James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:02 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi, everyone.  Good afternoon. 

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  So, we’re going to get to it.  This evening, the President will welcome community leaders, lawmakers, students, educators, and hundreds of others to the White House for a historic Juneteenth celebration concert on the South Lawn.  You probably are hearing a little bit of the soundcheck right now. 

In 2021, President Biden signed bipartisan legislation establishing Juneteenth as the nation’s newest federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day nearly four decades ago.  Establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday was only the beginning of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to ensure that America lives up to its highest ideals. 

Since taking office, a couple of things that the President has been able to accomplish is: created a federal government that reflects the diversity of America; strengthened the economy and lowered the unemployment rate for Black Americans at a historic low to 4.7 percent; increased across — increased access, excuse me, to homeownership; nominated more Black women to federal courts than every president combined — nearly one third of judicial appointments are Black Americans; provided nearly $7 billion in historic resources and support for historic Black colleges and universities; taken action on marijuana reform by pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana; insured everyone has access to clean drinking water by replacing lead pipes; and modernizing bridges, roads, ports, and airports as well; lowered the prices of prescription drugs and energy costs for seniors through the Inflation Reduction Act; restricted the use of chokeholds and signed an executive order for accounta- — accountable and effective pol- — policing when Senate Republicans blocked legislation from reaching the President’s desk; brought together Democrats and Republicans to pass the first major gun safety reform in 30 years to keep our communities safe; cut Black child poverty in half as a result of the Child Tax Credit made possible through the American Rescue Plan; and fought for $10,000 in debt relief for all eligible borrowers and up to $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell Grants. 

Now, as the President has said, it’s not enough to just commemorate Juneteenth.  To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we must not rest until we deliver the promise of America for all Americans. 

Lastly, I’d also note that the concert celebration takes place during the Black Music Month, where the President will uplift American art forms that sing to the soul of the American experience. 

Also today, we are — we are announcing a new security assistance package to help meet Ukraine’s security and defense needs.  The package includes key capabilities such as Bradley infantry fighting vehicles; Stryker armored personnel carriers; artillery rounds; Stinger anti- — anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; ammunition to U.S.-provided HIMARS; and more than 22 million rounds of small-arms ammunition to help Ukraine retake its sovereign territory.  The package also contains additional munition for Ukraine’s air defenses to help protect the Ukrainian people. 

This is the 40th drawdown of equipment from Department of Defense inventories using presidential drawdown authorities for Ukraine.  And we appreciate the bipartisan support of Congress, which has made this aid possible.

The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they courageously defend their sovereignty, their democracy against Russia’s aggression. 

Finally, today’s CPI report showed continued progress in our fight against inflation.  Annual inflation is now the lowest in more than two years and has fallen for 11 months from a peak of 9.1 percent just last June down to 4 percent last summer [sic] — last — pardon me, last month. 

Wages rose over the last year accounting for inflation.  This is especially helping lower-income workers who have seen their wages rise faster than others, helping them catch up after decades of widening wage gra- — gaps. 

Energy prices fell 11 percent over the last year.  Gas prices are down by $1.40 since — from their peak after Putin’s inva- — invasion.  And grocery prices are trending down, with egg prices in particularly — in particular nearly 30 — 30 percent since January. 

Of course, there is more work to be done.  And the President’s agenda is helping lower prescription drug costs, cap insulin, and lower energy bills as well. 

President Biden is growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up with more than 13 million jobs created and unemployment under 4 percent for almost a year and a half.

House Republicans, on the other hand, have a different agenda.  Their approach is trickle-down approach.  Today, they are marking up their Tax Scam 2.0, which would give handouts to rich special interest and big corporations that would increase the debt by hundreds of billions of dollars while also repealing investments that are fueling our manufacturing resurgence, creating jobs, and lowering energy costs for working families.

With that, Josh, the floor is yours. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Three subjects.  First, since you mentioned Ukraine in your topper, Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukrainian forces have suffered, quote, “catastrophic” losses.  He says Ukraine lost 160 tanks and over 300 armored vehicles, while Russia loss 54 tanks.  Are Putin’s statements accurate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’m just going to repeat what the President said during his — during his remarks when you all saw him just moments ago when he was with the — with the Secretary-General of NATO. 

I’m going to leave Ukraine to, certainly, speak to their military operations.  That’s something that we’re going to do from here. 

As it relates to the comments that President — Mr. Putin has made: As you know, we don’t put stock in Russia’s public assessment.  And so, I’ll just leave it there. 

Q    And then, on the big news of this afternoon, First Lady Jill Biden said it’s a little shocking that many Republicans support Donald Trump after his indictment.  What has President Biden said?  Was he also shocked?  Does he agree with his wife?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to comment on anything that’s related to the — to the indictment.  We’re just going to be very mindful here and respect the Department of Justice, let them do their job. 

Q    And then, lastly, the Office of Special Counsel has said that your use of “MAGA Republicans” violated the Hatch Act.  What kind of guidance had you previously been given by the White House Counsel on that matter?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So let me just lay — lay this down.  I’m really glad that you asked the question.  I know there’s been many news reports on this.

So as — we’ve made very clear throughout our time in this administration that we do everything that we can to uphold, certainly, the Hatch Act and take the law very seriously.

A couple of things that I want to lay out here:

So, with — you know, many of you have mentioned, with friendly consternation, how often we take the — we take the Hatch Act and we follow the Hatch Act throughout these past two years.

We received a letter from the Office of Special Counsel, which is the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act, as all of you know, and it communicated to us that — their opinion and — issuing a warning, but not taking further action.  As you all know by reading the letter and the reports, the White House Counsel’s Office is reviewing their opinion and is going to respond to them. 

So, certainly not going to get ahead of how the White House Counsel is going to respond or what’s going to come out from — from that action.

So, now, if you — if you look at the archived Trump White House website, it contains about 2,000 — nearly 2,000 uses of “MAGA” to describe policies and official agendas.  Congressional Republicans have also used “MAGA” to refer to policies and official agenda frequently, for years now — even, clearly, before we entered the administration.

And what’s more, I also want to note that — that the opinion that you see that was presented by — by OSC happened just last week, which is — it occurred months after the briefing where I made those comments.

So, basically, it is retroactive, right?  The actions were retroactive, after I had made the comments.

So, look, when — basically, what we’re seeing by me laying that out is that we did not know their opinion when we were able to use — to — we were be- — when we — when we were given the green light to actually say the comments that I made.  So I just want to make that very clear.

But again, look, it’s going to be reviewed.  That’s what the White House Counsel is going to do.  They’re going to have a dialogue, a routine dialogue with a OC- — OSC.  And so, I’ll just leave it there.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  But it sounds like you disagree with the findings.  Is that true?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No.  What I’m saying is that this — we got this letter last week.  And — and it was retroactive, right?  The letter was retroactive.  I — what I — the comments that I made was months prior.  And so, we didn’t know that was the opinion months prior, when it was said.

So, what I will say now is that the White House Counsel is going to have a routine dialogue, like many administrations have in the past, with OSC.  And certainly not going to get ahead of that.  I’m going to let that process move forward.

Q    And just more broadly, since you cite the Hatch Act so often, what is your interpretation of it?  What are your limitations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, what I know is: As it relates to an ongoing election right now — right? — we’re talking about 2024 — we just are very careful.  We are very careful to respect the law, the rule of law.  We’re very respect- — respectful to not speak — as a federal employee, to not speak about the election, about candidates in the election, about anything that’s related. 

Anything that you all ask me about the campaign, I very often, if not almost every time, refer you to the campaign.

As it relates to this specifically, I just laid out, if you look at the archives from the Trump White House website, it contains nearly 2,000 uses of “MAGA” to describe policies and official agendas.  Right?  And congressional Republicans have used that word multiple times to describe their policies and official agenda as well.

I’m not going to get into any — any back-and-forth about this.  I’m going to let the White House Counsel has — have their routine conversation with OSC and let them handle it.

Q    And then, just one more on the Trump indictment, which
I know you already spoke about.  But, you know, it’s one thing to not answer questions about the charges and the actual pending case before the DOJ, but what about the substance of these documents?  Can you at least share whether President Biden has been briefed on the substance in these documents?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I will let — I will let my colleagues at the White House Counsel deal with that.  I’m just not going to speak to it from this podium.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Mm-hmm.  You’re welcome.

Go ahead.  Welcome to the briefing room.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Just a little bit of a clarification on the Trump indictment.  You have been clear that you don’t want to politicize the indictment, but the President’s opponents have accused him of weaponizing the DOJ.  So just to be clear, can you say categorically that President Biden was not involved or influenced at all any of the decisions into indicting the President by —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Not at all.  He was not involved.

This is — the President has been very, very clear: The Department of Justice is independent.  He wants to restore that independence of — of the Department of Justice, and that’s what you have seen.

That is why we have been very, very consistent.  When it comes to criminal cases, we just do not comment. 

Q    Has the President been briefed on any security concerns around the former President’s court appearance today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I was asked this yesterday, so was my colleague from NSC — the Admiral was asked this question when he was at the podium.  And we — he laid out — right? — and I laid out — he normally gets an update from his national security team and also his intelligence team on a daily basis.  And that’s usually where he gets his update.  I cannot speak beyond that.

Q    Any additional requests for security?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t — can’t speak to anything beyond any request.  All I can say is that we are prepared.

Q    And a fi- — one final question.


Q    Is the assessment of the White House that inflation has finally peaked?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I know that you — I know the CPI data came out today, as I just laid out this morning.  Look, so what I — what I will say is that we’re making progress on fighting inflation, and that’s good news.  That’s good news for hardworking families.  That’s incredibly important that we see that, and we’re seeing that in this data. 

And I kind of said this at the top, but I’ll reiterate it here: Annual inflation is at the lowest level that we have seen in more than two years, that — since March of 2021.  And it has fallen for 11 months, and in less than half of what it was this past — this past June, the June before this one, clearly.  And wages has rose over the last year.  So all of that is important.  Gas prices is down by $1.40.  That’s because of the work that this President has done. 

If you think about his investment in America, if you think about his economic policy, how he wants to make sure that we’re building an economy that builds from the bottom up, middle out, that is what you’ve seen. 

And I have said, and he has said many times, when it comes to his economic policy, lowering costs is his number one priority.  So this is important.  We are fighting inflation.  We’re seeing progress.  And this is going to be incredibly important for Americans across the country. 

Q    So just to continue on inflation, and then I’ve got another one after that: One of the components of the inflation data showed that rent prices are still sticky; they’re just not responding the way that you hoped that they had.  It’s starting to remind some people of the comment that inflation was going to be transitory. 

So for a long time, the expectation has been that housing prices and rental prices would come down, and they just haven’t.  Are you starting to get worried that they’re not going to come down and what the implications are?  And what can you do?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we know — and it’s a good question.  We know housing affordability is — is a challenge for families.  And the good news is that we are starting to see a cooling in housing — in the housing market.  So that’s incredibly important. 

And also, that is why the President has taken extra steps.  Right?  You’ve heard us over the last two years talk about the — talking about the Housing Supply Action Plan that the President put forth to help close the housing supply shortfall that we have seen in the last five years; making it easier to use the American Rescue Plan funds to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is another way that — another part of the President’s plan as it relates to lowering costs when it comes to housing or dealing with the housing market; releasing a Blueprint for Renters Bill of Rights and a set of federal actions to make the rental market fairer; and calling on Congress to provide additional incentives for housing construction and support low-income families. 

So, look, we get it.  We understand what families are going through.  Again, the housing market is cooling, so that’s important.  But the President has taken extra steps over the last two years to deal with — to deal with the affordability aspect as it relates to housing. 

Q    So are you considering additional actions since the housing prices don’t seem to be responding? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I don’t have any additional actions to announce at this time.  But, I mean, I just laid out four real, constructive, comprehensive, substantive actions that this President has taken over the last two years to deal with certainly issues that — that American families have to deal with when it comes to affordable housing. 

Q    And then, on Ukraine: NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg just said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is making progress.  The Ukrainians are making progress, and that’s important in terms of strengthening their hand when they get to the negotiating table.  Does the White House share his view that the Ukrainians are, in fact, making advances?  And can you give us any details?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I know that President Zelenk- — Zelenskyy has spoken to this.  He says the counteroffenses [sic] operations have begun, but certainly I’m going to leave that to Ukraine to speak to.  That’s basically what the President was asked when he was — “said,” pardon me, when he was asked.  When it — when it — as it relates to the military operations, we’re just going to let them, President Zelenskyy and his team, speak to that. 

And, look, what we can say is that we — we know that the Ukrainian people are brave and they are tough.  We have seen this the last 15 months.  They — they have been incredibly impressive.  We have done everything that we can to make sure that they are successful in the battlefield.  And that’s not just us.  More than 50 countries have gone beh- — have come behind Ukraine and supported their efforts, their fight against Russia’s aggression, and to fight for their freedom. 

And so we’re going to continue to do that.  We know that there are difficult challenges ahead, but we feel that they are prepared.  I’m certainly not going to get into military operations or what’s going on on the — on the battlefield.  Again, I’ll let Ukraine speak to that. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I wonder, do you believe that you violated the Hatch Act with those comments about MAGA Republicans? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I can say is: At the time, I was given the sign-off — right? — to use that terminology.  And — and I said this just moments ago: The letter that we received was from last week.  We received that letter for something that I said months ago, so it was retroactive, if you will. 

I’m just not going to get into giving my opinion or thoughts.  I’m just going to lay out the facts for all of you.  You all are going to report this and have reported it.  And we’re going to have a routine conversation.  Not — not myself, but clearly the White House Counsel is going to have a routine conversation with OSC to talk about this.  I’m just going to leave that there.

Q    It’s a term that you, but also the White House press shop has used a lot in — in paper statements and everything else.  So is — are you guys going to continue to use that terminology going forward?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m not going to get ahead of what the outcome of this might be.  They’re — the White House Counsel certainly is reviewing the opinion, and they will have a routine conversation with OSC, as they should.  This is going to be an ongoing process. 

As you stated, we have used this term many times before.  It’s nothing new in the context.  And the way we use it is in the context of talking about their policies and in talking about their values.  That’s how we have used this term.  And so I will — you know, I’ll leave it there.  And we’ll — we’ll continue — they’ll continue to have a conversation.

Q    And last one on this.  I know that the White House Counsel’s Office sometimes conducts informational sessions with staff to educate them about the Hatch Act, what the guardrails are, et cetera.  When is the last time that you participated in one of those?  And do you intend to get some kind of a refresher from the White House Counsel’s Office?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I don’t have any — any refresher to — to speak to at this time.  But, yes, I’ve sat in many — many conversations that have been held by the Counsel on the Hatch Act specifically.  I know I did one recently this — this year.  I just don’t have the exact date in mind.

Q    Okay.  And then, last question.  I wonder, as it relates to the case that — that President — the former President Trump is facing: Is there any world in which President Biden would consider pardoning the former President?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to speak to that.  No comment.  (Laughs.)

Q    In the back.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jo- — and I’ll come to the back.  Go ahead, Joey [Michael].

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Senator Bernie Sanders is saying that he won’t move forward with the President’s nominee for the National Institutes of Health — or any health nominees, for that matter — until the administration puts forward a plan to lower prescription drug costs.  What is your reaction?  And has the administration been in contact with his office about this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  So, look, we see Senator Sanders as a — as a friend.  And he has been certainly very —
a partner — very helpful to us in pushing the President’s agenda and lowering costs for Americans.  And so, we share the — we share Senator Sanders’s concerns on pricing. 

That’s why signing — the President signing the Inflation Reduction Act was so important.  That — that was a critical component, if you will, of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is lowering costs for Americans, putting a cap on insulin for our seniors.  And so, it was a consequential piece of — of that law.

And so, look, we’re — we’re always looking for ways to continue to lower costs for Americans.  And we look forward to working with the senator to get — to get our nominees forward and to — and confirmed, certainly.  But this is something that we — we agree with the senator on making sure we’re doing everything that we can to lower drug costs.

But again, Inflation Reduction Act: incredibly important — when you’re talking about Medicare being able to — to be able to lower cost and be given that — that ability to do so.  That’s important.  Insulin costs for our seniors capped at 30 –35 bucks.  That’s important.

And so, clearly, the President and the senator are on the same page on this.  And so, we’re continuing to have conversations with him.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  There are reports that the labor and management have agreed to a cooling-off period at the West Coast ports after a meeting with Acting Secretary Su.  I’m wondering if you can confirm that development and if you’re encouraged by it at the White House.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things I want to give an update on.  I know I was asked about this, I believe, at the end of last week.

So, as you know, we’re monitoring this very closely.  We know that the parties in the negotiation have overcome some sticky points already and are continuing to address the most difficult issues right now. 

And so, we’re encouraging all parties to certainly — to continue to work in good faith and do that in a — certainly in a mutually beneficial resolution to ensure that workers get their fair benefits, quality of life, and wages that they deserve.

That’s why the Acting Secretary, Julie Su, is currently on the West Coast meeting with all parties, encouraging them to reach a resolution.  And so, she has invaluable expertise working closely with these parties as the former California Secretary of Labor and as Department of Secretary of Labor.

Certainly, I’m not going to get ahead of conversations and where they are currently.  But we’re going to continue to — for — in good faith, for parties to get to stay at the table and have the conversation so that the workers can certainly get a fair — certainly fair benefits and a better outcome.

Q    Senator Manchin said he’s opposing Jared Bernstein’s nomination to lead the CEA.  Do you have a response to that?  And is the White House concerned that would endanger his chances of confirmation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I can’t say it better than nearly every living economist who led the CEA under — under Republican administration.  And this is the quote, “Dr. Bernstein has been a respected voice in economic policy circles for decades.  He has the estab- — he has established a reputation for producing informative, data-driven analysis and developing creative policy ideas,” end quote. 

So, we look forward for Jared’s swift confirmation.  And this — again, this is coming from Republican administrations, the quote that I just laid out.  And so, we are going to continue to work to get Jared confirmed.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:   Go ahead, Ed.

Q    Yeah, thanks.  Thanks, Karine.  So, we have 4 percent inflation — CPI inflation overall.  That’s on top of the other inflation increases that we’ve seen for the past 26 months or so.  There’s been no overall price reductions.  What’s the President’s plan to reduce prices for all Americans, not just a certain category of people that fit certain criteria?

Q    I think everything that the President has done — all of his economic policies, when you think about these historic legislation — that’s for all Americans.  That’s to make sure that we — we continue to lower costs — whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s energy, whether it’s — you know, not just that but also creating good-paying jobs.  That’s to make sure that we build an economy that doesn’t leave anybody behind. 

That’s why when we say “from the bottom up, middle out” — that’s not trickle down.  That’s not a trickle-down approach that we have seen many, many — for many decades.  That’s a different approach so that we do include ev- — all Americans.  We include hardworking — working families that, again, have been left behind.

And so, the President is a president for people living in red states and blue states, for all Americans.  He has said that.  He has been very, very clear about that. 

He knows what he is supposed to do and how he is supposed to lead this country.  And that’s what he’s been doing.

Q    But since the President took office, real wages are down 3.4 percent.  Inflation is up.  So how does that not amount to a tax on people making less than $400,000?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I just laid out — I just laid out — when your colleagues asked me about inflation, I just said: One thing is that we’re making progress.  We are fighting and infla- — inflation. 

If you look at the last 11 months, it has fallen.  It has fallen and is — is less than half of what it was this past June — the June, clearly, before this month.

And so, that is important.  We’re seeing progress.  We’re seeing the cost — we’re seeing lowering costs.  I just talked about eggs, how much it fell and — over 13 — an ext- — additional 13 percent.  That’s important for everyday Americans.

And so, look, we’re going to continue to do the work.  We understand the work continues.  We understand that Americans are still hurting.  But the President has always put lowering cost at the center — at the top, I should say, when it comes to his economic policy.  And that’s what you’re going to continue to see.

Go ahead, Sebastian.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  One on NATO.  Sweden learned — Sweden, yesterday, said it was going to extradite a guy that Turkey wants.  He’s got links to the PKK.  He’s done other things.  So does the administration see, perhaps — (laughs) — I was about to say a “thaw.” 

Does the administration —

MS.  JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, gosh.  (Laughs.) 

Q    No, I won’t.   I won’t.

MS.  JEAN-PIERRE:  Let’s not do that again.

Q    Does the administration, perhaps, see a — you know, a — a resolution of this dispute between Turkey and Sweden, maybe in time for the summit (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things.  So, Sweden has fulfilled its commitments they made under the trilateral memorandum of agreement agreed with Finland and Turkey on the margins of the NATO Summit.  And they did that in Madrid, just this past year — or last year, in 2022.  This includes Sweden’s recent passage of enhanced and counterterrorism legislation. 

So, look, Sweden is a strong, capable defense partner that shares NATO’s values and will strengthen the Alliance and contribute to the European security.  So, we believe, and you’ve heard from this President multiple times, that we believe Sweden should become a NATO member as soon as possible. 

That is what the President has said; he has shown his support.  That is what we’ve seen from Congress as well.  And so, look, we’re going to continue to stay steadfast on that.

Q    Are hopes rising a little bit?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’re going to continue to be hopeful.  As you know, this is a president that’s incredibly hopeful and positive about these things.  And so, we believe that, again, they are a strong, capable defense partner that share the — the values of the NATO — the NATO Alliance.  And so, I think that’s important.

Q    And a very quick Trump one, if I might.  Not a — not a legal one.  The President — as the President, he’s the president for everybody, obviously, and he’s going to be running for reelection, asking for the votes from everybody. 

You got — you’ve got somebody who is leading a movement, which is almost based on saying that every single thing that is happening now in this administration is illegal and literally — I mean, they say communists are taking over the country, et cetera.  You can make a long list of things they’re saying — very extreme things.

So, what is the President’s message to all of those people who are actually Americans and, you know, he would like to vote for him, presumably, and are being — you know, there — there’s surely a messaging war.  What’s his message?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I just took a couple of questions from your colleagues about the Hatch Act and 2024.  So I’m going to follow and — follow the law and be very careful and not talk about the Hatch Act.  And we’re going to respect it and do — and do everything that we can to do that. 

What I will say, more broadly — and I’m going back to when the President ran in 2020 and what he ran on.  Right?  He ran on bringing the country together.  He ran on fighting for the soul of the nation.  And that’s what the President has been doing for the last two years.  He believes that that is important, to bring everybody together.

As you just stated in your question, he’s a president for everyone: red state, blue state — it doesn’t matter.  He understand what it means.  He was vice president.  Right?  He was — he’s been a senator.

So, he under- — understands what that means, what it means to be a president of these United States. 

So, it’s very important that he continues to do that, continue to bring the country together.  You’ve heard him talk about this, really make critical, important speeches on this very point.  And so, he — that’s going to be — continue to be his message: bringing the country together. 

You hear him talk about possibilities.  You hear him talk about the future of this country and how we need to continue to — to live up to our greatness.  And so, that’s what you’re going to hear.  That’s going to be the message to this — to the American people.  That has not changed. 

And so, I’ll leave it there.

Q    To the back?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Oh, I’m sorry.  I’ll come to the back.

Q    Karine, thank you.  Would the President ever accept spending levels lower than those included in the debt ceiling agreement?  And how does he respond to criticism that other Democrats have communicated that Speaker Kevin McCarthy is now sort of reneging on the deal by communicating, in his words, “You always have to remember with the appropriation levels — that’s your cap.  You can always do less”?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m not going to get ahead of the appropriations process.  I — we expect Congress to — certainly to abide by the bipartisan budget agreement that we came — both sides came to the table for, and that’s including the agreed-to adjustments. 

So, certainly, I’m not going to get ahead of that.  We made a deal, and we will uphold our end of this deal.  And so they need to uphold theirs.  And so I’ll just leave it there. 

It’s just as simple as that.  That is what this agreement was all about.  That is what the President signed into law.  It’s about the American people.  It’s about delivering for — for their needs.  It’s about making sure that we have a budget that’s fiscally responsible. 

That’s what we were able to do in a bipartisan way.  And so, we are going to uphold our part, and we expect them to do the same.

Q    The President just met with Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office.  Did the President, in their visit today — or was he expected to, perhaps — you weren’t in there for the entire time — to ask Jens Stoltenberg to stay on past the expiration of his term this October?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President hasn’t made any decision yet on — on that process.  I’m certainly not going to get ahead of the President on this.  But we’ve been very clear that we believe the Secretary General has done a fantastic job, a really wonderful job during this difficult time — this history-making time with the war in Ukraine being one of them — and how NATO has come together in a way that we haven’t seen in a very long time — the strength of NATO.

And so we appreciate his efforts and his hard work the last two years.  I’m just certainly not — just not going to get ahead of the President.

Q    There’s reporting right now that the CIA warned the Ukrainian government not to attack the Nord Stream gas pipelines last summer after it obtained detailed information about a Ukrainian plot to destroy that main pipeline between Russia and Europe right now. 

I’m not asking you to confirm that specifically.  But has President Biden — as he said to us previously, that he spoke directly to Vladimir [sic] Zelenskyy — to Volodymyr Zelenskyy and told him that the F-16s — it was reassured that Zelenskyy would never use the F-16s to target anything inside Russian geographic territory. 

Has the President ever communicated to Volodymyr Zelenskyy that he expected Ukrainians at no time to target anything with any weapons means inside Russian geographic territory?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So the President has been really clear. He spoke to this before.  Jake has spoken to this.  The Admiral has spoken to this. 

Q    About the pipeline?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Not — well, the — look, I can’t confirm anything about the pipeline.  That is not something that I can do.  That is —

Q    But if it was inside Russian territory —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, that is — 

Q    — that would count?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is something that the CIA — certainly I would refer you to them.  I’m not — speak to any communication that may or may have not happened.  So I’m just going to be really clear.  But more broadly, we’ve been very clear about — about how we see, you know, this — the use of — of weapons that should be used within Ukraine and certainly not in Russia.  We’ve been very clear about that. 

But as it relates to the pipeline, I just can’t speak to that.  That is something that the CIA —

Q    Last one.  Brittney Griner and the Pheolix [sic] — Phoenix Mercury come to D.C. this Friday.  What plans does the President or Vice President or First Lady or whomever have to meet with her or host here — here at the White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any — I don’t have anything to preview at this time on any — any meeting.

Q    Are there discussions that it may occur? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything for you.  As you know, and I think we reported this out the wh- — during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the President — and we did report this out — met with — had a — had a side conversation with Brittney and Cherelle.  It was — it was an important moment between — between — between the families because the First Lady was there.  I just don’t have anything beyond that to share —

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — about a meeting with Brittney. 

Go ahead, Annie.

Q    Thanks so much.  Jared Bernstein — just following up on my colleague’s question about Jared Bernstein.  The vote is occurring now in the Senate.  I’m just curious, you know, if the Vice President was on standby to break a potential tie in that — in that vote. 

And also, if you could just sort of speak more broadly:  Given, you know, the kind of things that economists have said about him, why do you think it’s — it’s so — such a nail-biter right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You know, I — you would have to speak to the — you know, the respective senators on that.  I can’t speak for them and — and why that is.  We know that Jared — and I mentioned this yesterday — he has worked for this President, certainly, for the last two years.  He has worked for the President when he was vice president.  He is well-respected amongst economists, amongst this president, and we are going to continue to do everything that we can to make sure he gets confirmed.  

He’s been to this briefing room many times before.  So you know how — how well-versed he is in the economy as an economist.  I just don’t have anything to share on what senators — why senators’ decision of how they’re going to move forward.  That’s for them to speak to.

Q    And just on Harris, whether she was on standby.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I — I actually don’t know her schedule for today, so I can’t speak to that.  I would refer you to her — to her office.

Q    On the — on the inflation numbers: The Fed has long set a goal of 2 percent inflation as where they would like to see the economy working.  And I’m curious — there’s been debate about whether that’s a reasonable goal and whether that’s the right place for inflation to wind — to end up.  Can you say where you believe the White House thinks inflation should be?  Like, where — what is the percentage that the White House sees a healthy and — a healthy economy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’m not going — I know you mentioned the Fed.  Going to be very careful; not going to comment on any monetary policies that the Fed makes.  They are an independent agency, so we are incredibly mindful of that, and we are incredibly respectful of that. 

As far as inflation and where it needs to be, I’m just not — that’s something that certainly the economists can speak to.  I’m just not going to speak to that from here at this time. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I just want to clarify your answer on the Hatch Act.  So, until the White House Counsel’s Office makes its opinion, we were — should we expect not to hear you use “MAGA” from the podium?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ve been very clear I don’t have anything to add. 

Q    You — well, you had said that you’re waiting for them to make their opinion.


Q    So I just wanted to know, in the interim —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I have answered that question.

Q    Okay.  On the exposure incident on the South Lawn, having received the statement that the White House believes that was inappropriate, disrespectful, is there going to be a greater effort in the future to communicate a code of conduct for White House guests? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’ve — as you mentioned, the statement that we put out, you heard from us earlier today, the behavior was simply unacceptable.  We’ve been very clear about that.  It was unfair to the hundreds of attendees who were there to celebrate their families. 

So, you know, we’re going to continue to be clear on that.  And that type of behavior is, as I said, unacceptable.  It’s not appropriate.  It’s disrespectful.  And let’s not — it really does not reflect the event that we hosted to celebrate the LGBTQ+ families — again, hundreds of families who were here to celebrate their community and who were here in attendance. 

So, look, individuals in the video certainly will not be invited to future events.  And this is — has not occurred before.  Right?  This is not — this was not a normal thing that has happened under this administration.  But we’ve been very clear about how — how we saw this particular behavior. 

Q    There’s — there’s been some criticism also of the White House, the flag placement, the Pride flag violating the U.S. flag code.  Did anybody notice that or fail to notice that, or was it an intentional statement?  Can you just explain what happened with that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So the administration was proud, again, to display the Pride flag.  It was a historic event at the White House.  It centered around the love — around love and family.  And I think that’s important. 

And so, you know, we’re not going to let anyone distract us from that — what was the meaning of the day, what was the meaning of having families here, and to celebrate a community. 

I’m certainly not going to get into protocols from here, or I’ll leave that to others.  And so, you know, we’re proud of this historic event that we were able to put together here on the South Lawn for families.  And so I’ll leave it there.

Q    And one more on the —

Q    Can we go to the back?

Q    — on a different subject.  Senator Chuck Grassley made some statements yesterday on the Senate floor, saying that this foreign national on the FBI 1023 form apparently has 15 recorded conversations with Hunter Biden and claims to have two with the President.  Is there — is the White House aware of any recordings in which the President might be on tape speaking to a Burisma executive? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So the President spoke to this.  I think he was shouted a question about this at the Thursday press conference.  And I’m just going to quote him and say, “It’s malarkey.” 


Q    Yes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Was the First Lady mistaken in discussing the Trump indictment at a fundraiser?  And has anyone at the White House, perhaps in the Counsel’s Office, talked to her about the propriety of such statements?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I don’t have anything to add to what I just shared with your colleague.

Go ahead, Brian. 

Q    Thanks a lot.  Just two hours ago, former President Trump, when he was on his way to Miami, tweeted about the classified documents found in the — in Biden’s Penn Biden Center office.  What is the President’s response when President Tru- — Trump — former President Trump brings up the classified documents found in the Penn Biden Center office?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to comment.

Go ahead.  Go ahead, Courtney.

Q    Thank you.  The Department of Homeland Security earlier this month said that — when they released their threat list — that LGBTQ+ events were under heightened threat given the rhetoric that we’re seeing across the country.  I haven’t heard you in the last couple weeks talk about the President being briefed on that.  Given that there’s so many different Pride celebrations happening across the country right now, can you talk a little bit about the security surrounding that and if there’s anything elevated, at least, coming from the federal government?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I can’t speak to anything that’s been elevated.  Clearly, you know, if there is any need for additional security, we are certainly always available to have that conversation with state and local officials, as you mentioned, as Pride events are occurring throughout this month across the country. 

Can’t speak to if there have been any elevated instances that has — that has ri- — that’s — that’s been flagged for us at the federal level, but, certainly, this is something that — that — we believe that it’s important for LGBTQ+ community to feel safe as they are celebrating during Pride Month, which is one of the reasons why we had an event — a historic event right here on the South Lawn on Saturday. 

I just don’t have anything additional to add to any elevated security or elevated — additional assistance that we may be providing.

Q    And on Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, her nomination for the job permanently, do you have any update?  There were five senators, last I checked, that were undecided.  No vote is scheduled yet.  Do you have an update on where you are on that, in terms of getting her confirmed to the position permanently, given you’ve been without a Labor Secretary permanently for a while now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just a couple of things.  I do want to give an example of what we’ve been doing to assist in Julie Su’s confirmation. 

So, each night, senator — senior White House officials join a war room call to ensure we are continuing to make progress on Su’s nomination.  This call continued throughout the negotiation over the budget agreement. 

So, very recently, outside groups forcefully and vocally made the case for Su’s nomination, including 55 labor unions, which joined together recently on a call on senators to support Su’s confirmation. 

In recent days, top White House and administration officials have launched a full-court press engaging senators whose vote will be key to Su’s nomination, as well as House members who can help build support. 

And I can give you example: Chief — the Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients, and Director of Leg Affairs, Louisa Terrell, have been speaking regularly with Leader Schumer on the Su nomination, as well as other key senators, multiple times a week.  This continued, like I said, during the debt-limit fight.

And so, they’re also in touch with other groups — outside groups — as well.

So, we have taken this very seriously.  We are — want to make sure that she gets confirmed, and we feel very confident that she will be.

I was going to continue going around.  Hey — you’re sitting up front.

Q    Yeah, I found a seat.


Q    What do you know?  It had my name right on it.  Good afternoon, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, good afternoon.

Q    Just hours ago, Senator Tuberville tweeted, quote, “[H]aving biological males in women’s sports is unsafe, unfair, and wrong.”  And earlier this year, several — 72 elite female athletes signed an open letter saying, “Forcing female athletes… to compete against biological males is not only unfair, it is discriminatory and illegal.” 

So, in the light of this administration’s proposed changes to Title IX, does the White House worry about the physical safety of females directly competing against males in sports?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, this is a complicated issue.  It is.  And there are a wide range of views, as you just laid out.

The Department of Education proposed a rule that gives schools the flexibility to establish their own athletic policies, while establishing gra- — guardrails to prevent discrimination against transgender kids.

And so, I also want to make clear that this is a proposed rule, and members of the public have the ability to provide comment as part of the rulemaking process.

And so, any — you know, any additional questions that you may have of this proposed rule, certainly, I would refer you to the Department of Education.

But we do understand this is a complicated issue.

Q    And what would the President say to the parents out there who have daughters — say, in high school, for example — who are worried that their daughter may have to compete against a male, or a person born male, and they — and there could be — or directly in physical athletic competition — and worry about their daughter’s safety?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I — what you’re alluding to is basically saying that transgender kids are dangerous.  It sounds like that’s what you’re saying.

Q    I — I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say that.  I don’t know how that’s —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, you’re saying — you’re saying that their safety is — isn’t — is at risk?

Q    This is strictly a safety question.  This is strictly a safety question.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, but you’re — you’re — you’re laying out a broad — kind of broad example or explanation of what could potentially happen.  

Q    But —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  A broad — a broad example explaining — that is dangerous.  That is a dangerous thing to say —

Q    I’m not —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — that, essentially, transgender kids — we’re talking about — are dangerous.

And so, that’s something that I have to call out.

Q    Okay.  But I — if I may dis- —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And that is — that is —

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is — that is irresponsible. 

I have just laid out how complicated this issue is.  I have just laid out why it’s complicated.  And so, anything that you have — any additional questions, I refer to the Department of Education.

Q    Yeah, but — yes, but I may —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to move on.  I know there are other people —

Q    Just to be clear, this is —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Tam.  Go ahead, Tam.

Q    — about safety.  I wasn’t insinuating anything.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I mean —

Q    Okay.  All right.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — you could read you question in a transcript once you get it.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Tam.

Q    Senator J.D. Vance is saying that he is going to hold all future nominations from the Biden department — for the Biden Department of Justice — so all nominees to DOJ, other than the U.S. Marshal Service.  Does the White House have a response to that?  And do you know how many nominees are outstanding?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I don’t have a response to that.

I know that we will continue to work with Congress, senators specifically, on getting our nominations through.  It is important to the President.  It is important to the American people.

I have not really talked to the team about this particular sander- — Senator J.D. Vance.  So, I just don’t have anything to share. 

We are committed.  We are very much committed in getting our nominees through.

MS. DALTON:  We have time for one more.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  I’m going to take some — I haven’t taken yours in a while.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I’m just wondering — because that the event is about to take place in South Florida that some folks may be paying attention to, no one is actually going to see that, other than the people who are in the courtroom.  There’s not going to be still photographers. 

My — so, I’m just wondering where the President stands currently on cameras in federal courtrooms and photography in federal courtrooms.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s — that is up to the federal court.  I’m just not going to speak to that.

I’ll see you guys tomorrow.  Thank you, everybody.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

2:49 P.M. EDT

Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top