Aug 3, 2022

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby 8/02/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby 8/02/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby 8/02/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby 8/02/22. Read the transcript here.

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Karine: (00:00)
Good afternoon, everybody.

Speaker 4: (00:01)
Good afternoon.

Karine: (00:01)
As the president spoke to yesterday, the United States undertook a counterterrorism operation in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday. At his direction, the US Intelligence targeted and killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s leader. We know you have questions about this today and so we wanted to make sure that we had John Kirby come back. He’s going to talk about the specifics of that operation and the extension also of truce in Yemen, which is incredibly important, and any other foreign policy news of the day. With that, I give you John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

John Kirby: (00:44)
Thanks. Great.

Karine: (00:45)
There you go.

John Kirby: (00:45)
Appreciate it. That’s a mouthful.

Karine: (00:45)
It’s a lot.

John Kirby: (00:52)
Okay. As Karine noted then, if you all obviously been tracking the president’s announcement yesterday, that on the 30th of July, the United States undertook a precision counterterrorism operation in Kabul, targeted and killed Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri was the world’s most wanted terrorist. He was Osama bin Laden’s deputy during the 9/11 attacks and became his successor in 2011 following bin Laden’s death during a US counterterrorism mission. Zawahiri continued to pose an active threat to US persons, interests, and national security. As President Biden has consistently said, we will not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists who might bring harm to Americans, to the homeland. We met that commitment. This action demonstrates that without American forces on the ground in Afghanistan and in harm’s way, we still remain able to identify and locate even the world’s most wanted terrorist and then take the action to remove him from the battlefield.

John Kirby: (01:51)
That is the definition of this mission of when we talked to a year ago of over the horizon counterterrorism capability. What we did this past weekend is a perfect, clean example of what that capability looks like. Now onto Taiwan. As you have all seen, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, arrived in Taiwan earlier this morning, East Coast time. As we have said, 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 over the years, including this year. Now this trip was the speaker’s decision and Congress is an independent branch of government. You all know that. Well, we’re obviously monitoring her travel as we always do for members of Congress and we’ve taken all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of her travel throughout the region. Let me be clear, the speaker’s visit is totally consistent with our longstanding one-China policy.

John Kirby: (02:49)
We’ve been very clear that nothing has changed about our one-China policy, which is guided of course by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint US-PRC Communiques and the Six Assurances. We’ve said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We’ve said we do not support Taiwan independence. We said, as I said again yesterday, 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 in last week’s call between President Biden and President Xi. The national security advisor, 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.

John Kirby: (03:38)
Now we’ve seen a number of announcements from the PRC in just the last several hours that are unfortunately right in line with what we had anticipated and what we talked about yesterday. Now there’s no reason, as I said yesterday, for Beijing to turn this visit, which is consistent with longstanding US policy, into some sort of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressiveness and military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait now or beyond her travel. Again, as I made clear yesterday, before the speaker’s travel was confirmed by her, China has positioned itself to take further steps and we expect that they will continue to react over a longer term horizon. I couldn’t give you a date for certain of what that horizon looks like, but we certainly would expect them to react even beyond her trip, including announcing additional large scale live-fire exercises.

John Kirby: (04:38)
Of course, they’ve already started doing some of that today, flying across the median line. We’ve seen press reports of them doing that today and using economic coercion. It’s exactly in line with the playbook that we anticipated and talked to you about yesterday. The United States will not seek and does not want a crisis. We are prepared to manage what Beijing chooses to do. At the same time, we will not engage in saber-rattling. We will continue to operate in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific as we have done for decades. We will continue to support Taiwan, defend a free and open Indo-Pacific, and seek to maintain communication with Beijing. We’ll keep doing what we are doing, which is supporting cross-strait peace and stability. Then just real quick, lastly, Karine hinted to this at the top, the president welcomes today’s announcement of an extension of the truce in the Yemen conflict.

John Kirby: (05:37)
The truce in Yemen, of course, was a key agenda item during the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia where he met with the king and the crown prince and with leaders from across the region. We’re grateful for the leadership of Saudi Arabia throughout this truce process, as well as for the Sultan and leaders of Oman who have also played an important role throughout. Now, this truce is now going on five months. It has brought a period of unprecedented calm in Yemen, saving thousands of lives and bringing tangible relief for countless Yemenis. Five months, which may not sound like a lot, but when you’re talking about seven years of war and thousands and thousands of Yemeni lives, it counts for a lot. Now we have a chance to extend this another two months. We urge the Yemeni parties to seize this opportunity to work constructively under UN auspices to reach an inclusive, comprehensive agreement that paves a way for a doable Yemeni-led resolution to the conflict. Advancing the peace process is going to require courage and dedication from all sides. The United States will remain committed and engage in efforts to advance peace in Yemen and to bring relief to the Yemeni people. With that, I’ll take some questions.

Speaker 1: (06:45)
Thank you. Thank you. John, how concerned is the administration right now that the Afghanistan has become a safe haven for terrorists?

John Kirby: (06:54)
I think if you were to ask some members of Al-Qaeda, ask them how safe they feel in Afghanistan right now. I think we proved to a fare-thee-well this weekend that it isn’t a safe haven and it isn’t going to be going forward.

Speaker 1: (07:10)
What will the repercussions be for the Taliban harboring al-Zawahiri?

John Kirby: (07:15)
I’m not going to telegraph moves and decisions that we might make, certainly not going to get ahead of anything at this point. I would just make two points. One, the strike itself shows how serious we are about accountability, shows how serious we are about defending our interests. As I said at the outset, we’re going to maintain this over the horizon capability. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we’re going to continue to try to improve that capability going forward. Number two, we’ve communicated very directly with Taliban leaders our views of their willingness, at some level, of course, to harbor Zawahiri and his family. We have made it clear, not we believe, not we think, not we suppose, but we know that that’s a violation of the Doha Agreement.

Peter: (08:11)
So obviously John, just to follow up on that, clearly this shows accountability for Zawahiri and for Al-Qaeda, wherever they are, as you got them in Afghanistan, but it doesn’t show accountability for what the secretary of state described as a gross violation of the Doha Agreement. Can you commit that there will be some act to demonstrate that they will be held accountable in some way? How do you do that without it looking like, yeah, we’ll just take out one by one. You can keep allowing more in.

John Kirby: (08:34)
Well, again, I’m not going to telegraph punches that haven’t been thrown yet or decisions that haven’t been made yet. We’re going to stay vigilant to the threat. We’ve made it clear to the Taliban that we know what they did and we know who they harbored. We know some of the steps they tried to take after the strike to cover up the evidence of it. So we’re mindful of it, but I’m not going to get ahead of decisions. Policy decisions haven’t been made. It’s not that we take the Taliban at their word, but just indulge me for a second. They claim they want a relationship with the United States and with the West. They claim they want to open up and be part of the international community. They claim they want financing. That’s exactly right, Peter. So if that’s true, if that’s what they really want, then it would behoove them to pay close attention to what we just did over the weekend and to meet their agreements under the Doha Agreement.

Peter: (09:33)
Without identifying them, how many other Al-Qaeda individuals or leaders do you assess are presently living in Afghanistan?

John Kirby: (09:40)
I’m not going to get into intelligence matters, Peter. We said even before we left Afghanistan last August that we knew Al-Qaeda was present in Afghanistan in relatively small numbers. We know that there are still some Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. Again, without getting into classified information here, I would say the number’s not very large. That’s core Al-Qaeda. There are also offshoots like ISIS-K, which we know are very active in Afghanistan right now. The other thing that I want to say, I know rightly, we’re focused on Afghanistan, but again, I want to take you back in time a little bit to about a year ago when we talked about this threat and our departure from Afghanistan.

John Kirby: (10:22)
We know that Al-Qaeda has metastasized both in terms of character. Now they’ve got different offshoot groups, Al-Shabaab, ISIS, and ISIS has got splinter groups of its own, but they’ve also metastasized geographically. They’re not focused as much in a presence in Afghanistan. They’re in North Africa. They’re in the Sahel. They’re out in the Middle East. They’re in Yemen. There are other counterterrorism threats in other parts of the world. We’re going to stay focused on them all. I get that we’re focused on Afghanistan right now, but we’re not taking our eye off the rest of the world either.

Peter Doocy: (10:58)
John, something you just said is not consistent with what we were told last year. You’re saying that you’ve always known there was a small number of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. President Biden said, what interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al-Qaeda gone?

John Kirby: (11:14)
Yeah. In a major way, Al-Qaeda was not playing… Now, wait. Let me finish. They weren’t playing a major role in operations or resourcing or planning in Afghanistan, but Peter, I know specifically because I was at a different podium a year ago and we talked about the fact that Al-Qaeda had a presence in Afghanistan, but small and not incredibly powerful or potent. I think, again, without getting into numbers, we would still assess that to be the case.

Peter Doocy: (11:44)
We know that the Taliban was harboring the world’s most wanted terrorist. You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI most wanted list. What did you think was going to happen?

John Kirby: (11:56)
I take issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups. Again, I’d encourage you to ask-

Peter Doocy: (12:04)
[inaudible 00:12:04] harboring the world’s number one terrorist. How is that not giving a country to a terrorist-sympathizing group, if not giving them permission to have terrorists just sit on a balcony?

John Kirby: (12:20)
Peter, the way you asked that, it makes it sound like we owned Afghanistan a year ago. It wasn’t our country. It was an independent sovereign state and the president made a bold decision to end a war that had been going on for 20 years because he believed then and still believes now that our national security interests are best met by meeting the threats of today, not the threats of 2001. I don’t want to relitigate the whole war here, but obviously, no one anticipated the Ghani government to fall as fast as it did, but we said at the time that as we depart Afghanistan, we’re going to keep vigilant. We’re going to stay ready and we’re not going to let Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our homeland. This past weekend, we prove that case precisely.

Peter Doocy: (13:05)
So now that you know that the Taliban is not living up to the part of the deal that they made with the US to not let Afghanistan be a place that terrorists feel like they can be safe, what are you going to do about it?

John Kirby: (13:18)
Well, that goes to Peter’s question. I’m not going to telegraph decisions that haven’t been made or policy initiatives one way or the other. I would just say-

Peter Doocy: (13:28)
Are we just waiting for some spectacular terrorist attack in the US to then say, “Oh, well, there’s terrorists-

John Kirby: (13:33)
If we were, Peter,-

Peter Doocy: (13:35)
… [inaudible 00:13:35] in Afghanistan. Now we can go get them.

John Kirby: (13:37)
If we were, Peter, then we wouldn’t have taken the hit on Saturday, the strike that we took on Mr. Zawahiri if we were just waiting. This isn’t about waiting. It’s about watching and we watched very closely and we acted on what we learned. I would go so far as to say, not only the American people are safer as a result of President Biden’s decision, but the rest of the world is safer. Does that mean that the threat from Al-Qaeda is over? No, of course it’s not. Now they’ll have to make some decisions here and we’ll watch that too. If we discern a threat to the American homeland again from them or any other terrorist group, the president will reserve the right to take that action again.

Speaker 5: (14:15)
We’re going to go around here [inaudible 00:14:17].

Speaker 2: (14:17)
Thank you. John, now that the house speaker’s actually in Taiwan, can you give us a sense of President Biden’s thoughts on the matter? Does he support that? Then secondly, what kind of lines of communication, if any, are ongoing today between the two governments?

John Kirby: (14:34)
Well, you have the speaker of the house that’s in Taipei right now. Of course, she’s going to be meeting with government leaders. We have stayed in touch with our Taiwan counterparts, of course. We’ve stayed in touch with Speaker Pelosi’s staff as she has progressed through this trip.

Speaker 2: (14:55)
Just to clarify, I meant with Beijing.

John Kirby: (14:57)
I don’t have any specific good conversations with the PRC leaders to speak to today, but as you know, we have an ambassador there. We have an embassy. We are in routine communication with the leaders in Beijing, but I refer to the state department for anything that they might or might not have communicated.

Speaker 2: (15:15)
Then about President Biden, does he support-

John Kirby: (15:16)
I said this yesterday. The president, as a former senator, fully respects the right and the prerogative, frankly, the responsibility of members of Congress to include the speaker of the house to travel overseas.

Speaker 2: (15:28)
But that’s a different question or that’s a different response, but does he support her going?

John Kirby: (15:32)
He respects the speaker’s decision to travel to Taiwan.

Speaker 5: (15:36)
Yeah. Courtney in the back.

Courtney: (15:37)
Thanks. I wanted to ask about Ukraine, specifically the refugee situation. The president had committed to accepting 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. I know that whole idea is that they would stay here temporarily for two years. Is that still the US view that they should be here for two years or the president consider extending that given that the war is ongoing and you don’t know when people may or may not be able to return home?

John Kirby: (16:07)
Yeah. I don’t have any policy changes to speak to today. I can happily take that question or refer you to state department, but I don’t know of any changes to the essential decision by the president to provide a place for Ukrainian refugees to come even if it is just temporarily. What we’ve seen over the course of now almost six months of war is that a lot of Ukrainians who left in the early weeks are going back for various reasons. In the early weeks of the war, we were seeing families cross the border and then either the mom or the dad or both would drop the kids off with somebody and go right back in. There’s a strong desire by Ukrainians to be in their homeland, to be in their country, and we respect that.

Courtney: (16:59)
Would you have to ask Congress for the ability for them to stay longer?

John Kirby: (17:05)
I won’t get ahead of policy decisions that haven’t been made yet. Our commitment to supporting Ukraine has not changed. There’s no change to the president’s commitment in this regard, in terms of welcoming refugees, but I just don’t have any changes for you today.

Courtney: (17:19)
Thank you.

Speaker 3: (17:19)
Mr. Kirby, al-Zawahiri, he killed more than 200 people in Tanzania and in Kenya in 1998. Right now, even though the US compensated US citizen who were victim of those bombings, the people in Kenya and Tanzania, they’ve received nothing. What message do you have for them now that you’ve killed him?

John Kirby: (17:39)
Yeah, I’d say the same thing I told Mr. Doocy here, that this is not just a good day for the United States of America, it’s a good day for the world.

Speaker 3: (17:47)
Yeah. [inaudible 00:17:47] that the families of the victims of those bombings were now compensated by the US. What message do you have for-

John Kirby: (17:54)
I don’t have any compensation policies here to speak to. Again, Mr. Zawahiri’s death is good for everybody around the world. He was a killer and it’s a good thing that he’s no longer walking the face of the earth. It also means that we’re going to have to stay vigilant to this threat going forward.

Speaker 3: (18:13)
So are you saying that the lives of Kenya and Tanzania don’t really matter?

John Kirby: (18:19)
Wow. I got to take issue with that. I did not say that. I don’t even know where you came from on that one. Of course, all lives matter.

Speaker 3: (18:26)
You’re upset. [inaudible 00:18:27].

John Kirby: (18:29)
I didn’t say that, sir. I really, really take exception to the tone and the implication in that question. Of course, their lives matter. Every life matters, particularly a life taken so violently as by the hands of a terrorist. If those lives didn’t matter, sir, we wouldn’t have taken the action that we took this weekend. If those lives didn’t matter, sir, we wouldn’t be staying vigilant to the threat going forward, which we will do.

Speaker 6: (18:54)
John, on Taiwan.

Nancy: (18:56)
[inaudible 00:18:56].

Speaker 6: (18:56)
Two Nancys?

Nancy: (19:01)
All the Nancys. Nancy squared.

John Kirby: (19:02)
Second row Nancy.

Nancy: (19:05)
Was anything you saw today from China’s response a surprise? I know that there were the drills and missile tests the Beijing announced that they would conduct. Was that what they’ve been warning about in private to the White House?

John Kirby: (19:17)
I’m not going to talk about private discussions. What I would tell you is that what we’ve seen thus far, and she just arrived, is consistent with the playbook that we expected them to run. We’ll just keep watching it. It’s one of the reasons why I came out here yesterday to lay some of that out for you. What we’ve seen so far, been pretty consistent.

Nancy: (19:39)
Is the president planning to speak with Speaker Pelosi after she leaves Taiwan or when she gets back here to get a readout or a sense of that trip?

John Kirby: (19:46)
I don’t have any conversations that I could announce or speak to. Obviously, if he does have a conversation like that, I’m sure Karine would let you know.

Speaker 5: (19:56)
Nancy C.

Nancy C.: (19:59)
When it comes to Taiwan, it appears the retaliation has already begun.

Nancy C.: (20:02)
-Taiwan, it appears the retaliation has already begun. China banned exports from 100 Taiwanese brands. Are you concerned that Taiwan is going to end up paying too steep of price for this US visit?

John Kirby: (20:15)
There’s no reason for that to happen, Nancy. As we said today, and yesterday, no reason for China to take what is a perfectly legitimate and consistent travel by the speaker of the house and turn it into some pretext for amping up the tensions or creating some crisis or conflict. There’s just simply no reason for that. And because she’s not acting, we’re not acting in any way inconsistent with the way we’ve been acting now for decades, since the Taiwan relation act was passed into law back in the late seventies. I can’t speak for Chinese actions or Chinese decisions one way or another. We’re going to continue to watch this and monitor this. I would just say that we don’t support Taiwan independence. We’ve said that before. We do support Taiwan’s self defense in keeping with the Taiwan relations act. We’re going to keep doing that. And we’re going to keep working on revitalizing our alliances and partnerships in the region for a free and open endo Pacific. And

Nancy C.: (21:20)
What is this going to do to the US, China relationship, which is already so fraught?

John Kirby: (21:28)
I think the fact that the President talked to President Xi last week for two hours is an indication of how much the President understands and respects the consequential nature of this bilateral relationship. As I’ve said before, one of the most consequential, not just in the region, but in the world. The President wants to keep those lines of communication open. It is particularly important to do that when there’s times of tension, like right now, to make sure those lines of communication remain open. So I would say to answer your question, one, we don’t want to see this spiral into any kind of a crisis or conflict. Again, we would say there’s no reason to. Number two, we want to be able to maintain those lines of communication, but a lot of this is going to depend, answering your question, is going to depend a lot on how China behaves over coming days and weeks.

Zeke: (22:27)
Hey, John.

Speaker 7: (22:29)
We’ll come to the back.

Zeke: (22:30)
John, given the concerns you were just talking about with China’s actions in response to this visit by the speaker, the heightened tensions, the risks of provocation and the like, does the president believe that the speakers trip is a net benefit to US national security interests or not?

John Kirby: (22:48)
Look, the President doesn’t typically comment on congressional travel. As I said, he respects her decision to go. And he believes it’s perfectly consistent with American policy going back decades and supported by both parties.

Zeke: (23:04)
But does he believe it hurts US foreign policy interests in the region?

John Kirby: (23:08)
The President has already seen that Speaker Pelosi has already accomplished some important conversations on this trip with respect to foreign policy, with her stop in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. And then she’s already announced she’s moving on to Japan and South Korea, two of our treaty allies in the Pacific. So he welcomes her conversations. He welcomes her contributions to American foreign policy and our foreign policy objectives overseas. But the trip’s not even over yet. So I think we ought to give the speaker a chance to talk about what she did, what she learned and what she took away from this trip when she gets back.

Zeke: (23:55)
And then just back to the strike. You mentioned that you weren’t going to telegraph punches before they were thrown, but has the President decided that the Taliban should pay a price or has he not decided that they should pay a price for harboring-

John Kirby: (24:09)
I’m not going to get ahead of the President on this. I think the Taliban already has paid a price just in terms of the now very public acknowledgement that they were harboring Zawahiri and his family and that the United States did exactly what the President promised we would do. Now, beyond that, I’m just not going to get ahead of the president or any decisions he might or might not make. The Taliban have a choice now. Well, they always did, but they certainly have a new choice and that is they can comply with their agreement under the Doha agreement, comply with their commitments under the Doha agreement. Or they can choose to keep going down a different path. And if they go down a different path, it’s going to lead to consequences, not just from the United States, but from the international community.

John Kirby: (24:55)
This is a group that says they want to govern, that they want legitimacy, that they want financing, that they want international support. And if that’s true, then one would hope that they would behave in a manner consistent with those goals. Harboring Mr. Zawahiri and his family and being willing to allow them to live in downtown Kabul and then to try to cover up the fact that they were seems inconsistent with those goals.

Speaker 7: (25:27)
Okay, Jeremy, then we’re going back to [inaudible 00:25:31].

Speaker 8: (25:30)
I have a question on Taiwan but first on Zawahiri. Was Siraj Haqqani aware that Zawahiri was in Kabul?

John Kirby: (25:37)
There were senior members of the Haqqani network that were aware. I’m not going to go any further than that.

Speaker 8: (25:44)
Okay. So you won’t say if Siraj Haqqani himself was aware.

John Kirby: (25:46)
I’m not going to go any further.

Speaker 8: (25:48)
You’ve held up these strikes, this strike as a vindication of the US’ over the horizon capabilities, but what makes you confident that you can maintain that capability and that this wasn’t simply a one off? To my knowledge, this is the first and only counter-terrorism strike US has conducted since the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

John Kirby: (26:07)
It’s the first and only over the horizon counter-terrorism strike we conducted in Afghanistan.

Speaker 8: (26:12)
That’s what I’m saying, sorry.

John Kirby: (26:12)
Since then. But you remember we also killed Haji Abdullah in Syria using-

Speaker 8: (26:17)
Yeah I’m not saying specifically about Afghanistan.

John Kirby: (26:18)
-over the horizon capabilities. So what gives me confidence is the coming from a place of understanding, myself, from previous assignments what our capabilities are in the region. And they’re robust. We said that at the time. We’ve heard secretary Austin say there’s not a scrap of the earth that the United States can’t touch if we need to. And that’s true. And since last year, Jeremy, we have worked hard to try to improve those capabilities. Now I’m not going to get into the details of how we’re doing that right now, but we have. We’ve worked hard to make them more robust. And the process of improvement doesn’t have a, it doesn’t have a shelf life. There’s no deadline on that. You constantly try to improve military capabilities and particularly one in this realm. So we can expect Al-Qaeda is probably going to behave a little differently now. So we’re going to have to be mindful of that. So we’re always going to be working to get better at it.

Speaker 8: (27:13)
And are you going to limit those efforts to targeting only the highest of value targets in Afghanistan?

John Kirby: (27:18)
The President, I think, laid it out very clearly back then and then yesterday that we’re going to make sure that Afghanistan cannot become a safe haven for terrorists who want to attack or plotting to attack the United States of America and our interests.

Speaker 8: (27:36)
And then very quickly on Taiwan. What is the US doing to prepare for any further Chinese action and particularly any military repercussions for Taiwan from China? Are we seeing any force posture changes in the region and anything else that the US is doing to help Taiwan?

John Kirby: (27:53)
I think you can understand I’m not going to talk about force posture or military movements one way or the other.

Speaker 8: (27:57)
Maybe from a different podium.

John Kirby: (27:59)
Yeah. Yeah. Nice try. No, I’m not going to do that. We take our secure security commitments in the region broadly, very seriously. We have robust military capability obviously available to meet those commitments. We’re going to watch what happens here is closely as we can. The only thing that I will say, as I said at the top is that we’re going to make sure that Speaker Pelosi’s trip, the whole trip, is safe and secure for her.

Speaker 7: (28:30)
[inaudible 00:28:30].

Speaker 9: (28:30)
Thank you. As you mentioned, we’re seeing some pretty provocative stuff, unfortunately, from China. Whether that’s canceling food exports or planned military exercises. I’m wondering given these developments, does the White House believe that it would’ve been better that news of Speaker Pelosi’s proposed trip had not leaked last month? Would it have been better if this remained secret until she was on the ground?

John Kirby: (28:55)
Look, it’s hard to speak to leaks in this town and what effect they … You’re asking me to go back in time and disprove a negative here. Look the leak was certainly unfortunate. Wherever it came from, it was unfortunate because the speaker, as we have said, Karine has said, and I have said, should be able to talk to her travel in her own terms. And when she landed she announced she was there.

Speaker 9: (29:28)
And then one more, very quickly, House Republicans are already moving forward with legislation that they plan on proposing that they would create a lend lease program for Taiwan. Is this an overreaction? Is this something that perhaps heightens tensions at a moment when they should be mellowed?

John Kirby: (29:45)
I won’t speak to Congress and their motivations or whoever, and I’m certainly not going to talk about proposed legislation. I would tell you that … It’s time to wake up. I would tell you that there’s been long standing, bipartisan support since the late seventies for the Taiwan relations act. Both sides of the aisle. And that remains today. And we take our obligations under that act very seriously, which provides for a way, a method of assisting Taiwan with their self-defense. And so through the … I can’t speculate about where this proposed legislation’s going to go, and I’m certainly not going to offer a administration policy statement on it since it’s simply proposed, but I can be certain, and it’s important for everybody to understand how seriously we take our obligations under that Taiwan relations act, and we’re going to continue to do that. Even just under President Biden, we’ve provided a billion dollars worth of defense articles under the Taiwan relations act. So it’s a serious commitment.

Speaker 9: (30:58)
Thank you, sir. Thank you, Karine.

Speaker 7: (30:59)
Sebastian and then [inaudible 00:30:59].

Speaker 10: (30:59)
Thank you. Thank you, John. Sebastian. So two questions, please. Can you confirm Chinese media reports that the US ambassador in Beijing was summoned by the government and it was in the middle of the night. That’s, the Global Times is reporting that.

John Kirby: (31:16)
We know that Ambassador Burns has had discussions with his Chinese interlocutors, but I’d refer you to the state department in terms of being summoned in the middle of the night.

Speaker 10: (31:26)
Okay. And the other one, there was an interesting nugget in the middle of a latest Thomas Friedman column, which was ostensibly all about Taiwan, but he then mentions Ukraine. And there was an intriguing couple paragraphs in there where he’s supposedly quoting people from inside the administration telling him that, I can’t remember the exact words, but it was essentially that there’s less trust in Volodymyr Zelenskyy than is being reported. And that there’s … Actually, I’ve got it right here. There is deep mistrust between the White House and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I’m only asking you because Thomas Friedman is obviously somebody who’s read widely and supposedly has contact with people inside the White House. So …

John Kirby: (32:08)
Yeah. President has spoken many times to his admiration for President Zelenskyy’s leadership and courage in this time of war. He has obviously spoken to President Zelenskyy personally many times, and he understands the stress that President Zelenskyy and all the Ukrainian people are under. And that’s why he has remained very committed to continuing to support Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression. He has privately and publicly expressed that respect for President Zelenskyy and for the challenges that he and his and his fellow citizens are facing.

Speaker 7: (32:52)
Thanks. Mateo and then [inaudible 00:32:54].

Speaker 11: (32:54)
In an effort to advance the public’s understanding of what happened in the [inaudible 00:32:58] operation. Can you explain, did the hell fire missiles apparently have these blades? Can you explain how operationally that worked to avoid civilian casualties? What the capabilities of those missiles are and how it all played out?

John Kirby: (33:10)

Speaker 11: (33:12)
Right. How about this one? Last night, a senior official was asked to avoid any doubt being aired about whether in fact it was Zawahiri who was targeted, there’s multiple intelligence sources, multiple methods. Is there anything you could tell us to avoid any doubt being aired about the fact that it was in fact Zawahiri who was killed?

John Kirby: (33:36)
There’s a limit to how much detail we can provide on this. I would tell you that it’s a combination of visual evidence and evidence collected through other means that led us to the certainty before that this was the guy. And that led us to the conclusion after with a high degree of confidence that he was no more.

Speaker 10: (34:12)
Is is physical evidence?

John Kirby: (34:15)
It’s a visual evidence and evidence collected through through other means. I really think that’s about as far as I can go. But the assessment is high confidence that we got who we were aiming for. And I think, just without getting into more detail, just the various things that people on the ground did afterward also helped us come to that conclusion.

Speaker 7: (34:50)
[inaudible 00:34:50].

Speaker 12: (34:50)
Yeah. Last year, the Biden administration was undertaking a review of its drone policy. I can’t find any evidence that review was completed or released to the public. And I’m wondering what the status of that is, but also what this operation tells us about President Biden’s approach to the use of drones in foreign policy.

John Kirby: (35:16)
I don’t have an update on the policy review. We can take that and see if we can get back to you on something. I don’t have an update for you on that today, but I think in every thing that you’ve seen President Biden do as commander in chief, and now I can speak with some authority on that having served in another building, there is a respect for the use of force and an appreciation for both the power that’s resident in the use of force, as well as the limits of some of that power around the world that the President fully fully respects. And he has a deep appreciation for if the military tool is going to be used, that it’s used to pursue very discrete national security interest, and that the tools used are appropriate to the task. And unmanned aerial vehicles are a tool, very powerful tool. You can’t use them for everything, you shouldn’t use them for everything. But in a case like this, well, I think the results speak for themselves.

Speaker 7: (36:29)
A couple more [inaudible 00:36:30].

Speaker 13: (36:31)
Thank you. If you could talk a little bit about why the President, in the case of Zawahiri ordered a CIA drone strike and not a military strike. And specifically, if Pakistan was notified ahead of time, in this case.

John Kirby: (36:48)
There were no notifications in advance. Given the collection of information that we had over the previous six, seven months. The location of the target, the geography and the President’s strong desire to avoid civilian casualties. It was his decision that the best way to execute this strike was to do it with unmanned aerial vehicles. You might remember months ago when we launched a another over the horizon counter terrorism strike in Syria against Haji Abdullah that there was a blend. There was a use of actual American forces, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles in support.

John Kirby: (37:59)
So every case is different. Every mission is different. And back to the previous question, as commander in chief, the President takes a very discerning view about the use of military or any kind of what we call kinetic power and how that’s applied. I’m not going to, again, speak to the units here or what personnel were involved in this, but this was done only with UAVs. And again, it was a result of a very careful, thoughtful, deliberate, I would say almost painstaking, decision making process led by the President and his national security team to make sure that the target was valid and that the tools to go after that target were the best ones. And again, I say the results speak for themselves. Zawahiri’s gone and nobody in his family got hurt.

Speaker 13: (38:54)
So then you’re saying this had nothing to do with having any kind of plausible deniability if the mission were to not succeed. Was that even part of the calculation here?

John Kirby: (39:03)

Speaker 13: (39:05)
And a quick question on the speakers trip to Taiwan, I know you’re saying everything China has done was largely anticipated, but from all the reactions you have seen so far, are there any that have caused, or cause of concern for this administration?

John Kirby: (39:22)
Look, I think just broadly speaking, it’s concerning to see them react in the way they’ve reacted. There’s no need for that. There’s no justification to turn this into a crisis. So it’s unfortunate that they have already chosen to act in ways we predicted that they would. We would again remind leaders in Beijing that there’s nothing unprecedented about this trip. I heard a Chinese spokesman earlier today was saying that violates their sovereignty. There’s no violation of sovereignty. The speaker going is perfectly consistent with other-

John Kirby: (40:03)
… violation of sovereignty. The Speaker going is perfectly consistent with other members of Congress going, as I said, including this year. So there’s just no reason to amp this up and we’re not going to participate in that. As I said at the outset, we’re not going to do saber-rattling. We’re simply going to do what we have to do to make sure that her trip is safe and secure and that we can meet our security commitments in the region [inaudible 00:40:24] broadly and also to make sure that we can keep those lines of communication open, because it’s important, again, particularly when things are tense.

Speaker 13: (40:32)
So how should we interpret that [crosstalk 00:40:34] in that case, John? Just a quick follow up, if I may. How should we interpret in that case, the US Navy parking warships to the East of Taiwan? How should we interpret the Chinese war planes flying over the line, [inaudible 00:40:46] off Taiwan Strait?

John Kirby: (40:48)
Well, as a former Naval officer, I can assure you, we do not park warships anywhere, but we deploy them as appropriate. And I’m not going to speak to individual unit movements right now. We have Seventh Fleet is present in the Western Pacific based in Japan. We have a lot of naval assets in the region and they’re constantly moving around, and they’re constantly conducting operations and exercises to include what we call freedom of navigation exercises, or operations.

Speaker 14: (41:23)
Any reaction to what is happening there?

John Kirby: (41:24)
I’m not going to talk about force level movements with respect to this.

Karine: (41:29)
We have to move on. James, are you ready?

James: (41:31)
Oh my goodness.

Karine: (41:33)

James: (41:33)
Thank you.

Karine: (41:34)
The floor is yours.

James: (41:35)
Thank you. Admiral, one on Taiwan, if you would and one on the Middle East very quickly. You keep telling us that US policy hasn’t changed and that the United States does not support an independent Taiwan. And yet, if we look at what Speaker Pelosi Tweeted from the ground in Taiwan, her post actually states, quote, “America stands with Taiwan.” We all know that Taiwan harbors ambitions toward independence. When the Speaker of the House says, “We stand with Taiwan, America stands with Taiwan”, how can the Chinese construe that as anything else, but that you’re supporting independence?

John Kirby: (42:13)
I’ll let the Speaker speak for herself. All I can tell you, James, is what I told you yesterday. And I’m happy to repeat it. Nothing has changed about our adherence to the One China Policy. Nothing has changed about our stance on Taiwan, independence, which is that we do not support Taiwan independence. And nothing has changed, James, about our commitments and how seriously we take those commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act. Everything is consistent, James. I can’t say that any more clearly.

James: (42:47)
So when she says, “America stands with Taiwan”, is she misstating administration policy?

John Kirby: (42:52)
You should talk to Speaker Pelosi about her comments. I’m not going to- [inaudible 00:42:56] I’m not saying that James. I’m not going to speak for Speaker Pelosi, that’s beyond my writ. I can speak for the administration when it comes to national security policy and nothing has changed about our policy.

James: (43:09)
On the Middle East very quickly, is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps presently engaged in the conduct or support of terror activity?

John Kirby: (43:19)
I think I know where this is getting.

James: (43:22)
You don’t have to know.

John Kirby: (43:22)
No, I think I know where you’re getting with this. Look, I think the President’s been very, very clear.

James: (43:31)
It’s a yes or no. Are they, or are they not conducting or supporting terror activity?

John Kirby: (43:35)
The Iranian state is a-

James: (43:39)
The IRGC is what I asked.

John Kirby: (43:41)
… is a state supporter of terrorism and they support terrorist networks throughout the region. And when asked if he would be willing to lift the FTO designation of the IRGC as a function of the negotiations with Iran over the nuclear deal, the President said no.

James: (44:03)
But are you able to say that IRGC supports terror operations?

John Kirby: (44:06)
I think I’ve answered the question.

Karine: (44:07)
James, we’re moving on. We’re going to do three. You, you and then Tyler.

John Kirby: (44:13)
Which ones? Okay.

Karine: (44:13)
We’re going to do-

John Kirby: (44:16)
You know who you’re pointing at, I do not.

Karine: (44:17)
I am so sorry.

John Kirby: (44:18)
That’s okay.

Karine: (44:20)
Then we’re going to go to Ed, and then we’re going to end with Tyler.

Speaker 16: (44:21)
How about me?

Speaker 15: (44:22)
Okay. Brittney Griner’s trial in Russia resumed earlier today and a sentencing is expected, potentially by the end of the week. Considering the fact that Russia made that counter offer, that the USA was not a serious offer, how confident is the US that they will take such an offer for a prisoner swap? And if they do not, has the administration already talked about other plans of action to bring her home?

John Kirby: (44:52)
Obviously, we’re not going to negotiate this thing in public. And I do appreciate the question, but we’ve made a serious proposal, made a serious offer and we urged the Russians to take that offer because it was done with sincerity. And we know we can back it up, but I don’t think it’s helpful, for Paul or for Brittney, for us from the podium to get into a back and forth with the Russians over what the negotiations might or might not look like going forward. Bottom line is, we want to see Brittney and Paul come home to their families where they belong and the President takes that responsibility seriously. And so seriously in fact, that an offer has been made, a proposal has been put forth to affect that outcome. And we urge the Russians to take it.

Speaker 15: (45:46)
And one follow up, I spoke to Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, and he said something that Reverend Al Sharpton has said, that a group of diverse religious leaders would like to take a delegation trip to Russia if such negotiation do not work to bring Brittney home, to make some type of moral, compassionate, humanitarian, compelling argument to bring her home. Would the US support a delegation trip if your negotiations were unsuccessful?

John Kirby: (46:15)
Yeah, I don’t want to speculate on a hypothetical here. I would just tell you that we are working hard, government to government, to get Paul and Brittney home, so much so that we did put forth a very serious proposal. And I think I’m just going to leave it there.

Karine: (46:32)
Go ahead, Ed.

Ed: (46:32)
Yeah, I want to ask you about oil. So I saw that the State Department approved a potential sale for Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia, the trip last month from the President between the King and the Prince happened. So tomorrow, OPEC decides to increase production or not. How confident are you that the Saudis will push OPEC to increase production?

John Kirby: (46:51)
I won’t get ahead of the Saudis or OPEC. I think you can understand, I wouldn’t speak to that. We had good discussions with them on the President’s trip to include productive discussions on energy security. But look, this is a decision that OPEC has to make and I wouldn’t want to get ahead of that.

Ed: (47:11)
But you expect-

John Kirby: (47:11)

Ed: (47:12)
But you expect the Saudis to… I mean, we’re giving them weapons now, we have the meeting between the King and President. Do you expect them to help us out?

John Kirby: (47:19)
Yeah. The question kind of presupposes there’s some sort of a quid pro quo here, and that’s just not the case. We provide defense articles like Patriots, sell those to Saudi Arabia because they have a legitimate need for air defense. In fact, one of the things they discussed on this trip was the potential or possibility for some sort of integrated air and missile defense throughout the region. And the Patriot batteries would contribute to that. And yes, he met with the King and the Crown Prince and his leadership team, as well as all the leaders of the GCC plus three when he was out there, because there’s a range of issues to talk about. Energy security was on the agenda, but it wasn’t the only agenda. I’m not going to speculate on about what OPEC might or might not do. But I do want to just go back to one point, and that is how seriously the President takes the issue of supply in the energy market out there.

John Kirby: (48:16)
And he has worked domestically to improve and increase that supply by releasing a million barrels a day, this will take us all the way through October. That’s nothing to sneeze at. That has actually helped stabilize the oil market. In OPEC, as Karine has told you, just this summer has increased by 50%, their productions for July and August already, and that has helped stabilize the market. And you’re seeing the price now coming down. Depending on which variant you want to look at, it’s either $93 a barrel or it’s $99, either way, it’s come down here in recent days. That’s all good. That’s all goodness for the market because more supply means more stability and it helps de depressurize the prices, which then will get hopefully translated down to the pump. So the president’s working hard here at home increasing the numbers of permits that are out there. And he’s certainly working hard on the world stage with world leaders to try to, again, help stabilize that market.

Karine: (49:16)
Okay. We’re going to take Tyler and then the foreign pool, we should take him as well since you’re here. But, Tyler, go ahead.

Tyler: (49:20)
John, just a quick question. Did the President alert former President Obama, or Bush or Trump after the strike, before he informed the public? President Obama did so when the US killed Osama bin Laden. I’m wondering if there’s any communication between the current President and his predecessors in that [inaudible 00:49:37]?

John Kirby: (49:37)
Tyler, I’d have to go back and check. I don’t know if there was outreach to former Commanders-in-Chief after the fact. There was no notifications to anybody before the strike.

Karine: (49:51)
Lalit, you have the last.

Lalit: (49:52)
Yes. Thank you. Do you believe that Afghanistan is now emerging as a safe haven for terrorists?

John Kirby: (49:59)

Lalit: (50:00)
Why not?

John Kirby: (50:02)
Because we’ve made it clear that we’re not going to allow that to happen. Now, I want to also be clear, Lalit, that that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be terrorists in Afghanistan. And we never said when we left that Afghanistan would never have a terrorist on their soil. What we said was, the Taliban agreed to not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists, particularly terrorists that would attack the United States. That was part of the agreement.

John Kirby: (50:33)
And what the President said was, he’s not going to allow that, regardless of whether the Taliban meet their commitment. And he said that back then. We’re not going to just take them at their word. We’re going to watch ourselves. We’re going to be vigilant and we’re not going to allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists that can attack the Homeland. You shouldn’t take away from the strike that every single terrorist, whether they’re card carrying or not, is going to be the victim of an airstrike by the United States or anybody else. But if we have credible evidence that a terrorist operating in Afghanistan or anywhere else, and as I said earlier, the threat has metastasized well beyond Afghanistan, the President will take action to defend this country and the American people.

Lalit: (51:22)
And really, to what extent the Chinese actions last one week is impacting peace and stability in the neighborhood?

John Kirby: (51:29)
I’m sorry, can you say that again?

Lalit: (51:30)
To what extent the Chinese actions is impacting the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region?

John Kirby: (51:35)
Well, it’s certainly not helping, these actions that they’ve taken in just the last hours and days. It’s certainly not helping to increase stability and security. And again, as I said in my opening statement, we’re invested in that peace, and security and that stability. And we’re not going to be saber-rattling, and we’re not going to do anything to increase the tensions. We’d like to see the tensions come down. We’d like to see the lines of communication with Beijing stay open. And again, we reiterate, there’s no reason, just no justification whatsoever for the tensions to amp up any more than they already are. Okay. [inaudible 00:52:16] Thanks, everybody. Thank you.

Karine: (52:20)
Thanks for the time.

Speaker 17: (52:21)
Thanks, John.

Karine: (52:21)
Really appreciate it. Thank you.

John Kirby: (52:22)
Thanks, guys. See you.

Karine: (52:24)
Thanks for the time, John. Appreciate it. Okay. Now for the boring part of the news. Okay. So today, HHS released a new report showing that the lowest number of Americans in history are uninsured today, just 8%. This progress did not happen by accident. More than 35 million Americans are enrolled in Affordable Care Act related coverage, the highest total on record. That includes 21 million people who are enrolled in ACAs expansion of Medicaid and 5 million more people have gained health insurance coverage since the beginning of the Biden-Harris administration, in large part because of the improvements to the ACA in the American rescue plan. In order to keep this progress moving forward, Congress should pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lock in an average of $800 per year savings in health insurance premiums for 13 million Americans and prevent 3 million Americans from becoming uninsured. Today, President Biden, as you all saw for yourselves earlier, joined Governor Gretchen Whitmer, members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and business and labor leaders to mark the signing of the governor’s executive direction to implement the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

Karine: (53:54)
This is just the first example of the federal-state partnership that will launch across the country as states leverage its once in a century investment in their own states to bring in new projects and to create the project jobs, and project jobs. I know folks are wondering and asking, but we will have an announcement on the official signing of CHIPS and Science Act soon, which will lower the cost, as you all know, you’ve all heard us say, everyday goods, creating high paying manufacturing jobs across the country, and strengthen our national security and US leadership in the industries of the future. Lastly, a growing body, I’m sure you all saw, of economic experts have analyzed the Inflation Reduction Act and agree that it will lower cost, reduce inflation, and address a range of important and longstanding economic challenges. 126 leading economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners, former Treasury Secretaries, and a CBO director and former CEA chairs wrote to Congress this morning, endorsing the Inflation Reduction Act and calling for its passage.

Karine: (55:08)
They wrote that, “These investments” and I quote, “will fight inflation and lower costs for American families while setting the stage for strong, and stable and broadly shared long term economic growth”, end quote. They note this package will, again I quote, “quickly and noticeably bring down healthcare cost for families and would be more than fully paid for” end quote. They also underline that the revenue raised to finance these investments would come exclusively from wealthy individuals and corporations. These are major priorities for the American people, including tax fairness, closing the tax loophole, as you heard us say. And where the President and congressional Democrats have a verified plan to fight inflation, congressional Republicans on the other hand are standing against these investment, because they are more about protecting tax welfare for those who game the system than they do about curbing inflation. They are screaming bloody murder because this bill repeals sweetheart deals that led hedge fund managers pay for less income tax than the average American, or stop multi-billion dollar corporations from exploiting loopholes to pay literally nothing or stops shielding wealthy tax cheats, taking advantage of everyone in this room.

Karine: (56:37)
As you all know, this year, congressional Republican like Rick Scott proposing raising taxes on about a hundred million middle class Americans, a hundred million middle class Americans. Americans have a clear choice between these agendas and the values behind them. Do we attack inflation with the Inflation Reduction Act, which we know works, or will work? Or do we extend the pain of inflation like congressional Republicans are arguing for, because they think it’s more important to let the wealthiest Americans and big corporations take advantage than all of us than to cut costs for the middle class? That’s what we’re left here. Those are the choices that we have to make. Okay, with that, Zeke.

Zeke: (57:22)
Thanks, Karine. I’m getting good word from some of your staff, you might have a bit of a hard out in about 15, 20 minutes or so.

Karine: (57:26)

Zeke: (57:26)
But just two questions on the drone strike in Afghanistan, following up on some of John’s answers earlier. Does the President believe that the strike against al-Zawahiri disrupted an active plot against the United States? And also, is the President, has he been briefed on any threats to US interests at home or abroad in potential retaliation for taking out al Qaeda’s top leader?

Karine: (57:51)
I would just reiterate what John Kirby said up here. The President has consistently said that he will not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists. He has said that a year ago and he continues. And we meant that commitment. And what I will say is that we showed that without American forces on the ground in Afghanistan and in harm’s way, we remain able to identify and locate even the world’s most wanted terrorists, and then take action to remove him from the battlefield. And that’s what we did. That’s what the President talked about yesterday. And that’s the action that we took on Saturday. I’m not going to go into any intelligence previewing, or hypotheticals or anything like that. All I can say is we took action. This is a counter-terrorism operation, a precise counter-terrorist operation that we took in Kabul, Afghanistan, as you know, on Saturday.

Karine: (58:50)
And this is something that the President has said, we would be able to have the capabilities of doing that over-horizon approach. And that’s what the President was able to do. We have to remember who he was. He was emir to the Al-Qaeda. He was someone that we were not able to get those 10 years that we did have troops on the ground. And when the President made that decision to end a 20 year war, that caused $2 trillion, that put American women and men in our military at risk, when he decided to do that, less than a year, we were able to get him. And so, that’s what matters. I can’t get into any specific intelligence from here.

Zeke: (59:40)
And then the President, obviously, is still isolating with COVID in the residence, he was while this strike took place and also, when he authorized the strike last week. Can you provide a little bit of color in terms of how he was briefed on it, how the strike authorization was given? Was this all taking place over Zoom or secure video conference? Could he be in the situation room?

Karine: (01:00:02)
So as you know, the…

Zeke: (01:00:03)
…conference, could it be a situation where-

Karine: (01:00:03)
So as you know, the President could be President anywhere. And as you know, also, as you just mentioned, he’s isolating in the White House residence, as he has been since he tested most recently from a rebound positive on Saturday. And so he’s able to do these types of conversation with his National Security team, clearly through secured lines. And that’s what he was able to do. We have laid out the best that we can, to share with all of you, the steps that were taken to make this decision. I believe it was July 25th, where he actually gave the authorization to move forward. This has been weeks and months in discussion with his National Security team, leaders from his National Security team to have this conversation. And as we all know, on July 20th, 10 minutes or so before the 10:00 PM hour, the action was taken, the directive that the President gave.

Karine: (01:01:03)
Again, the President can work from anywhere, including the White House residence, that is always the case. And he has been doing the job for the American people eight plus, 10 hours a day, as he has said to me, many times during his isolation.

Speaker 13: (01:01:19)
Just quickly Karine, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Idaho on its near total abortion ban, saying that it violates federal law. I mean, does the White House have a comment on that? And is the President aware, does he have any thoughts on this lawsuit?

Karine: (01:01:36)
So just a couple of things that I do want to say on that, because I know that this just happened. So the administration, President Biden remains committed to defending reproductive rights. The Department of Justice, as you just stated, today sued the state of Idaho whose abortion ban set to go into effect later this month, imposes a near total ban on abortion and criminalizes doctors who provide abortions.

Karine: (01:02:02)
Idaho’s law and its treatment of women is devastating, its extreme and threatens lives. Period. Federal law makes clear doctors must provide women emergency medical care, including abortion services, to stabilize women facing health and life threatening conditions. But under Idaho’s near total ban on abortion, women seeking emergency care from medical conditions like ectopic pregnancies or hemorrhages can be denied medically necessary healthcare by doctors. To put a finer point on it, pregnant women, whose health and lives are in serious jeopardy, may not receive the care they need under Idaho’s abortion plan. President Biden has said many times that the only way to fully secure a woman’s right to choose, is for Congress to take action to restore protections that Roe had given women for almost 50 years before the extreme decision was made at the Supreme Court just over a month ago.

Karine: (01:03:03)
Until then, the President is doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect the access to safe and legal abortion and then we’re going to continue to do that.

Speaker 13: (01:03:12)
Do you have any thoughts on specifically the lawsuit today?

Karine: (01:03:15)
I have not spoken to him about this lawsuit today, specifically. This is the first that you’re hearing from us on this today. Okay.

Speaker 18: (01:03:24)
Just a question following up on Zeke’s, this has been one of the most successful weeks of the President’s tenure in the White House so far. I’m wondering if it’s just coincidence that it’s happened while he has largely been isolating in the White House? You know, the CHIPS law has passed and historic [inaudible 01:03:43]-

Karine: (01:03:42)
Oh my gosh, what are you trying to say here?

Speaker 18: (01:03:47)
I just wondering if anyone else finds it a coincidence? I mean, the President had a successful 2020 campaign where he was mostly working from his home. Work from home has seemed to be successful for the Presidency.

Karine: (01:03:56)
Tyler, my goodness. Geez. Oh my gosh. The citizens… Look, the President is going to continue to work for the American people, regardless. It, doesn’t matter where he is. I hear what you’re saying, but we’ve had successes over the last 18 months. It’s not just been this week, right?

Speaker 18: (01:04:21)
No, no. This spurt has been a quite successful week for the President, by all accounts.

Karine: (01:04:28)
Yeah. But it’s not the first time. We had the American Rescue Plan, we had the bipartisan infrastructure deal, we’ve had other successes in this White House. And so look, what we have seen the past couple of days, is the President grateful? Absolutely. From what we’re seeing from Congress, the work that we have continued to do with them, the partnership that we have had with them for the past 18 months. And, when you look at the Inflation Reduction Act, that’s something that we have been working so hard for that, talking about during the campaign that is like a down payment from what he was talking about from 2019, that we’re now seeing moving forward.

Karine: (01:05:09)
And we are grateful for that. And so we’re going to, the CHIPS act, as you just mentioned, he did an event with the Governor of Michigan and that’s going to be something that we’ll see more on, those type of events with state local officials.

Karine: (01:05:29)
But look, I will say this, this is all what we’re seeing right now, is because of the hard work of this administration. Is because work that we have been doing for some time now, it just happens to be coming down at this time. But I wouldn’t put it all together in one week or two. I’m just saying, this is the work that we have been working towards. This is the hard work of this President. This is the hard work of this administration to continue to do the business of the American people. And he’s still been working.

Speaker 18: (01:06:00)
I know and I’m not, [inaudible 01:06:01]. It just, at a time when, for the first time when he has been forced by his medical diagnosis to stay in the residence, there’s been a string of successes. I’m getting the sense that you’re saying it’s just a coincidence that the timing has aligned, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

Karine: (01:06:16)
Tyler, my goodness.

Speaker 18: (01:06:17)
I just, yeah. I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon that we’ve seen across a range of his priorities. They’ve all kind of come together.

Karine: (01:06:26)
I think we should just be really thrilled and really excited that we’re getting work done for the American people. And I think that’s what matters at the end of the day. Got Tim.

Speaker 12: (01:06:34)
Just got a couple of quick infectious disease questions. First about, well, monkey pox and the President’s COVID. First on the President’s COVID. I think you may have answered this before, but I’m a little confused about when he would come out of isolation. Is it five days? Does he need to test negative twice? Will he be stuck there forever

Karine: (01:06:52)
I believe we answered this when we sent out a pool note on Saturday. I hope, no one wants that, to be stuck forever. We, some of us here have had COVID. You want to get out and when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go. We sent a pool note out. We’re going to follow CDC guidance on that. I believe it’s five days of isolation. And then clearly, with the test, a negative test. We’re going to continue to share with all of you what his personal physician is sharing with us on his condition. You guys got an update on, he’s doing fine, he’s doing well. And he’s ready to just continue to work, but work in person and not from the White House residence. So that’s going to continue.

Speaker 12: (01:07:38)
And then the other question is about monkeypox. The access to vaccines and treatments has been pretty uneven at this point, with patients and their doctors kind of muddling through and trying to figure it out. And we’re wondering what the new monkeypox response coordinators will be able to do to improve this situation or what they’re being tasked with?

Karine: (01:08:01)
So, Mr. Fenton and Dr. Dasklalakis will lead the federal response to the monkeypox virus, as you just mentioned. They’re going to be coordinating efforts with HHS, DHS and other federal agency and teams. This is not the first time clearly, that we have done this. We have you guys got to know Dr. Jha for a couple of days with me up here at the podium during the President’s first bout with COVID. And so we’ve done this before. And so this is not new. Each federal agency will continue to play an important role in the response. The monkeypox response effort will be the best able to coordinate across the federal entities, listen to the needs of communities and ensure timely follow up. And Secretary Becerra, Dr. Walensky are playing their critical roles in the monkeypox response to date, ensuring that federal government can be responsive to testing, treatment and vaccine needs of communities and nationwide.

Karine: (01:09:03)
One of the things that I did want to lay out about their specific expertise, operational expertise, that’s really important as we think about the coordinator and the deputy coordinator. Is that they have over four decades of experience in emergency response and manageable national and global public health issues, such as COVID 19 emergency response, HIV prevention, and other disease control and urgent national crises. And as we talk about equity and expanding equitability, this is something that they have experience in and they will be working through, as well.

Karine: (01:09:42)
And look, we have about 1.1 million vaccines that are available across the country. We are procuring another 5.5 million doses. And so this is what we’re ramping up, working on, having a comprehensive response to monkeypox. Another thing that we need to do, and that we’re doing, is making sure that we have the testing out there. I talked about yesterday, how we’ve met the testing capacity of 80,000 test around, across the country and outreach. So those are the things that we will continue to do. We know, we always know, there’s more work to be done. And so one of the reasons that we had made sure that we announced the coordinator for monkeypox.

Speaker 8: (01:10:26)
Thanks Karine. On the Inflation Reduction Act, is the primary aim of this legislation to reduce inflation, or to fight climate change and reform the prescription drug price system?

Karine: (01:10:36)
I think all of it, I don’t think it’s, I think one of the things that the President has talked about, you’ve heard us talk about, is one of his economic priority is to lower cost, which is fight inflation. We see it in the name, Inflation Reduction Act. And we have heard, I just listed out 126 economists, who agree with us, that it’s going to lower inflation and which is incredibly important. But we can’t forget the historic investment to climate change, right. To fight the climate crisis, which is something that the President has been doing from day one, he’s taken bold actions. He wants to make sure that we lower those energy costs for families. All connected. I think they’re all connected. You think about the pharmaceutical drugs. This is also historic, as many Democrats, including this President, has been fighting for a very long time to make sure that Medicare can indeed be able to negotiate in lower costs for our seniors. So I wouldn’t pull anything out. I think this is together is going to lower cost for families. And if you think about the deficit, bringing down the deficit, adding another 300 billion to the 1.6, 7 trillion that we saw last year, that’s going to help as well, fight inflation and lower cost.

Speaker 8: (01:11:59)
It is called the Inflation Reduction Act. And it seems that the most favorable interpretation from economists, including those that the White House has cited is that this legislation will help bring down inflation in the long term, perhaps later this decade. But there’s near universal agreement that this is going to do very little to actually bring down inflation in the near term, which seems to be when Americans would be looking for an inflation reduction act to actually address inflation.

Karine: (01:12:24)
Look that is something that we disagree with, right? We think that this is going to have some effect for American families. When you think about negotiating with Medicare and so that it could lower cost for your grandparents, for people who are senior in your household, that you’re trying to help and make sure that they’re able to get that funding or those funds or pay for those chronic medicine, that matters. And so that is really important as well. There’s going to be rebates for families so that they’re able, as it relates to energy cost, that’s going to matter, as well. Those are huge. Those are incredibly big for families, just across the board, especially in the middle class. And you think about congressional Republicans and their plan. It’s the complete opposite. They are not interested in lowering costs if they were, this is it. This is the bill that exists in the house right now, in Congress, I should say, in the Senate at the moment, that could do that. And they don’t want to jump on board to help us lower cost for families.

Speaker 8: (01:13:33)
But do you have any evidence that this is going to lower inflation in the short term?

Karine: (01:13:37)
Look, I just listed out 126 top economists who said that it’s going to do that. I have-

Speaker 8: (01:13:44)
You didn’t say in short term, you just said general.

Karine: (01:13:46)
Well, I’m just saying that it is a step forward. We do believe that if you lower cost for Americans, that matters, that is incredibly important because when you think about inflation, right, you think about how it’s increasing prices, right? People are paying more for gas prices. And we saw the work that we have done in this administration for the past almost seven weeks, we have seen gas prices go down, saving families 80 bucks a month, if you have a two car household. That matters. If you think about prescription drugs, going down, bringing down the cost, that matters. That is connected to what, the pain, the inflation that American families are talking about. And so, and when you talk about lowering the deficit, this is what this will do, that matters as well.

Karine: (01:14:34)
And so, we believe, if you look at the name of the legislation, Inflation Reduction Act, it’s going to do that. We have support of economists who say it’s going to do that as well. And so we are grateful for this piece of legislation and we hope he gets to the President’s desk as soon as possible.

Speaker 8: (01:14:55)
[inaudible 01:14:55] on Saudi Arabia. The State Department today approved the sale of these 300 Patriot missiles. It was announced the same day as the extension of this truce in Yemen. Were those two things connected?

Karine: (01:15:05)
I don’t have anything to share on that. I’m going to move on though. Go ahead.

Speaker 19: (01:15:08)
We heard John Kirby say today that the threat from Al-Qaeda is not over, but can you talk about how big of an operational impact on Al-Qaeda this strike on al-Zawahiri will have?

Karine: (01:15:17)
I’m not going to go beyond to what John Kirby said today.

Speaker 20: (01:15:23)
Hey, Karine. So on the Inflation Reduction Act. So this corporate tax increase to a minimum of 15%, how confident is the President that the companies will not pass that cost on to people in form of higher prices?

Karine: (01:15:36)
Look, the reason why we talk about, we think the global minimum tax of 15, or the corporate minimum tax of 15 is so important, is because you have 55 corporate companies right now, who pay absolutely nothing, who pay $0. And by doing this, we are fixing the tax loophole. It is important to do that. It is important to have a fairer tax system, and it is important to just for people to pay their fair share. We’re talking about tens of billions of dollars profit that we are seeing these companies bring in and not paying a cent, not paying anything for it. I cannot speak, your question that you’re asking me, I cannot speak to that. What I can speak is to this legislation and why it’s so important and why we needed to get it done. And there should be, there should be bipartisan support for this legislation. There should be. When you think about Medicare, when you think about energy costs, when you think about the deficit, lowering that deficit, continuing to do that and just making sure the tax code is fair. It’s like people are paying their taxes.

Karine: (01:16:51)
There’s nothing here that we should be against. We should be supporting this legislation and delivering for middle class families.

Speaker 21: (01:16:59)
Thank you. Later this month India will be celebrating 75th Independence Day. It’s the world’s largest democracy. It has done a lot in the last 75 years. As the President of the world’s oldest democracy, does the President have a message to the people of India or Indian heritage, as well?

Karine: (01:17:18)
Well. So we congratulate the people of India on 75 years of independence. India’s non-violent freedom struggle was an inspiration to the world, and we hope that the next 75 years see India continue to prosper. This year, the United States and India also celebrates 75 years of diplomatic relations. As the world’s oldest democracy in the world’s largest democracy, respectively, we will continue to work together every day to deliver opportunities, security, freedom, and dignity to our peoples. We are partners in many important areas, including defense, vaccines, climate, tech, and our ever growing people to people connections. The United States will continue to work with India to advance a free and open Indo Pacific and address the challenges both our countries face around the world.

Karine: (01:18:13)
All right. Okay. All right. Thank you guys.

Speaker 21: (01:18:14)
Thank you.

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