12:58 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everyone.

 Q Good afternoon.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  I have one thing at the top, and then we’ll get into Q&A. 

 I’ll start by sharing some more information on the President’s — on the President’s event earlier today with Senator Bernie Sanders.

 Twenty-seven million Americans have asthma, including 4 million kids.  The reality is, the price of inhalers is way too high for too many Americans.

 Families can pay anywhere between $200 and $600 for inhalers without insurance, despite the fact that it costs less than five bucks to make an inhaler.

 That is why, last year, the Federal Trade Commission and the FDA announced efforts to crack down on falsely claimed patents and increase competition of inhalers to lower costs.

 As a result of this administration’s actions, one inhaler manufacturer removed patents from a regulatory list.

 Last month, three of the four largest inhaler manufacturers announced that they will cap the cost of inhalers for many patients at 35 bucks per month.

 This is on the top of our work — this is on top of our work to lower the cost of prescription drugs through the President’s Inf- — Inflation Reduction Act, which every single congressional Republican opposed.

 Thanks to the law, Medicare can now negotiate lower drug prices for American families.

 But President Biden wants to expand those efforts by applying the $2,000 cap on prescription drug costs and 35 bucks for insulin to all Americans.

 This work to deliver lower healthcare costs is in stark contrast to what congressional Republicans have proposed.  They are still working to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and gut Medicaid.  And they just released a budget that would lead to devastating cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, increased housing costs and prescription drug costs for families, and huge giveaways for the wealthy and the biggest corporations.

 President Biden has been clear: This will not happen on his watch.  The Biden-Harris administration will continue working with partners, like Bernie Sanders, to de- — to deliver results for the American people.

 With that — all right.  Good to see you. 

 Q Hi.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good to see you.

 Q Thank you.  Good to see you too.  Two questions, starting with the earthquake in Taiwan.  Has the government there asked for anything yet from the United States?  And will the U.S. coordinate with China if Taiwan does request any kind of assistance?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I will say is that we continue to closely monitor the earthquake impacting Taiwan.  And we certainly pray for all those who are affected.  And we are — we are — we are standing by — the United States is standing by on the ready for any necessary assistance.  I don’t have anything else to provide beyond that.  But we’re closely monitoring, and we are ready to assist.

 Q Is there any reason to believe at this point that the earthquake will affect the visits next week by the leaders of Japan and the Philippines for the summit?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, don’t have any change of schedule.

 QAnd then, lastly — sorry, I know I said two, but I have a third.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, it’s okay.  It’s all right, Darlene.

 QDoes the President think the meeting he had last night with Muslim leaders was useful?  And is there any reaction or comment on a Palestinian American doctor walking out in the middle of that meeting?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me just say a couple of things just at the top about last night and how important it is.  As you know, the President and the Vice President — they continued their tradition of honoring the Muslim community during Ramadan by hosting a meeting with Muslim community leaders to discuss issues of importance to the community. 

 Let’s not forget, this is a — the sit-down conversation, the meeting was asked and it was supposed — it’s supposed to be private.  They wanted a private meeting.  That was something that, as we have done our outreach — as you know, senior White House officials have been doing this outreach.  The President and the Vice President have been in communication with the community regularly since October.  And this is something that they asked — they asked for a private meeting — a working meeting, if you will. 

 And so, we understand what’s — how this community is feeling.  It is deeply painful moment for many in the Arab and Muslim communities. 

 The President also expressed his commitment to continue working to secure an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to free the hostages and significantly increase humanitarian aid into Gaza.  And the President made clear that he mourns the loss of every innocent life in this conflict, Palestinian and Israeli.

 The President and Vice President committed — are committed to continue engaging with these leaders moving forward.  As I mentioned, we have had regular engagement with members of those communities.

 As it relates to the — the part of the question that you just asked me about a participant walking out, look, I want to be really careful here.  We said that we would keep this — these conversations private.  So, I’m not going to continue — I’m not going to comment on a — any private discussions.

 But as I said many times from this podium, the President respects an American — any American’s right to peacefully protest.  And we’re going to continue to have these conversations, obviously, with that community. 

 Go ahead, Nancy.

 Q Thank you.

 Q Thanks, Karine.  How did the White House decide who would attend the iftar dinner?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I will say is — want to be careful here.  You know, this meeting, again, was decided, after we had done the outreach for some time now.  We wanted to make sure that this was a private meeting and that participants had an opportunity to be — you know, to be — to be honest and to be able to share their thoughts and feelings about how — you know, how — where they are, how they feel about the situation happening, obviously, in the Middle East.

 I don’t have a — a process to lay out how the list came about, and so I, you know, don’t have anything to — to lay out in that realm. 

But as you know and as I’ve — as I’ve stated a couple of times, we’ve done outreach for this past several weeks, several months to the Muslim, to the Arab community, Palestinian community and — and heard from them directly.  And they spoke; we listened.  And we hope that they feel like they had an opportunity to express themselves and had an opportunity, in front of the President and the Vice President, to talk about an incredibly painful time.

 Q Was last night the President’s first opportunity to speak face to face with someone who had been on the ground providing aid in Gaza?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I can’t speak to the different — the different leaders who have been in this meeting.  It is a private meeting.  We want to make sure that we give folks the opportunity to feel that they have some — you know, some — that they know that they can speak and — and just be clear to us and — and have that — and be — know that it is — those conversations are in confidence. 

 So, don’t want to read out who’s been in the meeting or — or any specifics in that realm.  I’m going to let them — I’m going to let folks who — if folks who attended want to speak to that and — they can.

 What I can say is we’ve had multiple conversations, whether it’s senior — senior officials from the White House, whether it’s this pra- — this President.  We — not all conversations we — we, obviously, read out.  We keep o- — we try to keep these private conversations in private. 

 I don’t have a list of — of folks of — of, you know, who — who they are or where they come from, if they’ve been to Gaza.  That is something I want to be super mindful of. 

 Q What was the President’s reaction to the fact that the doctor decided to leave the dinner?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s very — very similar to what I said to Darlene.  The President respects — he respects, you know, any individual, any American, for them to peacefully protest.  He understands that this is a — a painful moment for — for many Americans across the country. 

 And so, he respects their — their freedom to peacefully protest.  I don’t have anything — you know, I don’t anything outside of that.  They have a right to peacefully protest.  And we’re going to continue to respect that.

 Go ahead, Jordan.

 Q Thanks, Karine.  Do you — does the administration expect there to be an emergency funding package for the Key Bridge in Baltimore to be announced before the President visits the city on Friday? 

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, the Department of Transportation just last week announced $60 million to be able to put forward in — in — in building — having to rebuild that bridge.  I don’t have anything outside of — of additional funding. 

 The President has been very, very clear: He wants to make sure that we — we make the community of Baltimore whole again.  And he has said that the federal government will cover — will certainly cover the bridge being built. 

 Our focus right now, outside of the — rebuilding that bridge, is making sure that the ports are open, making sure that we continue to do that recovery, clean out — clean out that area. 

 And so, that’s been the focus.  The President is going to go on Friday.  He will see himself.  We’ll have more information of — of what’s — what’s going on on the ground.  But he gets regular updates, you know, and I think that’s important as well. 

 Our hearts go out to the lives that were lost during that — that evening — or that early morning.  It’s a sad — obvi- — sad, sad news.  And we are with the families who are mourning — who are mourning their lost ones at this time. 

 QAnd then on Ukraine.  The White House issued a statement yesterday that was dismissive of Speaker Johnson’s idea to tie that package to the policy banning future LNG exports.  You know, it said that the President wants the aid package passed right away —


 Q– and that you support the LNG export ban.  But can you clarify whether that means you’re — you’re ruling out that proposal from Speaker Johnson?  Like, is that off the table or — or is this something that you might consider down the road?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, we’ve been very clear, right?  We’ve been very clear.  The reporting, we have said — as you said, from our statement — is not true.  We’ve been really clear about House Republicans should pass the bipartisan national security agreement that already pla- — passed with overwhelming support out of the Senate — 70 to 29.  You’ve heard me say that many times before.

 We need to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself against Russia’s aggression.  We’re going to continue to be clear about that. 

 And there is a way to get Ukraine what they need.  All the Speaker has to do is put that national security supplemental on the floor. 

 The President supports the pause on pending — which is on pending ob- — obviously, additional approvals of L- — LNG export licenses to evaluate the economic and climate impacts on consumers and communities.  He supports that pause. 

 And there is a way — there is a way to deal with what Ukrainians are fighting for right now.  They’re fighting for their democracy.  They’re fighting for their freedom against the aggression of Mr. Putin.  There’s a way to get them the assistance that they need, and that is to pass that bipartisan — we believe that would be a bipartisan support — national security supplemental that got bipartisan support.

 If he puts it on the floor, we know — we know for a fact that Republicans will vote for it.  We know where Democrats stand.  He needs to put that on the floor. 

 Go ahead, Gabe.

 Q Karine, the meeting yesterday was a scaled-back event, as we understand it.  What does — or how troubling is it to the White House that prominent Arab American leaders are declining to come to the White House?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, you know, want to be really clear.  And we’ve been saying this many times before.  Number one, we’ve don- — we’ve done these outreach.  We listened.  The community wanted to have what we thought — change the format, do a meeting where it was a working meeting.  We respected that.  We listened to them and we had a working meeting.  And so, want to be really respectful of that. 

 And, look, we understand it’s a very painful time.  We understand that.  And we respect that. 

 And so, look, I — I can’t speak to individuals who want to attend, not want to attend.  That’s for them to speak to.  The President is going to continue to — and his administration, obviously — senior officials are going to continue to have these conversations.  We’re going to continue to listen to the community.  That’s what a president does.  And that’s what this President will — will continue to do. 

 Q I know the President spoke with Chef José Andrés.  Does the President agree with Chef Andrés that Israel is using food as a weapon?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we understand how Chef Andrés is feeling.  Right?  He just lost members of his team — I’m sure who felt like family to him as well.  The op-ed was very powerful.  What he does is heroic — not just in Gaza, around the world — providing food, providing that essential humanitarian assistance. 

 And we — you know, you heard from the President last night in his statement.  He — it is — he’s outraged, and he’s heartbroken.  We are all heartbroken here by those seven lives lost. 

 And so, we are going to continue to mourn with them — with — with the — with Chef José Andrés and, obviously, the families. 

 I’m just not going to — he’s going to speak for himself.  We are very clear about where we stand.  I think the President’s statement was incredibly powerful, impactful, and really, truly lays out where — how he feels about the current situation. 

 Q And on another topic, Karine.  How worried is the White House about bird flu?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, this is something that we are certainly monitoring.  We have been — CDC has been certainly working on — on top — working — working and focusing on this.  You know, we take health and safety of the American people seriously.  It is very important to this President.  Our top priority is to keep communities healthy, safe, and informed. 

 We are closely tracking this, monitoring this, as I just stated, of the reports that are out there and have active, relevant agencies to coordinate with and support local authorities. 

 The CDC has said the risk to human health from this outbreak is low.  They are continuing to monitor and will continue to coordinate with relevant agencies and officials.  This is — when it comes — again, when it comes to the public health of the American people, we take that very seriously.  And we’ll continue to track this. 

 Q And, finally, what’s the White House’s response to some on the left who think that Justice Sotomayor should retire so that the President could appoint her replacement?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I’ve been asked this question before here at the podium.  And when it comes to those types of decision — decisions, those are personal decisions.  That is — regardless if it’s Justice Sotomayor or any other Just- — Justice on the bench, that is for them to make.  That is a decision for that Justice to make. 

 Again, it’s a personal decision.  That is not something that we get involved in.  But it is something for, obviously, any Justice on the bench — they are — they should be given the space and the freedom to make that decision.  I — I don’t have anything else to say beyond that.

 Go ahead, Selina.

 Q Thanks, Karine.  How is Israel going to conduct that investigation into the strike that killed those World Central Kitchen aid workers?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we — you heard from the President last night.  You heard from my colleague at — from the National Security Council yesterday and also earlier today. 

 I think the President’s statement was very, very strong — right? — very straightforward.  He wants to — he wants to see a — a investigation that’s swift, an investigation that’s comprehensive, that has — that brings accountability.  And he wants to make sure that it is made public. 

 We leave it to, obviously, the Israeli government to do that investigation.  But we want to make sure that it’s swift, it’s comprehensive, that it’s made public.  And it is important.  We need to get to — certainly get to the bottom of exactly what happened. 

 Q Can you explain what that would entail, a kind of investigation like this?  This is a strike that happened in an active warzone.  Can you give us some detail on what it looks like?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, IDF said they have an ongoing investigation.  It’s underway.  I think that’s important. 

We’ve called for this investigation to happen.  I think that’s important.  We wanted to see it happen in a swift manner.  We want to make sure that the findings are public and that there is accountability. 

 I want to be ma- — very careful here.  I’m not going to get ahead of that process.  There is a process underway.  I believe my NSC colleague mentioned that they have some initial findings.  It’s preliminary. 

 And so, that process is going to continue.  I’m going to let that process go underway and — and — and let — let the Israeli government speak to that.

 Q Right.  But for the sake of transparency, can you explain what that process is and if the U.S. is confident in that process?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’re not — I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.  I’m not going to get into that partic- — a particular process here. 

We want to see something that is comprehensive, we want to see something that leads to accountability, we want to see it be swift, and we want to make sure that it is made available to the public. 

 That’s what — that’s what the Israeli government — that’s what Prime Minister Netanyahu said he’s going to do.  And we’re going to let that process flow.  We’re going to let that process happen. 

 Q So, Kirby said earlier today that they’re hoping to get in the books a meeting in person next week with an Israeli delegation. 


 Q Can you provide any more details on that and who might come?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to provide any details on that.  What I can say is — basically, from the readout, is that the expectation is to have a meeting in person.  I think it was important that there was a virtual meeting that occurred, obviously, on Monday to talk about the Rafah operations. 

 We’ve been very clear where we stand on this — very clear.  We believe there has to be alternative ways to deal with Hamas in — in Gaza.  As we are — specifically in — in Rafah, a military operation in — we believe is not the way to move forward. 

 There is a active conversations happening with the Israeli government and obviously our government, and I think that’s important. 

 I’m not going to go into details from here.  As you — as you heard from us, as you heard from my colleague, there’s going to be hopefully next week an in-person meeting, and we’re looking forward to continuing those really critical, important conversations.

 Go ahead.

 Q Do you anticipate any changes to the President’s policy toward Israel and Gaza as a result of yesterday’s strike?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I can say that nothing has changed, and we’ve been clear about that since — certainly, since yesterday.  We are going to continue to have those really tough conversations — right? — important, tough conversations about how Israel — Israel moves forward with their operation. 

 We want to make sure that civilians are kept safe, that — are protected — and also folks who are providing humanitarian aid.  The President was very, very clear. 

 He also said in his statement that Israel needs to do more.  We’ve been very clear about that as well.  We’re going to continue to have those conversation with our Israel cou- — counterparts. 

 And — and, look, your — you know, this is important to this President.  But I will also add: That’s why the hostage deal is so critical.  That’s why the President has been working 24/7 along with his — with his team to get that hostage deal done. 

 And if we get a hostage deal, it means that we can get more humanitarian aid into Israel — I’m sorry, into Gaza — pardon me — and also means that we get to a — a ceasefire — we get into a ceasefire so that we can get that aid in, so that we can get, also, hostages home.  So, that is what we’re going to continue also to work on.

 Q Do you have a progress report on that hostage deal?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a progress report.  You saw in the President’s statement that his team continues to have those conversation in Cairo right now.  That is important. 

 And he — you know, we — we — wish I can — I wish I can stand here today and say there’s a deal.  But those conversations continue. 

We’re — we have made this a priority.  This President has made this a priority to get that hostage deal.  It’s important to get those hostages home to their family.  It’s important to get that humanitarian aid and with a — you know, leading to a ceasefire. 

 Go ahead.

 Q Just one more follow-up on the meeting yesterday.  Dr. Ahmad said that he had handed the President a letter from an eight-year-old orphan girl who is living in Rafah.  Has the President read that letter? 

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to be really careful here.  I’m not going to speak to contents of a private meeting.  Just not going to do that from here. 

 The doctor speaks for himself.  He’s free to do that.  But we have said we’re going to keep these meetings private so that we gave folks who attended the meeting the — you know, the opportunity to be honest, the opportunity to make sure to have a safe place to share their thoughts with us.  So, I’m just not going to read out a content of a me- — a private meeting.

 Q Well, since he chose himself to publicly disclose that he had shared this letter and the contents of that letter with the media, can you say whether the President has read it?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I’m not going to speak to any content of the — of a private meeting.  That is something that many members who attended — all of them, truly, who attended wanted to — this to be private.  We’re going to keep — we’re going to keep our side to this — our side of the promise. 

 Q This letter, in part, says, “I beg you, President Biden, stop them from entering Rafah.”  Without getting into his reaction — potential reaction to that, does the White House believe that Israel entering Rafah is something that President Biden can stop?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re having conversations — important conversations.  The first one happened virtually.  And, actually, last we- — last week, when the Israeli Foreign Minister was here, obviously, we had a conversation — Jake Sullivan, Secretary Austin, and others had conversations — and that involved the Rafah oper- — operations or Rafah more broadly.  And so, it started then.  There was a virtual conversation on Monday, and it’s going to continue.

Our hope that we can get to a place where we are indeed protecting innocent civilian lives in Rafah.  You heard — you’ve heard my colleagues talk about there’s more than 1 million Palestinians there who ha- — who sought refuge, who are there seeking refuge.  And so, we want to make sure that their lives are protected. 

We know that there are Hamas operators there in Rafah.  And so, we want to make sure that Israel is able to, you know, do what it needs to do in getting — in getting those operators, but it is important — Hamas operators, to be more exact — but it is important that we protect those civilian lives — we protect those lives. 

So, those conversations are happening, we’re hoping to see — we’re expecting — I shouldn’t say “hoping” — expecting that it’ll happen in person next week.  And that’s what we’re going to work towards. 

Q And just on the President’s visit to Baltimore on Friday.  Do you know if he is going to the actual site of the collapsed bridge, and would he be willing to meet with family members of the workers that were killed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I know there is a lot of interest in the President’s trip on Friday.  The President obviously is very much looking forward to going to Baltimore, being there for the — for the people of Baltimore. 

You heard him say he’s going to be there for as long as it takes to make sure that we make them whole again.  We’ll have more to share on what that day — what Friday is going to look like in the upcoming day or so. 

Go ahead.

Q Thanks, Karine.  So, what is the accountability that the U.S. wants to see here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, let’s let’s [let] the ongoing investigation happen.  We want to make sure — the President said this — swift.  We want it to — this — it to be swift.  We want it to be — brings to — lead to accountability.  We want it to be comprehensive and to make it public. 

 And so, I’m not going to get ahead of that.  Want to see what — what the Israeli government says when they do this investigation.  Just want to be really mindful about that. 

Q So, you’re not asking for anything specifically to take place?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We want to see the investigation. 

Q Okay.  And the changes — can you detail what changes that the U.S. would like to see Israel make as a result?  And what even makes you think that as a result of these recent deaths that they would make changes when —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look —

Q– they haven’t so far?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And I kind of said this earlier, moments ago.  We are going to continue to have those tough conversations with our Israeli counterparts.  We’re going to continue to make very clear that we have to protect innocent civilian lives.  That is something that we want to make sure is a priority. 

As — as Israel is moving forward with the — with their — their operation against Hamas, a terrorist organization, we understand the importance of them doing that, but we want to also make sure that innocent civilians’ life are protected.  And folks who are out there — brave folks — brave people who are out there providing that humanitarian aid, we want to make sure that their lives are protected, those lives are protected. 

We’re going to have those tough, tough conversations as we have been.  And so, that’s part of — this is part of it, right?  This is part of di- — diplomacy.  This is part of having honest, real, frank conversations.

Q And — and in respect to those conversations, John Kirby said earlier today that the White House has made its outrage known about this all the way up to the presidential level.  Aside from the statement that the President released last night, how has the President made his outrage known about this to the Israelis?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I think the statement that he put out was pretty clear.  Right?  I mean, it showed his outrage.  It showed how he was heartbroken.  That’s the first couple of words in the statement.  He’s outraged.  He’s heartbroken. 

And we also laid out what we want to see and the conversations that we have been having.  But it also lifts up the importance of having that hostage deal, getting that done, getting to a ceasefire, getting that humanitarian aid, making sure that those hostages come home to their loved ones. 

So, there’s a lot of work to be done.  We’re going to continue to do that work.  But I think that statement made it loud and clear — made it loud and clear where the President stands. 

Go ahead, Karen.

QThanks.  Just to go back to bird flu.  Two questions on that.  Has the President been briefed on the cases that have been identified so far?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President has been briefed.  Yes.

Q Okay.  And in your answer earlier, you had focused on the health aspect of it.  But the nation’s largest producer of eggs has temporarily stopped production at plants in Texas and Michigan because some chickens had tested positive.  What are the concerns about supply chain issues and price increases?  And is there something the administration can be doing or should be doing right now to limit the potential impact on economic activity?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, obviously, any economic impact is something that we closely monitor.  So, we’re going to closely track that, closely monitor the — monitor that.

As it relates to that particular company, I would refer you to CDC on exactly what they’re doing and — and what ha- — what is happening there specifically. 

But we’re always going to assess.  (Reporter sneezes.)  We’re always going to keep a — keep — God bless you — we’re always going to monitor — monitor the economic impacts of any — any big changes like that or any changes like that. 

But, obviously, one of the most important thing for this administration is the health and safety of American public, and so that’s how — we take that very seriously.  That’s how we’re going to operate.  That is the number-one thing here.  And CDC is — is been working with rele- — relevant agencies to make sure that we — we keep the American public protected here.

AIDE:  Karine, you got to go soon.


AIDE:  You need to go soon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, my goodness. 

Go ahead.

Q Thank you.  First, the — so, you guys started draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try and help with the Putin price hike a few years ago, said you were going to refill it, but now it doesn’t seem like that’s happening.  Why?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, from — I believe the Department of Energy is — is responsible for — for that particular component — is refilling — refilling that.  So, I would refer you to Department of Energy.  I know there were certain components to that and how they were going to move forward in refilling — refilling it.  I — they would have more specifics on that for you. 

Q Okay.  And why isn’t federal immigration law tougher on border crossers who come here and are accused of serious crimes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, are you speaking of a specific case?

Q There’s the story in New York: an eight-person crew of border crossers found with drugs and guns, six of them now are out on bail.  Does President Biden think policies like that are making the country safer?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to be really careful.  That’s an active case.  So, don’t want to comment on an active case. 

But anyone found guilty — and we’ve been very clear about that — anyone found guilty of a crime should be held accountable.  We have been very, very clear about that.  And if a — if a person poses a danger to a community, they should be detained pretrial.

 Q So, more generally, then, do you guys think that some big cities in this country have liberal DAs that are too soft on crime?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, what I will say is — and I’m not going to speak to every state or city here; I — it’s not for me to speak to — we have been very clear about this: Anyone who commits a crime and is found guilty needs to be held accountable.  That’s what this Pr- — the President believes. 

And we are certainly very much — we welcome local law enforcement support and cooperation in apprehending and removing individuals in this country who pose a risk to our national security or also public safety. 

 If they are found guilty, they should be held accountable.  That’s our — that’s where we stand on this.

 Q In the back, perhaps.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

 Q Yeah, thanks, Karine.  Two questions.  One is you referred to the President being outraged by the strike on aid workers.  And in the past, the President has also referred to indiscriminate bombing.  I — I’m wondering if you can articulate why, thus far, there has been no consequences and — and why there are no consequences.  So, beyond (inaudible) —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to be clear: It’s — it’s not me referring to that.  This is the President’s statement.  I’m just lifting up the statement from last night —

 Q Yeah, I understand.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — where he says, “I am outraged and heartbroken” — the first — the first, basically, line — part of the first line of the President’s — President’s statement from last night, and it speaks for itself.  And he talked about how — he talked about how there’s more that needs to be done to protect cin- — innocent civilians in Gaza.

 Q But can you articulate why —


 Q– there have been no consequences thus far for any types of behavior that the President has been outraged by?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’ve had — we are having conversations with the Israeli government.  We’ve been very clear about that.  Those conversations have been tough.  We’ve been very public about those conversations. 

 On this particular incident, there will be an investigation.  There is an investigation currently happening.  The President has said he wants it to be swift, he wants it to be comprehensive, and he wants to — there — to see accountability, to bring account — account — right? — to bring accountability.  He said that in his statement.  And he wants to make sure that it is public. 

 So, we’re going to let that process move forward.  And, you know, you said it yourself, the President also has been publicly clear here about what — how he feels about what he has seen. 

 We do not want to see innocent civilians die here.  We do not want that.  And we’re going to continue to be clear and have those conversations, from the President on down, with our counterparts in — in the Israeli government. 

 And those conversations are tough.  Right?  You think about Rafah — the Rafah operations.  We’ve been clear about that, how — where we stand: that a military operations is not the way to go.  There are alternative ways of getting those Hamas operators in of- — in Rafah. 

 That’s why we had a meeting — a virtual meeting on Monday.  That’s why we’re going to have an in-person meeting with the Israeli government. 

The person ta- — the President takes this very seriously.  He wants to make sure that innocent civilian lives are protected, including those humanitarian aid workers who are out there.  And yes, he’s outraged and he’s heartbroken by what happened yesterday. 

 And we’re going to have those conversations with the Israeli government, as we have been.  It’s going to continue.

 Q If I can also go back to something that was asked earlier —


 Q– about the President meeting with any aid workers or anybody who has been inside of Gaza since October 7th.  It is a question I’ve also privately posed to —


 Q– some of your colleagues, and it feels like a yes-or-no question, whether or not he’s actually met with somebody who’s been inside.  And — and the reason I’m asking is a number of people at the meeting said, to their knowledge, this was the first time the President had actually —

 Q– spoken to anybody who’s been inside of Gaza since October 7th, and I just wanted —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We- — well, here’s what I can tell you.

 Q– to confirm that.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He’s met with community leaders who are, obviously, from the Muslim community, the Arab community, Palestinian community.  I would let them speak for themselves on if they’ve been to Gaza. 

 You know, I don’t have any — we don’t have any information to share about that.  We want to be really mindful that the — this meeting and many meetings that we’ve held — had have been private.  We want to respect that. 

 And so, just going to leave it there.  I think what is important, though — like, I understand the question —

 Q I’m saying —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Wait.  No, no, no —

 Q– is he getting updates —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, no, no.

 Q– from, you know, what the situation tangibly looks like?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I — no, I understand.  Right?  I — I get what you’re saying, the — the importance of hearing from folks who have been on the ground in Gaza.  I totally understand that. 

But I think it’s also important that the President is hearing directly from the community — directly from the community who are — some of them are personally affected by what’s happening in Gaza.  Right?

 And so, the fact that senior White House officials are having those conversations — tough conversations is important.  The — the fact that the President has done so as well is important. 

 But I — I hear your question.  But we are also hearing from folks from the community, having these sit-down conversations.

 The community leaders that were here yesterday and met with the President and the Vice President, they asked for a working group conversation, and we listened, and we made that happen.  And the President heard directly from them what they are going through, what they see, how painful it has been for them. 

 So, I think that’s important as well.  We can’t — we can’t not, you know, lift that up as well.

 Go ahead.

 QThank you, Karine.  Just while you’ve been up there, there’s been some reporting that Biden is going to speak to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow.  Can you confirm

— confirm that?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a call to confirm at this time. 

As you know, the President and — and the Prime Minister have spoken several times — more than, I believe, two dozen times — since October 7th.  And — and I’ve said this already: His — both — both administration, both governments talk to each other, their counterparts talk to each other every day.  Just don’t have anything to confirm at this time. 

 Q And on — on Uganda.  A court upheld the anti-LGBTQ law that would mean pri- — prison sentences for people who support gay rights in that country.  I just wanted to see if you have anything from the podium to say about that.  

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, a couple of things.  The announcement that some provisions of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act have been removed by the constitution- — constitutional court is a small and insufficient step towards safeguarding human rights. 

 The United States is deeply concerned about the remaining provisions, which undermine public health, human rights, and Uganda’s international reputation. 

 As the President has said time and time again, no one should have to live in constant fear nor be subjected to violence or discrimination.  It is wrong. 

 We will continue to work to advance respect for human rights for all in Uganda and also around the world. 

 Okay.  I’m going to take a couple more —

 Q I just have one — one question. 

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, sure.

 Q Sorry.


 Q On — just going back to the LNG piece for a moment.


 Q I think, everybody in this room, we have a sense for how the President personally feels about Ukraine and Ukraine funding, and he’s made it abundantly clear over the course of two years. 

 This LNG temporary pause doesn’t have as high of a ho- — pro- — profile.  And can you give any sense for what it is that the President — why he cares so much about it, whether he has shared with you any sort of deep views that he has on this particular very, kind of, targeted policy?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  So, look, the pause on the pending approvals of LNG export, it is important.  It’s — and it is important to understand the climate and economic impacts — that’s why it’s so important, right? — of these LNG exports.  And it — and it is the impacts on consumers — right? — the impacts on communities.  And that’s why w- — the President supports these LNG pauses.

 So, we’re going to continue to meet our LNG needs of our allies.  And the temporary pause does not impact current LNG exports.  But there is some- — by having these pauses, it does tell us something that is important to know.  And so, that’s why the President supports it.

 As it relates to what we’ve been hearing from the Speaker — Speaker Johnson, we’ve been very clear: In order to — if we really want to help the people of Ukraine, the brave people of Ukraine, we got to get that national security supplemental done.  He has to put that on the floor.  It will get overwhelming bipartisan support.  We know that to be true.  That’s how we can help the people of Ukraine.

 Q I guess what I’m trying to say: Is the Pr- —


 Q Is the President personally invested in this ban — or this temporary pause the way he is —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, abs- — I mean, look, when we talk about the existential threat of climate, this is something that the President has said it is — it is incredibly important to deal with this emergency.  And he has done more — taken more robust action than any other president.  This is part of this.  Right?

 And so, the President has been — not just talked about it but has taken action.  So, I would look at this as part of the action that he’s taken to deal with climate — the climate crisis.  And, you know, it is a — it is indeed a crisis.

 When he walked into this administration, he talked about four crises that we had to deal with as — as Americans.  And climate change is not just as Americans, as a world.

 And so, climate crisis was one of them.  And he’s taken action, and he’s going to continue to do that.  And he’s been robust.  He’s — it’s been comprehensive — more than any — any other president.

 Q This just serves as, like, a smaller piece to that —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But it’s —

 Q– larger —

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s a — I would — I would put it together in that larger piece.  Yes, it’s a smaller piece of the — of, obviously, the — the larger initiative of what we’re trying to do, but it’s also critical.  It’s important. 

 And, look, the reports that are out there, as it relates to Speaker Johnson, they are not true.  We know how — the best way to get assistance for Ukraine is to pass that national security supplemental.  That’s what we want to see.  It’ll — it’ll get done in an — overwhelmingly in a bipartisan way.

 Go ahead.

 AIDE:  Karine, (inaudible).

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know, I know.  Go ahead.  I got to go.

 Q Thanks, Karine.  On the World Central Kitchen strike.  I mean, is there concern that this complicates the temporary pier project that — you know, does it make this effort more challenging?

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The pier? 

 Q Mm-hmm.

 MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the Department of Defense will have more — an update on the pier.  We’re going to continue to move forward with that. 

 Look, the President — when the President said he’s going to do everything that he can to get that important humanitarian aid into — into Gaza, in to — to the people — the Palestinian people, innocent civilians here, he meant it. 

 And so, you’ve seen us do the — the airplane drops.  You- — we’re — in a couple of weeks, it’s going to be — we’re going to have that temporary pier.  We’re going to continue to work with Israel to get those trucks in.

 We understand the dire situation that is currently happening in — in Gaza, and we are going to do everything that we can to get that aid in.  This is why the hostage deal is so important.  This is why we’ve been working 24/7 to get that done — get that humanitarian aid, get that ceasefire, and get American — American hostages as well as all hostages home to their loved ones.

 I have to go, but we will see you tomorrow, guys.  Thank you so much.

 Q Thanks, Karine.

 Q Thank you.

   1:36 P.M. EDT

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