Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, November 7, 2022
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:20 P.M. EST
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. So when the President visited Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, he said he would be there for the people of Florida as long as it takes to rebuild. That is what we’re doing.
Today we announced that we recei- — we have delivered over $2 billion for Hurricane Ian recovery in Florida. We’ve provided millions of dollars in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businessowners.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has installed nearly 19,000 temporary blue roofs and installed generators at critical facilities. And through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, we’ve paid more than $351 million to policyholders.
We are committed to ensuring Florida builds back better and stronger to withstand the next storm.
You’ve all heard the President warning that the stakes for middle-class families, when it comes to the choice between the vision he and congressional Democrats share for the middle class and the extreme inflation-worsening agenda of congressional Republicans, could not be higher.
Independent economists are warning that Republicans in Congress want to worsen inflation with deficit-exploding tax giveaways for the rich and big corporations.
But that’s not all. Congressional Republicans — from Senator Rick Scott, to Senator Ron Johnson, to the Republican Study Committee, which includes most House Republicans — have all been unmistakably clear that they want to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block.
Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Senator Scott was yet again forced to answer for the extreme proposal he released earlier this year that would force Medicare to expire in five years unless Congress voted to renew it. He tried to snake his way out of this plan by throwing up a debunked lie attacking the new power we gave Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs, for which he was called out on the facts.
Now, let that sink in for a second. Let that sink in for just a second.
A member of Republican Senate leadership proposes that Medicare expires in five years and defends himself with a made-up excuse to strip Medicare of its power to hold Big Pharma’s feet to the fire and lower drug costs for families.
(Cellphone audio plays.)
All right. Are we good?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)
And here’s the kicker: In the private sector, Rick Scott oversaw the biggest Medicare fraud in history. So don’t take my word for it. Don’t take our word for it. Let’s take the facts. So, with that, you know, you really can’t make things up.
All right, Zeke, kick us off.
Q Thanks, Karine. I was wondering if the White House has any response to the White House’s response to an ally of Vladimir Putin saying that he was involved in election meddling, and if there are concerns here at the White House — or does the White House have assurances for the American people that the elections that are underway right now, that’ll conclude tomorrow, will be free and fair of any foreign interference?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So a couple of things that we want to lay out here because it’s a very important question that you just asked, Zeke.
So, with respect to any ongoing attempts by Russian actors to influence a U.S. election, so I’m going to refer you to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. These comments, though — I’ll say this — do not tell us anything new or surprising, as we all know. It’s well known and well documented in the public domain that entities associated with Yevgeny and — Yevgeny Prigozhin have sought to influence elections around the world, including the United States.
The U.S. has worked to expose and counter Russia’s malign influence efforts as we discover them. So, Yevgeny is a known bad actor who has been sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom, and also the European Union.
We also know that part of Russia’s efforts includes promoting narratives aimed at undermining democracy and sowing division and discord. It’s not surprising that Russia would be highlighting their attempted efforts and fabricra- — fabricating a story about their successes on the eve of an election.
But to your question, you know, what we are doing — I’ve spoken to the po- — at the podium about this quite a bit, about the administration’s efforts to protect the security and resilience of our elections and to safeguard our election infrastructure, including by combating malicious efforts by foreign adversaries to spread these — disinformation. That work began before this administration and has continued under the Biden-Harris administration as well.
But, specifically, actions we have taken to counter these types of malign influence include sanctions — as you all know, we’ve announced them from here — travel bans as well; exposure; information sharing; foreign investment screening; anti-money laundering; and expulsions.
So we have also worked with our fellow democracies to expose and counter — counter foreign malign influence abroad as well.
So — but any specifics to — to this — to this new revelation, I would refer you to DNI.
Q And specifically to the question of what — does the White House have a message to people who are casting their ballots now, early, or tomorrow in person that their votes would be tabulated accurately and fairly? In light of these comments, should people have confidence in their election system?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: People should have confidence in their election system. As we have said many times before, having the right to vote is the most sacred right, and people should really exercise that right. And — and they should feel safe in their — in their — in their election process.
Q And just on a different topic: Israeli media is reporting that the President spoke with incoming Israeli — or likely incoming Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu today. Can you confirm that, or do you have a readout of the discussion?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, I can confirm that. We’ll have a more robust readout in a —
Q Quick question: What are you confirming?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, yes, yes. This is — I’m confirming a call with the — with — the President had with Benjamin Netanyahu. So, yes, the President did speak with him today — so confirming that right now — to congratulate him on his party’s victory and commend Israel’s free and fair elections.
The President reaffirmed the strength of the bilateral partnership and underscored his unwavering support for Israeli security. We will continue to closely monitor the government formation process. As you know, that is the next process in this.
We — we look forward to continuing to work with the Israeli government on our shared interests and values. We will have a more full — a fuller readout for all of you as we normally do.
Q Thanks. Just some housekeeping to start. Can you give us a sense of what the President will be doing tomorrow on Election Day, tomorrow night, and if he has any plans to make an address on Wednesday after the results?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things there I’ll lay out for to- — for you all tomorrow, and also on Tuesday.
So tomorrow and Tuesday, the President will have a full schedule here at the White House. As I previously said, we expect the President will address the elections the day afterwards. And when we have details on the timing of that, we of course will share it with all of you.
But as — but I also just want to note, as you all know — because you guys have covered this these past couple of years — in 2022, it took two weeks to call every state. In modern elections, more and more ballots are being cast in early voting and also by mail. And many states don’t start counting those ballots until after the ballots — after — pardon me — after the polls close on November 8th.
So you heard the President say this the other night; he has been very clear on this as well. We may not know all the winners of elections for a few days. It takes time to count all legitimate ballots in a legal and orderly manner. That’s how the — that’s how this is supposed to work. And it’s important for us to all be patient when — while votes are being counted. This is not just for all of you, but this is also for the folks who are watching.
And so, I think it’s important to just remind folks that it’s something that people should be mindful of as well.
Q Republican Leader McCarthy is clearly expecting that the GOP will take the House. Is this White House prepared to work with a Republican Congress?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m not going to — I’m not going to get into hypoc- — hypotheticals. I’m not going to get ahead of what is — you know, what is going to happen tomorrow. Just going to — you guys will hear directly from the President, as I’ve stated many times before, on what — on Wednesday, the day after the elections. But I’m not going to get into speculation from here.
Q Karine, in the closing weeks of the — this cycle, the President and supporters have talked about the ramifications of a Republican-controlled Congress; talked about the choice, not a referendum, as the President says. Why is the President, in addition to running on his achievements, not run on a specific agenda?
As far as I can tell, there’s only one bill that the President has said he would sign if Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and that’s a bill to codify abortion rights. Why not lay out for the public what would happen if Democrats held both the House and Senate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, you know, I — I hear the question that you’re asking, but I disagree in kind of the premise of the question. And what I mean by that is, if you look at the last 20 months of this administration — and I want to be really — always be careful about elections here, talking about that from here.
The congressional Democrats and also the President has delivered. And that’s why we’ve laid out what — what we — our agenda. And our agenda has been to make sure that the American people get a little bit breathing room to make sure that we have an economy that works for everyone.
And we’ve laid out what — one of our — the President’s most biggest priority — right? — his economic priority was making sure that we lower cost. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act was so important. Only Democrats voted for it.
If you think about when the President walked into — into this administration — the American Rescue Plan — meeting the moment that we were currently dealing with. We were dealing with a pandemic that had shut down small businesses — hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country. You know, thousands of people, sadly, were dying. We had schools that were — you know, that were shut down. And the President met that moment.
And also to make sure that communities were protecting — were able to protect themselves. Right? Local governments were able to protect communities by having — being able to fund for police officers and bring back teachers.
All of those things are what we are — been very proud of, making sure that we lay out that agenda.
And what we have said is that we are going to continue to make sure that we’re lowering costs. We’re going to make sure that we continue to make sure that we bring a little bit more breathing room for the American people. And let’s not forget student loan aid as well, which is going to help almost 40 million people to give them a little bit breathing room as well.
Q But I guess my question is: Why not a specific package? Why not say to the country, “This is what you’ll get if you elect Democrats”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But why not just tell the country what we have done? Why not just lay that out? Which we have. We have laid out what’s — what’s at stake. We have said there is a choice for the American people. We’ve been very, very clear. You have all followed the President. He has — he has been across the country talking specifically how Democrats will move forward — congressional Democrats will move forward in delivering for the American people.
When you think about inflation, when you think about what the President has done to lower cost; you think about gas prices, taking really historical actions to make sure we tap into — tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve so that we can bring gas prices down — they have by a buck 25; and you think about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is so important, which is going to lower energy costs, which is going to lower healthcare premiums.
Republicans — this first thing that congressional Republicans said that they’re going to do is they’re going to repeal that and then cut, you know, Medicare and Social Security.
We’re saying we’re not going to do that. The President has been very clear. We’re going to continue to fight for Medicare. We’re going to continue to fight for people’s Social Security. And we’re going to continue to lower cost.
Q Separate question: Last week, John Kirby was asked whether — he was asked whether there was efforts to get a President Xi meeting on the books with President Biden next week. Where are those efforts now? And is a meeting locked in place?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, both sides of — our — our side and Presidency Xi’s side — staff — were asked to figure out how we can move forward with a meeting. I don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q Just wanted to follow up on the Russian election interference and — but also just the prospect of potential violence. So, what are you doing here at the White House or within the Biden administration to ensure that there’s not a repeat of, you know, the violence that we saw on January 6th? And to what extent should Americans gird for conflict in and around contested — heavily contested districts?
The President has said there’s 300 Republicans running for office that have already said they will contest, won’t accept the results. So, I mean, how likely is the prospect of some kind of violence?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things, because there are kind of two questions that you just asked there, Andrea.
So, law enforcement has briefed us that there are no specific credible threats identified at this point. The President has been briefed on the threat — on the threat environment, and directed that all appropriate steps be taken to ensure safe and secure voting is — occurs — right? — in this process.
But I want to be clear: Americans should feel safe going to the polls. It is important for — for Americans to — to do so. The administration has taken the issue of threats to the safety of voters and election officials seriously from — from day one. The federal government has been working alongside state and local election officials and law enforcement to take the necessary steps to keep people safe.
So, that will continue.
As far as election-deniers — I think that was the question that you were asking me: You know, there are — there are election officials in every — every state with responsibility to ensure the candidate who won the most votes is ultimately sworn into office.
So, as the President has said — you heard him say this last week in his speech and many times before — you can’t love your country only when you win. And so, it remains important to the President. And, you know, to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy.
He will continue to condemn violence, as you’ve heard him say, as you’ve heard me say from this very podium. He believes other leaders of both parties have a responsibility to communicate just that. And all Americans must unite to stand up for American democracy and our values and our ideals.
Q Just a real quick one. We are hearing reports that an American was killed in Baghdad of a botched kidnap operation. Do you have any details on that at this point?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would need to connect with our team. I don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q Okay. And then, just on the agenda — the question that Steve put to you about going forward. So, at the beginning of this administration, you talked a lot about the care economy and about some of the other items on the agenda that have not — that have fallen out of the legislation that was enacted.
If Republicans do win both houses of Congress, are there actions that you can take to pursue that agenda, even through executive action? I’m thinking about universal pre-K, those kind of items.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I, again, don’t want to get into hypotheticals here, but what I will say: The President has always said his care agenda is a priority to him, that he will continue to work on throughout his administration. I don’t have a vehicle in which he will choose to do that, but clearly those — those are — because he introduced it, because he talked about it very early on in his administration, clearly those are items — and also during the campaign — those are policies that are — and he believes are important to the American people to give them, again, a little bit more of a breathing room that he will continue to fight for.
Q Thanks, Karine. We don’t often get a very lengthy Saturday statement from you clarifying the President’s remarks from the day prior. Can you walk through what the genesis of that was and whether or not you guys thought that, perhaps, it would be politically problematic had those statements been allowed to stand?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we just wanted to be — you’re talking about the — the —
Q On the coal plants.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we just wanted to be very clear on that, which is why we put out a statement. It seemed like there was some confusion on that. And so — but, you know, I want to say this: It was — some of you were there. It was — it was loud and hard to hear, I think — or maybe not exactly what — what was being said. But I currently don’t want to get into punditry from here and why we did it or do — or, you know, paid — or do it — did it on TV.
But I spoke to this over the weekend. The President’s words, we believe, were twisted. And we were very clear about that. And anyone who knows Joe Biden knows he comes from a coal — a coal country, from Scranton, Pennsylvania. His great-grandfather was a mining engineer, as you all know. President Biden knows that the men and women of coal country built this nation, and he has spent his presidency fighting for coal communities so that they too can benefit from the energy — from the energy transition we’re in right now.
Again, the reason why we put out that statement, to your — you asked me about the genesis — we believe his words were twisted, and we just wanted to make sure there was some clarity.
Q Okay. And then this — I think this week marks the 50th anniversary since the President’s first election victory.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. Okay.
Q Might have the numbers a little bit off there.
He’s clearly been through a number of these. I know he’s a congenital optimist, as he likes to say. But —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. He said that yesterday.
Q But can you give a sense, in your meetings with him right now, kind of what — how he’s feeling right now, his sense of things, not — not from a political perspective — Hatch Act perspective — but just generally in this moment in time, given both the election but also the myriad of other issues that are on his plate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, the President actually said this yesterday, and I think he said it a couple of times over the weekend: He is an optimist. And he believes — you know, he’s made it very clear about what’s in front of us, about the choices that the American people have, the stark differences between what we’re seeing right here in Washington, D.C., between congressional Democrats and also congressional Republicans, and what we have been able to do, what he and — and congressional Democrats have been able to do to deliver for the American people.
And so, you know, he believes that going out there, talking, speaking directly to the American public, laying out what he is seeing and how he sees the future of this country, that — that it’s important. That’s why you’ve seen him out there across the country.
But, look, I think that, again, he’s an optimist. He has faith, he — in — in the Amer- — in American values and the American people. He — he believes that, you know, we can reach our — our best expectations. And so, we should continue to do that.
And he’s going to continue to talk about that as well — the way forward and how we can get there, and make sure we just don’t leave anyone behind.
Q Karine, thank you so much. I’m going to ask you about some of the other comments that Leader McCarthy made over the weekend. He said, “I’m very supportive of Ukraine. I think there has to be accountability going forward…You always need not a blank check, but to make sure the resources are going to where it is needed.”
Regardless of who wins control of the House, what is your message to Ukraine? What assurances can you give Ukraine that this administration, Congress will be able to continue to provide the funding that’s needed? Because, of course, President Zelenskyy continues to say they need more weapons, they need more aid.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we are confident that the United States’ support for Ukraine will be unflinching and unwavering. That’s what we believe, and that’s how we see this going forward.
You saw Jake Sullivan say the very same thing while he was in Kyiv on Monday and reiterated the United States will continue to support Ukraine across a range of areas, whether it’s security assistance, economic assistance, or human rights assistance.
Members of Congress — Republicans and Democrat — have been clear about our enduring support for Ukraine. Under any scenario, to your point, to your question, President Biden is committed to work in a bipartisan fashion, as he has been — he has been doing to support Ukraine.
And we are — we are appreciative of the bipartisanship that we have seen over the last several months for Ukraine, and we’re going to continue to work towards that.
Q I think, you know, for Ukrainians, when they hear “not a blank check,” the message is that — that this aid will dry up, or at least not be as forthcoming as it has been. Why should they have confidence that it will continue to be “unflinching and unwavering”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, because the President has been very clear. Jake Sullivan was in Ukraine just a couple of days ago to reiterate that very message to President Zelenskyy and his team.
We are in regular contact, as you’ve heard from us, with President
Lezenskyy [Zelenskyy] and his team on everything that we can do to be helpful to them as they fight for — as they fight for their freedom.
Again, I understand the question, but we are going to continue to work very hard to make sure that there is a bipartisan effort as we continue to support Ukraine in their efforts.
Q And since you bring up Jake Sullivan, can I ask you to respond to this reporting that he has been engaged in confidential conversations in recent months with top aides to Russia — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to try to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, to try to make sure that it doesn’t go in the direction —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I’ve seen those reportings. So, you know — and, look, people claim a lot of things about conversations that we — that the United States has or doesn’t have. I don’t have any specific conversations to read out to you. But I do want to say a couple of things.
You know, we reserve the right to speak directly at senior levels about issues of concern to the United States. That has happened over the course of the past few months. Our conversations have focused only on — focused only on risk reduction in the U.S.-Russia relationship.
We continue to adhere to our basic principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” You’ve heard the President talk about this. You’ve heard — he’s written about this in an op-ed.
But we have been careful to protect the timing and the content of the conversation so that we have the continuing ability to reach Russia and these lines of communication are not cut off. And that’s how we have moved forward over the last several months here.
Q And just finally, Karine, as I’m sure you have seen, there’s a lot of speculation that former President Trump could announce he’s running for President again in 2024 in the coming days, in the coming weeks — sometime this month. How is the White House, how is the President preparing for that announcement? What type of a reaction or response —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I was asked this question the other day. And that’s not our focus. Our focus is making sure that we lay out the choice in front of the American people. You’ve heard directly from the President.
We’re just not — it is just — what the former President does or doesn’t do is not something that we are focused on from here.
Q And I know you’ve been asked this, but how much pressure does President Biden, since we are now 24 hours out, feel to make that final decision about whether he’s going to run again?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m going to say what he has said many times. And what I have said from here many times is that the President intends to run, and I will just leave those words there.
Q Thanks, Karine. On Friday, the President, in his statement on the jobs report, said, quote: We’re going to do what it takes to bring inflation down, but as long as I’m President, I’m not going to accept an argument that the problem is that too many Americans are finding good jobs.
Was that statement directed at the Federal Reserve, which anticipates unemployment will go up as they raise interest rates? Or if not, who was the target of that clause?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not. That was not targeted at the Federal Reserve. The President has been very clear to not interfere. He will not interfere in their — in their independence.
He was, you know, I think, speaking to the critics about the number of jobs that were created. And he was very clear that, you know, people should be — the 261,000 jobs and unemployment rate still near historic low at 3.7 percent — he was trying — he was laying out how the — the jobs recovery remains very strong.
And so, he wanted to say that, hey, look, 260,000 jobs — 261,000 jobs is something that we should be praising. And we shouldn’t be saying it’s — it’s good that people are seeing their wages go up, it’s good that people are seeing good-paying jobs out there.
And so, I think it was more so to that; certainly, certainly not a message to the Federal Reserve. Again, we — we respect their independence, and we certainly do not interfere in any policy decisions that they make.
Q I have a question about a series that USA Today has done on Super PACs, kind of, funding school board elections throughout the country, especially in certain key states — like Florida, you know, Michigan, Maryland, Texas.
And some of these PACs, like one called the 1776 Project PAC, have emphasized opposition to lessons related to race and social justice.
I guess my question for you is: Have you been fol- — like, has the White House been following this? And, I guess, is there any sort of concern over the politicization of local elections, like school board elections, that have, you know, typically been nonpartisan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I can’t speak to elections from here. I — you know, we do — we do try very hard in this administration to respect the Hatch Act, as we have been for the past several months here.
And so, I’m just not going to speak to Super PACs. I’m not going to speak to elections. I’m not even going to even venture into — into what the policies are around that, just to make sure that I’m not violating any — any rule of law.
Q Thank you, Karine. I know you said from the podium a number of times, including today, that the American people will hear from the President the day after the midterms. But his statement or remarks is not just a departure from the traditions that the President has promised to restore to the White House, but it also doesn’t allow this sort of nuanced discussion about what signal voters are sending in the midterms or how he plans to engage with the new Congress.
An outside observer might conclude that he doesn’t want to have a press conference because he looks poised to lose control of one or both chambers. So why, the day before the midterms, won’t the White House commit to holding that traditional post-midterms press conference the day after the elections?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You’ve been covering this administration for the past 20 months, right?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, you know, it takes some time at — in any administration to lay out what the schedule is going to be. I have been very clear: You’re going to hear from the President. He always enjoys taking your questions. So, you know, he — I’m sure he’ll take your questions as well.
I’m just not going to get ahead of it. I’m just not going to lay out what the — what his day is going to specifically look like on — on Wednesday.
But, again, he is going to address the American people. And I think that’s — matters. He’s going to be clear about what’s on his mind. And I’m just not going to get ahead of it from here.
Q But doesn’t the President’s own warning, though, that democracy is on the ballot plus this potential for unrest, make it that much more important that the President avail himself to the free and open press that he has allotted as indispensable to the functioning of democracy?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been very clear about where he stands when it comes to democracy. You’ve heard him talk about democracy over and over again. He talked about it last week and how important it is for the American people as they are thinking about the choice in front of them, what’s at stake.
He’s been really clear. He’s condemned political violence. This is a President who — the reason why he decided to — to run for this office was because of what he was seeing, you know, what he talked about — the soul of the nation.
So, I, you know, disagree with your premise as if it is something that is not important to him. He’s made this an important issue. And, again, I’m not going to get ahead of it. You will — the American people, which is what matters, specifically, is going to hear from the American people.
Q The question was about press access, not democracy.
Q I just have one follow-up, though — consider that our push or request to have a press conference the day after the midterms, on top of the others that I know that you’ve heard from us before.
But my last question would be about Elon Musk and Twitter, on a lighter note. Is it an abuse for Elon Musk, as the new Twitter CEO, to use the platform to tell users to vote for Republicans in the midterms?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I saw that reporting. That was earlier today, right? So, you know, I — look, I’m limited to what I can say about elections from the podium. But, broadly speaking, I can say that every eligible American has the right to make their voices heard in this year’s election. That is their right to do. And the President has often spoken about the importance of voting. And I’m just going to leave it there as to not get involved in any kind of election conversation.
Q Thanks, Karine. Can you just confirm or clarify kind of like whether the President will be addressing the climate summit in Egypt and what kind of message he’ll be delivering? And how might it be colored by the outcome of the midterms?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a good — let me give you a little bit of what the trip is going to look like.
So, on Thursday, the President will depart for Egypt, Cambodia, and Indo- — Indonesia to advance U.S. national security interests and deliver for families at home.
On Friday, President Biden will attend the 27th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change — COP27. And in Egypt, he will give remarks on our efforts to build on the unprecedented work by the United States to reduce emissions, advance the global climate fight, and help the most vulnerable build resilience to climate impacts.
The President will then depart for Cambodia for the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.
He will reaffirm the United States’ enduring commitment to Southeast Asia and Asian — and ASEAN centrality, building on the success of the historic U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in Washington, D.C.
He will underscore the importance of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in ensuring security and prosperity in the region and the wellbeing of our combined 1 billion people.
And then, the President will be on his way to Indonesia to participate in the G20 and address key challenges, such as climate change, the global impact of Putin’s war on Ukraine, including on energy and on food security, affordability, and a range of other priorities important to the global economic recovery.
We will have more information on any bilats. I know folks have asked about what — what bilats will occur. We’ll have more on that as — as we get further and further into the next couple of days. And we are also working on having Jake Sullivan here in the briefing room as well so he can take your questions specifically on how — how we see the — see this upcoming trip.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. The President is campaigning in some areas that aren’t really traditional battle- — battleground states or battleground areas, I’d just say, like in the New York suburbs; Bowie, Maryland. Why is the President going to places where Democrats are expected to go — to do pretty well? Is that because the President expect his — expects his party do poorly tomorrow?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to be really clear — again, Hatch Act — going to be really careful from here. I’m going to answer your question, but Hatch Act. I’m going to be very careful.
So — but when it comes to the President’s standing, as you were alluding to, the President’s approval rate has gone up over the last month — few months, which is very rare for the equivalent time in any administration if you look at the historical data. And his numbers track with where many of his predecessors have been at the same time in their presidencies, including President Obama’s, President Clinton, and also President Reagan.
So, according to some polls, his numbers are above where his predecessors was at this time, as well. And his travel schedule has been on par or similar to President — President Obama and also President Clinton.
So, the President has been very clear. He’s talked about this. You’ve seen him stump — just, you know, speak to the American people across the country. And he has talked about the economy. He’s talked about what’s — what’s at stake. He’s talked about the work that he’s done to deliver for the American people. He’s talked about how he’s going to continue to lower costs. And he’s done that for many, many different districts, places.
And, again, I don’t want to get too far into — into — into politics here. But the President thinks it’s a — really, really critical and important to get out there and get in front of the American people. And that’s what you saw from him.
Q Sure. But is that where he was seen as most needed, or why — why there, without, of course, like you say, going into specific races? But you did mention Ron Johnson, who is up for reelection, so —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He’s also an — he’s also an elected official who has been very clear about what his proposal is going to be for the American people, which is putting Medicare and Social Security on the on the chopping box, not just five years, but each year.
And so we think that’s important to call out. We think those are two — two pieces of policies or — or — that is critically important to the American people. So we’re going to speak against that.
That’s something that the President is always going to speak about that. He’s going to fight for the American people. That’s why you hear us speaking to that.
Look, if the President is traveling, he always says — you hear this in his speeches — that he has gotten a passport — right? — from the governor or passport from the mayor. So, clearly, you know, it was an invite for him to be there.
Q And then just really briefly, to clarify something you mentioned here at the podium, you mentioned about the President’s statement — or what the President said on Saturday regarding coal; you mentioned a couple times or repeated a couple times today that those words were twisted. So who twisted them? Did Manchin twist them? Did someone else twist them?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s how it was reported out was being twisted. So if you — and I want to be really clear, because this is important: If you read the full transcript, the President was very clear, commenting on a fact of economics and technology. As it has been from the its earliest days as an energy superpower, America is once again in the midst of an energy transition. And the President is determined to make sure that this transition helps all Americans. And he’s been very clear about that.
And these weren’t some novel comments, as they were taken and twisted to be. The President has — has talked for years about this energy transition and the need to support coal communities through it. And so it was — it was twisted by — by many others. And so we wanted to make sure that there was some clarity.
Go ahead. Matt — go ahead, Matt.
Q Oh, sorry. You had mentioned just a minute ago about not reading out any bilats that are scheduled, but is the United States opposed to having a bilat with Vladimir Putin if he comes?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has been really clear. He’s been asked if he was going to meet with President Putin at G20. And he said he — that is not his intention.
Q But he said he would if Brittney Griner is, if I recall.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, the President spoke to this. He was asked multiple times; I’ve been asked multiple times and basically repeated what the President has said. He has — he has no intention of meeting with President Putin.
Q And then, secondly, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has said that he won’t come to the — to the summit if Putin does. Has the United States weighed in — into that at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’ve been very clear from this podium — very clear about — that if Russia gets to attend the G20 then so should Ukraine. It — it would require members across G20 to disinvite Russia. And what I can guarantee you is the United States will show up and be — be at the table. And we will be unapologetic in our defense of Ukraine and calling out Russia for its brutal war, as we have been for the past — past several months.
But, again, we’ve been very clear on how we see that invite.
Q But if Russia doesn’t come, does the U.S. still want Ukraine to come?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it is — that is up to President Zelenskyy and the G20. As I just said, that is something that the G20 would have to — would have to decide on. But we have been clear: If Russia attends, then so should Ukraine.
Q Thanks. The President, over the weekend, spoke with the German Chancellor Scholz, who was just recently in China to meet with the Chinese president. And I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about whether you were briefed beforehand, you coordinated sort of the messaging of what you want out of this as, you know, democracies in the big battle against autocracies. It seems like you weren’t surprised by Scholz going there. And whether you think that his trip was actually a success, what he got out of it.
Xi Jinping seems like he criticized Putin — not directly, but warned against nuclear war. Do you think that was a successful trip?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m — we’re just not going to go into what a — a trip that one of our allies undertakes. Like, that is for them to decide and for their own reasoning to take these types of trips. We certainly are not going to comment about that from here.
The Chancellor spoke to it — spoke to it specifically and directly. And so I would leave — leave his words, you know, to answer that question for him, for themselves. But we are certainly not going to comment about that.
Q But he did give a readout to the President in their call, right? That was in your —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it — he did; it’s in our readout. I just don’t have anything beyond to share from what you guys have.
Q Okay. And then one more follow-up on Twitter and Musk. Is there any advancement of your conversations on whether or not you would actually pay for your accounts? And how does his comments today, you know, impact that decision-making process, given that he’s clearly pushing for a Republican Congress?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m — I don’t have any decisions or any policy changes to preview for you at this time. I don’t want to — really want to get into hypotheticals at this time. I think there’s still some decisions being made from — from — from the company. I’m just not going to get ahead of that.
Q Thanks, Karine. The Chinese president is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia before the end of the year. What does the White House make of this trip at a time when the U.S. is reassessing its relationship with Saudi Arabia?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, not going to comment about that from here. We’ve been very clear about how we are going to — we’re reviewing our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Once we have something to share, certainly we will do that.
The President wants to do that — that de- — make that decision in a bipartisan way, as you’ve heard him say, as you’ve heard us say, because this has been a relationship that has been — that has been done in a bipartisan way over the past 80 years. So certainly not going to change from — from that process.
But, again, I’m just not going to get ahead of the President. I’m not going to comment on a potential trip or a plausible trip from here that China is going to have.
Q Thank you. I have a question about Peru. Do you have a reaction to the protests that have been going on for the few — for the few weeks? If you have any readout of any conversation within the administration and the government in Peru.
And there is an OAS mission that is arriving to the country on — on November the 20th. What do you expect from — from this mission?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we continue to closely monitor what we’re seeing in Peru, in particular the protests, of course. We believe in — freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental in any democracy, and individuals shouldn’t [should] be able to make their voices heard in a peaceful manner. And, again, this is something that we’re closely monitoring.
Q Thanks, Karine. On the economy, you said here the President’s plans are going to lower costs, they’re going to get inflation down. But the President has been giving us that message for more than a year, basically without much success. So is it time for a pivot?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I disagree with that not having much success, because if you look at the President’s policies as it relates to, for example, the gas prices, the President took bold actions, as you’ve heard us say. You know, he tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was a historic action. And because of that, and it has been proven by data, that that action that he took has brought gas prices down by $1.25. And — and that’s because he took action.
Again, that’s lowering costs during this, really, global challenge that we’re currently seeing with inflation. Every — almost every country across the globe is dealing with these — this global challenge. So that’s an action that he took.
Inflation Reduction Act. Again, only Democrats — congressional Democrats voted for that. It’s going to lower the cost of energy. It’s going to lower healthcare premiums. Again, action that this President took to make sure that we were dealing with issues that really, truly matter to the American people.
We understand that Americans are feeling a little bit of a squeeze right now. And we get that. The President gets that from his — from — from his growing up, personally.
And so, the work is not going to stop. But if you talk about what congressional Republicans — if we are having an honest conversation here and talk about what Republicans are going to do, which is actually — if they want to — if they want to repeal Inflation Reduction Act, that is increasing inflation. If they want to get rid of Medicare and Social Security, that’s taking — that’s taking something away from the American people that is popular and that they need.
Q But it seems open ended. There’s no end. There’s going to — in the future, at some point, inflation is going to go down. We’re still seeing inflation at 8.2 percent, near 40-year highs.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we have —
Q And core inflation is still rising.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we have seen, actually — that — that is — that’s not what we have seen from the data. The data has shown that we are seeing some easing in inflation. That is what we have seen from the most recent pieces of data. And that is important to note. We’re not saying that inflation is not an issue for the American people.
But if you look at the GDP, if you look at, you know, CPI, if you look at the data that we all look at, all economists take a — take a really keen eye on these pieces of information, we are seeing inflation easing.
Now, do we need to do more work? Absolutely. Is the President going to continue to do everything that he can to — to lower costs for the American people? Yes.
Q Thank you. You said that the President is fighting for coal communities. But just a follow-up: That doesn’t mean that he’s fighting to keep these coalmines open, does it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the President — I — I laid out very clearly about how the President sees — sees his — his part in this and what he has done. You know, he has — he has — you know, through the work of Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, President Biden has already delivered more than $23 billion to energy communities across the country.
He has put forward plans that are bringing new energy and manufacturing jobs to states like West Virginia, to states like Pennsylvania. And he has secured critical investment through the Inflation Reduction Act to support coal communities as well, which he believes is incredibly important, which is why it was included in the Inflation Reduction Act. And that’s from funding for coalminers suffering from respiratory challenges to billions of dollars in loans to help them seize new energy opportunities.
So, again, you know, I mentioned this, I just laid this out: While we’re trying to help coal communities, while we’re trying to do everything that we can to make sure that they have the funding that they need, Republicans — that very same — same policy, same monies that I just laid out — Inflation Reduction Act, which is that where it’s coming from — Republicans want to repeal that, taking away the efforts that we’re trying to provide for coal communities.
Q So that sounds like you’re helping them as the market, through economic transition, is moving away from coal. That doesn’t sound like you’re taking any deregulatory efforts or any steps to help the mines themselves stay open. Is that correct?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’ve been very clear. The President has been very clear on this. I don’t have anything more to add. Again, we believe what he was trying to say was twisted. And we’ve laid that down very clearly. You heard from my statement. You heard from what I just say — said here today.
Q How can you twist those words? He said “We’re shutting those plants down.” How do you twist those words?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead, Phil. (Inaudible.)
Q Different question. Marco Rubio, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee criticized the administration by saying, quote, “By giving TikTok influencers the platform of White House visits and creating content, Biden is signaling to the world he views it as safe to use an app that is beholden to Beijing.” This comes after TikTok admitted that some European data was accessed in China. Is the President signaling to the American public that TikTok is safe?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wait, can you say that one more time? Because that was a lot. (Laughs.)
Q That was a lot. Sorry. So the gist of it is that Rubio argues that by hosting some of these TikTok influencers here at the White House —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. I hear you.
Q — that the President is essentially, quote, “signaling to the world he believes it is safe to use an app that is beholden to Beijing.” My question is: Does the President see it that way? Is he signaling anything about this application?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So just to be very mindful here, not going to comment on TikTok while the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, as you all know, review is ongoing to address concerns posed by — posed by the app.
So, generally speaking, the Biden administration is focused on the challenge of certain countries — right? — which is — including China, as you just mentioned to me, seeking for leverage digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that present — that’s presently unacceptable and is not safe for our national security. Is — it gives — it’s at risk — puts our national security at risk.
So, look, we are taking the steps that we can to address this challenge. For example, the President issued the first-ever presidential directive defining additional national security factors for — for this very — said community to consider in line with the administration’s national security priorities, like protecting Americans, America’s sensitive — sensitive data.
And last year, the — President Biden put forward an executive order to protect Americans’ sensitive data from collection and utilization. So, we will continue to look for other actions to deal with this. And, again, I don’t want to get too far into it, but I can lay out what the President has done.
Q But there’s a risk and that review is ongoing. Why continue to invite these folks to the White House to create TikTok? And I — I never thought that I’d be asking a question about TikTok, but there are a lot of —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I feel like you’ve asked me questions before about TikTok.
Q But there a lot of parents who are looking, you know, at this seemingly benign app and then they’re — they’re seeing reports that — because of the parent company, ByteDance, which is Chinese owned — that there’s a risk. And then they see that the President of the United States is appearing on some of their children’s feeds.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — and I hear — I hear your question. As you know, the President uses different mediums to communicate directly with — with the American people, including young people. We think it’s important to communicate directly with them. But we understand, right? We understand the issues that TikTok — TikTok presents itself with.
And so, again, we — we use different mediums. I just laid out what we’re trying to do in our efforts to deal with the issue that you just laid out. Don’t want to get too much into it because it’s in front of the committee. But we take this very seriously, hence the executive order that the President did, and we will continue to do that.
Q Thank you, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you. Last week, a White House official told me that the President and the White House was evaluating next steps regarding the Architect of the Capitol, who is actually a holdover Trump administration appointee who serves a 10-year term, I believe it is. There was an IG report that said that he was misusing — allegedly misusing government vehicles, may have been misrepresenting himself as a police officer in Virginia. Is there any update from the White House beyond evaluating the next steps regarding Mr. Blanton’s status?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. So we take the IG report seriously and the request from members of congress seriously as well and are evaluating next steps. And so, that’s what we’re currently looking at, at this time. We don’t have more at this moment to share, but we will certainly share any updates that may come up when we have them.
Q Thanks, Karine. Two questions, if I could. One, you and President Biden last week have been warning the American people that election results may not be official on Tuesday night, that it may take some time. I’m wondering if the White House would support essentially having states who don’t count ballots early — who don’t count early ballots so that they’re ready for election day — would you support having those states change their laws to count early votes so that election results will come in sooner?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t have anything to share with you on that, about changing policies or changing what states do.
What we’re try- — what the President was trying to say is that, you know, we are in a time — in a different time where — in modern elections where more and more ballots are being cast in early voting and by mail, as I mentioned. And many states don’t start counting ballots until after the polls close on November 8th. So, we’re just trying to communicate with the American people, let them know like this is — this process certainly has changed, again, in modern elections.
And so, again, you know, it’s — it’s an important reminder for people to be patient, for people to understand that. And that’s what we care about. That’s the message that we’re trying to put forward to the American people. And I’m — I’m just not going to talk about ch- — policy changes or what we recommend states to do or not do.
Q And then, I know you were asked this a couple weeks ago, but the World Cup starts in less than two weeks, and I’m wondering if there’s any update on if the Biden administration is planning to send a delegation or any officials to attend that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything more to read out from what I shared a couple weeks ago on that.
Q Thank you, Karine. At a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday, former President Donald Trump said the radical Democrats are locking up pro-life activists, persecuting their political opponents. Just, what is your White House response?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Clearly, that’s not true. I’m not going to say more than that. It’s just not true. It’s false. It’s a lie. It’s not true. So I’m going to move on.
Q There’s this perception though that pro-life activists are being persecuted and, in the meantime, like, pro-life pregnancy centers are being attacked and —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s not. It is just — that is just not something that I’m going to comment from here about what the former President said. It is — you know, I’m just not going to get anything further.
Q Do you see that there’s a (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m just not going to get any further.
Q Thanks very much.
Q Thank you so much. (Laughs.) Oh, which one, Karine?
Q Can I ask you to just flesh out some of the desired deliverables from these upcoming summits? Starting with COP27, the call from developing nations for $100 billion to address — I believe the term is “loss and damage.” How far is the U.S. prepared to go on that and to respond to that?
And then going — looking at ASEAN and G20, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, is the U.S. prepared to welcome Canada or, you know, any other deliverables from these summits?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know there’s a lot of questions on this. It’s happening in just a couple of days where the President is going to leave on this — on this foreign trip. We’re going to — we’re going — we’re working on getting Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, in the briefing room this week where he will lay — lay out the goals the President has for this particular trip. I’m not going to get ahead of the National Security Advisor, but we will share more. We will have more to share.
Go ahead, Brian.
Q Can I just ask you about —
Q Thank you. Oh —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Just, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada summit that’s happening in December. Do we have any news on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything new on that as well.
Go ahead, Brian. Oh, Brian, then Courtney.
Q Thank you. All right. I have a logistical question about tomorrow, Election Day, and I also have a question on the CHIPS Act. So, for Election Day, what are the President’s plans? Is he going to be at the White House watching the returns? Can you tell us more about what his plans are for Election Day itself?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just laid that out. Didn’t have — I don’t have anything more to add. We will share a little bit more tomorrow when we — when we have more to share, but he’ll have a robust — a pretty heavy schedule tomorrow here at the White House. As you know, he’s going — this evening, he’s going to be going to Maryland to speak directly to Americans in — in — at Bowie State, more specifically.
Again, I’m not going to get ahead of what we’ll share tomorrow. But, again, you — after tomorrow, you all will hear from him.
Q And when the President is considering whether to do a big press conference, would he consider waiting until the election results are more clear nationally before having a press conference?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Do you guys want to wait — wait to talk to him? (Laughs.)
Q No, we’d rather have it on Wednesday. But I was wondering if that’s part of the calculation as the White House is deciding when to schedule it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I — again, I’m not — I’m just not going to get ahead of it. I have laid out that — what it’s been like in modern — in modern elections, and it has taken some time for results to come in because of vote by mail, because of early voting. I’m not going to get ahead of — of that.
But you will hear from the President on Wednesday, and, of course, he loves taking your questions and so that will — you’ll —
Q And just a quick question on the CHIPS Act. The — one of the companies that lobbied for the CHIPS Act is Intel. They are — have announced they’re going to have layoffs this month. And I’m wondering what the President’s reaction to that is. As companies prepare to apply for subsidies from the CHIPS Act in the coming months, what’s the President’s reaction to when it comes to lobbying for the CHIPS Act, and also layoffs?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I have seen those reporting. I think it came out a couple of — a couple of weeks ago, if I — if I remember correctly.
Q That’s correct.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have not talked to the President about this — his reaction or his thoughts. And so would have to connect with him and ask him.
Q I mean, is he concerned that companies that pushed for these subsidies are going to lay off workers?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I — you’re asking me something that I just not have talked to the President about. And once I do, I promise to share that.
Okay, Mr. Willis, in the back.
Q Can I go really quickly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I’m sorry. Courtney, go ahead.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I jumped ahead. I apologize. Go ahead.
Q Thanks. I wanted to ask what — the Senate returns next week while you guys will be out of town. Can you talk a little bit about what the President’s priorities are going to be in the weeks of the lame duck session, given that it’s such a scrunched period of time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know this is a question that people are — are looking to have. We’re going to wait for Congress to come back and to have that discussion, to have that conversation. I know you said they come back next week. We will — the President will certainly be on foreign travel, and we certainly are going to be talking to them about the lame duck period.
There’s a lot that needs to happen — right? — before we get there. And so, once we have more of a robust kind of proposal, what it is that we see that — see what the lame duck is for us, we’ll certainly share that.
Q Can you also talk about the U.S. presence on the ground at the climate change conference? I know the President will be there on Friday. You have a new climate advisor, Jon Podesta. You have Secretary Kerry. I mean, what’s the U.S. presence on the ground going to look like outside of President Biden?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ll have more to share. The NSC is going to have a comprehensive schedule to share in just a day or two with all of you, as we have — we’ve done in the past, just to lay what each day looks like, to lay out what each, certainly in this case, summit is going to look like, including bilats.
You know, just give us another day or two and we will be sharing that with all you. We’ll have background calls as we’ve done in the past and make sure that we are providing all information to folks here.
Q President Biden made a pledge last night during the New York rally to approve, quote, “no more drilling” for oil. But does he see that as being in conflict with his efforts to lower gas prices?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, no, we don’t see that in conflict. Look, the President was asked about new drilling in the Arctic. And when the Trump administration opened the Arctic refuge for drilling, not a single major oil company actually bid on the sale. And so there is no shortage of opportunity for these companies to produce oil here in the United States. They’re sitting on 9,000 — you’ve heard us talk about this — 9,000 unused but approved drilling permits.
Q Okay. And then he said last Thursday in New Mexico that oil companies, quote, “should be drilling more,” and that if they were drilling more, we would have more relief at the pump. So, does he see that statement as being in conflict with the Sunday statement? Should they be drilling more or less for oil?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, oil companies are sitting on 9,000 — again, 9,000 unused but approved drilling permits. They’re sitting on them. And, again, there’s no shortage of opportunity for companies to produce oil here in the United States. Nine thousand unused permits.
And the President has been clear that rather than using their record profits to pad shareholders’ pockets, these companies need to ramp up production and also lower gas prices. It is something that the President believes that can be done.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Thanks, everybody.
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