James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:39 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, hey.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi. Happy Wednesday. I got the day right. (Laughter.) Okay, here we go.
Good afternoon, everyone. Yesterday, the President addressed the wave of tragic and senseless shootings we saw over the holiday weekend in communities across America, including shooti- — shootings in Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Baltimore, Lansing, Wichita, and Chicago.
Our White House team has been in touch with state and local officials in many of these communities, and the President also had an opportunity to speak by phone with the Baltimore mayor.
Yesterday, the President also marked one year since a shooter armed with an AR-15-style weapon fired upon a crowd of Americans gathered for an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. And he highlighted how, in the year since, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, legislative leaders, and numerous advocates, and gun violence survivors have fought tirelessly to ban assault weapons, like the one used in Highland Park, as well as high-capacity magazines across Illinois.
But as we have seen over the last few days, there’s a — there’s a lot more — a lot more work to do to address the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing up our communities — tearing it apart.
President Biden is doing everything in his power — from enacting historic gun safety legislation last summer to two dozen executive actions — to combat the epidemic of gun violence across America. But he also knows that that is not enough, which is why on the heels of the tragedies we saw unfold across the last few days, the President continues to call on Republican lawmakers in Congress to come to the table and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to require safe storage of guns, to end gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and to enact universal background checks.
Lives are at stake here, folks. Lives are at stake — in communities, the lives of our kids. And these are meaningful — meaningful, commonsense reforms that the American people support. A majority of the American people support these reforms. And we need Congress to do something. We need Republicans in Congress to do something to protect our communities.
Now, on a brighter note, I wanted to share some good news from Monday that may have gotten lost because of yesterday’s holiday. You might recognize this chart on my left here, from when NEC Director Lael Brainard visited the briefing room very recently, just about a week ago. It shows construction of manufacturing facility has increased by nearly 100 percent in two years, adjusted for inflation.
On Monday, we learned that the boom continued in May. As the Wall Street Journal put it, this is “America’s factory building boom,” due in no small part to the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Bidenomics is unleashing huge private-sector investments in manufacturing, with businesses investing more than $490 billion in manufacturing and clean energy since the President took office — including more than $11 billion in South Carolina, where — as you know, we will be there tomorrow; the President will be there tomorrow to announce manufacturing investment.
Republicans in Congress, again, including every Republican representative from Caro- — Caroli- — South Carolina, want to threaten these investments, jobs, and economic opportunities by repealing — repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, which actually helps the American people.
But as the President said at his first inauguration, he is a president for all Americans. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a red state or a blue state. And his agenda helps all Americans.
So, tomorrow’s announcement will be proof of that. And I hope you all joi- — get to join him on this trip.
With that, Josh, good to see you.
Q Good to see you, Karine. Two subject areas. First, has the U.S. been in contact with the Kremlin over a possible prisoner exchange for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, Josh, I wish I could stand in front of you and say that we have news to share on Evan. Sadly, we do not have any news to share.
What I can say is: Evan, along with Paul Whelan, who are both wrongfully detained, as you know, should be home. They should be home with their families.
I just don’t have anything to share at this time.
Q And secondly, per the intrigue over the holiday: Can you give any more details on where the Secret Service found cocaine in the West Wing and how it got there?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, this is under the purview of the Secret Service. They are currently investigating what happened over the weekend, so I would have to refer you to the Secret fer- — the Secret Service on all of this.
But one thing that I can share that I’ll — that I’ll share a little bit more information: As you know, the President and the First Lady and their family were not here this weekend, as you all reported on this. And as you also know that they left on Friday and returned just yesterday.
Where — where this was discovered is a heavily traveled area where many White House — West Wing — I should be even more specific — West Wing visitors come through this particular area. I just don’t have anything more to share. It is under investigation by the Secret Service. This is in their purview, and so we’re going to — we’re going to allow certainly the investigation to continue. And we have confidence that the Secret Service will get to the bottom of this.
Q Has the President said, “Hey, let’s get to the bottom of what happened here” with the cocaine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I just said that we have confidence that the Secret Service is going to get to the bottom of this.
As you all know, the President follows all the reporting here. And he certainly was briefed by his staff on everything that we know so far.
But the Secret Service is investigating this, is investigating what happened over the weekend. We have confidence that they will get to the bottom of this.
Q And then, secondly, is there still a chance that Sweden will be approved by — into NATO by the time of next week’s summit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, this is something that the President — as you know, the Swedish Prime Minister is here. They’re currently meeting as we speak right now in the Oval Office, as some of your colleagues — maybe yourself, Steve — was able to — was able to be in — in the Oval Office.
So, look, I mean, we’ve been very clear on this. We’ve — we’ve encouraged Turkey and Hungary to approve Sweden’s application for NATO membership as soon as possible. And Swe- — Sweden — and I said this last week, I’ve said this many times — has fulfill the commitments they made under the trilateral memorandum of agreement they had agreed to wi- — to — to with Finland and Turkey on the margins of the NATO Summit in the — in Madrid just last year, about a year ago.
Sweden is a strong, capable defense partner that shares NATO’s values and will strengthen the Alliance and contr- — and contribute to European security. And so, we believe that this should occur — that their partnership into — them to become members in NATO as soon as possible. And that’s what you’ll continue to hear from the President.
I think the Sweden Prime Minister being here today, having a meeting with the President certainly shows that commitment.
Q Thanks, Karine. Just two quick follow-ups. You said the President has been briefed on the cocaine that was found at the White House. Is the White House conducting its own internal investigation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is something that’s under the purview of the Secret Service. They’re the ones who handle this investigation. So it lives in — in — in their purview, in their world.
Q And then just a quick follow on this type of tour. Can you explain to the American people who would have access to the West Wing on this type of tour and what kind of protocols are in place?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, when it comes to security protocol, that’s something that the Secret Service certainly is going to handle. And so, that is a question for them.
When it comes to — when it comes to visitors to the West Wing, they come for many reasons.
Obviously, we do have West Wing tours that occur here on campus. They happen — in this particular past couple of days, they happened on Friday, they happened on Saturday and Sunday. The times that they do not happen is when there’s a federal holiday — like yesterday, there was not a West Wing tour — and also when there’s a White — a large White House event.
So, I don’t have anything more to share on — on the particulars. Again, when it comes to security, when it comes to anything of those types of protocols, that is something that Secret Service handles.
Go ahead, Weijia.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And congratulations.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Should I call you “President Weijia”?
Q (Laughs.) I appreciate it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I was waiting. I was like, “Okay, that went over the head or got missed.”
Q One president at a time. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: One pres- —
Q Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding. It’s not my turn. It’s not my turn. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: One president at a time, Weijia.
Q Eventually. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: “Incoming president,” maybe.
Q “Weijia” is great. (Laughter.)
I wonder if the cocaine episode has prompted the White House to ask the Secret Service to review its security protocol —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean —
Q — for visitors coming in.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let’s go — let them do their investigation. Again, this is under their purview. Let’s see exactly what occurred and what happened. They’re get — going to get to the bottom of this. “They” meaning the Secret Service. Not going to get ahead of — of any changes in protocol or anything like that. Let’s let the Secret Service do their job, which we believe and have all the confidence that they will get to the bottom of this.
Q Maybe this episode kind of shines a light on the fact that you can bring in illegal substances into the White House. So what’s preventing a visitor from bringing in anthrax or something that’s not magnetic into the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, look, Weijia, I totally understand the question, but it is under investigation. We’re going to get to the bottom to exactly what happened — the Secret Service will, not us. And so, we’re going to let the Secret Service do their job.
I’m just not going to get ahead of if or — or whens or changes. We just have to let the Secret Service do their job, which they are.
Q Thanks, Karine. Can you just tell us how the White House is assisting the Secret Service with this investigation? Have you made any White House officials available for interviews with law enforcement, for example?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look — look, we’re not assisting in anything. This is under the Secret Service purview. This is their — their, kind of, guidance and guideline, their — their world. And so we’re going to let them do their job.
We are not involved in this. This is something that the Secret Service handles. It’s under their protocol. And they’re going to investigate and get to the bottom of what happened this weekend. And we appreciate that.
Q And you noted that this is an area where visitors on tour groups often pass by. So, is that the working theory right now: that it was likely a visitor? And are you confident that this was not a White House staffer?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There is investigation. They’re going to get to the bottom of this. What I wanted to be very clear is that this is a heavily — heavily traf- — heavily traveled, to be more accurate, area of the campus of the White House. And — and it is where visitors fr- — to the West Wing come through. This is the part where they come through, when it comes to coming through the West Wing.
I just don’t have anything else. I’m not going to speculate on who it was. We just wanted to make that very clear and give you all a little bit more information. I believe the Secret Service is also sharing this as well.
Q Thanks. And then, on another topic, among the 12 Palestinians who were killed in the Jenin operation carried out by Israel, four were under the age of 18. Israel says that all of the Palestinians who were killed were combatants. Does the White House have an assessment of whether they were indeed all combatants or whether any civilians were killed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So here’s — here’s what I’ll say. You know, we — as you all know, and we have said this many times: We support, certainly, Israel’s security and right to defend its people against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups.
It is imperative to take all possible steps to protect civilians from harm, and measures need to be taken to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and restore critical services like electricity and water to the civilian population.
And so, don’t have anything more to share beyond that. But certainly, we are — certainly, we are monitoring things very closely.
Q And is there anything you can tell us about the level of engagement by U.S. officials to try and prevent a broader escalation? I mean, we’ve already seen rockets fired from Gaza. We’ve seen this attack that was carried out in Tel Aviv. What’s the White House doing to prevent this from escalating?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, Israel is a — is a close ally and partner, and we are in touch with the national security and, certainly, the defense officials. So don’t have anything to read out on our conversation, but we are in regular contact.
I’m going to go to the back. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. I wanted to ask about this decision we saw yesterday in Louisiana, on the White House contact with social media companies. Does the White House have a — have a response to the judge basically saying that this is the most massive attack on free speech in the U.S. history?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, DOJ is reviewing the decision, the injunction. And so I don’t want to get ahead of — of what — of what — what they will evaluate and their options could potentially be. So I’m not going to get ahead of the GO- — DOJ.
If you’re asking me if we agree or disagree, we certainly disagree with this decision. And as I said, the DOJ is reviewing this, so I’m not going to get ahead of what — their evaluation of what options they’re going to potentially take on moving forward.
Q And does the President plan to make a direct appeal to Turkey or Hungary regarding Sweden’s NATO bid?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think we’ve been very clear. I just laid out where our position has been. And the President has been very public, has been very clear about — about Sweden.
And so just going to leave it there. Don’t have anything else to add towards that. I think, again, having the Prime Minister here ahead of — ahead of — of NATO next week, I think, is important. But the President clearly has been — has been very clear about Sweden becoming a member of NATO. And so we’ll continue — continue to be outspoken about that and continue to be public about that.
Q But no plans for calls to those countries?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don’t have any calls to read out at this time. But I think you can see by the President’s actions and his words — not just actions — that he’s been pretty — pretty steadfast on making — on saying that Sweden should become a NA- — a NATO member as soon as possible.
Go ahead, Tam.
Q Yeah, how does the White House view the Quran burning in — in Stockholm and whether that will affect the NATO negotiations with Turkey?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m not going to get into the negotiations or any diplomatic conversations from here. Clearly, the burning of the Quran — I — as you all know, is something that the President would certainly agree is — is a — you know, is disappointing to see, but I’m just not going to get ahead of any conversations or diplomatic conversations being had.
Q Thanks, Karine. Today, the Pentagon announced that it’s taking steps to revamp how classified information is accessed after the leaks of highly classified information. I’m wondering if the White House has been involved in any of those conversations and whether or not there are any comment on those steps being taken.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to read out on any conversations with the Pentagon. I would re- — I would refer you to them.
Q And then just one again on the discovery of cocaine. Are there concerns that an illicit substance was brought into the White House and not detected by security? Obviously, every guest that — that enters the White House goes through airport-like security. I’m wondering if — just generally, if there’s concerns about the ability for someone to bring it in.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let’s let the — the Secret Service do their investigation. Again, this is under their purview. They’re going to look into all the things of what happened over the weekend. I just don’t want to get ahead of that.
Clearly, the Secret Service is — is in charge of security on campus. And so I would really refer you to them on this piece.
Q Will whoever brought this definitely be prosecuted?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is asking the President to declare East Palestinian a “major disaster area” after the train derailment. He sent the President a letter on Monday. Is the President considering and will he fulfill that request?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I can say this: As it does with all of its requests, FEMA — it will expeditiously review the request — this particular request from the governor of Ohio, as well. This is something that we are — we do every time this comes through us.
What — a couple things I do want to state here as it relates to Norfolk and it — and Southern, to be more specific: It’s under a federal order to cover all costs for cleaning up its mess that it did — that they caused in East Palesti- — in East Palestine.
The EPA is making them pay so that the taxpayers don’t have to pay for their mess. And so we’ve been very clear about that. The EPA has been on top of that.
And so when it comes to a Norfolk
Souten [Southern], they have met their terms of the order to date, and there are stiff penalties if they do not. And so EPA is — again, has been on top of this.
And so just don’t have anything further.
But as we do with every declaration that comes — that comes our way — the FEMA’s way — major disat- — when it comes to major disasters, they’re going to take a look at this, and they’ll make a decision.
Q And why has the President not made the visit out there? And at this point, is he just not going to? He’s done a lot of travel in recent weeks and months.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m just going to repeat what the President said. He — he will travel to the area, to East Palestine.
Just don’t have anything to share on travel or upcoming dates that he’ll be there.
But the President said it. He’s going to go. So he will go. Once we have a date, we’ll certainly share that.
Go ahead, Joey.
Q Yeah, thank you. If the Secret Service determines the — who brought the cocaine into the White House, does the White House support the prosecution of this individual?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals from here. Let — let the Secret Service do their job. It’s under their purview. We are confident that they’ll get to the bottom of it. I’m just not going to get ahead of this at this time.
Q So Secret Service officials are actually cautioning that they might not find the person involved because it is such a busy thoroughfare. So if they don’t get to the bottom of it, as you’re saying, would the President be satisfied with, “Sir, this is a busy room, and we found some cocaine. We don’t know who brought it”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let’s see what the Secret Service says, right? They’re — again, this is under investigation. Don’t want to get into hypotheticals while the investigation is going — going — going on and is happening at this time. Just not going to get ahead of it.
Let Secret Service do their job.
Q And if I work on the White — if I work anywhere on the complex, what is the process like for me if I want to bring — can you just lay out, to the extent that you can, the process for, you know, if I want to bring in family or friends as — as somebody who works here? What is — do I go to somebody in the White House? Do I go immediately to the Secret Service and say, “Hey, I want to do this”? Like how — how does that work?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, there is a specific process. I’m happy to share that with you. I — I want to make sure I get it right, so not certainly going to lay that out right at this time.
But there is a process, as one of your colleagues mentioned. Everybody does go through a process to come on — to come on campus. They do get vetted. They go through a security process. As it relates to the security piece of it, I would have to refer you to Secret Service.
But certainly, someone from my team can certainly lay out — I think some of you may understand this process, as some of you may not have a hard pass, and you know how this all works. But just not — I just want to make sure I get this right. So I’m happy to share that with you after the — after the briefing.
Q And can you preview the trip tomorrow at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Let’s see. As you know, the President is going to go to South Carolina tomorrow. He’s going to certainly be making an announcement on the manufacturing. And that’s the layout here of what that’s going to look like. Give me one second.
I don’t have that here. We’ll certainly share it with you after the briefing.
But, I mean, this all plays into what the President has been saying, which is, like: He’s a president for all Americans, whether you’re a red state or a blue state.
And we’ve seen a manufacturing boom over the past two years since the President has been here. And you see that in South Carolina.
And so, the President is going to go to South Carolina, make an announcement. We shared some of that with you all already. There was some preview stories that some of you — some of you saw. And so the President is looking forward to — to doing that.
But, again, this is something that the President has said. He wants to make sure that we build an economy from the bottom up, middle out, that leaves no one behind.
And when you think about manufacturing jobs, those jobs are going to be — going to be really important. Union jobs that going to — that are — that are going to, you know, make sure that people have a — have — who are around the kitchen table now have an opportunity to really look at their costs at the end of the month and be able to have a good job that pays, you know, six figures, without — some of those jobs — the majority of those jobs without a college education. That’s important.
That is what it means to have equality at the center of — of economic policy. What — that is what it means to make sure that we have — we have an economy that works for all. So that’s what you’re going to hear from the President.
And this is also Bidenomics. Right? We’ve been talking about Bidenomics since last week and how it’s delivering. You look at the data, you look at the numbers, you look at the 13 million jobs that’s been created — again, the 800,000 manufacturing jobs. You look at what the Inflation Reduction Act has been able to do, the bipartisan infrastructure legislation has been able to do. All are important, key parts of the President’s plan, and that’s what the President is going to speak to tomorrow.
Go ahead, Steven.
Q Karine, can you just clarify for us where exactly inside the West Wing the substance was discovered?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to get into specifics. All I can say is: When people visit the West Wing, there is an ar- — there is the area of the West Wing where it is highly traveled. And that is what happens: People come through this particular area. It’s highly traveled.
I’m just not going to get into specifics. I’m not going to get into — I’m not going to get ahead of the Secret Service. And so I’ll let them speak to that.
There are a couple of primary entrances into the West Wing. There’s the one with which we’re all familiar, right outside of the driveway where the Marine stands when the President is in — in the West Wing. And there’s another entrance off West Executive Avenue. Can you explain which — which entrance we’re talking about?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to let the Secret Service speak to that.
Q Okay. Can you explain why you can’t explain it? I mean, you’ve described it as a heavily traveled area.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s what the Secret — I’m just saying what the Secret Service said. We got this from the Secret Service, so I’m sharing a little bit more with you from here.
But, again, it’s under their purview. It’s under investigation. They will — they will have more specifics down the road as they are looking into this. We are confident that they will get to the bottom of this. And so, I’m just going to leave it to them.
Q The substance was discovered late on Sunday. What’s the latest staff-led tours that happen in the West Wing on a Sunday?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, I don’t have the specific on how late the t- — the staff tours — staff-led tours go. But I can tell you that there was one on Friday, there was one on Saturday, there was on one on Sunday. The times that there are not any West Wing tours is when there is a federal holiday, like yesterday, or a big White House — a large White House event.
I just don’t have the specifics. Let’s — let’s let the Secret Service get to the bottom of this. They’ll have more — hopefully more information. And we have confident that they will be able to figure this all out. So, going to give them the space to do that.
Go ahead, Mike.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Karine — (coughs) — excuse me — as you’ve now been referring multiple times to this investigation and to the White House’s confidence that they will get to the bottom of it, I’m wondering if you can be a bit clearer about what exactly the scope and mission of the investigation is and what exactly getting to the bottom of it means.
Is this simply a fact-finding mission to determine whether potential security protocols were either insufficient or violated in this case? Or is this with an eye towards potential criminal prosecution of an individual who’s bringing a banned substance into the West Wing? And would there then be consequences either for that individual or a — if they were a guest of a White House staffer, that staffer?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the second part of your question is speculation, and I’m just not going to get into speculation from here.
What I can say is, again, Secret Service is looking into this. They’re looking to what happened over the weekend. I’m just not going to jump into speculation as to what — what their investigation will find and what we will do or what will happen. Just not going to get into speculation from here.
Q And as it relates to this district cu- — judge ruling about social media and the injunction thereof, can you speak to the frequency of contacts that White House officials or administration officials more broadly have with social media companies and the types of content that they would be flagging? And how much is this a blow to the White House’s goal of preventing the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I can’t speak to the amounts that contact has had. I mean, that is just not a possible thing to do from here. What I can say is that DOJ, again, is re- — reviewing the injunction, and they’re going to look into — you know, evaluate our options. So, just not going to get ahead of that, and so I’ll just leave that from here.
Q Cocaine — in the back? (Laughter.)
Q Karine, will any White House staffers — will any White House staffers be undergoing drug testing as part of this investigation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, again, this is under the purview of the Secret Service. But a couple of things that I would add is that the White House is subject to rigorous guidelines that include drug testing. And so, we will take any action is — that is appropriate and warranted, pending the outcome of the Secret Service. Just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.
But, you know, this is something that when it comes to drug testing, certainly we take that very seriously. And so, there’s — there are indeed rigorous guidelines here at the White House.
Q And one more. There was a story in the New York Times over the weekend about Hunter Biden’s daughter in Arkansas. Does the President acknowledge this little girl as his granddaughter?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to share from here.
Q Thanks, Karine. Oh —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, go ahead.
Q Okay. Great. Thanks.
Yesterday, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy mentioned that — said that they had intelligence that the Russian military has placed objects resembling explosives on the roof of the Zaporizhzhia Power — Nuclear Power Plant. Is the President monitoring this? Has he spoken to Zelenskyy? And could it possibly impact his trip to NATO — to the NATO Summit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just a couple of things. We are continuing to monitor the conditions at the power plant closely. This is something that, clearly, we’ve been doing for some time.
As we’ve said before, when — you know, Russia’s continued military occupation of the nuclear plant is dangerous. And when it comes to a nuclear plant, there should not be fighting there. And so, we’ve been very clear.
But I don’t have anything new or specific on the recent reports or anything to share at this time. Don’t have any calls — any recent calls to President Zelenskyy.
The President is looking forward to going to the NATO Summit, as he will be doing next week. And certainly, we’ll have more to share on the details of that trip.
Q Thanks, Karine. Actually, following up on that, there’s a — there’s a movement up on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that would state that any nuclear fallout, including from damage to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, would be treated as — would trigger Article 5 of NATO if that fallout were to go over NATO territory. Do you support that bill?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to speak to that particular bill. What I can say is we continue to monitor the situation. We don’t have anything new or anything specific on recent reports that you all are certainly reporting from the President. But just don’t have anything new to share.
But we’re going to continue to monitor. And we’ve been very clear — we’ve been very clear that Russia’s occupation of this plant is dangerous, and there should not be fighting near this plant. We’ve — we’ve said this before; we’ve been very clear about this. And we’re going to continue to monitor.
Q You also mentioned that folks from the White House were in touch with local officials over shootings over the past couple of days. And you mentioned the shooting in Fort Worth. Do you know who was in touch with Fort Worth officials from the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, we have the Intergovernmental Affairs, my — my team, my — my colleagues here. And certainly, they are usually in regular touch with local officials. I don’t have any names — specific to share with you at this time. But the White House — we have White House offices that are regularly in touch with what’s going on on the ground, including the inter- — in the — our government inter- — Intergovernmental Affairs team here at the White House. So that continues to be the case.
Q And then, just lastly, on the cocaine that was found. Following up on Tyler’s question, one thing that you’re not expressing is concern over the fact that this was found on the property, and I guess I’m wondering how expressing concern would somehow get ahead of the Secret Service investigation.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think this is being investigated. It’s under the purview of so- — of the Secret Service. We’re going to let them — let them get to the bottom of this and see what happened. I’m just not going to get ahead of it. I’m just not.
Q So it’s no big deal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q A couple questions on the ruling — the social media ruling from yesterday. One, I wonder why — while the DOJ is reviewing its options, is there any immediate day-to-day impact on the administration’s activities here or the White House’s activities?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’ve been very — we’ve been very, kind of, consistent. We’ve — we are going to continue to promote responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our election. So we’re going to continue to be — to do that and to promote that in a responsible way.
Our view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take action or to take account of the effects of their platforms are having to the American people but make independent choices about the information they present. They are a private, as you know, entity, and it is their responsibility to — you know, to act accordingly. And so, we’re going to continue to be responsible in that way.
But again, when it comes to this, DOJ is reviewing the injunction. They’ll do so, and they’ll evaluate their options.
Q And in the injunction, there were a number of people specifically named. I wonder if there’s any concern about, you know, one, a broader chilling effect of civil servants, of government employees being unwilling to do things that may put to — you know, end up with them being named in a lawsuit; and, secondly, whether there’s any concern about those people who are named facing personal harassment, whether there’s been any steps taken to shield them from that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I appreciate the question. Look, I’m going to let DOJ manage this piece. It’s under — certainly, it’s under their review right now — the injunction. They’re going to —
Q But wouldn’t that be more of a White House employee —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I — look, I’m just not going to speak to this any further. I’m just going to let DOJ do their job, look at their — evaluate their options, and really respond to this in — in the best way that they can. I’m just not going to get into individuals or employees from here.
Q Thank you, Karine. Just to follow up on my colleagues’ questions on the President’s support in Sweden’s accession to NATO. I know that he has said that he supports Turkey getting F-16s. But has the White House reached out to Senator Menendez, whom I understand is still opposed to the sale? Have you reached out to his office? And if you haven’t, are you planning to before the Vilnius summit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m not going to get into private conversations with members of Congress. You know where the President stands on this. He’s been very clear when it comes — as it relates to F-16s in Turkey. I’m just not going to get into, you know, conver- — private conversations with members of Congress.
Q Okay. And one more on Ukraine, please. Ahead of the summit, can you just clarify the President’s latest position on providing security guarantees to Ukraine and explain the thinking behind not giving Kyiv what it wants, which is essentially a firm yes to membership when the war ends? I just want you to clarify what the President is thinking about, in terms of what kind of security guarantees to provide to Kyiv.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say — so say that one more time. When the war ends?
Q Yeah, so — so Ukraine has been saying that what they want from the NATO Vilnius Summit is a clear signal that when the conflict ends, Ukraine has a pathway — a clear pathway and timeline to — to membership.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So you’re talking NATO membership specifically?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q But I mean, I think the understanding is that one of the — one of the reluctant, you know, leaders in the Alliance is President Biden. And I just want you to explain what’s behind his thinking —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look —
Q — in terms of saying —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — we —
Q — yes to that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ve been very clear: We are committed to NATO’s open-door policy. We’ve — we’ve been very clear about this. When — when this question comes up in the briefing, we’ve been very clear and have — have said — have been — showed our commitment. This is a commitment that we’ve had for some time — right? — as it relates to NATO.
Any decision on NATO membership is between the 31 Allies and aspirant country.
And so, in this case, when it comes to Ukraine, we have been discussing with our NATO Allies and Ukraine how we can collective — collectively support Ukraine’s aspiration for Euro-Atlantic integration.
But I’m not going to get into details. I’m not going to get into private conversations from here. And the President has said — he has said this over and over again: Ukraine would have to make reforms to meet the same standards as any NATO country before they join. He said this thinks — he thinks that this can be do- — can — can be done — that Ukraine can do that.
So I’m not going to get ahead of private conversations from here.
But, again, we are committed and we have been committed to NATO’s open-door policy. And we will continue to do so.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Sebastian.
Q Thank you. Do you have any comment or confirmation on — there was a report in the — in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. is looking to restrict Chinese access to cloud computing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, we don’t have anything else to — on — on top of that to — to add. Don’t have anything new to add on that.
Yeah. Go ahead.
Q I have two questions on nuc- — the nuclear plant.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q How worried is the White House? The reports are alarming over the last days. Can you describe the level of alarm?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I — look, this is something that we have, as you know, have been monitoring. We’ve been very clear about how we see Russia’s involvement here when — when it comes to occupying the nuclear plant. We think it is incredibly dangerous, and there should be no fighting there. That is something that we’ve said over and over again, and we’ll continue to monitor — monitor.
We have not seen anything new to the reporting that has been laid out. Just don’t have anything else to share on this.
Obviously, we think it’s dangerous. We’ve been very clear about that.
Q Thanks, Karine. A recent Gallup Poll shows that only 31 percent of Americans have confidence in the U.S. government. Is that number concerning to the administration at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What’s — what the President focuses on is how he’s going to continue to deliver for the American people. That’s the President’s focus.
In the last two years, we’ve seen the data, when it comes to the economy, doing just that. And, you know, when people asked us why we’re talking about Bidenomics now, because we understand that people — the American people need to hear from us directly what we have been able to do the last two years, how historic it has been, how we’ve been able to create a historic amount of jobs — 13 million jobs.
You’re going to hear from the President in South Carolina — a red state, a state that — again, the President said he’s a president for all Americans.
He’s going to go right into an area for people who didn’t vote for him. Many people didn’t vote for him. And he’s going to say how he’s delivered for them when it comes to manufacturing, how we’re seeing these manufacturing companies invest. And so that’s what’s important.
We understand that some people just don’t feel it quite yet, as you’re laying out a poll to me. But we’re going to make sure that we are very clear that unemployment is under — is under 4 percent, which is really important for people to know; that manufacturing jobs — 800,000 manufacturing jobs that have been created. That’s really important for people to know.
And so we’re going to continue to make sure that we grow an economy that leaves no one behind and that you hear — you know, when we talk about Biden- — Bidenomics, it’s about building an economy from the bottom up, middle out.
So we’re going to continue to have those conversation. The President enjoys talking directly to the American people. That’s what you’re going to see from the President tomorrow and, also, as we continue our Invest in America tour, as you see Cabinet members crisscross the country, having those same conversations. And we think that’s what’s important.
Go ahead. Yeah.
Q Thank you. This is a follow-up to the comments you made at the top of the briefing about the one-year anniversary of the Highland Park shootings and the comment — the statement that President Biden made yesterday, noting that after the tragedy, in the summer, that the state of Illinois passed an assault weapons ban.
So my question is: It kind of implied that “if only others could replicate that.” Illinois has a all-Democratic leadership, Democratic governor. The state senate is supermajority Democrats, the state house is supermajority Democrat. Highland Park itself even had an assault weapon ban.
How would you, in the wake of a continuing number of incidents since the parade shooting a year ago, as recently as in the last few days — what is the best strategy going forward that the White House has in getting anything, even some incremental measure, passed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let’s just be — let me reiterate: It is tragic when you see communities dealing with gun violence and the trauma that those communities, those families have to go through. And so, I just want to be incredibly sensitive to that.
It is — gun violence is an epidemic in our country. The President understands this. The President — his heart and his thoughts certainly are with those families. And it is devastating to see. Devastating to see.
And so, obviously, anytime that happens — right now it’s happening way too much — you’re going to hear from us, and we’re going to speak to that.
As it relates to what else can be done, one of the reasons that we lift up states like Illinois and other states that have been able to get an assault weapons ban done or get more done when it — as it relates to gun reform: Because it’s important. It’s important to highlight and to show that states can also get involved and make change in their own state and protect their communities, protect their kids, protect people who are — who are vulnerable, who are — who are dying, essentially, because of this epidemic.
So the President — every time you hear me, sadly, talk about gun violence that occurred, we talk about the states who have been able to get through either assault weapons ban or some sort of commonsense gun reform.
So we’re going to continue to do that, because there is a path, there is a way for folks to protect their communities in their state.
But at the end of the day, what we will continue to say, what the President will continue to say, is that Republicans in Congress need to act. They ha- — we need federal legislation.
The President has done more than two dozens executive orders. He has done everything that he can. We’re always looking to do more from right here in the White House. And it is time — it is time that we get something done to protect our kids, to protect — to protect our schools, to protect communities, protect grocery stores, to protect all of these different, sadly, areas that we have seen this type of gun violence.
So the President is going to continue to say that. We’re going to continue to use the bully pulpit. We’re going to continue to say it right here at this — at this podium. And so that is an important way to make sure that there’s action.
Let’s not forget: Just a little bit more than a year ago, after 30 years of seeing no action — right? — no action on gun violence, the President was able to get a bipartisan — bipartisan deal made to move forward a little bit more on dealing with gun violence.
So, things can be done — executive actions, legislation. We just need more.
Go ahead, Brian.
Q Thanks a lot, Karine. You’ve described your concern over crossing the line of the Hatch Act from the podium, but can you talk about the President himself? The President is not covered by the Hatch Act. How does he think about the red lines when it comes to his use of office to advance his political aims in his reelection? What are —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Do you — do you have anything specific?
Q Are there parts of the White House that he won’t use for political activities, for example, like the Oval Office or the South Lawn? We saw the previous president use the South Lawn and the South Portico as a backdrop for accepting the nomination of his party. Are there red lines for the President himself on how he’ll use the office and the White House as a backdrop for his political campaign?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, the President is proud to have restored the rule of law in his administration. And I can tell you here and I can tell you now that he will not exploit his — the — his office with conventions at the White House, like it was done in the last administration. He will not do that in his — on the South Lawn, in his administration. I can — I can assure you that will not happen in this administration.
Q What about the Oval Office or — or using parts of the White House for fundraisers?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He will not exploit — he will not exploit his office to — for political gain in the way that we saw in the last administration.
Q Thank you. Yeah, about the injunction, do you plan to change your approach to social media policy in the wake of the Louisiana judge’s ruling? A lot of that had to do with, like, the pandemic, which is now over. Are you still taking the same approach to social media now as you were then? And will you change now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, again, the DOJ is looking at this. It’s under their review. They’re reviewing this, the injunction. So, I’m not going to get ahead of them. They’re going to look at — they’re going to evaluate all the options, so I’m going to say that — put that out there to you at this time.
But, look, we’re going to continue to promote responsible actions. I said this moments ago. That is something that we’re going to continue to do to make sure that we protect public health, to make sure that there is safety and security. So that is something that we’re going to continue to do.
We do disagree. I said this earlier, moments ago. We do disagree with this decision. But the DOJ is going to take a look at this, and they’ll come up and — they’ll come up and — with their own options and evaluate this.
Q Okay. And specifically, do you disagree with the judge’s ruling that — that this coordination was a form of censorship that specifically targeted conservative speech?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we disagree with the decision. I’ll leave it there. And I’m going to let DOJ do their — move forward with their evaluating process.
Q Thanks, Karine. One more on cocaine. How determined is the President to get to the bottom of who brought illegal drugs into the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The Secret Service is getting to the bottom, and that’s what matters. And it’s under their purview.
Q But it was — the question was: How determined is the President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President thinks it’s very important to get to the bottom of this. That’s why Secret Service, which it’s under their purview, is looking into this. And they’re going to look into what happened this weekend. So, the President thinks this is incredibly important to get to the bottom of this.
Q Will — will the administration be appealing the injunction, the ruling?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just said the DOJ is — is reviewing this injunction, and they’re going to look at — they’re going to evaluate their options. So, it’s for their decision to make.
Q And then, can you just respond to the judge’s accusation that each topic suppressed by the administration was a conservative view? He had a pretty strong statement: The U.S. government “seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’” Can you respond to that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to respond to the Attorney Gene- — or the judge. I’ll let the Department of Justice do that.
Q And then I know you can’t talk about 2024 —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is like the sixth question. (Laughs.)
Q I know. I’m sorry. I’ll let you go after this. I know you can’t talk about 2024, but how will this ruling impact the administration’s efforts to get its messaging out ahead of the election?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to speak about 2024. We respect the rule of law, and I’ll leave it there.
Okay, guys. I’ll see you later this week or tomorrow.
Q Thanks, Karine.
3:21 P.M. EDT