Jun 8, 2022

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre With Matthew McConaughey 6/07/22 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre With Matthew McConaughey Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre With Matthew McConaughey 6/07/22 Transcript

Matthew McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, Texas, spoke to reporters at the White House briefing about the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Read the transcript here.

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
Good afternoon, everyone.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:06)
So, I’d like to welcome Matthew and Camila McConaughey to The White House today. To speak on an urgent issue our nation is currently facing. You may know Matthew as an actor, but more importantly, he is a father, a native of Uvalde, Texas, and a gun owner. He is here today to use his platform to call on leaders to take bipartisan action, to end this senseless killing and pass reasonable gun responsibility measures, that we know will save lives.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:42)
Just a few minutes ago, Matthew met briefly with the president to talk about the importance of taking action, keeping our communities safe. But without further ado, I will like to bring up Matthew.

Matthew McConaughey: (00:58)
Thank you.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:59)
Here we go.

Matthew McConaughey: (01:01)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Camila.

Matthew McConaughey: (01:10)
To make the loss of these lives matter. My wife and I, my wife and I, Camila, we spent most of last week on the ground with the families in Uvalde, Texas. We shared stories, tears, and memories. The common thread, independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness, it was the same. How can these families continue to honor these deaths, by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? Again, how can a loss of these lives matter?

Matthew McConaughey: (01:51)
So while we honor and acknowledge the victims, we need to recognize that this time, seems that something is different. There is a sense that perhaps there’s a viable path forward. Responsible parties in this debate seem to at least be committed to sitting down and having a real conversation about a new and improved path forward. A path that can bring us closer together and make us safer as a country, a path that can actually get something done this time.

Matthew McConaughey: (02:22)
Camila and I came here to share my stories from my hometown, Uvalde. Came here to take meetings with elected officials on both sides of the aisle. We came here to speak to them, to speak with them, and to urge them to speak with each other. To remind and inspire them that the American people will continue to drive forward, the mission of keeping our children safe. Because it’s more than our right to do so, it’s our responsibility to do so.

Matthew McConaughey: (02:52)
I’m here today, in the hopes of applying what energy, reason, and passion that I have, and to try to turn this moment into a reality. Because as I said, this moment is different. We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before. A window where it seems like real change, real change can happen. Uvalde, Texas is where I was born. I swear my mom taught kindergarten less than a mile from Robb Elementary. Uvalde is where I learned to master a Daisy BB gun. That took two years before I graduated to a .410 shotgun. Uvalde is where I was taught to revere the power and the capability of the tool that we call a gun.

Matthew McConaughey: (03:47)
Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership. Now Uvalde called me on May 24th, when I learned the news of this devastating tragedy. I had been out of cellular range, working in the studio all day when I emerged, and messages about a mass shooting in the town I was born in, began flooding my inbox. In a bit of shock, I drove home, hugged my children a bit tighter and longer than the night before. And then the reality of what had happened that day in the town I was born in set in.

Matthew McConaughey: (04:19)
So the next morning, Camila, myself, the kids, we loaded up the truck and we drove to Uvalde. When we arrived a few hours later, I got to tell you, even from the inside of our vehicle, you could feel the shock in the town. You could feel the pain. The denial, the disillusion, anger, blame, sadness, loss of lives, dreams halted. We saw ministries. We saw first responders, counselors, cooks, families, trying to grieve without it being on the front page news. We met with the local funeral director, and countless morticians who hadn’t slept since the massacre the day before, because they’ve been working 24/7 trying to handle so many bodies at once. So many little innocent bodies, who had their entire lives still yet to live.

Matthew McConaughey: (05:15)
That is there that we met two of the grieving parents, Ryan and Jessica Ramirez. Their 10 year old daughter, Alithia, she was one of the 19 children that were killed the day before. Now, Alithia, her dream was to go to art school in Paris and one day share her art with the world. Ryan and Jessica were eager to share Alithia’s art with us. And said, “If we could share it, that somehow, maybe that would make aha smile on heaven.” They told us that showing someone else Alithia’s art, would in some way, keep her alive. Now this particular drawing is a self-portrait, all right, of Alithia drawing. With her friend in heaven, looking down on her, drawing the very same picture. Her mother said of this drawing, she said, “We never really talked to her about heaven before, but somehow she knew.” Alithia, was 10 years old.

Matthew McConaughey: (06:25)
Her father, Ryan, this man was steady. He was uncommonly together and calm. When a frazzled friend of his came up and said, “How are you so calm? I’d be going crazy.” Ryan told him, he said, “No, you wouldn’t. No, you wouldn’t. You’d be strong for your wife and kids, because if they see you go crazy, that will not help them”

Matthew McConaughey: (06:51)
Just a week prior, Ryan, got a full-time line job, stringing power lines from pole to pole. And every day, since landing that well paying full-time job, he reminded his daughter, Alithia, he said, “Girl, daddy going to spoil you now.” Told her every single night. He said, “Daddy’s going to take you to SeaWorld one day.” But he didn’t get to spoil his daughter. Alithia, she did not get to go to SeaWorld. We also met Ana and Danilo, the mom and the stepdad of nine year old Maite Rodriguez. And Maite wanted to be a Marine biologist. She was already in contact with Corpus Christi, University of A&M, for her future college enrollment. Nine years old. Maite cared for the environment so strongly that when the city asked her mother, if they could release some balloons into the sky in her memory, her mom said, “Oh no. Maite wouldn’t want to litter.” Maite wore green high top converse with a heart she had hand drawn on the right toe, because they represented her love of nature. Camila’s got these shoes. Can you show these shoes please? Wore these every day. Green converse, with a heart on the right toe.

Matthew McConaughey: (08:28)
These are the same green converse on her feet, that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could I identify her after the shooting. How about that? Maite wrote a letter. Her mom said, “If Maite letter could help someone accomplish her dream, that then her death would have an impact. And it would mean her dying had a point and wasn’t pointless.” That it would make the loss of her life matter.

Matthew McConaughey: (09:04)
The letter reads, “Marine biologist. I want to pass school to get to my dream college. My dream college is in Corpus Christi by the ocean. I need to live next to the ocean, because I want to be a Marine biologist. Marine biologist, study animals and the water. Most of the time, I will be in a lab, sometimes I will be on TV.”

Matthew McConaughey: (09:38)
Then there was Ellie Garcia, a 10 year old. And her parents, Steven and Jennifer. Ellie loved to dance and she loved church. She even knew how to drive tractors and was already working with her dad and her uncle mowing yards. “Ellie was always giving of her gifts, her time, even half eating food on her plate,” they said. Said, “Around the house, we called her The Great Regifter”

Matthew McConaughey: (10:09)
Smiling through tears, her family told us how Ellie loved to embrace. Said, “She was the biggest hugger in the family.” Now Ellie, was born Catholic, but had been going to Baptist church with her uncle for the last couple of years. Her mom and dad were proud of her because they said, “She was learning to love God, no matter where.”

Matthew McConaughey: (10:36)
The week prior to her passing, she’d been preparing to read a verse from the Bible for the next Wednesday night’s church service. The verse was from Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” That’s who Ellie was becoming. But she never got to read it. Service is only at Wednesday night.

Matthew McConaughey: (11:13)
Then there was a fairytale love story of a teacher named Irma, and her husband, Joe. What a great family this was. This was an amazing family. Camila and I, we sat with about 20 of their family members in their living room, along with their four kids. Kids were 23, 19, 15 and 13. They shared all these stories about Irma and Joe served the community and would host all these parties, and how Irma and Joe were planning on getting a food truck together when they soon retired. They were humble, hard working people. Irma was his teacher. Who her family said, “Went above and beyond and just couldn’t say no to any kind of teaching.” Joe had been commuting to and from work 70 miles away in Del Rio for years. Together, they were the glue of the family. Both worked overtime to support the four kids.

Matthew McConaughey: (12:10)
Irma even worked every summer when school was out. The money she had made two summers ago, paid to paint the front of the house. The money she made last summer, paid to paint the sides of the house. This summer’s work was going to pay to paint the back of the house. Because Irma was one of the teachers who was gunned down in the classroom. Joe, her husband, literally died of heartache the very next day, when he had a heart attack. They never got to paint the back of their house, they never got to retire, and they never got to get that food truck together.

Matthew McConaughey: (13:11)
We also met a cosmetologist. She was well versed in mortuary makeup. That’s the task of making the victims appear as peaceful and natural as possible for their open casket viewings. These bodies were very different. They needed much more than makeup to be presentable. They needed extensive restoration. Why? Due to the exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR 15 rifle. Most of the body so mutilated, that only DNA test, or green converse, could identify them. Many children were left not only dead, but hollow. So yes, counselors are going to be needed in Uvalde for a long time. Counselors are needed in all these places where these mass shootings have been for a long time. I was told by many that it takes a good year before people even understand what to do next. And even then, when they become secure enough to take the first step forward, a lifetime’s not going to heal those wounds.

Matthew McConaughey: (14:31)
But again, you know what every one of these parents wanted? What they asked us for? What every parent separately expressed, in their own way, to Camila and me? That they want their children’s dreams to live on. That they want their children’s dream to continue to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter. Look, we heard from so many people, all right? Families of the deceased, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, Texas Rangers, hunters, Border Patrol, and responsible gun owners who won’t give up their Second Amendment right to bear arms. And you know what they all said? “We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get these damn guns.”

Matthew McConaughey: (15:29)
So, we know it’s on the table. We need to invest in mental healthcare. We need to safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage. We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values. And, we need responsible gun ownership. Responsible gun ownership. We need background checks. We need-

Matthew McConaughey: (16:03)
…ownership. We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations to our nation, states, community, schools and homes. Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back, they’re step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment. Look, is this cure all? Hell no, but people are hurting, families are, parents are. And look as divided as our country is, this gun responsibility issue is one that we agree on more than we don’t. It really is. But this should be a nonpartisan issue. This should not be a partisan issue. There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters, there’s not. But people in power have failed to act. So we’re asking you and I’m asking you, will you please ask yourselves.

Matthew McConaughey: (17:38)
Can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands? Cause we got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations. A chance to make a choice that does more than protect your party. A chance to make a choice that protects our country now and for the next generation. We got to take a sober, humble and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value. What we truly value. We got to get some real courage and honor our immortal obligations, instead of our party affiliations. Enough of the counter punching, enough of the invalidation of the other side. It’s come to the common table that represents the American people. Find a middle ground, the place where most of us, Americans, live anyway, especially on this issue. Cause I promise you, America, you and me, we are not as divided as we are being told we are. No. How about we get inspired? Give ourselves just cause to revere our future again. Maybe set an example for our children. Give us reason to tell them, “Hey listen, and watch these men and women. These are great American leaders right here. Hope you grow up to be like them.” And let’s admit it. We can’t truly be leaders. If we’re only living for reelection. Let’s be knowledgeable and wise and act on what we truly believe. Again, we got to look in the mirror, lead with humility and acknowledge the values that are inherent to, but also above politics. We got to make choices, make stands, embrace new ideas, and preserve the traditions that can create true progress for the next generation. With real leadership, let’s start giving us, all of us, with real leadership. Let’s start giving all of us good reason to believe that the American dream is not an illusion. So where do we start? We start by making the right choices on the issue that is in front of us today.

Matthew McConaughey: (20:20)
We start by making laws that save innocent lives and don’t infringe on our Second Amendment right. We start right now by voting to pass policies that can keep us from having as many Columbine, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Las Vegas’, Buffalos and Uvaldes from here on. We start by giving Alithia a chance to be spoiled by her dad. We start by giving Maite a chance to become a marine biologist. We start by giving Ellie a chance to read her Bible verse at the Wednesday night service. We start by giving Irma and Joe chance to finish painting their house, maybe retire, get that food truck. We start by giving Makenna, Layla, Maranda, Nevaeh, Jose, Javier, Tess, Rogelio, Eliahana, Annabell, Jackie, Uziyah, Jayce, Jailah, Eva, Amerie and Lexi, start by giving all of them our promise that their dreams are not going to be forgotten. We start by making the loss of these lives matter. Thank you.

Reporters: (22:12)
Sir. [crosstalk 00:22:22]

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (22:37)
I know that the president has an event right after this. I think it’s running a few minutes behind. So we’ll do the briefing until we have to move to the event, have a couple of things at the top and then opening up. As I just mentioned, soon the president will sign into law nine bipartisan bills that support veterans, and he will be joined by members of Congress from both parties, veteran advocates and veterans who will benefit from these laws. President Biden ran on the promise to unite the country, which is why supporting veterans is a key part of his unity agenda announced at the State of the Union. Supporting our country’s veterans is an issue that all Americans can agree on. Among the impact of the bills being signed into law today are two that will improve access to breast imaging services for veterans, including those who experience toxic exposures during military service.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (23:43)
Other bills to be signed include three to honor the legacy of service to our nation, including one to award a single congressional gold medal to the US Army Rangers, World War II. The Rangers played a crucial role in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which began exactly 78 years ago yesterday. Also, today the Senate voted to advance the PACT Act. The president was clear in his State of the Union that addressing toxic exposures is a priority and Congress should move with the urgency for our veterans. Today, Congress took a major step forward. President Biden looks forward to final passage of this legislation so that he can sign it into law and continue to uphold our sacred obligation to support those who have served our nation, their families, caregivers, and survivors. Today, the administration announced new investments from the American Rescue Plan to help provide every American with access to affordable high speed internet.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:48)
These investments will bring down cost for families and small businesses, particularly in rural and remote areas and ensure affordability. This morning, Treasury announced the first state awards from the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund, which will make resources immediately available in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, and West Virginia, to connect over 200,000 homes that currently lack access. On a sad note, our dear friend and colleague Michael Gwin will be leaving us for Treasury, where he will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Gwin has served as the White House Rapid Response Director for the past 60 months, responding to the most challenging and difficult issues imaginable. Yet, amiss these often emotionally, wrenching stories, Gwin’s poise and moral clarity are unfailing and his willingness and ability to step up has made him an indispensable member of the team. And joining Gwin at the Treasury department will be our very own Michael Kikukawa, where he will serve as a spokesperson.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:01)
Michael, better known here to all of you, to all of us, as Kiku, has served, not just as a press assistant, but as the strong engine and reliable engine at the press shop. His relentless work ethic and dedication to the mission of this team have been second to none. Kiku and Gwin, we will miss you both, thank you so much, very heart wrenching, but I’m very excited for both of you, wishing you the best. And we do have some hellos. I know we keep announcing people leaving, but we actually have people coming and back filling some great, great folks who are joining our team. Two new members who are here to our team. I’d like to first introduce Abdullah Hassan, right here. Some of you know him already, who will be joining us as an assistant press secretary, having previously served as the Deputy Associate Director for Communication for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:54)
Amongst many topics, Abdullah will be covering civil rights, immigration and climate. We also would like to extend a warm welcome to Alexandra LaManna, hello, who is joining us on detail from Treasury, where she has served as senior spokesperson. Part of Alexandra’s portfolio will be working on housing, infrastructure implementation and other economic issues. Abdullah and Alexandra haven’t even gotten their full time badges yet, but we are already getting them hard at work, and we appreciate all of their work thus far. We have felt the impact of it. Please join me on welcoming the team. And with that, I think that’s all I have. All right, go ahead.

Speaker 1: (27:38)
Thanks Jean. I know we’re getting started here kind of, and this is the last break of the week. I’m hoping you might be able to take this off after the president event cause we got a lot. [inaudible 00:27:47]

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (27:47)
I hear you. I have other obligations as well after this. So we’ll see what we can do, but I can’t make any promises. Well, why don’t we get going?

Speaker 1: (27:56)
Great. So on the subject of guns, the president had his meeting with Chris Murphy, but he didn’t speak to the public today. Just the president had a clearer sense of where things are, what is possible on Capitol Hill. And also why is he turning to Hollywood actor to take the message back to people. Does he feel like his voice doesn’t matter?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:13)
His voice does matter. You heard him speak on Thursday very clearly, very loudly, very passionately during prime time at a critical time during the day, where he made sure that he can communicate with the American people. And so he’s the President of the United States, his voice carries and it does matter. What he says carries weight, that is pretty tremendous. Matthew was here because as you heard, he has a very personal connection to Uvalde. He met with the family. He is from there, he was born there. He lives in Texas. And we thought hearing from him directly, him using his platform is incredibly important. We all know what it’s like or how important it is for folks, especially on whether you are an actor, whether you are in the business sector, wherever you are, to use your platform, how critical and important it is.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:08)
And I think his words here today were incredibly powerful and emotional. And I thank him and Camila for coming here today. They met with the president as I just mentioned and so I just wanted to just address that, Zeke. The president received an update as you all know, as we’ve mentioned from Senator Murphy on the state of negotiations on Capitol Hill. He told Senator Murphy he strongly support his efforts to find a compromise and encouraged him to get the strongest possible results. In the end, the president said that the message he took from the families at Uvalde when he was there, was to do something, was to please do something. That’s what the grieving family told him. Some of you heard that yourselves from the community when he was in Uvalde. And so that is what Senator Murphy and his colleagues are going to do. They’re going to do just that.

Speaker 1: (30:04)
[inaudible 00:30:04] different subject, President’s meeting with President Bolsonaro of Brazil. The AP reporting that the Brazilian government President Bolsonaro wanted concessions from the president for that meeting and for his attendance [inaudible 00:30:16] some of the Americas that he wouldn’t bring up. Bolsonaro casting doubts about Brazil’s alleged election system, as well as environmental concerns in the Amazon. Can you confirm that report?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:25)
I cannot confirm that report. The president is looking forward to leaving tomorrow, to head to the summit that clearly that we are hosting. I can say this, the United States continues to recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. That said, while the interim government was not invited to participate in the main summit, they are welcome to participate in all three stakeholder forums and other events.

Speaker 2: (30:54)
What is it now getting more directly involved in the negotiations on the hill now that he’s met with Senator Murphy?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:59)
Well, I want to be very clear here. Senator Murphy has said this many times during interviews on various networks here, that he believes it’s time for the Senate to act. And that is what they’re doing. The president is encouraged, but what he’s seeing with this team of negotiators on the Senate side and he is, like I said, encouraged and wants to continue to see them move forward and take action.

Speaker 2: (31:30)
The meeting with the Matthew McConaughey, did McConaughey go through the same elements with the president that he did here at the podium?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:32)
Well, they had a private conversation. I’m not going to read out their private conversation. As you can imagine, the president went to Uvalde himself. He also met with many of the family members. He also heard many of the stories that Matthew came here to share with all of you. So they certainly connected on that aspect.

Speaker 3: (31:53)
Thanks, Karine, is the president willing to accept whatever agreement lawmakers come to? Should they come to an agreement when it comes to guns?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:03)
As you know, the president…

Kaitlan : (32:03)
… to guns.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:03)
As you know, the President has been very involved in gun reform as Senator, as Vice President and clearly now, as President, having signed the most executive actions on gun reform than any president at this time of their presidency. And when he was Senator, he was talking about this today, it took him years, it took him years to get the 1994 Assault Ban Legislation, now that was law for 10 years and expired in 2004. And so, we haven’t seen this type of negotiations or this type of coming together from both sides in a very long time, it’s been decades.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:46)
So he is encouraged, he is optimistic, about what he’s seeing, about what he is hearing, the update that he received, and so we’re going to see how those negotiations go. And any step, he believes any step is a step forward. He’s going to continue to call for all of the things that you heard him lay out when it comes to what he sees as a comprehensive gun reform on Thursday, but he also believes that any step forward is important. Clearly, we’re not going to negotiate from here and we’re going to leave the specifics to the senators.

Kaitlan : (33:22)
And one other question, does he still seek to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:26)
Well, I spoke to this yesterday, and I could share some more thoughts on that now. But look, the President was very clear when he was asked about this on Friday when he was delivering his remarks on the economy. And basically he said, as President, he believes that if there is any way to get peace, he feels like he should take that direction. So Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for eight decades, every president since FDR has met with Saudi leaders and the President considers Saudi Arabia an important partner on a host of regional and global strategies, including other efforts to end the war in Yemen, contain Iran and counter terrorism. Saudi pilots flew with ours in the war against ISIS, its Navy patrols with ours in the Red Sea and the Gulf and the US military personnel are based in Saudi Arabia.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:29)
As I’ve said, the president will meet with any leader if it serves the interest of the American people, that’s what he puts first. He believes engagement with Saudi leaders clearly meets that test, as has every president before him.

Kaitlan : (34:42)
[Inaudible 00:34:42].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:42)
I’m going to move around. I’m going to move around, Kate. I’m going to move around.

Kaitlan : (34:44)
[inaudible 00:34:44] all of those things were [inaudible 00:34:45].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:45)
I’m going to… Really? Okay, I’m going to take one more-

Kaitlan : (34:47)
[inaudible 00:34:47] that President [inaudible 00:34:48].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:49)
Kaitlan, I’m going to take one more. I’m going to take one more.

Speaker 4: (34:51)
Just on these negotiations, if changing background checks for younger people than 21 is what ends up happening, if opening these juvenile records to more scrutiny is what comes of this, does the President believe that is meaningful change? Is that satisfying? If that’s what comes of this moment, is he okay with that?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:08)
So the President was clear last week that there’s real urgency, and to make sure something like Uvalde, or Buffalo, and many mass shootings prior, can’t happen again, and we’re encouraged, again, by the progress that we’re seeing. We’re going to stay closely engaged. We’re going to not negotiate from here, we’re going to let the contours of the legislation and those conversations play out. And what we are encouraged by is that the conversation is happening, both sides are coming together. We saw the House taking some actions last week, they also will take some actions this week. What the President believes is that we have to do something. And like he said on Thursday, “Enough is enough.” Okay.

Speaker 5: (35:52)
[Inaudible 00:35:52].

Speaker 6: (35:53)
[inaudible 00:35:53] deal by the end of the week? [inaudible 00:35:55].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:55)
I can’t speak to the timeline, that is going to be up to Senator Schumer and Chris Murphy in their conversations that we’re having.

Speaker 5: (36:01)
Did he ask for the meeting with Senator Murphy?

Speaker 7: (36:03)
[inaudible 00:36:03] Matthew McConaughey [inaudible 00:36:04].

Speaker 8: (36:03)
Can you take some on the economy?

Speaker 9: (36:07)
Welcome back. [inaudible 00:36:08].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:07)
I am back by popular demand.

Speaker 9: (36:10)
[inaudible 00:36:10], thank you.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:10)
Oh, absolutely. And look, I just want to be very clear here, sorry about that. There are times where briefings get delayed for reasons outside of our control, and we wanted to make sure you all had the opportunity to cover the President signing those bills to support veterans, which is incredibly important, as you all know. And so taking your questions is very important to us, which is why we do it almost every day and when we can, and it’s why we strive to be responsive to your questions here in the briefing room, on TV, as I did this morning and in individual conversations with administration officials and our team does this on a daily basis. So with that, I wanted to just come in and take additional questions for a few more minutes. And I know a lot of you have deadlines yourselves and have to do evening TV, so I won’t be here for too long, but I did want to come out and take some questions. Okay.

Speaker 10: (37:12)
Thanks. Karine. [inaudible 00:37:14].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:14)
All right, I’m going to try and call on people I haven’t called and start in the back, but there’s all these… Go ahead. Go ahead, go ahead. I don’t think I’ve called on you yet.

Speaker 11: (37:24)
Not really, so thank you. Yeah, listen, Matthew McConaughey was banging on that podium just a few minutes ago before you left and he had some specific policy asks, and a lot of them were, not all of them, but a lot were about guns. He wanted to raise the age from 18 to 21 for AR-15s, he talked about a waiting period for AR-15s, and he talked about red flag laws and background checks. So my question is, you and the President have made very generalized comments lately about doing something, why won’t he demand one of those things be in a overall package?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:54)
You’re talking about the President, why won’t he demand?

Speaker 11: (37:57)
I know he supports the policies, but is his message to these negotiators that those gun measures need to be in the package?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:04)
His message to negotiators is that we have to do something. His message is to the American people, we have to do something. He went to Uvalde, as you know, he went to Buffalo. And when he was in Uvalde, and I was there with him, and some of you were there with him as well, the the two words that he heard over and over again is, do something. And so he is very encouraged by the engagement that he’s seeing on the Senate side with the bipartisan group, and he wants to give them the space. We’re not going to negotiate from here on what should be in the package, what should not be in the package, but we believe it’s a step forward. The President’s going to continue to call for and fight for all of the comprehensive components to prevent gun violence that he talked about on Thursday. That will not stop, he’s going to continue to do that, but we’re just not going to negotiate from here.

Speaker 11: (39:05)
John Cornyn, in his public comments was talking today on the Senate floor about really hardening doors of schools and these sort of items. If the package only has that and not one of these specific gun measures, will it be a success?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:16)
Again, I’m not going to negotiate from here. We’re going to give them some space. It’s a bipartisan conversation that’s happening, it’s going to be a bipartisan agreement, we see or we feel. And Senator Murphy is very optimistic and he has said this is the most optimistic that he has been in some time. And he came, as you know, and gave an update to the President. So we’re going to see how this conversation continues to go.

Speaker 12: (39:44)

Peter: (39:45)

Speaker 12: (39:45)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:45)
[Inaudible 00:39:45]. Go ahead.

Peter: (39:46)
Thank you, Karine. Why do you think it is that 83% of people polled by the Wall Street Journal say the economy is poor or not so good?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:55)
So when it comes to consumer confidence, is what you’re talking about there, we know that can reflect concern and uncertainty about higher prices, people feel the effect of high prices when they go to the grocery store and they fuel up their gas tank, which the President understands very personally. When he was growing up and understanding how when prices elevate even just a bit, how much that can hurt a family, how much that can really affect someone’s household, but the fact is we are in a fundamentally different place compared to when the President took office and compared to this time a year ago. And so during this presidency, people felt uncertainty, uncertain about the economy generally, but they actually felt as good about their personal financial situations as they ever have, according to the Federal Reserve survey with nearly 80% of adults reporting that they are financially comfortable, so that matters a well.

Peter: (40:57)
But to the point about… You’re saying that people feel good about their personal financial situation, high gas prices, people can’t get baby formula, the supply chain is messed up, everything is more expensive, but where’s the good part?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:11)
So the survey that I just read off started in 2013, and that is the first time that we saw numbers like this since 2013. So that does mean… No, that does mean something, just like you gave me 83% I’m giving you-

Peter: (41:23)
And I understand that, but another number than. In newer than 2013, 61% are saying now, in this Wall Street Journal poll, they’re generally pessimistic about people having an opportunity to achieve the American dream. How’s that going to look on a bumper sticker?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:37)
I guess what I’m trying to say, Peter, is that we understand that people are feeling this. They are feeling the increase of prices, which with food, in particular right now, and gas, that is something that we understand. What we’re trying to say, what I’m trying to say to you is that the economy is in a better place than it has been historically. And so we feel, here at this administration, and other experts as well, is that we feel that we are in a good position to take on inflation. We are in a good position to really start really working on lowering prices. We leave that piece to the Federal Reserve, they have the monetary policies to deal with… To have the best tools, to make sure that we bring down inflation, that’s the pain that the American family is feeling. And so that’s what we’re saying. What we’re saying is that we were in a different place a year ago, and now we are in a much better place economically, but there’s still work to do, and we understand that.

Peter: (42:36)
Okay. And then just quickly on gas prices, the Energy Secretary Granholm is saying, “Oh, well, if you went to Canada, you’d be paying 6.25 a gallon. If you went to Germany, you’d be paying over 8.80. In the UK, it’s almost $8 a gallon.” What kind of an argument is that? Just [inaudible 00:42:51].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:51)
I think what she’s trying to say, and what we have all been trying to say is this is a global challenge. This is not just in the United States that people are feeling inflation or people are seeing elevated gas prices, this is a global challenge.

Peter: (43:05)
And isn’t it the President’s job to protect Americans from global challenges?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:08)
He’s doing his part in trying to make sure that the American people feel the impact less. But here’s the thing, and we’ve talked about this, since Russia invaded Ukraine, we have seen gas prices, these are the facts, go up by a dollar and 51 cents. We have seen food prices go up because of what Ukraine and Russia represent when it comes to wheat and corn. This is just a fact, this is what we have seen for the past several months. The President has done, he’s tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a historic way with a million of oil a month for six months. We made the announcement of the E15, the homegrown biofuels that is going to help families in the Midwest. So we know there is more to do, we’re not disagreeing here. We know that there is more to do, and we’re going to continue to do the work.

Speaker 13: (44:06)
Does the President have any plans to invite any Republican senators to the White House before he leaves for Los Angeles?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:11)
I don’t have any meetings to preview for you at this time.

Speaker 13: (44:14)
Has he spoken to any Republicans as it comes to gun legislation?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:17)
I don’t have any meetings or calls to read out. Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 14: (44:23)
Karine, thank you. I know you don’t want to negotiate from the podium, I just want to try one more time. It seems as though talks are coalescing around more funding for mental health, school safety, and then expanded background checks and encouraging states to adapt red flag laws. Is that the type of compromise legislation the President would sign, would he sign that?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:47)
Again, I’m not going to negotiate from here. I’m not going to talk through the contours of the plan. They’re still having those conversations on the other side of the Hill, but I can say-

Speaker 14: (44:57)
[inaudible 00:44:57].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:57)
Let me finish. Hopefully this will answer it, which is, he supports red flag laws, that is something that he has supported for some time. He even talked about the red flag law that is in Delaware is named after his son, Beau Biden, who was, as you know, the attorney general in Delaware. He has talked about expanding background checks. I have talked about it. He has talked about, we’ve all talked about it. So clearly those are two things that we know are popular. The red flag law… I read a poll here yesterday that has 72% for the red flag laws, we know that expanding background check is overwhelmingly popular as well. So clearly those are two things that he support, but we do not want to get… Give them some space, we don’t want to get in the middle of their negotiation.

Speaker 14: (45:46)
I guess, sort of what I’m asking, Karine, particularly as it relates to the red flag laws, what it seems to be coalescing around is a deal that would encourage states to adapt red flag laws. Is that good enough for President Biden?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:00)
I think it’s a step. When red flag laws are actually enacted, it saves lives. We have seen that in Florida. We have seen that in other states across the country. In California, there’s been cases where the red flag law has actually saved lives. And we know, we understand not every component of what the President is calling for is going to stop every tragedy, but we have to take the steps, we have to move forward, we have to do something.

Speaker 14: (46:27)
There’s been so much focus on the legislation, is President Biden considering any new executive actions [inaudible 00:46:33]?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:33)
The President said this himself, if there is any way or any other new actions that he can take, he will. His team-

Speaker 14: (46:39)
Is he actively considering any?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:40)
There’s nothing that I can preview for you at this time. I know the team is looking at that, we just don’t have anything for you to share at this time.

Speaker 14: (46:47)
Let me ask you on Roe V. Wade, if I might, we are anticipating the Supreme Court will render its final decision on Roe V. Wade. And based on, of course, that leaked draft report it appears as though the court is poised to overturn Roe V. Wade. What, if any, groundwork is the President, is this administration laying to ensure that women who want or need abortions can still have access to them?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:13)
Look, the protecting the constitutional rights of Americans afforded by Roe for nearly 50 years, ensuring that women can make their own choices about their lives and bodies and families is something that the President and the Vice President support. We’ve taken actions over the past year and a half on making sure that women have the protection that they need, issuing a presidential memorandum to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, and to revoke the Mexico City’s policy of global gag rule that prohibits federal funding for organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals, issuing a final rule to strengthen the Title X Family Planning program, fulfilling the administration’s commitment to restore access.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:03)
… planning program, fulfilling the administration’s commitment to restore access, to equitable affordable client-centered quality family planning services. So we have done an array of things over the past year and a half to give the protection that women need. Obviously, the decision, it was a draft decision. We don’t want to get into hypotheticals, and we don’t want to get ahead of what is actually going to come forth. But it’s something that it concerns us. All of the pieces of legislations that we see coming out of the states that are incredibly radical, we’ve called them that, and it does give us concern.

Speaker 14: (48:37)
Are there any tangible actions that the administration will take if it’s overturned on that day or that week to ensure that women who need abortions can have access to them or that they can cross state lines to access an abortion?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:51)
So one thing that I can say, I don’t have anything to preview or to announce or to lay out at this time. What I can say is that our team here, the gender policy council, the domestic policy council, and the agencies who are involved, like HHS, have been in constant communication with groups on what we can do from here. I just don’t have anything to preview. Go ahead.

Speaker 15: (49:15)
Karin, the January 6th committee’s going to hold its first public hearing on Thursday while the president’s in California, do you expect the president to get briefed on what the committee has found and its investigation if he hasn’t already? And how is he looking at these hearings? Does he see this as something that will move the needle and how the public perceives what happened on that day?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:38)
So as you know, we’re leaving. As you were alluding to tomorrow, we’re going to go to LA. The president’s going to have a very busy week and of course, he will be keeping up on the committee’s work as he has been. And I’m sure he’ll be following the news from the hearing as well. I don’t have anything else, in particular, to share here. The president has been consistent, voicing his support for the vital work of the bipartisan January 6th select committee. And he and his team have said many times, it is critical that we have a full investigation into the events of January 6th to ensure something like what we saw that day can never happen again. And the work of this committee is crucial to that effort, and we will continue to speak out as appropriate or to defend our democracy and the rule of law and to support those who are doing work to protect our democracy.

Speaker 15: (50:33)
Just one more, Senator Romney and Senator Ossoff have asked for a full investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. She was a Palestinian American journalist with Al Jazeera. She was killed last month while reporting in the West Bank, will the White House be supporting an investigation into her death?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:55)
So, we’re in close touch with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The United States is not currently conducting an official investigation. As you know, we are working to bridge cooperation between the two parties. We have made clear our view to both Israeli and Palestinian officials the administration’s call for thorough, transparent and impartial investigation of her killing. We expect full accountability for those responsible. We have also urged that both sides share their evidence with each other. We continue to call on all sides to maintain calm and avoid any further escalation.

Speaker 16: (51:35)
Thanks so much. Secretary Yellen said over the weekend to CNN that she was wrong in predicting that inflation was transitory and shortly after where Treasury walked back the statement. I’m just curious if the White House or any senior aids here were involved in walking back those comments?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:52)
What I can tell you is that even when you look at the transcript, she was clear on exactly what she meant by that. And the secretary spoke to this herself to clarify her remarks. And it’s true that nobody at the time foresaw the extent of the global challenges that have caused record inflation all around the world. In fact, even Wall Street and the private sector broadly thought that inflation would come down faster than it has. I cannot speak to private conversation, but all I can say is, as you know, put out a statement clarifying what she said.

Speaker 16: (52:31)
And just one more question. On Friday, senior White House staff met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to talk about some of the president’s ideas for forgiving student debt. I’m wondering what was the purpose of that meeting as the president considers it? And was there any outcome from it?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:46)
I don’t have any read out from that meeting from Friday night.

Speaker 17: (52:50)
Karin, thank you. Based on what you know about the situation in both Uvalde and Buffalo, is there anything that the Senate negotiators are considering now that would’ve stopped those two shootings? Or even one of them?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:03)
Look, I’m the expert here, but one thing that I do know that we all know is that both the shooters were 18. And one of the things that’s on the table is raising the age limit.

Speaker 17: (53:14)
Are you sure that’s on the table?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:21)
I’m so sorry.

Speaker 17: (53:22)
From 18 to 21 to buy AR-15 because [inaudible 00:53:25]-

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:26)
Okay. I’m just saying it’s been discussed.

Speaker 17: (53:29)
Okay. If that was on the table, that would’ve affected me.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:31)

Speaker 17: (53:32)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:32)
But you’re asking me a question about when I think may have helped or stop this awful strategy.

Speaker 17: (53:40)
But in terms of what’s on the table in the Senate.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:42)
I’m just saying that’s been one of the conversations that’ve been out there. I do not know. Again, we’re not negotiating from here. I’m just trying to make a point. This is something that the president support, raising the age from 18 to 21 because one of the things that we do know is both of the shooters were 18 years old. The one in Uvalde in particular, when he was 17, he asked his sister to buy him a gun. She said, no. And as soon as he turned 18, he went and bought. He bought a gun. And so, that is something that we have heard about that’s out there. That is something the president talked about on Thursday. And so, I was just speaking to your question on what potentially could have helped.

Speaker 17: (54:26)
Well, I’m actually asking what among the things the senators are considering could have prevented this.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:32)
And again, I’m not going to negotiate from here. I’m just trying to help in a way to show, hey, this is something that we know is out there. This is something that the president talked about. I’m not going to go shade from here, they’re working through the contours of the plan, and we’re going to let them figure that out.

Speaker 18: (54:45)
Can I just ask one quick one on Red Flag Law? So does the president prefer a federal Red Flag Law or does he think it’s better on a state by state level and the federal government should incentivize states instead?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:01)
I want to be really careful here because he’s not going to, we’re not going to negotiate from here, right? We are going to allow, we’re going to give them the space to come up with the contours of the deal. And we’re just going to give them that space. What we’re saying is we support the Red Flag Law. The president has talked about it. I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of what that looks like. We’re going to let the negotiators figure that out.

Speaker 19: (55:32)
Thanks, Karine. First or two questions. First, can you commit that going forward, if there’s a guest or a celebrity here that you would ensure that they would stay at the podium and take questions from reporters after they speak?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:44)
They’re a guest. That is not for me to ensure.

Speaker 19: (55:47)
[inaudible 00:55:47] try to have them and take question.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:49)
Karen, they’re a guest of ours. It is up to them. If they want to take questions or not, we respect them. And what they want to do. Matthew was here. And when he was done, he said, thank you. And he walked away. That really is up to him.

Speaker 19: (56:05)
And on COVID last week, a guest was here, but he did take [inaudible 00:56:11].

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:10)
Well, that’s a little different. He works here.

Speaker 19: (56:12)
Give him some questions.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:14)

Speaker 19: (56:15)
But he said that what keeps him awake at night is that the US run out vaccines, not have enough of the next generation of vaccines, run out of treatments and tests in the fall. This is something he has been saying a lot in interviews recently, but can you give us an update on where the COVID funding talks stand on the hill in terms of what the White House is doing right now? White officials are meeting with lawmakers up there. Has there been any progress? Has the president talked with lawmakers about this and is this getting overshadowed with the conversations that are happening right now on the gun talks?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:46)
Yeah, it’s a very good question. Look, just to kind of reiterate a little bit of what Dr. Jha has said is without additional funding, we are unable to purchase life saving treatments for the American people, including our most vulnerable. We’ve already cut down on our purchase of treatments for high risk Americans. Imagine a 13-year old with a heart condition who may not be able to access preventive treatment to stay safe from a life threatening illness. We’re losing our spot in line while other countries are moving forward and buying next generation vaccines for all Americans that may be needed in the fall and winter. So I think that’s what he’s talking about when he says he’s losing sleep. When we think about the path forward and how we’re going to get to where we need to be we are working closely with members of Congress on a bipartisan basis to drive a path forward on COVID funding.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:43)
And the president is committed to getting that, getting it done. And so, Dr. Jha and OMB director have been on the hill having those meetings. So, the president deals with multiple things at a time. So this is still a very much a priority. So we will continue doing our part to protect the American people where we use the few funds we have remaining to continue getting testing, treatments and vaccine out to Americans. For as long as we can, we will continue to work the phones, hold briefings and make our case publicly and privately with lawmakers and imploring Congress to act on our long overdue COVID needs. And at the end of the day, it’s Republicans in Congress, they need to act, they have to answer to the American people. If they can’t get the vaccine treatments and tests that we will need come fall. So we’re going to continue doing the work, the work doesn’t stop. Oh my gosh.

Speaker 21: (58:48)
Karine, Karine. Back here.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:48)

Speaker 21: (58:48)
Yeah. Thank you.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:48)

Speaker 21: (58:51)
Following up on the January 6th question, there have been Republicans, prominent Republicans, as well as outside groups who are already making a concerted effort to downplay the entire thing before a single word has been said about in the hearings. Has the president… What are his thoughts about that? And has he then made any efforts to reach out to Kevin McCarthy, to Mitch McConnell about, hey, this is important. We ought to be on the same page with this?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:21)
So the president has been really clear, right? He supports the bipartisan effort, the January 6th select committee bipartisan effort, but we’re not going to get involved. That is something that is independent and needs to stay independent. It is important to protect our democracy. That is something that the president, what happened on January 6th was a very dark day in our democracy. And so, we have to continue to find ways to protect it. So he supports what they’re doing. We’re not going get involved. It’s an independent committee.

Speaker 20: (59:57)
Karine? Karine, back here.

Speaker 22: (59:58)
Yeah. So you have said that we’re in a stable economic, or we’re transitioning to a stable economic growth. The Treasury sector also testified today where we’re going to a stable economic growth. What exactly is a stable economic growth?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:12)
I think the way that we’re looking at it is just the data, just what we have seen in this past year. I think people forget what the president inherited when he walked in, you had 20 million people who were collecting unemployment benefits. Unemployment was at more than 6%. And the work that he did with the American rescue plan, getting that done, and only Democrats voting for it helped get the economy moving, helped get the economy growing.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:48)
And so, the way we see it is that we are in a strong place. The US economy may grow faster this year than China’s economy for the first time since 1976. With the right policies, we are confident that the US can transition from recovery to stable study growth and bring down inflation without giving all of these historic gains that I just laid out, 8.7 million new jobs in this past year and a half. And so, one of the things that we have been very clear about is giving the Federal Reserve the independence to deal with an inflation, and they are committed to it. We are committed to it, and they have the strongest tools to come up with monetary policy to get that done.

Speaker 22: (01:01:34)
So what is that GDP growth? Like under the Obama administration, 1.5%, 1.8% for the year?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:39)
I mean, I’m not going to get into the specifics of GDP growth, but what I can say is the numbers, the data that we have seen just on job growth for 390,000 jobs in the month of May, what we have seen is historic numbers, is we are in a historic place in history, historic place right now, as we have, as we look at where we are with the economy, very, very different than where we were a year ago. And that is because of what the president has been able to do with a comprehensive plan to get people vaccinated, with the plan to get people back to work. Remember, and I know some of you know this, schools were closed when he entered the administration, businesses were closed when he entered the administration. The economy was in crisis. We are in a different place. That’s how we see this.

Speaker 22: (01:02:31)
A quick one, are we in recession then? Because the Atlanta Fed GDP now looks at a snapshot, it’s 0.9%. It’s gone down from 1.9 to 1.3 for the second quarter, two quarters in a row of negative growth is a recession. So are we there? And how close?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:02:45)
Well, the way that we see it is we have the right tools, and we are in a strong place to be in this transition where we have stable, stable growth. And that is what’s important. And that’s going to be our focus.

Speaker 22: (01:03:02)
Thank you. [inaudible 01:03:03] follow up.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:03:03)
Oh, thank you. Thank you guys. I do have to go. I really do have to go. Thank you. I appreciate that. Thanks guys. Thank you.

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