saturday, there’s been seven … I mean, not seven, I apologize, six close contacts. And those six individuals continue to test negative.
Darlene Superville: (32:40)
Has he resumed the blood thinning medication that he had stopped when he was on Paxlovid?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:45)
He has resumed all the medication that he was on, the medication that he was on before.
Darlene Superville: (32:50)
And then one final question quickly, there was video of him yesterday FaceTiming with the folks, the veterans camping out on Capitol Hill. We haven’t seen anything from him today. Can you give us a sense of how he’s doing with having to go back into isolation, frustrated? And how is he dealing with being away from the First Lady for as long as he’s been?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:13)
Well, the day’s still young. You never know, but well, the President…
Darlene Superville: (33:22)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:22)
Just making a joke, clearly it was not funny. I will try harder next time to be more funny. But look, he is continuing to work from the residence. And I just want to share, as we all know, the President is fully vaccinated. He’s fully, he’s double boosted. He was on treatment for Paxlovid. And because of that treatment, he had very mild symptoms. And we had said with Paxlovid there would be a small percentage of folks do have a relapse. This is what we saw, but he’s doing well. You saw him as you said, Darlene, and he said he’s fine. He sounded great. And he’s looking, as we know, he is someone who likes to be out there with the American people. He’s looking forward to being out there again, but he’s going to continue. It doesn’t stop him from doing his job and doing the work of the American people. So he is in the White House residence, and he’s going to continue to do that as he isolates for a couple more days.
Speaker 13: (34:26)
A couple clarification points on that. Dr. O’Connor said today that the President’s feeling fine, but he didn’t mention symptoms. Can you clarify on whether he’s even experiencing any minor symptoms, congestion? Where are we on that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:37)
So he is not experiencing, we haven’t seen any reoccurring symptoms. That was in Dr. O’Connor’s letter on Saturday, so that continues to be true. I spoke to Dr. O’Connor not too long before coming out to talk to all of you. As you know, some of you have had COVID, some of you have loved ones and close, close friends who have had COVID, those symptoms that you have don’t go away right away. They kind of linger, those minimal symptoms kind of linger for some time, so you could expect that. And so with that, but there’s no reoccurring symptoms. He’s actually, he’s feeling fine.
Speaker 13: (35:12)
The CDC guidelines on the so-called Paxlovid rebound are a little unclear. Can you clarify on what the expectation is of how long the President will continue to isolate? Is it five days after the rebound positive? Are we looking at another sort of clear set the clock and 10 days out from the rebound positive? What’s the guidance’s on that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:36)
So he’s going to abide by CDC recommendations, so it would be five days as far as the isolation.
Speaker 13: (35:43)
From Thursday, or Wednesday, the rebound.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:45)
The rebound, right on Saturday. Going back and forth there.
Speaker 13: (35:51)
And then were you able to get a sense of the President’s reaction to Senator Manchin yesterday repeatedly refusing to get behind an endorsement for a reelection? And does the President, if he did get a reaction to that, feel like members of his own party are undermining him on that front?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:11)
I mean, I saw those interviews. I wouldn’t say he was undermined. From what it looked like to me, Senator Manchin is very much focused. He went on the shows to focus on the Inflation Reduction Act. He was zeroed in on that and laid out why this is going to be a benefit for middle class families and why it’s going to lower cost and why it is an investment, a historic investment that we have not seen in a long time, whether it’s climate change or just in general as we try to reduce inflation and fight that back and figure out how do we continue to lower the deficit.
Speaker 13: (36:52)
He was also repeatedly asked whether he would support President Biden in a 2024 reelection. He repeatedly refused to go there.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:58)
So here’s what I’ll say about this. And we, from the podium, I really cannot dive into any election, but I’ve been really clear and the President’s been asked this question many times and he intends to run in 2024. He plans to run in 2024. That is way off. We are a long ways away from 2024. And here’s the thing, our biggest thing right now is to not be distracted. You saw CHIPs pass last week, which is going to be in huge investment in manufacturing and really strengthening the supply chain. We were just talking about national security, so strengthen our national security, huge deal. And now we still have a few things ahead of us that’s going to be really important to get that done for the American people. So we’re going to stay focused, and so we’re not going to be distracted and that’s how we see things at this time. Go ahead, Jeff.
Thanks, Karine, a follow up on the COVID topic. Is it possible that the President, in his understandable desire to show that he was able to work through his first bout of COVID, pushed himself too hard, and that is partially what led to this coming again? Any body, be it 79 or 46, has to rest when you get this?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:13)
No, just to answer that very… so look, we were transparent that we were aware that when it comes to Paxlovid, that there is a small chance, there’s a small chance of relapse. It is not uncommon. It does happen. And here’s the thing, the President according to his doctor, had very mild symptoms. And so we don’t think that he overexerted himself or was the wrong decision. It was because of how he was doing at the time. And so again, we were transparent about what we thought could potentially happen and we also were transparent that if he were to test positive again or have that relapse, he would share it, which we did. And now he’s feeling fine. He’s doing well. He’s doing the business of the American people in the White House residence, and he’s looking forward to be out here again.
And on one other topic, what’s the next step from the White House’s perspective on the in place reduction acts? Have you had any signals from Senator Cinema as to whether or not she will support it?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:27)
So I’m not going to get into details about any conversations that we’re having with Congressional members. I will say and I’ve said this before, our White House staff, White House officials here continue to be in touch with folks in the House and offering any technical assistance, offering any guidance that folks might need there, so we’ll continue to do that. And I’ll leave it to Senator Manchin who spoke to that and was again, was asked many questions about Senator Cinema. So I’ll leave it to him in that conversations as the negotiations are occurring.
Speaker 2: (40:03)
I wanted to ask about New York city declaring a public health emergency as it relates to monkey pox over the weekend. Does the administration generally support local municipalities taking this kind of action as they see fit, that these are there open decisions to make?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:19)
We see that as their own decisions to make. Clearly it’s a local jurisdiction. It’s for them to figure out what’s going on in their own community. They know best of what’s happening on the ground, so we leave that to them. I do want to add because we do have some news on the vaccinations that I’ve mentioned, the Jaynose vaccination that was announced last week on Thursday. 737,000 vaccines are out. As I’m speaking in front of you right now, they’re being shipped to areas that really need them. And so if you think about the 737,000 and the 300,000 plus that we have put out, that puts 1.1 million doses that’s out in the United States. And so that matters. That’s very important as we’re trying to really have a aggressive approach to dealing with monkeypox on testing. And I don’t know if folks had this, but we are doing testing about 80,000 tests per week. And that’s another important, significant way of making sure that people are getting tested so they know if they have monkeypox or not. And lastly, and I’ve talked about this from here already, which is the education, which is the outreach, educating public health officials and activists out there, making sure that they know exactly what to look for and what the treatment is, and so that as well continues.
Speaker 2: (41:51)
Do you have any insight on the President’s own thinking right now on the possibility of declaring a National Public Emergency on this? I know he’ll obviously be advised by folks around him, including Secretary Besera, but what does he think?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:04)
So when it comes to a Public Health Emergency, that is a decision that is made by Secretary Besera. That is not made by the President. But as you know, we are considering every policy option to help end this outbreak that is urgent and that is important to us. But again, that is up to Secretary Besera to make that decision.
Speaker 2: (42:25)
Any general timeline?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:26)
I would refer you to HHS on the specific timeline. Go ahead, Franco. I meant to call on you before.
Thanks so much. I’m just curious if there’s any concern about the President’s rebound case, concern that could set back any efforts to get people to take or for Paxlovid to be prescribed for severe cases?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:50)
Oh, absolutely not. The way we see it is paxlovid has over 90% chance of preventing severe illness if it’s taken early. And as we saw, the President had very mild symptoms because of Paxlovid, because he was fully vaccinated, because he was double boosted. And so we anticipated that. We had said there would be a minimal chance of him having a relapse. And so again, the relapse truly is small, and the protection of Paxlovid easily outweighs that as we see it. And so again we encourage Americans out there who haven’t fully gotten vaccinated to do that, who haven’t been boosted to go ahead and get their booster. The treatment that the President received is the same treatment that others could receive as well and that is because of the work that this administration, that this President has done from day one walking into the White House.
Speaker 14: (43:47)
What about Russia banning that Jewish agent?
Also, if I could ask, I know you’re a little tired of answering questions about 2024.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:56)
Oh, I’m never tired.
And President Biden running, whether he will run. With former President Trump talking about submitting his paperwork potentially before the midterms, when will President Biden file his paperwork and wouldn’t that help kind of nip some of these questions in the bud?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:14)
I mean, the President has said that he intends to run. He’s said that multiple times, so there’s that. I’ll put that out there. But again, we have some work to do in the next couple of days and weeks that we’re going to focus on. We’re not going to be distracted by what’s happening with the former President. That is not our focus. Our focus right now is as we’re talking about the inflation reduction act, which is historic, as I just laid out which is incredibly important as we talk about lowering cost, prescription drugs for our seniors, as we are talking about lowering costs on energy for families who are sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out how are they going to pay for whatever item that is incredibly important to them. So this is what this is going to do. And so we’re going to continue to talk about that. We see the inflation reduction act as a down payment, as a promise that the President has made. And so we’re going to continue to make sure we get that over the finish line.
Speaker 3: (45:26)
Just a question about the President’s COVID case and guidelines. You outlined that he’ll be in isolation for five days. How does that relate to potential travel? I know that even if you test negative, there are CDC guidelines that discourage you from traveling for a certain period of time. Does that clock start back at zero with the rebound case?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:46)
So the travel is a little bit different because there are no CDC recommendations on regarding travel for rebound. So that does not exist in this for rebound cases. So as far as travel, I just don’t have anything to share with you for you right now. But right now CDC doesn’t have any recommendations for rebound on cases.
Speaker 3: (46:11)
So is the White House operating under the assumption that when and if the President tests negative, then he will both be clear to return to work in the Oval Office and travel wherever.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:18)
So we’re going to do the, I just mentioned the isolation five days. Clearly he’s going to be testing regularly. One of the reasons that we were able to share with you that he tested positive is because we upped his testing cadence. Because of his unique role as President, we wanted to make sure that we were keeping an eye on that. And so that’s why we were able to share him testing positive on Saturday. So we’ll continue to do that. But as far as travel, there’s just no CBC recommendation. Once we have more, we will let you know.
Speaker 3: (46:57)
So I’m just wondering, is the White House plan that as soon as he tests negative, he can return to all activities?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:05)
That is our hope. That is our expectation. But we are going to follow, as I just mentioned, CDC guidance as it relates to isolation.
Speaker 3: (47:12)
And just one last one on the President’s schedule, last week before he tested negative, you guys gave us a more full some readout of what he was doing, what meetings he had. We’ve received nothing today. Can you give us some sort of … is he on the phone with lawmakers, his economic team, his COVID team? What is the President doing?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:34)
Yeah, again, the day is young, but I know on Friday we provided his meetings which included dealing with the awful flooding in Kentucky and helping provide federal resources, working with Governor Basheer and Senator McConnell, speaking with members of Congress and meeting with his senior staff. He will be doing a lot of that work virtually as we have done in the past. And so, the work doesn’t stop. He’ll just continue to do that.
Speaker 3: (48:01)
What are the details on what he’s done today?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:02)
Well, he’ll be meeting senior staff …
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:04)
…stop, he’ll just continue to do.
Speaker 15: (48:04)
But no details on what he’s done today so far?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:04)
Well, he’ll be meeting senior staff, for sure. That is something that’s pretty regular on his schedule. So I can, for sure, share that with you. If there’s anything else to read out, we’ll share that with you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:14)
Speaker 16: (48:15)
Thanks, Karine. Is President Biden thinking about pulling his support for the Inflation Reduction Act?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:22)
Speaker 16: (48:23)
Because he promised that it wasn’t going to raise taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year, but the Joint Committee on Taxation says that is not true.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:34)
Well, that is incorrect.
Speaker 16: (48:36)
So the Joint Committee on Taxation, which you guys heralded as an effective body when you were selling that infrastructure package, is not to be trusted here?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:48)
I said it is not correct because… I will give you why it’s not correct. Because it is incomplete. The JCT report that we’re currently seeing is incomplete because it omits the actual benefits that Americans would receive when it comes to prescription drugs and when it comes to lowering energy costs like utility bills, it does not include that. And we have some experts, don’t have to trust me, we have experts that say the exact same. Kimberly Clausing, from UCLA, “Many key factors are left out in these tables, including, importantly, the effect of deficit reduction, the positive effects of the spending on clean energy and the benefits from low drug prices,” as I just stated.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:33)
Seth Hanlan, Center for American Progress, “Republicans don’t mention that JCT analysis includes an imputation of corporate taxes, i.e. the 15% minimum on corporations with less than 1 billion of profits to income groups, but does not include the major provisions that benefit people, including the tax cuts and drug savings.” Prescription drug savings, to be specific.
Speaker 16: (49:58)
And so Penn Wharton, where the president used to… University of Pennsylvania, used to be a professor there. Penn Wharton budget model says this Inflation Reduction Act is actually going to increase inflation in 2024. Does the president worry about that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:15)
So we agree with Senator Manchin, you heard him a couple times yesterday, and disagree with Penn Wharton, as do a number of qualified experts, which I’m happy to read out. But I do want to say that it is quite ironic that congressional Republicans are complaining or have a false outrage on this Inflation Reduction Act that is actually going to do something and help the American people lower cost, when they have offered really nothing to do that. What they have offered, is to increase taxes on Americans making less than $100,000 a year. And what they have introduced, is actually sunsetting Medicare and sunsetting also social security after five years. And that’s how they want to deal with how to help the American people. We are talking about doing the complete, absolute, complete opposite.
Speaker 16: (51:16)
And just one more. It’s been three days now since a Chinese official publicly threatened to murder Speaker Pelosi. Where is the president coming out to respond to, at the very least say, “Don’t do that?”
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:27)
Well, first, we’ve talked… Kirby was just here talking about how… I have not seen those reports, so I’m just going to say-
Speaker 16: (51:35)
[inaudible 00:51:35] they were going to maybe shoot down her plane or that it would be within their rights to shoot down her plane.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:38)
Okay. All right. Well, we have talked about that. We have said that there’s no need for this type of sabre-rattling. It is unnecessary. The president has been very clear, there’s been no change in the one China policy. We continue to support the Taiwan Relations Act. What we’re talking about right now, and to be clear, the Speaker has not confirmed, as you heard from my colleague just moments ago, that she is going to Taiwan. It has not been confirmed. And the history of this, of congressional members going to Taiwan, is not uncommon. It is something that has happened in the past. And so, again, nothing has changed and the president has made that very, very clear.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:27)
Speaker 17: (52:27)
There’s two more bits of pushback on the Inflation Reduction Act there.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:29)
Speaker 17: (52:31)
Pharmas running ads in this town and probably others, it says that they pay for when it comes to Medicare and allowing Medicare to negotiate some prescription drugs, what resulted in money coming out of the Medicare system and research and development, perhaps being cribbed. There’s also the National Association of Manufacturers, which says that the pay for the 15% minimum corporate tax is essentially a tax on domestic manufacturing, because it would, in some ways, target the accelerated depreciation that many factory owners use to pay for equipment. Is the president confident that if passed and enacted, the bill will neither affect the Medicare program and the way the drugs are developed in this country, or his goals to increase domestic manufacturing?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:16)
So I’ll say this. There are 55 companies, corporations in this country, who make tens of billions of dollars, who aren’t paying zero. Who are paying $0 when it comes to taxes. This bill is going to fix that tax loophole and make the tax code fairer. And that matters. And when you think about what that’s going to do, you think about that $300 billion that’s going to go towards deficit, making sure that we continue to bring down the deficit, $1.7 trillion we saw from last year, add another $300 billion, that is going to save cost. That’s going to save cost for the American people. And that is so critical, so important. Especially as we’re talking about inflation and high cost right now.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:01)
And so, as it relates to the Medicare, just want to just say, the AARP who you all know, an advocacy group for seniors, has endorsed this piece of legislation, while the limit of cost of medicines and cap out-of-pocket expenses to $2,000 a year for people on Medicare, it will limit that. Which is so important for many seniors. This will also strengthen Medicare by reducing its expenses, which save taxpayers money and helps fight inflation. And so that is really important.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:32)
These are the things, if you ask a family and you say to them, “What are some of the costs that you want us to bring down? What are the things that really hit your pocketbook?” They will say prescription drugs. Many will say one of those things are prescription drugs. And so this is a historic investment that’s going to just be a game changer for families. That is incredibly important, and that’s what the president cares about. And that’s how the president wants to continue to support this legislation.
Speaker 17: (55:02)
Just one question about the president’s COVID case. Given the importance of getting him back on a regular schedule, was there any discussion here about taking any additional steps to try to help him clear the virus faster and putting him back on Paxlovid, giving him more fluids, letting him sleep more, anything like that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:16)
I don’t have anything more than what his physician shared today, and also the last couple of days, to all of you. How he’s feeling? He’s feeling very fine. He’s doing great. We heard from him directly say that. And we expected, again, we expected with Paxlovid to be a relapse. It’s not unusual. It’s common. We shared that with all of you the last couple of days during his bout with COVID. Again, this is not unusual. He’s feeling fine. We will continue to share an update from his physician. You’ll get one tomorrow. And so we’re just going to continue with what the doctor lays out and take his word for it.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:58)
Speaker 18: (55:58)
When will the president sign the CHIPS bill? Is that something that he’ll do while he’s isolating? Is that something he’s going to do when you can resume travel?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:06)
Yeah, we will have something on that very, very soon.
Speaker 18: (56:09)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:09)
Don’t have anything for you at this time. We will have something on that for you very soon.
Speaker 18: (56:13)
One more question. Has the US received an official answer yet from Russia on its offer of a prisoner swap?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:21)
We’ve talked about this the last couple of days. Look, as you know, we want to see Brittney Griner home. We want to see Paul Whelan home. They are wrongfully detained. We have been very clear about that. We put forward a substantial offer and we want to have a good-faith conversation on that. We want to make sure that we get this done as soon as possible.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:46)
What we have heard, as you’ve heard from my colleagues, is in bad faith. And so it’s not a serious… There was a counter offer that was made, which we don’t see it as a serious counter offer. Clearly not going to negotiate from here and not going to get into any specific details. But as you can see from the substantial offer, as you can hear from Secretary Blinken, and as you’ve heard from this president, we are taking this very seriously. And this is a top-of-mind for this president. And we want to see them come home
Speaker 19: (57:20)
Karine, about Russia?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:21)
Speaker 20: (57:22)
One more on the president’s case. You had referred to the physician letter that says no reemergence of symptoms, but you also said lingering symptoms. So help us square that so we understand.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:34)
Yeah. Well, no reoccurring symptoms. Meaning, if you look at his original letter, there’s nothing severe, right? Because he feels fine, right? He feels good. But as we know, all of us have had COVID, you do have a little bit of a lingering cough, right? You do have a little bit of maybe lingering sniffles. That’s not uncommon to happen. So that’s what we are talking about.
Speaker 18: (58:02)
So he is not a hundred percent symptom free. He just didn’t have a fever return or something like that, is that fair? I don’t want to-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:09)
Well, he never had a… I want to be careful, because we went into this about if he had a fever or not. He never had a fever. I want to be really clear, it was elevated but it was never a fever.
Speaker 18: (58:21)
Yeah, and I don’t want to put something in this-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:21)
But remember, we had talked about a little fatigue. We had talked about aches, there was a little bit of discomfort. So that has not occurred. But all of us have had COVID before, right? Well, not all of us, many of us. I don’t want to call everybody out. I could speak for myself, and there are some… You know, you still have a dry cough. You still have little sniffles that last for a little bit longer.
Speaker 18: (58:46)
And you’ve already [inaudible 00:58:47]-
Speaker 21: (58:46)
Are you saying he or you?
Speaker 18: (58:50)
Yeah, I’m trying to get a sense of-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:51)
I am saying that all of us have had COVID. Many of us have had COVID before and there tend to be lingering symptoms, and that’s what I’m talking about.
Speaker 18: (58:59)
So the president is still experiencing some things related to his COVID course of illness.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:07)
Right. And also, as we know, you all have known him for some time and covered him. He tends to have a dry cough, that is not unusual. That is what I’m talking about. He tends to have a dry cough, which you all have heard before. Just want to be clear on that too.
Speaker 18: (59:20)
This is on he’s working, he’s calling and so forth. But to my knowledge, I don’t believe you’ve talked about him getting extra rest or taking time away from work. Has he also had blocks of time where he’s not doing anything so that he can rest?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:34)
What I can tell you is that he has been working eight plus hours a day. That is a schedule that he continues to keep. Instead of doing it in the Oval Office, he’s doing it in the White House residence.
Speaker 22: (59:46)
Thanks, Karine. The president suggested in Saudi Arabia that there could be an announcement on oil production coming with OPEC meeting this week. Is the White House expecting an increase in oil production to be announced?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:57)
I will leave that to OPEC+. We are not a member of OPEC+, as you know. And so I would leave them to answer that, answer whatever they’re going to, coming out of that meeting this week.
Speaker 22: (01:00:09)
But the president has received no indication. He did make some strong comments when he was in Saudi Arabia about potential good news and consumers feeling relief.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:17)
Again, I leave that to OPEC+.
Speaker 22: (01:00:18)
And what’s the clarification on how we’re counting the president’s days in terms of when he’ll be out of isolation? Was Saturday day zero, or Saturday day one?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:29)
I believe we shared that on Saturday. What we shared, is basically what it is.
Speaker 22: (01:00:35)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:35)
Okay. All right, I’ll take one more question. I’ll take one more question. I’ll try to… You. And I’ve called on you before, I’m going to call…
Speaker 23: (01:00:45)
Thanks, Karine. Voters in Kansas tomorrow will be the first in the country, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, to have the opportunity to vote on a abortion-related ballot measure. Is the White House seeing this as a vote that could have broader political significance heading into the midterms?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:02)
If it passes, tomorrow’s vote in Kansas could lead to another state eliminating the right to choose and eviscerating access to healthcare. Republican governors and state legislators are imposing extreme laws, banning a woman’s right to choose. Many don’t allow exceptions even for rape or incest. And congressional Republicans are calling for a national ban on abortion. So president Biden has made this very, very clear, that the only way to secure women’s rights to choose, is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. So the majority of Americans, they support that as a women’s right to choose. And again, “Congress must act,” as the president has said many times. And it is also the American people need to make sure that their voices are heard.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:50)
All right. Thanks everybody, I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow.