Dec 8, 2022
White House briefing with Karine Jean-Pierre 12/08/22 Transcript
White House briefing with Karine Jean-Pierre 12/08/22. Read the transcript here.
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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:00):
To reach an agreement to secure Brittney’s release, they continue to treat Paul differently as I just stated, with their totally illegitimate charge that they levied against Paul. In this last week, the President approved moving forward with releasing Viktor Bout in exchange for bringing home Brittney Griner. Over the last 48 hours, Brittney was moved from the penal colony where she was held in Russia to Moscow, and then flown to the UAE. Bout conditional grant of clemency was not completed until today when US officials in the UAE verified Brittney was there too and ready to return to the US.
Yesterday, US officials met with Paul Whelan’s family to inform them of the news and I expect as the President said earlier today, this President will speak with them later, or when they are ready to have that conversation, understanding, and the President said this as well, how difficult of a moment this is for the Whelan family.
And this morning just to clear up some of the questions that you all have had, Cheryl had been invited to the White House for a meeting with the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. When she arrived, she was welcomed into the Oval Office by President Biden, who personally delivered the news that Brittney would be returning home today. The President was joined in the Oval Office by Vice President Harris, National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, and also Secretary of State Blinken. Once Brittney lands in the United States, she will be offered appropriate care and support from the US government, including medical screenings as well. Look, not going to get into specifics as to your question about what was occurring to change the minds of Russia, as it relates to the midterms or doing this after the midterms. I’m not in the business of speculating how Mr. Putin thinks.
What we want to make sure that is very clear, the President made a promise and he kept his promise. And not just to Brittney Griner, he’s keeping his promise. He’s going to do everything. His team is going to do everything that they can to secure Paul’s return as well and other Americans that are wrongfully detained abroad. And so we have seen this happen just across the President’s administration. We’ve brought home… The President has been able to secure about a dozen wrongfully detained or hostage individuals, Americans, bringing them home. We know we saw the situation with Trevor Reed just this past April. So this is a commitment that the President has, that his administration has and we will continue.
Speaker 1 (02:42):
And can you discuss specifically what Russia wanted beyond Viktor Bout and that US would not do? And what is it that the US was willing to offer in addition to Viktor Bout?
Karine Jean-Pierre (02:52):
So here’s the thing, the Russians were not willing to negotiate in good faith for the release of Paul Whelan at this time. And in order to increase the chances for success, we’re not going to certainly discuss more about the negotiations for his release publicly, but we are committed to securing Paul’s release, but we’re just not going to get into specifics. But like I said, they were not operating in good faith.
Speaker 1 (03:16):
And One more question. I mean obviously we’re all very happy to hear the news that she’s coming home, but I’m wondering if the administration is concerned about whether there’s any precedent set here, about what the US government is willing to trade in exchange to release Americans [inaudible 00:03:29] abroad.
Karine Jean-Pierre (03:30):
So look, this was not a decision that the President made lightly, but he believed it was the right thing to do to secure Brittney’s release. And so this was a commitment that he had, a promise that he made. And where we were left with is either we bring Brittney home, or no one at all. And so had one of my colleagues in the National Security Council said today, he believed that there was a moral obligation here to get her home. This does not mean that the President will stop with Brittney. He’s going to continue to make sure that we secure Paul Whelan’s return as well, and as well as other Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad.
Speaker 1 (04:17):
Speaker 2 (04:18):
Was there a risk assessment to determine how dangerous Bout may be now that he’s been released back into the world? And what is the result, if there was one? How should people be thinking about the fact that this man is free?
Karine Jean-Pierre (04:36):
So look, again, this was not a decision that the President made lightly. Just want to be very clear on that. We will always stay vigilant about our national security. That’s something that the President will always do and we will act swiftly to protect it. That was true yesterday. That is true today and that will be true after Mr. Bout’s release. So that is a commitment that the President has to the American people. But again, he believed this was the right thing to do in bringing Brittney home.
Speaker 2 (05:07):
But in making that decision, surely he heard from officials, the intelligence community about how dangerous Bout is or is not. So I’m just asking-
Karine Jean-Pierre (05:19):
No, I hear your question-
Speaker 2 (05:20):
… did you review the assessment.
Karine Jean-Pierre (05:21):
I hear your question. I’m not going to get into specifics about what the President was told by the intelligence community. That is not something that we do from here. As on any specifics, what I can say is that the President will continue to be vigilant about our national security, and he will remain… We will remain to act swiftly to protect it. Again, this is not a decision that he made lightly.
Speaker 2 (05:47):
And with regard to Whelan, David Whelan said in his statement that I’m guessing you’ve seen by now that Paul worked so hard to survive for nearly four years. And he questioned, have you continued to survive day after day when you know that your government has failed twice, essentially painting a pretty hopeless picture for his brother. So are there any concerns that Paul Whelan will hurt himself? And are there any measures that the US can take to ensure his wellbeing?
Karine Jean-Pierre (06:20):
So look, they all very good questions and the President said this morning, he understands how difficult a moment this is for the Whelan family. It is certainly not lost on us and as we have said, we have been speaking with the Whelan family, including today, and we’re not going to certainly betray that confidential conversation. You clearly have heard from the family directly in the statement. But look, what we are going to continue to do is we are going to continue to work to secure Paul’s return, Paul’s release.
I think you can understand why we won’t go into details, but of course we’re always concerned about the safety and the health of any American that is being wrongfully detained and held hostage. And I’m not going to get into specifics on any future conversations that we may have with Paul and how our interaction with him is going to look like. One thing that I can say is our counselor officers in Moscow were able to make contact with Paul on December 2nd. And as we know from that time he was feeling well, he was in good health.
Speaker 2 (07:41):
And just one more. And just to clarify, on December 2nd, he wasn’t aware that this was happening. It wasn’t until today.
Karine Jean-Pierre (07:46):
Yeah, we have made Paul Whelan aware of the exchange that happened today. He’s aware-
Speaker 2 (07:56):
On Brittney Griner, I understand how the deal went down and what the Russians were willing to give. But how do you dispel the public perception, that if you are a celebrity or a professional athlete, you get preferential treatment in a situation like this?
Karine Jean-Pierre (08:12):
Look, I want to be very clear here and I think we tried to lay this out in a clear way as well. The President did and my colleagues, as you’ve heard from them from the NSE. This was not a choice for us on of which American to bring home. That was not the choice. It was a choice between bringing home one American or bringing home none. And we brought one home today and that is important to note. And just like we were able to bring home Trevor Reed back in April and through every step of this process, we have sought to bring Paul Whelan home and that will not change. That will continue to be our commitment.
Again, regrettably, due to nature of the totally illegitimate charges, they levied against Paul. The Russians are treating this situation differently than Brittney’s situation. And we have been unable to secure his release.
We made every possible offer available to us to secure Paul’s release, but there was no way to bring Paul home right now. We would have preferred, of course, of course we would’ve preferred to see them both released. That’s what we’ve been calling on. That’s what you’ve been hearing from me and the President this past year. But we did not want to lose the opportunity before us to secure the release of one of them. And so that was the choice, one or none, and not which one either. It was either none or one. And so our efforts to bring Paul home will continue. It will not stop. And the US government continues to encourage the Russian government through every contact with them, through every channels to secure his release. And we want them to do it in good faith.
Speaker 3 (09:58):
I want to get your reaction to Paul Whelan’s own words in response to this. He told one of our colleagues that he doesn’t understand why he’s still sitting there, that he’s greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure his release. So can you respond directly to him? Can you assure him that you are in fact now doing everything you can?
Karine Jean-Pierre (10:17):
Look, I would refer you to the words of the President himself. This is something that we are committed to doing. And again, I’ll repeat this, because the President said this and this is just repeating the President as well. It’s like he understands how difficult a time this is for the family, Paul’s family. He understands that. There are mixed emotions today for them. They also said that they were proud to see Brittney come home today and the President is going to do everything that he can, as we have seen him do many times across the time, his tenure in the administration, to bring Paul home. And so this is a commitment that the President is giving to the family and to Americans.
Speaker 3 (11:02):
And does the President have any plans to speak with Whelan’s family, or to try and speak with Paul Whelan himself?
Karine Jean-Pierre (11:08):
So as he said himself, he’s looking to forward to speaking to the Whelan family today, or when they are ready to have that conversation, he is open and ready to communicate with them.
Speaker 3 (11:20):
And does the President… Should we have any plans or any expectation for him to meet with Brittney Griner?
Karine Jean-Pierre (11:26):
I don’t have anything to preview at this time. Our efforts right now, our focus is to get her home safely and to get her back to her family, to her team, to her loved ones, and give her all the necessary tools that she will need to reengage to come back to the US in the way that she chooses.
Speaker 4 (11:49):
Thank you, Karine. Quick question on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in securing Griner’s release. How do you view the Crown Prince’s involvement here? Do you view this as an act
Speaker 4 (12:00):
… act in good faith. And how do you think this will help them as the US reevaluates its alliance with Saudi?
Karine Jean-Pierre (12:09):
So as I’ve said before, this negotiation was between the US government and Russia, and that’s how we were able to secure Brittney’s release. And I don’t have anything further to share on that.
Speaker 4 (12:27):
So, there were US officials on the background call this morning thanking the Emiratis, for example, but there was no explicit mention of MBS on the role he played. I mean, is the administration still extending their gratitude or thank you to-
Karine Jean-Pierre (12:43):
Again, the only countries that negotiated this deal were the United States and Russia. And there was no mediation involved. We are grateful for the UAE, as the president mentioned, as I am mentioning now, for facilitating the use of their territory for the exchange to take place. We are also grateful to other countries, including Saudi Arabia, that released the issue of our wrongfully detained Americans with Russian government that raised that issue. But again, I don’t have anything more to say. But when it comes to her release, it was between the US government and Russia.
Speaker 4 (13:18):
And a quick one on the Whelan family saying that the United States needs to be more aggressive in arresting Russian criminals so there is more leverage during negotiations. One of the options is for the US to arrest more Russians than the government is sanctioning already. Is that sort of a feasible path being floated? Is that… How would you respond to that?
Karine Jean-Pierre (13:40):
I don’t have anything more to share or anything to add or preview on your question. Look, as you know, the president recently put forward… The Biden administration expanded their toolkit for the US government can use to make sure that, as we think about hostages that are wrongfully detained, Americans that are being held, to deal with that issue, including the ability to impose serious costs and consequences, such as sanctions and visa bans on governments and non-state actors who are involved in hostage taking and wrongfully detentions. So, the state de department has also introduced a new risk indicator to their travel advisories to inform US citizens about the risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government in six countries that have regularly engaged in this practice. So, clearly we have expanded our toolkit. We did that most recently. And so that is showing how important this issue of Americans being wrongfully detained abroad and held hostage is important to the president, and making sure that we bring them home, but also stop those actions that we’re seeing from those countries.
Speaker 5 (14:53):
I mean, just back to what Paul Whelan told my colleague earlier. He said, “I don’t understand why I am still sitting here.” When the senior officials spoke with Mr. Whelan earlier today, what was the explanation that was given to him on why he is still in a Russian penal colony?
Karine Jean-Pierre (15:10):
I mean, I laid it out. Paul Whelan is being treated differently because of a totally illegitimate charges that have been levied against him by the Russians. And the Russians were not willing to negotiate in good faith for the release of Paul Whelan at this time. And that is the reality. That is what we’ve been sharing with all of you. But the president, again, is committed, committed to securing Paul’s return. Not going to get into details of negotiations of what that will look like just because, as you could imagine, you all understand, because of security reasons here. But again, this is something that we have worked for, worked on for the past several months, getting them both home. That is something that the president wanted to do. But this is what the Russians are doing, and so now we’re going to continue to have those conversations and finding a way to bring him home.
Speaker 5 (16:08):
And can you clarify, when the Saudis say that the Crown Prince MBS was involved in mediation efforts to secure Griner’s release, is that true?
Karine Jean-Pierre (16:18):
I don’t have anything else to share beyond of what I’ve said. I’ll refer you, again, let them speak for themselves, but I’m not going to comment beyond what I just laid out of what we saw, who we’re thankful to and what we saw the involvement. Again, but the deal was negotiated. The only countries that actually negotiated this deal was the United States and Russia.
Speaker 5 (16:41):
I guess, do you make anything of the fact that they were saying that MBS was involved?
Karine Jean-Pierre (16:45):
I’m just not going to say beyond, outside of what I’ve just laid out.
Speaker 5 (16:49):
Okay. Just a final one. Just revisiting [inaudible 00:16:52]’s question on just the precedent that this might possibly said, I guess what would the president’s message be to any foreign after a rogue country that has watched all of this unfold and might be thinking, “Okay, so this was possible in this situation, so this is something that we might be able to pull off too?”
Karine Jean-Pierre (17:12):
Look, Russia… And sadly Russia and other countries have already been willing to wrongfully detain US citizens. This is something that has been occurring for some time, as you know. So, we have been focused on how we can bring them home, and we make no apologies for that. And that’s what you have seen us do today. That’s what you’ve seen us do with Trevor Reed. And others. And so, look, we’re going to continue to put our efforts forward. We have, again, expanded our toolkit to make sure we do everything that we can to bring them home. But this is something that has been happening for some time now.
Speaker 5 (17:48):
But is there a concern of this kind of precedent being set?
Karine Jean-Pierre (17:53):
Look, what I can say, again, this is something that we have seen not just Russia and other countries continue to do. This is something that they’ve been willing to do, which is wrongfully detained US Americans. We are going to do everything that we can to bring them home. We’re not going to apologize about it. We are going to keep our commitment to bring American citizens, again, who are being wrongfully detained, who are being held hostage, back home, safely to their families where they should be.
Speaker 6 (18:24):
Thanks. Does the White House have any indication that this negotiation is foundational or could lead to greater communication with Russia up to and including about Ukraine?
Karine Jean-Pierre (18:35):
So, look, this release culminated after an extraordinary amount of hard work by many people just across the US government, as I just laid out early on, and our national security team, obviously. It was about securing Brittney’s release, pure and simple. That’s what this was about. That’s what this particular action was about. As we stated numerous occasion, the US government engaged with Russian government through every available channel to bring Griner and Paul Whelan home. As it relates to… If you’re asking me about what we’re seeing in Ukraine, the invasion in Ukraine by Russia, it’s not going to change our commitment to the Ukrainian people, to make sure that they are able to fight against the aggression that they are dealing with Russia, to fight for their freedom, to fight for their democracy. That does not change. But this, I would look at this particular issue specifically to what we were trying to do, bringing home Americans back home safely.
Speaker 6 (19:43):
One more. The President indicated that he had talked to Brittney Griner. Can you give us any more details about that conversation? How long it was, what was talked about? Has he talked to her again since this morning?
Karine Jean-Pierre (19:56):
I don’t have a new call, a conversation to read out to you at this time. We have basically has shared that this morning in the Oval Office, as I kind of gave a little bit of a timeline moments ago, when the president invited Cherelle Griner into the Oval Office to let her know what was occurring today, that Brittney was coming home. They called. I think there’s a photo out there that we tweeted. They called Brittney together, along with the vice president and Secretary Blinken. And we have shared with all of you that she was in good spirits. Don’t have anything further to share. But yes, there was a conversation, I think we shared that earlier this morning, that he had with Brittney Griner when she was on her way here on the plane, when she was able to have communications to have that conversation with her wife, the president, the vice president, and secretary of Blinken.
Speaker 7 (20:50):
Thanks. Just building on [inaudible 00:20:52]’s first question, it was a channel that works, a channel of communication with the Russian government that was successful in reaching this agreement. Does the administration not think that that is an opportunity to make progress in other areas, whether it’s Ukraine, whether it’s arms? There’s so many issues. Is that not an opportunity there though?
Karine Jean-Pierre (21:18):
Look, totally understand the question about what other avenues can we potentially go through after securing Brittney’s return home, but we just want to be… Again, we want to be really clear. This was about securing Brittney’s release home, yes, but it was about this particular issue, pure and simple. That’s what this was about. Don’t want to get ahead of any potential conversation about Ukraine, don’t want to get ahead of any conversation about arms deal. I know there’s the new treaty out there. I know you all have questions about that, but this was about what the president’s commitment is and has been, what the administration’s work has been, which is bringing home American citizens who are wrongfully detained. And that has been our focus with Brittney this past year.
Speaker 7 (22:10):
Another one. You spoke… Obviously, we’re talking about Griner. You also talk about efforts to reach to Paul Whelan’s family, as well as Paul Whelan himself. I just wanted to ask, have there been any similar efforts regarding American Marc Fogel who was also in Russia, also arrested on marijuana charges? How is his case different, or why is the actions for Marc Fogel different than these?
Karine Jean-Pierre (22:42):
So, look, we take seriously our responsibility to assist US citizens abroad and are monitoring the situation. Any specifics on Marc Fogel or any others, I would refer you to the State Department for additional information on those specific cases. Every case is different. Every case, there are different ways that I can talk about them, so I don’t want to get ahead of that. So, I would refer you to the State Department.
Speaker 7 (23:11):
But you do see a difference between Griner’s case and Fogel’s case?
Karine Jean-Pierre (23:11):
No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that sometimes we’re not able to talk about that particular individual, and so I don’t want to get ahead of that. There are reasons for that, for their own security, for their own privacy. So, I would refer you to the State Department.
Speaker 8 (23:26):
Thanks, Karine. The president said he expected that Brittney Griner would be back in the US in about 24 hours. Is it your expectation that she’ll return home to Texas or-
Karine Jean-Pierre (23:35):
For privacy reasons and security reasons, I’m not going to get ahead of or share any information on where she will be or where she will be landing. What I can say is she will be reunited with her family. Don’t want to get, again, into details about timing or location, just to respect her family’s wishes and for privacy, giving
Karine Jean-Pierre (24:00):
… them the space and time that is needed at this moment, we ask all of you to respect their privacy as well. But I’ll share this. Typically, upon arrival, people are offered a wide range of additional support, including a full medical checkup and a mental checkup and anything that they potentially can need to move forward.
Speaker 9 (24:24):
I want to ask you, as you know, there’s some criticism of the release of Viktor Bout, and I know you said the president doesn’t take it lightly, he weighed it very carefully, but we are talking about a man who, when he was sentenced to 25 years, Preet Bharara, who at the time was the top federal prosecutor in New York, said that this was someone who had conspired to sell AK47s that he knew would’ve been used to kill Americans, American drug agents. Law enforcement officials may not be happy with his release. What’s the president’s message to them and to others who say essentially that this was a bad deal, that this is a terrible man who has not fully paid his debt?
Karine Jean-Pierre (25:04):
So look, negotiations for release of wrongful detainees are often very difficult, that’s just a reality, in part because of the price that must be paid to bring Americans home to their loved ones and in part because of immediate results can feel unfair or arbitrary, to your point. Viktor Bout, who served 12 years in US prison facilities after being convicted with due process, who was scheduled for release in 2029, has been allowed to return to Russia as part of this arrangement, as you all know. While, look, we celebrate Brittney’s homecoming, we remain committed to seeing Paul Whelan’s likewise release. Through every step of this process, we sought to bring Paul Whelan home as well, and we did so in good faith with Russians and proposing different options.
And I’ll say this again, we’ll not stop to do that, but here it is. And I said, my colleague said this earlier today, the president felt a moral obligation to bring Brittney home. There was an opportunity to do that. It was either Brittney or no one at all, and we’re not going to apologize for that. And again, this is what we were able to do to get her home, and we are not going to stop. We are not going to stop to bring Paul Whelan home as well. We’re going to continue to do the work, and also other Americans who are being held, wrongfully detained.
Speaker 10 (26:31):
Thanks, Karine. One just housekeeping off the top, has Brittney Griner boarded the plane back to the US?
Karine Jean-Pierre (26:36):
Yes, she’s on her way. She’s on her way home.
Speaker 10 (26:39):
Okay, so she’s on the plane.
Karine Jean-Pierre (26:39):
Yes, she’s on the plane back. Yes?
Speaker 10 (26:42):
Can you help us understand, were there any other concessions that were offered as a part of this deal? Did the US give anything or get anything that has not been disclosed as a part of this deal?
Karine Jean-Pierre (26:54):
Speaker 10 (26:55):
And just to try again on a question that you’ve gotten, how does this deal not send a message to Russia and to other governments that if they wrongfully detain American citizens, that they will have some of their most dangerous criminals, in this case, the Merchant of Death, released?
Karine Jean-Pierre (27:11):
Look, I’ve answered this question multiple times and I’ve said this, and you’ve all reported this and you have seen this as well. Russia and other countries have already been willing to wrongfully detain US citizens.
Speaker 10 (27:23):
But does this encourage them to continue doing it, to do it even more?
Karine Jean-Pierre (27:27):
Look, I cannot speak for other countries. That is not something that I am able to do from here. What I can tell you is the promise that this president has made, right? We’re certainly not going to talk about diplomatic conversations that may be occurring, not going to do that. But we want American people to know that their safety and security is among our highest priorities and we continue to work aggressively using every available means to bring home all US nationals wrongfully detained or being held captive here. This is a promise that the president has made and we are not going to apologize for it.
Speaker 10 (28:03):
And on the statement that was put out that the governments of UAE and Saudi Arabia were engaged in mediating this deal, some have drawn a link between the fact that the lawsuit was dropped just days ago against MBS for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. What do you say to those who see a link in this broader deal?
Karine Jean-Pierre (28:19):
Look, this negotiation was in the works for months as I just laid out. I just went through the timeline. We talked about Secretary Blinken being very public in July. We have been committed throughout this year to bring home Brittney and Paul, and we’ve laid out the timeline of how this has all worked out. And this has been through painstakingly extraordinary conversations that have been had. And that has been the focus. It’s been specifically on those negotiations, channels that have been clearly open, that were private, that were public. And I’m just not going to get into details on negotiations and what was worked through.
Speaker 10 (29:08):
One more quickly, Leader McCarthy has called this “A gift to Vladimir Putin,” saying it endangers American lives. Your message to [inaudible 00:29:17].
Karine Jean-Pierre (29:17):
Again, sadly, Russia and other countries have already been willing to wrongfully detain US citizens. This is something that they have been willing to do.
Speaker 10 (29:28):
Well, what do you say in this contention, this is a gift of [inaudible 00:29:31]?
Karine Jean-Pierre (29:31):
What we have said, and basically I’m just going to repeat what I have been saying. The president is committed and has been very clear, and we have seen his work. We have brought home people who’ve been held hostage and wrongfully detained over the course of his administration, and across different countries. As you all know, as you all have reported on this, he is committed to making sure or doing everything that he can to bring home Americans who are being wrongfully detained abroad. And that is his commit, to bring them home safely, to bring them back home to their families and their loved ones. That is the commitment that this president has, and that’s the work that you have been seeing from this administration. Go ahead.
Speaker 11 (30:13):
Thank you, Karine. In this prisoner swap, why did Russia get such a better deal?
Karine Jean-Pierre (30:19):
Look, I’ve talked about this and I’ll say this again. Here were our choices. Our choices was Brittney or no one at all, bringing home one American or no American at all. And that’s-
Speaker 11 (30:34):
And they give up a professional athlete. We gave up a prolific arms dealer who was convicted of trying to kill Americans, who was called the Merchant of Death.
Karine Jean-Pierre (30:42):
The professional athlete is also an American citizen, so let’s not forget that, who deserved-
Speaker 11 (30:49):
And Paul Whelan is American citizen, so we could do this all day.
Karine Jean-Pierre (30:52):
And I have explained how the Russians have illegally treated, totally illegitimately treated his situation. I’ve been very clear on that. We’ve laid that out for you. And again, the president felt that this was an opportunity to bring Brittney home. He is going to continue to do everything he can to bring Paul Whelan home just like he did with Trevor Reed, just like he was able to secure Trevor Reed’s release.
Speaker 11 (31:21):
How can you say that he’s going to do everything that he can if he said just a few days ago, he’s not going to call Vladimir Putin until further notice.
Karine Jean-Pierre (31:28):
We were able to do this through different channels. We were able to do this through different avenues, folks from the US government that were able to make that negotiation, have those conversation and secure Brittney’s return. So we have been able to do this and the president has been committed to getting this done. We are still working to secure Paul Whelan. At this time we’re not able to make that happen. But that does not stop us. That will not stop us in making sure that Paul returns back home safely to his family.
Speaker 11 (32:06):
And just one other topic, you’ve said a few times that you really can’t talk about communications between the Biden campaign and Twitter. Who is telling you that that’s off limits?
Karine Jean-Pierre (32:17):
I’ve already had that conversation with you, with your colleague, I believe yesterday. I’ve already addressed this multiple times this week, so I don’t have anything more to add. Again, we’ve litigated this all week. Don’t have anything to add.
Speaker 11 (32:33):
So not a [inaudible 00:32:34].
Karine Jean-Pierre (32:34):
I’m going to the back. I’m going to the back. I’m going to the back. Go ahead.
Speaker 12 (32:36):
Thanks, Karine. On a different topic-
Speaker 13 (32:38):
That’s not the back. That’s the middle.
Speaker 12 (32:39):
So the incoming-
Karine Jean-Pierre (32:40):
We’ll keep going.
Speaker 12 (32:41):
Also, I’m the most hungover in the room as you [inaudible 00:32:45].
Karine Jean-Pierre (32:45):
Oh, are you? Okay. I’m coming back. You’re right. I said that I would go to the most hungover person in the room. You’re right, go ahead. That was the promise I made last night. You’re absolutely right. Go ahead.
Speaker 12 (32:55):
The incoming House leader has announced that he will create a select committee on China. And I wanted to get the president’s thoughts about this committee. Do we need another set of eyeballs on the US policies towards China?
Karine Jean-Pierre (33:05):
So I would refer you to the committee on its internal committee process here, to Congress, I would refer you to. Under President Biden, we are more prepared to out-compete China, protect our national security and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific than ever before. We look forward to continue working with Congress on these priorities, priorities who are important issues, our top priority on this. But I refer you to Congress.
Speaker 12 (33:33):
But there doesn’t need to be a review of the whole relationship with China?
Karine Jean-Pierre (33:36):
I would refer you to Congress on their internal process here. All right. All right.
Speaker 13 (33:40):
Karine Jean-Pierre (33:40):
Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Speaker 14 (33:42):
Thanks, Karine. Few questions. First one, Brittney Griner, you mentioned that Brittney is a part of two communities, the Black community and the LGBTQ+ community. There were obvious, as you know, many advocacy groups and civil rights organizations that were rallying for her. To what degree was that helpful or impactful to the administration’s work to bring her home?
Karine Jean-Pierre (34:01):
So look, I will just refer to you to what Cherelle said, Cherelle Griner said at the podium earlier today, right in the Roosevelt Room. You saw her speak to the folks outside of her network, outside of the administration who she applauded and thanked for their support. And does that matter? Of course that matters. But I want to be very clear as well, the president has been committed to this. He has shown his commitment just the past, almost two years in his administration when it comes to bringing home Americans who have been wrongfully detained. That is something that you’ve seen his administration work through. And so I’ll leave it there, but I’ll kind of just kind of relay what Cherelle said and what I repeated moments ago.
Speaker 14 (34:53):
And the [inaudible 00:34:54] learned that the administration has reached out to the families of victims of police violence and those who were killed by police officers to update them on the Executive Order that President Biden signed earlier this year in May. Do you have any update on the implementation of this Executive Order?
Karine Jean-Pierre (35:14):
So look, the passing the George, let me just start there, passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has been a priority for this president, and he’s going to continue to work with Congress to get that done, to get this bill to his desk so he can sign it. At the same time, the entire administration, as you’re asking me, remains committed to implementing the president Executive Order to help strengthen public trust and public safety. Don’t have anything specific to share with you, but we are committed to execute that.
Speaker 13 (35:46):
Karine Jean-Pierre (35:47):
Sorry. I’ll go to the back this time.
Speaker 15 (35:47):
Thank you, Karine. This is [inaudible 00:35:52] Iranian hostage in Tehran, gave an emotional interview this morning. She said she was thrilled for the release of Brittney Griner, but she’s
Speaker 15 (36:00):
He’s disappointed that neither the president nor Jake Sullivan met with her or her family.
Karine Jean-Pierre (36:06):
So can you say the name one more time?
Speaker 15 (36:07):
His name is Emad Shargi. He’s an American Iranian hostage. So some people accused the White House of double standard. [inaudible 00:36:17] now she was unable to meet with anybody in the White House. And what are you doing to release Americans who are held in Iranian jail until now?
Karine Jean-Pierre (36:26):
You’re talking about Abraham Amaldi or are you talking about someone else? I didn’t hear the name.
Speaker 15 (36:32):
His name is Emad Shargi, and his sister is called Neda Shargi.
Karine Jean-Pierre (36:35):
Okay, so look, I don’t know that case specifically so I can’t speak to it from here at this time. I would have to check … I would also refer you to the state department to get an update on that particular situation. So don’t want to get ahead of what the State Department might share.
Speaker 15 (36:54):
Karine Jean-Pierre (36:56):
I completely understand your question. I would need to talk to the State Department or even refer you to the State Department on that particular specific case. Don’t have anything to share with you at this time. What I can tell you is that the president is committed and continues to be committed in getting American citizens back home who are being held … who are wrongfully detained. I don’t know the specific case, so I can’t speak to it, can’t speak to where we are internally or any outreach that has occurred.
Speaker 15 (37:27):
Any update on the Iranian American held in Iran, hostages?
Karine Jean-Pierre (37:32):
I don’t have an update for you at this time. I would refer you to this, the Department of State, okay?
Speaker 16 (37:37):
Thanks. Just two follow up on things you’ve said about Griner today. You’ve said a couple times that in recent weeks it’s become clear that the Russians were willing to reach an agreement to secure Griner’s release but they continue to treat Whelan differently. When you say in recent weeks, do you mean after the midterm elections?
Karine Jean-Pierre (37:54):
I don’t have the specific timeline for you. What I was able to share is the in recent weeks. Don’t have two weeks, three weeks. I can just say for sure in recent weeks. But look, again, the president has worked tirelessly and his so has an administration to get … wanting to get both of them home. We have said this over and over again. But regrettably, the Russians have treated Paul Whelan’s situation very differently in a totally illegitimate way, and so we’re are not operating in good faith. And we were left in a situation where it was either bringing Britney home or no one at all. And so we took the opportunity of bringing Britney home to her family and her friends and we are going to continue to work. It’s going to continue to keep it a priority to get Paul home.
Speaker 16 (38:52):
That made to my follow up, which was you’ve also said the Russians are not operating in good faith. You said that a couple of times. What exactly do you mean by not operating in good faith?
Karine Jean-Pierre (39:01):
I’m not going to get into specific negotiations. All I can tell you, they’re not able to operate in good faith at this time. But again, in order to increase the chances for our success, we’re not going to discuss more about the negotiations for his release in public. I’m sure you understand why that we’re not willing to do that. But again, we are going to continue to work very hard. The president is committed to this in securing Paul’s return.
Speaker 17 (39:32):
Back on Mark Fogel for a second, he’s doing a 14 year sentence for less than an ounce of contin. Would you say he’s been wrongfully detained? Just want to classify it that way.
Karine Jean-Pierre (39:42):
Again, I can’t speak to any individual specific case at this time. I would refer you to the State Department. Everyone has a different classification. I don’t want to get ahead of what the State Department is looking to move forward or how their diplomatic conversations or how they’re looking to move forward with that particular person. But we want Americans to know that their safety and security is among our highest priorities. Again, I don’t want to get into specific individuals from here.
Speaker 17 (40:15):
Has the Kremlin had to give any assurances somehow that he will not go back to Army desk bots?
Karine Jean-Pierre (40:21):
I’m not going to get into negotiations from here what was discussed, but that’s kind of part of the specific negotiations. I’m just not going to get in into specifics from here.
Speaker 18 (40:35):
You were asked previously about the security assessment regarding boot and you said that the United States would stay vigilant. It sounds like the administration still sees him as a security threat.
Karine Jean-Pierre (40:47):
We’re saying … the question is, and the question has been placed to us is do we have security concerns? And what we have said is that the president did not make this decision lightly, just want to make that very clear. But he believed this was the right thing to do to secure Britney’s release. And we are always going to stay vigilant. That is something when it comes to our national security, that is something that the president and his administration will do. And we will swiftly act to protect it, to protect our national security. And that is true yesterday, that is true today, and that will be true after Mr. Boot’s release. So that is a commitment that the president has made.
Speaker 18 (41:32):
You still have security concerns?
Karine Jean-Pierre (41:33):
I’m not going to … I’m not the intelligence committee here, so I’m not going to get into any intelligence about that particular individual. What I could tell you is our commitment and how this was not a decision that the president made lightly.
Speaker 18 (41:48):
And then on a different topic, amidst protests in China against the CCP and after our Apple changed its airdrop feature for Chinese iPhone users, why was Tim Cook seated at the head table during the last day dinner here at the White House?
Karine Jean-Pierre (42:07):
I don’t have any specifics on who was invited, why they were invited. I don’t have that to share with you. As you know, Tim Cook was also in Phoenix, Arizona when the president was talking about the Chips and Science Act, made a very important announcement. Remember, the president’s priority here has been and continues to be as he’s, he is pushing his economic priorities is to make sure that we are creating manufacturing jobs right here in the US And we have seen more than 700,000 manufacturing jobs created under this president. And it is important it is going to change the lives of Americans across the country. And we’ve heard from everyday people in Arizona talking about how the announcement that the president made is going to do that, how the Chips and Science Act is changing the lives of Americans. Not going to speak to every specific individual invites that was made last week. Thank you.
Speaker 19 (43:04):
Thank you. As the year comes to an end, how do you see the relationship between US and India in this year? 22?
Karine Jean-Pierre (43:12):
Say that again.
Speaker 19 (43:16):
And this year comes to an end now, how do you see the relationship with the two countries, India and US, in 2022?
Karine Jean-Pierre (43:19):
So we see the US relationship with India is strong. That’s what we believe. We see it as a strong relationship. President Biden and all levels of US government are in touch with our Indian partners or their counterparts. We are grateful for their leadership at the last G20 and look forward to working closely with India as their new chair of the G20. So we also look forward to continue working with India on a range of important regional and global issues as well.
Speaker 19 (43:48):
But you don’t have a US ambassador to India for more than as about two years now. What’s the status on that? When can you have an ambassador there?
Karine Jean-Pierre (43:58):
So look, as Secretary Blinken spoke to this very recently and we have a crucial, and as I just stated, a consequential relationship with India, we continue to seek the confirmation of Mayor Garcetti. We want to see that happen quickly, who, as you know, was voted out of committee with strong bipartisan support to serve as ambassador to India. And so we will continue to … we don’t have any updates on timing, but we’ll continue to push that forward.
Speaker 19 (44:31):
One final one. The president has quite often spoken about people to people relationship between India and US and right now the visa wait time period for … triple in India, the US Ambassador Council is more than 1000 days. I think this is historic in nature. Is the president aware about it? What’s this administration doing to address this?
Karine Jean-Pierre (44:50):
So I can say that the Biden administration is aware of the issues. While we have made great strides, as you know, because you cover this very closely, in recovering from the pandemic related closures and staffing challenges, we are still working to respond to the significant demand of these of visa services. That is something that we will continue to do. We are successfully lowering visa interview wait times. That’s around the world. And we’ve doubled our hiring of US foreign service personnel to do this important work. Visa processing is recovering faster than projected and this year we expect to reach pre-pandemic processing levels. And any specifics or more about the visa process, I would refer you to the state department on that.
Speaker 20 (45:37):
Question on the US Africa Summit. Can you take a question on the US Africa Summit?
Karine Jean-Pierre (45:41):
Speaker 20 (45:44):
Why is it so hard to take a question on the US Africa Summit when the president … 50 African leaders, the biggest guardian of leaders of visa administration. Why is it hard for you to give me a question?
Karine Jean-Pierre (45:56):
It is not hard. I’ve answered … would you let me answer the question or are you … okay. I’m trying to answer your question. Go ahead sir. Go ahead. I just tried. You wouldn’t let me go.
Speaker 20 (46:07):
Karine Jean-Pierre (46:08):
No, I just tried and you would not let me, sir, so your colleague is going to ask a question. Go ahead.
Speaker 20 (46:14):
Can I ask you a question?
Karine Jean-Pierre (46:15):
No, I just literally just tried to answer your question. You shut me down. So now your colleague is going to …
Speaker 20 (46:20):
Let me ask the question first before …
Karine Jean-Pierre (46:23):
Thanks everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Speaker 20 (46:26):
Question under …