Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, May 16, 2022
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:08 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. Hello. I know that was a long two minutes. I apologize.
Okay, let’s get started. So, before we start the briefing, I want to take a moment to recognize the lives lost and forever changed in Buffalo.
Former Buffalo Police Lieutenant Aaron Salter, 55, is a hero — a security guard who engaged the suspect to save lives and was killed in the process.
Ruth Whitfield, 86, was mother of Buffalo’s Retired Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield. Ruth was the rock of the family, devoting her life to taking care of her four children and husband. Ruth was visiting the former commissioner’s father in a nursing home, as she did each day, and she stopped at the supermarket to buy some groceries.
Katherine Massey, 72, was a well-known community figure who wrote for her local newspapers, assisted in elections, and dressed up in costume as “Mr. Broccoli” to teach local school children to eat — to “eat right.”
Pearl Young, 77, was a substitute teacher and a “true pillar in the community,” who volunteered at a church food pantry every Saturday.
Heyward Patterson, 68, a driver and church volunteer. Hayward worked as a driver who gave rides to residents to and from the grocery store and would help with their groceries when he was killed.
Celestine Chaney, 65, a grandmother to six. Celestine had been visiting her sister, and they went to the supermarket because she wanted to get strawberries to make shortcakes, which she loved. Celestine prized her role as a grandmother, survived cancer, and was a regular churchgoer.
Robert [Roberta] Drury, 32, a resident of the Syracuse area. She was at the supermarket to get food for dinner while in town visiting her brother. “She always was the center of attention and made [the] whole room smile and laugh,” her sister said.
Geraldine Talley, 62, was doing her regular grocery shopping with her fiancé on Saturday when she was shot and killed. According to her niece Lakesha Chapman, “She was the person who always put our family reunion together…and mother of two beautiful children”.
Andre Mackneil, 53. Andre was going to the supermarket to get a birthday cake for
her [his] son when she [he] was killed. Jahon Smith, Mackniel’s cousin, said he was a loving father and grandmother [grandfather] who used to check in on everyone.
Margus D. Morrison, 52. Margus was a father of three and a Buffalo resident.
We recon- — we recognize their lives today and those lost and affected by gun violence this weekend in Houston, in southern California, Milwaukee, and communities across the country.
And we honor the bravery of those in law enforcement who responded quickly and with professionalism in Buffalo, and who risk their lives every day to protect and serve their communities.
Tomorrow, as you all know, the President and the First Lady will travel to Buffalo to meet with families of the victims, first responders, and community leaders. They will comfort the families of the 10 people whose lives were senselessly taken in this horrific shooting. And they will express gratitude for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other first responders who took immediate action to try to protect and save lives.
A couple more toppers for you here — items for the top — at the top.
In just under an hour, the President will host Prime Minister of Greece and a senior delegation, including their Minister for fair- — Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defense, for a bilateral meeting. The two leaders will discuss the U.S.-Greece bilateral relationship, which both our governments agree is at a historical high point.
The President and the Prime Minister will discuss our defense partnership, efforts to bolster energy security while also combatting climate change, our shared commitment to democratic values, and efforts to provide Ukraine with the support it needs to defend itself.
The two leaders will also discuss ways to further expand the bilateral trade relationship and U.S. investment in Greece, where several U.S. tech and renewable energy companies have made significant investments.
The President and the First Lady, Jill Biden, will then host the Prime Minister and — and his wife for a reception honoring the conclusion of the Greece — Greece’s bicentennial year of March — on March — March 25th.
Also today, the administration announced an Action Plan to Ease the Burden of Housing Costs, taking a series of actions to address one of the largest items in a typical family’s budget and one of the largest drivers of inflation in our economy.
As President, Biden has said tackling inflation is his top economic priority. The best thing we can do to ease the burden of housing costs is to boost the supply of quality housing, including building more new homes and preserving existing federal support and market-rate affordable housing.
Today’s action plan includes legislative and administration — administrative actions that will help close America’s housing supply shortfalls in five years, starting with creation — the creation of preservation of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the next three years.
This is the most comprehensive all-of-government effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history when aligned with other policies that the President has proposed to reduce housing costs and ensure affordability, such as rental assistance and down payment assistance. Closing the gap will mean more affordable rents and more attainable hone- — homeownership for Americans in every community.
Also today — we have a lot — we have a lot. Today marks six months since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Since then, the team has hit the ground running to deliver results for communities across the country. In six months, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has already begun helping fight climate change, advancing environmental justice, boosting domestic manufacturing, strengthening critical links in our supply chain, and lowering costs for working families.
To date, the Biden-Harris administration has announced over $110 billion to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize ports and airports, replace lead pipes to deliver clean water, and high — and expand high-speed Internet.
This includes funding for — for over 4,300 specific projects touching over 3,200 communities across all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico as well.
Fifty-three states and territories have appointed state infrastructure coordinators, responding to the call from Infrastructure Coordinator Landrieu to appoint an individual to coordinate efforts in a state — in a state, along with serving as a single point of contact for the White House Infrastructure implema- — Implementation Team.
The President, Vice President, and Cabinet have traveled on more than 125 trips to over 40 states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico, to demonstrate how the President is delivering on this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
The last thing — I promise — and then we’ll go to your questions. But before I do that, I just want to say a few words about how honored I am to be here with all of you today in this role, in this room, standing behind this podium.
I am obviously acutely aware that my presence at this podium represents a few firsts. I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all three of those to hold this position.
I would not be here today if it were not for generations of barriers — barrier-breaking people before me. I stand on their shoulders. If it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me, I would not be here.
But I benefit from their sacrifices. I have learned from their ex- — excellence, and I am forever grateful to them. Representation does matter. You hear us — you hear us say this often in this administration. And no one understands this better than President Biden, which is why his administration is not only the most diverse in history, it is filled with barrier-breaking women and men, from the Vice President, to the Cabinet Secretaries, to his Supreme Court nominee, to senior staff throughout this administration.
When I did my first briefing as Principal Deputy
Press Secretary last year, almost a year ago, I said at this podium that this podium, this room, this building belong to the American people. We work for them. It’s not about me. It’s about them. It was true then, and it is very true indeed today.
On Jen’s first briefing, she made clear that the President’s and her priority was to bring truth and transparency back to this briefing room. Jen did a great job at that. And I will work every day to continue to ensure we are meeting the President’s high expectation of truth, honesty, and transparency.
I also have tremendous respect for the work that you all do, which I know it’s not easy. The press plays a vital role in our democracy, and we need a strong and independent press now more than ever.
We might not see eye to eye here in this room all the time, which is okay. That give-and-take is so incredibly healthy and it’s a part of our democracy. And I look forward to engaging with all of you on that.
With that, please kick us off.
Q Thanks, Karine. And congratulations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q While you’ve been here before, it’s your first as Press Secretary, so on that — in that vein, I just want to ask you: Do you view your primary role here as speaking for the President and promoting his interests? Or are you — you know, or are you committed to providing the unvarnished truth to the American people so that they know what their government is doing on their behalf?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I actually think that’s hand in hand. I don’t think there’s — that there is any separation to that.
As I said at the end of my opening here, the President believes in truth and transparency. That’s what he expects from us. Clearly, we are here to talk about his platform and what he is doing to deliver for the American people. But he wants to make sure we’re doing this trans- — in a transparent way, in a truthful way, and an honest way.
Q And just on a housekeeping note, I know the pool has to gather at 3:30 for the event, but I’m hoping you might be able to stay here to take questions from more folks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Absolutely.
Q And then, on a substantive note, this weekend’s attack in Buffalo — the shooter professed ideology, echoed in some ways the hate — the hateful rhetoric espoused by the Charlottesville white supremacist protesters almost five years ago that motivated the President to run for this office back then, as he’s often talked about.
What more does the President believe he has to do and the country has to do to combat that sort of hatred?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me just say we still need to learn more about the motivation for the shooting as law enforcement do — does their work. But we don’t — we don’t need anything else to stay — to state a clear moral truth — right? — which is: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Hate must not have a safe harbor.
This is something that the President says very often, especially in these horrific incidents that we have seen time and time again. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism. And we must reject hatred and extres- — extremism ideologies that seek to divide Americans, whenever we find it in our society. It is antithetical to who we are as a country and fuels — and fuels violence as well.
Q Thanks, Karine. Congratulations also.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q In that vein, there’s polling that shows one in three Americans believe in some element of “replacement theory.” You just spoke in very broad brushstrokes there. Are there specifics that this White House is willing to do, willing to take in order to stop this form of thinking from further seeping out of the fringe and into the mainstream?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, we’re going to continue to call this out. As we have talked about many times, the President, at every chance he’s had — when we’ve seen a violent attack like this that is — that is — as we, you know, say “with hatred and racially motivated” — he calls it out and calls it what it is.
So, one thing I do want to touch on is, like, domestic terrorism a little bit, which kind of hopefully touches on your question.
You know, we have been working to implement the government-wide national strategy to counter domestic terrorism, which President Biden directed his natiol [sic] — national security team to develop on his first full day in office, recognizing that has — that has evolved into the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today.
That work includes improving information sharing throughout federal, state, and local law enforcement on domestic terrorism threats and analysis; adding resources to prevent domestic terrorism’s recruitment and mobilization to violence, including online by increasing information sharing with the technology sector; increasing our support for federal, state, and local law enforcement in addressing domestic terrorism nationwide; confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism and rooting out hate and bigotry.
This weekend’s terrible events in Buffalo are just another vivid reminder of the urgency of that work and continuing to move towards that.
Q But on this notion that immigrants and others are believed to be, by some, taking over and pushing white people out of positions of authority in this country, which is at the heart of so much of this terror that is being spewed online, does the White House believe these views are being amplified by Tucker Carlson?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, like I said, we are still figuring out the motivation of all of this. And we are very clear — look, you know, as you all know, watching what happened in Charlottesville was a major factor in the President deciding to run — right? — and back in 2017. You know, many of those dark voices still exist today, and the President is — is determined, as he was back then. And he is determined today to make sure that we fight back against those forces of hate and evil and of — and violence.
So that’s what we’re going to keep doing. That’s what we’re going to continue to call out.
But we reject hatred and extremism ideologies.
Q But just in the interest of — I apologize. In the interest of time — I know you’ve got to go —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — but are there elected officials that this administration views as threatening in this way?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, it’s the — what we’re going to continue to do — anyone — any one person — right? — doesn’t matter who they are, who spews this type of hate — hatred, we are going to — we’re going to call out. We’re going to condemn that. I’m not going to speak or call out any individual names. I’m saying that this is something that we need to call out.
And so this is what the President has been doing and will continue to do that. You saw him say that in his statement over the weekend. And that’s — you know, now he’s going to go to Buffalo and visit with the victims that were affected by this violence that we saw on Saturday.
Go ahead, Jeff.
Q Thanks, Karine. And congratulations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q President Putin said today that Russia has no objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, which seems to be a shift in policy for them. What is the White House’s reaction to that? And can you give us an update on U.S. efforts to help bridge the gap between Turkey and Finland and Sweden over NATO?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on the Turkey part — I’ll take that first — I know that there was a question about how they were feeling or what they — what the Turkey government — Turkish government said about Finland and Sweden.
The Secretary spoke to this again, as I just said, yesterday during his press conference in Berlin — a meeting with his counterparts in NATO. And so, what he said is, we are “confident…we will reach consensus” as an Alliance on an entry process should they decide to apply. That was what Secretary Blinken said yesterday.
I cannot speak for the Kremlin. You know, this is — this — we believe — when it — we believe in NATO’s open-door policies and the right of each country to decide its own future — foreign policy and security arrangements. That’s what we believe.
And so, we welcome the recent statements from governments of Finland and Sweden on their intention to seek NATO membership. We will strongly support these applications when they are formally presented in Brussels. Both Finland and Sweden are close and valued defense partners of the United States and of NATO.
Q Secondly, when and why did the President decide to have additional troops sent to Somalia?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I know that was just announced I believe today — earlier today.
So the President has approved a request from the Secretary of Defense to reestablish a persistent U.S. military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has increased in strength and poses a heightened threat.
This is a repositioning of forces already in theater who have traveled in and out of Somalia on an episodic basis since the previous administration made the decision to withdraw. That was back in January of 2021, as you might recall.
As we’ve emphasized throughout his administration, we’re approaching counterterrorism in a manner tailored to the particular terrorist threats that we see emerging from particular countries.
Today in Somalia, we face al Qaeda’s largest and wealthiest global affiliate, and one that holds substantial territorial safe haven. The decision to reintroduce a small but persistent presence was made, first and foremost, to maximize the safety and effectiveness of our force and enable them to provide better support of our partners.
Additionally, our partners can benefit from our more consistent support and engagement in addressing the threat posed by al-Shabaab by having a small but persistent U.S. military presence. And while there is risk, it is manageable. That’s the way that we are seeing this approach.
DOD is working to elevate local conditions, including those following the Somalia presidential election yesterday, and is engaging partners in the region, including the Somali government, to determine the best way forward.
Go ahead, MJ.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two questions for you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q One, there are some elected officials and media figures who are publicly espousing xenophobic, racist, and extremist views that may be helping to spread white nationalism. You just told my colleague here that you don’t want to call out any names. Why don’t you want to do that? Does that come from the President himself?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I think because it doesn’t matter who it is. What — if a person espouses hatred, we need to call that out. I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth on names and who said what.
We’re just saying: If someone does that, if there’s an individual that is espousing hate, xenophobia, you know, has — you know, has just white supremacy-type of extremism, we need to call that out. And this President has done that. He’s done that at every — at every unfortunate — every unfortunate, violent event that we have seen.
As we know, Charlottesville, as I just mentioned, was the reason that he decided to jump in, into this election, back in 2020 — 2019.
Q One more thing — I’ll just wait a second.
(Press pool departs for the President’s bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Greece.]
Q Can we just explain for people who are watching: The pool is departing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep. Yep. For folks who are watching, the pool is departing. They’re — the President is getting ready to have his event.
Q We don’t want anybody to think they’re walking out on you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) No, no. It’s okay.
Q We’re not walking out on you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, you know — you know, that would be a great — that would be a great first day, one for the books: The press gets up and walks away. (Laughter.)
Q But they did.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They — well, for — yeah. They — they — the President is much more important than I am, for sure.
Q And those of us who stayed will be rewarded, correct? (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I will — you guys all deserve rewards. How about that? (Laughter.)
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q I have to leave.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, MJ. I’m so sorry. Go ahead.
Q On a separate topic.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q The President told my colleague Jeremy Diamond on Friday, when he asked if the administration should have acted sooner on baby formula shortage: “If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have.” This doesn’t seem like a situation that would have required mindreading. As you know, the recalls date back to February. I believe Politico reported months ago that the FDA was first warned about the suspected bacteria issue as early as September.
Are there any specific actions that this administration took — meetings, phone calls, briefings — in February or any earlier to begin addressing this potential shortage?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, you’ve heard us talk about this. You’ve seen my colleagues on your networks talking about what we have done. Since — you know, since February, we’ve been working aro- — on this 24/7.
But I do want to give you a little bit of an update of where we are: So, getting more safe infant formula onto shelves across the country is one of the President’s top priorities. Right? This is something that he is focusing on very acutely. And again, I said 24/7 we have been working on this since we have — since we learned about this back in February.
It’s important to remember this shortage exists because Abbott closed the facility — closed a facility because of safety concerns from the FDA. The FDA is working closely with Abbott to bring the facility back online safely. That’s the key here: safely. We want to make sure that this is done in a safe way.
We’re very — we are very close to having a path forward to safely reopening the facility. We can — you can expect a — an announcement from FDA later today on that that will go into more details.
We’re also moving as quickly as possible to safely bring in additional product from other countries. As soon as today as well, we will be able to make an announcement on the expedited process to bring additional safe condu- — product to the American stores shel- — to American store shelves.
And throughout the weekend, we’ve been working closely with manufacturers and retailers to identify transportation and logistical needs to increase the amount and spread of FDA-approved formula being shipped into the country and ensure that formula is quickly moving from factories to retailers.
The President understands. He gets this. He gets how stressful it is for parents trying to feed their children, which is why we’re leaving no stone unturned to make more safe formula available.
If parents need help finding formula, I encourage them to consult their pediatrician or visit HHS.gov/formula. But we have been working on this from the — from February — our administration has been.
Q As — we were just curious whether there are specific meetings, briefings, you know, phone calls that you can point us to.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything specific for you to point to. I’m — I’m happy to go back and — and get that — you know, make sure that we are fully transparent on what we’ve been doing.
But this has been — this is an important, you know, this is an important priority, a top priority for the President. He is — his team has been working overtime to make sure that we get formula back on the shelves. And we want to do this in a safe way.
And again, we cannot forget how we got here. Abbott closed the facility because of safety concerns from the FDA. The FDA wanted to make sure that we — formula was going out in a safe way. And that is the job of the FDA, and that is the job of this administration as well.
Q And just very quickly, on Abbott: Secretary Becerra said today, in terms of when things would be back to normal, that, “Abbott is the one that could tell you the timeline…We don’t run their plants.” Do you know if anyone from the federal government is currently at the plant or has visited the plant to get a sense of where things stand?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any information about if anyone is on the plant. Again, I can go back to our team and figure that out more specifically, but there are a lot of — what I can say is there are a lot of dates floating around out there. But at the end of the day, the infant formula market is tight because the Michigan Abbott facility is offline currently, which is what we’re trying to do — this is the — the announcement that you guys will hear from FDA later today on how we’re helping them to do that.
We’re taking a range of steps to get more supply onto shelves from domestic and international locations, and offering a suit — a suite of resources to move supply onto the market.
As the Secretary said, Abbott can speak on it — to an exact timeline for reopening, but FDA is and will be prepared to effectively and quickly certify moving out safe products onto shelf, as it is obligated to. And so that is going to be our focus. FDA is going to work closely with Abbott and make sure that we get them running again.
Go ahead, Nancy.
Q Thanks, Karine. Congratulations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q When you talk about bringing — importing more product imminently, what is the criteria going to be for which formula can be imported? Will the administration allow formula that was not produced in FDA-approved factories overseas to be imported or European brands, for example, that aren’t currently sold in the U.S.?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, as Dr. Califf was on — on various networks today, the FDA have said that it will release guidance as soon as today on how major formula manufacturers can bring in product that is not currently being produced for the U.S. market, as you’re alluding to there, Nancy, and to your question.
Companies will need to apply with the FDA, and FDA is prepared to review applications quickly and respond to them rapidly. FDA will prioritize review of applications that are most likely to be successful and will get the most formula to U.S. shelves as quickly as possible.
All companies will meet the FDA’s gold standard for quality control, and only safe products will come to America’s shelves as — as the FDA Commissioner said and explained in detail this morning.
At the White House, what are our — our role, what we’ll be doing, is we will have alerted embassies, retailers, and manufacturers to identify potential companies that would make use of the new FDA import- — importation process.
Once FDA has finalized its rules, we will be ready to provide information to the public on using the new system quickly and safely and bring new supply to the market.
Q And New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says the President should be invoking the Defense Production Act to increase supply more quickly. Is the President still considering that? And if not, why not?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, we’re pretty much where we were before on the DPA. We’re leaving no stone unturned and every option is on the table, as we have been saying for the past several days.
I have no update on the DPA and where we are. But what we’re — what we’re taking action is to make more supplies available as soon as possible, as you’ve been hearing me say. That is our prior- — our priority, our main goal. That’s happening by increasing imports, as I just laid out how we’re going to do that process, and working closely with manufacturers to help them quickly ramp up production. And so that’s going to be our focus.
Q And then finally, when you say that you’re offering these retailers and producers more assistance, what kind of assistance are you talking about? What kind of assistance can the White House or the administration provide to get supply to store shelves more quickly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, we’re talking about logistical needs and — and any technical help is what we were talking about. But since the President calls on Thursday to manufacturers and retailers, which we — which we read out, the White House has been in close communication to follow up on those conversations.
The White House is having ongoing conversations with the four major infant formula to work with them to identify transportation, logistical, and supplier hurdles to increasing production of formula at their U.S. and FDA-approved facilities to expand the amount and speed of FDA-approved formula being shipped into the country and ensure that formula is quickly moving to retailers from factories.
We are also in ongoing communications, as we talk about retailers here as well, with Target and Amazon and Walmart and other leading retailers for baby formula to identify parts of the country that may be at risk of critically low supply of infant formula, and have offered to work with manufacturers and retailers to bring more formula to those parts of the country, including the U.S. government transportation and logistical support.
Last, we are also contacting suppliers to infant formula manufacturers to inform them that their materials are critical for boosting U.S. infant formula production and they should prioritize their production and delivery.
So, essentially, in short, we want them to know we’re standing ready to provide the resources or support needed to move safely to get — to get this to the shelves as soon as possible.
Q Yeah. COVID cases are up 61 percent in the last two weeks. Hospitalizations are up almost 25 percent. Is the White House concerned that the pandemic has not moved on from us?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, you know, Dr. Jha was here not too long ago. I think he — very, very early in his — in his tenure, he stopped by and answered all of your questions. And he said this is a — this is tricky — right? — when it comes to COVID.
And the thing that we have to remember and we keep saying from here is that people have to get vaccinated; they have to get boosted. That is the way to really start moving forward from — from COVID. And that’s been the President’s focus in putting together a comprehensive strategy to make sure that that is happening. And that’s why you’ve seen that success of more than 200 million people who have been vaccinated.
And so we’re going to continue to have that message. Again, it’s — it’s a — COVID is tricky, right? This is a once-in-a-generation pandemic, you know. And so — but what we’re going to continue to do is do the job of the federal government and make sure that we — you know, we keep the American public as safe as possible and communicating on what we need to do to move forward.
Q Just in terms of that communication, Dr. Jha did come here but it was a while ago, and the regular COVID briefings with the CDC director and other health advisors have fallen off a cliff. What is your view on whether these briefings should be happening?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think they will be happening. I don’t have anything — any update for you on that. Dr. Jha is happy to come back. I think he’s asked to come back to the briefing to speak directly to you — to all of you.
I’m sure that they will be having a briefing pretty soon. I don’t have any — any list in front of me to read out to you.
But yes, it is important to continue to communicate to the American public. And we’re going to continue to do that.
Q A couple of questions on Buffalo. We understand that the shooter did purchase his guns legally, but he did have a history of mental health issues and was held for an evaluation last year. So does the White House believe he should have been prevented from owning a gun because of that history? And how does the administration propose doing so in the future?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So just me a second, because I — I really want to touch on this. It’s really important.
Our nation is facing a mental health crisis, so it’s important to call it that — one that is worsened by acts of violence, like the one we saw in Buffalo, that can traumatize communities, especially communities of color.
And anyone seeking support in the wake of shootings like this should contact Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. Help is available 24/7, 365 days a week — day of the year, I should say — for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or — or human-caused disaster.
We are committed to expanding access to mental health for all Americans. The American Rescue Plan made historic investment in mental health and substance use — substance use care.
And, in his first State of the Union, the President unveiled his vision for transforming mental health in the United States.
His comprehensive strategy focuses on building a system that works for everyone by increasing the supply and diversity of the mental health workforce, connecting more people to care by lowering costs and other barriers, and creating environments that help prevent mental health problems and support recovery.
While we are committed to this work, I want to also underscore that the overwhelming majority of individuals with mental health problems do not commit acts of violence.
And so, comments that make this about mental health only further stigma- — stigmatizing mental health issues and detract from the other issues, like gun violence, that must con- — that must be confronted in our society.
So, just want to make that clear that we are not stigmatizing.
Q But should he have been prevented from owning a gun?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, this is — this goes back to making sure that, you know, we have gun reform. Right? This goes back to making sure that we — we — you know, the President is going to continue to call on Congress to make that happen.
And so, you know, when it comes — I just wanted to make sure when we talk about mental health, we talk about it in its fullness. And like I said, not every — it’s not — it — you know, not every individual that has a mental health problem commits — commits acts of violence. So, I just want to make sure that we don’t stigmatize it.
Q And just a quick — another one.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q Would the President support the death penalty for the shooter if he’s eventually convicted?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, this is being — this is being investigated by — by the Department of Justice. I don’t have — it’s not — it’s not my place from here — this podium — to go be- — to go beyond that.
Q Yeah. Regarding gun violence, does the President plan to use his remarks tomorrow in Buffalo to push for gun control and gun reform? And will that be a key part of what his message is tomorrow in Buffalo?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President, you know, is going to go — you know, he really wanted to go to Buffalo. He made it sure that — that he went there before he — he went to Asia. He wants to go there and comfort the people who are — who — who went through this violence on Saturday, and wanted to offer — you know, offer some comfort and listen to them, talk to them, see how they’re doing. And so that is going to be his priority with the First Lady.
I don’t want to get ahead of what he’s going to say. I will let the President speak for himself when we get there tomorrow.
Q Does he plan to use this moment, though, to call on Congress to pass gun reform measures, or is there recognition that that’s just not something that’s possible right now in Congress? He’s obviously pushed for these things here in the past, during his first term in office.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I think the President, as he’s done for this past year, is going to continue to call for gun reform. That is not going to — you know, that’s not going to change. That is something that — that he has done this past year every time we have heard of this gun violence.
You know, our country is facing an epidemic on gun violence that is costing lives every day. We saw that in Buffalo, as we’re talking about, and in examples every day that might not make the news but tear up families and communities. This is a top priority for the President, and it’s been through- — has been throughout his career.
I do want to say that, you know, what we saw in the country this weekend are an urgent reminder of how important it is to have confirmed leadership at
AFT [ATF]. So I want to — do take that moment to say AFT [ATF] agents are playing a key role in the investigation in Buffalo, and they are risking their lives every day to combat domestic terrorism and crack down on gun traffickers to keep our streets safe from violent crime.
If the Senate wants to get their — get their back, and — they should confirm Steve Dettelbach to lead the agency. Dettelbach is a career prosecutor who has confirmed — who was confirmed uni- — unanimously last time he was before the Senate. He was the support of former federal prosecution — he has the support of former prosecutors from both parties, including the team that prosecuted the deadly Oklahoma City bombing domestic terrorism case. He has the backing of major law enforcement groups, including one that represents many of the rank-and-file ATF agents he’s going to lead as ATF director.
So, that is something that is really important that we make sure that we get that done, and we’re calling on Congress to do that.
Q All right. Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q Karine, congratulations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks.
Q Nice to see you up there.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q The President’s Twitter account posted the other day, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.” How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, are you talking about a specific tweet?
Q He tweeted, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share?”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, we have talked about — we have talked about this this past year, about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share. And that is important to do. And that is something that, you know, the President has been, you know, working on every day when we talk about inflation and lowering costs.
And so it’s very important that, you know, as we’re seeing costs rise, as we’re talking about how to, you know — you know, build an America that is safe, that’s equal for everyone, and doesn’t leave anyone behind, that is an important part of that as well.
Q But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think we encourage those who have done very well — right? — especially those who care about climate change, to support a fairer tax — tax code that doesn’t change — that doesn’t charge manufacturers’ workers, cops, builders a higher percentage of their earnings; that the most fortunate people in our nation — and not let the — that stand in the way of reducing energy costs and fighting this existential problem, if you think about that as an example, and to support basic collective bargaining rights as well. Right? That’s also important.
But look, it is — you know, by not — if — without having a fairer tax code, which is what I’m talking about, then all — every — like manufacturing workers, cops — you know, it’s not fair for them to have to pay higher taxes than the folks that — who are — who are — who are not paying taxes at all or barely have.
Q But was does that have to do with inflation? The President said, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.”
Jeff Bezos came out and tweeted about that. He said, “The newly created disinformation board should review this tweet.” Would you be okay with that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it’s not a huge mystery why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth — right? — opposes an economic agenda that is for the middle class, that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul — right? — and that’s what we’re talking about; that’s why we’re — we’re talking about lowering inflation here — and adds to the historic deficit reduction the President is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share. That is what we’re talking about.
Q Okay. And then just one on the trip tomorrow: How come the President is visiting Buffalo after a senseless tragedy there, but he couldn’t visit Waukesha after 6 were killed and 61 injured in an attack on a Christmas parade there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, he’s visited many communities. Buffalo — he was — we — you know, he was — he’s able to go tomorrow to Buffalo before the trip. That is something that was important for him to do. But he has visited many — many other communities. This is not — Buffalo is not the first community, sadly, that he has to go up to because of a violent attack. So, you know, that’s not — that’s not the first one. So he’s been to many others, sadly.
Q You outlined some steps that the administration has taken related to baby formula.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Do you have any sense of the timeline for the imports that the FDA is considering? Obviously, for parents, this is a hour-by-hour, day-by-day concern. And is the President expressing any worry about how quickly this can be resolved, since parents are dealing with this on an urgent basis?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Like I said, this is something that — this is incredibly important to the President. We want this to happen as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. That is why we’re working with manufacturers and retailers, as I just laid out. That’s why FDA is working with Abbott to open up that facility.
So we want to get this done as quickly as possible. And that’s why our — we’ve been working 24/7 to make that happen.
Q Do you have a sense of the timeline when FDA announces? Does that mean the production will be up and running in a matter of days? Do you know when imports would be approved?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I don’t have a timeline on that. I know, again, we want to make this happen quickly. FDA, again, is going to be working with the Abbott facility. They’re going to have an announcement later on how that’s going to happen. They’re going to work closely with them to make sure that we do it as quickly as possible. We know how urgent and important this is to parents who need to make sure that they have safe formula for their babies and infants.
Q To the back?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. Two questions, please. Does the President see any link to the white supremacist theories that — like the replacement theory — and what he started calling “ultra-MAGA” or sometimes he just refers to as “extreme Republican” politics? Does he see that as part of it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I think what the President believes and has done is call it out. Right? I think, you know, this is — this is not about politics. This is about people’s lives.
What we saw on Saturday and many times — you think about El Paso in Texas, you think about the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, you think about the Pulse nightclub in Florida, the Mother Emanuel in South Carolina. These are events that are very — that have been led by some dark for- — forces that still exist today. And so, it is important to call that out.
We understand that there is still a lot of work to do. And so that is — when you talk about people’s lives in this way, it’s not about politics. It’s about making sure that we’re doing everything that we can, you know, to uproot this evil that we’re seeing, this hatred that we’re seeing. And so that’s what the pers- — the President is going to continue to do to make sure that we’re working — we’re working towards that.
Q Okay, but when he talks about “ultra-MAGA,” as he has started to a lot, is he — would he include that in the bundle of what he considers “ultra-MAGA”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, again, this is about the lives of people who were taken in a violent way, in an abhorrent way. And so, the focus for the President is to make sure that, you know, we call this out — we call out white supremacy, we call out hatred.
As I’ve said before, this is still being investigated. This is still being looked at. But the moralness — right? — the moral center of this should be called out.
And that’s going to be the focus. That’s what you’re going to see the President do tomorrow. He’s going to meet with the victims. He’s going to have conversations. He’s going to offer them comfort. He’s going to listen to them and hear what is it that they want to share with him.
And he’s going to continue to work with Congress and call on Congress to call for — to work on gun reform, which is really important here as well.
Q And, sorry, I had a second question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q A very quick one, I promise. Is there any update on whether Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela will be invited to the Americas Summit? And, generally, when are you going to be announcing invitations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have any update for you on that — on invitations or when we’re going to announce invitations or who’s been invited. As soon as I — as soon as we have that, we’ll promise to share.
Okay. Go ahead.
Q Hey, congratulations.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
Q Two questions on internal policy review or internal government reviews that have actually fallen out of the headlines. The first is on the investigation of Border Patrol agents that — in the — I guess it was September of last year — who were there for the Del Rio arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q It’s been eight months at this point, and we don’t have a conclusion of that review. The President had wanted accountability; he demanded it at the time. Secretary Mayorkas said that there would be a conclusion to that review within weeks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q So why is it taking so long? And is there any urgency, given the fact that you’re going to — you’re — the administration is now preparing for the arrival of potentially new surges of migrants?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, it’s a — it’s a very good question. I don’t have an update on that. The Department of Homeland Security — that’s where — you mentioned Secretary Mayorkas — that’s where that review sits. And as soon as we have an update, I promise to share that, or we — or they will share that. That won’t — that would not come from here. I just don’t have an update. But I — I understand the question.
Q And the second review that hasn’t concluded, it appears: The administration said that after the terrorist attack in Fort Worth at a synagogue, they were going to review how an individual that was a British-born citizen, who had been on a watchlist 10 years prior, somehow was able to enter the United States, and that they were going to look at lessons learned.
You mentioned how there are increased threats of foreign-born terrorism as well as domestic-born terrorism.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Where is that review? What lessons have been learned? And is that a priority for the administration?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t — I don’t have an update on that. I will have to check in with our team to see if we have something to share on — on that particular review. And so, I’ll do that; I’ll check in with the team. And you should reach out to us afterwards and see what we can do.
Go ahead. Hey, Jenny.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two on the economy. China’s industrial output and consumer spending came in at the worst level since the pandemic began. Are you worried that this will cause a global recession, and including here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say that again? What — what came back?
Q China’s industrial output — which, of course, has an impact on the global economy and the U.S. economy — came in at the worst level since the pandemic began. And I’m worried — wondering if you’re worried about a global recession.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, I — the one thing I can tell you is that I know that there’s always a question about the economic strategy around China. I can give you that update.
I have not seen that specific data that you’re speaking of. But the United States has strong economic trade ties in the Indo-Pacific. And so — but we agree it is essential for us to stop — to step up economically in the region and to do it fast.
We need a new model of economic engagement and trade when — as we’re talking about that region specifically. The past couple of years have highlighted real gaps in global economy, like vulnerable supply chains and corruption and tax havens and lack of innovation and creative — creativity holding us back.
The old models did nothing to address these issues that underpin our growth. And we will — and will define the coming decades and our ability to deliver for our people.
That’s why we’re working intensely on develop — developing an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. We’ve gotten a lot of interest from countries in the region. We’ve also spent months engaging Congress and labor.
So, as it relates to our economic framework, it’s going to focus on building agreements with Indo-Pacific partners and, one, developing — one, developing a modern digital economy, including opening the door for small and medium businesses; reducing — two, reducing supply chain vulnerabilities and diversifying our supply chains to drive investment that will create good jobs for people at home and Indo-Pacific; three, treating climate change like the economy issue it is by investing together in the green economy; and also, building a fairer economy with tax and anti-corruption practices that level in the playing field not just for workers, but also for businesses too.
And that’s kind of our strategy — economic strategy in the region. That particular data I have not seen yet, so I would need to check in with our team.
Q And then one more, overall on the economy. The dollar is very strong right now, and all indications are that it’s damaging the domestic and global economy. And I’m worri- — wondering if you share that view and if it’s time for the Biden administration to address this.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, that — I would just — going to have to check with our team. I’ve not seen that report, but I’ll check in with our team on that.
Q And quickly, the follow-up on the economic strategy in the Indo-Pacific.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Is the President expected to lay that out on his trip there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything new to share or preview for you on his trip. As you know, Jake is going to be here — Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor — the President’s National Security Advisor is going to be here on Wednesday. And he’ll talk more and give a little bit more depth on what’s happening and what we’re going to be doing — the messaging and the goals in Asia.
We’ll also have calls. As you know, we tend to do these background calls leading up to the trip. And those background calls will give you a little bit more information on Indo-Pacific. Kind of — you know, what we’re — the goals and de- — what we’re delivering, I don’t have anything specific on that.
Go ahead, Steven.
Q Just a quick one. Probably a good question for Jake, but I’ll ask you because it’s timely. Does the White House have a response to the Indian move over the weekend to block wheat exports?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have an update. I don’t have anything for you on that. Yeah.
Q Karine, yes. On the — several civil rights groups are calling for a forum, a summit on hate crimes. Is that something you all are considering?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, we’ve heard — we’ve heard of this — of the summit. I don’t have anything for you to preview or to confirm on if we’re going to have that summit here at the White House.
Clearly, we’re constantly talking to organizations and leaders in the communities and having constant dialogue, but I just don’t have anything new on that.
Q And one more quickly.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q This morning, the Supreme Court ruled against a man who immigrated from India. And he — they ruled that he was deportable essentially because he checked the wrong box on his driver’s license application. Is that a case that the Biden administration might try and intervene on? Or what do you think of that decision?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — my guess is it’s going to go to — that would be a Department of Justice for it to decide, not for us to decide on. And so, I would refer you to DOJ.
Q Thank you. And congratulations. I was hoping you could offer a little more of an explanation about something you said earlier, where you said that they were — did not want to call out by name individuals who had been espousing racist theories that could be fueling violence. I guess my question is: Why not, particularly if they’re individuals who have very large platforms and theoretically carry a lot of influence? This would be — people accused of doing so include the number three Republican in the House and the host of the number one cable news show on television. Why not call them out by name?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, what we saw on Saturday was devastating and horrific. You know, it is — what we want to do is making sure that we send a very clear message that hate must have no safe harbor. And we must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism. And we must reject hatred and extreme — extreme ideologies that seek to divide Americans, wherever we find it in society; it is antithetical to who we are as a country. And that is what we want to make sure that we’re doing.
It doesn’t matter who it is. This — this is something, like, morally — like, mor- — the moral truth of this is that, you know, it is a racial-motivated hate crime, and it’s a — abhorrent.
And so, that’s what we need to call out. It doesn’t — it doesn’t matter who that is. And that’s what we’re trying to make clear here. We’re not — we’re not going to get into politics here about this. We want to make sure that we’re calling out what we’re seeing. These are people’s lives.
At the top of this — of the briefing — I talked about 10 people — 10 people who are doing what many of us might be doing on a Saturday — is going shopping. You know, I know I go to the supermarket with my — with my seven-year-old very often. If it’s not on a Saturday, it’s on a Sunday, before the week starts, to get the needs — to get what we need for the week.
I mean, this is what happened to everyday people, from 20 years old to 86 years old. That’s what we saw on Saturday. And so, we need to call that out and do everything that we can to really deal with this issue.
And we know we have a lot of work to do.
Q But you know it matters to some, right? It does matter to some people who it is that’s calling it out. And when you don’t call the — when you don’t call out the individual, they feel as if you’re backing away from the issue.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, but we’re not.
Q (Inaudible) to the point.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we’re not backing. How are we backing away from the issue?
Q Well, because you won’t name who it is.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But here’s the thing: We’re calling out what is happening. We’re going to the heart of the issue, the hatred of the issue. Why — but I guess my point is, you know, we are — this is a President — right? — who decided to run because of what he saw in Charlottesville — right? — and he talked about the soul of the nation. And it was something that propelled him to jump into the 2020 primary — because of what this showed, because it was, again, against who we are as a country, as he believed it to be.
And so, you know, it is something that is important to remember. And this is a President that calls it out every time we see this horrific violence.
And it’s not about — once you get into calling out people’s names, then you move away from that issue, right? You move away from that issue. So, that’s why I’m not going to do that from here. I’m going to focus on — as I did when I started — the 10 lives that were murdered. Everyday people doing everyday things. And that is why the President is going to Buffalo tomorrow.
Go ahead. Go ahead, April.
Q Karine, first of all, congratulations. Two polar opposite questions.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)
Q I know.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, boy. (Laughs.)
Q One on the issue, Saturday. But I’m going to take it in another vein, which you just mentioned.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q The President ran on the issue of the soul of this nation.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q Charlottesville. He speaks now of equity and inclusion. He has strengthened civil rights in DOJ. He’s strengthened civil rights in other departments in this White House. But where are the teeth when it comes to changing this hate that has been plaguing this nation since the inception of this nation? Where’s the teeth for the President people are expecting when it comes to these issues?
And on the summit issue, is the White House looking at what Bill Clinton did — the precedent of having the Race Initiative, which brought people from all walks of life together to discuss issues of race — the browning of America? Is the President looking at that as well?
And then I have another question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. You stopped there. Okay.
You know, now, this is a President that has been very clear about race in this country. Right?
When he walked in, he talked about the multiple crises that were facing us as a country. He talked about COVID, the economy, climate, and where we are with — with race. And he’s called it a crisis.
And he made it a point in his administration — what he can do on the federal level — to really deal with that in a way that we’ve not seen before.
You know, one of the first things that he signed when he walked into the — this presidency is an executive order to make sure that there’s fairness, equality, and representation in — in the federal government and federal agencies. And that is something that Susan Rice and her team, the Domestic Policy Council, has taken on, and they’ve made that a priority.
Look, I know, April — and we all know — there’s still so much work to be done. This President is committed to that work, and he has not shied away from it. He has called out the hatred that we have seen, the violence that we have seen when it comes to racially motivated attacks. He has been very, very clear on that.
Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. It is our — is the team here looking to see what else we can do? Absolutely. And so, we’re just going to continue to do that work.
But I do want to say, you know, tomorrow — again, tomorrow, you know, the President wants to go to a community, he wants to grieve with them, and he wants to send a message to the entire country that we stand behind them and with them. And that is so important, as well as the President. He will try to bring some comfort to the community, particularly to those who lost loved ones. And, you know — you know, we hear him discuss some of things he said Saturday about “hate must have no safe harbor.” You heard me say that. It’s probably the third time I’ve said this in this briefing. And it really does — it doesn’t in this country.
And so any — any racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. And so that’s what you’re going to see him do. And that is going to be the focus tomorrow.
Q And the second other opposite of the question. You’re making history —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — on so many levels. So many communities are so proud of you, and we’re hearing it on social media everywhere. You’re the first. What does that mean for the broader community, particularly Washington — white male-dominated still, even though we had the first Black president — and the broader society that is — majority does not look like you?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know.
Q What does this say? Because it’s not window dressing; it’s more than that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s a very good question, April. I’m going to answer it in a — in a kind of a personal way, if that’s okay, since you asked it in a personal way.
So, I have not read a lot of the things that have been written about me because I wanted to focus on the work at hand. And I do believe it’s not about me, it’s about this place. It’s about what — the work that I have to do every day, that we all have to do as a team to make sure that we communicate with you and communicate with the broader — the broader public.
But there was something that moved me, and I think this speaks to — to what you’re asking, which is: There was a story about my elementary school. I went to Franklin Middle School — Elementary School in Hampstead, New York. And they did a story, and they went to the class — I think I was in sixth grade when I went there; I went for one year — and they talked to the students about me and this moment — and this administration too, which is very important, because I don’t think I would be here — yes, I stand — I stood on so many shoulders, but it does matter who sits in the Oval Office as well. That is very, very real.
And these kids wrote me a letter. And in the letter, they talked about how they can dream bigger because of me standing behind this podium. And that matters. You know, as I started out at the beginning: Representation matters. And not just for girls, but also for boys.
And so, what I hope is that young people get to dream big and dream bigger than they have before by seeing me stand here and answer all of your questions, you know, and have a healthy dialogue, as I discussed.
And so I think it is important, and so I appreciate the question. Thank you.
Q I have to follow that, unfortunately, with some questions about Somalia and Ukraine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q But, first, happy first day. Let me just ask you — (laughter).
Q And now —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And now — (laughs). Okay. All right.
Q It’s a bit of hard left, sorry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, it’s okay. That’s what this is all about. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Q Has President Biden spoken to Somalia’s new leader? Did he or does he plan to congratulate him? And has there been any leader-to-leader discussion about the new troop deployment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. So, I’ll say this — and I think I said earlier that, you know, having — making sure that we’re work- — that we’re working, we’re having — engaging with partners in the region, including the Somalia — the Somali government. So, I did say that about the announcement about what — what you’re asking me here.
But on the election — I want to get back to that — we congratulate the Somali people and their new president who was sworn in last evening, as you know. Somalia now has an opportunity to focus on the political, economic, and security reforms necessary to advance the interests of the people of Somalia.
We encourage their new president and all the Somalian leaders to prioritize strengthening democratic governance and institutions, developing security forces to defeat terrorism, enacting economic reforms, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to the millions of Somalia’s — Somalis suffering from devastating drought.
We look forward to the timely formation of a new government and to partnering with the Somalis — with Somalia’s leaders to achieve our shared goal to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Somalia.
Q Before I move on to Ukraine, so have the two presidents spoken yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have — I don’t have a conversation or call to preview for you.
Q On Ukraine, the President has said he wants to go to Ukraine for a visit. Any movement on that issue?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know that — to your point, he wants to — to visit Ukraine, clearly in the future. But there’s no plans to go at that — at all at this — at this time, I should say.
He sent Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin to Kyiv to demonstrate an — our unwavering commitment to Ukraine. And the First Lady, as you all know, went for Mother’s Day to send an important message that the American people stand with the people of Ukraine.
You know, the President, as you — as you guys know, because we’ve read out some of these calls — speaks to President Zelenskyy and leaders around the world regularly as we organize the world’s response to Russia’s invasion.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. Thank you so much, guys.
I’ll see you on Wednesday, if you — and hopefully I’ll see some folks in Buffalo, and we’ll do this again.
Q Thanks, Karine.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
Q (Inaudible) congratulations.
Q Welcome to the soup.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Thanks, guys.
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