James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:43 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, good afternoon, everybody. Apologies for the late start. It’s been a busy day, so I apologize.
The in-town pool is going to have to gather about 2:05. And so, I will stay beyond that time as long as we can. But again, apologies for starting late.
Okay, as you all know, the President has long talked about our nation being at an inflection point. He has been clear: Democracy is under assault, and we cannot pretend otherwise.
The President will continue to call attention to the threat to democratic integrity and to public safety posed by those who deny the documented truth about election results and those who seek to undermine public faith in our system of government.
Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law. They refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections, and they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn.
It remains important for the President to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy. He believes other leaders of both parties on both sides have a responsibility to communicate this very clearly as well.
The President has been emphatic and optimistic that Americans care about protecting our democracy. He has consistently talked about the fact that America has emerged stronger from some of our darkest moments.
And today, there are far more Americans of every background and every belief who reject the dangerous path of political violence than accept it.
The President will continue to speak about the challenges facing our democracy and his enduring belief that America will persevere.
He’ll also keep acting to address political violence, including by continued implementation of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism that he released in June of 2021.
Now, President Biden has made it his top economic priority to lower costs for American families, and he has been delivering.
He has beaten — beaten Big Pharma, and Medicare is negotiating lower — lower prescription drug prices as well. Gas prices have come down by $1.25 per gallon since June, and Medicare premiums are down as well.
Yesterday was our first day of open enrollment season, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which congressional Republicans want to repeal. That’s the first thing that they want to do. Four out of five consumers can find a plan that costs $10 or less a month. Additionally, 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of 800 bucks a year on coverage.
And today, we’re announcing additional actions to lower food and heating costs for American families. The Vice President will be in Boston this evening to announce that we’re making billions of dollars available this winter to help bring down home heating bills for low-income families all across the country.
We’re also making nearly $9 billion dol- — billion dollars through the Inflation Reduction Act available to states and Tribes to help families make their homes more energy efficient.
And the Department of Agriculture is helping bring down food prices at the grocery store through new measures to expand meat- and poultry-processing capacity.
Altogether, these actions and others will provide families a little extra breathing room — you hear the President say that often — and they are in stark contrast to the plans that Republicans in Congress have cooked up to drive up costs.
Congressional Republicans want to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which gives us the ability to lower drug prices and that utility CEOs have said will bring monthly energy bills down.
They oppose the release of oil from reserves, which multiple industry analysts have said is helping bring prices down at the pump. They’re going to bat for Big Oil, even as they pad the pockets of shareholders and keep gas prices up for American families.
They want to raise the age of Social Security benefits and put the program — the program that so many people worked so hard for, alongside Medicare, on the chopping block.
And they want to restore disastrous tax cuts for the rich.
The bottom line is the President is committed to helping families right now, while Republicans officials are committed to raising costs and chilling for Big Pharma and Big Oil.
Lastly, this afternoon, in a few minutes, the President will take part in the culminating event for the Talent Pipeline Challenge, which brings together more than 300 partners to expand workforce development for jobs created by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, along with the CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and the American Rescue Plan.
The event comes amid a resurgence of American infrastructure projects and manufacturing driven by the President’s economic agenda.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act will create millions of good-paying jobs. And the Challenge is helping create pathways for all Americans to fill those jobs.
At today’s event, the White House will host CEOs, union presidents, community college presidents, philanthranpic [sic] — philanthropic leaders, and others who have made commitments to this very challenge.
With that, Seung Min, you want to kick us off?
Q I have two quick topics. On this speech tonight, can you discuss why this speech is considered a political event that’s being organized by the DNC versus the similar speech in Philadelphia, which was an official White House event?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, it’s a good question. Look, we’re less than a week away, a week out, as you all know, from the midterms election. I do want to be careful about talking about elections here from this podium. We do believe in the rule of law in this administration.
And so — but we are seeing, as I just mentioned in my topper, an alarming number of Republican officials suggest they will not accept the results of this election. So we are also — we’ve also seen recent political violence that is similarly alarming, disturbing. And that rhetoric continues.
The President believes that it is a moment of reckoning. This is not a regular moment in our democracy. This is not a regular moment in time.
And this is — as the President has said many times, we are in an inflection point. And he’s going to call it all out, like he did, in very direct terms. And he talked about it just last night in front of 3,000 people in southern — in Southern Florida.
So you’ll hear from him. I’m not going to get ahead of the President. But this is why we see this as an important moment tonight.
Q And on Elon Musk and Twitter: I’m wondering what impact the White House believes that his takeover of Twitter is having on political discourse at this point, and also whether the White House would actually pay $8 a month to make sure its accounts were verified. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on — on your first question — so, look, I don’t believe it’s an issue that made it to the President’s desk yet. (Laughter.) It’s not a conversation that the President has — is aware of.
As you know, we’re focused on many things, including this evening. But, clearly, we’ll let you know if anything changes and certainly give you all an update.
Q What about on the second question?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What was the — wait, can you say the second question again? Was it about —
Q If you guys would actually pay $8 a month to make sure you’re —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I know — I just answered that — that particular thing. You know, that’s something for the President that we need to talk to the President about. Certainly, it has not come across his desk. And so as soon — if anything changes on that, we certainly will share that information.
All right, go ahead.
Q You mentioned we’re less than a week out. I guess, a logistical question: What does the President plan to do on election night? Will he be here monitoring results? Is he going to be with his staff?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a good question. That’s a good question. We will share more when we have that. I don’t have anything about his schedule, about him traveling. But certainly, we will — we will certainly share more of what his day will look like on — on — on November 8th, next Tuesday, less than a week away.
Q And you have said that the President will deliver remarks after the election, the day after. Should we expect some kind of formal remarks? Or did you just mean that he will find some kind of way to weigh in?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I’m saying that you’ll certainly hear from the President. He will give remarks. I don’t know yet what it will look like. But certainly you will hear from the President the day after the election.
Q Are those remarks with questions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I know you guys always ask me this. Well, when — I don’t want to get ahead of — ahead of it. But you will — we will — you will certainly hear from the President after — after Election Day.
All right. Thank you.
Q Thanks, Karine. Along those lines, in this final stretch, the President is traveling to California, Chicago, New York, Maryland. Aren’t these pretty safe Democratic strongholds? Why would those be his destinations in this final —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You missed New Mexico.
Q — pivotal stretch?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You missed New Mexico —
Q Yes, that’s the one exception.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — right? New Mexico tomorrow. He’s going to Philly on — on — oh, my gosh, these days — on Saturday. So he will be out there. If there is more travel to share, we certainly will share them.
But, look, the President — it’s not just — I know you’re talking about the last couple of days. But the President has been out on the road nonstop. I know. I am — I am very tired. We got in pretty late last night. So — and I’ve done many of the trips with him. And he has been nonstop. And he’ll continue to do that.
We will certainly have more travel to share in the upcoming days. And you’ll see — you’ll see where he’ll be going.
Q But Maryland, for example, where he’ll be campaigning with Wes Moore — I mean, polls show Moore beating his opponent 2 to 1 at this point. Why does he need the President’s help right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m going to be really careful about getting into any kind of punditry from here, political politics from here.
But, look, the President believes this is an imo- –important time. There is — the American public has a choice. There’s a choice in front of them. And there are many places to have those conversation and lay that out for the American people.
And that choice is very clear: Do you want a — congressional Democrats and a President that’s working every day to deliver for the American people, or do you want congressional Republicans who are doing the complete opposite, who want to increase energy costs, who want to increase your healthcare premiums?
And we feel that there are many places where he can have that conversation. There are many places where it’s going to be important for the American people to hear directly from the President of the United States.
But let’s not forget: He’s going to New Mexico tomorrow; he’s going to Pennsylvania. As you all know, he’s been to Pennsylvania a few times. He was just in Florida in front of 3,000 people last night. And — which was an important — important conversation and an event to have.
I want to be very careful here not to get into — again, into politics or elections. So I’m going to leave it there without — again, we believe in the rule of law, so we want to be careful.
Q Thanks, Karine. The White House removed a tweet that talked about the increase in Social Security benefits in 2023, quote, “through President Biden’s leadership.” There was a contextual note — I’m not sure what the proper terminology is for the platform — that was added to that. Was it removed because of the addition of a note, or was it removed because of the concern about the veracity of the message in the tweet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So it was — I — look, the tweet was not complete. Usually, when we put out a tweet, we post it with context, and it did not have that context.
So in the past, we’ve pointed out that, for the first time in our — in over a decade, seniors’ Medicare premiums will — will decrease even as their Social Security checks increase. That’s a little bit of context that was not included.
This means that seniors will have a chance to get ahead of inflation due to the rare combination of rising benefits and falling premiums.
And — and let’s not forget, as you’ve been hearing me say for the past few minutes, about MAGA Republicans in Congress and their continued threat to threaten Social Security and Medicare, proposing — proposing to them on the chop — proposing to put them on the chopping blocks every five years, threatening benefits, and to change eligibility.
So those are the types of context that would normally be with a tweet like that. It did not — it did not have that context. It was an incomplete tweet, as I just mentioned. And so that’s why you saw the digital team take that action.
Q And I think part of the reason I ask is because the President mentioned a similar type of thing in both of his events yesterday, saying, “on my watch” in one case, “on our watch” in the other case. Now, he included the Medicare piece of this that you’re talking about in the back end. Do you believe that as long as the Medicare piece is included, that’s not claiming credit for something that is quite literally tied to cost-of-living increase and inflation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We believe that we — we want to lay the — we want to lay our argument out fully. And that was important to do as we — as we put out, you know, information like that or as we put out a tweet. And that was an incomplete tweet. So we do think it is important to do.
Okay. Go ahead, Jeff.
Q Karine, does the White House think that another rate hike from the Fed will be positive for the economy or negative?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So as you know — and you heard — you hear us say this many times, the Fed is independent. It’s an independent agency. And we believe — the President believes that it has the — it has the best monetary policies to address inflation. And they are also — the chairman — Chair Powell — is committed to that — to that very kind of charge that is ahead of them.
I don’t want to — I don’t want to comment on it. I know they might be — the meeting may be happening right now, as I’m standing in front of you, so I don’t want to get ahead of it. It’s not something that we comment from here about, as you know.
Q On a separate issue, does the White House have a reaction to newly disclosed emails showing that former President Trump’s attorney saw Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their best hope for overturning President Biden’s victory in 2020?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I saw those reports right before I walked out to the podium. And my understanding is that those emails are being reviewed by the January 6 Committee. As we know, the January 6 Committee is doing incredibly important work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th, which, as you heard the President say, was one of our darkest days in our nation’s history; was a — as we all know and we all saw, and you all reported — an attack on our democracy.
So, we will defer to the committee on this investigation. I don’t want to get ahead of that. But I — as far as I know or understand, they are reviewing the emails.
Q To what degree could you characterize how much the Pelosi attack influenced the President’s decision to give this address tonight? How much of a catalyst is that?
And kind of as a related question: Has the President made any personal outreach or considered making personal outreach to Republican leaders to ask them for a more forceful response — to condemn that attack, other violence? I understand the power of the bully pulpit tonight, but has he done any direct contact to Republican leaders?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I appreciate your question, and I understand your question. I’m going to start with the last one first. It should not be controversial to speak out against political violence. It should be something as poli- — as political leaders should automatically do in a forceful way. And you all have reported on what happened to Pelosi and how horrific it was and how devastating it was and how dangerous that action was.
And the rhetoric that we’re seeing — that rise of rhetoric that we are seeing — you know, you have people out there who listen and who take that rhetoric very seriously. And so, the President believes that it shouldn’t have to — he shouldn’t have to call them to say, “Hey, you need to condemn — condemn what happened a little more forcefully.” That is something that it should just be — something that’s automatic, and they should just do that.
Look, the President, again, is making this speech because we’re seeing an alarming number of Republican — Republican officials who are saying — they’re being very clear — they’re not going to accept the results of these elections. That’s a problem.
And, yes, when we see what happened to Paul Pelosi — and again, the President spoke — you all know, you’ve heard — you’ve heard us say this: The President spoke to the Speaker on Friday. He spoke very forcefully at his event Friday aft- — Friday evening. He spoke to this again on Saturday. And just yesterday, in Florida, he spoke in front — in front of Floridians about this — this attack.
And so, look, he — he’s going to continue to call this out. What we’re seeing is a attack on our democracy. And the President has been very clear we need to protect our democracy, we need to strengthen our democracy. And he feels it is important, as the President of the United States, to continue to speak to this.
Go ahead, Steve.
Q Given the stakes — let me ask you a big-picture question — does the President believe that if the country chooses divided government next week and gives Republicans control of the House that the federal government can operate efficiently and effectively while he’s still President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. I know you’re — you want me to answer to a potential result that we might see next week, so I want to be very careful here. What I can say is that he believes — and I said this at the top and I’ll repeat it here — that there are far more Americans of every background and belief who reject the dangerous path of political violence than accept it.
We see this in polling. We see that majority of Americans do not — do want — want to protect our democracy and do not — do not agree with the political violence, do not agree with the rise of rhetoric that we’re seeing.
And so, I’ll leave it there. That’s what we’re seeing from — from Americans — a majority of Americans. I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.
Q In his speech yesterday in Florida, the President suggested that shutdowns and default are likely outcomes if the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, if he doesn’t agree with their demands on Social Security and Medicare. To what extent should Americans be braced for those outcomes?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, the President is saying that because Republicans are saying that. Republicans in Congress are being very, very clear that if — if they do not get — put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block — right? — you have one senator that suggested five years and another senator from Wisconsin who said — suggested that we should put it on the chopping blocks every year.
And they said if they don’t get those demands, if they are not able to do that, then they’re going to put our economy at risk. They’re going to put it into a spiral downturn. That’s what they said they’re going to do.
And again, this goes into what the President has been saying. There’s a clear choice for the American public. There is a stark choice for the American public. This is what the President has been talking about almost every day for the past several months.
So, again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, but we should take them by their word, right? We should. This is what they’re saying that they’re going to do.
Go ahead, JJ.
Q Karine, the news just broke. The Fed did raise rates by the 75 basis points. Just following up to see if you did want to share anything now that the news is out. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This happens to me all the time up here.
Okay, so I’ll say a couple of things. Again, you know, we see, this President see — our view is that the federal — the Fed is an independent agency, and we respect their independence. The Fed actions helped bring inflation down. And as mortgage rates increase, demand in the housing market should continue to cool and inventory should increase, which should have the effect of lowering housing inflation.
This is part of our transition — this is part of our transition to stable and more — a stable and steady growth, as you hear us speak about from our economic team and from — also from myself and from the President.
And, again, stable — stable and steady growth with lower inflation. This is the kind of economy that delivers for working families. And that’s how we see the work of the Fed. I’m not going to go into any specifics — any more details from here.
Q And then one other thing on violence — political violence. Do you know if the President has had a chance to speak directly to Paul Pelosi yet?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any calls to read out on a direct conversation that he’s had with Paul Pelosi. As you know, he’s spoken to the Speaker on Friday. And, you know, he continues to keep them in their prayers, and he is glad to hear that Paul Pelosi will have a full recovery. And I’ll just leave it as that for now.
Go ahead, Tam.
Q Yeah, I just wanted to go back to Kelly’s first question. Was the attack on Paul Pelosi an impetus for the speech to happen? Was it an inspiration? Had the President already been working on it? What’s the timeline on the speech?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So just a little — just — just to share — you know, this is something that the President has talked about for some time, right? This is nothing — this isn’t new for this President. He’s talked about — we all know about the “soul of a nation” and how he decided — one of the reasons he decided to run in 2019 was because of what he was seeing, was because of what occurred in Charlottesville, which was devastating to see that in our streets in American — in America.
And he spoke very clearly. You saw — you saw the op-ed that he wrote when he saw that. And so, it has always been something that’s been top of mind for him.
He spoke about it in his inaugural speech — you know, the soul of our nation and protecting our democracy. He spoke about it on January 6th — the anniversary of January 6th, just this past year. You heard him speak about this at — in front of Independence Hall, or at Independence Hall — outside of Independence Hall, to be more specific, where, you know, our democracy started, if you will.
And so, this is a conversation that he continues to have. Clearly, we are seeing an uptick — a sad uptick of rhetoric — of political rhetoric coming from really extreme Republicans in office. And also, yes, you know, we saw this violent, awful, horrific attack on Paul Pelosi.
And so, you know, there are reasons that he believed this time was now to — to make sure that he spoke directly to the American people.
Again — and he has said this before. This is nothing new. We are at an inflection point. These are not regul- — regular, normal times.
Q And just one more question, and I know we keep asking it, but I’m going to try it from a different angle.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I wonder what the question is going to be, Tam.
Q (Laughs.) I don’t know, but I’m going to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Q Okay. The President of the White House Correspondents’ Association has a question. (Laughter.)
So, I went back. Every President since Bill Clinton has, immediately after the midterm election, held a lengthy press conference to talk about the results, to answer questions from reporters about what it means for his presidency. Ronald Reagan did it too. And — and just today, you haven’t yet committed to holding a press conference on the 9th. Does this mean that President Biden is going to break with this tradition?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I — again, I’m not going to go — I’m not going to get far ahead of where we are currently. I’m sure the President will take your questions like he does almost every day, and that we will address the elections a day after Election Day. And I’m just going to leave it there and not going to get ahead.
Q So is that a yes to a press conference?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I — you know, I’m sure that the President, again, will — will make his voice very clear the day after Election Day, and I’ll leave it there. I understand the question. I appreciate the question. And I’m happy to answer it every time it’s asked.
Q Thank you, Karine. Following up on your comment that there’s an alarming number of Republicans who are saying they’re not going to accept election results, does that mean President Biden thinks it is a threat to democracy if somebody votes Republican?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. That’s a — that’s a ridiculous question. No.
Q Why is that a ridiculous question?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because American people should have their right to vote for whomever they want. Voting is a sacred right. It is something that the President wants to protect at — at every turn, and he has done that. He’s taken actions to protect the right to vote. And — and you see Democrats in Congress also doing the work to protect the right to vote.
We are talking about mega MAGA Republican officials who have been very clear about this, who say — who say, you know, they are pro-police, but then they are also pro-insurrectionists. That is — you cannot be pro-police and be pro-insurrectionists who also say they want to defund the FBI. That’s a problem. That is a problem that we are seeing. And who — I’ve said, have been very clear that they have — they have been very clear about pushing and pedaling the Big Lie, pedaling dangerous conspiracy theory.
And so, that’s what we’re talking about. But the American people have — they have their right to make a decision on who they want to represent them, and they should be allowed to do so.
Q Okay. In the context of calling out election deniers then, is he going to call out Republicans that denied election results and Democrats that deny election results?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It doesn’t ma- — it doesn’t matter if there’s a “D” or an “R” after your name; he will call out any rhetoric that is a pol- — that leads to, potentially, political violence or that calls political violence — for political violence. That is a problem. The President has always, always condemned political violence. It doesn’t matter, again, if you’re a Republican, an independent, or a Democrat.
Q So, President Biden thinks democracy can survive, even if Democrats are not in charge of Congress?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President is optimistic. He is an optimistic — you know, this, Peter — he’s an optimistic person. And he understands there is a majority of the Americans out there who do not believe in election — in denying an election; who believe in actually protecting our democracy. There are a majority of Americans who believe in strengthening our democracy. And that’s what we see.
But the President — as the President of the United States, he believes it is his — it is his duty, it is his responsibility to call out this rhetoric. And that’s what he’s going to continue to do.
Q Thanks, Karine. On the election in Brazil, has the U.S. — have U.S. officials made any outreach to Bolsonaro to try and encourage him to accept the results of that election and be part of that transition process?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ll — don’t have any calls to rea- — to read out to you on any conversation with — with Bolsonaro. But we are glad to see that President Bolsonaro acknowledged the results of the election and has allowed the transition process to begin.
The Brazilian electoral authority has made the determination of who won the free and fair election, and that — and that is President-elect Lula. The — the will of the people of Brazil should be respected, and that’s what we believe.
Q And any comment on the election in Israel and that Netanyahu appears to be headed for victory?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, don’t want to get ahead of — ahead of that. We are pleased to see such strong voter turnout for this election. It is too early to speculate, as you know, on the exact composition of the next governing coalition until all the votes are counted. I know we’ve all seen the exit polls.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Israeli government on our shared interests and values. So I’ll leave it there.
Q Given the number of Republicans who have said they won’t accept the results and just the unpredictability of this election compared to others, is the White House doing any contingency planning for election night or the day after — just people not accepting results, if violence breaks out? How are you guys thinking about that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I’ve been asked about this before, and I want to be clear and say this again: Americans should feel free, safe — they should feel safe going to the polls. They should.
And so, this administration has taken the issue of threats to the safety of voters and election officials seriously since day one. And the federal government has been working alongside state and local election officials and law enforcement to take the necessary steps to keep people safe. And — and again, there are agencies across the — across the government that is working on that every day.
Q I just want to clarify if we’re going to be hearing something new tonight. It sounded like you were saying that he’ll be repeating what he said before; it just needs to be — he needs to say it again. Is that right? Or should we expect something different from what he’s been saying or what he said on the September 1st speech?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the lawyers have — have been very clear with me that I cannot get into previewing the speech or get into what the President is going to talk about. I’m just giving you a little bit of what he has said in the past and why this moment is very important, but I’m not going to go into details of the speech.
Q And one other question. You’ve talked just now and the President has been talking about highlighting the differences between Republicans and Democrats. What issues do you see as having the most potential for agreement in the next Congress if there’s a divided government?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. What I can say right now is — as we have been for the past several months — is what’s — what’s at stake and the choices that the American people are going — are going to have to make.
Again, I’m not going to get into any elections or, you know, politics from here. But, again, the President has been very, very clear. So has the Vice President. So has the First Lady. So has the Second Gentleman. So has — Cabinet Secretaries have been very clear about what’s at stake and what we have been able to deliver for the American people and what we will continue to do, regardless of any outcome.
Go ahead, Ben.
Q Anita Dunn said this morning that, after the midterms, the White House’s priority for the lame duck session of Congress would be keeping the government funded and providing additional Ukraine and COVID aid.
What about protecting same-sex marriage? Where does that fall in the President’s priorities?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s — as you know, if you know the President’s history when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, this is — this is an issue that has been a priority for him and will continue to be.
I don’t have anything to lay out on congressional priorities at this time.
But when it comes to marriage equality, when it comes to protecting the community, he is — this is something that he’s been a strong voice for, a strong ally, and has delivered on.
Q Will he be pushing for that in the lame-duck session?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I — I’m not going to get into what he’s — any congressional priorities at this time. I’m just saying that his — his history, his record speaks for itself.
Go ahead, Nadia.
Q Thank you. The administration has been leading the efforts at the U.N. today to expel Iran from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Can you just talk us through this decision? And do we expect also that you will push for — more for expelling Iran from international organizations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to let folks get up for a second. I know people have to gather.
(A portion of the press depart the briefing.)
Q They’re going to the event, they’re not walking out on you —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I —
Q — for people who (inaudible).
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s clear. (Laughter.) I know. I know. Kelly O, you’re always very sensitive to that —
Q Yes, I don’t want anybody to think we’re walking out on you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — because people are watching. (Laughter.) It’s okay. I’m not that sensitive. (Laughter.)
Q We just really want a press conference, so we’re walking out. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, my friends. So, Nadia, on your question: Look, as it relates to what we’ve seen — the actions that we have seen the Iranian government take on —
on — the horrible actions that they’ve taken on protesters, women who are bravely seeking to — seeking to speak for — for their basic rights, we have been very clear.
The President has spoken against that. He has — he has called out and lifted up the brave women and citizens of Iran for doing that — for being out there and speaking out. And he’s called out the Iranian government. And we have, across the past several weeks, laid out just what we have been doing to make sure that we hold Iran to account.
In the last week, the United States, the European Union, and Canada have sanction more Iranian officials for the ongoing crackdown that we’ve been seeing — the violent crackdown that we have seen. And I think — you saw the reports — more than 200 people have died in Iran because of — because they have been protesting.
We have hosted a U.N. dialogue with the special — special situation on — of human rights in Iran, welcomed the joint statement by women foreign ministers on events in Iran, and supported Germany’s recalibration of their Iran policy.
We welcome civil societies’ call for the immediate expulsion of the Islamic Republic from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The U.S. government will take action to ensure Iran is removed.
To your question, women and men in Iran must have the right to freedom of expression and assembly. That is something that the President believes, that is something that this administration believes. Women should be able to wear what they want, free from violence or harassment.
Iran must end its use of violence against its own citizens simply for exercising their fundamental freedoms, their basic rights. Until Iran changes its behavior, the United States will continue to impose costs and hold accountable Iranian officials and entities that are responsible for employing violence to suppress protests, civil society, and women’s rights.
Q Another one on Iran, if I may. An Iranian delegation is expected to meet in Austria with the IAEA this week. Curious if the administration — if the U.S. is going to have any sort of role in that and what it says, in your view, with, you know, that — the sort of stalemate that’s emerged in the larger nuclear talks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have anything to share on that particular IE- — IAEA visit. So clearly, that’s something that we we- — we recommend — we welcome, I should say, not recommend — but don’t have anything else to share beyond that.
Q But you don’t view it as — as sort of a movement one way or another on those talks?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just want to talk to the team before I make any statement on that or take any position.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thanks. On your — on what you said about the President saying that he’s concerned about Republicans who have refused to say that they will accept the election results, does he — does the President think that those refusals will create political violence, will lead to political violence?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, he’s speaking because he wants to make sure that it’s — he’s loud and clear.
And I want to make — be very careful because I want to ma- — don’t want to go into — go into anything that he might say tonight or into his speech — that what we’re seeing — and these are not normal times, right? This is an inflection point — that it is important, as the President of the United States, to speak out against — against what he’s seeing, against this rhetoric, against this political violence.
And, look, you know, it is — it is an important time in our — in our history. And, you know, as I’ve mentioned before, this is one of the reasons why this President decided to — to run for this very office.
You know — look, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals of what may happen. But what the President believes is that what he is seeing and what we are hearing from MAGA Republican officials, extreme Republican officials who say that they are not going to accept this election, is a threat to our democracy. And so, I’ll just leave it there.
Go ahead, April.
Q Karine, about tonight, but beyond tonight: The President is looking for the speech tonight to kind of quell some of the reactions and the upset — this political upset that’s happening. But there’s more to it than that. What’s next beyond the speech?
You know, because on the Hill, they’re talking about, you know, Capitol Police can’t really secure a lot of the leaders who are in need of help. What’s next beyond the speech?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So when it comes to the protection of leaders to the — kind of the last part of your — of your question there, I don’t want to get into commenting on security-related matters.
That is something that we are very sensitive to and want to be very mindful and careful here. So anything that’s related to, you know, individual safety at the Capitol, that goes to the Capitol Police on — even on any questions of the Speaker’s security. I know that has been something that folks have been asking.
But again, for a variety of reasons, we’re just not going to comment on security-related matters or discuss issues related to the Speaker’s security or any member’s security. This is a subject that’s best left for the Capitol Police.
Look, this is — look, the President understands that there’s a lot of work to do. This is — on your first part of the question. This is why you’ve heard him talk about protecting our democracy, strengthening our democracy. And, you know, and what we — the work that we need to continue to do several times.
I’ve listed out the many times that he — and I’m sure I’ve missed one or two — the many times that he’s had this very — this very kind of conversation, given this very — these types of remarks.
I’m not going to, again, get into what he’s going to say. I’m going to let the President speak for himself.
But, again, the- — this is an inflection point. This is an inflection point in our — in our — in our country’s history, and there is a choice that the — that Americans are going to have to make.
Q So, in just summarizing what you’re saying, this — there is other pieces beyond just the speech tonight to help change the dynamic of this inflection point from going into a negative?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I cannot get into anything specific that he’s going to say. I did mention at the top — at the top that one of the things that the President implemented very early on, back in June of 2021, as we talk about security and safety, is the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which is something that the President put out and did over a year ago. So those are some actions that he — he did take.
Q And lastly, on the Supreme Court. Affirmative action in education and the — and the admissions process. But if there’s a rollback, there are tentacles that could go into so many other spaces. How is the White House prepared in case there is? Because we’ve seen rollbacks already.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Look, the President has been very clear about what’s at stake, right? Affirmative action. We saw Roe — the decision on Roe and how, you know, a constitutional right that was around for almost 50 years was taken away, freedoms have been taken away from women just across — millions of women across the country.
He’s been very clear voting rights is going to be — is — is at stake. Marriage equality is at stake. The President has listed that out and has been very clear. And this kind of goes to what we’re talking about today. And what we have been talking about for the past several weeks, several months, which is: So much is at stake.
So much is at stake for the American people, when you think about our freedoms, when you think about our rights. This is what the President has been trying to say and has been saying is that’s why there’s a choice to be made. This is why, you know, the work that he’s been doing, and congressional Democrats, have been so important, because we are — we are fighting for the freedom of Americans. We are fighting for the rights of Americans. We understand not just our role here but our role globally.
I was just asked by — Nadia just asked me about Iran and what we — what the President has said about that, about protesters in Iran, women who are fighting for their rights, civilians who are fighting for their right, and the violent crackdown that we’re seeing there.
So the President understand his role more globally as well. So, we’re going to keep talking — keep talking about this. We’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can with congressional Democrats to see — to make sure that we’re protecting the rights of Americans. But again, there is a choice to be to be made.
Go ahead, Phil.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Jen Psaki said from that podium in summer of 2021, quote, “We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Can you tell us whether the White House is still flagging social media posts for disinformation? And are you submitting those to Facebook through a special portal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you say a little bit more?
Q Yeah, there was reporting in The Intercept about opportunities for the federal government to identify for social media companies’ different posts that contains what was perceived as misinformation about the origins of COVID, the vaccine, other things as well, you know, such as, you know, Ukraine or the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I — so, look, I’ll say this: The administration — the Biden administration remains fully committed to our mission to protect the security and resilience of our — of our, you know, elections and safeguard election infrastructure. That includes combat — combating disinformation. That is something that we are committed to.
You know, we work to protect that — protect Americans from disinformation that threatens the homeland, including malicious efforts spread by foreign advers- — adverseries [sic] — ah, adversaries, sorry, pardon me — began before the Disinformation Governance Board was established. In fact, some of that work began before this administration.
So, you know, I want — I want to be very clear that cross-agency work continues to this day. Don’t want to — don’t want to get ahead of — of anything else. This is a Department of Homeland Security, so I would refer you to them.
Q So you are flagging misinformation as it relates to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything more to add.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is a Department of Homeland Security that I would refer you to.
Q And then —
Q Does Facebook — does the White House participate in the secret government censorship portal, though? I think that was part of the question. Does the White House submit examples of alleged disinformation, misinformation for Facebook to censor through this portal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No.
Q And then, I wanted to follow up, because you’ve spoken at length about the threat that those who deny documented truth about our elections pose. And some critics have raised this, so I want to see if you can maybe square the President’s current rhetoric when it comes to elections with what he said in January, during a press conference, when he said of those midterms, quote, “The increase in the prospect of them being illegitimate is in proportion to not being able to get those reforms passed.” Obviously, those voting reforms did not pass Congress. So is he confident that the coming midterms are going to be legit? How are those two things congruent?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, this is something that you’re talking about that Jen — Jen referenced?
Q No, that the President said in January.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, right, right. But I think you asked — did you ask Jen this question as well?
Q I may have. It’s been a while. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So — so, just to clear this up — because I think you’ve asked me this question before — Jen Psaki briefed the following day after this press conference and answered that question that you asked, about the President and his statement from the press conference the day before.
And she said, “I talked to the President about this last — about this last night and this morning. He was not intending to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election. He was actually attempting to make the opposite point, which is that in 2020, despite COVID, despite many attempts to suppress the vote, a record number of voters — Democrats and Republicans, independents too” — tuned — “turned out in the face of a pandemic.” And we saw that with our very own eyes, and you all reported this. “And election officials made sure they [would] vote and have those votes counted.”
And this is how Jen Psaki responded to your very question.
Q So even though those voting reforms did not pass Congress, the President is expecting the midterm elections to be legitimate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that again. I’m sorry.
Q So even though his preferred voting reforms did not pass Congress, the President is expecting that the coming midterm elections will be legitimate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, ab- — yes, yes. That is — that is a yes.
Q Do you have any reaction to the agreement between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigrayan authorities in South Africa?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have a couple of — a couple of lines for you there.
So, as you know, the United States — we are — we are committed to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. We seek peace and stability in Ethiopia to build upon the longstanding, strong partnership between our governments and people.
The United States commends the African Union panel on their extraordinary leadership to determine efforts to facilitate talks, as well as the work of the African Union Commission; South Africa, who hosted; and — and international partner — partners — the United Nations, the gover- — the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
The United — the United States remains committed to supporting this African Union-led — -led process as it continues and to partnering to ensure it brings a lasting peace to Ethiopia. And that is something that we are committed to.
Q And then what are you —
Q Thanks, Karine.
Q What — what —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no. We’re going to continue. Go ahead, Courtney.
Q I want to ask about student loan relief. Excuse me. Have you approved or is the Education Department in the process of approving (inaudible) for the applications for relief conditionally?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m sorry, can you speak up just a little bit?
Q Yeah. I want to ask about student loan relief. Are you or is the Education Department in the process of approving any of the applications that you’ve collected conditionally or so that you’re ready if there is a change in the court pause on distributing relief?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’re continuing to receive and process applications for debt relief. That is what we have been doing for the past two weeks now, I believe.
And we’re continuing to encourage eligible borrowers to apply for relief at StudentAid.gov. That is something that — that is the outreach that we are continuing to do from here and clearly from the Department of Education — I should say, from the Department of Education.
Remember, the Eighth Circuit’s order does not reverse the lower court’s dismissal of the case or suggest that the case has merit. It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision.
But we’re going to continue to — to, again, collect the information and proc- — process the applications. We’re going to continue to encourage people who are eligible to do that. And — and we will be at the ready when the time comes.
Q And I — another question about the IRS. I know that Secretary Yellen just appointed someone to temporarily lead while the President considers who to nominate for commissioner. Will the President be meeting with the acting commissioner? Will he be talking at all with him or Secretary Yellen’s team, given that IRS reform is such a big part of your agenda?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any — any meetings to preview or anything to lay out. Clearly, that is something that’s under Secretary Yellen’s purview. And so, I would — I would just refer to her if you have any questions specifically to — to the acting commissioner.
Q Thank you, Karine. I wanted to ask about the President’s reaction to the attack on Paul Pelosi. You spent a lot of time in more informal settings with the President — on Air Force One, in between public appearances. Can you tell us how he reacted as more details came out about the attack on Paul Pelosi?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, the President spoke for himself. And, as you know, the President is a pre- — a pretty open book. And he — you know, he speaks from his heart. And so I think what you heard from him directly is exactly what we all hear when he’s not in front of you or in front of a camera. I don’t think there’s any — there’s not any difference.
This was a horrific attack. And as I mentioned, the President spoke to the Speaker on — on Friday. He spoke to this again on Saturday. And, you know, he’s relieved to know that he’s expected to recover.
As we have said, the President is praying for the Speaker and her family and for Paul Pelosi.
You know, this is a — again, a horrific — what we saw was horrific and it is political violence, as we’re hearing the reports, and it has no place in our political discourse.
But I’m not going to get into any more specifics on private conversations that I have with the President.
Q Can you tell us a little bit more about how he reacted as he — as he heard about jokes that prominent Republicans have made about the attack?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, the President spoke to — to — spoke to the political violence, specifically to — to the Speaker’s husband yesterday. So I will leave his — I will leave it to that. I will refer you to what the President said. I don’t have anything more to add.
The President is going to speak tonight. And I’m not — just — I’m just not going to get into details on what he will say.
But, of course, this is something that the President condemns. He condemns all types of political violence. There is no place in — in politics, no place across the country for it, and he’s going to continue to condemn that. And I’m going to let you all hear from the President directly himself.
I think I’m being called to leave this — this podium. And hopefully I see you guys in New Mexico and California.
2:33 P.M. EDT