Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan En Route Los Angeles, CA
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Los Angeles, California
1:51 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Hey, everybody. I have a topper for you, and then I’ll hand it over to Jake.
Okay. Whoa. Thanks for joining us for our trip to Los Angeles where the President looks forward to — (eye glasses fall off) — that’s not good — looks forward to hosting fellow leaders from throughout our hemisphere.
The United States actually hosted the first Summit of Americas in Miami in 1994. Now 28 years later, we are meeting to talk about some of the most pressing challenges of our time. The summit will focus on building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future for our hemisphere. The summit is a place to discuss and advance solutions that help — that will help the people of the region.
On that note, we’ve worked hard over the last several months to negotiate hemispheric consensus on several topics. As you — as you may have seen, this morning we announced investments the United States is making to strengthen the region’s health systems and health security.
The pandemic revealed the many cracks in our global health systems and underscored the importance of strong, resilient, and accessible health systems for the entire population, health security, and pandemic preparedness and response.
Tonight, the President will announce the APEP, the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity — APEP. And we’ll have a preview tonight at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time of deliverables to expect tomorrow.
And right now, I will hand it over to Jake Sullivan, the President’s National Security Advisor.
And hold on, guys — it’s bumpy.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thanks. And I’m sorry we’re doing this in the middle of a slightly bumpy ride. So, as Karine said, the U.S. hosted the first Summit of the Americas back in 1994. And this is our second opportunity to host it some 28 years later.
It comes at a moment when the United States and many of our partners in the region are looking to pursue an affirmative vision for the hemisphere that will lead to an Americas that is secure, middle class, and democratic — from Canada to Chile and everywhere in between — but also at a moment of profound challenge, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, as we deal with the climate crisis, as we deal with the pressures of food prices, energy, and so much else.
And so, much of the substance of this summit is designed to tackle the challenges this region is facing head on. And in five areas, we will have significant, substantive deliverables in food, health, in climate, in economic growth, and on migration.
On food, the United States will be announcing $300 million — and the President will talk about this tonight, and then it will be rolled out in the days ahead — $300 million in food security financing, both for the acute challenges the region is facing right now and also to help build more resilient food systems to be able to withstand future shocks.
In addition, we’ll have a number of countries signing up to the Roadmap for Food Security that Secretary Blinken launched at the United Nations a couple of weeks ago. And this region is home to some of the largest food-producing countries in the world, and we’ll be working with our partners to come together around a shared declaration for how we can leverage the agricultural capacity of the Americas to help address the global food security issue.
On climate, the President will announce, and then the Vice President will lead, a Caribbean climate partnership that’s focused on two things: first, greater energy security, as we go through the transition, by getting Caribbean countries access to low-carbon energy sources; and second, climate adaptation and resilience. And the specifics of that will be laid out in a launch event that the Vice President hosts, I believe tomorrow, Thursday.
On health, the President will announce an initiative to help train 500,000 health workers in the Americas over the next five years so that they are equipped and empowered to be able to deal with a range of health challenges, including the remaining challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also much more than that. That will be in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization.
On migration, the President will host a number of other countries, a number of other leaders for the announcement of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which will lay out in four pillars an approach to a migration management that is rooted in shared responsibility and involves source countries, transit countries, and destination countries for the first time ever.
We regard this as an unprecedented set of statements and actions by the countries of the region to deal with a hemispheric crisis that is affecting all of the countries of the hemisphere, not just the United States, and for which all of the countries in the hemisphere need to step up and help solve the problem. And the Los Angeles Declaration will be a very strong step in the direction of doing that.
Accompanying the declaration, the U.S. will have a variety of specific announcements on labor pathways, on cracking down on smuggling networks, and other steps that we will take. And other countries also will be making announcements to show that they’re putting skin in the game to help address this challenge.
And then, finally, as Karine mentioned on economic growth, we’ll be launching the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity tonight. And we will have a number of countries putting out supportive statements.
This builds on the chain of free trade agreements we already have in the hemisphere. And it’s really designed to deal with 21st century challenges like supply chains and decarbonization, but also a vision of economic growth that is rooted in President Biden’s principles about economic growth having to come from the bottom up and the middle out rather than the top down. And we think that that will be highly welcomed in the hemisphere.
One of the elements of the Americas Partnership that we think is very significant and will have lasting effects is institutional reform of the Inter-American Development Bank — adjusting the way in which concessional financing is done, increasing the United States’ commitment to the private sector arm of the IDB, and also bringing other international financial institutions more into the work of the hemisphere, including the IMF.
So there will be some meaty elements to this economic partnership, in addition to setting forth a plan to end up discussing and then negotiating arrangements with other countries on issues like supply chain resilience and decarbonization of the economy.
So, again, on these five areas — food, health, climate, migration, economic growth — we think we will have a potent story to tell. And that story won’t be words, it will be actions both taken and pledged at this summit. And at the end of it, we’ll be better positioned to deal with the major challenges facing the — facing the hemisphere than we were going in.
So let me stop there, and I’m happy to take your questions.
Q So, a question on Venezuela. So why was Guaidó not invited? Did the Mexican President ask for him not to be invited?
And separately, what is the status of negotiations between the opposition and the Maduro regime at this point? Is there some indication that things might be stalled?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, we’re not responding to anything from President López Obrador when it comes to the invitation of Guaidó. I don’t know that he made any specific ask on that one way or the other.
But what I will say is the following: First, we continue to recognize Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela. Second, we support a Venezuelan-led dialogue that leads to free and fair elections and a better future for the Venezuelan people.
And third, we thought the best way to lift up our desire to see that Venezuelan-led dialogue and, ultimately, a better future for the Venezuelan people was to focus on the invitations to Venezuelan civil society activists who will participate in various aspects of the summit.
I also anticipate that President Biden will speak with Guaidó at some point here, and we’ll keep you posted on that.
MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, then on —
Q Do you know when it’s going to happen?
MR. SULLIVAN: I can’t tell you right now.
In terms of the actual negotiations, I’ll leave it to the two sides to lay out where they are. The United States has made clear that we support the return to those talks, and we’re prepared to take steps if those talks move forward.
We still believe that there is scope for that to happen. But it’s ultimately going to be up to the two sides to make it happen and —
Q In terms of those talks, it makes it sound like they’re not happening right now, that there is a (inaudible).
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m sorry, by “those talks,” I mean Mexico City. Obviously, the two sides are in communication about getting back to Mexico City and getting a more formal political process underway that can ultimately lead to the outcome that we’re seeking.
Q And let me just follow up on Venezuela very quickly. So — and what’s the status of our negotiations with Venezuela as far as getting them involved in getting oil and gas supply to the region and the energy crisis that we’re in right now?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, our position on this is quite clear. We’ve made it clear to them privately — and I’ve said it personally, publicly — which is that we’re prepared to take steps if they take steps, but it has to be action for action. And the first critical step would be to come to some set of agreements with the opposition that showed good faith, that showed progress, and then then gets meaningful traction going in a political dialogue.
Q Where do Venezuelan hostages —
Q On Brazil, real quickly: How does the President plan to handle, you know, President Bolsonaro’s climate record when he meets with him at the summit, and also the comments that he’s made about not only perhaps casting a question on his own reelection, but also on President Biden’s reelection? I think President Bolsonaro has actually said that President Biden shouldn’t bring up the topic. Does he plan to bring it up? And, again, how does he plan to handle those issues on Amazon and climate that they have disagreements on?
MR. SULLIVAN: There are no topics off limits in any bilateral the President does, including with President Bolsonaro — first.
Second, I do anticipate that the President will discuss open, free, fair, and transparent democratic elections.
Third, climate will be an important topic of conversation, and we believe that it can be an area of progress in the U.S.- Brazil relationship, particularly around concrete and tangible action to protect the Amazon. And the U.S. has already shown, going back to Glasgow, that we’re prepared to put a lot on the table when it comes to helping countries like Brazil protect the Amazon from further deforestation.
The President announced a major initiative on forests at Copenhagen. He pledged billions of dollars between now and 2030 to mobilize — that’s public dollars — to mobilize more private sector financing for the purpose of protecting the Amazon and other forests from further decarbonization.
He supports the LEAF Coalition, which is all about a public-private effort to compensate landowners for not cutting down forests.
And at this summit here, the Summit of the Americas, we’ll have a modest but meaningful slug of money particularly devoted to the Amazon for technical assistance and other purposes to help with protection.
All of that, I think, should pave the way for a good-faith effort on the part of every country, every stakeholder in the Americas — Brazil included — to take the necessary action and the necessary responsibility. We’ll see what President Bolsonaro comes to the table with on his side.
Q Jake, what kind of money —
Q Can you say how much money is allocated for the Amazon?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, on — in terms of the commitment the President made at Glasgow, I believe the number is $9 billion globally. But a huge chunk of that would end up getting devoted to the Amazon, including — in terms of the announcement at the Summit of the Americas, I’ll come back to you with the precise dollar figure.
Q Jake, on money, regarding the economic measures — I mean, the call today — there wasn’t much money discussed. I mean, does the plan really meet the moment of the day? I mean, you have China making more and more inroads there, basically with an open checkbook. I mean, what is — how does the administration, how does the United States compete with that? And what is Biden’s real vision in that area?
MR. SULLIVAN: The United States has never seen its comparative advantage in the world as just leveraging huge numbers of state dollars, but rather leveraging all of the tools available to us — yes, some public financing, but really unlocking substantial amounts of private sector financing to be able to drive inclusive economic growth across the Americas. And that’s what these countries most want.
So just as an example, at the summit, the President will make a financial commitment to IDB Invest, to the private sector financing arm of the Inter-American Development Bank. That will unlock significant amounts of private sector financing for infrastructure, for clean energy, for digital.
And on top of that, we will be putting specific dollars into producing tangible results that matter to people — training 500,000 workers, mobilizing hundreds of billions of dollars on food security.
When you tally all that up and look at the practical impact of what the summit deliverables from the United States will mean for the hemisphere, it is significantly more impactful on the actual lives and livelihoods of the people of this region than the kinds of extractive projects that China has been invested in.
So, we think we are mobilizing and coming to the table with a lot.
I will also add that one of the things he will talk to the leaders of the region about is a global infrastructure partnership that he first raised at the G7 last year and that he will formally launch at the G7 this year in just a few weeks’ time. That will include signature projects from major geographies around the world, including the Americas.
So, we believe that whether you’re talking about infrastructure, talking about food security, the clean energy transition, investments in health, and the use of the major multilateral investment tools — both the IDB and the World Bank and IMF — that, collectively, that is going to add up to a major investment by the United States and outcomes for the hemisphere.
Q Jake, on the immigration — on the migration declaration, how much support is the U.S. going to be providing to the countries that are willing to participate in this declaration and house migrants at various stages like you described? And what incentives are there for these countries to participate in this declaration?
MR. SULLIVAN: So we have — and not to get ahead of the announcement with too much detail — but we are — have developed an innovative concessional financing facility that will be for countries that typically can’t get access to that kind of financing because they’re middle-income countries, but providing support on migration will unlock that. So, we think that provides one form of incentive.
The second form of incentive is that we’re putting on the table something that a lot of these countries are asking from us, which is labor pathways to the United States for both migrants transiting their countries and for the source countries, from citizens of their home country.
And we’ll have announcements related to labor pathways as part of the Los Angeles Declaration and, actually, an interesting and very innovative new program between our Department of Agriculture and the United Farmworkers that is designed to ensure that those labor pathways meet the highest labor standards and are not used for abuse or for a race to the bottom.
So we think when you look at the set of things we’re putting on the table in conjunction with this declaration, and then the commitments other countries are signing up to along with the principles they will be signing on to with respect to the declaration itself, it amounts to a really significant paradigm shift in how the region is tackling this migration crisis. And I think people will look back at the Los Angeles Declaration as a new platform upon which we build a migration strategy collectively as a hemisphere for the years going forward.
Q Should we question how seriously Central America, though, is taking it if the three leaders of the Northern Triangle are not coming? I mean, that’s where most of the source — at least most of U.S. source of migration is coming. But those leaders are not coming. I mean, does that — is that a sign that they are not as committed to this as the United States?
MR. SULLIVAN: It’s not a sign at all. They’re all coming. They’ll all be represented.
Q Not the leaders.
MR. SULLIVAN: The leaders are not coming for each individual idiosyncratic reason, none of which has to do with the migration issue. And in each case, those countries have committed to working with the United States in a collaborative way on the migration issue.
And Mexico, whose leader also is not coming and will be represented at the foreign minister level, who will similarly be signing on to the Los Angeles Declaration, is making its own commitments with respect to what it’s doing on the migration front.
And so, I think there’s no way you can look the substantive outcomes of the summit and find that there is a link between the lack of leader-level representation from those countries and what those countries’ commitments are on the migration question.
And then finally, just on López Obrador: He’ll be coming to D.C. in July — actually, specifically to build on summit outcomes like this one.
So the substantive work of the summit has in no way, shape, or form been touched or adjusted or reduced by the participation question. These two things are operating in entirely distinct lanes.
And, you know, we’re happy to have senior-level participation from each of these countries, even though the leaders, each for their own reason, has chosen not to come to Los Angeles.
Q Can I just follow up on migration very quickly? You mentioned the labor pathways initiatives that you have. Is that — any of that going to require congressional approval?
And, two, will it deal with the severe labor shortage that the United States has had for some time?
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m not going to pretend like what we announced today is going to solve the whole of the systematic challenge that we have, but it will make a — it will help us make progress on it. It will.
And then, the specific announcements we’re making don’t require new congressional legislation. But more broadly, we are looking to Congress to step up and be a partner on a bipartisan basis on the migration question in a way that they — that we haven’t seen over the course of the last year.
Q Jake, does the absence of some of those Central American leaders undermine the role of the Vice President in building ties with them and in helping to combat some of the root cause issues of migration?
MR. SULLIVAN: I think you really have to look to see what those countries are signing up to, what they are committing to on the major priorities of the United States and the major priorities to the Americas. And if you look at the substantive agenda, substantive outcomes, and where they’re putting their name on the bottom line, it shows that they’re invested in the agenda we’ve set forward.
The fact that their leaders aren’t coming is, in each case, its own reflection of, again, these idiosyncratic decisions each of them are making, and I honestly wouldn’t read too much into it one way or the other.
Q Jake, on (inaudible) actions, right now it doesn’t look like the President has a press conference on his schedule at the end of this summit, which we’re hosting. What message does that lead to — give to our neighbors about democracy, freedom of the press, especially to those neighbors that we’re trying to encourage to change their ways?
MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, the President — I have now accompanied him on multiple foreign trips. This one is not foreign, although it involves foreign policy. And I think it’d be hard to argue that he hasn’t taken many, many questions from the press.
He’ll be, over the course of the next three days, obviously in front of and addressing the press in various ways. And I think by the end of this, you can be pretty confident that he will be displaying — putting on full display America’s raucous democracy in all of its wonderful and attractive forms.
So I don’t — I don’t see the kind of formal press conference issue as a particular litmus test.
Q A question on democracy. I mean, given that a number of leaders are not coming because of concerns about authoritarian governments not being invited, does the administration see a fracturing of the consensus around democracy, given that previous summits have had a sort of a consensus that non-democratic governments were not going to be invited? Is there a concern about backsliding in the hemisphere — a concern that, you know, you’re not really getting that same push for democracy that you used to have?
MR. SULLIVAN: I think this doesn’t have to do with the fundamental question of democracy. I think it has to do with a difference of opinion — a diversity of opinion, frankly — across the hemisphere — frankly, across our Congress, across the American public sphere — as to what the right way to approach the invitation of a dictator or a non-invitation of a dictator is.
And that’s really, kind of, more of a question about the role and purpose of participation in a summit like this. It’s not a question about whether democracy is a good form of government or a bad form of government.
Q You don’t see that eroding?
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m sorry?
Q You don’t see that eroding in the hemisphere — the support for democracy?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I definitely see challenges to democracy in the hemisphere; there’s no doubt. We see challenges to democracy all over the world.
And part of what the President wants to send a strong message of at this summit is that the United States is put — is putting its shoulder to the wheel in terms of supporting democratic principles and, very critically, that as the host of the summit, we are going to lift up a vision for the hemisphere that is fundamentally democratic.
Q On a different topic from a colleague: Can you respond to the react- — get a reaction on Tehran moving two of the IAEA monitoring cameras from its nuclear site? How will this — will this impact the resumption of Vienna talks?
MR. SULLIVAN: We see the issue of the IAEA compliance by Iran with its Safeguards agreement, with its obligations at the NPT, and its negotiations with Grossi — particularly on the files that Grossi has expressed concerns about and that the board is speaking to today — as operating on one track. On another track is a negotiated resolution to Iran’s nuclear program through a compliance-for-compliance return to the JCPOA.
From our perspective, we have to view these on separate tracks, and that’s how we’re going to proceed. What actually happens in those negotiations is something we will see. But there is, in our view, a deal on the table that would effectuate a compliance-for-compliance return to the JCPOA without dealing with extraneous issues. That deal is available to Iran. They should take it. If they don’t, that’s on them.
Q Secretary Yellen said today that the administration is working to recalibrate tariffs on China. And she also said there’s consideration of an oil price cap on Russia. On both those items, can you give us a timeline of when there might be a decision?
And on the oil cap in particular, is that something you’re aiming to finalize at the G7 later this month? And how much buy-in do you have from European partn- — or, I guess, partners outside of Europe?
MR. SULLIVAN: I won’t go beyond what Secretary Yellen said generally because we want to be able to protect space for intensive consultations with our European partners. Those are taking place in multiple channels, but one of the channels is in the G7 Sherpa channel. And so we’ll see what kind of progress we make generally on the question of energy at multiple different options for reducing revenue to Russia that could be available to us as the G7 over the course of the next three weeks.
On the question of China tariffs, all I will say is there have been — I think the last time I was on this plane with some of you, I said we — the President has been presented with a variety of views on this. He’s sought more information. He’s actively considering options. He said that himself when we were in Tokyo. And I don’t have a timeline for you, but I don’t expect that it will — this will go on indefinitely. He will make a decision.
Q Jake, on Ukraine — Jake, are you — is the U.S. concerned about the advance of Russian troops in the Luhansk region in the eastern part of the country?
And you also just announced the NATO meeting — the trip the President will be taking later in the month. How difficult is it for the U.S. to maintain the Alliance, given the length of this war, the fact that fuel prices are going up in Europe, you know, the fact that we’ve seen some concern among France and Germany about providing Ukraine with longer-range weapons? Can you talk about just the strength of the unity right now?
MR. SULLIVAN: It’s interesting — there is this natural instinct, I think, in the commentariat and in the press to presume the inevitable decline in Western unity, resolve, staying power. But all facts are to the contrary, as we stand here today.
You’ve got European nations making new announcements of security assistance day by day. You have the European Union coming together not a month ago, but a week ago, to announce a far-reaching new package of sanctions, including on energy.
So, the notion that there is somehow, you know, signs of cracking or division or disunity, I think, is belied by what we’re actually seeing. And I think that both the G7 and NATO will be very impressive signs of strength and resolve.
And let’s remember also that the United States has allocated $40 billion to this effort. That’s not for a week or a month or three months; that is a commitment that we’re — will endure for many months to come and put us in a position to continue to very strongly support the Ukrainians.
We’re concerned by every act of aggression the Russians have undertaken, every inch of Ukrainian territory they sit upon, they wreck, they bomb, they destroy, both in the areas they’re moving on the ground and in the areas they’re raining missiles down on from afar.
And that’s why we’re so committed to providing the necessary equipment and tools to the Ukrainians to be able to resist Russian advances in where they can push them back.
Q Are we in a fundamentally different place when it comes to the willingness of OPEC-Plus to finally support the global economic recovery, as you’ve been asking them to do? And do you take credit for that, in terms of your outreach to Saudi?
MR. SULLIVAN: That’s a question for OPEC-Plus. I will simply note that at the last OPEC-Plus meeting, there was a recognition that the supply issue needs to be addressed. And we expect that it will continue to be addressed as we go forward.
And how’s that for a super clear and specific answer?
But, you know, that’s — we thought this last meeting was important, positive. And we look forward to continue our consultations to see OPEC-Plus playing a constructive role as we go forward.
Q What factors are complicating a presidential visit to Saudi Arabia?
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m sorry?
Q I said: What factors are complicating a possible presidential visit to Saudi Arabia?
MR. SULLIVAN: I don’t have any — anything for you on an — on a trip to Saudi Arabia today. I’ll only say the President is going to travel to places and meet with people with whom he wants to work to help solve problems for the American people.
Q Has the President had any conversations with Putin? Any updates on that?
MR. SULLIVAN: No.
Q Does the President plan to go to Latin America? Obviously, he’s been occupied with things happening in Asia, with Europe. The Vice President has only been to Latin America twice so far. Any more trips to Latin America?
MR. SULLIVAN: We’re literally on our way to the Summit of the Americas —
Q No, but (inaudible) to Latin America.
MR. SULLIVAN: — and your question is whether he’s paying attention to Latin America? I mean, a little unfair.
I think we can fairly say that spending the next two and a half days engaging with the leaders of the hemisphere and, even more importantly, engaging with the challenges and opportunities in the hemisphere will be a display of the President’s commitment on these issues. And there will be an enormous amount of follow-up that comes out of that, including, by the way, already-scheduled plans to see additional leaders like the President of Mexico and the President of Argentina. And I think you can expect further announcements of him welcoming Latin American leaders to Washington coming out of the next three days.
Q Jamal Khashoggi’s widow is asking to meet with the President as a sign that he hasn’t given up on the legacy of the journalist. Is that something that the President would consider doing before he goes anywhere in the Middle East?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I don’t want to speculate on a trip, so I don’t want to speculate on anything he would do in preparation for a trip. But, of course, he takes not just the principle of human rights seriously, he takes the personal impact of human rights very seriously. And that will always be true of Joe Biden.
So, if and when we have anything to announce, I’ll let you know.
Q Any plans to bring up, when he has a meeting with the Brazilians, the searching for Dom Phillips? He was a BBC — or a British journalist who disappeared a few days ago in the Amazon. Is there any movement or intention to bring that up or encourage the government to help find him?
MR. SULLIVAN: So we have, at various levels of the U.S. government, reached out to say we’re prepared to do what we can to try to be helpful on this.
And I don’t know if the President will end up raising it, but we’ll ask our team. If that would be helpful, then of course he would do it.
Q Has there been any update on North Korea? Has the U.S. heard — received any response from the North Korean government? And as these tests have continued over the last few months, is that a sign that maybe this approach is not working and there needs to be some sort of change in a way to engage North Korea on this issue?
MR. SULLIAN: We have not heard from North Korea. We continue to obviously monitor and respond to the tests that they have been conducting.
One thing that it has done is only further cemented the strength of our alliances with both the ROK and Japan, and we’ve been able to conduct joint exercises with both of them in response to some of these launches.
We’re also watching very closely the continuing possibility of a nuclear test, to which we would also have a robust response.
And otherwise, we cannot do anything other than take the course of action that we think is strong, steadfast, and clear. And that is an openness and willingness to engage in diplomacy if North Korea is prepared to come to the table, and an absolute and resolute commitment to defending our allies in the ROK and Japan. That’s the position we’ve taken. We think it’s the right position, and it’s a position we will sustain as we go forward.
And maybe I’ll take one more question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Last question.
Q Sorry, I know you’ve laid everything out — all of what you’re hoping to get out of — out of this summit. What’s the kind of boilerplate success, you know, you walk away at the end of a couple of days? What do you want the American people to know or take away from this summit?
Well, what I want people to know — it might sound a little nerdy, but I think it’s super important in this moment — and that is that for all of the people of the Americas, the same set of interconnected challenges are pressing them — are pressing on their families, on their livelihoods, and in some cases, on their lives.
And this summit needs to produce tangible action against each of those challenges. And that’s where I started, and that’s where I’ll finish. It’s food, it’s energy and climate, it’s health, it’s migration, and it’s inclusive economic growth.
And I think you guys should measure us against whether or not we are producing tangible results on those five things. And I would challenge you to go back and look at the last five Summit of the Americas and look at the results of those, and ask whether, in fact, what we’ve done here will end up exceeding that in terms of the substance, the ambition, and the roadmap we set going forward. And I think the answer to that question is going to end up being “yes.”
So, thanks, guys.
Q Thanks, Jake.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. I already had a topper, so — (laughs) — I’ve done that part.
Q Do you have any response to the arrest of a man outside — near Brett Kavanaugh’s house? As we’ve been standing here, we’ve seen that he’s been charged with attempted murder as well.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President condemns the actions of this individual in the strongest terms and is grateful to law enforcement for quickly taking him into custody.
As the President has consistently made clear, public officials, including judges, must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety or that of their families. And any violence threats — threats of violence or attempts to intimidate justices have no place in our society. He has said that himself, and we have been forceful from the podium many times.
Attorney General Garland has also blasted any threats to the justices, saying, “The rise of violence and unlawful threats of violence directed at those who serve the public is unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.”
The Department of Justice has U.S. Marshals providing support to the Supreme Court Marshal, and the President supports legislation to fund increased scrutiny for the Court and judges.
The Department of Homeland Security has said they are working with their partners across every level of government and the private sector to share timely information and intelligence to prevent all forms of violence and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe.
Q Karine, just a quick question about the President’s statement to us as we boarded Air Force One this morning. By validating the voter recall of San Francisco’s district attorney, is the President giving into a right-wing narrative about rampant crime that needs to be met with severe punishment? And what does it say about the prospects for criminal justice reform that an advocate of progressive prosecutions was tossed out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, first of all — and I’m just going to reiterate a little bit of what he said. The voters last night delivered a clear message: It’s time for both parties to get more serious about fighting crime and gun violence.
And this is something that the President has said throughout his first 16 months — that that’s why he has never supported “defund the police” — he’s been clear about that — and why he sent state and local government billions of dollars last year through the American Rescue Plan to hire more police. He said that right before coming on board, speaking to all of you. It’s past time that they put that money to use hiring accountable, well-trained police officers.
And the president — you know, the President has asked Congress in March for more funds to beef up policing coast to coast. We continue to call on Congress to pass the President’s budget.
And finally, it’s important for the Senate to move on gun measures. He thinks those things go hand in hand, like the ones President Biden discussed yesterday while he met with Senator Murphy to get guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
We don’t — we don’t need a bunch of speeches today on crime; we need state officials to — and Congress to move. So, he sees those things hand in hand as we talk about gun reform as well.
Q Sorry, but none of the things you talked about, the — when the President ran, he talked about criminal justice reform, he talked about cash bail, but none of those things are part of the conversation anymore. Has the President given up on criminal justice reform because of —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, absolutely not.
Q — the GOP narrative on crime?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What — he ac- — he signed — he signed an executive order to deal with police reform. Right? I mean, he poli- — criminal justice reform is something that he has supported from the moment that that — the moment that legislators on the Hill started talking about coming together, trying to have something to move forward with in Congress.
And again, he signed an executive action on police — police reform, on measures that we can do from the executive — from the federal — from the federal side of things, from the White House, from the administration.
So, clearly, he hasn’t given up on that.
On bail reform, as you were just asking me: You know, on the campaign trail — to your point, Trevor — the President said that cash bail has become the modern-day debtor’s prison. No one should be held just because they are poor. And a person who is dangerous but has the money to pay bail shouldn’t have a get-out-of-jail card free.
So, I mean, he still stands by that, from what he said at the campaign trail.
And I’ll take another question. Who else has a question?
Q The President looked pretty friendly at yesterday’s bill signing with Senator Manchin. They were joking around a little bit. He was standing right behind the President when it was signed. How would you characterize their relationship at this point? And can you give us a temperature check on reconciliation talks?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as — as we say, I’m not going to negotiate from here, not from Air Force One heading to LA.
I have to tell you, I missed — I missed that interaction because I was preparing to come back out for my second briefing in front of you all.
But, look, we’ve said this many, many times: Senator Manchin and the President have a good relationship. They are friends. They are long — longtime friends, and that continues, and you saw it for your very own eyes yesterday at the — you know, at the White House. But I don’t have anything else to share on any of the negotiations that are happening.
Q (Inaudible) between the President or Senator Manchin that you can read out or plan —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t to have anything to read out or to announce.
Q Karine, there’s going to be new consumer price index data coming on Friday while the President is in Los Angeles. What’s the overall assessment of whether inflation is beginning to moderate? And are we going to see the President talking about this at the end of the week, after the numbers come out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on the CPI data, which is what you’re asking about, Ken: Given the impact of Putin’s price hike at the pump on gas prices in May, we expect the headline inflation number to be elevated. And we expect the war in Ukraine to have some effects on core inflation too, particularly when you look at things like airfares and the effect of higher jet fuel costs.
But despite these disruptions and the fact that the numbers can be volatile from month to month, as we say — we say pretty regularly, we continue to believe that the economy can transition from what has been a historic recovery from — of the economy — to stable, steady growth and inflationary pressures moderating, which is what experts have been saying for some time now.
And we are already — we already begin to see this happen in a range of measures. For example, core PCE, which is the inflation measure the Fed watches most closely, was around 4 percent at an — at an annualized rate in the last three months and is down from 6 percent annualized in the last months before that.
Q Are we going to hear him talk about it, though, on Friday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything, you know, to lay out. I know last Friday he talked about the jobs numbers and — but I don’t have — I don’t have anything to read out or to lay out for you about that.
Q And on inflation, retailers have actually started to warn that now they might have an opposite problem of having too much supply on their shelves. I mean, do you view that as a sign of success, or is that another kind of concern for you for the economy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — that goes back to what we’ve been saying. Like, this has been an economic re- — historic recovery, and that is because of what this President has been able to do.
When you think about the American Rescue Plan more than a year ago that the President laid out and only Democrats signed — voted for the American Rescue Plan at a time when the President walked into the administration, the economy was in crisis, schools were closed, businesses were shutting down, there was no comprehensive plan to get people vaccinated. And he put all — he put that plan forward.
And now we are in a place — just last Friday, as I was saying to Ken, he talked about the jobs numbers in May — 390,000 jobs that we saw in the last report for May. And that is part of the trajectory that we’re — we’ve seen with this economic, historical, you know, turnaround of the economy.
And so, that is all important, and I think that’s — that’s one way to look at that now. Now, we’re — we’re going to be transitioning to a more stable — stable growth, which is going to help us tackle inflation.
And so — and we’re — you know, we’re going to do our best. The President is going to continue to work very hard to make sure that we lower those costs when we think about food and we think about gas prices.
Q Does the President plan to watch any of the January 6th hearing tomorrow? And, if not, how does he plan to monitor it? Is he going to comment on the first hearing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I mean, we’ve been very clear that it is an independent — we support the January 1st Committee hearings — Committee, I should say, to be more clear — on January 6th.
What we saw that day over a year ago was one of the darkest times in our democracy. But it is an independent committee. And clearly, he’ll be very busy, as you heard Jake lay out and myself lay out what the next couple of days are going to be.
You know, he might catch it here and there, but he’s going to be very focused on his trip, talking to Western Hemisphere leaders and making sure that he continues to deliver for the American people.
Q Karine, the President’s approval rating in a new Morning Consult poll is his worst yet, with disapproving voters saying they’re more likely to vote GOP. Is he concerned about what this bodes for his party, for the Democrats in the upcoming elections?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, I can’t get into politics from my position, so I’m not going to, you know, give any political ana- — analysis as I’ve done in my past career.
But, you know, the President is going to continue to do what he’s doing right now, what he’s about to do, which is focus on the American people, make that — continue to make that his number-one goal as we talk about the economy; as we talk about, you know, the work that we have done to see, you know, jobs come back into — come back into the market; as we, you know, try to deal with costs, whether it’s gas prices as he’s doing all that he can to bring those down, the food prices as we’re really understanding what the American people are feeling.
And that’s going to be his — his purpose. That’s going to be what he’s going to be focusing on and what his administration is going to be —
Q Has he seen the poll? Is he reading polls?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I — that — honestly, that is not the — that is not what is on — on the President’s — number one on the President’s mind. It’s the American people and how — what he can do to continue to deliver.
Q And back on negotiations again — I’m sorry. Is he continuing to get updates — either daily, hourly — on the negotiations? Like — and do you have a sense —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Are you talking about the gun reform, the — yeah, specifically?
Q Yeah, specifically. And is he — is he optimistic — has he got a sense of optimism or pessimism about how things are going? And I know you’re not —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He’s — he said he’s encouraged. Right? We have that the President is encouraged at what he is seeing in Congress, in particular with the Senate negotiations.
You know, I’ve said this yesterday, and he has said this as well: The House has — has taken some actions. They took some actions last week. They’re going to take some actions this week, if they haven’t already. I already forgot what day it is of the week. It’s been going so fast this week.
But, you know, Senator — Senator Murphy came, as you all know, to the White House to give the President an update. We’re very appreciative of his leadership. We’re appreciative of what Senator Schumer and others — and their leadership.
And, you know, there’s no deal to talk about right now. They are still working — working out the details.
But what the President truly believes — and he has said this himself; you heard him say this last Thursday — is we have to “do something.” And that is the two words that he heard from the families in Uvalde, who — parents who lost their children in a horrific, horrific mass shooting.
And that’s what he’s calling on Congress to do — is to do something, to take a step forward so that we can deal with one of our public health epidemics, which is gun violence.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, guys.
2:38 P.M. EDT