Oct 30, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Lael Brainard, and John Kirby 10/23/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Lael Brainard, and John Kirby 10/23/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Lael Brainard, and John Kirby 10/23/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Lael Brainard, and John Kirby 10/23/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:03):

Good afternoon, everyone.

Reporters (00:05):

Good afternoon. Hello.

Karine Jean-Pierre (00:10):

I wanted to start with a word about the horrific news out of Lewiston, Maine last night where we saw another tragic shooting that has taken at least 18 lives, injured many others and left countless people in grief, shock and trauma. As the president said in a statement earlier today, he and the first lady are praying for the victims and their families, for those still fighting for their lives and for the families, survivors and community members reeling from this latest act of gun violence. Importantly, we continue to urge all residents to heed the warnings and guidance of the local officials, and federal law enforcement are on the ground to assist with the response. During the state dinner last night, the president was informed and stepped out to receive an initial briefing of the shooting. Later, he stepped out to speak with Maine Governor Janet Mills, as well as Senators Collins and King and Congressman Jared Golden. He pledged full federal support in the wake of this horrific tragedy.

This morning the president received another briefing on the shooting from senior advisors and he ordered that the U.S. flag be flown half staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds out of respect for all the victims as well. So I want to echo the president’s sentiments on this tragedy and the epidemic of gun violence in general. This is not normal. We cannot accept this. There have been literally hundreds of mass shootings in the last year alone, leaving empty seats at dinner tables across the country and leaving those who survive these heinous acts both physically and mentally scarred. While we have made progress since the president signed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, much more, much more must be done.

The president has been clear that executive action alone is just not enough. As the vice president who oversees the newly established Office of Gun Violence and Prevention stated during today’s state luncheon. I know many of you watched very closely as well, and she said, “It doesn’t have to be this way as our friends in Australia have demonstrated.” Again, it does not have to be this way. It’s within Congress’s power to pass legislation that will make our streets safer, that will make our community safer, that will make our schools safer. The House has a new speaker who he said, he said he’s ready to get to work and to find common ground. Now is the time. Now is the time to find common ground.

Let’s work together to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Let’s work together to enact universal background checks, require safe storage of guns and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous individuals who have no business being armed with a weapon of war. The president will continue to do everything in his power to protect the American people, to protect our communities, to protect our children, and we urge, we urge congressional Republicans to come to the table, to come to the table if there truly is common ground at this time. With that, as you all know, I am joined today in the Briefing Room by the Director of National Economic Council, Lael Brainard, to discuss the GDP report that you all saw this morning and any other economic news that’s out there. With that, Lael, welcome to the Briefing Room for the second time.

Lael Brainard (04:11):

Well, we thought this might be a good moment to look back to this time last year and recall what the experts were saying about the U.S. economy. A year ago, the consensus View Was that unemployment would need to go up to 4 1/2 and the economy would need to stall out in order to get inflation down to where it is today. But it turns out that was wrong, and you can see that here in the chart, U.S. Growth has been much stronger than the naysayers believed. Unemployment has remained below 4% this entire time, but inflation has actually fallen in line with that forecast. In fact, today we learned that GDP grew by 4.9% in the third quarter even as core PCE inflation on a quarterly basis fell to 2.4%, its lowest level in nearly three years. That strong economy is a testament to the resilience of American consumers and American workers supported by President Biden’s plan to grow the economy by growing the middle class. Consumer spending is robust as Americans have rejoined the labor force in record numbers, and real wages are up over the last year.

President Biden vowed to build the economy from the bottom up in the middle out, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in the data. Last week’s Survey of Consumer Finances showed that in Americans’ median net worth is 37% higher than it was before the pandemic adjusted for inflation. That’s the largest gain in the history of the survey and the wealth gains were strongest for the bottom half of the income distribution and for Blacks and Hispanic families that have traditionally not seen as large gains. Just yesterday, the UAW and Ford reached a historic tentative agreement that provides a record increase for auto workers and is a testament to the president’s strategy to ensure a strong future for auto manufacturing here in America with good union jobs. That’s good news for American workers and good news for the future of the U.S. auto industry. So in the data in that agreement, we can see that the president’s strategy is yielding real results even as we continue to work to bring costs down. Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (07:04):

All right, thank you. Go ahead, Ed.

Ed (07:06):

Thanks, Lael. So the president celebrated the GDP report saying that it’s a testament to the resilience of the American consumer, but the report also showed that personal savings dropped by 360 million. Do you have a message to Americans who are dipping into those savings to afford the inflation?

Lael Brainard (07:22):

Well, again, as I said, what you are seeing is Americans are back in the labor force in record numbers, much higher participation that was anticipated and higher than pre-pandemic. So they’re at work, and that is showing up also in the wealth number. So if you actually look at American households median wealth in inflation-adjusted terms, it’s actually gone up since before the pandemic. So I think the U.S. consumer, U.S. workers, they are absolutely the reason that we’re seeing this resilience in the economy and they are actually seeing increase in their wealth over this period.

Ed (08:04):

But what about a message to Americans who are dipping into savings to afford their lifestyle?

Lael Brainard (08:09):

So I think that, again, because net wealth is rising, because real incomes are rising because Americans are working, that’s exactly what we would want to see in the economy.

Karine Jean-Pierre (08:19):

Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 1 (08:20):

Are you no longer worried about a recession in the near term?

Lael Brainard (08:24):

So I think the data in recent months has all pointed in the same direction, which is that we are seeing strong ongoing growth with inflation coming down. We’re seeing unemployment staying below 4% 20 months in a row now with inflation coming down. So those data which have been sustained now for a relatively long period of time suggest that there’s ongoing resilience there. We’re seeing small business formation at a record rate. There’s a lot of dynamism in the economy that people are really taking notice of, and you know that the president has a historic legislation that is leading to historically high amounts of construction in the manufacturing sector. It’s really leveraging private sector investment. So for all those reasons, the ability to see the economy continue growing with inflation down strongest growth, lowest inflation among the G7.

Karine Jean-Pierre (09:32):

Go ahead, John.

John (09:33):

Thanks a lot. Since this GDP number was released, student loan repayments have begun for tens of millions of Americans. Is this a headwind that you see in the U.S. economy for Q4, what-

Lael Brainard (09:46):

… Like to see student debt relief go forward. He’s continuing to look to find avenues to do that in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. We’ve already announced a number of programs that have led to large and significant relief for a large number of Americans, but he’s going to continue working to make sure that the full amount of student debt relief is available over time.

John (10:15):

Then what other headwinds do you see for the fourth quarter?

Lael Brainard (10:19):

So right now, what we see going into the fourth quarter is continued ongoing investment on the basis of the clean energy tax credits and the CHIPS program, the infrastructure law. So there should continue to be a lot of private sector interest. We certainly see it in the numbers, 614 billion worth of private sector investment on the basis of those laws. So those things, I think, will continue to provide uplift, the global economy. There’s some soft spots there, so perhaps a little headwind there.

Karine Jean-Pierre (11:00):

Last question. Go ahead [inaudible 00:11:01]

Speaker 2 (11:01):

To follow on the consumer spending side, do you expect the piece of consumer spending to ease in the coming months? And a follow-up on that, if I can.

Lael Brainard (11:08):

There is the possibility that from quarter to quarter you see some variation. So it’s hard to know right now what retail spending and consumer spending more broadly is going to look like. Again, consumers have good sources of income, real wages rising, strong employment, strong participation in labor force, but from quarter to quarter we could certainly see variations in the relative contribution of consumers relative to business investment for instance.

Speaker 2 (11:41):

How you see the recent spike in borrowing cost affecting consumer spending?

Lael Brainard (11:45):

So certainly consumers and businesses are taking into account the cost of credit, and that is, I think, a headwind on the economy. Despite that, we’ve seen really strong GDP, 4.9% in the third quarter. We think that’s because there is strong support from the policy on the investment side of the economy, the president’s historic legislation there and his broader plan to grow the economy from the middle out.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:17):

Okay. Thank you so much.

Lael Brainard (12:19):

Thank you.

Speaker 3 (12:19):

Thanks, Lael.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:20):

Thank you for coming back.

Speaker 4 (12:20):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (12:22):

Okay, we’re moving on. Okay. Yes. As you know, Admiral John Kirby is here to do… I think you have something to share at the top and also take any of your foreign policy questions. Admiral?

John Kirby (12:35):

Thanks, Karine. Good afternoon, everybody.

Reporters (12:41):

Good afternoon.

John Kirby (12:45):

I’ve got a couple of things I want to get through. Let me start with the Middle East. The president continues to be routinely updated by the National Security Team on the situation there, obviously continuing to support. We are continuing to support Israel’s military, security assistance continues to flow to them as needed almost on a daily basis. Obviously, we’re still laser focused on the humanitarian assistance situation, making sure that more food, water, medicine can get in. Since the 21st of this month, some 74 trucks have now gotten in, 12 over just the last 24 hours, not enough. More needs to go, and we’re working with partners on the ground to see if we can accelerate and increase the flow of humanitarian assistance in. So again, it remains a high focus for him and for the national security team. I do want to, if you’ll allow me to, just to take a couple of minutes to update you on the battlefield situation in Ukraine.

As we have said publicly, Russia has launched a renewed offensive in Eastern Ukraine across multiple lines, including around Avdiivka, Liman and Kupiansk. Now, I spoke about this in a gaggle recently, but this offensive was not a surprise. We’ve been watching this build and come. We’ve warned that President Putin still aims to conquer Ukraine and we’ve been working to ensure that Ukraine has the equipment it needs to defend its territory. Just today, you may have noticed we announced another package of security assistance, which includes air defense capabilities, javelin anti-tank missiles, more artillery ammunition, and more ammunition for the high mobility artillery rocket system, otherwise known as HIMARS. Thus far, using all these capabilities, the Ukrainians have been able to hold on and hold on the defense against this offensive, successfully repelling Russian tank columns that have been advancing on Avdiivka. Since the 11th of October, Russia has suffered significant losses in this offensive attempt of theirs, including at least 125 armored vehicles around Avdiivka and more than a battalion’s worth of equipment.

We expect more Russian attacks to come. This is a dynamic conflict and we need to remember that Russia still maintains some offensive capability and may be able to achieve some tactical gains in the coming months. Now to pursue that outcome in Avdiivka and elsewhere on the battlefield, Russia continues to show no regard for the lives of its soldiers. We believe they have suffered thousands of casualties in their effort to conduct this offensive, some of them on the orders of their own leaders. We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who refuse to follow orders. We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire. Russia’s mobilized forces remain undertrained, underequipped and unprepared for combat.

As was the case during their failed winter offensive last year, the Russian military appears to be using what we would call human wave tactics, just throwing masses of these poorly-trained soldiers right into the fight, no proper equipment, no leadership, no resourcing, no support. It is unsurprising that Russian forces are suffering from poor morale given all these conditions. Russia’s renewed attempt at an offensive is a sobering reminder that President Putin is not giving up on his aspirations to take all of Ukraine. As long as Russia continues its brutal assault, we have to continue to support the Ukrainian people in their self-defense. Because his intentions are clear, you heard the president talk about this last week, he basically said that if Western weapons to Ukraine stopped, Ukraine would have a week to live. So to ensure that we can continue to do that, it’s critical that Congress step up and pass the supplemental request that the president put forward last week, which included a significant amount of resources for Ukraine, for their self-defenses, for their humanitarian and economic needs. It’s time now to move forward

John Kirby (17:00):

… forward with that supplemental funding because time clearly is not on our side or that of Ukraine going forward. So with that, take some questions.

Steve (17:10):

The president yesterday, John, said he has no confidence in the death toll numbers presented by the Palestinians and Gaza. What’s he basing that on? How did he reach the conclusion?

John Kirby (17:19):

Well, we all know that the Gazen Ministry of Health is just a front for Hamas. It’s run by Hamas, a terrorist organization. I’ve said it myself up here, we can’t take anything coming out of Hamas, including the so-called Ministry of Health at face Value.

Steve (17:37):

Okay, and secondly, the presidents talking more about humanitarian pause and reviving the Israeli-Palestinian Peace process. What’s prompting this tone shift?

John Kirby (17:48):

So two thoughts here, Steve. For one, the president has never backed away or never stopped affirming the need for a two-state solution. Since coming into office, we’ve been working on that very hard, and I know it’s a lofty goal and it’s taken a lot of people a long time to try to get there and we haven’t gotten there. But he’s not stopped working towards that goal. And he still believes, as he said yesterday, that when this conflict is over, that still has to be the goal we’re driving to, a state for Palestinians that they can live in peace and security and justice. That is a strategic long-term goal. In a tactical sense, as Secretary Blinken said, we do think that there should be consideration made right now for humanitarian pauses. These are localized, temporary, specific pauses on the battlefield so that humanitarian assistance can get in to people that need it or the people can get out of that area in relative safety. That’s what a humanitarian pause is, and we think it’s an idea worth exploring.

Peter (18:54):

Just to follow up on the first thing that Steve asked you quickly about the president’s lack of confidence in the numbers that we’re getting out of Gaza right now. As you noted, the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas, but to be clear, the present and the White House, you don’t dispute the thousands of Palestinians, many of them innocent civilians, have been killed by Israeli strikes so far, do you?

John Kirby (19:14):

Of course not. We absolutely know that the death toll continues to rise in Gaza. Of course, we know that. But what we’re saying is that we shouldn’t rely on numbers put forth by Hamas and the Ministry of Health.

Peter (19:26):

So they say it’s more than 7,000. Is there any way to assess how many it is? I mean, the president said it was a pretty dramatic moment when he said, “Yeah, we don’t have any confidence in that.” We respect that you can’t take Hamas at its word, but it does appear by all independent journalism including that by a lot of people in the room that thousands of Palestinians have been killed. Would you agree?

John Kirby (19:43):

We would not dispute that.

Peter (19:44):

Okay. Then let me ask you if I can break quickly. Is the White House satisfied that Israel to this point has obeyed the laws of war, the rules of the war as the present has indicated, and is Israel in the White House’s view doing enough to this point to protect innocent lives?

John Kirby (20:01):

Again, we’re not going to react in real time to events unfolding on the battlefield and every allegation and every strike. We’re just not going to do that.

Peter (20:09):

But that means it’s not until the war is completed that you guys could have an assessment of whether there-

John Kirby (20:13):

I didn’t say that either. I just said we’re not going to react in real time here, Peter. We have been in constant touch with our Israeli counterparts since the very early hours of this conflict to make sure we’re asking them the hard questions that we want them to ask themselves. And to reiterate, as the president said yesterday, to reiterate that there is an added burden here on Israel to make sure that they’re doing everything they can to minimize civilian casualties and we’re in constant communication with them about that.

Corrine (20:40):

Go ahead.

Speaker 5 (20:41):

Thanks, Corrine. John, to follow up on my colleague’s questions, does the president have faith in the numbers released by the West Bank Ministry of Health, which is run by Palestinian authorities, that says there’s been more than a hundred West Bank Palestinians killed by what President called extremist settlers?

John Kirby (20:59):

I know of no dispute with the rough numbers coming out of there either. We know that there’s been quite a bit of violence in the West Bank as well. Obviously the casualties are nowhere near the numbers that we’re seeing coming out of Gaza.

Speaker 5 (21:10):

Okay. Can I just follow up on the meeting between Jake Sullivan and Wang Yi tomorrow? What are the expectations? Will the president join the meeting? What are the key focus and what kind of role can the US expect from China on the war in Gaza?

John Kirby (21:24):

That wasn’t one more question. That was like seven more questions. Mr. Sullivan’s looking forward to this discussion with Wang Yi. I think you know he’s going to be starting out with meeting Secretary Blinken later this afternoon and then tomorrow with Jake here at the White House. And it’s a chance to continue the conversation that Jake himself has had with our PRC counterparts now for many, many months. It’s another milestone in that effort to keep the lines of communication open with the PRC. Now, it’ll be an opportunity for Mr. Sullivan to obviously address areas of concern that we continue to have with some of the PRC behavior, particularly in the South China Sea. But it’ll also be an opportunity to explore ways in which we can continue to keep these channels open and to try to get open the military to military channel communication, which is still closed.

Speaker 5 (22:22):

[inaudible 00:22:22] on the Gaza?

John Kirby (22:23):

I’m sorry?

Speaker 5 (22:24):

China’s role in the conflict in Gaza.

John Kirby (22:26):

Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, I have no doubt that part of this discussion, the agenda, will be what’s going on in the Middle East and getting the Chinese perspective and certainly looking for ways to encourage them to be helpful.

Corrine (22:39):

Okay, Michael, go ahead.

Michael (22:41):

John, the Florida governor says that the state is sending weapons and drones to Israel at the request of the consulate in Miami. Have you been coordinating with the Florida government on this and can states just send weapons and other material to foreign states?

John Kirby (23:01):

I would certainly let the governor speak to what Florida’s doing. It is not illegal for the governor of a state to offer a measure of foreign assistance to another country. There are laws and regulations which govern how the export process is handled, and that’s all done through commerce. I couldn’t speak with authority today about whether the governor has checked all those boxes or not. You really should talk to him and his staff, but it’s not illegal for a state governor to do that kind of thing.

Michael (23:36):

Just one quick follow up on all of the questions regarding the death toll coming out of the Hamas run Health Ministry in Gaza. You acknowledge that thousands have died in Gaza. Do you have any sense of the percentage of those that are Hamas militants versus civilians?

John Kirby (23:55):

I do not.

Speaker 6 (23:57):

Thank you, Admiral. More than 30 US service members have been killed in attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria. Will the US respond militarily and is the US prepared to lead another war in the Middle East?

John Kirby (24:07):

I don’t know. I don’t think … Did you say 30 have been killed? I don’t-

Speaker 6 (24:10):

Oh, sorry. Have been injured. Have been injured.

John Kirby (24:12):

Yeah. I’ll let the Pentagon speak to the number of injuries that they’ve had. My understanding is that almost all the troops that have been injured are back on duty and that there are some that have suffered what we call traumatic brain injury. That’s from the concussive effect when these rockets land close by and sometimes it takes a while for those symptoms to manifest themselves. So the numbers, again, I’d refer you to the Pentagon because I suspect they could change over time. As the president said yesterday, we’ve got troops in Iraq and Syria that are there on a very important mission going after Isis. Still viable mission, because that’s still a group that poses a threat. And they have in the past come under attack by some of these militia groups. And you might recall back in March, we responded and retaliated pretty aggressively. And as the president also said, we’re going to do what we have to do to protect those troops in our facilities. Now what we decide to do as Commander-in-Chief, that’s his decision to make and he’ll make it in a time and a manner of his own choosing.

Speaker 6 (25:20):

And the US and Israel have said that Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields. Is it acceptable that Israelis are attacking places even though they know that civilians would likely be killed? And are these strikes strategic or targeted enough?

John Kirby (25:33):

I will let the Israeli defense forces speak to their operations and their targeting procedures. We’re not involved in that. They have a right and a responsibility to go after Hamas after what happened on October 7th. And we’ve said, as I just mentioned to Peter, we’ve obviously had conversations with them about, and the president said yesterday, the need to be careful about causing civilian casualties and to be targeting Hamas leaders in a way that minimizes risk to civilians and to collateral damage.

Kevin (26:06):

You mentioned the idea of a humanitarian pause a little earlier. Did the president raise that with Netanyahu when they struck yesterday?

John Kirby (26:13):

I won’t go beyond the read out.

Kevin (26:16):

When we talk about a humanitarian pause, can you fill out a little bit more of what the US believes that would look like? How long would that last? Would it be like a cessation of the bombing? Would it be a halt in some of the cross-border incursions? We saw some of that yesterday, or I guess earlier today. Would it be just halt-

John Kirby (26:36):

In the cross-border incursions.

Kevin (26:38):

The Israeli sent tanks over the border very briefly yesterday. So would it be a halt in that? A halt in the bombing? What exactly would it look like and how long would it last?

John Kirby (26:47):

Not going to be a satisfying answer to you, but the answer is it depends. Humanitarian pauses by definition, like I said, a temporary and local agreement to stop the fighting long enough to do some discreet task. In this case, it would be to get humanitarian assistance in and or to allow people to get out because Hamas, they’re not encouraging and in some cases not allowing people to leave their homes. So it could be … I mean, Kevin, it could be a matter of hours, it could be a matter of days. I mean, it is by definition of short duration and of geographically sort of a localized area. Now, it could also be more than one spot. That’s what I mean, it depends. But we think it’s a valuable idea that’s worth looking at to help alleviate the humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

Kevin (27:43):

And did you have any response or reaction to senior leaders of Hamas visiting Moscow today?

John Kirby (27:51):

I can’t speak for their travel habits or with our conversations with the Russians. Our message to any other nation around the world is this is not a time to be supporting Hamas’ ability to continue to kill Israelis. And it’s certainly not a time, or any nation out there that wants to be involved should look for ways to be involved to help Israel defend itself and to help get humanitarian assistance in. So we’ll see what comes to the conversation.

Colleen (28:22):

Two quick things. Was there any coordination by the Florida governor with the White House on sending munitions over to Israel?

John Kirby (28:31):

Not that I’m aware of.

Colleen (28:32):

Okay. And then second, can you elaborate a little bit on the execution of Russian soldiers? How long has it been going on? Do you have any idea how many people and why? It seems kind of, I don’t know, they’re getting rid of their own soldiers.

John Kirby (28:49):

I’m not qualified to answer that last question. I mean it’s reprehensible to think about that you would execute your own soldiers because they didn’t want to follow orders and now threatening to execute entire units. It’s barbaric. But I think it’s a symptom of how poorly Russia’s military leaders know they’re doing and how bad they have handled this from a military perspective. From the very beginning, we’ve been talking about poor command and control, poor logistics and sustainment. They can’t feed their guys in the field for crying out loud. And now, again, they, they’re willing to shoot them for not following orders. It also speaks to the desperation in the manpower crunch. I got asked this question a day or so ago, but-

Speaker 7 (29:38):

Excuse me.

John Kirby (29:38):

Bless you. Russia obviously has a bigger military than Ukraine and they have access to more manpower to man it. But they are in such desperate need to make some kind of progress, particularly in the Donbas, the Donetsk area, that they are literally throwing young men into the fight who haven’t been properly trained, haven’t been properly equipped, and certainly are not being properly led.

Jackie (30:03):

Thank you, Corrine. John, the president said that if Iran or its proxies attacked US troops that we would respond. What is he waiting for exactly?

John Kirby (30:13):

He did say that.

Jackie (30:14):

Where’s the response?

John Kirby (30:17):

He said that and he said that we will-

Jackie (30:19):

So repeating the warning is the response?

John Kirby (30:21):

Jackie, come on now.

Jackie (30:23):

It’s an honest question.

John Kirby (30:24):

I’m not going to telegraph punches here from the podium. We have responded and retaliated in the past quite aggressively, in fact, back in March. And as the president said, we will not hesitate to protect our troops and our facilities, but we’re going to do it at a time of our choosing, in a manner of our choosing. And the decision to do it, if we do it, is his as commander in chief and his alone.

Jackie (30:46):

You said that he issued a warning to the Ayatollah this morning. He talked about yesterday. How was that warning delivered?

John Kirby (30:53):

I’m not going to get into that.

Jackie (30:54):

Can you say if there was a phone call or if there was a third party? Was there a message that was relayed after US troops were injured?

John Kirby (31:02):

There was a direct message relayed. That’s as far as I’m going to go.

Jackie (31:05):

And then why were the injuries not disclosed until Tuesday?

John Kirby (31:08):

I’d have to refer you to the Pentagon on that.

Jackie (31:10):

And can you also say why the US approved a visa for Iran’s foreign minister who’s in New York this week? The Wall Street Journal reported that he partook in at least two planning meetings in Lebanon with Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas leading up to the October 7th attack.

John Kirby (31:27):

Secretary General called a meeting at the foreign ministerial level. He’s the foreign minister of Iran. We are the host of the UN. We take that responsibility seriously. Do we particularly like the fact that he’s on US soil? No. But unlike a lot of other countries around the world, we take those responsibilities, those rules seriously. And so we allow them to come in to attend these meetings. And we hope, quite frankly, we’re certainly going to take advantage of the opportunity. We hope others at the UN take advantage of the opportunity to ask tough questions of him and what his country’s doing to support these militia groups and what his country’s doing to support Hamas and Hezbollah. This is an opportunity for world leaders up there in New York to make their perspectives and their concerns known directly to the Iranian foreign minister.

Jackie (32:11):

There was a Pentagon official, Ariane Tabatabai. I believe I’m saying her last name correctly. She was alleged to be involved in an Iranian government influence operation. There was some discussion about whether she should keep her security clearance. She did. But she’s now the chief of staff for the office that’s overseeing hostage negotiations. Is it appropriate for someone with these connections to the Iranian regime to be overseeing rescue operations for Americans that are being held by Iran backed proxies?

John Kirby (32:44):

I’d have to refer you to the Defense Department to speak to that, Jackie.

Corrine (32:47):

Go ahead, Jenny. Go ahead, Jenny.

Jenny (32:48):

Hey Corrine, thanks. Back on the Wang Yi meeting, you said that you would encourage China to be helpful in the Middle East. Can you elaborate on what you would like to see out of it? Do you want them to condemn Hamas? Do you want them to use their influence with Teran behind the scenes? And then separately, you have also called out Beijing in the past for providing support for Putin’s war effort in Ukraine. What’s your current assessment on whether that support is ongoing, whether that’s reaching the level of a red line? You sort of didn’t want to get into it, but it was non-lethal aid that was provided a couple months ago. So where does that stand now? Obviously Putin went to China a couple weeks ago, so their align seems to be strong.

John Kirby (33:37):

We still haven’t seen any indication that China’s willing to provide lethal capabilities to the Russian military. We just haven’t seen that. And as for them being helpful, they are able to have conversations in some places like Tehran that we aren’t. So we’ll see what Wang Yi says when he gets here tomorrow or this afternoon.

John Kirby (34:00):

But I think it would be irresponsible if we didn’t try to explore this issue with them and see what their thoughts and perspectives are.

Speaker 8 (34:11):

Thanks, John. Back to the numbers. Eight groups, including the United Nations, that are working in Gaza, cite those numbers of the health ministry. Are they wrong to do that?

John Kirby (34:22):

They can make their own decisions about what numbers they want to cite. We’re not going to cite them.

Raquel (34:26):

The State Department is also using these numbers internally. Sorry.

Speaker 8 (34:29):

I was going to actually mention that. Thank you, Raquel. I mean, the State Department has cited those numbers-

John Kirby (34:34):

Has cited them in the past, but what we’ve seen-

Speaker 8 (34:37):

Is the administration’s position that Hamas is now manipulating the numbers now, but not before?

John Kirby (34:43):

Well, do you remember that attack on the hospital? And what did the Gaza Ministry of Health put out? Something like 500. They slapped the number 500 on it within the hour of that attack. And of course the same Ministry of Health said it was an Israeli airstrike. So we know that’s not true, and we’ve now since found out that the numbers aren’t that high either. They never got up to 500.

Now it was at least a couple of hundred and that’s terrible and that’s atrocious and that’s sad, and we all obviously grieved with the families and loved ones who are affected by that. But the numbers are not reliable. They’re just not reliable. And I don’t need to tell you how to do your jobs, but if you’re going to report casualty figures out of Gaza, I would frankly recommend you don’t choose numbers put out by an organization that’s run by a terrorist organization.

Karine Jean-Pierre (35:29):

Go ahead, Raquel.

Raquel (35:30):

Okay. Thank you so much Karine and John. So besides saying that he doesn’t have confidence in these numbers, the president went farther to say that innocents will die and that this is the price of the war. You also said that.

John Kirby (35:42):

I have indeed.

Raquel (35:43):

Yeah. Don’t you think this is insensitive? They’re being very harsh criticism about it. For example, the Council of American-Islamic Relations said it was deeply disturbed and called on the president to apologize. Would the president apologize, and does he regret saying something like that?

John Kirby (36:00):

No. What’s harsh is the way Hamas is using people as human shields. What’s harsh is taking a couple of hundred hostages and leaving families anxious waiting and worrying to figure out where their loved ones are. What’s harsh is dropping in on a music festival and slaughtering a bunch of young people just trying to enjoy an afternoon. I could go on and on. That’s what’s harsh. That is what’s harsh. And being honest about the fact that there have been civilian casualties and that there likely will be more is being honest because that’s what war is. It’s brutal, it’s ugly, it’s messy. I’ve said that before, president also said that yesterday.

Doesn’t mean we have to like it and it doesn’t mean that we’re dismissing any one of those casualties. Each and every one is a tragedy in its own right and each and every one we should try to prevent, and that is why we’re in close contact with our Israeli counterparts to do everything we can to help them minimize the risk to civilians that are in harm’s way. It would be helpful if Hamas would let them leave, leave their homes, leave areas, not shelter in tunnels underneath their houses and in hospitals, and let them get out. Let them get out of Gaza if they want to leave. We know that there are thousands waiting to leave Gaza writ large and Hamas is preventing him from doing it. That is what is harsh.

Raquel (37:21):

Just another question if I may, because Israel has a dispute now with the UN Secretary General. I would like to know what is the White House position on that because also he is revoking visas from UN representative in the middle of the war. So what is the position of this administration on Israel-

John Kirby (37:41):

I’m sorry, can you repeat the first part of that? I missed it.

Raquel (37:44):

Yeah, Israel dispute with UN General Secretary. What is the-

John Kirby (37:50):

Oh, you mean his comments?

Raquel (37:52):

Yes exactly, and then he’s revoking visa right now from UN representative in a time of war. What do you think about that?

John Kirby (37:58):

Yeah, we’ll let the Secretary General speak for himself and speak for his words. I think President Biden has spoken repeatedly and consistently about where we are, including yesterday out there in the Rose Garden, and I’d leave it at that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (38:09):

Go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew (38:09):

Can you be any more specific about how soon US funding for Israel might lapse if Congress doesn’t take action? I know you said it’s difficult to estimate, but are we talking days, weeks, months?

John Kirby (38:18):

It’s difficult to know because it’s driven by the pace of operations and the security assistance that’s flowing and their expenditure rate. I’d say the same thing about Ukraine. I just know that time’s not on our side. The runway’s getting shorter with every passing week. We need that supplemental funding.

Andrew (38:33):

Just briefly, as you know, my colleague Evan Gershkovich turned 32 in prison today. Any update on his case, and is there any concern that the focus on American hostages and Gaza could distract from efforts to release him?

John Kirby (38:47):

There’s not going to be any distraction about our efforts to get Evan or Paul home, I should say Evan and Paul home. That work continues. I wish I had an update for you. I don’t accept to say that the team has not stopped working on both of them and trying to get them out, but we just don’t have a negotiation to speak to and no progress to make. But it is very much an active effort. And again, our thoughts continue to be with both families.

Karine Jean-Pierre (39:17):

And in the back.

Speaker 9 (39:19):

Admiral, As you know, Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh’s family was killed by an Israeli airstrike yesterday. His family was told to take refuge at a camp where they’d be safe and it happened while our bureau of chief was reporting live on air. This is coming as reports are emerging that the Secretary of State also told Al Jazeera to tone down its coverage of the war in Gaza. Does the president believe that targeting Al Jazeera journalists and their families should end?

John Kirby (39:47):

The president doesn’t believe that targeting journalists at all in any way is appropriate, but I can’t speak to the specifics of that case. I’ve seen the reporting and certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I mean, that’s just horrible, but I can’t speak to the circumstances in which that strike occurred. But make no mistake, the president believes strongly and what you all do for a living and how you need to be able to do that freely and securely. And we know that all of you take great risks sometimes in doing that job.

Speaker 9 (40:21):

But I’m talking about Al Jazeera journalists specifically in light of the reports that Secretary Blinken approached the Qatari government asking us to tone down our coverage.

John Kirby (40:31):

So you’re asking me in the context of that we have some kind of beef with Al Jazeera?

Speaker 9 (40:36):


John Kirby (40:37):

I’ll let the secretary and their staff speak to his conversations in the region. I won’t do that. We recognize Al Jazeera as a valuable voice and an outlet that has a incredible reach in the region and beyond. I don’t need to tell you that. It’s truly a global network and we value the work that you do.

Speaker 9 (40:57):

One quick question, just because the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least 24 journalists have been killed in Gaza trying to cover the story. Are you concerned that Israel is trying to silence journalists who are trying to tell both sides of this story, including our Al Jazeera Arabic bureau chief?

John Kirby (41:16):

I’ve not seen any indication whatsoever that Israel was going after journalists, in particular because of them trying to tell the story. I’ve seen absolutely zero evidence of that. That that’s an unfounded allegation.

Karine Jean-Pierre (41:29):

[inaudible 00:41:31].

Speaker 10 (41:31):

Thanks. Admiral, do you have any update at all on the progress of the attempts to have hostages free?

John Kirby (41:40):

Nothing that I can speak to today, no.

Speaker 10 (41:42):

And the president said yesterday that if he has conveyed to the prime minister that if there is any way to buy some time to free these hostages that there should be a humanitarian pause. But if there is no progress, how long should that pause last?

John Kirby (42:05):

It should last as long as we need it to last to get the hostages out. But to Kevin’s question, I mean, a pause is by definition temporary and perhaps localized. Again, we can’t assume that all these hostages are in the same place or in the same sets of conditions. And while I don’t have anything to specifically report out to you today, I can promise you, to your question of no progress, I can tell you that we’re working on it very hard with our partners in the region. We want to see all those hostages released.

Speaker 10 (42:37):

Right. I guess what I’m saying is, does Hamas need to show some effort to release more of these hostages in order to justify a humanitarian pause?

John Kirby (42:47):

Well again, that gets into negotiating tactics and I’m not going to do that. I mean, it would be foolhardy for me and dangerous if we started negotiating here in public in the briefing room about how we can work to get them out. We need to keep that in private diplomatic channels, but the work is ongoing and aggressively so.

Speaker 10 (43:07):

And Hamas recently said that 50 of the hostages have been killed in Israeli bombing raids since the conflict began. You’ve talked a lot about the fact that the US doesn’t trust the numbers that are coming from Hamas, but do you have any way to independently verify whether that figure is correct or not?

John Kirby (43:30):


Karine Jean-Pierre (43:34):

Go ahead, Dan.

Dan (43:34):

Thanks, Karine. Thank you everyone on the visit of the Chinese foreign minister, sorry if I missed it, but did you say if we can expect the president to drop by on that meeting tomorrow?

John Kirby (43:42):

I don’t have anything on the president’s calendar to speak to.

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:45):

Go ahead, Jake.

Jake (43:46):

Thank you, Karine, and thank you Admiral. I just want to start off by saying anyone who’s got beef with Kimberly is going to have to deal with me first.

John Kirby (43:51):

I’m sorry?

Jake (43:54):

Anyone who’s got beef with Kimberly is going to have to go through me first.

John Kirby (43:57):


Jake (43:58):

That’s why-

John Kirby (43:58):

I consider myself fair warned then.

Jake (44:01):

Yeah. I’ve got one question and one follow up regarding the two state solution. What is the president’s vision for what that would actually look like, and are there any preconditions or contingencies that would be in place?

John Kirby (44:15):

We’re just not there yet. I mean obviously the idea of a two-state solution, it’s not a new idea and it’s one that President Biden has believed in for a very, very long time through all his foreign policy experience. Getting there has proven difficult. I don’t need to tell you that, and obviously it’s going to remain a difficult task, but what we hope is that it’s not illusory, that it’s not impossible. But what that could actually look like once we can get folks to the table, I mean, that will come in the future. I couldn’t possibly begin to describe exactly what the parameters would look like right now.

Jake (44:51):

Okay. So there’s a Gallup poll that came out about a month ago that shows 72% of Palestinians are against a two state solution, the highest it’s been since they started polling this question, I believe. And furthermore, they showed 84% don’t have confidence in this current administration’s ability to bring about a peace agreement. How do you work with those kinds of numbers?

John Kirby (45:14):

We just keep working towards the goal. Recognize that there’s different opinions out there, but we don’t enact policy. We don’t pursue the potential and the promise for peace and security in the Middle East based on opinion polls.

Karine Jean-Pierre (45:31):

Last question, Ali.

Ali (45:32):

Thank you. Why did the president believes that the recently announced India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor fit some players in the Middle East?

John Kirby (45:41):

Say it again?

Ali (45:44):

President has said, it was last week, twice, that this is an instinct that the IMEC corridor announced with the G20 summit may have precipitated Hamas terrorist attack against Israel. So my question is-

John Kirby (45:56):

I think you misunderstood him. What he said was that he believed that the normalization process and the agreement that we were trying to reach between Israel and Saudi Arabia for normalization, which we believe is an important stepping stone to getting to a two-state solution, was what may have motivated Hamas to conduct those attacks. I think you misunderstood what he actually said.

Ali (46:21):

I have more question.

John Kirby (46:22):

Thank you.

Ali (46:23):

Can I ask one more question?

John Kirby (46:24):

That’s up to Karine. Karine says yes.

Ali (46:28):

Has Canada shared with you any evidence of these allegations against India?

John Kirby (46:33):

I won’t talk about intelligence matters one way or the other. Certainly not from here. Thank you, everybody.

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:38):

Thanks, Admiral.

Speaker 11 (46:38):

Thank you, John.

Speaker 12 (46:39):

Thanks John.

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:40):

Thank you so much. Okay.

All right, Colleen, good to see you.

Colleen (46:48):

You too. Has the new speaker been invited to the White House, and is the president concerned about working with the new speaker given his track record on gun control, on abortion, on the 2020 election?

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:08):

So a couple of things. So upon the speaker’s election, we invited him today, it’s actually happening right now, to a bipartisan briefing with leadership and relevant committee chairs and ranking members and on the president’s supplemental national security, obviously, package. And so that’s happening right now. I think it’s still happening. And so the speaker is here and he did join that briefing.

Oh, and the other questions. So the president was asked yesterday about 2020, and the president I think answered it pretty straightforward. You heard him say that when it came to the 2020 election, we had more than 60 judges who basically threw those cases out of the court or approved it to not be true when it came to the accusations that the elections were not, I guess, real, whatever, however they said it in 2020. But also, a Trump administration said the 2020 election was the safest election that we’ve ever had, and you heard that from the Trump administration. The president also said that he understands the Constitution, so the President answered that question.

Look, more broadly as it relates to the speaker, the president has said that once the House Conference was able to get their fares in order after spending 22 days to pick a speaker in their chaos that we have seen him do the last 22 days, once they figured that out, he would be willing to work with them in good faith to get things done on behalf of the American people. And we’ve been able to do really big things in a bipartisan way, whether it’s the Ships and Science Act, whether it’s the infrastructure law, we’ve been able to do that to deliver for the American people and the President wants to do that. He wants to continue that progress. And let’s not forget in the midterms, the American people were very clear. They want to continue to see that type of bipartisanship. They want us to continue to grow the economy.

And so that’s the President’s focus. He’s willing to do that. He’s willing to take up the speaker’s words now as working on common ground to make that happen.

Colleen (49:30):

Is the president confident the House, since it’s an order again, can get the supplemental taken care of before the-

Karine Jean-Pierre (49:36):

So a couple of things there. As we know, we’ve heard from many Republicans even on the supplemental, especially the National Security supplemental and how we’ve seen bipartisan support. And so that’s really important, and I have a couple of folks that I want to actually read out. Leader McConnell said, “Our national security priorities from Russia to Hamas to China are all connected and this requires a worldwide approach.” Senate Armed Services ranking member, Roger Wicker, said he “Absolutely supports linking Ukraine and Israel aid and that a solid majority in the House and Senate could too.” Senate Appropriations Vice Chair Susan Collins said, “Each of these four elements are critical.” So we have seen a bipartisan support, strong bipartisan support for the national security supplemental, obviously that includes Ukraine and Israel, and so there is no reason we should not be able to move forward to get that done.


Speaker 13 (50:37):

[inaudible 00:50:38] person behind me. So Speaker Johnson’s voting record shows that he’s strongly opposed to gun safety legislation.- Even when Democrats controlled Congress, they could not pass the universal background checks or the assault weapons ban. So what realistically can get done with this speaker? How can a deal around the speaker

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:53):

Look, I hear the question. I mean, look what just happened last night. Look what happened in Maine in a small community,

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:00):

… Community, I think about 30,000 people, and clearly the gunman is still at large and so it’s a dynamic situation on the ground. But as far as we know, 18 people were killed, and we should not have weapons of war in our communities, in our schools and anywhere in our communities. And this is an epidemic. This is a gun violence epidemic and the time is now to act.

And here’s the thing, Speaker Johnson and all of the members on the Hill, Republicans in Congress, they have the ability to stop this. They have the ability to put forth legislation to deal with this issue. They can change this. They can help save lives and we’re just not going to take… It’s great to hear thoughts and prayers. We obviously want to give the families who are dealing with this tragedy, and the victims who are clearly dealing with this tragedy, obviously we want them to make sure that they know that they’re in our thoughts and prayers, but that’s not enough. That’s not enough.

And so, we were able to do a bipartisan piece of legislation to deal with gun violence, a piece of legislation, obviously, that’s law that we hadn’t seen in 30 years. So, there’s ways to get there. There’s ways to get there, but executive actions is not enough. We got to do more. And just because it may be difficult, it may be hard, doesn’t mean that we stop. It doesn’t mean that we stop fighting, and that doesn’t mean that the president is going to stop saying over and over again that we have to stop this gun violence epidemic.

Speaker 14 (52:38):

Is there other executive action that the president plans to sign?

Karine Jean-Pierre (52:40):

I don’t have anything to read out at this time. We don’t have anything to read out at this time. As you know, there is a office to prevent gun violence, which is a historic office which the president is very proud of, that’s being led, as I said, at the top, by the vice president who’s part of that, leading the efforts of that office. But look, we have to continue to do the work. We have to continue to do the work, and that has to be done legislatively. We can’t just continue to do executive actions. As you know, the president has done more than two dozen of them, signed two dozen of them. But we need to do more. We need to sign legislation into law. We need to build on the bipartisan action that was taken last year. Go ahead, Kevin.

Kevin (53:20):

Just to clarify, is the speaker meeting the president today or just the staff?

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:25):

I don’t have anything to read out on the president, on a visit with the president. What I can say is that the speaker is indeed here. He was, when I walked out, getting a briefing with other members of Congress on, obviously the National Security supplemental funding package, which we believe is an important, important package to move forward and has strong bipartisan support.

Kevin (53:47):

And was yesterday the first time that President Biden has ever spoken to Mike Johnson or did they have any relationship?

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:53):

So, I don’t have any engagement to list out. I can say that when there was the congressional picnic, Congressman Johnson was here, and then I believe there was an LSU event here not too long ago that the president shouted out. Then, obviously Congressman Johnson because he had attended… I just don’t have any other specific engagement to call.

Kevin (54:18):

In the Gun Violence prevention office that you’ve just mentioned, are you able to give us any sort of read? I know it’s been in place for a little while now. What exactly has it been doing? What are the meetings like? Are they talking about executive actions? Are they talking about potential new legislation? Are they soliciting recommendations? What exactly has it been up to?

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:37):

So, one thing that I can say is Greg Jackson, who’s one of the deputies of the office, he convened as it relates to what happened, the horrific actions of last night. He convened federal agencies. He did that this morning to discuss federal resources already deployed and ensure readiness to meet any additional community needs as people of Lewiston work through the unimaginable grief that they may be experiencing. So, we are in direct contact with folks on the ground there, and that is something that the office certainly is being part of. I don’t have any other executive actions. I was just asked about that.

But our focus right now is to continue to call on Congress to take action. We need to see legislation. We need to make sure that weapons of war are not in communities. That’s what we’re seeing right now. We need to make sure that weapons of wars are not in communities. We need to take more action that are common sense, common sense gun laws that the American people want to see. Majority of Americans want to see this and so it is for house Republicans to listen to their constituents, to listen to Americans across the country. They can help stop what we’re seeing here. They can help save lives, and it is their job to do that at the Capitol, on the Hill. Kent Steele.

Kent Steele (55:57):

Do you anticipate the president going to Lewiston, Maine when things settle down?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:00):

I don’t have anything. I don’t certainly want to get ahead of the president’s schedule. Don’t have anything to share. It is a dynamic situation on the ground. I think the priority, our focus is to make sure that Maine and local enforcement has the resources that its needs. That’s what the president wants to make sure happens. We got to catch this killer, bring him to justice. That is incredibly important, as well. And so we are with the community on the ground, clearly, and certainly are going… The president wants to make sure that they have the resource that they need in this really, really critical time. Okay, Nancy.

Nancy (56:36):

Thanks, Karine. What are some of the concrete goals of the Office of Gun Violence reduction?

Karine Jean-Pierre (56:43):

So look, I think having this historic office is incredibly important. Making sure it shows how critical we see this epidemic that’s happening certainly across the country and want to make sure that we do everything that we can to save lives.

Look, one of the things, as well, that we want to do is make sure that we offer any type of emotional, mental assistance. That’s going to be done through the office. Want to see what other executive actions can be done. We believe that legislation is the way to go, but there might be additional executive actions that can be done. So, we want to make sure that we look at… That’s one of the things the office is doing, looking at all of the potential options that we can do to continue to build on what the president has been able to do. Having conversation with communities on the ground, listening to them, taking in advice on what it is that they… Further actions that can be taken on the ground.

So, this office is, I think, critical at this moment is what we’re seeing with these communities, really going through this horrific epidemic. When you see guns being the number one killer of children, we have to take action, and so I think this is a… When you think about the office and you think about what it does, preventing gun violence, it’s a way for the president to show that he’s taking this very seriously. It’s a way to try and figure out what else can be done to really stop this epidemic and also work with communities on the ground.

Nancy (58:14):

And is there a timeframe for how long it’s going to take this office to figure out what should be done before they start aggressively trying to implement?

Karine Jean-Pierre (58:21):

I mean, I don’t have a timeline. Look, as I said, we’re going to see if there’s additional executive action, but honestly it is for Congress. We have to see law, right? We have to see ways for Congress to take action on making sure that there aren’t weapons of war on the street, right? To make sure that there is common sense legislation out there that Americans want to see. We have to actually see legislative actions to really deal with this issue, build on the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. We need to do that. That’s how we’re going to deal with this epidemic.

This office certainly is going to be there for communities, certainly going to see what else we can be doing from, certainly this side of Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re going to do everything that we can from here, but really the answer is Congress has to act. They have to take action.

Speaker 15 (59:12):

I think we have time for one or two more.

Karine Jean-Pierre (59:12):

Okay. Go ahead, Peter.

Peter (59:15):

If I can ask you very quickly about the new House Speaker who is apparently in the building as we speak, right now. Does the present view speaker Mike Johnson as a MAGA extremist?

Karine Jean-Pierre (59:24):

Look, I would have to let the speaker speak for himself, obviously. I think he has defined himself as that way, so he’s going to have to answer that question for himself. What we can say is we want to move forward on making sure that we get the work done on behalf of the American people. The president is willing to do that in a good faith fashion as we have been able to do that on many bipartisan laws now, that the president was able to push through Congress with Democrats and Republicans. That’s what we want to see.

Peter (59:56):

Just to be clear, I asked that because the president, last month when he was speaking in Arizona and honoring his late friend, John McCain said their extreme, agenda referring to members of what you describe, the MAGA Republican extremists, “Their extreme agenda carried out will fundamentally alter the institutions of American democracy, American democracy as we know it.” Does that concern apply to Speaker Mike Johnson given the leading role he played in trying to overturn the election in 2020?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:00:24):

So look, the speaker has spoken to it himself publicly about where he sees his views ideologically. I’m not going to get ahead of that, and also I’m not going to prejudge. I’m just not going to prejudge what the relationship is going to be like now that he’s speaker. I’m just not-

Peter (01:00:45):

Which is compared to what he did in the past, you’re willing to relieve that-

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:00:45):

It’s, it’s-

Peter (01:00:45):

… If he acts in good faith going forward?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:00:45):

We want to make sure that… The president wants to make sure that we get the business of the American people done. There is so much to get done, which I was just asked about the national security supplemental. We need to get that done, right? We need to make sure in 21 days there is not a shutdown, and that is the job right of Congress to make sure that they get that done. Look, the moment that we’re in right now should not be about partisanship. The American people don’t want to see that. They want to see us work in a bipartisan way. The president, as you know, is a president that believes in bipartisanship. He believes on bringing both sides together. He has done that in the last two years, and so he wants to continue that, but as far as the speakership, look, we’re going to see how that goes. I’m not going to prejudge what that relationship is going to look like moving forward. All right, go ahead Kevin.

Kevin (01:01:33):

You said you don’t want to prejudge, but the Biden campaign put out a statement yesterday calling Johnson, “MAGA Mike Johnson, extreme and a loyal foot soldier to president Trump.” I mean, does that to break with your message here?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:01:45):

Look, I’m not going to speak to what the campaign does. That’s the campaign. I’m going to speak to here right now in this administration speaking for the president in this administration, and what I can say is the president, and this is something that he has said himself, that he wants to work in good faith with whoever they had chose to be speaker. It happens to be Speaker Johnson and he wants to deliver for the American people. That is something that the president has said himself over the last couple of weeks, as well. And so that is going to be our focus. That’s what we want to get done.

There is a lot of work to get done. We have two supplementals that are out there. One is the domestic one. One is the national security supplemental. They are urgent, we believe are urgent needs. Urgent needs, as we speak about our national security, as we talk about disaster relief, childcare. All of these things are important to the American people, and that’s what the president’s going to focus on. Gosh, there’s a lot of hands. Go ahead, John, in the back.

Speaker 16 (01:02:47):

As it relates to the new speaker, is keeping the government funded a major test for this new speaker? If there is a government shutdown, do you essentially say, “Well, it’s all the new speaker’s fault.” How do you view that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:03:00):

I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. We know that we have 21 days to make sure… Well, and it’s their job, right? We’ve been very clear. It is their job, Congress, to make sure the government stays open. They have 21 days to do that. Now they have a speaker, now they have to make sure that we do that, that that continues, that the government stays open, that we don’t have our military or federal employees not getting paid. Or in critical programs that are out there that the American people need, that needs to continue.

And so, we’ll see what happens. Again, 21 days to get that done. As it relates to other priorities that the president has, that we believe are bipartisan priorities. I just talked about disaster relief. I talked about childcare. All of those things has bipartisan support, so we believe those things can get done.

I’m getting pulled by the team here. Okay, guys, we’ll be back tomorrow. Okay, go ahead. You have the last question. Nope, right here.

Speaker 17 (01:03:57):

Thank you.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:03:57):


Speaker 17 (01:03:58):

California Governor Gavin Newsom is currently in China and met with President Xi yesterday. Has the White House coordinated with him at all on this visit, and did the White House sanction this trip?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:04:07):

I just don’t have anything to speak to on that trip. I would refer you to the State Department and also to the governor’s office. I just don’t have anything to share on that particular trip. Thank you. See you guys tomorrow.

Speaker 17 (01:04:19):

Yes, Karine. Thank you.

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