James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
4:12 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, everybody.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It still smells like a new car in here.
Okay, good afternoon. Yesterday, I previewed the designated — the designation of three historic site as part of the new national monument that will honor the legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, as well as preserve opportunities for gen- — for future generations to learn about painful chapters in our history.
As the President and the Vice President both expressed this afternoon: An honest and full accounting of our nation’s history is not only what generations of enslaved and oppressed Americans deserve, it’s integral to moving us forward.
Now, switching gears, you just heard from the President moments ago a — about another monumentally important announcement. Mental health is a growing problem that touches every corner of the country.
That’s exactly why President Biden made tackling the mental health crisis a key focus of his Unity Agenda — areas where members of both parties can come together and make progress for the American people.
Fifteen years ago, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was enacted. That law was passed to ensure that mental health care was treated like physical healthcare. In other words, insurers couldn’t force you to pay more for a visit to a mental health provider than your primary care doctor. However, some insurers have been gaming the system, making it more difficult to access mental health coverage.
Today, President Biden discussed a landmark proposed rule to fix this very problem. As he said, “Mental health is health.” The rule will help families get the same access to mental health and substance-use benefits through private insurance as they do to physical healthcare. And it’s a major step in our work to ensure Americans can get the help that they need.
Today, we got additional evidence of Bidenomics is working. As the Associated Press reported, “[C]onsumer confidence shot to the highest level in two years this month as inflationary pressures eased and the American economy continued to show resilience.”
And yesterday, the Economic Innovation Group released their latest small-business report with an unambiguous title, quote, “The Startup Surge Continues.”
If trends hold, we are on track to have the first, second, and the third best years for new business applications on the record under President Biden.
Unemployment remains at near-record lows and inflation has fallen to 3 percent, with President Biden’s investment in America serving as a wind in the sails of the economy.
Investments in domestic manufacturing are booming.
That’s Bidenomics in action. And the American people are beginning to feel Bidenomics.
And finally, today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing a new security assistance package to support the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country.
This announcement includes important capabilities to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses, including additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems and NASAMS that the United States has provided to help Ukraine protect its people from Russian attacks. The package also has more artillery rounds, anti-aircraft systems, several dozen armored personnel carriers, and over 28 million rounds of small-arms ammunition, all of which will arrive in Ukraine soon.
As we have said before, we — we made it a priority to provide Ukraine with everything they told us they — they would need for the counteroffensive before their operations began.
Announcements like today’s reflect our commitment to continuing to provide Ukraine with the weapons and equipment they need to help them succeed on the battlefield.
As I talked about yesterday during the briefing — at the top of the briefing yesterday — Russia has spent the past week bombarding Ukrainian port cities such as Odesa. And yesterday, Russia destroyed Ukrainian grain warehouses on the Da- — Danube River, depriving the world of even more food that could have been used to feed the hungry around the world.
We will continue to support Ukraine as they stand up to Russian brutality and defend their country as long as it takes.
With that, Seung Min.
Q Hey, I have a couple questions related to Trevor Reed. I wanted to know if the administration had any sense of how many Americans are, like Mr. Reed, in Ukraine doing this type of freelance fighting, and if the administration has a message for Americans who are doing that or considering doing that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we’ve — we’ve been very clear about our message to Americans. Let me just say that we are aware that Trevor Reed was injured while participating in fighting in Ukraine. So we are aware of that.
But since the beginning of the war, we’ve been very clear. We have warned that U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine, especially with the purpose of participating in fighting there, that they — they face significant risks. We have said that over and over again for the past more than 16 months now, including — including the real — the real risk of capture or death. So, been very clear with Americans here in this country about that.
And I also want to be very clear here that Mr. Reed was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government. And as I — as I’ve indicated, the U.S. government has been extraordinarily — extraordinarily explicit in warning Americans not to travel to Ukraine, let alone participating in fighting there.
So as you know, it is not able — we are not able to provide assistance to evacuate U.S. citizens — that’s not something that we are able to do — from Ukraine, including those Americans who may decide to travel to Ukraine to participate in an ongoing war.
So we are aware that with support of the NGO, Trevor has been evacuated to Germany, where he is receiving medical care.
Beyond that, because of privacy reasons, I’m not going to share any more beyond that.
Q So does the administration have any sort of statistics on who is doing this kind of freelancing effort?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I don’t have a number to share with you. But we have been explicitly — explicitly clear to Americans that — to — first of all, to not to travel to Ukraine, but certainly not risk their lives on the battlefield because of the risks that, clearly, I just laid out.
Q And one follow-up to that. Obviously, this comes at a time when the President has said he’s considering a prisoner swap for other U.S. citizens who are still in Russia, like Mr. Gershkovich. So, I’m wondering if the White House has any concern that this incident could undermine those efforts, considering this is someone who was released in a prisoner — prisoner exchange with Russia and now has gone back into the region to fight specifically against Russia.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I can assure the American public, I can assure all of you that the team is — certainly continues to pursue every avenue to bring home Evan, to bring home Paul. This case — this — those cases — this case is completely sa- — separate. They’re not the same, and they are treated entirely differently.
Go ahead, Mary.
Q The President’s son, Hunter, has a court appearance scheduled for tomorrow. You know, given the President’s unwavering support for him, is anyone from the family planning to accompany him tomorrow?
And also, we haven’t heard directly from Hunter yet since he entered this plea. It seems that tomorrow might present that kind of opportunity. Is the White House encouraging or discouraging him from speaking out publicly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just not going to get into — into — into anything that’s related to Hunter Biden. He’s a private citizen. I would refer you to his representatives. Just don’t have anything to share on that. That is something that he is dealing with. And so, would refer you to his representatives on this.
Q And nothing on whether anyone will be with him from the family?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I would refer you to — to Hunter Biden’s representatives.
Q On a very different topic: the dog. (Laughter.) It seems that Commander Biden has a bit of a biting problem. Can you give us the latest? And also, any plans for him to, perhaps, make a move, go stay with some family friends, as — as Major Biden, the previous dog, did?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as — (laughter) — as you all know, the White House complex can be unique and very stressful. And that is something I’m sure — (laughter) — you all can understand. And — and it is — as I just said, is — it is unique and it is stressful for all of us, so you can imagine what it’s like for a family pet and family pets, more — more broadly.
And so, look, the First Family is working through ways to make this situation better for everyone. I think there was a statement that came out of the First Lady’s Office from my colleague over there, Elizabeth Alexander, so I’ll just kind of lay out a little bit of what she put out in her statement.
So, they have been partnering with the Secret Service and Executive Residence staff on additional leashing protocols and training, as well as establishing designated areas for Commander to run and exercise.
According to the Secret Service, each incident referenced was treated similarly to comparable — comparable, pardon me, workplace injuries with relevant notifications of reporting procedures followed.
And so, the President and the First Lady are obviously — and continue to be incredibly grateful to the Secret Service and the Executive Residence staff for all they do to keep them and their family and the country safe.
I don’t have anything — specifics on any changes to — to Commander’s whereabouts. So I’ll just leave it there.
Q Karine, China just demoted their foreign minister and appointed veteran diplomat Wang Yi. He’s a fairly familiar character. Do you anticipate any change in relations with China as a result of this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’re aware, clearly, of the decision, the recent change. This is an internal matter for PRC, so we’ll leave it up to them to speak to — to speak to this change and comments and any questions.
Look, it — it — United States is committed to deepening channels of communication with the PRC to prevent any misunderstandings and miscalculations. So that doesn’t change anything.
Q And in Israel, the judicial overhaul reform is prompting thousands of people to protest in the streets. Is the President — does he sympathize with these protesters?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think it — look, there — it is clear there is a significant debate and discussion that is happening currently in Israel on judicial reform. And such debates are healthy — that’s how we see it — and they’re part of our vibrant democracy.
I’ve said this many times before: Our relationship with Israel — at the core of that relationship is — is democracy, is our values that we share.
And so, we urge authorities, for sure, to protect and respect the right of peaceful — peaceful assembly. And so, we’ll continue to s- — to — to make sure to relay that.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q The House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, is talking more about starting an impeachment investigation into the President. What’s your response to that?
And if he did that, would that make any kind of cooperation with the House impossible going forward?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. I’m not going to get into what the House Republicans may or may not do.
What I can speak to is what the President is focused on. He’s focused on real priorities that the American families care about.
He’s focused on the American family, but they want to focus on his family. They can do whatever it is that they wish to do, but we’re going to stay focused. We’re going to stay steadfast.
And there are two examples of — today — of how the President is moving forward. I just talked about the mental health — the mental health event that he — that the President just had and announcing actions to expand access to mental health care and tackle this crisis, which is, as you all know, a critical part of his Unity Agenda that he’s spoken about for the past two years and will continue to do so.
And let’s not forget, earlier today, Emmett Till and what we were able to do, what the President was able to do, to make sure that there’s a monument that continues — a monument for Emmett Till and his mom to continue to — to shed light on that part of our history and to tell that story so we can move forward.
That’s going to be the pr- — that’s going to be the President’s focus.
He wants to work in a bipartisan way. He does. We have been able to do that. We have the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We have the CHIPS and Science Act. We have the PACT Act for veterans.
We have — we have found ways — I think more than 300 pieces of legislation that the President has signed in the past two years has been bipartisan. That’s what the President wants to do. That’s how he wants to move forward. And that’s going to be our focus.
Q Okay. And I just had a follow-up on the dog. The span of time in those emails was four months, ending in January. Do you know how many incidents have occurred since then?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Honestly, I would have to refer you to the Secret Service. They would have that information for you.
Okay. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. Back to Trevor Reed. Can you share when the administration first found out about Reed’s circumstances? When was President Biden first briefed about it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have a timeline to share with you on this. So, I just don’t have anything at this time to share about a timeline.
But I would want — I just want to reiterate, as I have the — the moment to do again, is that U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine. It is not safe. The — and not only that, they certainly should — should not be on the — on the — you know, on the battlefield. It is a real risk of being captured or even death.
I just don’t have anything more to share on a timeline. Clearly, the President has been briefed. He is aware. I just don’t have a timeline to share.
Q Has President Biden or anyone from the administration spoken directly with Trevor Reed?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have a — I don’t have any calls to read out at this time.
Q And then finally, just to follow up on Seung Min, you said that you were — that these are very clearly different cases that we’re talking about. But, you know, what reason do you have to believe that the Russians share this view that what happened with Trevor Reed will not be a calculation in the negotiations for Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, what I can — what I can assure you and the American people is that this — the team is committed. The President continues to be committed to do everything that we can, to go down every avenue that we can to get Paul and Evan home. That is a commitment that we stand by.
And under this administration, we have brought home dozens — more — certainly more than a dozen folks — Americans who have been held — hel- — wrongfully held and also hostages. And that is something that you see this President’s commitment, and he’s made policy changes to show that commitment as well.
I’m not going to get into any private discussions or private conversations that — clearly because of — you know, because of reasons that are, you know, important — right? — as we’re — as we’re having those conversations, because we do want to get them home. I just don’t have anything beyond that to share.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Do you concede, Karine, that it complicates efforts to get home American detainees in Russia when a former prisoner who was swapped was now taking up arms — or had now taken up arms against Russia, the country that held him? Do you concede that that does complicate the effort to get other detainees?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can — what I can concede is that the teams are doing everything that we can, using avenu- — every avenue that we can to bring Paul and Evan home. I’m not going to get into — you know, into back-and-forths on this. And that is our commitment.
I — like I said before, these cases should be treated as entirely different cases, and so that’s how we’re moving forward on them.
Q Is he at a military hospital or a civilian hospital in Germany?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because of the privacy concerns, it’s not something that I can share.
Q Even the facility at which he’s —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I cannot — I don’t have —
Q Is the U.S. doing —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — more information.
Q — anything on his behalf to bring him home for there — or has they — have they offered in any form?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything else to share beyond what I’ve already shared.
Q Let me ask you about the Chinese Foreign Minister then, very quickly: Back in February — so now almost six months ago — the President United States said, “I’m going to be speaking” — or perhaps even meeting — “with President Xi soon.”
Now one of the highest diplomats in the Chinese government has obviously been removed, dismissed. There is a new veteran diplomat in his place. Does that impact in any way any meeting that would take place between the President and his colleagues, given Antony Blinken and others have been there recently? What is the status of that meeting that is now almost six months after the President said it would happen soon?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, don’t have anything to confirm at this time on a call with the President of China. What I can say is that the President has been very clear: At some time soon, he will have a conversation with President Xi. Just don’t have —
Q Does this complicate that, that there is a new diplomat replacing someone that we have a relationship to?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. no. I mean, I was just asked when — when Steve asked me the question, I said it doesn’t change anything. We are going to continue to move, as we have been, with — you know, continue to keep those lines of communications open. That has not changed.
Okay. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. A federal judge in California has blocked the administration’s latest immigration rules on who can seek asylum at the border. Do you have any response to that? What are next steps?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yep, a couple of things on that that I do want to share. So, the way we see the ruling today: that nothing has changed. There is a stay, which means that our border enforcement plan remains in full effect. The Department of Justice will appeal the decision and seek and extend — to extend the stay.
And as we have said multiple times, our border enforcement plan works. It is deterrence, diplomacy, and enforcement. We have seen — we have seen that plan working. Unlawful border crossing have come down to the lowest that we have seen in the past two years.
And so, again, nothing has changed. And, as I said, the Department of Justice will — will appeal to extend that — to — to work to extend the stay.
Q And also, the Education Department has opened a civil rights investigation into legacy admissions at Harvard. Can you talk about what the administration’s goal is here? And is the President at this point opposed to the use of legacy admissions?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President was very clear, even when the affirmative action decision was decided by SCOTUS, that — he made clear that legacy admissions hold back our ability to build diverse student bodies. So, that is something that he continues, certainly, to believe.
This past week — or last week, the Department of Education hosted a summit with educational institutions across the country to discuss strategies to expand access to higher education. So — so, clearly, that is something that the President is certainly committed to as it relates to the Department of Education’s ongoing investigation.
I’m just not — going to have to refer you to them.
Q On the tentative contract between UPS and the Teamsters, do you know if any administration officials played any role in helping broker that tentative deal?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, NEC Deputy Director Celeste Drake and [Acting] Labor Secretary Julie Su remained in close contact with the parties. But make no mistake, this was a deal negotiated by UPS and the Teamsters. The President has said for — for a — for a long time that he believes in collective bargaining, and that’s what you saw. And it worked.
And so, I think, as you know, the next steps is that the Teamsters will need to certainly vote to — to ratify the — what was negotiated. But again, this is — this is proof that collective bargaining works.
Q I know you referred us to the Secret Service for other incidents regarding —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Commander.
Q — of Commander in the doghouse with the Secret Service —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: In the doghouse. (Laughs.)
Q — itself. But I’m curious: Have any Residence staff or other White House staff been bitten or —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would have to refer you to Secret Service. They would have that information.
Q There was — is there a difference between these incidents and those with Major, who also had to retreat from —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would —
Q — the White House?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I totally understand the question. This is something that Secret Service can answer.
Q I wanted to ask about the impeachment inquiry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: About the —
Q Impeachment inquiry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay.
Q So, before the briefing, McCarthy said, “All I’m saying is we go where the truth is. You have to get to the bottom of the truth. And there’s only one way Congress can do that — with an impeachment inquiry.” What’s the White House’s reaction to that idea that — the sentiment that, you know, this is the only option for Republicans?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s — that’s for Republicans to decide. I’m not going to weigh in on what they may or may not do or what — how they — how House Republicans want to move forward.
What I’m going to weigh in is how the President is going to continue to move forward for the American people, for American families. That’s his focus.
We saw that today. We’ll continue to see that throughout the week. We’ve seen that for the last two years — more than two years of how the President wants to make sure that we have an economy that works for the American family and that we’re putting forth policies that really, truly change lives.
You think about the mental health rule that we’re putting forward. You think about how he wants to make sure that we’re continuing to — to tell the story of — tell the story of our nation and not shy away from — from the history that is incredibly important when we think about Emmett Till.
So that’s what the President’s going to focus on. I’m just not going to get into hypotheticals. I’m not going to get into the head of House Republicans. That is for them to answer.
Go ahead, Jon.
Q Thanks a lot. I want to follow up on Commander. I actually had some experience with presidential dogs —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh —
Q — biting me. So I thought that I’d ask this question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I wonder why.
Q Yeah. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sorry, that was too easy.
Q No, I’ll tell you. You know, it was — it was George W. Bush’s dog.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh?
Q And George W. Bush’s election — I’m sorry, Barack Obama’s election had just occurred. So I think Barney was getting used to the idea of leaving the White House and just was disappointed that he’d be leaving. So, I mean — anyway, I wanted to ask you about —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a real psychological —
Q I’ve thought about it. (Laughs.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — understanding of a dog there, my friend. (Laughter.)
Q So, under D.C. municipal rules, after a dog bites an individual, the dog must be quarantined for 10 days. Do you know if Commander was quarantined for —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I —
Q — a period of time?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would have to refer you to USSS.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have to refer you to the Secret Service.
You know, my team and I kind of did a bet to see how many times I would get questions on Commander. (Laughter.)
Q Who’s winning?
Q Who wins?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t know. I got to — when — after this, I’ll let you know who’s winning.
Q I also want to ask you: In June, after the President’s son, Hunter Biden — it was announced that he’s going to plead guilty to two misdemeanors, the White House put out a statement in which the President and the First Lady said that they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life.
Tomorrow, when he’s making his first court appearance and presumably enters a plea of guilty to these two misdemeanors, will either the President or the First Lady be by his side? Do you happen to know? And if not, why not?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, a couple of things. What you just said about the President and the First Lady loving their son and will continue to support him as he moves forward with his life, that continues to be true. And that will stay to be true.
Anything else, I can tell you that the President will be here working on behalf of the — of the American people. As you know, the First Lady is actually abroad doing the business of the American people, and so I just don’t have anything else to share.
Q I don’t have a question about dogs, but I do have questions about UFOs or UAPs ahead of the hearing tomorrow in the House. The other element —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not — I’m not sure which one — okay.
Q There’s a hearing tomorrow in the House on —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
Q — these unidentified flying objects or aerial phenomena. The Senate also has bipartisan legislation that may be part of the NDAA that would require the government to essentially disclose a lot more of its records on what they have on UFOs and UAPs. Has the President or the Pentagon expressed any concern or interest in what those records might be and whether or not there’s any concern about disclosing those types of records?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, on the piece of legislation, I don’t have anything to say on that.
But more broadly, as you — as you know, we — we take public — the public interest in unidentified aerial phenomena seriously. And so, the Department of Defense established the — the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office last year to coordinate efforts to detect, identify, and attribute unidentified objects.
So, my understanding is that they have not discovered any verifiable information to sustain claims on extraterrestrials, but I would refer you to the Department of Defense for any more information on that. And so, that is what I understand to be the case at this time.
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. On the mental health care announcement today. This has been a law for 15 years — a law in the books — but there hasn’t been compliance, as we’ve heard officials say, the President talk about. Why should Americans feel confident that this is now going to change?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, it’s a landmark rule, and it’s going — it’s supposed to strengthen the mental health pa- — parity requirements. That’s what we are setting out to do.
And it’s going to hopefully improve mental health
case [care] access for more than 150 million Americans. And so, that is important.
And so — and, as I said at the top, it ensures that mental health is treated like physical — physical health. Mental health is health, as the President said.
And so, this is a proposed rule. It’s going to be led by the Department of Labor, that — the
Department of Human and Health Services [Department of Health and Human Services] and also Treasury. So you have three departments that are included here. And it’s going to go through a formal process.
And so, for sure that — it’s going to go through that process. And — and — and those agencies are certainly going to work through this rule. But clearly, we’re optimistic there’s — you know, the President wouldn’t have put — put it forward if he wasn’t optimistic about this.
And, you know, look, as I mentioned, this is part of — part of the President’s Unity Agenda that he’s been talking about. Mental health, as you know — he — he and — and this administration see this as an important — important subject to talk about, to address. And that’s what you saw today.
Q There’s a 60-day comment period now on the rule, and senior officials had said there would be, like, a crackdown on violations with more reporting standards. How long will that take to have an impact? Like when will Americans actually start to feel this going into effect?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, there’s going to be a formal process that’s going to play out. So, I’ll let that formal process, certainly, play out on this one. There are three agencies, as I just mentioned, that’s going to be very much involved in this rule proposal. So, I’m not going to get ahead of that.
But as you said, there’s a 60-day, kind of, process here. And so we’re going to do — let that happen, see what — see what comes out of that. And, of course, there’ll be a formal process to move this forward.
Okay. Let me see. Oh, goodness. Go ahead, Todd.
Q Thanks. I want to get back to Texas and the razor wire and the buoys in the — in the Rio Grande. There were questions yesterday about why President Biden hasn’t personally called out Governor Abbott over this, and you kind of had a two-pronged answer.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Mm-hmm.
Q You said that you have called out Governor Abbott, and you’ve called him out again. And you also pointed to the actions of the Justice Department taking Texas to court over this. And I’m wondering, on a lot of issues, you have been adamant that President Biden does not insert himself on Justice Department decisions. So, can you elaborate on what his role was in this litigation against Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: This is a Department of Justice role. This is for them to decide. And they treated this with urgency. And, as you saw yourself, the Department of Justice sent the governor a letter within days of — of the structure going up and followed through with the lawsuit shortly after.
This is something that the Department of Justice decides on. This is something that they looked into. And, you know, they are going to take the governor to court. And I expect that the Department of Justice will have more to say on litigation shortly.
So — but we leave it to the Department of Justice. They are the — they have — they are the experts on this.
Q Well, I guess what I’m saying is: I’m a little confused how the President should get credit for what the Justice Department is doing if what you’re saying is that he had nothing to do with what the Justice Department is doing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not saying the President deserves credit for what the Department of Justice is doing. I’m saying the Department of Justice is doing their job. It is up to them to decide what is legal and how to move forward with issues like this.
So this is the Department of Justice that moved forward on this. We’re not looking for credit. The President is not looking for credit here. He’s looking to make sure that the right thing happens.
And as — you know, as we’re talking about the governor — Governor Abbott — and what he has done, his record on this, it is clear — it is clear how he impedes the process. He doesn’t help. He puts the lives of migrants at risk. That’s what he — that’s how he moves forward.
I mentioned last week on Christmas Eve, what he did to migrant — migrant children: you know, left them on the street in freezing cold temperature. That’s how he decides to move forward.
The President — what he is working on, the policies that he’s moved forward on, is making sure that we limit the unlawful — the unlawful entry into this country. And we have seen that because of a policy that he has put forward. And for the governor to undermine that, that’s not helping.
Why doesn’t the governor talk to the Senate — Senate Republicans or Senate — congressional Republicans in Congress and figure out how to fix this problem? But he continues to make this a political stunt.
So we’re not taking credit for what the Department of Justice is doing. What we’re trying to do is what the President has shown to do: is put policies for- — policies forward to actually deal with a broken system, a system that has been broken for decades now.
Q And one quick follow-up on that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure.
Q Is — is there any consideration for the President to nationalize the — federalize the Texas National Guard to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look —
Q — preclude them from participating in this operation (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I don’t have anything to share on any new policies, in regard to your question. But here’s what I can tell you: Our Border Patrol agents have real work to do. They have real work to do in securing the border, instead of dealing with these dangerous structures that the governor put up and aren’t doing anything — actually anything to deal with the issue that — that we’re seeing at the border.
So, look, the President has done the work. He put 24,000 agents, officers, federal agents to work — work to secure the border. That’s those — that’s one of the steps that he’s taken. He’s put fol- — policies forward to expand the legal pathways so we can deal with what’s going on at the border.
So, this is the — this is work that the President has actually done.
And again, Governor Abbott tries to impede — he impedes the process and makes it — turns it into a political stunt. That’s what we’re seeing. And that’s what we’re speaking to.
Q Oh, thanks. Yes, I just wanted to ask about Devon Archer. He’s going to be — having testimony for the Oversight Committee. Does —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m sorry, who?
Q Devon Archer.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q Hunter Biden’s business partner. One, do you consider him a — is he considered a reliable witness?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to — I don’t have any comment on — on this.
Q And one more on the — Speaker McCarthy’s comments on impeachment inquiry. His point seems to be —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wait, say that again.
Q Speaker McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry comments. He seems to be making the point that he thinks there’s been enough mounting evidence to at least have an inquiry on this.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’ve already spoken to this —
Q Can — yeah, can —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — twice before though.
Q But can you at least say whether you agree or disagree that there’s enough mounting evidence (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I answered two of your colleagues this — this question about what Speaker McCarthy is going to do, not — not going to do, how House Republicans are going to move forward. I just don’t have anything else to share.
Q Thank you, Karine. I have two questions, the first focused on U.S.-Israel relations, the second on the Emmett Till event. And then you’ll be directed to a short survey to gauge your level of satisfaction of this experience.
Whenever you or —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, wow. That would be new.
Q — Admiral Kirby or even the President himself are asked about the President’s relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, invariably you pivot to discussing the broader bilateral relationship. Invariably, you reaffirm the ironclad commitment to Israeli security, for example, quite in contrast with the fulsome terms in which White House officials are willing to discuss the President’s relationships with other world leaders, such as Rishi Sunak or Emmanuel Macron. All you seem willing to say about President Biden’s relationship with Mr. Netanyahu is that the two men have known each other a long time and that they speak candidly to each other.
My question is this: Does President Biden trust Prime Minister Netanyahu?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what I can tell you again, as you just stated: They have a longstanding relationship. They speak candidly with each other. They just spoke last week with each other and had a — a fulsome conversation.
I’m not going to get into — into specifics about their relationship. I just laid out how long they’ve known each other. And, again, they have a candid conversation to discuss their shared interest as well as their concerns. And that will continue.
Q The record will reflect that you are unwilling to say that the President trusts Prime Minister Netanyahu. I will move on to my next and final question.
On the Emmett Till event, the President’s actions today speak to —
(Audio from cellphone plays.)
Q Sorry. (Inaudible.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Are you watching — what, are you watching a game back there, Lynn? (Laughter.)
Q The President’s actions today spoke to a murder and atrocity that was one of countless perpetrated against Black Americans at that time, and all of which helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
My question is this: Does President Biden believe that systemic racism is a prevalent or defining feature of American life today?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: When the President walked into this administration — and I’ve said this many times before at this podium — he talked about four crises that this country was facing and how — what — in what ways we needed to move forward.
One of them was the climate change crisis. And the President has taken historic action to deal with climate change, to make sure that we deal with an issue that is affecting not just us here in this country but globally. And you’ve seen this.
He talked about COVID — right? — how COVID was taking the lives of thousands of Americans a day. And he put forth a comprehensive plan to move forward on how to make sure that Americans got shots in arms and that we were able to move forward in a way that we dealt with COVID, that dealt with the pandemic. And now look at us today; we’re in a totally different place.
He talked about the economy and how the economy was upside down. Businesses were shut down. Schools were shut down. We were in a completely different place because of the lack of action that the last administration took. And the President took action. Democrats took action. We passed the American Rescue Plan. And now we’re in a place where we’ve created more than 13 million jobs. We’re in a place where wages are up. Inflation is coming down; it’s easing. And we have talked about Bidenomics, the President’s plan, and how it’s moving this country forward.
And last but not least, obviously, he talked about the racial injustices that we’re seeing. He talked about systemic racism. He’s talked about this many times. He mentioned this earlier today when he talked about Emmett Till and the monument that he was — that he signed.
And so, this is an issue — a question that the President has dealt with in a serious way on the federal level, signing an executive order very early on in the days of his administration to make sure that we have a federal government that’s — that moves forward in an equitable way.
And — and as I’m talking about all these different crises, everything at the center of the policies that the President has put forward has equity at the center of it so that we do not leave anybody behind.
Q So I understand correctly, is what you just said synonymous with saying that the President believes we are still a racist country?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What the President believes is that we are — we have to deal with racial injustices in this country, that we have to deal with it in a real way, that we have to create a situation where — and he does this with his policy — that there’s equity at the center of everything and that we do not leave anybody behind.
And so, that is what’s important. And he has shown that by action.
All right —
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — I’m going to keep going. Go ahead. Go ahead, Lynn.
Q I understand that before the Emmett Till event, the President met — the President met privately with Reverend Parker, who is Emmett Till’s — he was the gentleman who everyone saw at the signing of the proclamation. This is Emmett Till’s cousin who is the last living eyewitness to a- — to the abduction. Could you fill me in a little bit about what this meeting in the Oval Office — if you have some details about this?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. And you heard from — you heard from him directly, right before the President spoke. He — he relived that horrific day and talked about his personal relationship. Yes, he was his cousin, but they were also very close. They had a close relationship. And it’s obviously a horrific story and something that’s devastating to have to live with all these decades.
I was actually in the Oval Office when they — when the President greeted them. They have — have had conversations before. It was — you know, it was an acknowledgement of the day. It was an important moment, clearly, for Emmett Till’s family that the President acknowledged.
But, you know, you saw that play out for yourselves when the President spoke, when the Vice President spoke, and when the pastor spoke himself. You saw — you saw from the President — you heard from the President. He gave an incredibly powerful speech, a heartfelt speech about what this day means to the family and what this day means to and should mean for the entire country.
Go ahead, Raquel.
Q Thanks, Karine. I’ve got a question —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, Raquel.
Q Oh, okay. Thank you so much, Karine. So, back from China, the now former minister disappeared one month ago today. Is the White House concerned about the implications of his disappearance and have any message to China?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The — the — you’re talking about Qin — Qin Gang? Look, this is an interma- — internal matter for PRC. I just don’t have anything else to — to share about — about Qin Gang specifically. But I would refer you to PRC on this.
Q On Israel, is the White House concerned that this political crisis could impact the security and stability of the region?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what we continue — what we continue to believe that changes to a democracy should have a — a broad — should have the broadest possible consensus. That’s what we continue to believe.
We understand that the President of Israel — President Herzog — and others say that they intend to resume efforts to — in the weeks in — ahead to reach a broader consensus through political dialogue. And c- — obviously, that is something that we support.
As it relates to — I’ve spoken to already about — about the protests, how we urge authorities to protect and respect the right of peaceful — peaceful assembly, just don’t have anything else to share beyond that.
Go ahead. Way in the back, yep.
Q Me, Karine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right behind you. Right here in the bowtie.
Q Me. Okay.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. (Laughter.)
Q All right.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I haven’t called on you in a while, so —
Q That’s Haisten. Haisten.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, Hastings [sic]. That’s right.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I didn’t want to call you by the wrong name. I know I get Michael and Joey confused all the time —
Q It’s a difficult one, too — Haisten.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — so I didn’t want to do that to you.
Q Okay. So, I have two questions. There is talk among some House Republicans about expunging the two impugnments — excuse me, the two impeachments of former President Donald Trump. Does the White House have any reaction to this idea of expungement?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t have a comment.
Q Okay. And then some business groups are saying that Julie Su, the Acting Labor Secretary, may not have the legal authority to act as Labor Secret- — Secretary in a full, ongoing capacity. Are you confident in Su’s legal standing and in the authority of actions she takes, even if she’s not confirmed by the Senate?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, we are confident.
Q Do you have time for one or two more?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Lalit.
Q I have two questions. One on the mental health. As the President plans to improve the mental health of Americans, researchers have showed that yoga and (inaudible) play an important role in improving the mental health of individuals. That has been used in (inaudible) as well as other places in the U.S. Does the President plan to use yoga and (inaudible) as a mode to improve the mental health of people here?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Who? Say that last part.
Q Does the President plans to include yoga and (inaudible) as part of his plans to improve the mental health of people?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I don’t have any updates on — on — on yoga and how we’re moving forward with that and if that’s a plan to deal with mental health. Clearly — clearly, Americans individually can decide for themselves what it is that helps them with their mental health, with their physical health.
And I know many folks are — that those are directions that they take. But as far as the federal government, I just don’t have anything for you on that.
Q One more question. The President has nearly 32 million followers on Twitter, now X. The name has been changed two days ago. Does the President have any thought on it, change of name, and how he plans to use it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. It’s a private company. They make the decisions on their own. I don’t have any comment.
All right. Thanks, everybody. See you tomorrow.
4:54 P.M. EDT