James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:40 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s always fun to hang out with a bunch of Gen Zers before coming out to the podium.  I’ll just leave it there.  (Laughs.)

How are you guys doing?

Q    Good. 

Q    Great.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Good afternoon, everybody.

So, I’ll be — going to preview the President’s schedule for next week.  And so, then — I think some of you are following some of this stuff, but just to put it all in one. 

On Monday, the President will host a reception to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month.  The President, the Vice President, and the Second Gentleman will celebrate the immeasurable impact of Jewish values, contributions, and culture in our country, while also honoring their resilience in the face of a long and painful history of persecution. 

On Tuesday, the President will travel to New Hampshire.  After, he will travel to Boston, Massachusetts.  I don’t have additional details to share of these trips at this time, but please stay tuned.

On Thursday, the President and the First Lady will host President William Ruto and the First Lady, Rachel Ruto, of the Republic of Kenya for a state visit.  The Vice President and Second Gemen- — Second Gentleman will also, obviously, join as well. 

The visit will strengthen our shared commitment to advance peace, security; expand our economic ties; and deepen democratic institutions.  The visit will re- — will affirm our strategic partnership with Kenya and further the vision set forth at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that African leadership is essential to addressing global priorities.  The Vice President will also host a state luncheon on Friday at the State Department.

On Saturday, the President will deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy’s graduation ceremony.  He previously deli- — delivered the commencement address at West Point in 2012 and also 2016 as vice president.

This is a special honor, and the President looks forward to celebrating graduates and their families and thanking them for their selfless service and defense of our nation.

Today, we are also praying for four people who tragically lost their lives in Houston following the deadly storms that ripped through Texas yesterday.  We are also thinking of those who were injured and the communities that were affected by this extreme weather. 

We are grateful for the first responders and rescue teams who have been working around the clock to protect the people — to protect people and save lives.

The White House is in touch with governor’s office and the Houston mayor, and FEMA is in touch with their state and local counterparts. 

As always, we stand ready to provide federal assistance as needed.  We continue to monitor the storm’s path as it moves east, and more severe weather is likely across the Gulf Coast today.  Residents in the affected area as well as those in the path of the storm should heed warnings from state and local officials.

And with that, I have — we have the Admiral here today to talk about a update in the Middle East.

MR. KIRBY:  Thank you, Karine.  Good afternoon, everybody.

Q    Good afternoon.

MR. KIRBY:  So, earlier today, I think you all know, the first shipments of humanitarian assistance arrived on the shores of Gaza through the multinational humanitarian maritime corridor that the President announced during his State of the Union Address. 

As we speak, additional aid from the United States and other countries is arriving in Cyprus, where it will be screened by Israeli authorities and loaded onto ships for delivery via the maritime corridor — the temporary pier that we’ve been talking about.  And here you can see trucks, just today — these inc- — the first truck includes palates from the UAE, as a matter of fact, heading across that causeway — that temporary causeway onto the beach.

And once in Gaza, once on the beach, the aid will be distributed to those in need by the United Nations.

So, in less than two months, the United States was able to assemble a complex, multinational logistical mechanism to facilitate the delivery of lifesaving assistance in Gaza, to galvanize commitments from partners around the world, and to leverage the United Nations’ logistical capabilities to facilitate the distribution of this aid inside the — inside the — Gaza.

So, this is a humanitarian effort.  And contrary to what we’ve been seeing out there in the information space, particularly in the region, it is designed solely — only — for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  There’s no other purpose for this than humanitarian assistance.

And we’re obviously grateful for all the U.S. service members and our teams at USAID and the State Department for their tireless work over the past few weeks to get this going.

Through the humanitarian maritime corridor, USAID plans to provide initial contributions of more than 170 metric tons of nutrient-rich food bars to support 11,000 of the most vulnerable children and adults; ready-to-use therapeutic foods to treat more than 7,200 cases of severe wasting in children; and nearly 90 metric tons of critical supplies, such as plastic sheeting for shelter, jerry cans to hold clean water, and hygiene kits to support more than 33,000 people.  And just today, as you’re seeing here, we were able to get more the 300 pallets of some of that material in there.

Now, today was just a start.  It was the first day.  There’s still work that has to be done to reach what we call “initial operating capability.”  But we hope to be able to increase the number of pallets that get in over the coming days and keep that sustainable.  And we’ll keep you updated, of course.

All of this assi- — assistance is in addition to thousands of tons of food and other non-food items that are being provided by a number of international partners, including, as I said, the UAE, the United Kingdom, EU, to name a few, as well as resources to support the overall mission, including critical equipment to move that assistance.

We anticipate an increase in the flow of assistance from additional countries and organizations utilizing and steadily scaling up, as I said, the humanitarian maritime corridor every single day that goes by. 

In recent days, we’ve seen some progress in the number of trucks entering Gaza via the land crossings as well.  Yesterday, more than 360 trucks moved into Gaza.  Between April 5th and May 16th, an average of 176 trucks entered Gaza every single day.  It’s not enough.  I recognize that.  We all recognize that.  But it’s — but it is — it is ongoing, and we’re hoping to get it increased.  And, obviously, we’re going to continue to work with Israel to that end.

I do want to make one important point on this before I leave this topic.  There is a robust security plan for this effort, and we remain vigilant to potential threats to a- — to the — our service members that are working on the pier and humanitarian aid organizations and workers helping with the distribution and the collection at the marshalling area on the — on the ground. 

It remains a top priority.  We’re going to remain laser-focused on ensuring the safety of everybody involved in this effort.

Now if I could, just quickly, shift to Ukraine.  We’re closely monitoring Russia’s offensive in northeastern Ukraine and are working around the clock to get weapons and equipment into the hands of Ukrainian solders to help them repel these attacks.

Soon after the President signed the national security supplemental last month, he authorized two military aid packages under the presidential drawdown authority.  And late last month, the Department of Defense announced a $6 billion package through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which will be used to procure new equipment to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses over the medium and long term.

And then, of course, you saw Secretary Blinken, in Kyiv this past week, announced that the United States will provide an additional $2 billion aid package for Ukraine’s defense under the Foreign Military Financing program.  All of this will — I’m sorry — that aid for FMF will be used in four ways. 

First, to help Ukraine procure weapons and equipment to repel Russia’s invasion. 

Second, to invest in Ukraine’s defense industrial base.

Third, to help Ukraine purchase military equipment from other countries in addition to the United States. 

And, finally, these funds may help other countries transition off Russian systems and incentivize donations to Ukraine.

Now just one last program announcement, and then I promise I’ll shut up.  I can announce today that our National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, will travel to Saudi Arabia starting tomorrow.  He’ll be there to meet with Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss bilateral and regional matters, including the war in Gaza, of course, and ongoing efforts to achieve a lasting peace and security in the region.

On Sunday, the next day, Mr. Sullivan will travel to Israel to meet with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, to discuss, of course, the war in Gaza, including ongoing negotiations to secure the release of all the hostages, address the humanitarian crisis, and our shared objective for the enduring affeat — enduring defeat of Hamas through both military pressure and a political plan.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, M.J.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Thanks, Admiral.  I wanted to ask you about the three hostages whose bodies were recovered in Gaza.  Was the U.S. given any details, particularly about where they were recovered and how they were recovered?

MR. KIRBY:  It’s just horrible news.  And our hearts go out to the families who — who are having to deal with this terrible news.  I don’t have any information that we knew ahead of time or that we had any more — we have had since the bodies have been recovered — any additional information or context from the Israelis on this.

Q    Okay.  The five American hostages who are still unaccounted for —

MR. KIRBY:  Correct.

Q    — is there any new intelligence about their whereabouts or their potential wellbeing?

MR. KIRBY:  Sadly, no.  We don’t have any information that — that leads us to a conclusion that they’re — that they’re no longer alive.  But we just don’t have any additional context whatsoever.

Q    And just on a separate topic very quickly.  What was your reaction to seeing Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi exchanging hugs?

MR. KIRBY:  Exchanging hugs?

Q    Mm-hmm.

MR. KIRBY:  Well, that’s nice for them. 

Look, you have two countries here — leaders of two countries that — that clearly are acting in various ways around the world inimical to our national security interests, to the interests of many of our allies and partners.  No surprise that these two leaders continue to try to develop this burgeoning relationship. 

But — but they’re also two leaders that don’t have a long history of working together, and officials in both governments that — that aren’t necessarily all that trustful of the other. 

What they have in common is a comm- — is a desire to — to challenge the international rules-based order, challenge the network of alliances and partnerships that United States enjoys and which President Biden has strengthened in his time in office, and — and to try to look for ways to bolster each other’s national security interests as well. 

So, we didn’t see anything coming out of this meeting that we weren’t necessarily surprised by.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we weren’t concerned about — about this relationship and where it’s going.  Of course we are, and we’re watching it closely.  But I’d leave it at that.

Q    Do you think that was a purposeful show of public display to send any kind of message to the U.S. or otherwise?

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, man, I’m not good at talking about personal human bodily affection one way or the other, so I — I think I’ll leave it to these two gents to talk about why they thought it was good to hug one another.  (Laughter.) 

I’ll just tell you that — that we take seriously th- — the challenges that both countries that represent, and we take seriously this burgeoning relationship between the two of them. 

That said, in Ukraine specifically, we haven’t seen President Xi rush to the effort to assist the Russian Armed Forces and provide lethal capabilities.  We are deeply concerned and have said so.  I think Karine mentioned it yesterday, about some of these Chinese companies that are providing microelectronics and components for Russia’s defensive sy- — or weapons systems.  That’s — that’s a problem, and we’ve — and we’ve raised that with the Ch- — with the Chinese as well.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Darlene.

Q    Thank you.  So, what is the status of the aid on that first truck that went in?  Is it being distributed, or is it still waiting —

MR. KIRBY:  I was told —

Q    — to be distributed?

MR. KIRBY:  — right before coming out here that the U.N. has now taken possession of these first — these first pallets and are getting them ready for distribution inside Gaza.  So, look, I mean, hopefully, by the time we’re done here, I mean, some of that stuff will actually be in — in the mouths of some hungry people, but we’ll see. 

Q    And then one other question on Russia and Ukraine.  Russia is pounding the Kharkiv region.  Is it time for the U.S. to revisit the prohibition on Ukraine against using American weapons in an offensive manner? 

MR. KIRBY:  We do not encourage nor do we enable attacks using U.S.-supplied weapons systems inside Russian territory.  That’s the policy.  That has not changed.

Q    Thanks.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  And thank you, Admiral.  You just spoke about the importance of protecting humanitarian aid workers.  And it’s been a month and a half since the IDF released a report about the World Central Kitchen.  Has the U.S. finished reviewing that report?  And what did it conclude?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not aware that we have some sort of final conclusion on that.  But I’ll tell you, I’ll take the question, and we’ll go back and I’ll check with my State Department colleagues.  But I’m not aware that we’ve come to some dif- –different or final conclusion about it.

Q    When we asked you several times in the past, you said, “We’re still reviewing the report.  It takes a long time to go through all the facts and figures.”  So —

MR. KIRBY:  I just don’t have an update for you.

Q    Okay.  Last night, Israel’s Defense Minister said that the IDF would send more troops into Rafah.  Do you have a response to that?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I think we’ve addressed this one already.  As always, I’ll let the Israelis talk about their military operations and where they put their troops.  Point one.

Point two, they have a right and a responsibility to go after Hamas, including in Rafah.  And as I just mentioned, Jake’s going to raise this issue when he goes to — to Israel on Sunday.  They have a right and responsibility to do that. 

How they do that matters, and that’s part of the conversations that we also want to have and Jake will have about going after that terrorist capability in Rafah in a way that’s targeted, precise, and, quite frankly, effective. 

We don’t believe — still don’t believe that the way to do it is to smash into Rafah with a large body of armed forces on the ground in an — in an indiscriminate and reckless manner. 

So, I can’t — I don’t — I’m not dodging the question.  I don’t know the context with which Minister Gallant said that. 

I can just tell you that nothing has changed about our view, that we don’t support a major ground operation or a large operation in Rafah that would put — now it’s about a million people — at — at greater risk. 

Q    Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  As you know, President has focused a lot on democracy — promoting democracy globally in his three and a half years.  What is the President’s thoughts on the election that are happening in India right now?  Around 900 million voters going out to 1 million polling booths to elect 545 member of parliament from thousands of candidates (inaudible) registered political parties.

MR. KIRBY:  There’s not too many more vibrant democracies in the world than India.  And we applaud the Indian people for — for exercising, you know, their ability to vote and to have a voice in their — in their future government.  And we wish them well throughout the process, of course. 

Q    And, secondly, Prime Minister Modi is going for his third term — seeking his third term from the people of India.  How do you see India-U.S. relations in the 10 years of his government?

MR. KIRBY:  How do I see — I’m sorry.

Q    How do you see India-U.S. relationship in the 10 years of his administration?

MR. KIRBY:  How do I see it over the last 10 years?

Q    Yeah.


MR. KIRBY:  Oh, I — I’ll speak to the last three, if that’s okay, because that’s kind of where — where I’m allowed to go.  But you — you —

Q    The first three years were also — vice president.

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, I’m going to stick to the last three years, if you don’t mind. 

Look, our relationship with India is extremely close and getting closer.  You saw it in our state visit.  I mean, we launched all kinds of new initiatives: working on critical emerging technologies together and bolstering and ex- — expanding the relevance of the Indo-Pacific Quad, of course, which India is a part of.  And then just the people-to-people exchanges and the military — military cooperation that — that we share with India. 

So, I mean, it’s a — it’s a very vibrant, very active partnership.  And — and we’re grateful for Prime Minister Modi’s leadership.

Q    One final one.  You spoke about Quad.  Does the President really believes that two of his Quad partners, India and Japan, are “xenophobic”?

MR. KIRBY:  No.  I mean, look, Karine already dealt with this one.  I mean, the President was making a broader point here about the vibrancy of our own democracy here in the United States and how inclusive and particip- — par- — participatory it is. 

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Danny.

MR. KIRBY:  That was not easy to say.

Q    Thanks, Admiral.  You mentioned that the aid coming through the pier was going to be screened by Israeli authorities.  How confident are you that that’s not going to cause sort of delays in terms of the aid being held up?

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    And also, if I may, how confident are you that there’s not going to be delays at the other end when — at the pier end as well?

MR. KIRBY:  Look, I mean, it’s day one.  And as I just said, we got indications here just before I came on out here that some of that aid was already moving into Gaza.  That’s pretty impressive for day one — just day one.

The inspections are actually happening in Cyprus.  And that’s — that’s a really important component of this modular system that we’ve constructed here.  So, the inspections are happening before the ships even leave Cyprus and move on down to the eastern coast — I’m sorry, the Eastern Med, off the coast of Gaza. 

So, right now, it — it seems like a very good system in place.  But, again, it’s day one, so we’ll take a look and see how it goes. 

Q    Are those inspections being done in tandem with anyone else, such as the United States or — 

MR. KIRBY:  The IDF is responsible for the inspection regime in Cyprus.  And as I said, on this first day, it worked well. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    On Jake Sullivan’s travel this weekend.  Did the U.S. government receive any assurances from Israel that it wouldn’t expand its Rafah operation while he’s there?

MR. KIRBY:  I’ll just say, without getting into our diplomatic conversations — we’ve said this before — that we’re going to continue to talk to the Israelis about alternatives to major ground operations in Rafah.  That is not what they’re conducting right now.  And they have assured us that they are willing to continue to have those discussions with us before they make any major decisions.  And I’ll leave it at that. 

Q    Can you share an update on the American doctors in Gaza who are trying to get out of there and what your understanding is, what the U.S. government assessment is of the holdup?

MR. KIRBY:  There’s no holdup.  They’re out. 

Twe- — there was 20 American doctors; 17 are out now — came out today.  And all 17 of the — they wanted to — they wanted to leave.  I won’t speak for the other three, but just — but I can assure you that any of them that wanted to leave are out now. 

Q    And then, just finally, you referenced the security plan for the port and the pier.  Secretary Austin, a couple of weeks ago, before it was operational, said his understanding was that if U.S. troops were fired upon that they may fire back.  Is that still your understanding of what would happen here?

MR. KIRBY:  100 percent.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Thank you, Admiral.  When it comes to those bodies that were recovered, the three hostages, what impact does that have on the current ceasefire negotiations?  Does it set those talks back?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t think we can say that right now.  First of all, our focus — and I’m sure our Israeli counterparts’ focus, too — is on the — on the families who are getting this horrible news.  As you know, the talks didn’t go anywhere last week.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t get to a successful conclusion. 

One of the things that Jake wants to cover when he goes over — back to the region is to see what we can do to keep those talks going and get — get some kind of resolution here.  But I don’t think — it’s difficult to see how this grim news today is going to have a major effect on — on the — on the hostage deal negotiations.  We really want to get this done so that we can get six weeks of a ceasefire that can maybe lead to something more enduring. 

Q    And part of that ceasefire deal is the release of hostages.  I know you’ve said you don’t know how many Americans are still alive.  But is there a broad assessment of how many hostages overall are still alive?

MR. KIRBY:  I would refer you to the Israelis for an exact number.  I know it’s — it’s north of 100.  I’ve seen estimates of maybe 130 total.  Not all of them — we don’t believe all of them are alive.  We don’t know exactly what the breakdown is. 

Q    And, of course, Rafah is going to be a big point of discussion when Sullivan is in the region.  Can you just talk about the impact that the President’s withholding of those 2,000-pound bombs have had on the relationship and Israeli decision-making when it comes to what we’re seeing in Rafah right now?

MR. KIRBY:  It was not a withholding.  Just — there was a pause put in place on a — on a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs, and that pause is still in place.  I would remind you that other aid, other weapons and capabilities from the United States continues to flow to Israel.  They are not left defenseless.  And they also have — without getting into specifics, they have inventories of existing — like similar capabilities that they already had available to them. 

I won’t speak to their operations, but I think you can just disc- — discern from news coverage alone that they continue to conduct operations in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza.

Q    So, you’re saying they already have inventories of the 2,000- —

MR. KIRBY:  I’m just saying they have —

Q    — pound bombs?

MR. KIRBY:  — existing inventories of capabilities, and more capabilities continue to go.  I won’t get into the details of that for their own operational security. 

But I did- — I guess I didn’t really answer your question, though, on decision-making.  I think — well, I don’t think — we know that they know what our concerns are with respect to Rafah and how they go into Rafah and what that looks like.  And, again, Jake is going to go over this weekend, and he’ll reiterate those same points.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    John, you had the assassination attempt of the Slovakian leader this week.  What is the level of concern that this could be an indicator of instability in Europe?  You have European Union elections coming up in June.  There have been some attacks on German politicians that we’ve seen.  You know, how much is this a worry of the administration across the world?

MR. KIRBY:  You know, it’s too soon to know whether you’re seeing some kind of a trend here, a wave of violent activity or intent with respect to political stability in Europe.  But obviously, we’re watching this real closely.  Certainly, we’re glad to hear that the Prime Minister survived the attack and — and is on the mend.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Admiral, back to Ukraine.  Does the President hope to attend the Ukraine peace conference next month (inaudible)? 

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have anything on his schedule to speak to in that regard.

Q    I just wanted to ask you about the Strategic Consultant Group status, when the — when they will be meeting.

MR. KIRBY:  Well, you got the National Security Advisor —

Q    Is — it will be next week?

MR. KIRBY:  — going over this weekend.  That’s — that’s a pretty good — that’s a pretty good level of meetings here.  I don’t have another one inside the SCG context to — to speak to today.  We’ve had a couple live ones.  We’ve had some virtual ones.  I think that they’ll continue.  But the next — the next consultation, if you will, is Jake’s trip this weekend.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nadia.

Q    John, just to follow up what you told me this morning.  Were there any conditions that Israel has imposed on certain items in this aid that will get into Gaza?  Because, in the past, they wouldn’t allow scissors, for example, wheelchairs, other items.  Or is it just purely food —

MR. KIRBY:  This is really focused — these — certainly today and I think in the coming days, it’s really going to be focused on food, nutri- — nutrition.  That’s really the focus.  And there’s been no restrictions placed by the Israelis on that.

Q    Okay.  And then —

MR. KIRBY:  And I would — I’ve got one to add — one — one more point.  You reminded me that — that the Israelis and the IDF, in particular, have been enormously helpful and supportive of this effort, this temporary pier and their role in — on the beach and on the ground in supporting it.  They’ve been very, very helpful — extremely cooperative.

Q    And the distribution, you just said that U- — U.N. agency is going to be in charge.  Is that — does this include UNRWA?  And second, will be any supervision by the IDF or in the steps of distribution, not just offloading of the pier?

MR. KIRBY:  I want to be careful here because I don’t want to violate operational security issues.  As I said in my opening statement, the food will be distributed by the U.N. and other aid organizations.  I’ll let the U.N. speak to th- — how they’re going to do that.

When you get the material ashore, it goes into what we would call a marshalling area.  So, it’s a part of the beach where it can be placed safely until it can be then head — head out on trucks into Gaza.  And there — I would just say that there’s an adequate security apparatus in place for that purpose.  And I think I need to leave it at that.

Q    And finally, I just want to follow up on the hostages.

Q    Thanks, Karine.

Q    (Inaudible) that there are actually reports indicating that the — the bodies that they recovered today, that the hostages were killed as far as December.  It — they were not killed recently.

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have that level of information.  I don’t know. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Nandita, go ahead. 

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Hi, Admiral.  Just quickly to follow up on the military pier.  Are U.S. troops guarding it on the ground?

MR. KIRBY:  There is a — not on the ground.  So, as I said in my opening statement, there are no U.S. servicemembers in Gaza.  There is a small U.S. military component on the pier itself.  And they’re there really to do sort of two things.  One is to provide a modicum of security for it but also to assist with the logistics. 

I mean, you’re going to have ships pulling up to this pier — not the big cargo ships.  They’ll — they’ll transport it to smaller ships off the coast of Gaza.  Those smaller ships will bring the goods onto the pier, and you’re going to need some logistical support to get it from the ships onto the trucks.

So, there’s a small footprint of U.S. military on the pier, but they will not — not go into Gaza.

Q    How — how many, when you — when you say “small”?

MR. KIRBY:  I think I’m going to let the Pentagon speak to the numbers.  I don’t want to — I don’t want to violate that.  But it’s not — it’s not a huge number.

Q    And — and why is the U.S. confident that Israel will not strike any of the vehicles that are taking aid in?  I understand you said that they’ve been helpful.

MR. KIRBY:  They have been extraordinarily cooperative.

Q    But have they offered explicit assurances that they will not?  I mean, because they attacked the World Food Kitchen cars that were carrying aid. 

MR. KIRBY:  And they investigated, and they fired people that they thought were at fault, and they apologized for the mistake.  And they have tried to improve their deconfliction process.  We are not worried about the Israelis striking the convoys of trucks that are coming off of that pier. 

They are actually participating in helping marshal that material ashore and then get it into Gaza.  So, that’s not a concern.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Patsy.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  So, just to clarify, John, the Israelis and the American soldiers — the small footprint of American soldiers will be working together to marshal these shipments?

MR. KIRBY:  There is a small component of U.S. servicemembers on the pier.  There are no Israeli Defense Forces on the pier. 

Q    And so, is there anything more that you can preview on President Ruto’s visit next week, especially in terms of shoring up partnership against China’s influence in the continent?

MR. KIRBY:  We’ll have more to say on the state visit as we get closer to it.

Q    Okay.  And then just one more — one more.  And feel free if you want to take this one, Karine.  Many of those protests and — on campus have linked the Palestinian cause to activism of other global injustices, including ra- — racism against African Americans. 

And so, you both have said often that the President understands the emotions behind these protests.  But I was wondering specifically: As — as the President is ramping up his outreach to Black voters, is he aware of and sensitive towards the Black community and how they might see a common parallel of injustice between themselves and Palestinians?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Let me — let take this.  Let’s let the Admiral finish what he came to do.

MR. KIRBY:  That — that’s a —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And then I’ll take some —

Q    Okay.

MR. KIRBY:  That’s definitely not a question for me.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  We’ll take a couple more.  Go ahead.

Q    One is —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, the young lady right here.  Yeah.

Q    Oh, thank you.  John, I — you mentioned the U.S. providing some security.  I thought the IDF was going to be providing the security, but is there a small component of U.S. forces that are also there providing some security for the pier?

MR. KIRBY:  There’s a small component of U.S. servicemembers on the pier, as I said, that will be helping with force protection, of course.  I mean —

Q    But you can’t speak to the number?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not going to speak to the number.  I’ll let you — the Pentagon do that.

Q    And then, there’s still U.S. forces or U.S. troops offshore, in addition to those on the pier?

MR. KIRBY:  There’s a — there’s — there’s a Navy component — there’s a — there’s Navy assistance in getting the material onto smaller vessels out further away from the pier, well off the coast, so that those smaller vessels then can transload the material onto the pier.

I mean, you’ve seen the pictures of the pier.  It’s not practical to bring a big freight or cargo ship up against that thing.  I mean, it’s anchored to the seabed, but it’s temporary.  It’s not — you know, there’s not concrete piles in there.

So, what we do is we take the stuff off the bigger ships — all well off the coast — put it on smaller U.S. Navy vessels.  Those smaller U.S. Navy vessels will bring it into the pier and offload it so it can get onto trucks.

Q    And just overall, this — this area has been targeted before by a mortar attack.  What is the administration trying to do to prevent and deter an attack from happening again?  And — and what efforts are being done to —

MR. KIRBY:  I mean —

Q    — protect those U.S. forces there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — part of my being up here today is a little bit of that to make it clear what this is and what it’s not.  There’s been some bogus stuff out there in the information environment, particularly in the region, that this has some sort of military capacity or operational capacity for the IDF, and it just doesn’t.  It’s nothing more than humanitarian assistance.

And we’ve also passed that message back through the appropriate channels to Hamas so they understand exactly what this is.

And look, showing pictures — you all can get online and see what it is.  I mean, we’re making no secret about what this thing is and what it’s not.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Just a couple more.  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Admiral, I know this is day one — maybe closer to hour one of this pier initiative —

MR. KIRBY:  But —

Q    — but — (laughs) — you know, even at full capacity, it’ll only be a fraction of the amount of aid.  Is —

MR. KIRBY:  Correct.

Q    — the United States working on or negotiating, figuring out other methods of getting additional aid in via other avenues?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, look, there’s no better way to do it than the land crossings.  There’s just not.  And before the war, there was 500 trucks going in a day over a course of different crossings, and we want to get back up to that level if we can.  Now, that’s a tall order; I get that.  And we haven’t been able to even get a sustainable 300-plus trucks in a day.  But it’s important that Rafah open immediately. 

Other — other crossings are open, but there’s been challenges with getting some of that aid through those crossings, particularly protest activity on the Israeli side. And those delays, those problems have got to be solved. 

And I have no doubt that Mr. Sullivan will raise those issues as well when he’s over there. 

But this is meant to be additive — this temporary pier — additive, not an alternative.  There’s just no alternative really to getting trucks in on the ground. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Brian, you have the last one.

Q    Thanks a lot.  Hey, Admiral.  I have a question about the death toll in Gaza.  Does President Biden have confidence in the casualty numbers coming out of Gaza?

MR. KIRBY:  The President watches this very, very closely.  And you’ve heard him talk about the more than 30,000 people that have been killed, and he said the majority are women and children.  And he’s also said that’s unacceptable. 

And as we’ve maintained time and time again, the right number of civilian casualties ought to be zero.  But in terms of, you know, what — what specific number we’re quoting or citing on any given day, I mean, we’re doing the best we can working with the Israelis to — to ascertain the scope of the civilian suffering, but it’s obviously immense. 

Q    Has his —


Q    Has his confidence in the numbers coming out of Gaza increased since late October, when he said he had “no confidence” in the numbers —

MR. KIRBY:  You — you’ve heard —

Q    — (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  — the President talk about the numbers and talk about the concern. 

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. KIRBY:  And the most important thing — aside from, obviously, how tragic that is — is what we’re doing to alleviate and help improve conditions in Gaza, including through this temporary pier today. 

Thanks, everybody. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right, thanks, Admiral. 

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Okay.  Darlene, I don’t have anything else. 

Q    Great.  Thank you.  Does the President, who is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agree with the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Justice Alito should recuse himself from 20 cases involving the 2020 Election or January 6th, because of the reporting of the upside-down flag flown outside of his house?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, obviously, we’ve seen the reporting, and I — I don’t want to comment on the specific report of — on that reporting. 

What I can say more broadly is that the President believes that the American flag is sacred — you’ve heard him say that — and is owed proper respect and honor of the brave men and women who have defended our — our country for generations.  And we should be respecting that flag.  We should be making sure that it is respected in that way.  It is sacred.

As for anything else, the conduct or recusing himself, that is something for the court to decide.  I just don’t have anything else to add. 

And just want to be very clear, the American flag is sacred.  That is something that the President has — believes in, and you’ve heard me say this before at this podium many times. 

Q    Can you give us a sense of how the President will use his time at Morehouse on Sunday?  Will there be any news in the speech?  Will it be more of a lofty “go forth and prosper” kind of speech?  Can you give us a sense of —


Q    — without getting specific —


Q    — because I know you —


Q    — don’t want to get ahead of the President.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I know.  I don’t want to get ahead of a president. 

No, so, look, he takes these commencement addresses incredibly seriously.  He understands the importance of — of him being the president and, obviously, the Commander-in-Chief and speak — when he speaks to the — the West Point graduates later this month.  But he sees this as an im- — an opportunity to lift up and to give important message to our future leaders. 

I mean, these Morehouse Men who are graduating will be our future leaders, as you heard from Mayor Benjamin when he was standing here behind this lectern.  He talked about what it’s like to be part of — part of that HBCU, if you ima– — if you — if you can imagine, collective — and how important it is, and how respected that is. 

And so, look, he’ll have, I think, some important messages to share for these future leaders.  He will have themes in his — in his remarks — in his commencement remarks that he’ll share with them.  He’s been working on these remarks for the past couple days, I can assure you, with his senior advisors.  He’s taking this incredibly seriously. 

And he understands, as the President tends to do, meet the moment — the moment that we’re in. 

I won’t get beyond that.  But I would say, “Stay tuned.”  I think it will be a moving — a moving commencement address.  I think it will meet the moment.  And I think you will hear directly from the President on how he sees, obviously, the future of this country and also the community that they represent. 

But, again, as you just stated, I’m not going to get ahead of the President.

Go ahead, Weijia.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I’m going to try again —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  On Morehouse?

Q    Not on Morehouse.  On —


Q    — the flag.


Q    So, given the flag incident, does President Biden believe that Justice Alito can rule in — with impartiality for all the cases involving January 6th?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look — and this is something that I have spoken to the President about. And it — basically, what I laid out is how he feels: That the American Flag is sacred, and we should be respecting that flag. 

I do not want to get into the business of the specific actions that — that Supreme Court justices — if they should recuse themselves or not on a — on a court.  That is something for the Court more broadly.  They have to make that decision.  That is something that we’re not going to step into.  We’re not going to comment from here.

But more broadly, we can say, from the reportings that we have seen, that, you know, we believe that the American flag should be respected.  It should be — it — this is a — if you think about the brave men and women who have sacrificed, given their lives to protect our nation, it is — it is — we just — that is something that we will always say and be really, really clear about. 

I cannot speak to if he should recrus- — recuse himself, how he should move forward in the Court.  That is for the Court to decide. 

Q    Okay.  On another topic.  Did President Biden —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You seem — look — wow, you just seem so disappointed and like, “Ah, Karine — well, we’re going to move on.”  (Laughs.)

Q    Well, no, I mean — I understand that you can’t — that you’re not going to engage on — on that. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Sorry to disappoint you, Weijia.  (Laughs.)

Q    No, it’s — it’s okay. 

So, did the President see the confrontations from the House Oversight Committee meeting yesterday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, so, I have not talked to him about if he’s seen it.  What we can say, and I think this is something the President would agree upon, which is, you know, you — as someone who was a senator for 36 years, he believes that people should respect each other, treat with — each other with dignity and civility. 

I am not going to speak to the ex- — to what happened, obviously, in that hearing. 

But what we — what we can say, as someone who — you know, a President, as I just stated, was a senator for some time, who — who knows how that place works, I think you have to treat people with dignity; you have to treat people with respect.  It is important.  It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on.  It is important to do that because you are there to work on behalf of the American people. 

And that’s probably all I can share at this time. 


Q    Thank you, Karine. 

Q    On Morehouse.  You said the President is going to “meet the moment.”  Does that mean he’s going to specifically address some of the concerns that students there and faculty have raised about his handling of the war in Gaza?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I will say: Stay tuned. 

Q    Okay.  And then what was the President’s reaction to Senator Romney saying that the President should have pardoned Donald Trump after the Justice Department brought those indictments against him or that he should have pressured New York prosecutors not to pursue the ongoing hush money trial?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The current President of the United States —

Q    Yes.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — getting involved in an ongoing le- — legal case?

Q    A current sitting senator saying that the President should have pardoned Donald Trump.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I mean, we’re just going to let the process mo- — we would never interject ourself in — in a criminal — criminal legal proceedings.  It’s not something that we do from here. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Sticky fingers.

Q    Yeah. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  That’s what you called yourself.  You said you had sticky fingers. 

Q    Well, I kept dropping my notebook; I’m just so excited to be here today.  (Laughter.)

There — there is a billionaire, Ray Dalio.  Quoted by the Financial Times, he’s saying now that the chances of a civil war in this country are around 35 to 40 percent.  Do you think the chances are that high?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I am not in a place to — to give probabilities or — you know, I don’t — I don’t gamble.  I don’t spend my time in Vegas, so I couldn’t speak to that. 

But what I can say is the President has been really clear about the need to continue to fight for our democracy.  That is one of the reasons he jumped into the election back in 2019.  What he was seeing across the country, what was — seeing, obviously, in Charlottesville and what he saw there — the vile, the — the hatred — and it was concerning to him. 

And so — but, you know, you move forward and — from there to January 6 of 2021 — that was a very scary time in our dem- — democracy.  That was a stain on our democracy.  What we saw happening at the Capitol — rioters — of 2,000 rioters wanting to turn over a free and fair election. 

So, obviously, the President wants to continue to fight for that, continue to fight for our democracy, fight for our freedoms, and that’s where we’re going to continue to stand.  I can’t give probability.  I don’t even know who this — who you’re speaking of. 

Q    Okay.  And then I have some on the big story today.


Q    What does President Biden think about the world’s number-one golfer, Scottie Scheffler, being cuffed and then hauled in for a mug shot for what appears to be a misunderstanding at a traffic stop?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I — I’ve seen the reports of Mr. Schef- — Scheffler’s arrest.  I just want to say that our hearts go out to the individual that was killed — 

Q    Unrelated.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, no, let me finish — in the auto — in the auto accident that preceded his arrest.  Obviously, someone did die.  Someone was killed — preceded his arrest — that, obviously, he was not involved in.  So, want to make sure that we share our condolences to that family and their loved ones. 

Anything else, as specifics to his arrest, that would be something for local authorities to speak to. 

Q    I think just — you guys have spent a good chunk of this week —


Q    — talking about how you don’t want anybody to ever go to jail again for pos- — possessing marijuana.  Do you think that somebody who was involved in what appears to be a misunderstanding at a traffic stop should be facing 10 years in prison?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  There — we’ve seen the reports.  There — there’s a process there.  We have to let the legal authorities do — go to their, you know, process and how this all works.  I can’t comment from here, from the lectern, about something that’s being looked into by local authorities.  I got to be mindful about that. 

But let’s not forget: Someone lost their life.  Not — obviously, that preceded this.  But there was an individual that was killed, and there’s a family that’s mourning a death of a loved one.  And so, we want to be sensitive to that as well. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Can we still assume that the Kansas City Chiefs will be visiting the White House this year in celebration of their Super Bowl victory?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, what I can say is all — the team, per usual, when there is a — a champion — a championship team, gets invited.  I don’t have anything to add on their attendance or how that looks.  But the team is always invited.  All — everyone on the team is invited.  I just don’t have anything beyond that. 

Q    So, can you confirm — you said everyone on the team is obviously invited.  Is the Chiefs’ kicker, Harrison Butker, welcome at this White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can say — you would have to, obviously — what I can say is we invite the entire team, and we do that always.  I don’t have anything beyond that.

Q    Given his recent comments, is he specifically welcome at this White — White House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We invite the team.  We invite the team.  It’s an invat- — invitation that goes to the team.  And so, it’s up to the team who comes and who doesn’t come.  That’s the way it usually works. 

Go ahead, Selina.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Just going to take another stab at this.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Which one?  Which stab?  (Laughter.)

Q    So, is the President concerned that having a Supreme Court Justice —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, okay.

Q    — someone who is in such a high position of power, displaying a flag in his house in such a way, that that could fuel more extremism and division in this country?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I just have to be really mindful when we’re talking about the highest court of the land.  That is — we’re not going to step into the re- — who should recuse themselves or not.  That is for the courts to decide —

Q    And then —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — that court to decide. 

Q    — what is the sense here about the wife’s role here?  Whether it is a Supreme Court Justice —


Q    — wife of a senator or a president, should she be able and entitled to have her own political opinions and views without having them tied to her husband or not? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any comment on his wife. 

Q    And then, just lastly —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, sure.

Q    — the Morehouse president said that he is prepared to stop the commencement on the spot —


Q    — if there are disruptive demonstrations.  So, is the President prepared that that could potentially happen in the middle of his speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m going to let the president of — of Morehouse obviously speak to whatever procedure or whatever process that Morehouse wants to put in place. 

Look, I mean, just to step back for a second.  You know, the President is very much looking forward to Sunday.  It is going to be an important moment for, obviously, the students who are graduating, the young men who are graduating, but also their families.  This is some — this is a — when the President does commencement address — he’s done it many times — and I’ve said this — as senator, vice president, as president.  You all know this.  You have covered the President for some time in his different roles as a public — public — public person and — public servant, to be more exact. 

And, you know — and when it comes to this difficult moment in time that we’re in, as we speak about the protests, he understands that there’s a lot of pain.  He understands that people have a lot of opinions, and he respects that folks have opinions. 

And so — and you’ve also seen the President — when there has been protests, the President has treated those peacefully protesters very re- — respectfully — in a respectful way.  And that’s how he’s going to move with any event that he goes forward to do, including on Sunday. 

He will respect the peaceful protesters.  It is up to Morehouse on how they want to manage that and move forward with that.  But he’s going to be respectful, because it’s not just the students, it’s the parents, it’s the loved ones who want — who want to be there to celebrate — celebrate an important moment. 

And as always, we believe all Americans have the right to peacefully protest.  And I’ll just leave it there. 

Go ahead, Nandita.

Q    Just quickly following up on Mayor Benjamin’s appearance yesterday.


Q    He said he traveled to Morehouse.  He spoke to students there.  He asked them what they wanted to hear from the President. 


Q    And many of them said that they wanted to talk about the war in Gaza.  And I’m just kind of trying to understand if the President plans to bring that up proactively during his speech, and what is his message going to be to — to those asking him to change his policy in the Middle East?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple things.  When the mayor was here, he did say he had a private conversation with students and — and others and faculty there.  He said he wanted to keep their — their — that private conversation in private.  So, he was very mindful in what he shared from — from here yesterday afternoon.

Again, in asking me that question, that is previewing the President’s remarks.  I — I am not going to preview his remarks.  I will tell you, more broadly, at a 30,000-foot view, that the President sees this as an important moment to give fu- — our future leaders some advice on how — on how he sees the world or how he could give them a little bit of advice on how to move forward in their — in their careers, in their future. 

And so, not going to get beyond that. 

Q    Does he at least proactively want to bring up this issue, especially because the — these students, as the mayor said, want to talk to him about Gaza.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You’re going to have to — you’re going to have to tune in.  You have to tune in.

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t know if you’re traveling with us, but you’re going to have to tune in.

Go ahead.

Q    Who’s helping him craft his speech? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He’s been doing it himself along with his senior advisors all week. 

Q    Which advisors?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The usual senior advisors.  (Laughter.) 

Q    I know — I know Mayor Benjamin was traveling.  I know the Vice President has —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t —

Q    — talked to Morehouse students.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a list in front of — in front of me to — to call out.  But, you know, he has about — you know, a good — more than a handful of senior advisors.  So, you can imagine any one of them have been in the room with him, helping him craft — craft this important — important speech that’s happening on Sunday.  But I just don’t have a list of names, but it is his senior advisors. 

And he’s been working on it every day.  That I can assure you. 

Q    For this week, he’s been working on it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah. 

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He’s been diligently working on this and taking this very seriously and wants to, obviously, hit the right — hit the right tone, meet the moment. 

Q    And earlier today, at the museum, he said something interesting, where he — he mentioned, “As soon as I came into office, I signed the American Rescue Plan.  And I want to be political for a second, because we’re having problems — not one Republican voted for it — not one.”  What — what did he mean by “problems”?  Is it the message not breaking through —


Q    — that — in your mind, do you think he was talking about —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s a good —

Q    — not enough people know about this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s an interesting catch.  I did not catch that in his remarks.

I don’t know.  I would have to — I would have to ask the President. 

But what I will say is — and I think that I do re- — I do remember this in his remarks, which is the American Rescue Plan, not one Republican voted for it.  It helped turn the — the economy around.  It helped open schools, helped start small businesses. 

And I think it was — I think he sees it as such an important — important piece of legislation — the first one that he was able to sign into law.  That made a difference.  That made a difference.

And I do know that he believes there are Republicans out there in Congress who try to take credit for that really important piece of legislation.  And he tends to call them out, as you’ve heard him do so.  Some of them actually benefited from that — the American Rescue Plan, which he has been very, very diligent on calling that out. 

And it was an opportunity for them to be on the right side of history, and they were not.  And so, he tends to call that out. 

Anything beyond that, I don’t have any specifics or — or detail into that. 

Q    Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Yeah.  Does the President plan to meet with any of the Morehouse students while he’s down there, in addition to giving the speech?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’ll have more to share as we get closer to Sunday.  Don’t have anything for you at this time beyond that. 

Go ahead.

Q    Yeah.  I wanted to kind of follow up on that. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, yeah.

Q    A lot of — a lot of the messages to Black Americans that Biden is doing over the last couple days are at — at them — you know, a speech at Morehouse, the speech at the museum, the speech in Detroit. 

I — I wonder if you can give any, you know, sense of whether that information flows both ways.  Is he asking questions?  Is he — are — is — are the Divine Nine, you know, saying, “This is what we would like to see from your presidency going forward”? 


Q    You know, listening as opposed to speaking.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, I — I know you’re saying “at them.”  I don’t — we don’t see it “at them.”  I think the President shows up in front of a crowd of — in front of a community and talks about how he’s been working on their behalf, working to deliver for that community or for all Americans. 

I think that’s important.  I think people want to hear from the President.  They want to hear what is it that he has to say, whether it’s about the economy, healthcare, whatever issues that’s important to them. 

And I think the fact that the President shows up at the African American Museum is important.  The fact that the President, you know, is here — has in front — has — is talking to the Divine Nine, I think it’s also very important.  Going to Morehouse, we’re talking about young men who are going into — going into their careers, and they get to hear from the President of the United States.  That’s actually important, I think, for them to hear from the President. 

So, I don’t — the “at them,” I think, is kind of a little harsh there.  I think it’s the President showing up and sharing and being very clear about what he has done, as — as their president, to deliver. 

And — and I think to the — I think to the heart of your question, you know, the President also loves to hear from people.  He does.  He loves to hear from what they have to say, what they have to offer.  He’s going to do that with the Divine Nine.  He did that yesterday with the different plaintiffs of — of Brown v. Board.  He does that very often, continuously, and I think it is important for him. 

The best advice, the best — you know, the best feedback that he gets is from everyday people — you know, Americans who are out there, who have — who are living the life — are living the lives that he’s trying to improve.  So, he’s very much open to that. 

Go ahead, Franco.

Q    I wanted to ask about the background checks that are going to go into effect next week — gun background checks.  There’s a number of lawsuits from state attorney generals against them, the Second Amendment —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Which background checks are you —

Q    The gun background checks.  The —


Q    — they were announced earlier this spring.  Expa- — licenses of private — private gun sales —


Q    — for the private market. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, I think that’s more for the Department of Justice.  I don’t have any — anything specifics on how that’s going to work out or the process of that.  I would have to refer you to Department of Justice.  Don’t have anything in detail for you at this time.

Go ahead.

Q    Karine, since the announcement of the U.S. tariffs on China earlier this week, we’ve heard from the international community, including IMF and WTO and others, that are expressing concerns about the impact of these tariffs on the global economy.  And I understand we heard from NEC Director Brainard yesterday about the case she’s making for how underpriced exports have hurt the U.S. economy specifically.  But does the administration have any case to be made for how this is going to help the global economy in addition to the U.S. economy?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just a couple of things.  Look, he took this action — the President did — obviously, earlier this week, when we made the announcement on Tuesday, to make — to make sure there was a level playing field, because he knows that Americans can — can outcompete anyone just as long as that competition is fair, right?  And that — you heard us say that over and over again.  You heard that from the ambassador — Ambassador Tai. 

But China hasn’t been playing by the rules.  It’s just a fact.  Their unfair policies undermine the global trade, not just us — Americans and American businesses and companies — but global trade more broadly. 

And so, certainly, we’re not alone in voicing those concerns about China’s unfair trade policies and taking action to address them.  We’re not the only ones who have said anything about that, spoken about it, or taken actions.  A number of advanced and emerging economies have also expressed concerns.  Their industries also face damage from China’s overcapacity. 

And so, the President is going to continue, as he does always, to work with our allies to join forces to out — to outcompete China and whether then — rather than undermining our alliances, threatening jobs, and increasing costs for families by $1,500 with universal 10 percent tariffs. 

And so, we are — we are going to remain an open economy — the United States.  And so — and we’re going to do that with foreign investment and American manufacturing almost double its — its average before the pandemic.  Our China — our actions — pardon me — are focused on strategic sectors and not only on China. 

So, we’re going to continue to work with our allies.  And — and so, we’re trying to make sure that, you know, competition is fair.  And the policies that China had were unfair and undermined global trade.  And so, we’re addressing that.  And we’re going to continue to do that. 

Go ahead.

AIDE:  We got to wrap.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s okay.  It’s all right. 

Q    Any response from the — from the White House regarding the sentencing of Mr. DePape in the attack on Paul Pelosi?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, I know that — I saw that when I was coming out.  I want to be really careful on that, too.  On — on the judicial — it’s a judicial process. 

But as you heard from the President immediately after we received the tragic news of the heartbreaking attack on Paul Pelosi, there’s absolutely no place for political violence in America — not at all.  As leaders, we owe it to everyone not to repeat dangerous conspiracy theories and speak out against violence and violent rhetoric.  We’re so grateful — and we had, obviously, the opportunity to see Paul Pelosi a few times, most recently at the Medal of Freedom.  And you all saw him as well. 

And obviously he has recovered.  And so, the President is grateful for his friendship.  He’s grateful for the friendship of Speaker Pelosi.  And we’re happy that he’s doing well. 

But I’m not going to speak to a judicial process. 

I’m being pulled, guys.  I will see you. 

Q    Karine, you haven’t answered my question, though.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, my gosh.  (Laughter.) 

Q    Thank you.  So, just a follow-up —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You’re right.  I owe you.  I owe you an answer.  What was the question?

Q    Yeah, just — it’s basically to follow up with what my colleagues have asked about Morehouse.  I know you can’t preview the content of the speech. 


Q    But is the President mindful of how Black students who are protesting in campus might see a parallel of their experience of injustice between themselves and the Palestinians?  Has he received input about this?  Is he sympathetic to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, the President is sympathetic to the fact that many communities are in pain.  He has said that.  He is very sympathetic to what people are feeling right now.  He knows that it is a difficult time, and he respects that.  He truly does.  And — and, you know, that is also why he also respects the fact that people have the right to peacefully protest. 

And it is a difficult time, and we get that.  He gets that.  And, you know, as President, he makes incredibly difficult decisions.  And — but he also understands as president, there are people who are going to feel pain in a different way or see actions that he’s taken differently, in different views.  But this is what our democracy is all about, having different opinions, having different views, and being able to express your voice and be able to be very clear about that. 

And so, that’s why we’ve been saying — when you all have been asking about protests and what the President’s going to do — he’s going to do what he’s been doing for the past several months when there have been protests — respect the protesters who are doing it peacefully — understanding that all Americans have the right to speak their voice.  That is part of our democracy.  That is part of who we are. 

All right.  Thanks, everybody.

END 3:36 P.M. EDT

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