James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:30 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi. Some- — somebody on my staff says it smells like a new car in here. (Laughter.) And they were not wrong.
Q Kick the tires.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that one time?
Q Kick the tires.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Kick the tires? Okay. (Laughter.)
You guys look amazing in the new chairs in here, in this refurbished Press Briefing Room. But I also — in all seriousness, I also wanted to shout out to everyone who moved heaven and earth — literally heaven and earth — if you saw what this place looked like on Saturday, you’d be shocked — to really get this done as quickly as possible.
So, from construction workers, the crew, to the White House and GSA staff, to your WHCA leadership, Tam Keith, who is no longer the president, as you know, but we now have Kelly O. So, thank you so much. Kelly O’Donnell, to be more precise.
So this was a big undertaking. And the room looks amazing, and it looks great. So, congratulations to all of you, and thank you for that.
All right. So, a couple of things at the top before we get started. So, wanted to turn to some big news, as you all heard from us that we’re going to be doing this week — actually, tomorrow.
On the 82nd anniversary of Emmett Till’s birth, President Biden will sign a proclamation to establish the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley National Monument in Illinois and also in Mississippi.
The new monument will protect places that tell the story of Emmett Till’s too-short life and racially motivated murder, the unjust acquittal of his murderers, and the activism of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who courageously brought the world’s attention to the brutal injustices and racism of the time, catalyzing the Civil Rights Movement.
The monument will include three separate cities in two states, as I mentioned, including Roberts Temple Church in [of] God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side where thousands of people gathered to mourn and bear witness to Emmett Till’s death in September of 1955.
In Mississippi, the monument will include Graball Landing, which is believed to be the site where Emmett Till’s brutalized body was pulled from Tallahatchie River.
The third site is the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Emmett Till’s murderers were tried by an all-white jury and wrongfully acquitted.
This will be the President’s fourth new national monument since taking office. The designation reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history.
And it comes at an important moment — let’s not forget what we have seen these past several months — as we’ve witnessed extreme officials in Florida and across the country lie about American history. The most recent example: shamefully — shamefully promoting a lie that enslaved people actually benefited from slavery. It’s inaccurate, insulting. It’s hurtful and prevents an honest account — an honest account of our nation’s history.
In Jacksonville on Friday, you heard from the Vice President, Vice President Harris. And she said this is an attempt by extremists to push an agenda that continues to attack Americans’ freedom to learn our true and full history, and it will not stand for it — we will not stand for it.
The Biden-Harris administration will continue to speak out against hateful attempts to rewrite our history and strongly oppose any actions that threaten to divide us and take our country backwards.
So, now, on another — on another topic for all of you: Over the past few days, we have seen Russia continue to bombard the Ukrainian port city of Odesa using missiles and armed drones to kill and injure Ukrainian civilians, damage churches, residential buildings, and UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites as well.
They have destroyed port infrastructure and tens of thousands of tons of grain that could have fed hungry people around the world.
What Russia is doing to Odesa has been devastating, and we continue to be concerned that the Russian military may expand their targeting of Ukrainian grain facilities to include attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea.
This is something we have been warning about: that we believe Russia may attack civilian targets and then blame those attacks on Ukraine in a false flag operation. And we continue to monitor that closely.
Russia has already said they will consider all ships proceeding to Ukrainian ports in Black Sea waters to be potentially military targets, even though they are simply trying to pick up grain and pro- — podru- — products to feed people around the world.
The Kremlin’s actions, including its suspension of its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, have caused serious volatility to food prices, which will hurt impoverished and hard-hit areas of the world the most.
We urge Russia to stop targeting food supplies and to return — to return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative immediately.
Now, tomorrow, the First Lady will raise the flag for the United States once again at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, showing our country’s commitment to international cooperation in education, science, and also culture.
As President Biden has frequently noted, the United States is stronger, safer, and more prosperous when we engage with the rest of the world and when we seek cooperation, collaboration, and also partnership.
By rejoining UNESCO, the United States will reinforce that message and restore our leadership in a vital international space.
This administration is committed to having a leadership presence in all appropriate multilateral venues where our interests, our secur- — security, and our prosperity can be protected and also promoted.
And finally, one last announcement here. I want to say a word about my colleague, Louisa Terrell, and also Shuwanza Goff, who will be taking over at the helm of the Office of Legislative Affairs in the upcoming days.
Since taking office, President Biden has relied on Louisa Terrell’s tireless leadership of the Office of Legislative Affairs, and she has consistently delivered for the American people. Louisa has been a key member of the President’s team for many years, and we are incredibly sad to see her depart from — from the White House.
But know that around — but no one around here — it is — it’s always very tough to say goodbye. And so, she knows that, and we will miss her dearly.
Today, as you all know, the President is proud to announce that Shuwanza Goff, a day-one member of our team, will serve as Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs. Shuwanza has strong relationships across both chambers and both sides of the aisle forged over more than a decade on Capitol Hill. She will be the first African American woman to serve as White House Director of Legislative Affairs. And we know that her experience, instincts, and deep respect for Congress will continue to serve our administration and also the American people as well.
With that, Aamer — did I put you to sleep? What’s going on? (Laughs.)
Q What — no, I’m just trying to — your talk- — I’m trying to just keep up with all of your stuff.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) I’m just — I’m just teasing.
Q I apologize.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m totally teasing you.
Q Though these seats are quite comfortable. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, see, that’s what it is. It’s not me. It’s the seats. I gotcha. I gotcha.
Okay, go ahead.
Q On Israel: In your statement earlier today, you know, I think you shared the administration’s disappointment, but I was wondering what, if any, impact the vote will have on U.S.- Israeli relations, both in the near term and long term. And specifically in the near term, is the President still planning to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu sometime soon?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, to your last question first, the President spoke to the Prime Minister last week on the phone bef- — ahead of President Herzog’s visit to — to D.C., and they had made a commitment to see each other later this year. I just don’t have a date. Both teams are certainly working on trying to figure out a time to make that happen.
But to your first question, Aamer, look, our decades — decades-long partnership is ironclad. That continues to be the case. Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad.
And one of the things that you’ve heard us say before, and I’ll reiterate: The core of that relationship is certainly on democratic values, the shared democratic values and interests. And that will continue to be the case.
You know, President Biden has had a friend of — has been a friend of Israel for decades. It is a — is a personal relationship, is a li- — lifelong friend of Israel, as I mentioned in my statement that came out moments ago. And we are going to continue to — continue to engage our Israeli counterparts to try and strengthen that special bond. And that certainly will be the plan going forward.
Q If I could ask just on a separate topic. Is there any better sense of Private King’s well-being and health, the general conditions he’s currently in? And then also, is there any better sense of his motivations when he fled? Was his intent — intention to defect?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on the last question first, we’re still gathering and looking into this. And DOD, certainly, as I — as we’ve mentioned, is doing an investigation to get — to gather all the facts. Don’t have anything to share on anything that’s been reported on the reasons, on the whys.
What I can say is we’re looking into it, and it’s going to take some time to get that information.
More broadly, to your question, the White House and Department of Defense, State, the U.N. are all comu- — continuing to work together on this matter to ascertain information, as I just mentioned, to get all the facts about the well-being and the whereabouts of Private King.
We have relayed messages through multiple channels to the DPRK that the individual crossed on his own, and we want him returned quickly, and we want him to be returned safely.
So we also asked information on his welfare. Just don’t have anything else to share on this.
Q A follow-up on Israel?
Q A follow on Israel. And we saw the President’s comments over the weekend, your remarks today. Now that this vote has happened, does the President have any plans to speak to Netanyahu today or in the coming days just to convey those thoughts to him directly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don’t have anything to share on any upcoming conversation or calls that the presidents will be having.
Q And, on Texas, Governor Abbott has now responded to the administration respond — did to the Department of Justice’s letter — saying, “Texas will see you in court, Mr. President.” Your response? And can you give us a sense of what comes next here, how quickly this may play out?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m going to let the Department of Justice speak to this. They’ve been very clear last week that they are — that they also will see Governor Abbott in court for his unlawful actions. We’ve been very clear about that.
And we have also said that, you know, when we — when we move forward with a plan — right? — a plan of deterrence, diplomacy, and also enforcement with how we were going to move forward after Title 42 was lifted — we actually saw the numbers go down. We actually saw the President’s plan working.
And what you see the governor doing is dangerous and unlawful, and it’s actually hurting the process. It’s hurting the process of what we’re trying to do. And instead of wanting to — or undermining, I should say.
Instead of coming to the table and trying to figure out a way to work together, he continues to do this really cruel, unjust, inhumane ways of moving forward with a — with a system that has been broken for decades.
This is a president who has taken action from day one and has continued to show what he can do to help — to help deal with the bor- — the border situation. But, you know, Governor Abbott is not about that.
And so, the Department of Justice has been very clear. We’ve been very clear about that. They’ve been very clear about taking him to court about his unlawful actions. So I’m going to let them speak to it.
Q Thanks, Karine. You’re talking about these unlawful actions, and the letter very clearly spells out all the ways in which the governor has broken the law.
What is preventing the federal government from removing the river barriers? Why is this a legal matter?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, first, I’m going to let the Department of Justice speak to this. And, look, the governor’s action is making it difficult to access the river, patrol the area — that’s what he’s doing — and arrest individuals who attempt to enter the country unlawfully. That’s what — that’s what his actions is actually preventing.
And so, those are unlawful. Those are unlawful actions that are not helpful and is undermining what the President has put forward and is trying to do. That’s what we’re seeing.
But I’m going to let the Department of Justice speak to the leg- — legalese piece of this. And they will certainly speak more in detail about what is — what — how they see themselves moving forward.
Q And I understand that. But, I mean, if the barriers are, you know, unlawfully there in the river, why not instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to move them?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to speak to what — what we’re going to — what’s going to be instructed of the Army Corps of Engineers. What we’re speaking to is the unlawful actions that the — that the governor is taking and how the Department of Justice is going to move forward.
Anything related to that, certainly I would refer you to Homeland Security, specifically.
Q And then, just a quick one on Private King. Does he have a security clearance?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can’t speak to his national security clearance from here. That’s not something that I can speak to, but I would refer you to the Department of Defense.
Q Thank you.
Q Chairman James Comer today says that the Oversight Committee — excuse me — has evidence that the President in the past communicated directly with foreign business associates of his son, Hunter Biden, many times. Curious if the White House and the President still stand behind his comment that he’s never been involved and has never even spoken to his son about his business.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’ve been — I’ve been asked this question a million times. The answer is not going to change. The answer remains the same: The President ha- — was never in business with his son. I just don’t have anything else to add.
Q Has the President been given options for how to physically remove the barriers? Is that part of the briefing for him?
And on a separate matter, the Ohio police department that deployed a dog July 4th when a motorist was stopped, has the President been briefed on that particular situation? And do you have any comment on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have any updates on — or anything to share about the President being updated on — on — on the Ohio situation. I saw the stories. I’m going to let — certainly, I believe there is an investigation. They’re looking into it.
It sounds horrific. But I don’t want to go beyond that. But it does sound horrific as to what happened.
And as it relates to what the President has been updated on, on options to remove the barriers, I just don’t have anything specific for you on that.
Q Thanks, Karine. Is the President concerned about the direction of democracy in Israel after the passage of this judicial reform bill today?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as I said at the top, I said in my statement, the relationship — right? — with Israel is a lifelong — is a lifelong friendship — right? — a relationship that the President specifically has had since he entered politics, since he entered the government, and that’s going to continue.
Certainly, we believe that relationship — the core of that relationship certainly is — comes — stems out of democratic interests and democratic values. That still remains the same.
And so, we’re going to continue to have conversations. And that’s what we believe it’s going to continue in that — in that core of how that relationship started.
Q And can you speak to what went into the President’s decision to — to finally designate this national monument for Emmett Till and his mother? But groups have been advocating for it since the Obama era. So, why now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have a timeline as to why now. But, look, we’re about to — we’re about to actually acknowledge the 82nd birthday of Emmett Till tomorrow. And why not? Why not tomorrow? Why not on a day that matters to — that matters in — in recognizing him?
And, look, I think I had said this is, like, the fourth national monument. Certainly, this is — the President has taking this very seriously when it comes to national monuments, when it comes to lifting up really important, in this case, history — historical importance of Emmett Till.
Let’s not forget, sadly, Emmett Till’s murder really was a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. How — how — how else can — there are many ways we can lift up his memory, but this is an important way to do that. This is something that the President can do and the President is going to do tomorrow.
Q And last question: Did you see “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer” this weekend? (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I knew I was going to get that question. (Laughs.) I did not. But heard that it did very well. I knew I was going to get that question. Okay.
Did you see “Barbie”?
Q I did.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You did? (Laughter.) Did you see both movies back-to-back?
Q I’m more of a “Barbie” person, so just “Barbie.” (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right.
Q Karine, I wanted to ask about the meeting with Netanyahu. I know you had said there are still conversations on organizing that, but will the vote here impact whether or not he will be invited to the White House, specifically?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, those conversations are continuing. The President was clear last week and said that he would — they wanted — they both wanted to see each other by the end — you know, later this year. And so, that’s going to — that conversation between the two teams are going to continue.
And, look, I’ll say this: You know, President — President Biden and the Prime Minister have a — have a decades-long relationship, as I’ve been saying. And they’ve always been very candid with each other and discussed shared interests, and also have had — also have shared their concerns as well.
And just like they did last week, there is nothing new in that relationship. Very — both have been very honest with each other. And so, I think that will — that will certainly continue. And so, I — I would assure you that they will continue to have those honest conversations, that they will continue to, you know, talk to — both sides will continue to talk to — about the situation that’s currently happening in Israel. And that’s not going to change. And have — continue to have that political dialogue.
Q On a different topic. Given the extreme heat that’s been going on in states like Arizona, Texas, has there been any consideration from the White House to put out an emergency declaration?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything on emergency declaration or anything new about that.
I can — as you all know, the President on Thursday is going to receive an update on the extreme heat and what’s been happening — extreme weather — what’s been happening across the country. And so, you all will have an opportunity to hear the update that he’s been receiving.
I just don’t have anything on a proclamation.
Q Has he called any officials in Arizona to discuss the (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any calls to read out, but, obviously, we have an intergovernment affairs office here that stays in close touch with officials, state officials, statewide officials, local officials in — in those states and offer up any assistance that we — we can.
We’ve talked about — I’ve talked about — many times about what we’re doing to assist, whether it’s cooling stations and what FEMA is able to do to assist certain — certain areas in the country that is dealing with extreme weather. And we’ll continue to do that.
Q Thanks, Karine. The President urged Israeli leaders to compromise. He urged them to find consensus on judicial reform. They did neither of those. So, has the President reached the limits of his influence on the Israeli political process?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think — a couple of things that I want to say here, and this is part of the statement that I put out. And — again, lifelong friendship.
We are — it is unfortunate that the vote today took place with the slimmest possible majority. And we understand talks are ongoing. Let’s not forget that. They’re ongoing and likely to continue over the coming weeks and months to forge a broader compromise, which is what the President has been calling for, for these past several months, even when the Knesset is in recess. So, that’s what we understand.
So, the United States — we will continue to support the efforts of President Herzog and other Israeli leaders as they seek to build a broader consensus through political dialogue. That’s what we’re going to continue to support. And we understand that the conversation is ongoing.
Q So, yeah, given the fact that they are still considering other components of this judicial reform, is the President going to continue to speak out, urging consensus and compromise? And is he willing to go further? Is he willing to put anything else behind this other than rhetoric?
I mean, the U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars in aid a year. Is he willing to put that on the line to try and get the outcome that he would like —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I —
Q — to see in Israel?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I wouldn’t say it’s just rhetoric. When the President speaks, it sends a message.
And not only that, it’s not just rhetoric. He’s had private conversations with the Prime Minister. He’s had conversations — a bilateral meeting with the President of Israel, President Herzog, just last week.
So, the President has been very clear. He b- — he believes there needs to be a broader consensus.
There continues to be dialogue. That’s what we’re calling for. That’s — I think that’s really important over the next couple of weeks and — and months.
And so, that’s what we believe — we understand is going to happen or is happening. And — and we’re going to continue to support those efforts.
Q And does the President intend to nominate a new ambassador to Israel? I believe the most recent ambassador, Tom Nides, just ended his tenure. There’s a chargé currently in charge. Does he have any plans to nominate someone given everything that’s unfolding?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I understand the question. Just don’t have anything new to share at this time.
Q Okay. And lastly, on another quick topic, does the President still believe that the UP- — that UPS and the Teamsters will reach an agreement to avert a strike?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, they have had some progress in their negotiations and their conversation, which is really important. They’re going back to the table. They’re going back to negotiating tomorrow, which also is very important.
So, we are hopeful. We are optimistic on this issue.
Q A couple questions following up on — on Texas. Is there anything that the White House thinks that it can do about the razor wire and the barriers, aside from this threatened legal action that the Department of Justice has sent to the state of Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been very clear: What — what Governor Abbott is doing is undermining what we’re trying to do, something — a plan that the President has put forth after Title 42 lifted that has been pretty effective, right? We’ve seen the numbers at the — of unlawful — of unlawful entry go down. That’s what the data shows. And he continues to under- — undermine that.
And so, the Department of Justice is the place to go, right? This is a legal issue. And they’re going to deal with this. And we’re — we’ll let them speak to this more — more directly.
Q Two other quick things on this. So, the letter. One of the things that Governor Abbott said was that the President’s open-border policies are encouraging “migrants to risk their lives by crossing illegally through the water, instead of safely and legally at a port of entry.” He — he said that it’s “been under your watch that migrants have suffered an unprecedented crisis of inhumanity.”
What is the White House’s response to that part of the letter?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, Governor Abbott is not — he’s not moving forward in good faith. He’s just not. There’s no good-faith effort here in what Governor Abbott is doing.
And the only person — the one person that is sowing chaos is Governor Abbott. That’s what he continues to do: political stunts in an inhumane way. He’s actively undermining our border enforcement plan, which, again, has the lowest level of unlawful border crossings in over two years. He’s making this more difficult.
And so, he’s not operating in good faith here. That’s my answer.
Q And lastly, you had said that they could just come to the table, potentially, and talk about this. When was the last time that President Biden tried calling Governor Abbott?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let’s be very clear: Governor Abbott is making it harder for the men and women of the Border Patrol by what he’s doing. He’s making it harder for the people who are supposed to work to protect — protect our border. That’s what he’s doing.
And so, you’ve seen them meet many times when the President has visited Texas. And so, you know, I get the question, but he’s literally operating in bad faith. That’s what this governor is doing, while we’re trying to fix and deal with an issue — a broken system, an immigration system that has broken for decades. And he’s undermining it.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. Does the administration have any response to North Korea launching two ballistic missiles today?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple things on that, on the launch from us. The — we certainly condemn the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches. These launches are in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and pose a threat to the DPRK’s neighbors and the international community.
We remain committed to a diplomatic approach to the DPRK and call on the DPRK to engage in dialogue. Our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.
Q If I could just go back to the heat briefing, since it’s on his public schedule already for this week. Can you give us any more guidance on who will be giving him that briefing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any more details. Certainly, as we get closer to Thursday, we’ll provide more information.
Go ahead, Jeff. Jeff, I haven’t seen you in a while.
Q Here I am.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Welcome. Welcome back.
Q Question about Russia, which you mentioned earlier. Russia has said today that it is considering retaliatory measures against Ukraine for two drone strikes that hit buildings in the Moscow ar- — or in Moscow, I should say. What’s your reaction both to Ukraine’s drone strikes and also the threat of retaliation?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. This is a war that Russia started. This is their war. They started this war, and they could end it — you hear us say this all the time — they can end it at any time — any time — by withdrawing forces from Ukraine instead of launching brutal attacks on civilians, on Ukraine city — cities. And that’s what they do on — doing every day on this brutal attack for more than 15 months.
Rus- — Russia has been bombarding the Ukrainian port of Odesa; killing and injuring Ukrainian civilians; devastating UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites, as I mentioned at the top; and destroying tens of thousands of tons of grain that were going to be shipped to countries around the world.
And we have been clear, as you asked me about the Ukrainian drone strikes and what we — what we make of this. And so, look, on the drone strikes in — in Moscow, we’ve been clear that, as a general matter, we do not support attacks inside of Russia. But we also have been very clear that Crimea is indeed Ukraine.
And so, again, this is — this is something that, when it comes to this war, this is a — as we all know, Russia started this war and they can end this today.
But what we will continue to do: We will continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine, as we have been for — for more than 15 months, as they are fighting for their freedom, fighting for their sovereignty.
And so, that is our commitment to Ukraine. You saw that at the NATO Summit from all 31 leaders just recently, 10 days ago, the last time we were — when we were recently traveled. And you’ll continue to see that from this President. And not just this President but our NATO Allies, as well, and partners across the country.
Q Pivoting back to Israel. I’ve heard your — read your and heard your statements about the vote. Are you reluctant to call the judicial reform “undemocratic”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, we’ve been very clear. We’ve been very clear on anything — any changes — any changes like these that were to happen to — policy changes needed a broad — broad consensus. The President has been very, very clear.
Q But is it really just about the consensus or is it about what the policy is?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s about what majority of the — of the people in Israel want, right? It needs a bro- — that’s what a broad consensus is, right? It needs the support of — of the broader community, if you will, in Israel. That is — that is what we have been very clear about. And — and you saw from the President’s statement that instead of being less divisive — this is the President’s statement yesterday — it became more divisive.
And so, we’re — we are — we are, you know, it is unfortunate that the vote happened today. It took place with the slimmest possible majority — the slimmest possible majority.
And so, look, as we understand it, it’s going — it’s — it’s an — it’s going to be ongoing. There’s going to be continuing talks over the next couple of weeks, over the next couple of months. And that’s what we want to see.
Q On the call with Biden and Netanyahu last week, Axios reported that Biden told Netanyahu he isn’t the only one who’s concerned about where the Prime Minister is taking Israel; many Americans are, too. Can you share more about the candor that the President expressed on Americans’ public opinion?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’m not going to get into a private conversation. There was a readout. So I’ll point you to the readout that we put out of the call that he — the President had with the Prime Minister.
Look, I also said moments ago, they’ve always had con- — candid conversations, the two of them. They’ve known each other for a very long time. And they’ve discussed shared interest as well as concerns that they both have had. And so, I think I’ll just leave it there for now.
Q Thank you. I have a question on Guatemala. But first, on Spain, there were general elections — general elections yesterday and the two major parties did not win enough seats in the parliament to form a government. So I was wondering, do you have a comment on the results and, specifically, if the United States is concerned about political instability?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we congratulate the people of Spain on their elections yesterday. The United States will continue to work closely with any government that emerges from the electoral process, as we have worked with Spanish governments in the past, to advance our shared goals and mutual interests.
Q On Guatemala, sorry, do you have any comment on Guatemala on the recent events and, specifically, on the political raid — the police raid, sorry, that took place on Friday on one of the office — offices of the candidates to the presidential elections?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: For — in Spain?
Q No, for Guatemala.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, Guatemala.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No — no worries. I thought you were still asking about Spain.
A couple of things there. So, look, we are deeply concerned by ongoing efforts to interfere with the elections in Guatemala. Guatemalans deserve the right to vote for their preferred candidate between the certified winners of the first round of elections on June 25th without any interference.
Threats to — to arrest election officials or party officials threaten to undermine Guatemala’s demo- — democratic process.
So, we’re closely monitoring the developments with our regional partners and international organizations ahead of the August 20th runoff.
Guatemalan authorities can show leadership by ending this result — ending this assault, pardon me — on the basic democratic freedoms of the Guatemalan people. And the world is indeed watching.
Good ahead, April.
Q Karine, a couple of questions. This announcement by the President tomorrow is dropped right in the midst of this racial and political dynamic, as you will. Mary Frances Berry, the former head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said this is not the first time that history and the truth of Black America has been obscured, had revisionist history, and, as you said, lied on.
How do you marry these two moments with the President’s announcement tomorrow, as there are those who believe, one, that African American history has been lied on, propagated by this administration? How do you make this a significant moment, as it was in history, for those in this moment who don’t believe it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President has made it very clear: We cannot pick or choose our history. We can’t. We should learn everything about our history, the good and the ugly. The President has said this over and over again. Right? And he’s made that very clear.
When you think about the national monument, it tells the story of events surrounding Emmett Till’s murder. Right? And I said this earlier. It is — it was a significance — a significant event, a sad event that led to the Civil Rights Movement. And we need to continue to tell that story, tell his story — and not just his story; the story of his mother and what she tried to do to make sure that — to make sure that what he went through was not lost.
And so, you know, as we talk about the Civil Rights Movement, as we talk about Emmett Till’s story, this is American history, and it is the broader story of American oppre- — of Black oppression, the survival and the bravery in America. All of that is connected.
And so, yes, it’s an important moment. You’re going to hear directly from the President tomorrow. So I would certainly say to you to tune in; he’ll speak to this more — more specifically and more directly.
And so, what I can — what I can promise you is that — that this administration is certainly committed — committed to making sure that we tell America’s and this nation’s complete story. And that’s what you’ve seen from this President over and over again.
Q So how do you plan to do that beyond tomorrow? Because this is not stopping, from Florida to everywhere else. How do you plan to continue to tell the story, as, again, there are still segments of society who don’t either want to hear it or believe it’s a lie?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. You heard from the Vice President directly. Right? She gave a very forceful rebuke of what is going on in Florida under that governor’s leadership. And so, that’s something that you’re going to continue to hear. You’re going to continue to hear from this administration, speaking out and being very clear about how dangerous that type of rhetoric — rhetoric is to our country and to our history. So you’ll hear that.
I think tomorrow is an important moment coming from this administration, showing and lifting up a story of Emmett Till by acknowledging — making sure we continue to acknowledge what he went through. The event that happened, again, led to the Civil Rights Movement. And so, that monument is important.
I think it’s important for the President — for the President to be able to do this — the fourth — the fourth one in his administration. So, you’ll hear directly from the President, and he’ll continue to speak to this.
One of the four crises that he talked about when he walked into this administration was racial injustices: what we were seeing in this country and how we needed to continue to fight and we needed to continue to uplift what we’re seeing across the country over the past couple of years — not just couple of years, but over — what we have seen over the past decades.
And so, this is a president that doesn’t shy away from that and is going to continue to speak up.
Q And last question, on HBCUs. The HBCU White House Council is expected to meet and issue a letter for the President this week. And this — they were — we understand that they were pulling it together before the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action admissions. And also understanding a large component of it is about capacity.
Is the President concerned about capacity for historically Black colleges and universities that is already struggling with this influx of students and now more so because of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on affirmative action admissions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a lot there. Look, we’re going to continue to monitor, to your point about capacity. Certainly, we’re going to monitor that closely.
As you stated in your question there to me, April, this is — we have al- — we had already seen record — record applicant increases before the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. So that’s something that we had seen, as you mentioned.
And what I can say is that the Vice President, the President certainly, of course, is committed to doing any- — everything that we can to assist HBCUs.
As you know, we’ve — we’ve awarded a historic amount of funding to HBCUs — about $7 billion. I think that shows our commitment to making sure that HBCUs continue to thrive and they have the resources that they need.
But as it relates to increase of applicants, we’re certainly going to continue to take a look at that closely.
And I’ll just add, you know, we have the — we have the White House Public Engagement here and — who is going to continue to remain in close contact with HBCUs, as we have the last two years.
Go ahead, Anita.
Q I have two questions about the Global South. First of all, the Russia-Africa Summit is happening this week. President Putin has offered to African countries a low-cost grain deal, selling them cheap grain from Russia. Is that a solution that the White House would support to get around the expiration of the grain deal? Or would you like to see these countries agitate for a full return to the grain deal (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean, I’ve been very clear at the top that Russia needs to go back to the — the agreement that we had on the grain deal. I mean, that’s what I said at the top. That’s what we want to see. That’s the solution. That’s the answer. That’s what we are going to continue to call for.
Q Cool. All right. So, Algeria and Egypt, which are two partners of the U.S. — the First Lady visited both recently — have applied to join BRICS — which, as you know, is Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — and represents kind of a non-alignment force that stands against, kind of, Western hegemony.
So how do you feel about this development? Do you welcome this? Do —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we have a couple of things here. First, I would refer you to the — to the countries to speak their — on their own about their diplomatic engagement. That is something that they should certainly speak to that on their own.
For our part, we lead in our engagement with an affirm- — affirmative agenda focused on demonstrating the benefits of our governance and economic models.
U.S. policy does not ask our partners to choose between the United States and other countries. We have repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. does not — does not want to limit countries’ partnership with other countries. But we want countries to have choices on how to deliver results to their citizens as well.
I’ll also add — we’ve talked about this a couple times already — that Russia will be forced to explain itself when it meets with African countries about why they decided to stop participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as you just asked me moments ago. Like, that’s what we want to see. We want them to get back into the initiative — the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
And, look, Russia’s actions this past week, as I mentioned already, which include the blocking — the blockading of Ukraine — Ukrainian ports to stop the export of grains and critical food products, and bombing grain — short — stockpile shortages facilities have increased the price of food in many places throughout the world and will hurt regions such as the Horn of Africa, as well.
So, you know, many people around the world will find it harder to — to — to afford basic food, as well as — as the results of ac- — Russia’s actions. And so, I imagine that this will be at the topic of discussions this week. And so, we will see. We will see.
Q And then, just quickly. The chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee — Foreign Affairs Committee, rather — has expressed opposition to U.S. officials traveling to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Who were those officials? Can you confirm the meeting? Was it somebody from the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to confirm or lay out for you as to who attended.
Q Thanks, Karine. We heard from former President Trump last week say he received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith. There’s some speculation, with the grand jury meeting this week, an indictment could come at any time.
Over the weekend, the former President posted a series of ominous social media — to his social media account, suggesting that it’s a very dangerous thing to even think about charging him with a crime, saying, another one, “If you do something bad to us, we’re going to do things to you that have never done before.”
So, what is the level of concern at the White House that the Pres- — former President is trying to incite violence? And secondly, what steps have there been for the White House and federal government to speak to local and other law enforcement officers to prepare?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, first, I’m going to be very careful. As you know, Donald Trump is a — a — a candidate, as we all know, for 2024. So, I’m not going to speak to those comments directly.
But I can say that, you know, the President is — and the administration is always kept abreast and is always going to be ready for anything that might occur or may occur. And certainly, we are always keeping a close eye. But I’m just not going to speak directly to what the former President has tweeted over the weekend.
Q Israel —
Q Thanks, Karine. So, I want to ask you about appliances. But first, this is a big week for the economy. The Federal Reserve will likely raise rates again on Wednesday, putting the interest rates into a range we had for 2007. So, are high interest rates and about 2 percent growth a side effect of Bidenomics?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get into what the Federal — Federal Reserve is going to make a decision on or not. They are independent. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here. They have the independence to — we give them the independence to make sure that they make monetary decisions on their own.
Q How about Bidenomics and high interest rates then?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what I can say is Bidenomics is about making sure that we build an economy that doesn’t leave anybody behind. Right? When you see the data, when you see that inflation has indeed come down, has been — has — has come down the last 12 months — and that’s important. That’s what the data has showed. That is important — and also, while wages are going up.
And so, this is Bidenomics at work. This is what the President — this is the President’s policies, making sure, again, that we build an economy from the bottom up, middle out.
I’m not going to get into the Federal Reserve, the decision that they may or may not make. That is up to them. They are independent
Q On appliances. So, from this administration, we’ve seen them go after gas stoves, air conditioning units with regulation, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, now water heaters. How many more home appliances will Americans eventually have to replace, then, because of regulations?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just to be clear, when it comes to water heaters — and it is — it is — it is proposed, what has been put forward. And if it is enacted, it would not take it into effect until 2029. So, let’s not forget that. So, we want to make sure that we have the facts out there.
And if and when it is enacted, it’s going to help consumers save about $11 billion a year. That’s what the President wants to do. He wants to make sure that we lower costs for the American people. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act is so important — right? — because it’s going to provide up to $2,000 in credit as it relates to energy.
So those are the things that the President is focused on. But, again, if enacted, it wouldn’t be enacted until 2029. And when it — and if it is enacted, to add to that, consumers would save $11 billion a year.
AIDE: One or two more.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q So my toaster is safe? (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thank you. The administration has been very forceful in denouncing the efforts to restrict and revise history in some cases, but has it explored going further?
For example, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus told us he was calling on the administration to leverage the Education Department, which can restrict federal funds, or the Justice Department in states that are attempting to restrict the way history — Black history and slavery are taught.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have anything new to share about policy changes that we would be making as it relates to your question. What I can say to you is that this is a president that has shown his commitment over the last two years when it comes to education or even when it comes to when the affirmative action by SCOTUS was — was — when that decision was made.
You heard directly and specifically from this President. You heard — you’ve heard from the Vice President in Florida.
So, we have been very vocal, very clear about — about where we stand when it comes to either affirmative action, when it comes to banning of books, when it comes to putting forth a teaching curriculum that is indeed dangerous — that is dangerous to our American history.
And so, that’s what you’re going to continue to hear from this President. And — and, you know, he’ll never shy away from that. Neither will the Vice President.
Q But during the — sorry, one more Karine. During the pandemic, I know the Education Department would launch investigations into states that were, you know, prohibiting the use of masks, et cetera. Is that at all on the table —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything.
Q — for history?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any policy updates for you to share at this time.
As you know, COVID was a — when the President walked in — into this administration, we had thousands of people dying a day from COVID. And he had to put forward a comprehensive plan to make sure that we got the economy going and that we made sure that we took care of Americans and got shots in arms — right? — a comprehensive vaccination plan forward. And so, that was a different time, clearly.
As far as it relates to this issue, I just don’t have any policy updates for you at this time.
Q Thanks. On the situation at the border, I know that there — you’ve talked about the reports about migrant women being denied water, but there’s also recent reports of children being bloodied by razor wire. Are there any plans for the President to address this himself to the country or even to reporters at all?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think it’s important that the Department of Justice is assessing this. I think it’s important that the Department of Justice is looking into these types of unlawful actions. I think it’s important, as the President’s White House Press Secretary, that I’ve spoken multiple times here at this podium, especially last week, about how unlawful and how inhumane Governor Abbott’s actions has been.
And so, we’ll continue to do that. And we’ll continue to move forward with our plan that actually does — moves forward with — moves forward with dealing in immigration with a hu- — in a humane way. We’ve been always very clear about that. As we move forward in dealing with this immigration issue, we have to do it in a humane way.
And that’s what we’ve seen. That’s why we’ve expanded legal pathways. That’s why we — we’ve made sure that we’ve had diplomatic conversation. That’s why we made sure that we’ve had enforcement at the border to make sure the unlawful process of this is — is dealt with. And so, that’s what you’ve seen.
I think if you look at the President’s actions, that says everything that you need to know to the question that you’re asking me. From the day one — day one of this administration, the President put forth a comprehensive immigration piece of legislation to deal with this issue that has been — that has been a problem — a broken system for decades — for decades — wanting to do it in a humane way.
When you have a governor who is undermining the process and doing it in a way that is not in good faith, we’re going to call that out, too. I’m going to let the Department of Justice deal with that.
Q But any plans for him to actually (inaudible) —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — what I’m saying is the President — we feel — I feel that he has been very, very clear about this — by taking actions, by being vocal many times on this — and has said we need to do this in the right way. We need to do this in a humane way.
And that’s what you’re going to continue to see from this administration. And you’ve seen that in actions from this administration.
All right, everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Q Thank you, Karine.
4:18 P.M. EDT