Aboard Air Force One
En Route Charlotte, North Carolina

12:46 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, hi, everybody. I just got — I just got a couple things at the top, and then I’ll hand it over to the Administrator.

So, as you all know, we’re on our way to Charlotte, where the President will meet with the families of the law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty as well as those who were wounded. As the President said, these are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to rush into harm’s way to protect us.

We mourn for the fallen heroes and their loved ones. And we pray for the recoveries of the courageous officers who were wounded.

As you’ve heard the President say many times, we must do more to protect our law enforcement officers. That means providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe, and it means taking additional action to combat gun violence and prevent future tragedies.

Afterwards, we will — we will head to Wilmington, North Carolina, where President Biden will announce $3 billion to replace toxic lead pipes and deliver clean drinking water to communities across the country. That investment includes $76 million from the President’s Bi- — Bipartisan Infer- — Infrastructure Law for the lead pipe replacement across North Carolina.

President Biden believes that every American should be able to turn on the tap and — and drink clean and safe water. Today’s announcement is part of the historic $15 billion in dedicated funding for lead pipe replacement provided by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Joining me here is the EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, to talk about today’s trip to his home state and the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing work to ensure every American can access clean, safe water.

Administrator, over to you.


Listen, really excited to join the President today for this big announcement. As you all know, this is the third installment of five. We are giving out or investing into grants that will amount to $15 billion in total. This is the third year, so the President has already put out $9 billion to erase these lead service lines in our country.

It’s a really big step. We all know that there is absolutely no safe level of lead in our drinking water. It has tremendous disadvantages and impacts on our children and our elderly, especially.

And so, today is a really good day to make this announcement. And glad to be joining the President.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Go ahead.

Q Yeah, Karine. So, the President last night talked about Japan or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Can you just ask the Administra- — anybody — any questions for the Administrator?

Q I got one.

Q Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, and then — and then I’ll take — and then I’ll take.

Q Okay. Thank you, thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Go ahead.

Q How long is it going to take to get all the lead pipes out of the country?

ADMINISTRATOR REGAN: Well, you know, the President has pledged that we will have 100 percent lead pipe removal within a 10-year period. We believe that with this $15 billion we’re investing, plus the regulatory action we’re taking at EPA, in addition to the training that we’re providing to municipalities and the technical assistance, we believe that we can get 100 percent lead pipe removal done within a 10-year window in this country.

Q Do you have a percentage of where you are right now to that 100 percent?

ADMINISTRATOR REGAN: Well, we’re still gathering a lot of intel. Part of these billions of dollars is to help ensure that we know exactly where all the lead pipes are.

We’ve seen those numbers grow. We’ve seen those numbers change over the past three years. As the states refine those numbers and get us that data, we will have a better understanding of where we are and how much further we have to go.

Q So, yeah —

Q Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Administrator. Thank you so much.


Q So, yeah, thank you, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No worries. No worries.

Q So, the — the President last night described Japan as “xenophobic” along with China and Russia. Was that intentional? And does — does the President want to apologize to Japan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think the broader — the broader — the broader case that he was trying to make, which I think most — most leaders and allies across the globe understand, is he’s — he was trying — he was saying that when it comes to — when it comes to — when it comes to who we are as a nation, we are a nation of — of immigrants. That is in our DNA.

And — and so — and you’ve heard the President say this, and you’ve heard us say it more as an administration. It’s in — it makes us better. We are stronger for it because of the fact that in our DNA we are a nation of immigrants. And I think that’s probably very important to note as well. And that’s what he was —

Q The President —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — the broader sense he was trying to make.

Q The President said today that, “There are always those who rush in to score political points. This isn’t a moment for politics.” Did he feel political pressure to speak out now? And it’s notable that he’s doing it after Donald Trump has started to ramp up his criticism of how the President has responded to these campus protests. Why did it take him so long to make this —


Q — remarks today?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I want to be careful because you asked me about Donald Trump, who’s also — of course, the former President, but also a candidate in this — in this presidential cycle for — for the other side, obviously. And so, I want to be really, really mindful.

But the President, when it comes to something like this, he doesn’t need to follow anyone or follow someone else. We’ve been really consistent, I believe, in stating that when it comes to — to violence, violence is not protected. As you heard from the President, there’s no place for violence.

We believe Americans — all Americans have the right to peacefully protest, and — and that’s important, just as long as within the law. And so, the President wanted to make sure — once again, he has spoken multiple times about that, calling out hateful rhetoric — in this case, calling out antisemitism. That is, indeed, hateful rhetoric.

And we’re going to continue to do that as an administration. We’ve done that. We’ve done that the last three years. It has nothing to do with anybody — following anyone’s lead. The President, if anything, has been a leader on this.

And so, you’ve heard directly from the President, and you just laid out something that he said — right? — which is, you know, violence is not protected. We are not an authoritarian nation. And — and he wanted to make sure that his voice, once again, was very clear on that.

Q I want to try one more time on —


Q — on Japan.


Q You know, he made the comments last night lumping them in with China and Russia, calling them “xenophobic.” He’s opposed this Nippon Steel acquisition of U.S. Steel. The U.S. has initiated a national security review of that transaction. It’s something that’s typically reserved for U.S. adversaries.

Is there a concern that he is pushing a key U.S. ally in a region and a key bulwark against China away from the U.S.? Is there concern that that relationship is being harmed by these off-the-cuff remarks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. I mean, he was making a broader point, as I was saying earlier, when I was answering Karen’s question about this country. And our allies and partners know very well that — how much this president respects them. As you know, in regards to Japan, they were just here for the state visit. That U.S.-Japan relationship is — is an important relationship. It’s a deep, enduring — enduring alliance.

And — and so, we’re — certainly, we — we share a commitment to democratic values and strong bounds of friendship between our — our peoples. And this was evidenced by, like, as I just said, with the recent — recent state dinner visit.

And so, he was making a more broad comment, speaking about this country and speaking about how important it is to be a country of immigrants and how it makes our country stronger. And so, that’s what he was talking about.

As it relates to our relationship with our allies, that continues. Obviously, we have a strong relationship with — with — with India, with — with Japan. And the President, if you just look at the last three years, has certainly — certainly has focused on that diplomatic — those diplomatic relationships.

Q And yet, Karine —

Q Karine —


Q — the word “xenophobic” is a very pejorative and negative word, particularly to use against an ally. Is that what he meant?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, he — I think he was — I think — look, the President was very clear. And I think — I —

Q He wasn’t very clear.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well — well —

Q I mean, that’s why we’re asking you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, no, I — well, look, here’s what I’m saying. He was talking about what — who we are as a country. Right? He was talking about the importance about being in a country of immigrants, especially as you see the attacks that we have seen very recently, in the last couple of years, on — those attacks on immigrants, in particular.

And so, it is important for us to remember that we are a country of immigrants. I’m explaining where he’s — what he — what he was talking about and how he was — what he was focusing on in those comments: country of immigrants, it makes us stronger, it is important to let — to — to be very clear about that.

And the President is always going to be really clear on — on — on speaking to, you know, issues that matter to the American people. We are a country of immigrants. That matters. And we’ve seen these attacks. And so, the — the President is never going to shy away from that.

Go ahead, Michael.

Q Karine, would he phrase it again the same way? Would he phrase it again the same way?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, that is up to the President. You know, he is — he is — he is the President. Whatever — however he sees a message — wanting to share a message to the American people, he will do so. And so, I can’t speak to — I can’t speak to that.

But go ahead, Michael.

Q The U.S. frequently condemns crackdown on — crackdowns on protests in other countries, whether it’s China, Iran, Hong Kong. Can you help us understand why you see those crackdowns differently than what is happening here in the U.S. where the police are arresting protestors?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You said that we have cracked down on protests?

Q No, no. The U.S. has condemned other countries.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, I — look, I — we have seen other countries protests, and we’ve always said it is the right for — for citizens to protest. I mean, I — you know, I think — I don’t — I don’t think that we have gone as far. I would have to see the example of what you’re — you’re using in asking me this question.

What I can speak to is what we’ve been very consistent about. Right? You heard the President said it is our right to peacefully assemble. It is a right — it is part of what makes us a country of freedom. Right? We are — you know, which is really important. But it has to be peaceful. It has to be peaceful. It has to be within the law.

And we will continue to say that Americans have the right to peacefully protest. Violence is not protected. We are not an authoritarian nation. That’s what you heard from the President. And so, as long as it’s done in a peaceful way within the law, we’re always going to support that.

Q Karine, Donald Trump said that by admitting refugees from Gaza, the President seems determined to create the conditions for an October 7th-style attack in the U.S. What’s the White House response to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, all you have to do — I’m going to be mindful. Again, he is a presidential candidate — he, being Donald Trump — and I cannot speak to — speak to anything that’s related to 2024.

I mean, look, what I’ll say more broadly, you have seen this President’s commitment after what we saw on October 7th, what we saw Hamas — a terrorist organization — do. You know, we saw more than 1,200 people who were murdered and killed by this terrorist organization, and the President stepped in and offered assistance to our friends, obviously, in Israel.

And — and we have always said that we are committed to Israel’s security. It is ironclad. You saw that, again, when you saw Iran launch missiles and drones attacking Israel. And we’ve been really committed to making sure that, again, Israel’s security is — is ironclad, as it relates to our relationship.

And so, I — you know, I obviously disagree with that statement, but also need to be super, super mindful of — of how we speak to this.

Look, and you know — we say this: The — the President has a long couple-of-decades relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu. They have — they have spoken more than — more than I be- — almost — almost more than a dozen times — almost less — right under 20. And so, that relationship continues. Certainly, that commitment continues.

And, look, what we’re trying to do right now is get a hostage deal so that we can get to a ceasefire, so that we can get these hostages home, and so that we can get that humanitarian aid into Gaza, to the people of Gaza who truly need it. We need to make sure that we create an en- — an en- — we create an environment where we get more humanitarian aid in and we get to a ceasefire.

And we’ve also said — the President has been very consistent about this: He wants to see a two-state solution. We’re — actually have a plan. We’re actually trying to execute a plan, and the President is doing that through diplomacy.

Q But the accusation that the U.S. could be less safe if there were refugees brought into the United States —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, this goes —

Q — what is the White House response?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — this goes back — I mean, this goes back to the first question — right? — where I was saying that this is a country of immigrants. This is what is — makes us stronger, right? And I think that’s really important.

And as we — you know, I don’t have any announcement to make on refugees. I was asked about Palestinian refugees, specifically, yesterday. Don’t have an announcement. We’re always looking at every option.

I mentioned that there were 1,800 Americans — American citizens, Palestinian Americans that we tried to certainly get home or come — come to the States after October 7th. We were trying to make sure that we got that done, and we’ve been successful in many ways.

And, look, you know, as it relates to vetting and making sure that we are vetting folks who are coming to do that, that is something that we take very, very seriously.

But to — to make such a broad statement, we got to be really mindful. I also have to be, you know, really mindful in how I answer that question.

Q Karine, the former President said in an interview published yesterday that it was — he wasn’t sure that he would honor the result of the 2024 election. What’s your response to that? And what steps is the administration taking to ensure that the election results are counted accurately and certified at the end of the process, no matter who wins?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, again, got to follow the law. Got to be really careful not to comment on the campaign from here.

President Biden is committed to the rule of law and protecting American democracy. The dangerous election denial conspiracy theories fanned — fanned by figured — figured [figures] on the right cost brave law enforcement officers their lives. We saw that on — on January 6th of 2021. There is no place for attacking our Constitution and putting our fellow Americans in danger. There is no place for putting — putting yourself above your entire country.

Like President Biden has previously committed, he will accept the will of the American people. That is a commitment from the President.

Again, I’ve got to be super mindful responding to this.

Q Karine, do we have any updates on the hosta- — hostage negotiations? It seems like the President has been optimistic that you’re getting close in the last couple days.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we — you saw Secretary Blinken in the region. He has met with regional partners there.

You’ve heard from us how it’s important for Hamas to take the deal. There’s a deal on the table; they need to take it. I just went through how important it is to get that hostage deal that would lead to a ceasefire, that would get more humanitarian aid, that would get those — those hostages home. Let’s not forget, there are American hostages that are — that are still being held by Hamas, and we need to get them home to their loved ones.

We’re going to continue to be optimistic. Those diplomatic conversations are going to continue. I don’t have anything else to share.

But Hamas — it’s on the table. It is [on] Hamas to take that deal. It is on the table.

Q Karine, what is —


Q — the administration’s position on the antisemitism bill that passed the House yesterday? Some — sorry — some lawmakers expressed concerns that, you know, it could infringe on free speech. I’m just wondering if that’s a concern of the administration. Would the President sign it —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look —

Q — if it gets to his desk?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — and I said this before, Joe Biden has — you know, has been — has fought antisemitism his whole entire life. Fighting back against the abhorrent poison of antisemitism is what motivated him to run for president after what he saw — the vile antisemitism that we saw in — on the streets of Charlottesville in Virginia. He became the first president to ever create and implement a National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

So, he welcomes congressional action in this fight. And so, we understand there are several bills being discussed, and so we’re going to be careful on weighing in on — here. But obviously, he welcomes — he welcomes the effort that’s being taken at this moment.

Q Karine, could you speak to the timing of the President’s remarks today? You know, why wait until after police had moved in — in New York and California and arrested all these protesters?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look — look, you’ve heard from the President. I think that’s important to note. He was very clear, and he basically re- — has reiter- — -iterated everything that we have said, everything that he has said since day one. And violence should be — any type of violent rhetoric or violence should be called out. Any form of hate — in this case, antisemitism; that is a form of hate — should be called out. We’ve been very consistent here.

And Americans have the right to peacefully protest as long as it’s within the law, and violence is not protected.

And so, I think you’ve heard — this is not the first time that you’ve heard the President speak to this. And so, he’ll continue to do so. We will continue to do so as an administration. We —


MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have to sit down. Thanks.

Q Because I asked yesterday, has there been any follow-up or a- — not follow-up — has there been any outreach from the White House to any of the campuses — administrators, leaders on these campuses?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to read out at this time.

But thank you, guys.

Q Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. I’ll see you on the ground.

1:03 P.M. EDT

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