1:42 P.M. EST
OPERATOR: Please note at this time all audience members are in “listen only” mode to minimize background noise. There will be Q&A during this call. If you would like to ask a question, please press “#2” on your telephone keypad to be placed in the question queue.
I would now like to formally begin today’s call and introduce Karine Johnson [Jean-Pierre], the White House Press Secretary. Please go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: My name is Karine Jean-Pierre, but thank you so much for the intro.
I just want to say one thing at the top really quickly is just to thank the team here for putting this — my team here for putting this together. As you all know, it gets — technology can be a little glitchy, so I appreciate the team for turning this around.
And with that, I just also want to say please be patient with us. We are going to try to make this — the White House press briefing as — as smooth as possible. So, really appreciate all of your patience.
I have a couple of updates on the President’s week ahead. So, tomorrow, the President — President Biden will host congressional leaders from the Senate and the House, along with key committee leaders and ranking members at the White House to discuss the critical importance of his national security supplemental request. So, we’ll — we will certainly have more to say about that meeting tomorrow. So, please stay tuned.
And this Thursday, the President will travel to Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, known as the “Research Triangle,” to discuss how his Bidenomics and Investing in America agenda are repairing and rebuilding infrastructure, lowering costs for families, supporting a small-business boom, and creating good-paying jobs.
Under the Biden administration, companies have announced $31 billion in private-sector clean energy and manufacturing investments in North Carolina alone.
And in North Carolina, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has so far helped more than 4,300 childcare programs continue operating during the pandemic to provide critical childcare for over 380,000 children, helped more than 2,500 restaurants weather the pandemic and keep employees on the payroll, helped 880,000 households across the state save money on Internet bills, and provided 2.1 million Medicare beneficiaries with access to prescription drug cost savings.
On Thursday, the President will talk about how we continue to build on this and delivering for families, workers, and businesses across North Carolina.
And with that, I will turn it over to my NSC colleague, Admiral John Kirby, who will discuss the latest in the Middle East.
Admiral, the floor is yours.
MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Karine. Lots to go over here since the last time we all talked.
I just wanted — a couple of things — first, on the schedule — to talk to you: The President spoke today with Chancellor Scholz of Germany as part of our close coordination, of course, with Germany on a range of important issues. And that includes, of course, supporting Ukraine and the importance of that support ongoing.
Now, you may know that Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor, is in Davos today. He delivered a public address, and he’s had the chance to meet with some foreign leaders.
Both he and Secretary Blinken met together with President Zelenskyy again to keep talking about the importance of continued global assistance for Ukraine.
But individually, Jake had a chance to meet with the Prime Minister of Qatar about our urgent efforts to release the remaining hostages that Hamas is holding, as well as meeting separately with the Prime Minister of Iraq and the Prime Minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. We’ll, of course, have more readouts available on those meetings shortly.
On the Middle East specifically, as you know, we’re now over 100 days since those terrorist attacks on the 7th of October. And over the weekend, the President wrote — spoke to this, including a heartfelt statement on the grief and suffering that the families of those hostages have now felt every single day since the 7th of October.
And we have not stopped our efforts to try to bring them home. In fact, Brett McGurk was in Doha this [last] week, focused specifically on the hostage situation and on trying to move forward new proposals to bring them home. This will remain a top priority for us.
Meanwhile, this weekend, Hamas released videos of three hostages, including one young woman who was supposed to be released in the original deal, but, at the last minute, Hamas refused to do so, saying that it would hold young women hostage in direct violation of the deal that they had negotiated. And then, they later released a video showing the remains of two other hostages as a reminder of their cruelty and barbarism.
Now, on the military front, I would just like to point — point you, if you haven’t seen it, to important statements from Israeli’s Defense Minister yesterday that Israel will now shift to a low — or, I’m sorry, has now shifted to a low-intensity phase in North Gaza, and it will soon do so in southern Gaza as well.
They announced the withdrawal of a division — an army division from Gaza as part of the shift to lower-intensity ops. And as they undergo this transition, we are preparing to increase the humanitarian assistance in to those people who need it, as well as to help set the conditions for the population to return to North Gaza, where the U.N. hopes to be able to conduct assessment missions over the coming week.
So, we’re making these preparations because we believe that these lower-intensity operations inside Gaza should be able to not only allow for a reduction in civilian casualties but a more reliable distribution of aid over the coming period.
As a matter of fact, our envoy, David Satterfield, and our ambassador, Jack Lew, are meeting today with Israeli senior leadership and senior military commanders at their Southern Command to discuss all these issues.
And then, just lastly, again, on the humanitarian crisis. The images coming out of Gaza continue to be heartbreaking and painful. As the President has said, every innocent life lost is one too many. We don’t want to see any more civilian casualties.
Now, Israel, of course, has a right to defend itself. But Hamas also continues to be an active threat to Israel, and its leaders have vowed to repeat the attacks of the 7th of October again and again and again. Just yesterday, Hamas took credit for the brutal murder of an Israeli grandmother who was stabbed to death in her car.
But again, we’ve encouraged Israel, particularly now as it shifts to this new phase, to do so, in terms of their operations, as surgically and as precisely as possible to minimize those casualties.
And we’re also, at the same time, focused on increasing the flow of trucks into Gaza.
I’ll end with this. And that’s that, just today, we were able to get 228 trucks into Gaza over those two crossings. Again, not enough. But we’re trying to keep the level at above 200, if we can.
Now, a big hindrance to that, of course, is the — is the fighting itself, which is why the Israel Defense Minister’s comments about switching to lower-intensity operations could — could have a dramatic effect on our ability to do that.
And, with that, I’ll turn it back over.
AIDE: Host, I think we’re ready to go to questions.
OPERATOR: All right. As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press “#2” on your phone to be placed in the question queue. You will share your notification when your line is unmuted. Please then state your name and question. If your question is answered before your turn, pressing the “#2” a second time will take you out of the queue.
Moving on to our first question.
Caller, please go ahead.
Q Hey, guys. It’s — it’s Justin from Bloomberg. I had one for Karine and — and one for Kirby.
Karine, on the meeting tomorrow, is that a signal that — that the President has and negotiators have gotten close on a deal for Ukraine aid and immigration changes? Or is this, kind of, a chance to them — for them to work out final details? Or are we just not there yet at all?
And then, Kirby, I was wondering if you could talk about, kind of, the state of the situation with the Houthis. Obviously, we saw more attacks in the last couple of days and a response today by the U.S. Is this a signal that the first round of — of strikes by the U.S. and the UK didn’t achieve their desired effects? Are you looking at all at, kind of, expanding our effort to a new target set using special forces at all — any sort of expansion? Or do you still, kind of, see this as headed in the direction that you’d hoped for?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Kirby, you want to take that question — your question?
MR. KIRBY: Yes, sure. I just wanted to defer to you since the first one was to you, but I’m happy to do that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I appreciate it. And, Justin, I’ll — we’re just going to let Kirby go. And then I’ll — certainly will — I’ll answer that question once Kirby is done with the Middle East pieces. Thanks.
MR. KIRBY: Okay. So, look, Justin, you’re right. We — we have seen some additional lower- — lower-scale retaliatory strikes by the Houthis in the last few days — much smaller than
— than what we had seen before and none of them effective.
And I will tell you, you know, we fully anticipated, when we launched the — that salvo on Friday night, that — that the Houthis would probably conduct some retaliatory strikes.
So, I — I think it’s — it’s too soon to call this some sort of a trend that would lead us to believe that we didn’t have the — a good effect with those strikes. We believe that we did have a good effect with those strikes in terms of disrupting and degrading their capability to conduct military offensive operations.
As for what the next turn is here, I simp- — I won’t get ahead of potential military operations one way or the other.
As you saw today, we took additional strikes knocking out four ballistic missiles that we believe were prepped and ready to be launched from Yemen, took them out before they could do that. So, we have said before, we’ll say it again: We stand ready to defend our interests, our sailors, our ships, and that of merchant shipping as required.
We’re not looking for a war. We’re not looking to expand this. The Houthis have a choice to make, and they still have time to make the right choice, which is to stop these reckless attacks.
AIDE: Host, we’re going to go to the next question. We’ll come back around to questions for Karine after Kirby’s portion.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next caller in queue. Steve Holland with Reuters, please go ahead.
Q Hey, John. You mentioned the — Brett McGurk in Doha on hostages. What — could you give us any details on that? Is he seeking a pause in the fighting in exchange for hostages? How close are they to a deal? What — what’s going to happen?
And you mentioned that the Israelis have shifted to a low phase in Northern Gaza. What are the prospects for that taking place across all of Gaza?
MR. KIRBY: Thanks, Steve. So, on the — a new hostage deal, what I can tell you is that we’re working on this very, very diligently. That is why Brett was in Doha this past week.
I don’t want to get ahead of where we are. But we are having, I would say, very seri- — serious and intensive discussions in Qatar about the possibility for another deal.
Obviously, I want to be careful I don’t say too much publicly here as we have these — these talks. But we’re hopeful that it can bear fruit and bear fruit soon, because there’s still, you know, over 100 — about 140 hostages still being held.
As for the — the — yo- — your question about whether their shift to lower-intensity operations can — you know, how fast that will spread across Gaza, that’s really not a question I’m qualified to answer. The Israeli Defense Forces are — are much better to speak to that.
They just announced yesterday, as I said in my opening statement, the removal of a division — a full — a full division of army troops from — from Gaza. We think that’s a positive step forward, in terms of getting to lower-intensity ops. We hope that it will allow for the movement back into North Gaza, because, really, the bulk of the — of the operations are being conducted in the — in the south right now.
So, we hope that this removal of these troops and this announced transition that they’ve made, that it will allow for people to flow back into North Gaza, alleviate some of that pressure in the south, particularly around Khan Younis. And we’ll see where it goes from there. But again, I — I wouldn’t want to get ahead of Israeli military planning.
Q Thanks, John.
MR. KIRBY: Yes, sir.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Weijia Jiang with CBS, please go ahead.
Q Hi, there. Thank you, guys, for doing this. And thank you, Kirby. I have a question about the continued attacks in the Red Sea. So, you said today that you’ve seen that they are smaller in scale. Today, obviously, the strike on the Maltese carrier did not result in any injuries.
Can you verify how many injuries have been reported in these now 30-some attacks on commercial vessels? And if it’s none, can you help me understand, if these are missiles, why, how there haven’t been more injuries? I imagine the crew sizes are small. But when I hear “missile strikes,” I expect there to be more injuries. So, if you could just help me process that.
MR. KIRBY: Weijia, what I’ll do is I’ll take your question and see if we can get a better answer, maybe from Central Command. I don’t have a list of casualties from these merchant ships. That’s not the kind of thing — I don’t think we’re centrally tracking that. But don’t take that to the bank.
Let me talk to CENTCOM and see if they’ve got some sort of figures for you.
You’re right. I mean, I — I would — a couple of things here. Number one, most of these missile attacks and drone attacks have been ineffective. You’re right. There was a hit today, but no injuries caused. No real significant damage to the ship, by the way.
Most of the attacks are — are knocked out of the sky before they can get to — to the targets. And a good many of these missile and drone attacks have simply missed. Particularly, the ballistic missiles have just fallen harmlessly into the water without hitting a ship. So, that’s one reason why I think that the numbers haven’t been dramatic.
Number two, you named it. I think you’re — you know, it’s a — it’s a fair point. I mean, a lot of merchant ships today don’t have large crews. It’s not like a Navy ship where you — you know, you’d have hundreds of sailors aboard a destroyer or thousands aboard an aircraft carrier. These large merchant ships, there’s a lot of automation, and they simply don’t have big crews. That’s probably one reason as well.
And then they’re also — they’re very big ships. And so, even if one were to take a hit, like the one today, depending on where it is struck may have little to no impact or certainly a — not a significant impact on that ship’s ability to continue to — to transit safely.
So, again, they’re — they’re very big ships. A lot of their freeboard — what we call the — the space between the water level and the top of the side of the ship, that’s called freeboard — can be very, very high, depending on what — how much freight they’re holding.
So, there’s probably a lot of reasons for that. But let me — let me take it back and see if we can give you a better figure on the — on the data.
Q Okay. So, given what you just said, Kirby, and given the fears of escalation that the conflict will expand, can you explain why the retaliatory strikes are still worth it?
MR. KIRBY: Our retaliatory strikes or theirs?
Q The U.S.’s and our allies’. Essentially, if it’s —
MR. KIRBY: Because —
Q — if their strikes aren’t really having that much of an impact and they’re not causing injuries and there is a concern that, you know, retaliatory strikes will widen the war, just, you know, why is it still —
MR. KIRBY: Because —
Q — worth it?
MR. KIRBY: Because we believe by taking away some of their capability, degrading that capability, which we think we did on Friday, can have an impact on — on the effectiveness of future strikes. By taking away — degrading some of their capability, certainly makes it harder for them to conduct these strikes.
And just because there hasn’t been a catastrophically successful one yet, thanks to a lot of great work by the U.S. Navy and — and allied and partner navies, doesn’t mean that — that we can just turn a blind eye and sit back and — and do nothing. We want these attacks to stop.
We warned the Houthis not to conduct them. They continued to conduct them. So, we took action on Friday night to — to — to more significantly degrade their capability to do that.
And as we’ve said before, Weijia, we — we — while we won’t telegra- — telegraph future punches, we’re — we’re not going to — we’re not going to hesitate to take further action if — if needed.
Q Thank you.
MR. KIRBY: Yes, ma’am.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Zeke Miller with AP, please go ahead.
Q Thanks for doing this. On Friday, the President said that he believed the Houthis were a terrorist organization. And I was wondering, John, can you give us an update on the — if there will be an FTO redesignation.
And then, separately, do you have anything on these reported Iranian strikes inside Pakistan? Does the U.S. believe that — that those increases the risk for a broader regional escalation? Thank you.
MR. KIRBY: Zeke, nothing to update you on the FTO designation. As I said earlier, we’re still reviewing that process — or we’re still in the process of reviewing it, no decisions made. So, no updates for you.
Are you — I’m not aware of Iranian strikes into Pakistan. Are you — are you talking about their strikes in the — in and near Erbil in Iraq?
Q Sorry. Yeah. It’s — there’s a report that Iran says that it launched attacks today into mili- — what it calls militant bases in Pakistan. I’m going to skip the pronunciation on it. It’s Jaish al-Adl that — it follows the attacks, obviously, in — in Iraq and Syria.
MR. KIRBY: Okay. Gotcha. Let me get back to you on that one, Zeke. I was not tracking strikes into Pakistan today. But we’ll — we owe you an answer. We’ll get back to you.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Anita Powell with Voice of America, please go ahead.
Q Thank you so much, John. I hope you’re keeping warm today. I have two Red Sea questions.
First of all, on this deal between Ethiopia and the breakaway Somali province of Somaliland. Does the White House see this as a threat to U.S. national security, especially in light of recent troubles in the Red Sea? And what can or will Washington do to calm the situation?
And then just going back to something you said about the Houthis, how we’re not looking to expand this conflict. How do you square that with the mission of degrading their capabilities? I mean, how is that not expanding this conflict?
MR. KIRBY: Well, on — on the second question, I mean, by — by — it’s — it’s a very simple equation: By — by removing military capability from the Houthis, we are making it harder for them to conduct these attacks. These attacks have been escalatory. These attacks have been dangerous. These attacks have affected merchant shipping in the Red Sea, one of the most important international waterways around the world.
So, the very act of taking these strikes, knocking out their capability — in some cases before they could use it — that is, by definition, taking the tensions down. You’re taking — you’re taking the ability for them to conduct these attacks off the table.
And, again, we reserve the right to continue to do that as appropriate to prevent them from causing more mayhem and — and more danger to — to merchant ships and merchant sailors.
On Ethiopia and Somaliland, we’re certainly troubled now by what reportedly included in a memorandum of understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland. As we’ve said many, many times we support Somali’s — Somalia’s sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and it’s got to be respected.
So, we’re engaging with partners in the region. We certainly welcome efforts by the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, otherwise known as IGAD, to help lessen tens- — lessen the tensions.
What we’re particularly concerned about is that this MOU recently now inked between Ethiopia and Somaliland threatens to disrupt the fight that Somalis, Africans, and regional international partners, including us, are waging against al-Shabaab. And al-Shabaab remains a viable terrorist threat in the region, without question.
So, look, the — we don’t believe that the region can afford any more conflict. We don’t think this MOU is moving this in the right direction. And we’ll keep raising that, not only with partners there in the Horn of Africa but — but also elsewhere.
Q So, just to press you on. Is that a threat to U.S. national security, then, this — this possibility that Shabaab may — may rise?
MR. KIRBY: It certainly — it certainly could directly impact national security interests in the region, without question, because we — we hold al-Shabaab as a continued foreign terrorist organization, continued dangerous threat to our interests and the interests of our partners.
So, there — there could be a U.S. national security threat posed by the language in this MOU, which is why we’re deeply concerned about it.
Q Thank you.
MR. KIRBY: Yep.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in the queue. Aurelia End with AFP, please go ahead.
Q Hi. Thanks so much for taking my question. I have two questions about Ukraine. The first one is a pretty simple one. Can you say that, as of now, there is no U.S. assistance anymore going to Ukraine, that it’s de facto over? And second question: Can you give us a sense of the conversation Jake Sullivan had with President Zelenskyy in Davos? What were the concerns he raised, what was the message, et cetera? Thank you so much.
MR. KIRBY: On your first question, our last security assistance package was authorized on the 27th of December. Now, I would have to refer you to the Pentagon to talk to you about each of the items in that package and — and where they are in the shipment process. I don’t know if every single thing in that package has actually arrived in Ukraine.
As you know, sometimes it takes as little as a few days. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks or more for — for material to get to Ukraine.
But that was the last one. There isn’t another one in the works right now or being scheduled for announcement or delivery. We meant it when we said it at the time, that that was the last one for which we had replenishment authority. And there’s — there’s not another one in the — in the — in the works right now.
And that is why it’s so, so important for us to get this national security supplemental funding for Ukraine so that we can keep that aid going, as it’s clear that the Russians continue to want to strike civilian infrastructure and continue to carry on the war inside Ukraine.
I — I don’t have anything more on the specific discussion with President Zelenskyy. I think the State Department put out a readout of that discussion since it was Secretary Blinken who — who had that meeting with President Zelenskyy. Jake was — was certainly in attendance.
But they did talk about the importance of, you know, continuing the global assistance to support Ukraine and, of course, the — the — they also talked about what’s going on on the battlefield, how Zelenskyy sees the — the effort.
And, as you know, he was also in Davos — Zelenskyy — talking about this peace formula of his. So, that — that too came up, the idea of — of trying to help operationalize and internationalize the — the peace formula that President Zelenskyy put forward.
But, again, I’d point you to the State Department readout for more.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Selina Wang with ABC News, please go ahead.
Q Thank you, Admiral. Just going back to the question on the strikes. Has the battle damage assessment of the first airstrikes been completed when it comes to the strikes last week against the Houthis? Just how much has the U.S. degraded the military capabilities, and what does it say about the degradation given that the retaliatory attacks from the Houthis have continued? Does it show that it only made a small dent in capacity?
MR. KIRBY: I’d refer you to the Pentagon to speak to the battle damage assessment, Selina. They’re really the right ones to go to for that. And I don’t know the final status of that.
As I said earlier, even before we conducted these strikes, we had every expectation that the Houthis would still maintain some capability and would probably retaliate in some form or fashion. The — the strikes were designed to degrade and disrupt their military activity: their ability to store, launch, and to guide these missiles to their targets, as well as the drones that they have launched against these targets.
We believe that we had good effects. But the specifics of the BDA — battle damage assessment — is really something for the — the Pentagon to speak to. But at no time, even that night, did we say that all of the Houthis’ offensive capability were going to be eliminated by those strikes.
Again, the Houthis have a choice to make. We know they still have some capability. They have a choice to make about what they do with that capability. If they choose to keep conducting these attacks, we will continue to defend against them and counter them as appropriate, even as we did today, hitting four ballistic missiles on launchers before they could be sent — sent on — sent on their way.
Q Just to follow up on that. As the retaliation continues from the Houthis, just how far is the U.S. willing to go? And on a secondary topic, is there any update on the search for the U.S. Navy SEALs?
MR. KIRBY: Well, again, with the caveat that I’m not going to telegraph punches or speak about potential military operations, I would point you to that last sentence in the President’s statement Friday night. We will not hesitate to take further actions to defend ourselves, our interests, those of our allies and partners, certainly not our ships and our sailors. So, as we’ve proven again today, we will not hesitate to take action as appropriate.
Again, the Houthis have a choice here to make, and the right choice is to stop these attacks.
I don’t have an update for you on the — the search efforts for those — those two Navy sailors that are in the water. As I understand it this morning — and I did check in with the Pentagon on this — that search is ongoing. But what that looks like, how much longer, I — I — really, that’s a question better put to the — to the Defense Department.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those two sailors and their families, who are waiting anxiously for word. And obviously, we’ll — we’ll monitor as closely as we can.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our last question.
M.J. Lee with CNN, please go ahead.
Q Hey, Admiral. Thank you. Just given that Hamas has released these new hostage videos, which you referenced before, and the IDF is continuing to attempt hostage rescue operations, I wondered whether the U.S. has received any new intelligence on the six American hostages in recent days and, at this point, whether the U.S. believes that they are alive.
MR. KIRBY: Thanks, M.J. I — I don’t know of any additional tactile information that we have received about those six Americans that we still believe are being held hostage. We’re obviously working and continue to work very hard to get them released. But I’m not aware of any additional information that we have. And — and I think you can understand that — that even if I — I did have additional context to provide, we’d o- — we’d obviously be very careful about what we shared publicly as we’re trying to get those folks home to their families.
I — I just — your — your question does give me a good punctuation point before I sign off today, and that’s that, just as I mentioned at the top, with Brett being in the region just last week in Doha, we continue to work this very, very hard.
I — I know it doesn’t always rise to the — to the level of the headlines of the day. And — and we don’t talk about it a lot, nor should we. But I don’t want to leave anybody with the impression that we aren’t working this very, very hard to try to get those folks home with their family — all of them — all the hostages, but with a particular key focus for us on those — on those half a dozen Americans that we believe are still being held.
Q Sorry, before you go, can I just ask one more follow-up? I know you’ve gotten a couple of questions about the situation in the Red Sea, but I wondered whether the administration, at this point, would still, sort of, characterize the phase that we are in now as the administration wanting to contain the conflict in the region. Or rather, would you say that the conflict in the region has now officially widened? I mean, given that there — there have now been additional U.S. strikes, additional Houthi attacks, so this does seem like now a prolonged conflict.
MR. KIRBY: Well, the — let’s — let’s — I mean, I think it’s important to — to categorize what’s happening here.
First of all, the strike that we took Friday, no matter what the Houthis might say, has nothing to do with the fight in Gaza. It has to do with defending shipping in the Red Sea, no matter what the Houthis say. They’re not going after ships that are tied to Israel. You know, they hit — just the other day, they hit a ship carrying Russian oil. It was Panamanian flag, nothing to do with Israel.
So, I — I don’t — I think we need to not buy into the Houthi propaganda. That’s one.
We still have an interest in not seeing this conflict widen or escalate. In fact, that’s why we took those strikes on Friday to degrade Houthi capability so that it — so that it can’t widen and escalate. We still have that interest. We’re still working to that end, even as we work to continue to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself.
OPERATOR: All right. I would like to hand this back over to Karine. But before I do, if you would like to ask a question, please press “#2” to be placed in the question queue. If your question is answered before your turn, pressing “#2” a second time will take you out of the queue.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Fantastic. Thank you so much. And, Admiral, thank you for your time. Appreciate you being on the call with us today.
And also, guys, I — I know this is not the best, but we wanted to make sure folks didn’t have to come in today with this weather. And hopefully, folks are — are safe at home — or, wherever you are, being safe today with this weather.
I do want to start off by going to Justin’s question that he asked of me — and I just wanted to make sure I did that — as it relates to the meeting that the President is having tomorrow here at the White House with congressional ranking members and leaders to talk about the very important supplemental request that this president made, as you know, a couple — couple months ago, at this point.
Look, that supplemental request is obviously — continues to be a top priority, including — right? — to secure our border, including to — to help Ukraine defend itself against Putin’s ty- — tyranny, as we all know, as we — you all have covered for almost two years now.
And I will say that while the President is having this really important meeting tomorrow, negotiations on a bipartisan agreement on the border — as it includes funding and policy — are still ongoing. So, that is — we believe is headed in the right direction, the right track. And so — and we’re going to continue to say — right? — Congress should act. They should act quickly. You know, this is about securing our border. This is about our national security. And the consequences of congressional inaction would be severe.
So, the President, yes, is going to have this all-important conversation, he believes, on the supplemental requests.
Obviously, as it relates to our national security, the negotiations continue. And so, that is also really important. A bipartisan agreement is needed, and — and so, we’re doing those negotiation on the Senate level, as you — as you all know.
I think I’m just going to go to AP.
I don’t know if that’s Zeke or somebody else.
Q Thanks, Karine. It’s Zeke. I was hoping — you just called the meeting tomorrow an “all-important meeting.” (Inaudible) to why tomorrow? You know, obv- — you know, it’s January 16th. Why hasn’t the President asked the congressional leaders and the community leaders over to the White House sooner?
Secondly, is the meeting focused on negotiations — to piggyback off of Justin’s question — or is it about the stakes should this funding not be approved? You know, will it be a classified meeting or will it be, you know, in the Sit Room or will it be in the Oval? Any color you can offer.
And then on a different topic —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
Q — entirely, I was hoping you could address the situation in Texas over the weekend. And that — right now, do you do you believe — or does the federal government control the southern border or does the state of Texas?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Both very, very good questions. Look, to — as it relates to what the meeting is going to look like, where it’s going to be, we’re going to have more information about the meeting tomorrow later today. So, just stay tuned. Don’t have the specifics on that.
And, look, as I said at the top, this is going to be about discussing criti- — critical importance of — of the President’s national security supplemental request, and so it is going to be about the supplemental request.
And I’ll just say this. Look, I’ve said a couple of times at the briefing room and to all of you how the President’s team, obviously the Office of Leg Affairs, and other members of his White House team have been in direct contact and communi- — regular communications with members of Congress and their staff.
And the President has had conversations with congressional members. As you know, we don’t read out every — every call or every meeting that he has. He’s had a very longstanding relationship with many members on the Hill as VP, as senator, obviously.
So, yeah, there’s — he’s had conversations with them. I think he wanted to bring folks together because — yeah, we talk about the supplemental. They’re urgency requests — the national security requests are urgent. And so, the President wanted to bring everybody together to have that conversation.
But negotiations are still happening. The border security negotiations are still happening. And the President certainly has entrusted his team to have those conversations, as he’s done many, many times before. So, we’ll certainly have more to share about tomorrow, about what that’s going to look like.
Look, as it relates to — to Texas, let me just say a couple of things at the top, because I think it’s important. And you all have heard me say this about what Governor Abbott continues to do. All of his — you know, what he’s doing at the border, his policies, how he’s getting involved, it’s extreme — right? — it’s extreme political stunts.
And I’ve said this over and over again, we have said this: It demonizes and dehumanizes people, and — but it also makes the job of the Border Patrol harder. And it also is — it’s more dangerous. That’s what we’re seeing.
And there’s been multiple actions that this governor has taken, right? Blocking Border Patrol from accessing the border, that’s a problem. When he’s — when he’s ac- — when he’s blocking them and putting Texas officials, then he’s taking away the duties of what the Border Patrol are supposed to do.
And so, it is a problem. Leaving migrants on the side of the road during winter — you’ve heard me say that; installing razor wire to make Border Patrol’s job more dangerous; promoting extreme and unconstitutional laws, like SB4.
So, he could — he continues to prove that he’s not interested — he’s not really interested in solutions, only seeking to politicize the border.
So, you know, to answer your question, Zeke, look, right now, Texas — the Texas officials are preventing Border Patrol agents from doing their job in that particular area by the border. So, that is a problem. That is a problem.
Just waiting for the next question then.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Steve Holland with Reuters, please go ahead.
Q Hey there, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Steve. Hey, hey.
Q The President — the — hey, hey. The President told us on the South Lawn on Friday that he was in favor of significant alterations on the border. Could you fill out that out? What is he talking about there? And — and are they going to get into this level of detail in their talks tomorrow?
And then I just had a second thing. Did the President watch any of the Iowa coverage last night? Did he make any observations about it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. So, a couple of things. I’ll start with your first question first. Look, you know, the President has — had said and we’ve been saying that we need a bipartisan agreement. Right? We need a bipartisan agreement to deal with what’s happening at the border.
There’s been detailed, specific conversation happening in the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats for the past several weeks through the holiday, obviously, and that continues. We think they’re going in the right direction.
And those — those conversations are focused on funding and also on policy.
Yes, the President believes that we’re going to have — to really — in order to have a bipartisan agreement, you have to make, you know, changes. I’m not going to get into what those changes are, how severe or specific or however — however we what to — we want to describe it are at this time.
But those conversations are happening. We believe it’s going well. And we want to see a bipartisan agreement.
Look, we understand, the President understands that this — this — what we see at the border, the immigration system more broadly, has been broken for decades — for decades. That’s why he took it very seriously on day one with the legislation that he put forward.
Now we have to have serious conversations, which we have been, with both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to see what we can do to — to address this — the issue at the border.
And so, tomorrow, I’m — I’m not going to get ahead of — of the meeting. I don’t really know how specific it’s going to get. I can tell you the — on the agenda is to talk about the President’s supplemental — the national security portion, obviously, of the supplemental, and how important it is to get moving on that.
But, no, I’m not going to get into details or specifics of — of what — how — how granular they’re going to get at all in that meeting. But it is going to be important. And we’ll have more for all of you to share on that.
As it relates to the caucuses — the Iowa caucus, I want to be really careful, as all you know, is that I’m a federal employee — employee, obviously. So, I’m not going to comment on the upcoming election — 2024 election.
What I can say — I know folks had this question. You know, the President was here last night at the White House. As it relates to if he’s seen it or not, of course, I’m sure he’s — he’s seen the coverage of the Iowa caucus. I don’t have anything specific to share on that.
And I — I also want to lift this up too. Yesterday, you saw the President — some of you traveled with us. We were in Philly. We went to Philabundance.
And I think it’s important to — to lay out what’s — what’s important to this President. Right? He went to a not-for-profit food bank that serves the Philly — the Philadelphia and also the Delaware Valley regions of Pennsylvania — and the work that they do to drive hunger — to drive hunger from our community — right? — to get — to get that out. We’re talking about food insecurity today and to end — end hunger for — for good.
So, look, he distributed food. You all saw that. That was really important. That was his main focus for tomorrow — for today — pardon me — for yesterday.
And he’s going to continue to focus on the American people. That’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to continue to focus on others — to helping hardworking, middle-class families build an economy from the bottom up and — from the bottom up, middle out. That’s what he’s going to do: protecting Americans’ freedom; bringing the country together around, you know, optimism, vision for — for the future.
So, that’s going to be the President’s focus.
And I will go to the next questioner.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. M.J. Lee with CNN, please go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, M.J.
Q Hey, Karine. Just on the Iowa caucuses last night. What, if anything — I know that you’re not going to get into details, but just, generally speaking, what, if anything, did the President make of the results that showed that the majority of caucus-goers said they don’t believe that his win in 2020 was legitimate? And if you can’t speak to the President’s reaction to that, can you speak to the reaction to that from, I mean, yourself or other White House officials?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again — so, here’s — here’s what I’ll say, because we’ve talked about this before from the briefing room, so it’s not — this is something that deals with 2020, so I can — I can actually speak to this.
Look, you know, the President is going to continue to stand against conspiracy theories, right? And we know what — what you just laid out to me about how people feel has been debunked — right? — it has been debunked by federal judges, who are — who are Republican judges. Other — other officials have debunked that.
You know, we had a very fa- — free and fair election. That’s what we know. That is a fact. And, you know — and it’s important to state that. It’s important to — to be clear — very, very clear about that.
Look, I can say this. You know, I can say that the President, you know, is going to — as — as it relates to how he’s moving forward, not focused on the 2024 election, he’s going to continue to stand against dangerous personal revenge schemes and conspiracy theories that have cost — let’s not forget, these dangerous conspiracy theories have cost law enforcement officers their lives. You know, and it is — that is what we saw on January 6th in 2021.
It was an attack on our democracy. And it was because people believed — the insurrectionists, the mob — more than 2,000 people who showed up at — at the — at the Capitol believed — believed the conspiracy theories that they were told about this election, and it cost officers their lives. And that is incredibly dangerous.
Our democracy was under attack. Again, a very scary moment in our history, a dark time in our history. You heard the President talk about this very recently when he was in Valley Forge.
And so, look, we have to speak out about that. We have to be very clear — clear — clear — clear-spoken about those types of conspiracy theories. We have to speak against them. And so, I’ll just leave it there.
OPERATOR: Moving on to our next question in queue. Annie Linskey with Wall Street Journal, please go ahead.
Q Hi there.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, Annie.
Q Oh, hi. Hi there, Karine. I wanted to ask about the news over the weekend that John Kerry is departing his post. Can you tell me whether or not the President plans on — on replacing him and, you know, what you believe he accomplished in that role and then anything about — anything more about why the President agreed for him to leave now at this particular moment?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, a couple of things, because I’ve gotten to know the Special Envoy Kerry and Secre- — obviously, former Secretary of State Kerry. And I know that — I know the President appreciated everything that he was able to do in the past three years.
So, just — I can just put it on the record. I can confirm that, in the upcoming months — month that Special Envoy Kerry will leave the administration, as I just stated, after three years of service.
And let’s just — just to talk about his tenure for a second. You know, he was able to deliver — with the leadership, obviously, of this President — the most ambitious climate agenda in history — when you think about restoring America’s leadership on climate around the world, implementing the largest investment in climate ever, putting us on track to cut emissions in half by 2030.
I can’t speak to — I know folks have — have been wondering what the — what Secretary Kerry is going to do next. I certainly can’t speak to that. But certainly we’ll — we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Look, you know, as far who’s going to — to be next, I certainly don’t have any personnel announcement to make at this time. But our work, the work that he started, the work is going to continue. The work to address the climate crisis will continue.
Let’s not forget what we’re able to do just last month. We announced a rule that — that’s going to cut methane emissions from oil and gas operations by nearly 80 percent, I believe. And that’s a huge announcement. That’s incredibly important.
But the President is incredibly thankful to — to Secretary Kerry. It is his personal decision to leave. So, certainly going — not going to speak to that. But, look, we got a lot done. He got a lot done in the three years. The President — when it comes to climate change, the President has had the most aggressive agenda than any other president before — before him on getting things done and getting to a place where we’re dealing with the climate.
Thanks — thanks for your question, Annie.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in the queue. Selina Wang with ABC News, please go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Selina.
Q Hey, Karine. Thanks for doing this. I know you can’t speak too much about it, but is there anything else you can say about the President’s view about Trump’s resounding win in Iowa? He was asked yesterday about why he felt compelled to seek a second term, and he said, quote, the things that Trump is saying, “he means them,” “he’s running to get revenge.” Just wondering if you can elaborate on what the President’s thoughts are.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — and you — I think you’re speaking to the interview that the President did on — on — yesterday, obviously, on Dr. Martin Luther King Day with Reverend Al Sharpton. He called in to his radio show. And I know it’s been previewed on one of the cable networks, what the President said.
And so, the President, you know, appreciated that conversation. Had a really, I think, thoughtful conversation about what he’s thinking moving forward. Obviously, I can’t get into specifics on — on that. But I would certainly — I would, you know, refer folks to what the President laid out as it relates to why he’s running and why he’s de- — you know, he’s decided to run and how he — he views this next several months.
So, I’m not going to get into that. His — he — you could — you could hear it for yourself in his own words.
But, look, I’ll say this. And I kind of said this before — right? — which is what the President is going to stand against. He’s going to stand against dangerous personal revenge schemes. Right? The President is going to stand against conspiracy theories. Right? The President is going to continue to fight for the freedoms of Americans across this country.
We see what they’re trying to do — what Republican-elected officials are trying to do as it relates to abortion bans and how dangerous that is to women and — and their health.
And the President — in the meantime, the President is going to continue to — to lead with the — with the — obviously, with leadership and putting American people first and bringing people together in a way that benefits everyone. That is what the President is going to continue to do.
And not putting — putting yourself first or putting yourself above every — every — everyone else or fomenting hate or selling out working people to rich special interests or taking away freedoms, as I just laid out, that’s not what the President is going to do.
He’s going to be completely the opposite of that, as he’s been doing for the last almost three years. And that’s the President’s goal.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Joey Garrison with USA Today, please go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Joey. Go ahead, Joey.
Q Hey, Karine. Doing well. How about yourself?
Has President Biden spoken to Secretary Austin since his release from the hospital yesterday? And are there any plans for the two to meet in person now that he is out of the hospital? Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, good question. Thank you for the question. Look, we’re happy to hear of his discharge, obviously. Look, the President is looking forward — and I said this last week; we said this last week — to the Secretary getting back to the Pentagon, obviously.
And — and so, don’t have anything to share on — on when — when they’re going to either see each other or speak. Obviously, they spoke last week. The — the Secretary was very much — has very much been engaged and involved in what we’re seeing in the Middle East right now.
And more broadly, on his schedule — on the Secretary’s schedule, that’s something that the Pentagon can speak to. Can’t speak — can’t speak to that from here.
But obviously, we are — we are very happy to see that — to hear of his discharge and — and looking back — and looking forward to him to get — getting back to the Pentagon.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Tommy Christopher with Meditate [Mediaite], please go ahead.
Q Yeah. Hey, Karine. It’s Tommy. How you doing?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Tommy. Good to hear your voice. How are you?
Q Good, good. By the way, I know you know this, but it’s “Mediaite.” We get that a lot, though — “Meditate.” So —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Inaudible.)
Q — good to talk to you, and good to be staying warm too. So, I — I was wondering if you could tell me what you make of — of how much former President Trump leaned into this lie that January 6th was justified while he was campaigning in Iowa and, like, demanding the release of the, quote, unquote, “hostages.” And what would you say to right-wing media that — that sort of helped him in that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Look, I want to be — always want to be very, very careful on speaking about candidate Trump, especially in the — the upcoming 2024 election.
What I’ll say more broadly about the January 6th comments — look, you know, it — you know, it’s — it’s basically what the President said in Valley Forge. Right? The President said this over and over again about January 6th and how dangerous it was — right? — and how — how we had to — we had to watch, you know, an insurrec- — an insurrection, essentially — 2,000 angry mob — because they believed what the former President said and thought that they can turn over an election. This is what they were doing. That’s what they were doing at the Capitol on that day.
And so, I’ve been — I said this a couple of times. You know, I’ve said that the President has been very clear: He’s going to stand against these types of conspiracy theories.
Let’s not forget, officers died. Right? Police officers died on that — because of the injuries that they sustained on that day. They were attacked on that day by these — by these — by these folks who — who were trying to take over the Capitol.
And so, we have to be very clear about what happened on that day. We cannot forget about what happened on that day. And the President said this: Our democracy — we have to continue our democracy.
And I’ll just repeat a little bit of what he said in his remarks — right? — there is a choice to be made. There is a choice that we have to make — right? — in — in our country. We have to make a choice, and that choice should be standing — standing up for our democracy, which is what the President is going to continue — continue to do.
As far as this comment on hostages, you know, want to — want to be really careful there as well — as well. Don’t want to comment on — on any DOJ investigation or legal process.
But as you’ve — you’ve seen American veterans note, it’s — it’s grotesque and offensive. It is offensive to c- — to compare those convicted of assaulting cops and attempting to overthrow the American government that veterans have died — have died defending to — for — innocent Americans — for — to — you know, innocent Americans that — in Israel — Israelis and people of other nationalities who were abducted. Right? They were abducted by Hamas on October 7th.
And so, it is — you know, I’ll just keep it there. It is — it is something that — again, I want to be mindful to speaking to, but that is — it is incredibly grotesque and offensive.
Q And anything for right-wing media —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, say that —
Q — who shall remain nameless.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.) Look, it is our responsibility — and I know you all know this — as it relates to reporting and, you know, to — to — I don’t know, like —
Okay. Separate from — from the election — right? — if you think about what we saw on January 7th, 2021, on the front page — right? — the front-page coverage that so many brave reporters — right? — if you think about it — risked their lives to give — to give the country the information that they needed. And that hard-won coverage exposed the brutal, unprecedented assault on our Constitution, on the law enforcement, on American democracy itself.
And so, I think it’s really important that, you know, we — we — we lift up what these brave journalists and reporters are doing. And it is — I would say this: It is an insult to those who lost their lives and to, you know, the selfless reporters who put everything on the line to show us the true stakes of that moment and who are — tirelessly investigated afterward to help anyone — anyone who were putting out grotesque lies about the attack on the Capitol.
And so, I’ll say that and — and just kind of lift up the work of reporters who literally risked their lives on that day to make sure the American people had the truth.
Q Thank you, Karine. We should do this again sometime. (Laughs.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Definitely. Thanks, Tommy.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Lynn Sweet with Chicago Sun-Times, please go ahead.
Q Right. Hi, Karine. Thank you for doing this. Bear with me, as my question is narrow in scope because you’ve talked about some of the broader issues with the situation on the Texas border. Governor Pritzker of Illinois and Chicago Mayor Johnson are pleading with the federal government for more interior coordination at the border. Governor Abbott — dealing with the migrants, who Governor Abbott wants out of Texas.
So, (inaudible)in this question that he is going to continue to send migrants out of Texas. So, my question is: Why can’t the federal — or why isn’t there more federal action regarding interior coordination among where the migrants go at the border? Because right now, it’s not left to the federal government; it’s left up to Governor Abbott to send migrants to the cities, and they’re to the cities of his choosing. Why does Abbott —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay.
Q — and not the federal government get to decide?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me just say a couple of things. What Governor Abbott is doing — and I said this earlier when I was asked this question, I believe, by Zeke from the AP — that what he’s doing are — is a political stunt. And it’s — all it’s doing is not — it’s not making communities safer, for certain. And it’s also dem- — it’s demonizing and certainly dehumanizing people. And we’ve called that out. We’ve been calling that out what his actions are doing.
And — and, as you know, we — I talked — I was asked earlier about the — unfortunately, the three migrants that died — that drowned recently. And so, it is unfortunate that we’re seeing that.
And that’s also — I mean, there’s so many — there’s so many parts of this question. That’s also why you’re seeing a bipartisan conversation happening in the Senate. It’s been happening for some time with Republicans and Democrats. We think it’s heading in a di- — right direction. We believe we need a bipartisan agreement to deal with the policy components, and also the funding components, obviously, of — of immigration. That’s been broken for some time — for decades now.
So, that — those are actions that the President has taken, obviously, with his team to get something done, to get border security, you know, changes or — or deal, I should say, done. And so, that’s really important.
As it relates to the cities, look, a couple of things that I can say that — that I can say there is last year, in 2023, this administration, in collaboration with the states and cities just across the country — what they were able to do is launch a one-stop — one-stop shop clinics so that they can help eligible noncitizens get work permits and decompress the respective shelter systems, which is incredibly important. And that’s what, you know, you all have been reporting — some of you have reporting about — around. And to date, these clinics have served more than 10,000 people.
And in addition to that, our administration — the President’s administration was able to provide more than $1 billion in grant funding for jurisdictions who are hosting these — these migrants that are — that are arriving.
So, obviously — obviously, we want to do more. We do want to do more. But it requires Congress to give us the additional funding, which is why we’re having this conversation, which is why we’re doing the — this bipartisan conversation, as it relates, certainly, to the supplemental. That’s why the President is going to certainly meet with congressional members tomorrow to continue those conversations.
So, we want to — we want to continue to collaborate with these cities and states, obviously, across the country. But, you know, we have to have — we have to have Congress act as well.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue. Weijia Jiang with CBS News, please go ahead.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, Weijia.
Q Thank you. Hi, Karine. Hi.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, hi.
Q Thank you for doing this. I just had a quick question on Eagle Pass, because what we’ve heard so far as possible recourse from the administration has all been legal in nature. And I just wonder, is there anything else you can do to gain access to the border? Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No — no, it’s a good question. And I appreciate all these questions, but there’s — about the border in particular, because they’re very important. Look, the Border Patrol, they have to have access to the border. They have to in order to enforce our laws. And — and DHS has sent Texas a cease and des- — and desist letter regarding their clearly, clearly unconstitutional actions.
And here’s the thing. If — if Texas does not stop blocking what Border Patrol agents should be doing — right? — which is enforcing the laws — but if they don’t stop blocking their access, we’re going to refer the matter to Department of Justice for appropriate action.
But obviously, DHS has taken action. They asked for a cease and desist in their letter. And we — Border Patrol agents need to have access in order to enforce the law. That’s what they need. They need the governor of Texas to stop playing political games and to stop doing these political stunts. It is putting people’s lives at risk. And that is — and that is what we’re seeing.
Q So, I hear you. But given the fact that people’s lives are at risk, you know, to go to DOJ, the Supreme Court — these things take time to play out. So, I’m wondering if there’s anything immediate that the counterpart to the Texas National Guard, which is blocking the border, is there anything you can do at the border physically to gain access? Or is the only thing you can do is let’s — let it play out in the justice system?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. I mean —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — I wouldn’t say we’re just — yeah, look, here’s — and that’s the problem, Weijia, right? It’s like — it is unfortunate that you have a governor, Governor Abbott, that’s watching this happen — right? — that’s watching people be put in harm’s way — law enforcement also be put into harm’s way, because it is — it does make a situation dangerous for the Border Patrol agents and dangerous for the migrants, obviously.
And allowing this to happen — like, that is actually a question for Governor Abbott. He is — he is — he is doing these political stunts, and it is causing harm. It is not fixing the problem. The Border Patrol agents are not allowed — are not able to — to really, you know, move forward with enforcing our laws.
I mean, this is what a elected official is doing. And so, you know, I get the question to us. We are going to take legal — you know, we’re ta- — we have taken legal action. That is the process. That’s the way that we have to move forward.
And we also have to call it out. That’s — when you all ask me questions about it or you ask any — any members of the administration about this, we say very loud and clear: These are political stunts. They are dangerous. They dehumanize people. They — they demonize people. They put people’s lives in danger — in danger — not — not just the migrants but also the Border Patrol agents. It’s a problem.
And so, we have to continue to call it out. I mean, you guys help — you know, help — are helpful in that way in calling this out. And so, we’re going to continue to do that.
OPERATOR: All right. Moving on to our next question in queue, and this will be our last question. Kelly O’Donnell with NBC, please go ahead.
Q Oh, to be last. I have been waiting patiently, so I’m so glad to get —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)
Q Love this in-queue process.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Last but not the least.
Q Yes, yes. So, many questions have been asked. So, I’m just going to tick off two couple of quick things.
Can you give us a sense of your reaction and any White House changes in position or posture related to the swatting incident that happened on Monday, recognizing that there are a lot of ways in which you have response built into the campus here, but in the larger sense of how the White House could now be drawn into this new technique?
And, secondly, when Joey asked about Secretary Austin and you referenced them speaking, you know, a week or so ago, what’s the typical cadence for the President and the SecDef to — to speak on the phone, given all the areas of their obvious, you know, priorities on national security matters of late? Thanks so much.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, thank you so much, Kelly O. Two — two important questions.
Look, as it relates to the swatting, I would have to refer you to Secret Service and D.C. Fire, which responded, ob- — as you know, to — to the incident. Can’t say more from here.
Look, the President and the — and the Secretary speak often, speak regularly. I don’t have a regular cadence to speak to. Obviously, he’s the Secretary of Defense, so that is the — they do — they do speak regularly. I just don’t have a particular, as I said, cadence to speak to on how — how regularly that happens.
And I — I would also say that, you know, from — from senior levels of the — of the Department of Defense and also at the NSC and, obviously, at the State Department, there’s — they are in constant communication with their counterparts or the folks that they deal with on a regular basis.
And so, as — as it relates to the President, they do speak regularly. I just don’t have the specifics on — on the — on how often.
Q And briefly on the swatting. Not the specifics of what happened yesterday, but could you speak to the larger issue that this technique of — whether it’s harassment or a prank or whatever it might be that has popped up and has affected now the White House but, in addition, members of the judicial branch, other types of officials? Do you have a broader sense of how this is now creating a risk or a danger in our society?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, look, I think what you just stated is — is correct, right? It is creating a danger and a risk to our society. There are things that we’re going to monitor. This is something, obviously, the Secret Service is going to monitor very closely as it relates to us specifically at the White House or this administration.
And so, I’m just going to be really mindful and leave it there. But how you stated the question is — is tr- — is obviously a concern to us.
All right, everybody. I think that’s it —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, go ahead. Oh —
I don’t know what just happened. I think — if you guys can still hear me, thank you so much for your time. And we will see you all tomorrow in the briefing room.
All right. Be safe. Bye.
2:51 P.M. EST