James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:52 P.M. EDT

Q    Oh, my goodness.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, my goodness.  I wonder why.

Good afternoon, everybody.  

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Happy Friday.  Don’t say things don’t get exciting in here sometimes.  

I really — there’s no introduction that really is needed here.  I have a special guest, as you can see.  Mark Hamill has decided to join us on this wonderful Friday, and I am really excited to turn it over to Mr. Hamill.  
Here you go.  

MR. HAMILL:  Just for — okay.  How many of you had “Mark Hamill will lead the press briefing” on your bingo card?  Hands?  (Laughter.)  Yeah, me either.  

And look, I just got to meet the President.  He gave me these aviator glasses to me.

Q    What a treasure.

MR. HAMILL:  I love the merch.  Love it all.  

But listen, I just wanted to say I was honored to be asked to come to the White House to meet the President — the most legislatively successful president in my lifetime.  And, you know, I don’t have to go through the list — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the PACT Act, the CHIPS Act, all of that — Inflation.  Fifteen million jobs.  Look, it’s all good.  

I mean, I was really thrilled to meet the entire staff because you know it’s not just one person.  It’s like a composite endeavor.  And all these people — my goodness.  You know, I mean, I have no idea — I had no idea just what went into what is on his plate on a daily basis.  

So, that’s pretty much it.  I’m open to questions, although no “Star Wars” questions, please.  (Laughter.)  

But I want to say once again how grateful I am.  And it just shows you that one person can be so influential and so positive in our lives.  And again, thank you so much.  

And, Peter Baker, I loved your book.  



Q    Thank you, Mark Hamill, for being here.  What did you ask — what did you talk about with the President? 

MR. HAMILL:  Well, first of all, I only expected to be there for like five minutes.  He showed us all these photographs.  And, you know, it was really amazing to me because, you know, I was — I was invited to the Carter White House, and I came.  And then I came to the Obama White House, but I never was invited into the Oval Office.  And it was a large gathering.  So, this one was really extra special.  

Q    All right, sir.

MR. HAMILL:  So — yes. 

Q    Did President Biden bring up “Star Wars,” too, sir?

MR. HAMMILL:  Well, you know, I called him “Mr. President.”  He said, “You can call me ‘Joe.’”  And I said, “Can I call you ‘Joe-bi-Wan Kenobi’?”  (Laughter.)  He liked that.  

But listen, I’m not really here to dominate.  I have to turn it back over to our wonderful press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.  So, thank you all so much.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you.

MR. HAMILL:  All right, thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you.

MR. HAMILL:  Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you so much for being here.  I got to get those shades.  

Q    Tell him (inaudible) only hope.

Q    (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you, guys.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

No one ever claps for me when I get off the podium.  (Laughter.)  Just saying.

Q    (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know.  The unexpected — expect the unexpected.  

I don’t even know where to go from there, but I do have — now I feel very by myself.  Let’s let the team come in.  (Laughter.)  Thank you.  Thank you, Sam, for joining.

MR. MICHEL:  Sure.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Okay.  

I do have a couple of things before we get into — turn — turn it into some serious business and take your questions.  Thank you so much for indulging us today.  We thought that might be a nice thing to do for you all to see Mark Hamill, as he was here, as you just heard, visiting from — with the President — President Biden — President here today.  

So, today marks World Press Freedom Day, an occasion that highlights the importance of a free press, both of our democracy here in the United States and for our societies around the world.  

From exposing corruption and human rights abuses to covering communities and conflicts the world over, gen- — journalists risk their lives every day in the pursuit of truth — in the pursuit of truth.  

In a statement this morning, President Biden reaffirmed his commitment to support and take action in defense of media freedom.  The Biden-Harris administration has already launched a robust government-wide campaign and built a coalition of countries to counter the proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware which has been misused against journalists and continues to provide legal and other support for media who face persecution around the world.  

The President also called again for the immediate, unconditional release of all journalists who have been detained around the world, including the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkowi- — Gershkovich, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva, and of course Austin Tice in Syria.  

In the coming weeks, the President will take executive action in response to the global crackdown on press freedom, declare it a grave threat to national security, and authorize measures, including sanctions and visas bans, against those who attempt to silence the press.  

The United States stands by media around the world and will continue to do our part to support their important work.  

Today, we also have another important day event happening later today.  The President — President Biden is naming 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States; world peace; or other significant societal, public, or private endeavors.  

We’re honored to have these individuals or members of their families come to the White House today to celebrate their service.  

President Biden often says there is no- — nothing beyond our capacity when we act together.  These 19 Americans consistently demonstrated over their careers the power of community, hard work, and service.  

Finally, this morning, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona sent a letter to schools addressing the sharp rise in antisemitic hate on college campuses.  His letter made clear to schools that not only is antisemitism abhorrent and unacceptable, it is also discrimination prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Secretary Cardona reminded schools that the Department of Education provides a number of resources — including trainings, technical assistance — to ensure that school environments are free of discrimination.  

His letter comes one day after President Biden spoke to this very subject.  As you all know, Americans have a right to free speech and peacefully protest.  But — but breaking into buildings, destroying property, and shutting down campuses is not peaceful protest.  There is also no place on ca- — college campuses or in America for antisemitism.  

This administration will continue to defend free speech while standing up for the rule of law.

And, Josh, good to see you.

Q    Good to see you, Karine.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.

Q    May the Force be with you.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  May the Force be with you, or, tomorrow, the 4th be with you — however you want to look at it.  (Laughs.)

Q    Let’s hope we’ve killed off the “Star Wars” jokes for the rest of the briefing.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I doubt it.  I feel like there’s more to come in.

Q    So, three subjects.


Q    First, a top orthopedic surgeon at Shifa has apparently died in Israeli custody.  He was 50 years old.  If medical personnel are not going to be exempt from the war, how can Gazans hope to have any medical care?  And what can you say to other doctors working in that area?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And so, look, that is devastating news and devastating to hear.  And our hearts go out to friends and families — his friend and families.  That is certainly one of the hardest news that you can hear — a family member can hear, especially as someone is providing care in this — in this situation in Gaza, where we know humanitarian aid is dire and the innocent people of Gaza, the Palestinian citizens, obviously need that care.  They need that assistance.  So, it is obviously devastating to hear.  

And the President has said, and has said very clearly, that when it comes to people who are citizens who are in Gaza providing that all-important care — humanitarian aid, humanitarian care — they need to be protected.  They should be protected.  And so, certainly, those conversations are going to continue.  

We — we believe that, certainly, Israel has made — the Israeli government has taken efforts to do just that and has taken into account our concerns.  And so, we’re going to continue to have those conversations.  

But it is heartbreaking to hear.  I can’t speak specifically to that case and what occurred.  Obviously, someone’s life was lost.  And we have to be, certainly, mindful.  And we’re — at this time, I can offer my condolences.  And we want to make sure innocent lives — innocent civilians of — people who are, certainly, offering that humanitarian aid, their — their lives are protected as they’re doing so.

Q    Secondly, what can you say about reports that Israel has briefed the administration on its efforts to evacuate civilians before a Rafah invasion?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I can say this — and we — we’ve been pretty clear.  We haven’t seen a comprehensive plan — a plan as it relates to their thinking on the Rafah operations.  We have been also clear that — of our concerns of a maj- — any major operations — military operations into Rafah.  

We have said, and you all have heard us say, there’s more than a million Palestinian civilians living in — n- — well, seeking refuge in — in Rafah.  And we want to make sure that they are — their — their lives are protected.  

And so, that is important.  And we want to s- — we want to continue to have the conversations that we’ve been having with the Israeli government.  

As you know, it’s been — those conversations have been led by the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan.  He was just here last week, as you all know, as well.  And so, we had two virtual — virtual conversations.  We’re hoping to have one in person.  We want those conversations to continue.  

We believe that they are going to take — Israel government is going to take our concerns into account.  But we have not seen a plan — a comprehensive plan.  And we want to make sure that those conversations continue, because it is important to protect those Palestinian lives, those innocent lives, those more than a million citizens who are seeking refuge in Gaza — in — in that part of Gaza — in Rafah.

Q    And — and then, lastly, on campus protests.  The President has drawn the line at violence, but he said he’s not bringing in the National Guard.  Does he think the police presence deters violence or exacerbates it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just to be very clear about the National Guard: That is something that governors decide on.  That is a decision for them to make, when it comes to the National Guard.  And so, I want to just reiterate that again from here.

And, look, we have always been very clear.  When it comes to police presence on college and universities, that is certainly something that — that universities and colleges have to make a decision on.  That is something that they decide what is right to — how — right to — to move forward on their campuses and colleges.  

And we understand — we understand how painful this moment is.  We — you’ve heard me say it: It is a incredibly charged time.  It is a charged environment.  And it is very difficult, because of that charged environment, for law enforcement.  

We also believe and it is important that all Americans can peacefully protest within the law.  They have to be able to do that.  It is — you heard from the President.  It is — it is part of our fundamental American principles, part of our — or what make America’s freedom — right? — to be able to — to protest peacefully in this country.

And it is also important, which is the second part that the President talked about yesterday — is the rule of law.  We have to follow the rule of law.  Violence is not protected here.

But Americans have the right to peacefully — peacefully protest within the law.  And we’re going to be very consistent here.  

And as I said, these are incredibly pain- — incredibly painful time.  And it is very charged moment.  And we understand how difficult that could be.  

And so, I’ll just leave it there.  

Is that your three topics?

Q    Yes.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  All right.  Go ahead, Selina.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  So, you say that you haven’t seen a comprehensive plan for Rafah, but I am told by a U.S. official that the U.S. has been briefed on some sort of initial plan.  So, can you just tell us what the reaction was —


Q    — to Israeli counterparts about that initial brief?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to be super mindful.  These pri- — these conversations are — you know, these are diplomatic conversations.  We don’t read out in details, in specifics on — on the conversations that we have with our — with — certainly with all of our counterparts here.

The last time there was a virtual meeting, we did have a readout there.  But I don’t want to go into details.

We have been very clear, in public and in private, that our concerns with a — with a large military operation into Rafah — we do not — we’re not in support of that.  

And so, obviously, there’s been conversations.  There’s been two virtual-led conversation led by the National Security Advisor on this particular topic, Rafah operations.  We read out to all of you the last time that the President spoke with the Prime Minister of Israel, Rafah operations came up in that conversations.  

We’re not going to go into details from here.  But I think we’ve made ourselves very clear.  There are more than 1.1 — 1.5 million Palestinians who are seeking refuge there.  And so, we believe those lives need to be protected.  And we’re going to continue to have those conversations.

Q    So, to be clear, the U.S. was not satisfied with whatever — 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not —

Q    — the U.S. was briefed on in this initial plan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just — I’m not going to go into details or specifics from here.  We’ve been clear about our concerns.  We’re going to continue to be clear about our concerns here.  Those conversations are going to continue.  And I’m just going to leave it there.  

Q    And just switching gears a little bit.  


Q    A new ABC News/Ipsos poll found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans say the U.S. is doing too much to support Israel.  That’s up from about 3 in 10 in January.  So, it is showing that support for Israel is declining as the war drags on.  Is the President concerned about this? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to go into every poll that comes out.  That’s for political pundits to do.  I used to be one.  I’m not one anymore, standing here at this podium.  

But what I can say is that we saw what happened on October 7th.  We heard from Hamas, a terrorist organization, what they said that they would do.  A leader from that organization said they want to see October 7th happen again and again and again.

More than 1,200 souls were taken on that day.  Two hundred — more than two hundred Israelis, including some American hostages, were taken by Hamas.  And, as you know, we are working very hard to get that hostage deal so that we can bring hostages home, including those American hostages, create a situation where we have a ceasefire — right? — so more humanitarian aid can go through.  

That is incredibly important.  We’re doing — we’re working around the clock to get that done.  

You saw Secretary Blinken in the region, meeting with regional partners.  And so, that is certainly a priority and continues to be a priority for us.  

Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad, as I’ve said and we’ve said many times.  They live in a tough neighborhood.  And we saw what Iran did, right?  They tried — they — they launched missiles and drones into Israel.  And it wasn’t just us that stepped in.  It was leaders in the region that stepped in to make sure that they — they were able to defend themselves at that time.  

And so, we want to get that hostage deal.  That’s what we want to see.  We want to make sure that — that innocent Palestinian lives are protected.  That’s why we’re looking into the Rafah operations and having those conversations.

But getting that hostage deal is so critical to bring hostages home, to get that humanitarian — more humanitarian aid in and to have a ceasefire.  And we are committed to doing that.  And you see that from this President.

Go ahead.  

Q    Thank you, Karine.  You said that the U.S. has been clear about concerns about invading Rafah.  Has it been clear about potential consequences if Israel moves forward?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m not going to go into — I’m not going to go into speculations or what consequences might be.  Our co- — we’ve made our concerns publicly and privately to the Israeli government.  

I just mentioned the — the President had a conversation with the Prime Minister in his last — in his last call with him and Rafah operations came up.  

I’m not going to go into specifics.  I’m not going to go into details.  

We have been very clear.  There are 1.5 million Palestinians who have — who are seeking refuge in — in Rafah, and we want to make sure those lives are protected, understanding that Israel needs to also defend itself and having those Hamas operators there — we understand that they want to dismantle Hamas, and I understand that — we understand that is a priority, obviously.  And we are — we are — we — we certainly appreciate that.  

We also want to make sure that those 1.5 million lives — Palestinian lives who are seeking refuge there are protected.  And we believe there’s a way to do that.  And we’re going to have those conversations.  

I’m not going to get into specifics from here.  

Q    Okay.  We have learned that the King of Jordan is meeting with President Biden here at the White House next week.  Can you share any details and talk about what’s on the agenda?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I can confirm the King — that King Abdullah of Jordan will participate in a private meeting with President Biden at the White House next week while he is in town.  I don’t have any more details for you at this time.  

Certainly, we will pr- — we will provide a readout when that — when that occurs.  But I can confirm that that meeting is indeed happening next week.  

Q    And then, just to close the loop.  What was Mark Hamill doing here today?  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I think he said.  He said he was meeting with — he was having a meeting — did you not like having him here?

Q    No, I mean, that’s not — (laughter) —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I was like —

Q    — we all loved seeing him —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It sounded —

Q    — but —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It sounded — it sounded very — kind of like, “Why?  Why here?”

Q    Well —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, he said it himself.  I — we — we wanted to make sure that he provided — which is one of the reasons he spoke to why he was here himself.  He wanted to meet with the President.  They had a meeting.  And —

Q    But about what?  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, he — I mean, you guys asked him questions.  (Laughs.)  

They had a meeting about what the President has been able to do on behalf of the American people.  Mark Hamill was in town.  They met.  I think it was — it was important.  

As someone — you all — you all know Mark Hamill.  He is someone who has — who is very much invested in our country, very much invested in — in the direction of this country.  And so, they had a — you know, they had a meeting.  

It was — he ex- — he went into that meeting — and I thought — we thought it would be fun for him to come out here and lighten up — lighten up the room a little bit on a Friday.  We also believe that you guys are s- — there’s some “Star Wars” fans in here.  

But, you know, the President — I mean, the President meets with a lot of people.  There’s a lot of people that come through the White House that the President has an opportunity to sit down and talk with.  You just happened to — you just happened to see Mark Hamill today because we thought it would be a nice gesture to have him come out and say hello.  

But I wouldn’t put to m- — I really wouldn’t put too much into it.  He meets —

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — with a lot of people here.  

Q    Thank you.  


All right.  Geez.  Weijia is not happy about Mark Hamill being here.  (Laughter.)  That’s okay.  I’m not going to tell him.  He’s not watching, probably.  I won’t tell him.

Q    I don’t — I haven’t seen —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Do you not —

Q    — the movies.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Do you not like “Star Wars”?

Q    I will — I —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You have not seen “Star Wars”?

Q    I will now.  I will now.

Q    Booo — 

Q    I know.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s why that happened, folks.  That’s why I got the question.  (Laughter.)

Q    I’m going to watch.  I’m going to watch.

Q    She’s not alone.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, there’s more.

Q    What?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Wow.  All right.  I’m going to let that go.  Let’s continue.

Q    Weijia, we have to talk after this.  I have stories.

Q    For the record, I (inaudible).

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, thank you, Gabe.  All right.  Thank you, Gabe.  We thought — it’s Friday, y’all.  It’s Friday.  A little bit of — you know, a little bit of fun — “Star Wars” fun.

Go ahead, Gabe.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I — 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Let’s transition to what you — what you actually want to talk about.  

Q    Yes, let’s transition.


Q    I want to pick up on what Selina had asked.


Q    Look, I know you said that you don’t want to get into specifics, but just want to make sure we —


Q    — we understand you and we’re clear.  You did say that Israel has not provided a comprehensive plan to invade Rafah.  However, our reporting and reporting of some others —


Q    — has suggested that they have briefed the White House on a plan.  So, what you’re saying — by not saying “comprehensive” —


Q    — you’re saying that you have a plan, but you just don’t think it’s good enough.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can say is that they have certainly — there’s been conversations that have happened over the last two virtual meetings.  And what I can say is we have been clear in our position.  We continue to be clear on our position.  We’ve expressed our concerns with a major ground invasion in Rafah — we’ve been very clear about that — which would have significant risk against civilian casualties and outlined — and outlined an alternative course of action.  We have done that for them: outlined an alternative course of action for Israel to dismantle Hamas.  

So, you can imagine, you know, that there’s been some back-and-forth on that.  And so, you know, we believe Israel will take our concerns on board, they will take our accounts into consideration as they plan their — their next operations.  And so, we’re continuing to have these conversations.  We’ll continue to have those conversations.

Q    Could this be a tactic on the part of Israel to try and pressure Hamas to take the deal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is — that’s literally something for Israel to speak to.  I cannot — I cannot speak to their tactics.  I cannot speak to their plan.  

I will say and reiterate that — that we are working very hard to get a hostage deal, obviously.  And actually, what I will say is that Hamas has that deal.  That is on the table.  They need to take that deal.  

And — and you’ve seen us — you’ve seen us be very clear about that.  You’ve heard from the Secretary Blinken this week.  

And so, we need that hostage deal so that we can — that could lead us to a ceasefire that can get those hostages home, including American hostages.  And so, we think it’s important to get that done.  

But there is a — there is a hostage deal.  It’s on the table.  Hamas needs to take it.

Q    On a separate topic — well, sort of a similar topic.  


Q    But one of the recipients today of the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be Congressman Jim Clyburn.  He had some comments earlier today where he agreed with Senator Bernie Sanders’s assertion that the Israel-Hamas war is President — could be President Biden’s Vietnam.  What’s your response to that? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, a couple of things.  I want to be super careful because that’s kind of leading into a campaign space, so I want to be really mindful on how — what I say.  And a couple of things that, you know, I did think through on those — on this — knowing we’d probably get this potential question.  

Look, Joe Biden ended the longest war in American history and just succeeded in convincing both parties in Congress to make crucial investments in our national security in Ukraine to help ensure we won’t be drawn into conflict in Europe.  And that is the President’s leadership that you have seen.  Right?  And that is one of the reasons he’s been able to bring NATO together in a way that we have not seen before.  

And — and obviously, one of the reasons we had to do that is because we had to make sure that Putin didn’t succeed.  He didn’t succeed.  And — and so, the President has been taking action, obviously, on that for the past more than two years.  

You heard him say yesterday — he reiterated values that being — that being us, together, we have the right to dissent, right?  But it must be peaceful.  It must be peaceful.  And antisemitimi- — and antisemitism is horrid.  It is — it is — it is hate speech, and we should treat it as hate speech.  

And there is overwhelming support for his agenda, whether it’s having, you know, rich special interests pay their fair share — if you think about what the President has been fighting for, especially dealing with Congress, making sure that the billionaires and corporations pay their fair share and making sure that we’re building an economy that helps everyone, that doesn’t leave anyone behind.  

And so, we’ve — you’ve heard him talk about that — beating Big Pharma, lowering healthcare costs, making sure that we move forward with his student debt relief.  

And so, those are things that the President — and those agendas are incredibly popular.  And so, he’s going to continue to do that work.  

And obviously, Congressman Clyburn is someone that he truly respects — we all respect.  And — and so, just, you know, want to — want to be mindful because it’s connected to — connected to a campaign-related question.

But this is a president who has taken action to make sure that he does everything, you know, on behalf of — that’s right, whether it’s national security or moving forward with domestic policies that the American people want us to move forward on.  

Q    So, the White House disagrees with that characterization.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I think I just laid out what we believe we have been able to accomplish here in the more than three years in this administration.  I think they have their opinions, and they’re allowed to their opinions.  And — and we respect — we respect what — their opinions on this.

Go ahead.

Q    Does the U.S. believe that a Rafah operation is imminent?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s something for Israel to speak to.  What I can say is we’ve made our concerns very clear, publicly and privately.  We’ve had two — two virtual conversations that have been led by the National Security Advisor, as you know, Jake Sullivan.  He was here last week talk- — speaking to this.  

We are going to continue to be very, very clear on where we stand about — on this and our concerns for innocent civilian lives — more than 1 million innocent civilian lives that are now in Rafah that are seeking ref- — refuge there.  

I can’t speak to a timeline.  That is certainly for Israel to speak to.  What we will say is we’ve made our concerns very, very clear.

Q    The deadline for the administration to report to Congress on whether Israel is abiding by international law — that is next Wednesday.  Do you know if the President himself has made a personal decision on that or has a personal view on that at this point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Nothing to read out at this time.

Q    And just on another topic.  The speech that he’s giving on Tuesday for the Holocaust Memorial Museum — can you give us a sense of how he is preparing for that, how the team is preparing for that? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, let me just say a couple of things here.  And you’ve heard us say many times before and we’ll continue to underscore how fighting antisemitism is at the cor- — at the core — at the core of who this President is.

He has — he was moved to run by the grotesque display of antisemitism in Charlottesville, as you all know and covered — some of you covered back in 2017.  

And like I mentioned on Monday, he will deliver the keynote address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum annual Days of Remembrance Cerem- — Ceremony.

During the Days of Remembrance, we remember the — we remember and mourn the 6 million Jews who were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War Two.  

The President will discuss our moral duty to combat the rising scourge of antisemitism and the Biden-Harris administration’s work to implementing the first-ever national strategy counter anti- — antisemitism to make real the promise of never, ever, ever again.  

This is — when it comes to speeches, important, big moments like this, the President obviously takes this very seriously.  He knows that this is going to be an important moment for the country to hear from him.  And I don’t have anything beyond what I just shared.

Q    The — the focus of this speech will obviously be, as you said, the Holocaust survivors, antisemitism.  Given just everything that’s going on, does the President believe that it would be appropriate to also address in the speech the pro-Palestinian protesters and their sentiment?  Or does he believe that that should be —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to be —

Q    — for a different setting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — super mindful.  I’m not going to — I — as I say many times, I’m not going to get ahead of the President.  This speech is, you know, in — in process.  And so, I’m going to let the President think through what exactly that he wants to share with the American people.  

Obviously, as I just stated at the beginning of — of my answer to you, you know, fighting antisemitism is at the core of this President.  And we have seen a rise in antisemitism.  And we want to make sure that we make it very clear that it is hate speech.  It is abhorrent.  And so, certainly, you’ll hear from the President very, very clearly on Tuesday.  And certainly, he’ll share more.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The White House brought on a new border person, Blas Nuñez-Neto.  Wh- — what is it — what is that — is there any — does that give any indications of urgency, speed of the executive order that the President has been considering?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we — we are — we look forward to — to the DHS Assistant Secretary joining the White House and continuing his work in implementing the administration’s vision across the border security and immigration spaces.  

Don’t have anything new to read out on any new announcements.  But look, this is an administration that is committed to fixing the broken immigration system.  On the first day — on his first day of the — of this administration, the first piece of legislation that he put forward was one to — a comprehensive piece of legislation to deal with a broken system, to deal with what we’re seeing with — at the border, the challenges.

And then, we moved forward — when that legislation was not moving forward in Congress, we spoke to — had a two-month negotiation process with senators to come up with a bipartisan proposal.  

And so, that was rejected, as you all know, by Republicans because of the former President stating that this would hurt him and help Joe Biden.  And that is unfortunate.  

We know that this is an issue — when we talk about the immigration system — that majority of Americans care about.  And so —

Q    But what are the steps —


Q    — that he could take?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we believe that the bipartisan border security agreement that came out of the Senate that was rejected — right? — by Republicans because of the former President is the best way to move forward in a comprehensive way.  That’s what we want to see.  

And I’ve sa- — I’ve stated this many times before.  As it relates to any other actions, we’re always going to look at other opportunities, other actions.  We always will.  Don’t have anything to — to speak to — to — to announce at this moment.  

We actually want to see that bipartisan immigration agreement move forward.  That’s what we want to see.  That is going to be the most comprehensive way to deal with a broken immigration system.  

You’ve heard me say this: If it is put into law — signed into law by this President, it would be the toughest and the fairest piece of legisla- — or law that we have seen in some time.  

This system has been broken — the immigration system has been broken for decades — for decades.  And it’s time that we act, and Republicans have an opportunity to do that.  They have an opportunity to do that. 

Go ahead, April.

Q    Karine, there are some very loud voices that are out there asking for President Joe Biden to issue a pardon to Marilyn Mosby, the former Baltimore City state’s attorney, who is waiting for sentencing — could face 40 years for taking her own money out of a retirement account to buy a house.  

And this group — to include Bakari Sellers and Angela Rye — have pulled together a lot of civil rights leaders.  What is the President’s thought about all of this, especially as she was one of those who really was groundbreaking in efforts of policing and accountability?  

And Bakari Sellers says that it looks like political persecution as well as retribution for what she did many years ago in the Freddie Gray case that still has yet to have accountability for his death.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to be really mindful here because that is obviously a Department of Justice process.  And I don’t want to be certainly speaking to any individual pardon request.  That is not something that I — I can do.  DOJ has their process.  Department of Joi- — Justice, as I just mentioned, employs a process that is thorough, that is deliberative — a process to review — when it comes to a process to review executive clemency petitions.  And then individuals, obviously, submit their — their applications there.  There’s an application process.

I want to be super mindful.  I don’t want to speak to, you know, an individual case here.  And so, I’m going to be really mindful.  This is a Department of Justice kind of jurisdiction.  And so, I’m just going to leave it there.

Q    But the President could indeed say, “Yes, I would like to see this happen,” and add his voice to this petition.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, this is — Department of Justice, they go through a process.  It’s very thorough.

Q    Right.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s very deliberative.

I don’t want to speak your — I don’t want to speak to any individual process.  I’ve got to be super mindful here and need to be really careful as DOJ runs — Department of Justice runs this process.  

And so, there’s a application process for individuals.  Certainly, there’s a route for them to go.  

I want to be really, really mindful.  This is not something that I — that we do from here — from this podium, as you can understand. 

Q    Yeah, I —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I — go ahead, April.  Go ahead.

Q    But I mean — I get what you’re saying.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, yeah.

Q    That there’s an application process.  But can the President support — or can the Vice President and the President support the fact, yes, there should be a pardon, even if there is an application process, whether it happens or not?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  As you know, when the President and the Vice President weighs in, that is a — that is, you know —

Q    It tips the scale.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, you just — yeah, you just laid that out.

So, I want to be really careful, because there is a process that the Department of Justice has to go through.  It is thorough and it is deliberative.  And so, we have to let that process go through.  And I don’t want to — it is — I don’t want to speak on that process.  And I just want to be really, really mindful here.

Q    Well, is the President aware of what’s happening in this case?  Because she was one of the — she was one of the — the forefront persons —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No — yeah, I know.  I —

Q    — calling for accountability.  It didn’t happen in Baltimore, but there was a ripple effect with Ahmaud Arbery and —


Q    — and — and Derek Chauvin and those with George Floyd.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I cert- — no —

Q    Is he familiar with this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I certainly know who you’re speaking of.  I have not had an opportunity to speak to the President about this.  So, I can’t — I can’t say if — I can’t say the President’s thoughts on this because I have not spoken to him about it.  

But obviously, it is very well known of what she has done, her — you know, but I don’t want to — I just want to be super mindful.  This is a Department of Justice process.  

As you know, we’re really, really careful from here, from this podium.  We respect that process here.

Q    Thank you.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Russia’s state-controlled energy company posted its first net loss since 1999 yesterday.  Does the White House see that as efforts to isolate Russia working?  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that one more time?  

Q    Yeah, Russia’s state-controlled energy company posted its first net loss yesterday since 1999.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to be —

Q    And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I want to be mindful.  I want to talk to our team about this.  I have not — I don’t have any information for you — to dive into at this time.  

Let me take that and bring it back to the team.

Q    Can I ask another energy question, then — 


Q    — to you?  Does the White House think the FTC made the right decision in approving Exxon’s acquisition of Pioneer, even though the company has been accused of colluding with OPEC?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I’m not going to comment on that either at this time.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The International Court — Criminal Court prosecutor issued a statement today warning against the, quote, “threats” and attempts to intimidate the court over his work.  That comes after reports that both Israel and — and some people — there are some members of Congress that warned of retaliation against the ICC if it charges Israeli officials.  I just wanted to get your reaction to that and, you know —


Q    — as to whether the — you know, the White House would back retaliation against the ICC for — for charges against Israeli officials.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we obviously oppose any threats or intimidation to public officials that — including ICC officials.  So, obviously, we’re going to be always mindful and be very clear about opposing any type of a threats or attempts to intimidate.  That is something that you’ll hear from us pretty consistently.  

But we’ve been clear.  I was asked about this — this particular investigation by ICC a couple of days ago.  We do not support it.  We do not support this investigative probe.  We do not believe it’s within their jurisdiction.  We’ve been very clear about that.  And that obviously still remains.  

I’m going to be really — you’re asking me about what could be next and if we would — if we would weigh in if they were to move forward.  I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here.  But we’ve been very clear.  We oppose this — this investigation, and we do not believe it’s within their jurisdiction.

Go ahead.

Q    Yes, thanks, Karine.  The President was very clear in condemning violence at the protests.  But does he believe that any of the issues that are being raised by the protesters across campuses is legitimate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What’s the specif- — can you tell me the specific issues that you’re hearing?  

Q    Like, for instance, solidarity with the victims, the ceasefire, the request for more aid, “Free Palestine” chants — does he believes that any of the things that these protesters are manifesting for is legitimate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, let — can — can I just speak to the things that I understand you to lay out.  As it relates to ceasefire, the President is pushing for a hostage deal, which would lead to a ceasefire.  The — and if you have a ceasefire — this hostage deal — it would create an environment to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.  

And you saw Secretary Blinken in the region.  Just the other day, he did a press conference in Israel and he talked about the increased effort that we have ta- — undertaken to get more humanitarian — to get more trucks into Gaza.  

And so, we have seen an uptick.  And so, we want to continue to see that.  But we have to see this hostage deal.  So, get to a ceasefire, get more humanitarian aid.  

We understand the dire situation that the Palestinian Americans are — pardon me, the Palestinian citizens — pardon me — are — are dealing with right now.  And so, we want to make sure that we get humanitarian aid in.

Q    But what about the — the requests from these protestors from universities to divest —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We do not —

Q    — in Israel —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is — that is —

Q    — or — or to stop sending weapons to Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I was asked this question, and we do not support that.  

Go ahead, Adam.

Q    Thanks.  On the avian flu.  We’ve talked with several hospital officials who have told us that the health system is essentially unprepared for another major health crisis if bird flu were to start spreading widely among people.  In particular, hospitals don’t have the manpower.  There are still concerns about the ability to supply us quickly, and communication data-sharing, they say, hasn’t improved markedly since even before COVID.  

So, I’m curious what the White House’s response is to those concerns and whether there are any preparations ongoing to ensure we can respond to that kind of a crisis.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I want to — you know, we are monitoring this very closely and taking this very seriously.  It is a top priority for this administration to make sure that communities are healthy, safe, and certainly informed.  So, we’re monitoring this closely.  

The President has directed his administration to do the following: protect public health, protect our nation’s food supply, and monitor all trends to prevent the spread of avian flu.  

CDC report — they have reported that the risk for general public is low, and federal agencies are cornat- — coordinating with local authorities.  

And so, monitoring closely.  We want to make sure that communities feel safe, they feel protected and have the information that they need.  And you heard from the CDC directly on this.

Q    Is their belief that the hospital or the health system as it stands is prepared enough to withstand another major health crisis?  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, that’s not something for me to speak to from here.  What we’re doing is taking this very seriously.  We’re monitoring the situation.  CDC has spoken to this and said the risk to the general public is low.  I think that’s important to note. 

And the President is on top of this, making sure that his agencies are doing everything that they need to do to make sure that communities feel — are protected, that our communities are informed, and certainly are healthy.  

Okay.  Go ahead, Karen.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On abortion.  Does the administration have any reaction to this report that a Texas man has filed a petition to state district court in Texas to try and investigate possible illegal activity that was committed, he’s saying, by his ex-partner, because she went to Colorado to get an abortion?  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, wait.  What’s — say that one more time.

Q    A man has — is looking to have an investigation into possible illegal activity.  His ex-partner traveled out of state from Texas to Colorado to seek an abortion — get an abortion.  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, that sounds like that’s — there’s a legal case.  Going to be careful not to sort of respond from here.  

What I will say more broadly — and what we have continued to say — that the attacks on reproductive healthcare that we have seen and makes it — makes it incredibly difficult for women to make decisions on their own body, for their own health is — is devastating.  It is devastating what we’re seeing.  

And sadly, because of what happened — the overturning of Roe because of the Dobbs decision that happened almost two years ago — we have seen just chaos — chaos across the board.  And we see tens of millions of women who are now at risk of not being able to make that decision.

I can’t speak to individual cases.  What I can se- — speak to is the chaos that we have seen.  What I can speak to is what the President and this administration — the Biden-Harris administration are committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose; a woman’s right to make a decision on her own body, on her own healthcare.  

And it’s not just abortion, as you know.  It’s IVF that’s under attack, contraception that’s under attack.

And so, we’re going to be very loud — continue to be loud and clear about that — and ask Congress to make sure that Roe becomes the law of the land, and they need to take action.

Don’t want to get into legal — legal cases out there.  I cannot do that from here.  But as it — as it relates to reproductive healthcare, we’ve been very clear, and we continue to do that from here.

Q    Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  So, the President says that he wants to let the tax cuts — the Trump tax cuts expire.  If that law expires, it does raise taxes on almost every American.  So, does he still support that expiring without anything else in place?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the — as you said, the President is going to allow — is going to — is — is going to let the Trump tax cut expire.  And he was very clear.  But he will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.  That is — that is part of the budget that you saw come out.  And it’s going to expire for the wealthy.  So, been very clear about that.  

You know, look, this is a president that’s going to make sure that we protect and not raise taxes for — for people making $400,000 and less a year.  

And — and Republicans want to do the opposite.  They want to give tax breaks to corporations and billionaires.  They’ve said that.  They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Who does that hurt?  That hurts everyday Americans.  

And so, the President has been really clear about that.  He wants to expand Affordable Care Act, as you see him doing that, for Americans — making sure that they have good healthcare.  And so, that’s what the President is — is going to focus on.

Q    But still, the President can’t pick and choose which part of the law sunsets.  The entire law will sunset.  And the — the Tax Foundation says that someone who’s married, two kids, making $85,000 would pay $1,700 more in taxes.  That’s somebody under $400,000 who would —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President has been very clear.  He’s going to protect working- — working- and middle-class Americans making less than $400,000 a year.  He’s been very clear on th- — about that.

Republicans want to do the opposite.  They literally want to do the opposite.  They want to give a tax break to billionaires and corporations.  That’s what they’ve said.  They want to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.  That’s what they want to do.  

And so, the President is going to do everything that he can, as he’s building this economy from the middle out and the bottom up, to protect everyday Americans.  That’s what he wants to do: make sure that the middle class is strong.  That’s what he’s going to do.  

Republicans in Congress are saying the opposite.  Literally, they’re saying the opposite.  

So, that’s been the President’s plan from day one, and he’s going to continue that plan.

Go ahead, go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  A few things.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  A few things?  No, just one.  (Laughter.)

Q    Don’t make me pick.  (Laughter.)

So, in the President’s remarks yesterday, he was talking about Islamophobia on campuses.  


Q    Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of vile, antisemitic —


Q    — rhetoric on campuses.  Does he think Islamophobia is just as big of a problem on campus as antisemitism?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President is always going to call out all forms of hate — always.  And he had an opportunity to speak to the country.  And we have seen what’s been going on on these campuses.  

Americans have the right to peacefully protest within — within the law, as we have said.  It is our — it’s part of who we are as a country, as — when we talk about our freedoms, our democracy — to disagree and agree with each other, even about this war.  It is our right to do so.  It is right for folks to do so.

You’ve got to do it peacefully.  You’ve got to do it within the law.  

And we have seen the antisemitism, and we have called that out over and over and over again.  And we’ve seen a spike in antisemitism.  

The President has been very forceful about that.  He talked about his plan to counter antisemitism.  He had an opportunity, as he’s talking to the country — the world, really — on what has been happening across the country on college campuses — to call out antisemitism, to say that Americans have the right to peacefully protest.  

And we also have to call out all forms of hate.  I think — I believe — and I hope you would agree, Peter — that’s an important thing for this President to do if he has the opportunity to do that.  When the President speaks, people listen.

Q    Something else that had somehow slipped my mind —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  How is that — 

Q    — over the last couple weeks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, goodness.  (Laughter.)

Q    You are an alumna of Columbia University.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Wow, that’s a shocker.  (Laughter.)

Q    Well, you — in all the talking about it —


Q    — you haven’t brought it up.  You told Columbia students a few years back —


Q    — “Don’t lose the idealism that you have.”  So, what do you tell them now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, you did — you did some research.  Oh, my gosh.  (Laughter.)

Q    All I do is research and just hope that you call on me.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You did — (laughs).  You did some —

Q    But now, I — what do you tell the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look —

Q    — the students — 


Q    — who have followed in your footsteps?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I mean — look, going to be — oh, and that’s actually going to be a great segue to — to the student re- — student journalist that we have in the room, Danie, after I answer this question.

Q    I do have one more after that.  (Laughter.)  Sorry, Danie.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s okay.  

So, look, I’m not speaking on behalf of me.  I’m — I’m not.  I speak on behalf of this President.  That’s my job.  And I believe in this President.  I believe in the work that we do.  It is an honor and a privilege to stand at this lectern every day to speak to you and all your colleagues and to take your questions.  It is not about me.  

And, really, your question and what you’re asking me and — and what I have said to students is pretty much what the President has said: All Americans have the right to peacefully protest within the law.  They have to — we have the right.  

That’s what makes this country so great, right?  That’s what makes what — when we’re talking about our freedoms, our democracy, that’s what’s so important.  The — to have the opportunity to agree and disagree and do it in a peaceful way — in a peaceful way, that’s important.  

And the President also called out — if you’re — if you are breaking and entering and you’re taking over buildings, that is not peacefully protesting.  And the President was very clear about calling that out as well and also antisemitism and calling it what it is.  It is hate speech.

Q    My last one.  At UNC-Chapel Hill this week, a group of fraternity brothers saved an American flag from an angry mob of protesters.  There is now a GoFundMe where people can donate to throw them a rager.  It has raised more than half a million dollars.  Would President Biden donate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You never disappoint, my friend.  (Laughter.)  

Q    He donates to a lot of — 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You never disappoint.

Q    — different causes.  We saw it in his tax returns.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll say this, because this — there is a — there is actually a real — a real point in your question that I will address, which is — and — and I — you know, just to reiterate what we’ve said over and over again: Americans have — and I just said this moments ago, so I’ll just reiterate this — all Americans have the — the right to peacefully protest.

It is not right to forceful- — forcefully take down the American flag to replace it with another flag.  It is not right.  And so — and so, I just wanted to — to make that clear as well.  All right, Peter?

Q    So, a donation — what about, like, a call to thank them for saving the flag?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, protecting the American flag is admirable.  I’ll leave it there, Peter.

Danie, we’ve — it’s — it’s your opportunity to shine.  Everybody welcome Danie.  (Applause.)

Q    Welcome.

Q    Welcome, Danie.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Danie goes to Uniondale High School, and she is a journalist at Uniondale High School.  She wants to be where you all are at some point in her — in her career.  

But you have a question?

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Well, my question is: How can I, as editor of my school paper, be able to encourage engagement globally?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Encourage engagement?  So, I think, as an editor, it is certainly important to always make sure that, you know, you listen to the community but also get that information, work on getting the facts, so that your community gets the facts, obviously.  

And I believe young people want to know what’s going on in their community.  I believe that young people are incredibly curious right now.  And laying that out for them and saying, “Hey, this is what is going on, this is how you can learn more, or this is what you should know” is so important.  

And you should lead, you know, not by fear but by getting to the bottom of a story, getting to the bottom of how you’re going to put those facts out.  

And I think it’s important, as you go through your career — your journalistic career — you have some really brilliant journalists here who certainly could give you advice, if — I’m sure they’d love to talk to you after this briefing.  I’m sure they have time to do that because they’re all looking at me and smiling.  

And, you know, they could actually give you, I think, some really sound advice, some helpful advice on how to move through your career.  

But young people are curious.  They’re very curious right now.  They want to know more.  And this is a great opportunity for you, as an editor at your high school, to do just that and to have those important conversation, whether they agree or disagree, and lay out the facts for them and so they can make decisions for themselves.  

Thank you for the question.  

All right.  I’ll take one more, guys.  

Q    Karine —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll take one more. 


Oh, my gosh.  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Just to follow up on the press freedom executive actions that you mentioned.  Is there anything we can expect aimed at Russia in response to Evan? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, we’re going to be announcing some executive action shortly.  Don’t want to — certainly don’t want to get ahead of that.  So, once we — in the next couple of weeks, we’ll have more — we’ll m- — we’ll have more to share.  Don’t have anything at this time.  But we’re working through that.  

And we think it’s really important.  We think it’s really important to continue to take action.  A free and independent media is critical, as I just took a question from a high school — a future general- — journalist — who’s a journalist now, obviously, at her high school.  And it is vital to our global security.  

We appreciate the work that journalists do every day.  And it is some of — some journalists, many journalists put their lives at risk, put their lives at stake.  

All right.  Thanks, everybody.  

And so — and you hear me say this before, journalists are not the enemy and they should be protected.  And freedom of the press — what we do here every day, it is — it is a — an exercise of the freedom of the press.  And so, we want to make sure that that continues, not just here but, obviously, globally.  
Q    Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Have a great weekend.  

2:46 P.M. EDT

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