Apr 13, 2021

Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Dr. Fauci White House Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Dr. Fauci White House Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on J&J Vaccine
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsPress Secretary Jen Psaki, Dr. Fauci White House Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

April 13, 2021 press conference with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci to address the FDA and CDC’s decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to 6 cases of rare blood clots after vaccine administration. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.

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Jen Psaki: (00:00)
Good afternoon, everyone. Well, today I’m joined by, of course, Jeff Zients, our COVID coordinator, and Dr. Fauci to talk about the news from the FDA this morning. They are also going to be able to take some questions. I will keep an eye on the clock. And with that, I will turn it over to Jeff.

Jeff Zients: (01:02)
Well, first, thank you, Jen, and thank you to all of you. Good afternoon. As you all know, the FDA and CDC announced earlier today that out of abundance of caution, they’ve recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As they review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Let me start by saying that this announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination program. The J & J vaccine makes up less than 5% of the more than 190 million recorded shots in arms in the United States to date. The President has always said that this is a war time effort. We’re at war against the virus and as such we’ve mobilized a war time effort so that we’re prepared for a wide range of scenarios. And that’s why the President took action earlier this year before the J & J vaccine was even authorized to secure enough Pfizer and Moderna doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July.

Jeff Zients: (02:29)
Over the last few weeks, we have made available more than 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna each and every week. In fact, this week we will make available 28 million doses of these two vaccines. And as we’ve done since we took office, we will continue to get the supply out the door as soon as it’s available. So we have more than enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue the current pace of about three million shots per day. And that puts us well on pace to meet the President’s goal with 200 million shots by his 100th day in office, and continue to reach every adult who wants to get vaccinated. We’re now working with our state and federal partners to get anyone scheduled for a J & J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. And we’re actually already seeing this happen today at sites across the country where J & J appointments are being adjusted that were for today to actually get Moderna and Pfizer today. So that’s happening many places across the country.

Jeff Zients: (03:55)
The President has committed to the American people that his administration will always lead with science, tell the truth, and give Americans the facts as we know them. CDC and FDA will continue to do just that and provide regular updates to the public, and they will do so as they continue their investigation. With that, let me hand it over to Dr. Fauci, and then we’ll take questions.

Dr. Fauci: (04:31)
Thank you very much, Jeff. Just to follow up a bit and maybe fill in a couple of points from what Jeff said and what our colleagues in the FDA and the CDC said earlier this morning at the press conference. A couple of issues have come up of the importance of calling this pause because people say, “What does a pause mean?” It really allows both the FDA and the CDC to further investigate these cases to try and understand some of the mechanisms of what it is, some more details about the history of the individuals who were involved that might shed some light on looking forward what will happen and what we will do. That’s the first thing. The other thing is to make physicians out there aware of this. And there are some clinical implications of that, that I believe are important. For example, if someone comes in with this really rather rare syndrome of thrombotic thrombocytopenia, where you get thrombosis, and when you have thrombosis, the most common way to treat that is with Heparin. That would be a mistake in this situation, because it could be dangerous and make the situation much worse. So there’s a clinically relevant reason why you want to make this known to people. Also, when individuals, particularly younger women, who might come into a physician with a particular thrombotic phenomenon, which is things that happen for other reasons all the time, that we want to alert physicians to take a history of a recent vaccination. That would be important. So the pause not only allows us to take a look at the cases and learn more, but it is also a signal out there to help the physicians.

Dr. Fauci: (06:26)
A common question, and I’m sure we’ll have a number of questions, which Jeff and I will be happy to answer to you, but one of the questions that comes up already rather frequently, does this have anything to do with the efficacy of the vaccine? So we know that there have been 6.85 million doses of J & J distributed in the United States thus far. So someone who may be had it a month or two ago would say, “What does this mean for me?” It really doesn’t mean anything. You’re okay, because if you look at the frame, the time frame, when this occurs, it’s pretty tight from a few days, six to 13 days from the time of the vaccination. The next question is one that we’re all obviously aware of, what impact is this going to have about people’s attitudes about vaccines in general? So you might know that there have been now a 120 million people that have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Dr. Fauci: (07:31)
Most of that, subtract the 6.85 million, is in the messenger RNA from Pfizer, and from Moderna. There have been no red flags signals from those. So you’re talking about tens and tens and tens of millions of people who’ve received vaccine with no adverse effect. This is a really rare event. If you look at what we know so far, there have been six out of the 6.85 million doses, which is less than one in a million. So remember, this is something that we always, really out of an abundance of caution, as Jeff said, to give us a time to take a good look at it and see if we can get further information. So I’ll stop there, Jeff, and we could obviously take some questions.

Speaker 1: (08:23)
You’ve described this as a really rare event, but this does seem like a pretty drastic step. Do you believe that the scientists sufficiently weighed the benefits of this pause against the damage or risk that this could do to the broader effort and the impact it could have on vaccine hesitancy?

Jeff Zients: (08:38)
Well, Dr. Fauci, maybe you’ll go after me, but I want to say that we have plenty of supply. So I mentioned that we for the last several weeks have been sending 25 million doses out. And while we’re averaging three million shots in arms per day to 25 million supports actually that level and even accelerating, and we just sent out 28 million doses today, or announced 28 million doses will be sent this week to states, tribes, territories, and through our federal channels. So we have plenty of supply to continue our vaccination program and to hit our goals. But over the Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Fauci: (09:18)
I believe your question is, did we pull the trigger too soon on this because it was such a rare event? Well, our FDA is internationally known for their capability of making sure that we have the safest products out there. And that’s what I meant when I said, “an abundance of caution.” You want to make sure that safety is the important issue here. We are totally aware that this is a very rare event. We want to get this worked out as quickly as we possibly can, and that’s why you see the word pause. In other words, we want to hold off for a bit and very well may go back to that, maybe with some conditions or maybe not. But we want to leave that up to the FDA and the CDC to investigate this carefully. So I don’t think it was pulling the trigger too quickly.

Speaker 1: (10:05)
And just a logistical question, moreso than anything. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting tomorrow to discuss this. Why not try and meet today? I mean, is this not a moment to drop everything and focus on this?

Dr. Fauci: (10:19)
I think you have to get people pulled together. I think tomorrow is not such a long wait. I mean, I’m sure they want to get everybody. There may be people who are not available. They want to get the full component of it.

Alex: (10:32)
Can you talk a little bit about the process in both deciding for this pause and what comes next? First off, did the White House have any advanced notice of the issues with the J & J vaccine and was there involvement from the White House in deciding this? And how do you evaluate when to pause vaccines? Are we going to see more of these pauses in the future if more issues pop up?

Jeff Zients: (10:53)
Why don’t you do the first part and I’ll do the second part?

Dr. Fauci: (10:56)
This decision was made by the CDC and the FDA, and that’s one of the things that’s I think such a good thing about our system here, is that we’re ruled by the science, not by any other considerations. So the decision was really thoroughly made by the CDC and the FDA.

Jeff Zients: (11:13)
I would say consistent with following the science, we were notified last night that there would be an announcement this morning and therefore had no other involvement other than knowing last night that there would be an announcement this morning from the FDA and the CDC.

Alex: (11:26)
And then just review what’s going to happen. What are they looking for? What are they evaluating? When can we expect a conclusion?

Dr. Fauci: (11:34)
Well, they want to see if there’s any clues of other things going on. For example, just a hypothetical, if they’re going to make a decision to go forward and say, “We looked at this,” if they find some common denominators among the women who were involved that might be synergizing and essentially enabling this type of an adverse event, they may know that for those who don’t have that it may be much safer. There may be clues when you go down and really get granular about every single case. In addition, they want to look at what some of the mechanisms are. The mechanisms may give some insight as to what is going on.

Alex: (12:18)
Could we expect to potentially see further pauses in the future? I mean, could this keep happening with the vaccines because they’re so new?

Dr. Fauci: (12:24)
Well, if you look at the history, take a look at what has gone on with the Moderna and the Pfizer, where you have literally tens and tens and tens of millions. They’ve watched this carefully. There have been no red flags. When you have a red flag of something that is as serious as thrombotic thrombocytopenia, particularly when you have an individual, one of whom died, you take that seriously. So I don’t think that minimal things that very likely have nothing at all to do with the vaccine that we’re going to pull the trigger so quickly as to keep stopping and stopping and stopping. I think this is an unusual occurrence of a serious adverse event that you want to make sure before you go forward you investigate it thoroughly. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re pausing so that they can look at it more carefully.

Speaker 2: (13:16)
Thank you. A couple for Dr. Fauci first.

Speaker 3: (13:20)
It’s great to see you back at the podium, Dr. Fauci. Given that the impacted patients were all women between the ages of 18 and 48, should women under 50 be excluded from getting the J & J vaccine?

Dr. Fauci: (13:35)
The question you’re asking gets back to several of the questions here. That’s the reason why the CDC and the FDA want to take a look at this and say, “Are there some categories now where people outside of those categories don’t have any of the factors so it would be okay to go on?” It is entirely conceivable, making no predictions, that there may be some restriction in an age group or not. We don’t know that now. That’s the reason why they’re working very hard to answer the question you’re asking.

Speaker 3: (14:05)
And what’s your medical advice for people who have recently received the J & J vaccine and may be concerned about blood clots?

Dr. Fauci: (14:13)
Well, I mean, if someone recently, within days, I would tell them to just, first of all, don’t get an anxiety reaction because, remember, it’s less than one in a million. However, having said that, pay attention. Do you have symptoms? Headache? Do you have shortness of breath? Chest discomfort? Do you have anything that resembles a neurological syndrome? And, obviously, if you have something as serious as a seizure, I mean, that’s pretty clear, but the manifestations of this are that. Headache is the very common component of it because the sinus thrombosis that they have is the draining of the blood in the brain and it will cause enough symptomatology to make you notice it. Just tell people to just watch out for not feeling very well.

Speaker 3: (15:00)
And one for Jeff. Officials from different states told us this morning that they were really caught off guard by this announcement. They were ready to put shots into people’s arms and had to scramble. Can you explain that chain of communication? When and how did you notify states that they might have to pause?

Jeff Zients: (15:20)
Right. Well, as I said, we didn’t know about anything in terms of the announcement until last night. We didn’t even know the content of the announcement until this morning when everyone else read it. As soon as we got that, our team farmed out and started contacting folks to make sure that everyone knew that that was now announced by the FDA and CDC. Tuesday’s the day that I have my regular Governor’s call. So that was fortunate that, that was at 11:00 a.m, because we had all the governors already lined up with their teams. And we had Dr. Fauci and Dr. Walensky join that call. And the teams will continue to support the state wide efforts, the federal channels, the community health centers to make the adjustments. So I think the message got out very clearly and quickly. There was no heads up here. The announcement was made this morning.

Speaker 3: (16:07)
Thank you.

Phil: (16:09)
Thanks, guys. Just two quick ones. The first one, and you might’ve answered this, do we have a timeline in terms of how long this is going? Are we talking days before it might get flipped back on, or a week? And then second one, for Jeff, if you don’t mind. I understand what you’re saying on the macro level related to supply, but when you talk to local officials, the J & J shot, because of storage, because it was one shot, was considered a crucial component in rural areas and underserved communities, how does that not affect the timeline that you guys are on in terms of actually getting shots in arms?

Dr. Fauci: (16:40)
During one of the questions which was asked I believe of the CDC, the question was just yours, and I don’t know what they’re going to be doing. What I heard from the previous press discussion was it’s going to be more like days to weeks, rather than weeks to months.

Jeff Zients: (16:59)
We have plenty of supply and we have plenty of vehicles for delivering that supply.

Jeff Zients: (17:03)
… have plenty of supply and we have plenty of vehicles for delivering that supply. Whether it’s through the federal pharmacy channel, whether it’s mobile units, community health centers, and all of those are equipped to deliver the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. So we’ll make sure that those units continue to grow in number. Because you’re right, we need to reach people where they are and the mobile units and the community health centers are particularly essential for those. And they have been receiving Moderna and Pfizer doses since we began both those programs.

Phil: (17:33)
So you think it’s no different, you just swap out the vaccine if there was a mass vaccination center or if it was a mobile unit to go into a rural area-

Jeff Zients: (17:39)
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, as you know, are two dose vaccines. So it’s important that people come back for their second dose three weeks post their first dose of Pfizer and four weeks post their first dose of Moderna. But all of our units, all of our delivery channels are equipped to deliver both Pfizer and Moderna.

Phil: (17:58)
And just real quick, how does this not contribute to… Those are the very areas where hesitancy I think is the most predominant at this point in time, based on what [inaudible 00:18:05] have seen that. Do you have to change your message? Do you have to do something different to address hesitancy in the wake of something-

Jeff Zients: (18:11)
No. I think we need to continue to be transparent about what the science is telling us. That’s what brings us here today. As Dr. Fauci said, there’s been tens of millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna administered over the last several months and millions of people, both in the US and around the world have been safely vaccinated. I think it’s important that we have here the FDA and the FDA is the gold standard for ensuring the safety and the effectiveness of the vaccines. And today’s action, I think is clear evidence that they’re taking every step necessary to ensure the American people have clear and transparent information about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. So the bottom line is the vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, that are now being administered are clearly safe and are saving lives. And every American should get vaccinated when it’s their turn.

Speaker 4: (19:03)
[inaudible 00:19:03]

Speaker 5: (19:03)
Thanks. Jeff, is J&J production going to continue during this pause? And secondly, is the Biden administration considering ordering more doses of Pfizer and Moderna just in case this problem with J&J becomes prolonged?

Jeff Zients: (19:22)
So the J&J production issues in Baltimore, obviously completely separate set of issues. And those are being worked out through the FDA process with the company. And production of those vaccines can begin, if, and when the FDA authorizes that facility. Your second question was we really have thought of this as a war time effort from the beginning, which is why we purchased excess supply, so that we’d be ready for any contingency. And we’ll continue to look at every possibility in terms of making sure that we always have enough supply for the American people.

Speaker 5: (19:56)
Well, just to clarify on the J&J production, not related to the Baltimore plant, but just overall J&J production. Is that going to pause while this pause on administering doses occurs, or is the production going to continue?

Jeff Zients: (20:07)
Well, the production really centered around that Baltimore facility. The vast majority of the production is that Baltimore facility.

Speaker 4: (20:16)
Andrea.

Andrea: (20:17)
I just want to, Jeff and Dr. Fauci, want to I ask you very directly, are you ruling out the possibility that the vaccine could be removed from the market? I mean, are you ruling out that… are you expecting it to be re- allowed?

Jeff Zients: (20:33)
Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Fauci: (20:34)
I think it would be premature to comment on that. And that’s the reason why the pause was done so that they could take a good look at it very carefully, look at every different factor. I wouldn’t want to speculate as to what would happen. Often when you see things like this, that you pause and come back. Whether or not that happens now, I can’t guarantee it, but I can tell you that’s exactly what the CDC and FDA people are going to be deciding on and looking at very carefully,

Andrea: (21:05)
And if I could just ask you on this outrage questions. So this is the problem that you’ve been struggling with, this sort of vaccine hesitancy. This obviously is a setback. What do you have to sort of ramp up into an additional work type effort to really ensure that this message gets out there? Do you personally go to states like Mississippi where the vaccination rate is really low?

Jeff Zients: (21:30)
Well, let me answer your first question and then I’ll… Consistent with it being a wartime effort we’ve planned for different scenarios and different contingencies. So we have enough supply of Moderna and Pfizer to hit the targets that we’ve set, the 200 million shots in a 100 days and to head toward the 4th of July that we’ve talked about as a country, a more normal 4th of July. Clearly, part of that is making sure that when it’s an American’s turn to get vaccinated, they get vaccinated. And we do need to continue to build confidence. And that’s done at the community level. People are trusting of their local doctors, their faith leaders, their neighbors. Which is why it’s important when people do get vaccinated, they not only get themselves vaccinated, but they spread the word about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Speaker 4: (22:24)
Gabe.

Gabe: (22:25)
Just to nail it down, Jeff, one of the goals that you haven’t mentioned today is the hope that there’ll be enough supply on hand for the country by the end of May. Is that still operative now in the wake of this pause? And the second question is it’s a bit surprising to learn that only yourself learned about this, this morning. Do you wish you had heard sooner?

Jeff Zients: (22:43)
I learned about it last night, that there would be an announced, but not the specifics of the announcement. No, because that’s to the science and we want the science agencies to lead with science. And there’s no reason for us to be involved in any of the scientific decisions. We bring nothing to the table. That is the FDA’s role, that is the CDC’s role. And they’re led by terrific leaders with great teams to do the science. And this administration will be led by science. And as to your first question, we believe that there’s vaccine in the system, Moderna and Pfizer, for all Americans who want to get vaccinated by May 31st to do so.

Speaker 4: (23:19)
Tom.

Tom: (23:22)
Jeff, I feel like we’re kind of dancing around the hesitancy question here. And so I just ask you directly, do you think the announcement of this pause will increase or decrease vaccine hesitancy?

Jeff Zients: (23:33)
Look, hesitancy amongst a group of people is a challenge and we need to be addressing it and we are, as I talked about, by going to meet people where they are to follow all that we’ve learned about who people trust, doctor, local doctor, their nurse, their faith leader. And I think that there’s tremendous track record as Dr. Fauci has talked about with tens of millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna. The FDA acting the way they did today, shows that they are indeed the gold standard. And I think that should reassure the American public that they will be very diligent and conservative in how they approach the vaccines.

Tom: (24:18)
So the argument is that because the FDA, this trip wire was triggered that should give Americans more confidence in the overall vaccination plan?

Jeff Zients: (24:26)
Certainly around how safety and efficacy are being monitored by the gold standard folks at the FDA.

Speaker 4: (24:35)
Let’s do these three more and then we’ll let them go back. Go ahead.

Speaker 6: (24:39)
Jeff, you said the FDA is the gold standard for ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines. To what extent does today’s news add urgency to the effort of getting a permanent nominee confirmed to head the FDA? Clearly, it’s always an important post, but how much of a spotlight does this news now-

Jeff Zients: (24:58)
In fact, I have no personnel announcement to make today. The FDA has an extraordinary group of scientists and experts that lead these types of efforts.

Speaker 6: (25:06)
How helpful would a permanent director be in those efforts?

Jeff Zients: (25:10)
I think that the FDA does an extraordinary job and the teams that are addressing these issues are experienced teams. In fact, the acting director is a very experienced leader. So I think the experience of the FDA and the expertise of the FDA is indeed the gold standard.

Speaker 4: (25:34)
Go ahead.

Speaker 7: (25:34)
Are there any immediate plans to accommodate the states because of this pause? And can you guarantee that every person who had a reservation canceled will get rescheduled in a matter of days?

Jeff Zients: (25:43)
As I said, I think there’s already, in certain locations, people who are scheduled for today are already rescheduled. So we’ll do anything we can to support the states on the logistics of rescheduling. And at the same time, the most important thing is that the supply exists to continue to vaccinate 3 million Americans a day and there’s enough supply to actually accelerate that. There’s tens of millions of doses in the system. And as I said today, we announced 28 million more Moderna and Pfizer doses are available to order this week.

Speaker 4: (26:22)
Last question.

Speaker 8: (26:23)
Dr. Fauci, you said that there was no red flags with the other two vaccines. This question might be asking you to state the obvious, but can you verify that means that there were no developments of blood clots symptoms in the recipients of those vaccines?

Dr. Fauci: (26:39)
There have been no serious events to call attention to anything that would relate to a pause.

Speaker 8: (26:47)
[inaudible 00:26:47] for one vaccine, but not the other two and how does that speak to the safety of the other two vaccines?

Dr. Fauci: (26:53)
I think when you examine everything in general, the fact that you’ve have 120 million doses and individuals have received at least one dose. And as you subtract out of that 121 million, 6.85, you’re talking about 114 or so million individuals have received at least one dose and no negative red flag signals. That tells you’re dealing with a really safe vaccine. And I think apropos of several of the questions that people ask about hesitancy, when you want to talk about safety, this is an extraordinary safety record that the others have. And the fact that a pause was done, I think just is a testimony to how seriously we take safety and why we have an FDA and a CDC that looks at this very carefully and hopefully we’ll resolve it pretty soon within days to weeks apropos of your question. So I think it’s a very strong argument for safety, actually.

Speaker 4: (28:03)
Thank you, Dr. Fauci. Thank you, Jeff.

Dr. Fauci: (28:04)
Thank you. Thank everybody.

Speaker 4: (28:04)
Appreciate you taking the time.

Dr. Fauci: (28:04)
Thank you.

Jen Psaki: (28:08)
They’re always welcome. Always welcome. I know there’s a lot going on today and you also have a call time, so we will try to get through as much as we possibly can. But I did want to give you all a couple of updates. Obviously, the president met yesterday with a bipartisan group of members who work on committees of jurisdiction. I can talk a little bit more about that, but I also wanted to give you an update on the work of our job’s cabinet, which will be central to our efforts. And especially in this period of time where now a lot of these members are going to go back, they’re going to work with their staffs. They’re going to work with each other to see what the path forward is.

Jen Psaki: (28:48)
So, so far cabinet secretaries from our jobs cabinet, I should say, have made 27 calls to members, including seven Republicans. Those are when they connected, of course. Our legislative affairs team has made 139 calls to members. Their chiefs of staff and staff directors. 35 of those 99 calls to the House were to Republicans along with 15 of the 40 calls into the Senate. This is obviously ongoing and we will venture to provide you regular updates so you have a sense of what’s happening. We’ve held 26 House and Senate staff briefings and nine member level briefings, including with Republican leadership and five bipartisan groups. And this is clearly picking up. Senior administration officials have also engaged with rural leaders, faith communities, and the private sector. They’ve held briefings with bipartisan groups of over a thousand mayors and county elected officials and have had one-on-one conversations with governors from both parties.

Jen Psaki: (29:42)
I also wanted to highlight that this week is Black Maternal Health Week. And in its honor today, the vice-president and domestic policy advisor, Susan Rice, are hosting a round table with women who will share their experiences with complications from pregnancy, childbirth and the impact of post-partum post childbirth, as well as their work in advocacy and research highlighting the disparities that black women face in maternal health. I think this actually started around 12:30, so I should say the event is ongoing. We also announced initial actions we are taking to address the maternal health crisis in the United States, including significant funding to reduce the maternal mortality and morbidity rates, improve health equity, and race-based disparities nationwide. The approval of the first Medicaid Section 1115 waiver in Illinois to broadly extend post-partum coverage. This approval will help ensure access to vital healthcare services, promote better health outcomes and reduce the rate of maternal morbidity and mortality.

Jen Psaki: (30:42)
And obviously this is an issue we will continue to work hard on. I also just wanted to highlight that we’re also hosting today, a virtual small business briefing on the American Jobs Plan. Small business administrator, newly confirmed, Isabel Guzman, will join the event with thousands of small business owners to highlight how the American Jobs Plan supports small business. The plan the president has proposed provides direct support to small businesses by increasing access to federal contracts and investing more than $110 billion in financing and technical assistance programs. As you know, the president also attended a congressional tribute for US Capitol officer William Evans this morning. He paid his respects, for those of you who didn’t see, to officer Evans and met with his family. Following his remarks, I should say, the president offered his support to the Capitol police who have weathered great stress and responsibilities since January’s interaction in addition to sustaining the loss of another fellow officer.

Jen Psaki: (31:43)
Finally, the president will deliver remarks tomorrow at the White House on the way forward in Afghanistan, including his plans and timeline for withdrawing US troops in close coordination with our partners and allies and the government of Afghanistan and its commitment to focusing on the threats and opportunities we face around the world today. We will have an advisory with more details out later today. We, of course, are doing a series of briefings throughout the day with all of you and others. I’m going to be limited in what I’m going to share from here because I don’t want to get ahead of the president, but I will look forward to having conversation with all of you in the coming days about the details of his speech. With that, go ahead, Alex.

Alex: (32:21)
Thanks. Let’s start with Russia. Can you share any details on the proposed summit with President Putin? Where would it be? What would the topics be and what was his response? And also Putin himself suggested public talks with Biden in mid March, and he was brushed off by the White House. So what’s behind the change in posture?

Jen Psaki: (32:41)
Well, let me first say that, as you note, the president had a call with President Putin this morning, we put out a readout of that, but let me reiterate a couple of the highlights for those of you who are following other pieces of news. During this call, they discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues building on the extension of the New Start Treaty. President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interest in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference.

Jen Psaki: (33:18)
And he also emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity. The president voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military buildup and increasing aggression on the border of Ukraine and called on Russia to deescalate tensions. So as it relates to your question, I will say that our approach to our relationship with Russia is one where we certainly expect the relationship to remain a challenge. We expect there will be continued difficult conversations. We are prepared to confront those. But our goal is to have a relationship with Russia that is predictable and stable. And having a conversation or a dialogue, which the plans will need-

Jen Psaki: (34:03)
And having a conversation or a dialogue, which the plans will need to be developed on, this is the first conversation about it at that level, of course. The purpose of that is to, of course, be honest and candid were there areas where we disagree and have concerns, but also work together on areas where there is mutual interest. And that may relate to arms control as we did with the extension of new start shortly after the president was inaugurated or even working together on pursuing an Iran nuclear deal. So there’ll be a range of topics discussed as we get closer and details are finalized. We’ll share those with you, but we’re just at the early stages of the discussions.

Alex: (34:40)
And now, with respect to Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border, what is on the table to respond if Russia doesn’t back down? I mean, are military options being considered?/

Jen Psaki: (34:50)
Well, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin are both in Brussels. Now they are having discussions with their counterparts about a range of topics, including the military buildup on the border. So I won’t get ahead of those discussions. I expect they will do a readout when those discussions conclude. Any approach or engagement with Russia or actions would be done in coordination.

Alex: (35:10)
And then one more on Afghanistan, Republicans are already talking as the announcement has happened of the withdrawal of all troops by September 11th. And so, I wanted to get your reaction to something Mitch McConnell just said. He suggested that it would put our NATO partners in a shared fight that we have not yet won. It would abandon the women of Afghanistan whose freedoms and human rights will be in peril. He said that the administration plans to turn tail and abandoned the fight in Afghanistan. So what is your response to this criticism and criticism from other Republicans that it’s its too soon without any plans to maintain stability there?

Jen Psaki: (35:49)
Well, again, I will leave it to the president to lay out his specific plans for withdrawing troops, the reasoning, and his commitment to focusing on the threats and opportunities we face around the world today. But I will say that the president has been consistent in his view that there’s not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there for far too long. That has been his view for some time. Well documented, well reported on.

Jen Psaki: (36:18)
He believes that, and he remains committed to supporting negotiations between the parties, which many of you may be following are resuming next week. And he also believes we need to focus our resources on fighting the threats we face today, 20 years, almost 20 years after the war began. And so, that’s his approach on how he looks at this decision, but he will lay out more specifics tomorrow. Hey, go ahead.

Speaker 3: (36:46)
Thanks Jen. You mentioned President Biden has been consistent. As a candidate, he told CBS that he thought a smaller footprint of troops should remain in Afghanistan in the case that terrorists remaster capacity but now he’s committing to drawing troops to a number that is zero. Can you explain that change?

Jen Psaki: (37:07)
Again, I know we’re doing a number of briefings with all of you where you will have all of these questions answered. I will say that the president’s approach and his decision that he made was done through close consultation with military leaders, with his national security team, with partners and allies around the world. And with his objective in mind of ensuring we are focusing on the threats we’re facing, we’re doing that in close coordination with our partners and allies, and I will leave it to the briefings that you will be receiving and his speech tomorrow to outline in more further detail. Go ahead. Oh, go ahead.

Speaker 3: (37:43)
[crosstalk 00:37:43] on Russia.

Jen Psaki: (37:43)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 3: (37:43)
The U.S. has repeatedly called on Russia to deescalate tensions at the Ukrainian border. Does the president have any reason to believe Putin will actually listen this time?

Jen Psaki: (37:54)
Well, I would say when it comes to diplomacy, you don’t stop calling for what are the right actions and the appropriate actions and the actions the global community believes are right just because you see a hesitation in taking those actions. And what is different now is that there is coordination on the international front with the Europeans, with our partners. As I mentioned, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin are in Brussels now having a discussion about a range of issues, including the aggression at the border and that pressure is different. Russia is an outlier in many ways in that regard. So we will continue to work in partnership with our allies and partners and continue to put the pressure on and call for what’s right.

Speaker 3: (38:38)
Thanks Jen.

Jen Psaki: (38:38)
Go ahead.

Phil: (38:40)
A couple of different topics. Just one quick follow up on Russia in reading the readout that you guys sent out. Does the president currently characterize the relationship with Russia as honest and stable, or is that something he wants to work toward?

Jen Psaki: (38:50)
I think what we’re working toward is predictable and stable. We’re not looking for an establishment of trust as much as a predictability and stability because there are a range of threats, there are a range of opportunities in the world and the president wants to have the bandwidth to focus on them and not on an adversarial relationship with Russia.

Phil: (39:13)
You guys have had a little bit of back and forth, the white house and the Michigan governor’s office, is the president right now, [inaudible 00:39:19] ally, disappointed with how the governor has managed COVID in her State at least of late?

Jen Psaki: (39:24)
Well, let me say Phil, as you know, you’ve been covering it quite closely. We’ve been at war with this virus for over a year now. And Governor Whitmer has been in charge of a State that has been incredibly hard hit by COVID for that period of time. And she’s done a tremendous job in our view while facing an enormous set of challenges. She has been steadfast in her commitment to keeping the people of the State of Michigan safe, and a tremendous partner in the fight against COVID. And if you go back more than a year ago, she led that fight to make sure first responders in the State had PPE they needed when cases took off and she pushed for more testing when the federal government told governors that they were frankly, on their own and to figure it out on their own.

Jen Psaki: (40:05)
She had to endure not just a public health crisis and a hostile state legislature but friends who have passed from the virus, armed aggression in the State capitol and threats against her life. She’s also had to coordinate a disaster response to a faulty dam burst all while doing all of this in a devastated Michigan community. So we feel she’s shown some serious grit, fight and resolve. We are going to continue to work with her on how we can help address the uptick in her State and help deploy the resources we have available.

Phil: (40:36)
One more quick one, I’m running the full gamut today. The president’s repeatedly said that he wants the obstruction proposal he’s put on the table to be paid for, he’s obviously put proposals to pay for it. Is that a red line? Is he open to not paying for some of that proposal if that’s the direction Congress wants to go?

Jen Psaki: (40:51)
Well, his only red line is inaction and he is happy to hear from, as he did yesterday, proposals that members have, whether it is to have a lower increase or yes, a lower increase of the rate on corporations, whether there are proposals to pay for this plan in a different way. He’s open to hearing it. His starting place is that we should pay for it, but we’re at the beginning of the discussions here. And ultimately, his only red line is investing in our infrastructure, making sure we are putting Americans back to work over the term. Go ahead.

Speaker 5: (41:27)
Thanks Jen.

Jen Psaki: (41:27)
Sorry [inaudible 00:41:28], I’ll come back to you next.

Speaker 5: (41:30)
Finally Russia, the president proposing a summit with Vladimir Putin would suggest that he’s looking to deescalate some tensions there. So does that mean it’s unlikely the U.S. is going to enact harsher sanctions on Russia, like sanctioning their sovereign debt?

Jen Psaki: (41:46)
Well, I’m not going to get ahead of any announcements we have on the consequences that we will invoke on the Russian leaders for the actions they’ve already taken. No, it does not change. The calculations, the process, the review that has been ongoing, I expect we’ll have more to say soon. And certainly, the president was clear that there will be consequences as he has said publicly. Some will be seen and some will be unseen as we often say and hopefully, we’ll have more to share with all of you soon.

Speaker 5: (42:16)
And then one on nominations. Noticed that the director for immigration and customs enforcement was not included in the traunch that was announced yesterday, that included the CVP and USCIS so why wasn’t that person included in that traunch and when should we expect to see a nominee for that position?

Jen Psaki: (42:34)
It’s a great question. I don’t have any personal announcements or previews for you. Sometimes we announce things because they are through the vetting process and a decision has been made and while it might be cleaner to do it in a group, we want to get these names out, nominated through the process as quickly as possible. So hopefully we’ll have a nominee soon. Go ahead.

Speaker 1: (42:52)
I know you’re leaving the details of this to the president tomorrow but I do want to try on and just one part of this. The administration obviously is committed to supporting Afghan women and minorities. What do you say to people who are concerned that this could put them and their lives at risk by withdrawing?

Jen Psaki: (43:07)
I will say that broadly speaking, the president and this administration supports women and girls around the world. We support it through a range of actions, through a range of initiatives, through a range of programs that we support. We will absolutely continue to do that. The president has been consistent in his view that the there is no viable end to the war, military viable end to the war in Afghanistan. He’s had that view for some time now.

Jen Psaki: (43:36)
And he has to make decisions through the prism of what’s in the interest of the national security of the United States. And that includes keeping our focus on where the threats are emerging around the world, whether those are emerging threats from Al-Qaeda and parts of North Africa, or other threats or opportunities we see in other regions. And hence, those are big motivating factors in his decision

Speaker 1: (43:59)
And on police reforms and racial justice. It doesn’t appear that Democrats have the votes needed to pass the George Floyd Policing Act as the administration hopes. Is the white house open to negotiations on this, possibly even giving maybe another look at Tim Scott’s Justice Act the Democrats blocked last year?

Jen Psaki: (44:14)
Well, we will leave that. I know Senator Scott, Senator Booker and others are in close discussion and coordination about what a path forward may look like. We certainly understand that there could be changes to proposals that have been put forward to date. We believe that the George Floyd Act has a lot of the components that will help rebuild the trust, help put in place many of the reforms that are frankly, long overdue. But we also recognize that democracy in action means changes take place. So we’ll have to see what the discussions look like and whether the president could support any changes that would be made through that process.

Speaker 1: (44:49)
And if I could, I actually want to get your reaction to some comments from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib that are getting a fair amount of attention, responding to Daunte Wright’s shooting, she says, “I’m done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It can’t be reformed.” What do you make of those comments? Do you disavow her calls for no more policing?

Jen Psaki: (45:10)
Look, what I can state from here is that that’s not the president’s view. The president’s view is that there are necessary outdated reforms that should be put in place. That there is accountability that needs to happen. That the loss of life is far too high, that these families are suffering around the country and that the Black community is exhausted from the ongoing threats they feel. But he also believes that there is a forum for putting in place legislation, the George Floyd Act that can help put many of these necessary reforms in place. And that part of what needs to happen is rebuilding trust in communities in order to get to a better place. Go ahead Steve.

Gabe: (45:55)
As a followup to that. There are people all across the country who are demonstrating and actively calling for reform. What expectations should they have for change in the Biden era? What is this president going to bring to bear if for example, qualified immunity, isn’t removed from the law, if you can’t get that in a bipartisan agreement?

Jen Psaki: (46:16)
Well, first, we’re not going to get ahead of what the discussions are about a bipartisan agreement. I think what Americans who are exhausted, who have suffered, who are worried about their kids and their family members should know is that the president sees racial equity as a central focus of his presidency and his actions bear that out. He has obviously signed a number of executive actions. He is a strong supporter of working through legislation that can put in place permanent reforms, and he will continue to elevate and talk about the need to address these issues across the country at a range of opportunities. And I hopefully that gives some reassurance to the public about his commitment.

Gabe: (46:55)
Quick question about yesterday’s infrastructure meeting. There were some rumblings on the hill that one of the things that was mentioned in the discussion was an increase in the gasoline tax. Can you explain the context and what was actually discussed?

Jen Psaki: (47:06)
Sure. I think that was a little bit of a garble, unintentional, but in yesterday’s meeting with members of Congress the president mentioned the gas tax only to make a point that even a significant increase in the gas tax, which some people have proposed would pay for only a fraction of the investment the country needs. Now, fundamentally, he does not believe that paying for this historic investment in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and creating millions of jobs should be on the backs of Americans. So he doesn’t believe that anyway, he’s proposed his own means of paying for it, but he was using it as an example of how it wouldn’t even make a sizable dent in paying for the package.

Gabe: (47:45)
So it is not under consideration here?

Jen Psaki: (47:46)
Correct. Correct. Go ahead Andrea.

Andrea: (47:46)
So on the international front, you have tensions obviously with Russia over Ukraine and Crimea. There are a lot of concerns about what’s happening in China and the South China sea and also in Taiwan. Are you confident? Is the president confident that the U.S. military is postured correctly and prepared to deal with multiple crises occurring almost simultaneously at a time when you’re withdrawing troops from Afghanistan?

Jen Psaki: (48:16)
Absolutely. The president has utmost confidence in General Austin and his leadership and Secretary Austin, I guess I should say, switching titles and he believes we have the best military men and women serving in the world. And so, he has absolute confidence. He also believes that we should leave with diplomacy and his actions, his leadership, his approach, certainly bear that out.

Andrea: (48:40)
Just in China with the climate summit coming up. I mean, do you see opportunities to address the tensions and the longstanding tensions and the relationship with China over the climate summit to use that as an opportunity to move forward?

Jen Psaki: (48:58)
We obviously have not made a determination about bilateral proportions or meetings that would take place as a part of the summit. We’ve invited over 40 leaders, but I would say that we are engaged as you know, at a range of levels. We are approaching our relationship as one not of conflict, but of competition. We believe that the most important steps we can take is to rebuild and support our own economy here at home.

Jen Psaki: (49:22)
And to also be candid about areas where we have concerns, whether it’s human rights abuses or technological abuses. And that is certainly how we approach our relationship. So while the summit is still coming together, I’m not sure I would go that far given there are over 40 leaders we have invited and we’re still finalizing the details of the event.

Andrea: (49:44)
On the domestic front in terms of the George Floyd Policing Act. Do you anticipate major protests and riots, depending on the verdict in the Chauvin case, and what are you doing to prepare for that? We have a lot of controversy during the Trump administration about the use of national guard troops. Are you preparing to put in national guard troops if needed, depending on what happens in that verdict? I know it’s a hypothetical question, but you have to prepare for all eventualities and last night, or two days ago, the president was appealing for calm. Can you just tell us, walk us through your strategy and approach given how volatile the situation is?

Jen Psaki: (50:33)
Well, while we are not going to prejudge the outcome, which I realize you’re not asking me to do, but just to state it clearly, we are working with State and local leaders to advance our shared goal of ensuring public safety and citizens rights to peaceful protest. The president, we all, will continue to monitor the developments and our team will remain in contact with these officials on the ground, as well as with civil rights leaders and community stakeholders. But I don’t think I’m going to read out more than that. Go ahead.

Andrea: (51:01)
Do you rule out sending in the national guard?

Jen Psaki: (51:03)
Go ahead.

Speaker 9: (51:03)
[crosstalk 00:51:02] … sending in the National Guard.

Jen Psaki: (51:03)
I would just leave it at what I convey. Go ahead.

Speaker 10: (51:06)
The President’s tax plans, he has said that individuals households under $400,000 per year aren’t going to see their taxes go up. Does that also apply to indirect effects from the corporate tax changes that might not technically be tax increases? Like if an average family of four making under that amount sees their heating bill go up because utility companies increase their rates to accommodate the 28% corporate tax rate, is that okay or acceptable to the President because it’s not technically a tax increase?

Jen Psaki: (51:41)
Well, I would say that there’s no reason that that is what needs to happen. We saw, we have evidence of what happens. Back in 2017 when Republicans prioritized tax cuts for big corporations over investing in working people, there were many arguments made about what the impact would be. The benefits would be passed on to consumers. They would invest in R&D. There would be jobs created. None of that happened. There were stock buybacks, more incentives to offshore, record compensation for executives. We have seen countless studies where the biggest impact to these corporations would likely be on capital. So I would say that’s not a concern we have at this moment in time.

Speaker 10: (52:20)
But even though, I mean, utility companies, maybe it’s arguably partially for show, but they did announce rate decreases after the 27 tax law passed and tributed it to the tax law passing.

Jen Psaki: (52:35)
Is there some data that you’re expecting from economist suggesting that will be the case? Or are you just getting ahead of what might happen when the bill passes?

Speaker 10: (52:42)
I mean, I’m just getting ahead of that. There were those announcements, you said they didn’t have the intended effects. But utility companies did say, hey, we can pass on this lower rate to consumers through their utility bills.

Jen Psaki: (53:00)
And have utility companies said, I have not seen it if they have, that they would raise the cost if this bill passed to invest in infrastructure and get let out of the pipes to make sure there’s clean drinking water and create millions of jobs?

Speaker 10: (53:13)
I’m not aware of any specific announcements like that, but I’m just saying that was one of the results that occurred after the 2017.

Jen Psaki: (53:21)
Well, then I don’t think we have to anticipate it as an issue quite yet. Go ahead, Hans.

Tom: (53:24)
Just on Iran. They’ve been asking if they’re going to go to 60% uranium enrichment. What does that do to the ongoing indirect talks? Does it complicate them? Are those talks still on? And then I’ll have a couple of followups.

Jen Psaki: (53:36)
Sure. Well, let me say that first we take seriously Iran’s provocative announcement of its intention to begin enriching uranium to 60%, which the P5+1 should be unified in rejecting. The step both calls into question around seriousness with regard to the nuclear talks and underscores the imperative of returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA. We share in a common stated objective of returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA with Iran, and we have been engaged constructively and what we felt was constructive dialogue last week, even as it was indirect in Vienna. And while they were difficult and while we expect this to be long, we expect and we have not been alerted of any change in plans attendance in the meetings that will resume later this week. So we are certainly concerned about these provocative announcements, but our goal remains seeing through a diplomatic process, which we expect to resume in Vienna later this week.

Tom: (54:35)
Okay. Just so we’re very clear, you expect the indirect negotiations to continue, even though you’re questioning their seriousness to those negotiations?

Jen Psaki: (54:43)
Well, look, I think, Hans, we believe that the diplomatic path is the only path forward here, and that having a discussion, even indirect, is the best way to come to resolution. It doesn’t mean that we hold back on concerns we have and don’t encourage our P5+1 partners to expressing those same concerns and having that as part of the discussion.

Tom: (55:02)
Also on the diplomatic front, was the U.S. giving any heads up about the attack front, potentially Israel on the power facility for Natanz?

Jen Psaki: (55:11)
I have nothing further to read out about our understanding of the origin or the intention of the attack.

Tom: (55:19)
Was the USA at all, in any way involved in the attack on the power of the Soviet and Natanz?

Jen Psaki: (55:23)
As I said yesterday, we were not.

Tom: (55:25)
If I could just, we’ll switch gears to Russia real quick. The statement said in the coming months for this potential summit, is that going to be this summer?

Jen Psaki: (55:35)
We’ll see. In the coming months would be the summer.

Tom: (55:38)
Does the President have any preference on where the location should be?

Jen Psaki: (55:41)
It’s a great question. I know Alex was asking a similar one. We’re still just at the early part of this process. And so as we have more details, we will share them with all of you.

Tom: (55:51)
Can we narrow it down? Northern Hemisphere.

Jen Psaki: (55:53)
I don’t think we’re quite there yet. You’re sounding like there’s a place you would like to summer with President Biden and President Putin. I can pass that along, certainly. But okay, go ahead. Hard to follow, but I’m sure you have a very serious, a good question. Go ahead.

Speaker 8: (56:10)
Thanks for that, I suppose. My question is on LGBTQ rights. You told me weeks ago President Biden stands by his campaign promise to sound the legislation within 100 days. We are now on day 83 of the presidency, and it looks like that bill isn’t close to making it by that deadline and the President is facing multiple crises, as evidenced by the questions in this briefing. Does the President continue to stand by that campaign promise?

Jen Psaki: (56:37)
He does. He continues to work toward it. And as you know, in order to sign legislation, it needs to come to his desk. And while he is certainly been a vocal advocate in his support for the Equality Act, and obviously as you know and noted, it passed the House and needs to work its way through the Senate. He requires the Senate passing it in order for him to sign it.

Speaker 8: (57:00)
What were the President’s efforts like in getting the Senate to pass legislation?

Jen Psaki: (57:05)
Well, certainly he’s put out a statement of administration policy. He has talked about his view that this is legislation that should pass. And he has a range of conversations about a range of topics. But also so does our legislative team who worked to move forward his agenda every single day.

Speaker 8: (57:21)
And then, one thing that’s related to this is the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in the case of Fulton versus City of Philadelphia, which will determine whether there’s a First Amendment right to reject child placement in the homes of same sex couples. Is the administration doing any contingency planning for that decision in terms of the Equality Act or anything else?

Jen Psaki: (57:41)
Tell me a little bit more. Contingency planning, as if what if there’s a different outcome than we would like from the Supreme Court ruling?

Speaker 8: (57:47)
Yeah. It can just be planning based on the outcome of this decision and how that squares with the passage of legislation. And I think some observers say that one decision or another might let the air out and allow … And will that decision change the landscape for passage of the Equality Act?

Jen Psaki: (58:04)
That’s an interesting question. I’d probably have to talk to our legislative team. We typically, as you know, don’t get ahead of Supreme Court rulings. But I will talk to them and see if there’s anything we can convey directly to you. Go ahead. Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead. I’m just going to keep track so I get to everybody. But go ahead.

Speaker 11: (58:20)
I have a question on immigration. So, with Guatemala, and Honduras and Mexico deploying their troops at their borders, what is the White House or the Biden Administration’s next plans to kind of help mitigate migration at the U.S., Mexico border?

Jen Psaki: (58:36)
At our own border?

Speaker 11: (58:37)
Yeah.

Jen Psaki: (58:38)
Well, I would say that part of our effort here in working with these countries is the recognition that irregular migration is a hemispheric issue that requires all countries in the region to play their part. So part of our effort here was to work with Mexico and Northern triangle governments to implement collaborative migration measures. Of course, if these are effective, then there will be fewer people who are coming to our own border. So there is an impact even of that announcement that we just made that ensures that countries have deployed security personnel, migration officials, and other officials at their borders to address migration.

Speaker 11: (59:16)
And last month we saw some really large numbers at the border of migrant apprehensions. How is the Biden Administration working with local officials, local governments and local non-profits along the border, who some are picking up some of the costs, like COVID testing and hotel bookings? And so kind of how is the government working with these local officials?

Jen Psaki: (59:40)
Well, they play a tremendously important role in helping ensure, as you noted, in some cases it is working with NGOs and local authorities and officials on testing. In other cases there are covering the cost of hotels and others for quarantining. So they play a really tremendous role in helping ensure we are working in a humane way with those who are coming to our border in a range of ways. Now we continue to convey, which is our policy, that the border is not open, that we are turning away the majority of people, of adults who come to the border. But we still have children. We still have some migrant families who Mexico can not accept for a variety of reasons. And these NGOs play an incredibly important role. I know we’re at the end of our time here so let me just … Because there’s a gather, that’s why. But let’s see if we can just get to you two quickly. Go ahead.

Speaker 12: (01:00:32)
Just a few about the vaccine and one on Iran, if I can. Several times from the podium you’ve acknowledged that the Biden Administration may not be the best messenger for certain groups on the vaccines, such as white evangelicals, conservative white folks. Can you take us inside the process as to how you’re determining who the best messengers are for those communities? Are you reaching out specifically to targeted people? Are you relying on volunteers? What does that process look like?

Jen Psaki: (01:00:59)
Well, a big part of our effort, and I appreciate you asking this question, is to create in part a community core, which is a program that gets fact-based messages into the hands of local messengers. And what we’ve seen through our data is that local messengers, whether that is elected officials, mayors, doctors, sometimes clergy, civic leaders are the most effective messengers of anyone. And that’s why a large part of our $3 billion funding that we have are focused on getting out into the country is on working with community-based organizations to strengthen vaccine confidence in the highest risk and hardest hit communities. So it really depends community to community. But we work with faith-base organizations, we work with community health workers, we work with disability organizations. We work with organizations across the board of all different backgrounds and affiliation so that they can get the message clearly out to communities.

Speaker 12: (01:01:57)
So I guess, how are you determining which organizations know who these influential people are who are going to reach these certain groups that you feel like perhaps you’re not going to reach on your own?

Jen Psaki: (01:02:06)
How we determine who community leaders are in communities? [inaudible 01:02:10] … Well, I think as I’m conveying here, a lot of this is based on a local, taking a local approach. And it’s a lot of it’s driven through HHS, so they may be best able to answer your question. I just want to get to our last person here. Go ahead.

Speaker 13: (01:02:24)
This just from my colleague. Do you have a comment on Japan’s plans to release wastewater from Fukushima into Pacific Ocean, into the Pacific Ocean?

Jen Psaki: (01:02:36)
Let me get you a comment from our national security team after the briefing. I’m happy to do that. Or directly to your colleague, I should say.

Speaker 13: (01:02:44)
Could you clarify who initiated the phone call with President Putin? Was it president Biden?

Jen Psaki: (01:02:46)
I don’t think I’m going to have more detail on that. I’ll check if I do.

Speaker 13: (01:02:51)
The last one. Does President Biden want to restore travel between the United States and Europe, as well as with the United Kingdom before summer?

Jen Psaki: (01:03:04)
You mean, as it relates to COVID restrictions?

Speaker 13: (01:03:07)
Yeah.

Jen Psaki: (01:03:07)
Look, our focus, of course we’d love to have a travel return, just like everybody would like to return to normalcy. But we rely on the advice and the guidelines done by our health and medical experts, and so we’ll defer to them on the timeline for that.

Speaker 13: (01:03:21)
Do you see a chance for restoring travel between Europe and the United States for the summer? Many people need to plan in advance.

Jen Psaki: (01:03:29)
Sure, and we understand that. But also we will rely on the guidance and the timeline of our health and medical teams. Thanks, everyone.