Aug 29, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Stephen Benjamin Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Stephen Benjamin Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Stephen Benjamin Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Stephen Benjamin. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:02):

Hello. Welcome back, everybody. Okay. A couple of things. Good afternoon.

Speaker 1 (00:07):

Good afternoon.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:10):

This Saturday, our nation marked the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a seminal moment in our history and in our work towards equal opportunity for all Americans. Sadly, this day of remembrance ended with yet more American communities wounded by an act of gun violence, including communities in Boston, Chicago, and Joppa. At least one shooting this weekend was reportedly fueled by hate and carried out with two firearms. On Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, a White gunman went on a shooting rampage at a store near a historically Black university and killed three Black individuals.

Even as we continue searching for answers, we must say clearly and forcefully that white supremacy has no place in America. As the President said in his statement yesterday, “We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin.” Hate must have no safe harbor. Silence is complicity and we must not remain silent, and we must continue to do all we can to keep guns out of dangerous hands. The President and the First Lady are praying for the victims and their families, and this entire administration grieves with the people of Jacksonville.

Earlier today, the President spoke to Governor DeSantis and told him he quickly approved the emergency declaration for Florida. The President also expressed the administration’s full commitment and support to Florida. At the president’s direction, FEMA has deployed two incident management teams to Tallahassee and has one in Atlanta ready to pivot as needed. The president continues to be briefed on the current trajectory of Tropical Storm Idalia and the team here will continue to update him as the system progresses. Unfortunately, as you all know, Floridians are no strangers to these types of storms. It’s important that people prepare today, get supplies, so they get food, water, and charge your electronic devices. People should visit for tips on how to prepare. Lastly, if you are in the storm’s path, please listen to your local and state officials for guidance on evacuations or any updates.

As we just announced moments ago, President Biden will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam on September 10th following his participation in the G20 Summit in New Delhi. While in Hanoi, President Biden will meet with key leaders to discuss ways to deepen the cooperation between the United States and Vietnam. The leaders will explore opportunities to promote the growth of technology-focused and innovation-driven Vietnamese economy, expand our people-to-people ties through education exchanges and workforce deployment development programs, I should say, combat climate change and increased peace, prosperity and stability in the region. And on Monday, September 11th, the President, the Vice President, First Lady and Second Gentleman all will mark the 22nd anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. The President will travel from Hanoi to Alaska to participate in a memorial ceremony with members of the military and their families. The Vice President and the Second Gentleman will participate in a commemoration ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York City, and the First Lady will lay a wreath at the National 911 Pentagon Memorial to honor the lives lost on September 11th.

Today, the president and the first lady visited students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, DC to mark the start of the school year. This visit kicks off a number of back to school activities for the First Lady this week, as well as Secretary of Education Cardona will soon hit the road for a back to school bus tour. When President Biden took office, less than half of the kindergarten to 12 students were going to school in person. Thanks to his swift actions and historic investment, every school in America is open safely for in-person instruction. The administration remains committed to supporting schools and the students they serve. And today we are joined by the Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagements, Stephen Benjamin, who is here to discuss the President March on Washington commemoration engagements today, and the floor is yours, Mayor, if you’re ready. This is also his first time in the briefing room. So welcome. Yeah. Come on up. Come on up.

Speaker 2 (05:01):

We won’t hurt you.

Stephen Benjamin (05:02):

That means be nice to me is what it means.

Karine Jean-Pierre (05:04):

Be nice to him, yes.

Stephen Benjamin (05:06):

So today the President and Vice President Harris will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. As you may have seen the Washington Post op-ed penned by the President to commemorate the sacred day and outline how the Biden-Harris administration is working to fulfill Dr. King’s Dream of redeeming the promissory note of our nation. The President and Vice president will meet privately with organizers of the March, community leaders and members of the King family shortly, in just about a half hour. This meeting will take place exactly 60 days after the initial Oval Office meeting between President Kennedy and Dr. King on the morning of the original march on Washington. Later this evening, President Biden will host a reception as well and provide remarks to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights on the law. And I’m happy to take any questions you might have right now.

April (06:06):

60 years today, 1963 was a pivotal year in civil rights. Medgar Evers was shot and killed in June of ’63, the March on Washington in August of ’63. Two weeks later, four little girls were killed in a Baptist church. That was 60 years ago. Today we are witnessing what’s happened in Jacksonville. We’ve got laws in the books, policies, et cetera. What can this administration do to quell the hate that is on the rise that the FBI has quantified?

Stephen Benjamin (06:46):

Sure. I would say this, the administration has since day one, since the President signed his first executive order on making sure that everything we’ve done is focused on equity in this administration and all of his work since then, including obviously another executive order signed on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday to make sure that the sacred right to the franchise is protected. It is sacrosanct in everything this administration does. Obviously, there’s a full investigation going on in Jacksonville right now. We’re going to let law enforcement authorities do their job. But everything in this administration is focused on making sure that we try to appeal to the better angels against it seems a rising tide of not only racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, violent attacks against our LGBT, our brothers and sisters, and even significant crimes against our AA and HPI community. That’s why it’s so important that we remain vigilant every single day from all aspects of the administration, a whole of government approach, recognizing that there’s work yet to be done.

It’s important to note that while we’re not where we want to be, we’re certainly not where we used to be. The progress that has been made, not only in the Biden-Harris administration, which has had a number of historic firsts I might add, but over the last 60 years, this country has come a long way. And I believe people of goodwill have to lean in to that progress but realize that we are on the front line against a rising tide of a lot of isms and we’ve got to continue to push back together. That’s embedded in the presence piece in the Washington Post. I encourage everyone to lean into it.

April (08:32):

I have a follow-up on that if I could real quick.

Stephen Benjamin (08:34):

Yes, ma’am.

April (08:34):

There’s a lot of racial rhetoric going on in this political campaigning atmosphere. Is there going to be, or am I making a reach in this question, will there be a reach across the aisle to say, enough is enough, we’ve got to stop this? Because a lot of this people are saying are stemming from a lot of this rhetoric.

Stephen Benjamin (08:54):

Sure. And I’d give a brief response to that. The President has endeavored and I watch it in every engagement I have with him and every engagement he has with the public, to recognize the fact that he’s the President of all of the United States of America. He speaks to people on both sides of the line, urban, rural, and suburban America. And he speaks again in a way that brings people together, that will continue to be his position as well as the Vice President’s position. But yes, it requires the President, the Vice President, but all of us again, to lean in and make sure we’re working to pull people together and push back against that rhetoric that we do see, April. Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:30):

[inaudible 00:09:31].

Speaker 3 (09:32):

Thanks, Mayor. Does the White House see any connection with the changes that the Florida governor has made in teaching about African-American history to the kind of violence that we saw in Jacksonville?

Stephen Benjamin (09:46):

The President has been very clear, again in the PC penn this morning, and I think probably more so in action, his actions last month in working to establish the monuments that Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, of course, recognizing, commemorating the sad event of his murder, but also recognizing the courage of his mother in making sure that she helped light the fuse that set action significant events of the Civil Rights Movement. That action establishing these monuments in Mississippi and in Illinois was meant to make sure people understand that we cannot rewrite in American history. That we have to tell the good with the bad, and that is edifying to the soul of this country and the President since day one.

You’ve heard him talk about his personal reaction to Charlottesville, redeeming the soul of America’s Central to who Joe Biden is as a man and why he chose to run for president as a candidate. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that trying to rewrite American history is not only wrong, but it also encourages our children and those among us not to lean in to the beautiful and also painful past of what our history looks like and encouraging people to move forward together.

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:08):

[inaudible 00:11:11].

Speaker 4 (11:11):

Thank you for the question. Looking at the op-ed today, a lot of the achievements that are listed in here, obviously resonate and have to do with the economy, lowering unemployment, health insurance, investing in small businesses. I’m wondering if the administration still believes that those achievements will resonate when you still have hate crimes happening across America? You still have Supreme Court decisions that have obviously led to setbacks and some of the more sweeping proposals by this administration, such as student loan relief or even affirmative action? When many people still feel that their civil liberties are being infringed upon, is the administration confident that some of these economic achievements will really resonate among Black Americans throughout?

Stephen Benjamin (11:51):

Sure. Well, we certainly hope so, and not only in the context of electoral politics, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. The President has been incredibly supportive of and hoping for pass of the John Lewis Act encouraging we protect the sacred right to vote and certainly even the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act to make sure, of course, we’ve led from the front as it relates to federal authorities and choke holes and the like. But we’d like much more support from Congress in moving these things forward. It is a difficult environment to move forward some legislation, but every single thing that we can do by executive board of the President has been leaning on. There are a lot of challenges that people face, but we certainly believe that part of Dr. King’s message and all the other amazing organizers of the March on Washington focused on the economy and jobs and freedom.

So these amazing investments that have been made in Black businesses and minority owned businesses, small businesses across this country, making sure people have access to healthcare. More people insured now than ever, $35 insulin, making sure that people don’t have to make decisions between poverty and getting the medicine that they need, clean water, removing lead pipes from communities all across this country. I do believe that when the rubber hits the road, people will pay more attention to these dramatic investments in their quality of life and listen more closely to these important issues. But that’s the politics. I want to make sure we stay closely to the policies.

Speaker 4 (13:31):

Quick follow-up on lead pipes too. Is the administration still on track to do that in the next decade?

Stephen Benjamin (13:36):

As far as I understand.

Karine Jean-Pierre (13:36):

[inaudible 00:13:38].

Speaker 5 (13:38):

Thank you. Mr. Mayor, the President said yesterday that he will speak to the people of Jacksonville. Does he have any plans to visit the city and to meet with folks? And has he spoken yet with any of the families of the victims of that shooting?

Stephen Benjamin (13:51):

As of right now, the President has spoken to the mayor and to the sheriff, and obviously as Karine mentioned, he has a separate conversation with the Governor today. As of right now, I don’t think there are any travel plans, but obviously that’s always subject to change.

Speaker 5 (14:04):

Has he reached out to the families of the victims or does he have any plans to speak to them?

Stephen Benjamin (14:07):

As far as I know, I think the victims are only identified as of this morning, so I don’t believe that, but I can’t speak to it with any facts.

Toluse (14:16):

Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Obviously, students are going back to school around this time of year, the President has talked about book bans. A lot of these bans are going into effect. Could you talk about what the White House, what the administration is doing to address the fact that, as you talked about earlier, parts of Black history, parts of American history are being impacted by these book bans in various states?

Stephen Benjamin (14:39):

Sure. No, it’s so important. And we come from a world where we know that even two people equally yolk can see the same thing very differently, rewriting history is not necessarily one of those things. But if you do see these things philosophically differently, it’s important to know, however, that our children, if we’re going

Stephen Benjamin (15:00):

… and compete on a global stage must at least know their own history. You can’t step into a job interview on one of the other continents, and the people in that room know more about your history than you do. And I think purely as a matter of competition, not equity and common sense, it’s important that children understand, again, the beauty of the greatest democratic nation in the history of the world, but also the challenges that brought us to this point. So I do know this is something that the president and vice president feel very strongly about, and we’ll continue to make sure that we make full access to American history available to all of our children.

Karine Jean-Pierre (15:36):

Okay, last question.

Speaker 6 (15:37):

Thank you Mayor Benjamin. I’m hoping I could get your reaction both as one of the president’s top advisors and also just a black man living in America to former President Trump’s supporters comparing his mugshot to that of Dr. King, given the anniversary that we’re celebrating here in DC this week. I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but there’ve been a lot of posts on social media.

Stephen Benjamin (16:02):

I’ve not seen that and I feel better that I haven’t seen that. The reality is that the sacrifices made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And not just him, and A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin and Whitney Young and others ought never be minimized, because they not only represent the leaders of that past, I sat with Clarence Jones this weekend and Ambassador Andrew Young and heard some of these stories firsthand, but they represent the sacrifices of so many people we don’t know, people who labored in anonymity, who gave everything, who marched and cried and died so that this nation might live up to its better angels, might live up to its promise. And I think it’s so important that as we look backward, that we work to preserve the importance of that legacy because it’s going to quickly determine how we look forward and determine what America’s going to be like, not 60 years ago, but 60 years from now. Thank you all so much.

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:03):

Thank you, mayor.

Speaker 6 (17:03):

Come back anytime.

Stephen Benjamin (17:08):

I don’t know about that. We’ll see.

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:09):

Please do come back.

Speaker 7 (17:11):

Thank you, mayor.

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:12):

Thank you, mayor. Please do come back.

Speaker 6 (17:13):

Sooner than 60 years, let’s do that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:16):

Not sure the connection, but okay. Chris.

Chris (17:19):

Hi. How are you? The President and the First Lady visited a middle school today. Test scores for this age group are the lowest in decades despite billions of dollars in investment by the administration. Is the White House’s approach failing in not improving these test scores?

Karine Jean-Pierre (17:32):

If anything, look, there’s going to be a lot of more work to do. Right? That is understandable that the work didn’t end when the president was able to open up schools. As I mentioned at the top, remember when the president walked in, more than 50% of schools were shut down because of COVID, because the last administration didn’t have a plan, didn’t have a comprehensive plan to deal with COVID and what it was doing to our economy, and what it was doing to our kids. And because the president put schools reopening and businesses reopening and making sure that people got shots in arms, made that a priority, we were able to open up schools.

Now is there more work to do? Absolutely. As we’ve seen the pandemic, COVID, has had a devastating effect on our kids. And so look, the president is committed to making sure that education for all of our children, regardless if you’re in rural America, urban America, all across the communities is a priority. And the students and the kids get what they need. And it’s not just education. We talked about mental health, right? We talked about kids, making sure that they’re getting healthy lunches. That is something that this administration has provided. And so we’ve seen the data, we’ve seen the numbers. What it means to us is that more work needs to be done and we’re committed, and this president and this administration is committed to doing that work.

Chris (18:57):

So what is that next step?

Karine Jean-Pierre (18:59):

Look, we’re going to hear, as I mentioned, Secretary Cardona is going to go on a bus tour. He is going to go across the country as school is opening up, he’s going to lay out what the Department of Education is doing to continue to improve our schools, to make sure that students get the education and get rightfully, the education that they deserve. And so the work continues. I don’t have a 10 step laid out for you, but I can say for sure that this president is committed and you see that through the Secretary of Education. And of course, this is something that’s incredibly important to the First Lady as well.

Chris (19:31):

Also, a new AP poll asked Americans an open-ended question on their thoughts on the president. And the most common response has to do with his age and how old he is, being the oldest president in history. Does his White House have additional plans to demonstrate that he can continue to do the job at his advanced age, and lay some of those concerns?

Karine Jean-Pierre (19:49):

I mean, look, I appreciate the question. I get it often, as you know and what I would say, and I’ve said this many times and many of my colleagues have said this, the president says this, if you watch him, if you’ve seen what he’s done in the last two years, this is the president has had a historic administration in just two years. If you look at the more than 13.5 million jobs that he’s been able to create, if you look at how he’s been able to turn the economy around so that it works for middle-class Americans, if you look at the Inflation Reduction Act and what it’s going to do to really help Americans as it relates to healthcare, as it relates to utility bills. If you think about the CHIPS and Science, I mean this is a president who has taken historic actions and not just with Democrats on a hill, but in a bipartisan way.

I just mentioned the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act. In many ways, this president has been able to do things that is going to change how American families move forward, whether it is with economy, whether it’s healthcare, whether it is trying to make sure that they’re able to give, do what they can for their family, for their kids. That is important. And so that’s what we will happily, happily to discuss as it relates to age, what the president has been able to do and how he’s been able to deliver.

Chris (21:11):

And the last question is the press pool spotted the president walk in the Oval Office with his personal physician, Dr. O’Connor, a few minutes ago. Is there an appointment? Did he have a meeting about health concern?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:21):

This is the first time I’m hearing of that. Clearly, I did not see that, so I can’t speak to that. I just don’t know. Okay.

Ed (21:27):

Thank you Karine. Good to see you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:28):

Good to see you. It’s been a while. Welcome back.

Ed (21:30):

It has for a lot of us. Good to be here. Still has the new briefing room smell.

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:34):

Oh, it does. Like a new car.

Ed (21:35):

Yeah. In the call he had with the governor of Florida this morning regarding the approaching storm and the shooting in Jacksonville, any chance the president raised his concerns with the governor about the state’s new slavery education standards?

Karine Jean-Pierre (21:51):

So they kept it to what the readout was. Clearly, we always are very careful not to read out private conversation. They talked clearly about the president offering any assistance that the governor might need. As we are talking about the Jacksonville shooting, as you all know, and also the storm, Idalia, that’s headed to Florida. That is clearly what’s on everybody’s mind as we see this potential category three storm, and as a community is mourning. I don’t have anything else to read out from that call. But clearly those are the two pertinent things at the moment that they were able to discuss. And the president wanted to make sure that not just the governor but the people of Florida knew and understood that the president, the federal government is with them through the different kind of events that they’re dealing with at this time.

Ed (22:47):

And if need be, they’ll get back on the phone together?

Karine Jean-Pierre (22:50):

If need be, absolutely. If need be. And let’s not forget the major declaration the president approved within hours, right? As I mentioned, as we are now watching this potential category three hurricane that could hit Florida, which is important.

Ed (23:04):

Two others, if I could. Now that we know that he’s officially going to Vietnam, it raises a question we’ve sort of had throughout the year, and that is, are there still plans to somehow, someday soon meet with Chinese President Xi?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:16):

Well, I’m just going to go back to what the president said during his press conference at Camp David very recently, he spoke to this, don’t have anything else to add. He has been very clear that he is looking forward to having that discussion at some point. I just don’t have anything to share at this.

Ed (23:32):

The White House would like to do that this year?

Karine Jean-Pierre (23:34):

I’m not going to put a timeline on it, but they’ve spoken multiple times in the past two years or more than two years of this president’s tenure. I just don’t have anything else to share.

Ed (23:43):

And the House Speaker yesterday said, moving towards impeachment now is quote, “A natural step forward and would be an opportunity for Congress to get all the information they need.” Those were his words. What is the White House’s response to the apparent march to impeachment by House Republicans and does it make working within this fall on matters of dollars and cents, especially, any more difficult?

Karine Jean-Pierre (24:06):

So look, Ed, I can’t really speak to the House Republicans and what they’re focusing on. They can speak to that. You’ve heard from Speaker McCarthy, not going to dive into what’s in his head or what they’re thinking or what they want to do on the other side of Pennsylvania. The president is focused on what real Americans care about, the real priorities that Americans care about. I just talked about how the President and the First Lady visited a middle school today, and one of the message that he wanted to make sure that he highlighted is the importance of every child in America having access to quality education, public education. And also let’s not forget what we’re celebrating today, 60 years, or commemorating today. That’s what the president’s going to focus on. Later this week, he’s going to focus on lowering healthcare costs, which is something that this administration has worked on the past two years.

Response to Maui Wildfire, you just asked me about his conversation with the governor of Florida and what they’re dealing with. A very devastating shooting that we saw in the city of Jacksonville and this hurricane that’s about to potentially hit Florida. Those are the things that the president’s going to focus on. Look, and you ask me how the president’s going to work with Speaker McCarthy, look, this is a president who wants to work in a bipartisan way, and he has been able to do that as it relates to historical pieces of legislation. He wants to continue to do that and he hopes Congressional Republicans would continue to join him or join him on doing that. And that’s going to be his focus instead of more baseless political stunts. That’s what they’re focusing on.

Ed (25:39):

Some of the frustration appears to be the inability to get information out of the State Department, the Homeland Security Department, other aspects of the government. Is there any validity to those criticisms in the view of the White House or should the White House be perhaps urging departments to cooperate with ongoing investigations?

Karine Jean-Pierre (25:55):

Look, we always, of course, urge different agencies and departments to work with Congress. Of course that is something that we’ll always urge and I can’t speak to that, to what they’re complaining about. What I can speak to is what the president is focused on. And again, we want to work in a bipartisan way with Congressional Republicans. That’s what we want to do. We want to get things done for the American people, issues that actually matter to them, not these political stunts that they’re clearly focused on. Go ahead, Mary.

Mary (26:32):

Three US Marines were killed in this Osprey crash in Australia during a training exercise. Has the President been briefed on any early read or early information about the potential cause of this? Any sense about whether it was weather related, mechanical?

Karine Jean-Pierre (26:45):

So any specifics to what caused it and what was related to it, I would certainly refer you to the Department of Defense for any specific questions. Yesterday the president extended his condolences to the families of the Marines who lost their lives in this horrific, horrific crash, as well as his prayers to those who also suffered injuries. Any additional information on the specifics of the crash or what caused the crash, I would have to refer you to the Department of Defense.

Mary (27:15):

Does the president have any broader concerns, that we are seeing, it seems, too many of these aviation incidents, these mishaps in the military. Does he feel there needs to be some sort reevaluation or reconsideration of training or focus on maintenance?

Karine Jean-Pierre (27:30):

Look, the president, of course, when it comes to our military force, he’s always going to be concerned. He’s always going to want to make sure that they have everything that they need and of course, that they’re safe. Anything related to this, I don’t want to get ahead of what the Department of Defense might be looking into, what might be causing this. I don’t want to get ahead of them. So they would have answers more specifically on those questions.

Mary (27:50):

Just one additional question on the House Speaker, he’s also said that he’s likely to investigate the federal response to the deadly wildfires on Maui, saying he’s very concerned about the response. What do you make of that? And does the White House stand by your response and your efforts in the aftermath-

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:05):

So a couple of things-

Mary (28:06):

… of this tragedy? Anything he would do differently?

Karine Jean-Pierre (28:07):

No, I appreciate the question. A couple of things I want to say. Since the onset of the unprecedented tragedy that we saw in Maui, the President launched a whole of government approach. You’ve heard me say that, you’ve heard him say it directly. You also heard the FEMA administrator say this as well in effort to support the residents who were affected by the communities. Let’s not forget, they lost so much, they lost historical land, they lost their community. And also as soon as the governor in Hawaii, Josh Green, and he has said this, himself, requested a major disaster declaration, the president signed it. And you’ve heard from the governor, you’ve heard from the two senators who have lifted up and said how quickly this president responded, the federal government responded. So I would just refer you to their own words. Last week, as you all saw a week ago today, the president, the first lady, they met with survivors, they met with emergency responders and state and local and federal officials.

They saw firsthand, themselves, the overwhelming destruction that caused the wildfires. And it was heartbreaking. And so what I can say here and now, and as the president has said, he is committed to delivering everything that he can to the people of Hawaii, what they need. And we will be with them as long as it takes for them to rebuild. The president has been very clear about that. The first lady clearly has supported that. The FEMA administrator has said that. I will say this, what is currently on the ground, the federal government has deployed more than a thousand staff members on the ground. And the FEMA has already given nearly $15 million in assistance to families. And so, again, we will be there, the federal government will be there, certainly at the direction of the president, as long as it takes for this community to rebuild. And certainly, our hearts

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:00):

… continue to be with the families and the people in Hawaii who have lost so much.

Go ahead, Steve.

Steve (30:06):

Have you got any closer to determining what brought down Prigozhin’s plane?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:11):

So, look, a couple of things on that. I know that folks have had question on Prigozhin. So, we are increasingly confident that Prigozhin died in the plane crash that took place on August 23rd, this past Wednesday. I don’t have any new assessment for you on this. So, I’ll just leave it there.

Steve (30:35):

And, secondly, the President said in Tahoe that he had tentatively decided to recommend everyone get the new vaccine. When is he going to decide finally?

Karine Jean-Pierre (30:47):

So, as I think you’ve heard from the FDA and CDC, they’ve made an announcement on the new vaccine. So, certainly, they said that there will be an updated vaccine September, mid-September, I believe. So, we know that, as you all know, vaccinations against COVID-19 remains the safest protection for avoiding hospitalization, long-term health outcomes and death, which is why we are going to be encouraging Americans to stay up to date on their vaccines. I would refer you to DHS, as they have, as I just mentioned, FDA and CDC mentioned that they’ll have the new vaccines by September, mid-September.

Go ahead, Jeremy.

Jeremy (31:22):

Thanks, Karine. We’re about a month away from the government running out of money, potentially shutting down. What’s the President’s plan to avert a government shut down?

Karine Jean-Pierre (31:30):

So, look, I’ll defer to Congress on the government shutdown. There shouldn’t be no reason for Congress to shut down the government. None at all. None.

They should fund vital government programs for the American people and these critical needs we’ve requested emergency funding for. There should be none. And so, that is for Congress to speak to. And as you know, senior administration officials, including the OMB Director, Shalanda Young and our Legislative Affairs shop, we have had numerous conversations with members of Congress. We’ll continue to do that. And we’ll continue to engage with them, and we’ll continue to underscore the importance of delivering on these bipartisan priorities that was agreed upon, that the American people want to see.

And so, look, that is for Congress to answer. There should not be a government shutdown. There shouldn’t be.

Jeremy (32:29):

Does the President support passing a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded? And does he have any plans to speak with the Speaker about this?

Karine Jean-Pierre (32:35):

So, look, again, that’s something that I’ll defer to Congress on the length of potential continuing resolution. Again, there should be no reason for a government shutdown.

I don’t have any conversation to read out or to predict for you that the President’s going to have with the Speaker. As I mentioned, the OMB director, Shalanda Young, has been in contact with members of Congress, so has his Legislative Affairs shop. They have continuous conversations about this, underscoring the importance, the importance of these vital programs that the American people need. And so, they should uphold this bipartisan commitment. That’s what the American people want to see.

Jeremy (33:15):

And then as it relates to COVID vaccine funding, the President said that he had signed off on a proposal internally to present Congress with a request for additional funding. Do you have any additional details about the size of that funding request, what it would be used for? And what would the impact be if Congress does not provide that additional funding on Americans and their ability to get that vaccine?

Karine Jean-Pierre (33:37):

So, I don’t have anything new to say or to add to what the President said at this time. What I can say is that we are prepared for the fall, as the CDC and FDA mentioned, that we will have vaccines available by mid-September. We believe we are in the strongest position yet to fight COVID-19. A lot of that is because of this work that this President has done since day one of his administration.

Go ahead.

Speaker 3 (34:04):

Thank you, Karine. A couple of weeks ago, some members of Congress, it was over 50 Republicans and Democrats, they sent a letter to the administration asking for help with H-1B workers and the backlog. In light of concerns about Canada recruiting H-1B holders from the United States, I wanted to ask: Does the administration agree with these members of Congress that these workers, these H-1B workers, need more flexibility to do things like change jobs, travel abroad, for example?

Karine Jean-Pierre (34:33):

So, look, as we have said many times before: This is an outdated immigration system. We’ve asked Congress to update our woefully outdated immigration system. We’ve been very clear on that, including the temporary visa programs that haven’t been updated in more than two decades. In more than two decades.

And so, under current regulations, as you know, workers on certain temporary visas usually have 60 days to secure new employment, pursue a different visa classification, or make preparations to depart the United States. So, Congress needs to do their job and pass legislation updating our immigration laws to reflect the needs of where we are, where we are currently in this 21st century economy.

So, look, the President, even on his first day, as we’ve said many times before, he put forth a immigration reform legislation because he took this very seriously. He wanted to make sure that was the first piece of legislation that he put forward on day one because this is such a broken system.

Speaker 3 (35:41):

They’re asking specifically, though, for executive action. Is the administration not willing to go that far?

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:47):

We are saying that Congress needs to do their job. That’s what we’re saying. This has been two decades since this particular visa has been upgraded and updated. And so, it’s for Congress to act. That’s what they need to do.

Speaker 3 (36:01):

And can I ask you just briefly, can you talk about Thursday, the Philadelphia trip, what’s the plan?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:06):

So, I don’t have anything to share on Thursday. We’ll certainly have more to share in the coming day or two.

Go ahead.

Speaker 8 (36:13):

On China, there are a lot of different tension points, but one of them we’ve been reminded of. And that is the fact that China retains ownership of all the pandas at the zoos in the United States, including the Smithsonian National Zoo. And is there any chance the President is going to ask President Xi to let the pandas stay?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:34):

I think the panda is supposed to leave at the end of the year.

Speaker 8 (36:39):

At the end of the year.

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:41):

Okay. So, I don’t have anything new to share, any update to share on the pandas timeline. But as soon as, if we have anything to share, we certainly will share it.

Speaker 8 (36:51):

Would the president share the concern of many Americans who love the pandas?

Karine Jean-Pierre (36:55):

Look, we all love the panda. I just visited and seen this panda, but I don’t have anything to share.

I’ve missed you. Welcome back.

Peter (37:03):

Thank you. It’s good to be back.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:04):

Yeah? How’s baby Karine?

Peter (37:08):

She’s good. She-

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:10):

Or baby KJP.

Peter (37:11):

… very nice to her dad.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:13):

Oh, during your leave?

Peter (37:14):

Just like adult KJP.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:18):

Oh, that’s good. That’s good. Well, okay.

Peter (37:20):

I have another question that you probably were not expecting.

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:23):


Peter (37:24):

Does President Biden want to limit Americans to two beers a week?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:29):

Where’s this coming from? Maybe I didn’t miss you so much. Where’s this coming from?

Peter (37:35):

All right. Well, Dr. George Koob, who is the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says the US may soon follow Canada and recommend just two beers a week. How do you guys think that’s going to go?

Karine Jean-Pierre (37:50):

Let me tell you what I’m not going to get involved in, in that question right there. I have no idea. I’ve not seen the data. I cannot speak to this. I will leave it to the experts and not weigh in.

Peter (38:02):

So, if the experts say two beers a week, that’s okay with President Biden?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:04):

I will leave it to the experts. I’m just not going to comment on that.

Peter (38:08):

Okay. Something else: The Secret Service is paying $16,000 a month now to stage near Hunter Biden in Malibu. Who’s paying for that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:16):

That’s a question for the Secret Service.

Peter (38:17):

Okay. Hunter Biden is reportedly selling art to pay for his $15,800 a month rent in Malibu. How can you guarantee that people are not going to be buying this art to gain favor with the President?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:32):

That is a question for Hunter Biden and his representatives.

Peter (38:34):

It’s a question-

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:34):

I know. I hear, I hear-

Peter (38:35):

… of ethics at the White House. We know that one of the art buyers got a job from the Biden administration. Can you guarantee that there is no quid pro quo?

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:43):

I hear your question. I’m not going to get involved in this. That is a question for Hunter Biden’s representatives.

Peter (38:49):

But we know from a Hunter Biden associate now that he sold the appearance of access to then Vice President Biden. Are you confident that he has stopped doing that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:02):

That is a question for Hunter Biden and his representatives.

Peter (39:04):

If somebody is selling the appearance of access to the White House, that is a question for the White House.

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:08):

That is your… I don’t know, how you’re perceiving that.

Peter (39:14):

That is my reading of sworn testimony by Devin Archer. He said-

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:17):

I am just not… Peter, I’m just not going to get into this. I’m just not.

Peter (39:21):

So, this testimony, since the last time that I was in here, Devin Archer talks about how he and Hunter Biden tried to profit off the Biden brand. What is the Biden brand?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:36):

I’m not going to get into it from here. I’m not going to get into it from here. We’re going to move on.

Go ahead.

Speaker 9 (39:40):

Thanks. I have a question. First of all, happy first day of school.

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:43):

Happy first day of school.

Speaker 9 (39:45):

But seriously, what is the message that the administration has for the millions of girls in Afghanistan who can’t go to school because the Taliban won’t let them?

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:55):

So, look, the President has always been very clear about the importance of girls, not just here in America, but globally, being able to live freely and be able to go to school and get the education. And we have been very clear in laying out our concerns such as girls’ education with the Taliban. We have been consistent with that. We have been very clear of that. And so, we also remain laser-focused on trying to support and assist the Afghan people without bolstering the Taliban. And so, that’s something that we’re going to continue to do. That’s something that the President’s going to continue to be clear about, not just him but his administration. And so, that doesn’t end today and two years ago. That certainly will continue throughout his administration.

Speaker 9 (40:59):

Do you have a message for the girls themselves, I guess?

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:01):

Well, look, this is a President, this is an administration that certainly supports girls being educated, again, not just here, but also in Afghanistan. We are going to make that very clear as we consistently assess our relationship and approach with the Taliban. That is going to continue. And we’re going assist. We’re going to assist the Afghan people as much as we can without bolstering the Taliban. And that has been our commitment, our commitment, not just the last two years, certainly, for the past few decades.

Speaker 9 (41:47):

And then quickly on Vietnam: The statement you put out doesn’t mention human rights or the fact that the chairman is leader of a socialist, communist country that’s been backsliding on human rights. Is that going to be part of the conversations? And what-

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:01):

And you’ve heard us say this many times, you’ve heard it from our national security advisor, you’ve heard it from the President, you’ve heard it from many members of this administration, that this is a President that never shies away on bringing up human rights with any leader. And so, I’m not going to get ahead of the agenda. I’m not going to get ahead of a conversation. But certainly, this is not something that the President, when it comes to human rights, it’s not something that the President shies away from and he certainly brings that up.

Speaker 10 (42:31):

Thanks, Karine. The President was asked yesterday if he would speak to Governor DeSantis and responded by saying that he’d speak directly to the people of Jacksonville. Did he just mean at the top of his remarks later this afternoon or is he planning to travel to Jacksonville?

Karine Jean-Pierre (42:46):

As the mayor just stated, we’re not tracking, certainly, any travel to Jacksonville. You saw the President’s statement, you heard it from me, you heard it from the mayor. Our hearts going out to the people in Jacksonville. Certainly, we’re going to do everything that we can. The President spoke to the sheriff, he spoke to the mayor. So, just don’t have anything else to share beyond that.

Speaker 10 (43:11):

On Vietnam, Politico reported that part of what would be announced, and I know you gave kind of a long read out at the top, was the strategic partnership agreement on AI and semiconductors. Are you expecting them to sign that while he is there?

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:26):

We’ll have more to share on that trip, on the agenda, deliverables, what we’re expecting the conversation to look like and to be. I just don’t want to get ahead of that at this time.

Speaker 10 (43:35):

Last one. While you were gone, there’s a report that you guys were considering a meeting with MBS around the G20. He’ll obviously be attending, I think, for the first time as sort of the head of state designate. And it comes as energy prices have been high this summer and headed into next summer where there’s a lot of anticipation that they could remain there. So, I’m wondering if that’s something that’s actively in the works or…

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:02):

So, I don’t have anything to share on any bilateral meetings that the President might have at the G20. If we were to have any, certainly, we will lay that out for all of you or announce that to all of you.

Speaker 10 (44:14):

Do you have any sort of top line stuff about what you’re hoping to accomplish at the G20?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:22):

The G20 more broadly? So, he’s going to reaffirm, the President will reaffirm the US commitment to the G20 as the premier form of economic cooperation globally.

He’ll discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues, from the clean energy transition and combating climate change; to mitigating the economic and social impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine, obviously, that will be a big part of the conversation; to increasing the capacity of the multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to better fight poverty and take on the significant transnational challenges that are afflicting countries across the world.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:00):

So we have a packed agenda, as you can imagine. And we’ll have more to share in the coming days. And again, any bilateral or meetings that could potentially happen around the G20, we certainly will share that with all of you.

Go ahead, Toluse.

Toluse (45:14):

Thanks, Karine. I wanted to get your response to some comments from Senator Sanders over the weekend. He said the president has every right to be proud of his record, but he seemed to suggest that the president should spend less time touting his record and Bidenomics and more time speaking to the anxieties of Americans who are still struggling in the current economies. He said, “Democrats, up and down the line, are going to have to be much clearer to the American people as to what they stand for.” I wonder if you have any reaction to that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:42):

So, look, first, we’re very thankful to Senator Sanders for certainly being partners with us in passing some of the key pillars of Bidenomics. When you think about the key pieces of legislation, historical pieces of legislation that had led to unemployment being under 4%, when it led to millions of jobs being created, when it leads to the middle class, really rebuilding that middle class, not leaving anyone behind. Certainly Senator Sanders has been a key partner and we really appreciate the efforts that his leadership, I should say, in Congress, and making that happen.

And so, look, we agree with the senator. What we’re doing is just the beginning. This is part of trying to make sure that we do build a middle class, that we build an economy from the bottom up, middle out. That is incredibly important to this president. That’s why he has said that the last two years. This is not just the last two years. He doesn’t believe in trickle-down economics. He knows that doesn’t work.

And so, when it comes to the president going out there and talking to the American people directly to let them know what this administration has been able to do with the help of senators like Sanders, I think it’s important. We think it’s important for them to hear directly from this administration.

And so, look, we think there’s more work to do. We’re going to hear from this president this week about how he’s going to continue to lower cost. Lower healthcare costs for Americans, something that the president has been leading on and his administration has continuously put out ways to do that, Inflation Reduction Act, how it’s going to be able to help Americans lower costs, healthcare costs, how it’s going to be able to make sure seniors are not paying more than 35 bucks on insulin.

All of those things are key. They’re critical. They’re important. And so, the work continues. The work continues. And so, we agree with the senator. Yes, the work continues, and hopefully we can continue to work together with him on getting that done, getting more done for the American people and American families.

Get ahead, Karen.

Karen (47:48):

Thanks. To go back to the President’s comments from Friday about the COVID funding request, when he said he was asking, or he’d signed off on a proposal to present to Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine, why was that not included in the $40 billion supplemental funding request to Congress that was sent out this month?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:06):

I don’t have anything else to share on the president’s comments at this time. So, I want to be very clear at that. Just don’t have anything more to add.

What I can say is that we are prepared for the fall. We believe that we’re prepared for the fall. We believe that we are in a better position than we’ve ever been to combat COVID-19. And that’s because of the work that the president has done. You heard from FDA, you heard from CDC, who have said that there’s going to be new vaccines that’s going to be available mid-September.

And, look, because of the work that this administration has done with the leadership of this president, we have been able to put together a comprehensive way to deal with this pandemic, to deal with COVID-19. And we have put forth multiple tools to do that. And a vaccine clearly is one of that.

As it relates to what the President said, I just don’t have anything to add at this time.

Karen (48:57):

And on that new vaccine that’s going to be available in mid-September, the CDC data, it says that only 56 million Americans, 17% of the population, received the updated shot last year. What type of public messaging campaign or effort will the administration and the White House be doing starting in mid-September to get people to get that shot, to get more people than last year to get that shot?

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:18):

As you know, Karen, this is an issue that you have followed very closely for the past two years. And you have known that this administration, when it comes to informing the American people about these vaccines, about the different tools that this president and this administration has put forward, we have really put informing Americans as a priority. And so, we’ll continue to do that.

We know that COVID-19 vaccinations are the safest protection for avoiding hospitalization, long-term health outcomes, and death. And that is why we are going to continue to encourage Americans to stay up to date on their vaccines. And so, you’ll hear more from us on that.

And as you know, that is something, when it comes to informing Americans, American families about the vaccine, we certainly have been, really something that we’ve put at the forefront as we move forward with our comprehensive approach to dealing with this pandemic.

I would also refer you to the HHS on anything, more specifics on this new vaccine.

Go ahead.

Speaker 11 (50:19):

Thank you. Question on foreign policy. Israel’s foreign minister revealed that he met with his Libyan counterpart, which led to her firing and demonstrations in protest. Does this complicate the administration efforts in expanding on the Abraham Accord and kill any chance of normalization now between Israel and Libya? It was reported that the administration is angry at the Israeli leak of the story.

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:44):

So, on that particular question, I would have to refer you to the Libyan Government of National Unity and the government of Israel. That’s where I would have to refer you on that particular question. I just don’t have anything else to share on that.

Speaker 11 (50:55):

Mr. Burns went to Libya and he met with the Prime Minister. And he encouraged him, apparently, to approach Israel for this potential relationship. So, the administration has an interest in this.

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:07):

No, I understand the question.

On any conversation or meeting, I would have to refer to the respective governments.

Go ahead.

Speaker 12 (51:15):

Given what you’ve said so far about the president’s preparing for COVID and being ready for any sort of fall surge and what the president said today at the middle school, does the administration believe that all of the resources are in place, that they’re adequate should there be a case uptick that maybe is concerning to some districts and they maybe consider whether or not to leave kids in the classroom?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:39):

So a couple of things. So, I’ve talked about the historic progress that our administration has made in the ability to manage COVID-19 so that it’s no longer a meaningful disruption to the way that we move in our day-to-day life. So that is something that the president has taken seriously.

We believe we are in the strongest position yet, in the strongest position yet to deal with COVID-19, as I’ve said multiple times at this point, and anything that we might see in the fall or in the winter.

And that’s because safe and updated vaccines that will be available in mid-September, wildly available at-home COVID tests. I talked about the different tools that this administration has been able to put forward, widely available effective treatments, which can reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

And we are also going to encourage, we are going to encourage Americans to get their updated COVID-19 vaccine in addition to their annual flu shot. Let’s not forget that is important for Americans to get. And an RSV immunization for people over 60 and for infants. That is something that we’re going to continue to make very clear to Americans across the country.

As it relates to any uptick nationally, while the CDC is reporting an increase in infections, hospital admissions overall remains low.

But again, we believe that we are in a good position, in the strongest position that we have been in the past three years or so to deal with COVID-19.

There’s going to be an updated vaccine in mid-September. We’re going to continue to encourage Americans to get their updated vaccine, to stay updated on their vaccines more broadly, but also to make sure they get their RSV and also to make sure that they’re getting the flu shot.

Speaker 12 (53:36):

But I guess, specifically though, is there a message to school districts as kids are back in school now? And it’s not just COVID. As you’ve mentioned, there are a lot of things that can make kids sick this time of year.

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:46):

I mean, that’s why I mentioned the RSV, that’s why I mentioned the flu. All of those things are important for Americans to stay updated on.

So, as kids returns to school, to your point, CDC continues to recommend that people are up-to-date, again, on their COVID-19 vaccines. The agency has also laid out a number of steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

If folks go to, it’s important if Americans or families across the country have any concerns, any questions, they should go to and they’ll lay out ways to protect their loved ones, to protect their kids.

Decisions is at the district level. As you all know, when it comes to any decisions on what tools they’re going to use, whether it’s masking or whatever, however they’re going to move forward, that is something that’s decided on a local level.

But again, the CDC has laid out ways for schools and families to move forward if they have concerns.

But again, we are encouraging. We are going to continue to encourage folks to be updated on their vaccine. The RSV, let’s not forget, make sure they get that. And also the flu vaccine. All of those things are incredibly important as we head into the fall and winter months, to keep our loved ones safe.

Go ahead.

Speaker 13 (55:00):

Thanks, Karine. So, on oil, the administration is engaging now with dictator Nicolás Maduro to increase oil production. Why not, through regulation, show encouragement here in the U.S. for oil production?

Karine Jean-Pierre (55:12):

So, a couple of things. So, we continue, the U.S. is going to continue to work to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. That is something that we’re going to continue to do.

And it has been our longstanding position, should Venezuela take concrete actions toward restoring democracy, leading to free and fair elections, we are prepared to provide corresponding sanctions, relief as well. At this time, Venezuela has not taken the necessary steps and our sanctions remain in effect. So nothing has changed there.

Speaker 13 (55:42):

So, new leases were issued for the Gulf of Mexico for drilling. Yet in that, they removed 6 million acres of land to do that. Plus, there were additional restrictions placed on ships, specifically for oil and natural gas, to deliver those products. Why continue to constrict the U.S. energy industry?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:03):

Meaning in Venezuela specifically?

Speaker 13 (56:06):

No, no, I’m talking about the Gulf of Mexico. Now, I’m talking about oil. Second question about it.

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:09):

Right. Okay.

Speaker 13 (56:10):

So, new leases were offered for the Gulf of Mexico, but in those new leases, the administration has reduced the amount of acreage by 6 million acres to do that. In addition, they restricted ships taking the oil from the rigs and natural gas from the rigs to the shore. So, again, why continue to add restrictions on that industry?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:32):

So, we don’t believe we add restrictions on that industries. I want to look specifically on what you relay out those restrictions were and what was provided on the Gulf of Mexico. So I want to get back to my team and make sure that what you laid out is exactly how it was announced, and we’ll get back to you on that particular questions.

But that is not something that we believe that we are doing.

Speaker 13 (56:53):

One more on UAW.

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:54):


Speaker 13 (56:54):

Is the president going to get involved? Has he been talking with UAW at all?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:58):

Well, you heard from the president yesterday, he spoke to this when he was asked about the UAW.

Clearly, this is a president that believes in investing in America, has ensured when it comes to the future of auto making, it will be built here in America and by American workers. He’s been very clear about this.

This is a president that has overseen historic increases in labor union participation during his time in office.

And unions themselves have labeled him as, you hear us say this all the time, the most pro-union president.

And so, look, we’re not going to read out every conversation that this president has with parties in these negotiations, but the White House remains in close touch, as we have been in many of these other discussions with the UAW and the Big Three Automakers.

And look, the president believes in collective bargaining, as you hear him and you hear us say all the time. And it has worked. We’ve seen it worked in the past two years.

Speaker 14 (57:54):

I think it’s time to gather for the next event.

Karine Jean-Pierre (57:54):

Okay. Oh yeah, we have to gather for the next event. We’ll see you tomorrow, guys. Thank you, everybody.

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