James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:10 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi, everybody.  Good afternoon. 

Also, happy belated Father’s Day to all the dads in here.  Hopefully, you were well taken care of yesterday. 

So, a couple of things at the top, and then we’ll get going. 

So, I want to say a few words in recognition of Pride Month.  The Biden-Harris administration joins Americans across the country to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of the LGBTQI+ community.

This month is a time to reflect on the progress we have made in pursuit of equality, justice, and inclusion.  And it’s time to recommit ourselves to do more to support LGBTQI+ rights at home and around the world.

Since day one, the Biden-Harris administration has taken historic action to advance equality for the community.  But last year, more than 600 anti-LGBTQI+ bills were filed in statehouses across the country and a significant portion of them target transgender youth.

As President Biden says, these young people are some of the bravest people he knows, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves.

The Biden-Harris administration is going to continue to speak out and stand up against these attacks and will — and will remain focused on realizing the promise of America for all Americans.

I want to close by saying to the LGBTQI+ community that there is always someone you can talk to if you’re going through a hard time and need support.

The Biden-Harris administration launched the 988 line to help, and we have a line dedicated to serving LGBTQI+ young people that can be reached by dialing 988 and pressing 3.  Again, dialing 988 and pressing 3. 

This month, we will continue to celebrate courageous LGBTQI- — -QI+ people and take pride in the example they set for our nation and around the world.

Second, as many of you know, there were a tragic series of shootings over the weekend.  This included a shooting in Michigan that injured multiple children and a shooting at a Juneteenth festival in Texas that left two people dead and over a dozen injured.

The President has been tracking these tragedies.  We are praying for the families who lost loved ones to the senseless violence and wishing all those who were injured a speedy recovery.  Our team is in contact with state and local officials.

As the President has said, this is not normal, and Congress must act.

At the same time, he will continue to use every tool at his disposal to end the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our communities apart.  And let’s not forget, gun violence is the number-one killer of young people across the country.

And now, I’m going to turn it over to the Admiral, who is going to speak to developing matters in the Middle East.  And also, I know there’s some NSC traveling — travel happening as well abroad. 

Go ahead, Admiral.  

MR. KIRBY:  I want to thank Karine in advance for her indulgence and all of yours.  I do have quite a few things to get through, so if you just bear with me, I’d appreciate it.

I want to start off here at the top by providing an update on maritime attacks conducted by Iranian-backed Houthis and to preview some sanctions that will be rolled out later today by the Treasury Department.

Now, a few days ago, the Houthis attacked the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned-and-operated bulk cargo carrier, merchant vessel Tutor, killing a crew member who hailed from the Philippines. 

The Tutor had just completed a port call in Russia and was bound for Egypt.  She had nothing whatsoever — nothing — to do with the conflict in Gaza. 

They also attacked the Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated motor vessel Verbena, critically wounding a crew member from Sri Lanka. 

The Verbena had previously stopped in China, then Thailand, and was on her way to Italy.  She, too, had nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict in Gaza. 

So, just think about that for a hot minute or two.

The Houthis killed an innocent crew member from the Philippines and critically wounded a Sri Lankan sailor who were guilty of no crimes, who were simply doing their jobs as professional mariners.

They weren’t delivering arms to Israel.  They weren’t taking sides in the Middle East.  They were just manning their posts aboard ship, trying to earn a paycheck and keep global commerce moving.

Like the ships that they sailed in, these two blokes had nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict in Gaza.

Now, these most recent attacks, of course, come on top of numerous others in recent months — attacks which can and only rightly be labelled acts of terrorism against nations from around the world.

Even the Yemeni people have fallen victim, as the Houthis have on one occasion struck a ship that was bringing grain to their own ports.

These attacks also obstruct humanitarian aid to Sudan, where the needs are tremendous and the conditions desperate, and they impact commerce for every neighboring country in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East from the E- — from Egypt to Ethiopia to Jordan and Djibouti. 

The Houthis are causing needless suffering across the entire region for Gazans, for the Sudanese, for the Yemenis themselves. 

And as I said, this is pure terrorism.  There is simply no other word for it.

The Houthi claim of supporting Gazans is meritless in any case.  The Israeli ports are now open for moving of goods directly into Gaza, and we are in the process of moving thousands of pallets from Ashdod into Gaza as we speak.

The United States has provided thousands of metric tons of assistance to Gazans and will continue to do so.  We are the largest contributor by far to date. 

The Houthis by contrast have not provided so much as a slice of bread to the Palestinians in Gaza. 

For our part, the United States will continue to ensure assistance is reaching Gaza in large quantities, and we will continue to act with partners around the world to hold the Houthi terrorists accountable for their actions.

Today, as I mentioned at the top, Treasury will announce new sanction designations against individuals and entities that are involved in the Houthi weapons procurement network. 

We’re going to continue to target this network to degrade Houthi — the Houthis’ ability to replenish its munitions.  And we’ll continue to target threats to international commerce when necessary, including taking another strike, as we did just last night, against a unmanned aerial ve- — vehicle that posed a direct threat to ships in the area.

But I thought it was important to just provide a little context here.  This Houth- — these Houthi attacks, they don’t grab the headlines that they used to — to grab, but they’re having an impact.  And we are trying to have an impact on their ability. 

So, their — their actions are truly reckless, beyond the pale.  They talk a mighty good game, but their actions speak a hell of a lot louder.  They don’t care a whit about Palestinians in Gaza.  And this isn’t some principled stand they’re taking.  It’s terrorism, as I said, pure and simple.  And it has to stop.

Now, as you know, the President will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House later this afternoon to talk about planning for NATO’s 75th annual summit next month in Washington.  The President will reaffirm the ironclad U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and he’ll welcome steps that Allies are taking to support Ukraine.

I expect the two leaders will also talk about the progress that NATO Allies are all making on increasing their defense spending, which has more than doubled since President Biden took office. 

Quickly turning, if I could, to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s trip to India, where he met with senior members of the Indian government and U.S. and Indian industry leaders to expand key oper- — key areas of cooperation between our countries today. 

In New Delhi, Mr. Sullivan will co-chair the U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology, also known as iCET, a landmark partnership to expand strategic cooperation across key technology sectors, including space, semiconductors, advanced telecommunications, artif- — artificial intelligence, quantum technology, biotechnology, and clean energy.

As the world’s two oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India share a unique bond of friendship.  And Mr. Sullivan’s trip will further deepen the already strong U.S.-India partnership to create a safer, more prosperous Indo-Pacific.

And, finally, I want to just briefly highlight the successful Summit on Peace in Ukraine over the past weekend, which Vice President Harris and National Security Advisor Sullivan both attended. 

More than 100 countries and organizations came together to discuss the importance of reaching a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, based on the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the foundation of the U.N. Charter.

As President Biden said on Thursday when he signed our historic bilateral security agreement with Ukraine, a lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine’s own ability to defend itself now and to deter future aggression. 

So, we’re going to continue to provide military aid to help Ukraine defend itself on the battlefield, and we’re going to continue to support the Ukrainian people, including through the new funding that Vice President Harris announced to repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and through new funding for humanitarian aid and assistance to support Ukrainians who have been displaced from their homes and from their lives.

With that, thank you for your patience.  I’ll take some questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Mary.

Q    Thanks.  Can you give us your response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s move to disband his War Cabinet?  You know, he seems to — to think that — that there’s no need for an extra branch of government, as it was described to us.  Do you agree that — that a War Cabinet isn’t necessary right now?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, that’s really up to the Prime Minister to decide, Mary.  This is — the — the War Cabinet is an internal — was an internal domestic measure taken by the Prime Minister to better advise and provide him counsel on the war.  We said at the time that we believed it was a worthwhile step, and — and we still hold by that.

But with Mr. Gantz’s decision to leave, I’m not sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu was w- — left with a whole lot of other choices.

Q    And more broadly speaking, how concerned is the President right now that the far-right voices in the Israeli government may yield more power?

MR. KIRBY:  That — again, that’s going to be up to Israeli leaders, and that’s going to be up to the Prime Minister.  We deal with the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister is the elected head of the Israeli government.  That’s who the President deals with.  He will continue to do so.

They don’t agree on everything.  They’re not going to agree on everything going forward.  But they have a long relationship with one another, and — and they know that they’ll both have an open line to one another.  So, we’re going to leave it at that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Trevor.

Q    Thanks.  Could — could you comment at all on Putin’s trip to North Korea and the possibility that there’s going to be an agreement — a partnership agreement signed?

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, look, no surprise that he went to North Korea after his so-called election — the real nail-biter that that was.  He was going to go on a little bit of a charm offensive here, and that’s what he appears to be doing.

We’re not concerned about the trip.  What we are concerned about, Trevor, is the deepening relationship between these two countries, not just because of the impact it’s going to have on the Ukrainian people — because we know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets — but because there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean Peninsula.

Now, we haven’t seen the parameters of all of that right now.  Certainly haven’t seen it come to fruition.  But we’re certainly going to be watching that very, very closely.

Q    And do you have any comments on this apparent collision between the Chinese and the Philippines?

MR. KIRBY:  And the Philippines.  Yeah, this is a — you’re talking about the Second Thomas Shoal. 

Yeah, these are troubling reports, because it appears as if — and just from initial operational reports that we’ve gotten — that at least one Philippine sailor was wounded.  I mean, you talk about collisions and water cannons, and — and you don’t think about the — the damage that can do to the human body.  But let me tell you something: It can.

And so, we’re deeply concerned about the — the injury suffered by this Philippine sailor.  Obviously, wishing him the best in terms of his recovery.

But more critically, to your question, this kind of behavior is provocative, it’s reckless, it’s unnecessary, and it could lead to misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to something much bigger and much more violent. 

It’s imperative that — that the rightful legal maritime claims by the Philippines are respected by the PRC and by everybody else, for that matter.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Admiral, has the President taken part in consultations about deployment of more nuclear weapons as Secretary General Stoltenberg referred to in an interview with the Telegraph?

MR. KIRBY:  Look, we’re a NATO Ally, and we talk to our NATO Allies all the time about what readiness looks like, what posture needs to look like, and how we can all be better postured to meet our Article 5 commitments — the same commitments that the President is going to reiterate when he meets with Jens Stoltenberg later this afternoon. 

We don’t talk about nuclear posture with any specificity, and I’m certainly not going to start doing that here from the podium. 

I’ll just tell you that we’re comfortable, as we have been comfortable, with our strategic deterrent posture not only on the European continent but around the world.

Q    If you allow me, how can this not be perceived as provocation or an escalation in — of tension in Europe by re- —

MR. KIRBY:  Who would perceive it as a pro- — provocation or an escalation?

Q    Russia.

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, Russia.  Russia, the same country that invaded Ukraine, which posed absolutely no threat to them. 

Look, NATO is a defensive alliance, and NATO countries are some of the most sophisticated in the world when it comes to military capabilities.  And it would be irresponsible and imprudent if we weren’t constantly talking to our NATO Allies about how to make sure we can meet our commitments to one another across a range of military capabilities.  And that’s as far as I’ll go.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    John, the former CI- — Acting CIA Director Michael Morell wrote in Foreign Affairs today that “the terrorism warning lights are blinking red again.”  Do you agree with that assessment?

MR. KIRBY:  Certainly, we would absolutely say unequivocally that we’ve got to keep our eye on the terrorist threat. 

Just in the recent week or so, AFRICOM took a strike on — on some ISIS leaders in Somalia.  Now, we’re still waiting for the actual battle damage assessment of that strike, but — but it’s clear that the — that the threat is still real, and we have to still go after it. 

Q    One of the vulnerabilities he cites is that thousands of people are crossing the border unknown each week and that he says that the United States should consider using national emergency authorities.  Is that something the administration is considering?  Is he wrong there?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I don’t have anything in terms of decision-making on what those — I don’t — I’m not even sure I’d completely understand what he means by all those authorities.  I would tell you that, as Karine has said in just recent days, the President has taken executive action that he believes is — is warranted. 

But what’s really needed at the border — I mean, we can — we — everybody can talk a good game, but you can’t really change what’s happening at the border unless you have legislation, unless you have real resources and funding and support that is sustainable over time to make a big difference down at the border.  So, there’s no magic wand that can be waved here to make it all go away. 

Q    So, is there anything more the administration can do without Congress?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, the President already, as you just saw last week, announced some executive action, particularly when it comes to asylum.  But what we really need is for Congress to act. 

Th- — there was a deal on the table, a bipartisan deal in the Senate, that would have been the most sweeping change — it would have caused the most sweeping changes not just to border enforcement and security but to immigration policy itself in many, many years.  And it didn’t go anywhere because a certain ex-official decided he didn’t like it, that he thought it was better for there to be a problem rather than a solution.  So, the President took some executive action. 

I’m not going to foreclose what he would do in the future, but what we really need is comprehensive legislation.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    John, following up on that.  Given the fact that there are these concerns about the rising threat of terrorism, is the President considering raising the terror alert level?  And if not, why wouldn’t he consider that?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not aware of any decision to change that.  We’re watching this like a hawk every single day.  As I said, AFRICOM just, in recent days, took a — took a strike — an air strike against some ISIS leaders in Somalia. 

It’s not something that we have ever stopped focusing on.  I mean, as you remember when we — when we conducted the withdrawal from Afghanistan, we talked about sharpening over-the-horizon targeting capability, and you’ve seen that bear out now — places like Iraq and in Syria, now in Somalia and other places.  It’s not something that we’re — that we take lightly.  It’s not something that — that we aren’t constantly trying to improve and sharpen.  And we have not lost one bit — have not lost one bit of focus on the — on the terrorism threat either here in the United States or around the world.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thanks.  In Jake’s meetings in India, has the — the plot to kill an American Sikh activist come up at all?  And do you expect that to be part of the discussions (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I don’t have more to add on the conversations that — that Jake is having that — he’s still over there having these conversations.  But the main focus of his visit, as I said, was to look for ways to deepen the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, particularly when it comes to emerging technology. 

Q    Would he bring this up?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have anything more to add on the conversations.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Anita.

Q    Thank you so much.  I have a question about China and then another on the cricket.  Starting with the —

MR. KIRBY:  On the cricket?

Q    On the cricket.

MR. KIRBY:  As in the game?

Q    Yes.

MR. KIRBY:  Okay. 

Q    Starting with President Xi —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, see, I just wanted to make clear it wasn’t a bug —

Q    Or the singing insect, perhaps.  (Laughter.) 

MR. KIRBY:  Go ahead. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Go ahead, Anita.

Q    Let me know.  Okay. 

MR. KIRBY:  Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry.

Q    President Xi, last year, told the head of the European Commission — or the European Commission president that the U.S. is trying to, quote, “trick” China into attacking Taiwan.  This sounds awfully similar to some language that President Putin was using to justify his invasion of Ukraine.  Do you think that Xi is taking a line from Putin’s playbook?  How concerned are you about it?  Is this something that the two leaders have talked about?

MR. KIRBY:  It’s bogus, for one.  There’s absolutely no truth to it. 

I can’t get into Mr. Xi’s head and figure out where — who’s giving him his talking points or where it’s coming from.  It’s just not true.

What’s your next question?

Q    All right.  On cricket.  What’s the difference between a spin bowl and a (inaudible) — no, I’m joking.  I’m joking.  (Laughter.)

The U.S. team has spin-bowled their way into glory.  They’re — they’re in the —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, congratulations to them. 

Q    — the Super Eight.

MR. KIRBY:  I saw that.

Q    Yeah.  So, I just wanted to know what your message was —

MR. KIRBY:  They’re in the Super Eight now.

Q    The Super Eight.  And they’re facing —

MR. KIRBY:  It’s amazing.

Q    — the Proteas and then the Windies in the coming days.  Does the President have a message for this unexpected success in a sport that is wildly popular —

MR. KIRBY:  We all —

Q    — everywhere else in the world?

MR. KIRBY:  We all congratulate them on this success.  It’s tremendous.  And we’re cheering them on.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Let’s keep going.  Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thank you.  At the G7, President Biden greenlit the limited use of U.S. arms by Ukraine to strike targets across the border into Russia, but he clarified that nothing had changed in terms of long-range strikes inside Russia. 

So, my first question is: Can you say definitively that the President’s stance on long-range strikes inside Russia by Ukraine won’t change? 

And then, second, when the United Kingdom gave Ukraine permission to use British weapons to strike targets inside Russia, Moscow responded by saying that they could hit British targets, quote, “on Ukraine’s territory and beyond its borders” in retaliation.  What would the President’s response be if Moscow was to take that action against Britain?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, th- — that’s a hypothetical I don’t need to worry about because the President’s policy hasn’t changed when it comes to long-range strike — long- — the use of long-range U.S. strike weapons into Russia proper. 

I also just want to correct something you said.  You said he “greenlit” at the G7 this idea of cross-border — the use of U.S. weapons for cross-border imminent threats.  That’s actually a decision he made well before the G7.

Q    So — but in terms of this Russian threat to potentially strike British targets on Ukrainian territory and beyond, what is the White House response to that type of rhetoric coming from Moscow?

MR. KIRBY:  I would — my — look, my response to Mr. Putin is this.  If you’re so worried about becoming the victim of attacks and you’re worried about your troops’ livelihoods and your military units, then get the hell out of Ukraine.  You don’t have any business being there in the first place.  That’s my best advice to Mr. Putin.

Q    Thank you, sir.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Raquel. 

Q    Thank you very much, Karine.  Hi, John.  So, President Biden has sent a envoy today to Israel and Lebanon.  How real, John, is the possibility that this war will expand to Lebanon?  Do you believe — do you think it’s — do you — do you think that this — the full war there is more real today, the possibility, than it was few weeks ago? 


Q    And do you believe that it’s possible to deescalate the situation there — the growing escalation, the tension — without a ceasefire? 

MR. KIRBY:  Look, I don’t want to sound blasé about th- — we — if we weren’t concerned about the possibility of escalation and a full-blown second front there to the north, we wouldn’t still be involved in such intense diplomacy.  And Mr. Hochstein is over there right now — as matter of fact, he’s in Israel as we speak — to have these conversations.  And he’ll follow that up with conversations in Beirut.

So, obviously, we’re concerned about this.  We haven’t seen Hezbollah jump in with two full feet here.  They have been, of course, conducting strikes across that border.  The Israelis have been defending themselves against that. 

We don’t want to see escalation.  We don’t want to see a second front.  And we are — we are concerned about it. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Weijia.

Q    Is the possibility more real today than two weeks ago?

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, that’s a sliding scale kind of question that I don’t think I’m really educated enough to answer.  I mean, it’s obviously still of concern.  There continues to be exchange of fire across that border.  And if we weren’t concerned about it, we certainly wouldn’t have sent Amos over there.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Weijia.

Q    Thank you.  First — thanks, John — to follow up on Mary, you said that the U.S. did think it was worthwhile to have the War Cabinet in place.  Now that it is no longer, does the U.S. believe it will be a detriment as Netanyahu makes decisions moving forward?

MR. KIRBY:  I think that remains to be seen. 

Q    And then, secondly, do you have an update on the U.S. -built pier, the humanitarian aid pier that has been removed —

MR. KIRBY:  Removed?

Q    That is undergoing repairs —

MR. KIRBY:  Because of severe weather that we talked about being a problem in the — in the summertime here in the Eastern Med.  I don’t.  You’d have to go to the Pentagon for a real — more — a tactical update. 

As I understand it, they did have weather-related issues.  They had to dismantle it for the safety of everybody involved.  But I honestly don’t know what the new status is.

Q    Okay.  Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Got to wrap it up.  Go ahead, Franco. 

Q    Thanks, John.  Thanks, Karine.  Secretary General Stoltenberg was talking about once the current fighting in Ukraine ends, that the ultimate security guarantee to prevent it from happening again — that Russia invades again — is Article 5 from NATO.  He seemed to be very clear that Ukraine should be admitted into NATO after the current fighting ends. 

Is that a — is — can you speak to that?  Is that a commitment that the U.S. shares, feels — that once this cur- — once this current fighting ends, that — feels strongly that Ukraine can get into NATO?

MR. KIRBY:  The President has said that he believes that NATO is in Ukraine’s future.  And there’s — there’s a lot of things that have to be done before they can join the Alliance, like any member has to do before they can join the Alliance.  But the President believes firmly that NATO is in Ukraine’s future at some point.

Q    But those — those conditions that have been — have been, you know, ki- — it’s somewhat a little bit vague.  It’s been a very di- — it has not been a very clear pathway when would they be able to do the actio- —

MR. KIRBY:  I disagree.

Q    — the action plan —

MR. KIRBY:  No — 

Q    — that they can get on?

MR. KIRBY:  No, I’m sorry, I got to disagree with you there. 

Q    What’s —

MR. KIRBY:  It’s not — it’s absolutely clear.  And they — and — and the Alliance —

Q    What are the specific conditions that Ukraine needs to meet?

MR. KIRBY:  The Alliance has talked about and the United States has certainly talked about, first, they got to win this war.  All right?  They got to win the war first.  And so, number one, we’re doing everything we can to make sure they can do that. 

Then when the war is over, no matter what it looks like, they’re still going to have a long border with Russia and a legitimate security threat to the Ukrainian people.  That’s why the President at the — at the G7 signed our bilateral security agreement joining — what? — some other — 14, 15 other countries that have done the same thing to make sure that, for the long haul, Ukraine’s defense industrial base can continue to make sure that they have what they need to defend themselves, and that includes assistance from the United States.  That’s the long haul. 

That will help — that will help them defend themselves while they work on the necessary things they have to do, like any member of the Alliance has to work on — for instance, on corruption — before they can apply for NATO membership. 

But we do believe that NATO is in Ukraine’s future, and we’re going to work with them every step of the way to

get them there.

Q    Is corruption still a major concern for —

MR. KIRBY:  The —

Q    — NATO Alliance (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  Corruption is a concern.  But there’s — there’s certainly o- — other things that need to be done for any — any nation that wants to join the Alliance. 

And I want to reiterate that joining the Alliance is an Alliance decision; it’s not something the United States can just make happen magically.  It has to be done through the existing Allies as well.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Akayla.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  National Secur- —

Q    Yes.  In an interview —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No — sorry. 

Q    — an interview with BBC —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, go ahead.  Thank you.

Q    National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said over the weekend that he had plans to meet with officials from Qatar and Israel while he was in Switzerland.  Did he actually have those meetings?  And is there any update you can provide on the ceasefire hostage deal negotiations?

MR. KIRBY:  I would just tell you that we have maintained communication with both Qatar and Egypt.  And while I don’t have any progress to report today in terms of where things are, we’re still — we don’t — we still believe this is a very live process.  And these conversations are, in fact, being — they’re constructive, and — and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to get there.  So, yes, those conversations are happening.

Q    And the President met with the Pope, obviously, last week.  Did he raise his reported use of homophobic slurs when he met with him privately?

MR. KIRBY:  I don’t have anything more specific to speak to in terms of the meeting with the Pope.  That’s out — out of my swim lane at the NSC.

Q    But any response to his reported use of those words — of those terms?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I just don’t have anything for you on that.  I’m sorry.

Q    Thank you.  This morning, Secretary General Stoltenberg said in public comments that, publicly, President Xi has tried to create the impression that he’s taking a backseat in the conflict in Ukraine, but the reality is that China is fueling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War Two.  What is the U.S.’s view on that position?

MR. KIRBY:  We’re already said almost the same thing.  I mean, they are continuing to provide components for military equipment and weapons systems, microelectronics that have helped shore up what without that support would have been a truly crumbling Russian defense industrial base.  We’ve made those concerns directly clear to — to the Chinese as well.

Q    But he says that there are not enough costs being imposed on Beijing for that.  D- — is that something that the President and the Secretary General are going to be discussing, how the Alliance can impose more costs on China?

MR. KIRBY:  I have no doubt that they’ll discuss a range of issues important to the NATO Alliance, and clearly that means supporting Ukraine, and clearly that means trying to make it harder for Russia to be able to murder and slaughter innocent Ukrainians and destroy Ukrainian infrastructure.  And the Chinese, because of the support that they are providing to the Russian defense industrial base, certainly bear a hand in helping Mr. Putin do that. 

I — I didn’t see those particular comments by the NATO Secretary General, so I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth on that.  But I would just tell you — you know, I’d encourage anybody: Just look at the range of actions that we have taken to try to hold Russia accountable not just from a perspective of supplying Ukraine but in terms of going after their own economic ability, and look at how he’s basically running on a war economy and nothing else. 

Here he is in Pyongyang trying to get more stuff from the North Koreans. 

We have done a lot to hold Mr. Putin accountable.  And that means and — and has included holding some of these Chinese companies accountable as well for the support that they’re giving to the Russian defense industrial base.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Go ahead.

Q    A Russian fleet has reportedly left Havana.  Do you know where it’s going and what your level of concern is about it?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I can’t speak for the Russian Navy.  No, I have — I — I don’t have insight as to, you know, what their — what their course and speed is and where they’re going. 

And we’ve already talked about this.  It’s important to keep it in perspective.  The Russians do this every few years.  They make an excursion to the Caribbean, into Latin American waters.  It’s not new.  Did it under Trump.  Did it under Obama.  Did it under President Bush.  We watch it closely and monitor it, as we prob- — as we should.  No question about that. 

But as I’ve said earlier, this — this excursion of theirs doesn’t pose a national security threat to the American people or to the homeland.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Aurelia. 

Q    Thank you.  Hi, John.  Can you update us on the talks being held in Jerusalem to prevent an escalation on the Lebanese border?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m sorry, can I —

Q    There are talks, like the U.S. —

MR. KIRBY:  I already talked about that a little bit ago.

Q    — Special Envoy Hochstein is in Jerusalem.

MR. KIRBY:  I kind of — I kind of answered that question before when I talked about Amos and his trip.

Q    Yeah, but is it still your assessment that there will — there won’t be an escalation and that Hezbollah won’t go (inaudible) into this conflict?

MR. KIRBY:  If we — if we were so sure of that, we probably wouldn’t have Amos traveling over there.  We’re concerned about it, obviously.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Jon, last question. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Thanks, John.  One of the successes that President Biden touted at the G7 summit was this agreement by G7 leaders to provide $50 billion in loans to Ukraine.  Can you walk through the process of how that money actually gets to Ukraine, when it is provided to Ukraine, what that money is used for specifically?

MR. KIRBY:  I think the modalities of all that are still being worked out, Jon.  I couldn’t detail it for you here today.  But it is ba- — it’s basically about taking the windfall profits off these frozen assets, turning them around, and doing something good with them.  And so, they’re provided as a, quote, unquote, “loan” to Ukraine — for Ukraine specifically. 

I mean, it will be up to President Zelenskyy to decide, but the idea is to help him repair his infrastructure — the infrastructure that’s been damaged by Russia’s aggression inside the country — and to help them with reconstruction. 

And you don’t have to wait until the war’s over to do that.  In fact, that would — that would be a terrible thing to do to the Ukrainian people.  So, it’s a — it’s a way to get that reconstruction started right now and have Russia literally and figuratively be the one footing the bill.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right. 

Q    Can you explain why you just called it a, quote, unquote, “loan”?

MR. KIRBY:  Because it’s not as if — because if you’re using the windfall profits, it’s not as if Ukraine is going to have to pay those back.  It’s going to — you’re going to continue to be able to source that through — through the frozen assets and the — the windfall profits from those assets.


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

Q    So, why use “loan” at all?

MR. KIRBY:  Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Admiral. 

I do want to say something really quickly here.  When we were talk — going back and forth about the President — what else is the President going to do, yes, the President has been very clear in making sure that — and saying that we need a legislative solution.  But he also said, when he’s talked about the executive action that he recently took, that, in weeks ahead, he’s going to speak on how we can make our immigration system more fairer and more just.  So, he will have more to say on that.

I — obviously, we don’t have any policy announcement — announcement to make at this time.  But the President is certainly going to continue to address what we’re seeing at the border, the challenges at the border. 

The President has taken this very seriously.  He wants to see action.  He wants to see a bipartisan legislation move towards that.  But we haven’t — we haven’t seen that.

And so, it is — it is really important that we are with the majority of the American people when it comes to trying to make sure things are — are done.

On the question of — on the Pope.  And as the Admiral said, we’re not — we’re not going to go beyond what was read out and the issues that were discussed.  And it was a range of issues, obviously, whether it’s humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Ukraine, as well, and what’s happening with Russia aggression. 

But as it relates to LGBTQ — and, obviously, that is something that the Pope — Pope can speak to.  But the President has been very clear — you heard me at the top — when it comes to LGBTQI+ people, in that he believes that everyone, including that community, should live in — in dignity, should live in dignity, and he thinks that LGBTQ- — -QI+ people — young people are the bravest young people that he’s ever met.  And so — and they should not be facing discrimination.  

And I just wanted to be very clear about that as well.


Q    Okay.  I got two questions.  Just one real quick off — off the top.  Does President Biden plan to meet with Netanyahu when he comes for his joint —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything —

Q    — session of Congress?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — to share on the President’s schedule.  As it relates to the Prime Minister visit, obviously, that’s something — since Congress invited — invited the Prime Minister, that’s something that they can speak to.  Don’t have anything to say at this time.  It’s more than a month away.  I just don’t have anything to share on the President’s schedule.

Q    Secondly, there — there seems to be a sort of rash of videos that have been edited to make the President appear especially frail or mentally confused.  I’m wondering if the — the White House is especially worried about the fact that this appears to be a pattern that we’re seeing more — more often? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, we — and I think you all have called this the “cheap fakes” video.  And that’s exactly what they are.  They are cheap fakes video.  They are done in bad faith.  And — and some of your news organization have — have been very clear, have stressed that these right-wing — the right-wing critics of the President have a credibility problem because of — the fact checkers have repeatedly caught them pushing misinformation, disinformation.

And so, we see this, and this is something coming from — from your — your part of the world, calling them cheap fakes and misinformation. 

And I’ll quote the Washington Post, where they wrote — they wrote about this, and they said, “How Republicans used misleading videos to attack Biden in a 24-hour period.”  And to their credit, we have a conservative — Washington Examiner did call them out as well, calling out the New York Post. 

Ironically, several — several recent cheap fakes actually attack the President for thanking troops — for thanking troops.  That is what they’re attacking the President for.  Both in Normandy this happened and again in Italy.

And I think that it tells you everything that we need to know about how — how desperate — how desperate Republicans are here. 

And instead of talking about the President’s performance in office — and what I mean by that is his legislative wins, what he’s been able to do for the American people across the country — we’re seeing these deep fakes, these manipulated videos.  And it is, again, done in bad faith.

Go ahead.

Q    The Surgeon General is calling for this warning label on social media platforms.  The President and the administration have been clear, you support addressing mental health tied to social media, especially among young people.  But does the President support this action?  Does he support a warning label like this as a means to addressing this crisis?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And to your — to your question, Mary Bruce, you’re absolutely right.  It is — there’s a mental health issue.  Our young people are experiencing an unprecedented — unprecedented menthal health — mental health crisis.  That’s what we’re seeing. 

And it is — there is undeniable evidence of this, that social media and other — other online platforms are contributing to this.  It is exactly why the President and the First Lady, this administration has done everything that they can to really tackle the mental health crisis as part of — let’s not forget, it’s part of their key agenda, as we talk about the Unity Agenda, because we believe that is something that could bring both sides together, because we’re seeing this in red states and in blue states. 

And so, we have invested resources to deal with this issue: establishing the new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Well- — Wellness; launching the 988 suicide and crisis life- — lifeline — I just talked about that as it relates to LGBTQ+ youth; and launching a new interagency task force on Kids Online Health and Safety. 

So, there is a mental health crisis.  The Surgeon General’s announcement is about reminding parents and also about reminding kids the risk of using — of using social media.  So, we will — going to continue to focus on that.  Obviously, the Surgeon General is going to continue focus on that as the country’s doctor, physician.  So, I think that’s important that he’ll continue to do that work.  And we’re going to continue to look at a range of actions, as — as the Surgeon General is trying to do as well.

Q    But does the President support a warning label like this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, what I will say is that we want to — as I stated, in the Unity Agenda, we want to see a bipartisan approach in dealing with — dealing with this issue — right? — on how to hold social media companies accountable. 

The Surgeon General made this announcement reminding parents, reminding kids what’s at stake here, reminding — understanding that mental health is a — is a crisis — there is a crisis here in America.  But we believe that the way to move forward, to con- — the best way to move forward — as we say, you know, there’s always going to be policies that we’re going to introduce from here, but the best way to move forward is to deal with this in a bipartisan way. 

We believe that this — this is why we included it in the Unity Agenda.  This is going to be a continuation of what this President does in his — in his term here is: Let’s deal with this in a bipartisan way because it matters.  It’s not about red states or blue states.

Q    And just a scheduling question. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, sure.

Q    The White House schedule has the President departing for Rehoboth tomorrow and then flying to Camp David on Thursday evening.  Is that it for the next week?  I mean, should we expect the President to hold any kind of public events before the debate next week?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I will say stay tuned.  The President is — it’s in — you know, we’re still always working through the President’s schedule.  As you know, sitting in these seats, you know how — and covering the President, you know how that is.  We — sometimes things pop up on the schedule very, very quickly.  And so, we always share that with you all. 

I don’t have anything to preview or to announce at this time, but certainly stay tuned.  And when we have something to share, we certainly will.

Go ahead, Trevor.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Do — do you have any reaction to the federal judge blocking the protections for LGBT students under Title Nine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, that happened last week?

Q    No, this was a — that happened last — last week and on — today as well.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s right.  That’s right.  So, obviously, when it comes to these types of ruling, I would refer you to the Department of Justice, as — as this decision is being reviewed by them.  So, I want to be really careful. 

And we’ve always said: Every student ha- — has the right to be treated equally and to feel safe — to face — to feel safe at school.  It is important.  That is something that the President certainly is committed to.  And that — that is why these protections are — are all about making sure students have equal rights restored.  And also, it is — i- — makes sure that is vital that they are protected from hara- — harassment and also assault.

And so, as it relates to this particular ruling and what it says, obviously, I answered this in a more broad stroke, but as it relates to the ruling and reviewing, that — that’s something that Department of Justice is doing.

Go ahead, Weijia.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  I heard what you said about bipartisan efforts —


Q    — to deal with social media.  But the Surgeon General was also calling on lawmakers specifically to pass legislation for this warning label.  So, does the President join in that call to pass legislation to put a warning label —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, here’s what — when —

Q    — on social media?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Here’s what we’ve been very clear about:  Social media companies need to be held accountable.  They ju- — they have to be done — that has to be done, and we need to see that in a legislative way.  We believe it could happen in a bipartisan way.  And that’s what the President is going to continue to call on.  Let’s figure out a way to hold social media companies accountable for what is currently happening.

And we know the — we see that in the — in — in the data that this is an issue that — there’s undeniable evidence that social media is causing harms and other platforms are contributing to this mental health issue that we’re seeing. 

Congress is going to decide what that looks like.  Right? They can do this in a bipartisan way.  They’re going to decide, if they wish to move forward with it, what that bipartisan look li- — bi- — bipartisanship looks like in moving on — moving forward with dealing with social media.

Q    So, I’m not hearing a yes or no on the label.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — what I’m saying is that there is — there is a need, and it needs to happen, to hold to social media companies accountable. 

The Surgeon General gave an incred- — a very powerful — made a very powerful statement in that op-ed stating that — that — you know, that there are risks — making sure that parents are aware, making sure that kids are aware that there is a real risk.  And certainly, that is something that the Surgeon General should be able to do.  And he’s talked about this multiple times.  Not the first time that he has talked about social media and the risks that — that the platform and the evidence shows that leads to, certainly, mental health — a mental health crisis. 

So, there’s legislation that needs to be done.  It needs to be done in a bipartisan way.  The Surgeon General is also asking legislation to be done.  And so, we need to work on that.  And we’ll see what that ultimately looks like.

Q    And then, 10 days out from the debate, can —


Q    — you share anything about how President Biden is preparing, including who is sitting in for Trump?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, that is something that the campaign would — would be gladly — would gladly answer that question for all of you, as to what that’s going to — to look like.  That is something that lives with them. 

The President, as you — as you just mentioned, is going to be headed to Reho- — Rehoboth, as Mary was asking me, and then he’s going to go to Camp David.  And certainly, we will share, as we do all the time, who’s traveling with the President.

Q    Thanks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes.  That’s the way I can answer that question.  (Laughter.)

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Given the Supreme Court ruling last week, would the President encourage Congress to pass a law banning bump stocks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, do want to say a couple of things about that.  Weapons of war have no place on — in — in our streets, especially of a civil society — no place. 

Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling strikes down an important commonsense regulation on devices that convert semi-automatic rifles into weapons that can fire hundreds of bullets per minute, also known as bump stocks. 

So, in — in Las Vegas, as many of you covered, bump stocks were used to carry out one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history — 60 — killing 60 people, who were simply trying to enjoy a concert — a music concert.  We continue to pray for them and their families as they — as they deal — continue to deal with the horrific — of that horrific event and the people of Las Vegas and beyond who are tragically affected by the epidemic of gun violence. 

You heard me talk about that at the top of this briefing and talk about even what we’re — what we saw over the weekend.  We continue to call on Congress to immediately ban bump stocks and assault weapons and take further action to implement common safety measures. 

And so, the President has taken action.  He’s done more than two dozen executive actions.  We have a historic office that deals with gun violence, and, certainly, that’s led by the — the Vice President. 

The President continues to talk about this issue.  And he wants to see — again, another place where he’s done the work from this side of — from this side of Pennsylvania.  He wants to see Congress also move forward because this — the way to actually deal with gun violence is through legislation.

Q    Has he talked to the Majority Leader specifically about putting a bill on the floor as soon as possible?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’ve — are con- — in constant communication with the Office of — through — from the Office of Leg Affairs, through Congress, both on the House and the Senate, about an array of issues that matter — legislative issues that — that matter to the President, including this, include this gun violence and finding ways to prevent this epidemic. 

And so, look, you heard me just call out what it is that we want Congress to do: banning assault weapons; obviously, banning bump — bump stocks immediately.  We want to see that happen.  And so, this is — this is a legislative priority for this President. 

Go ahead, Franco.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The President said this weekend that the next president is likely to have two new Supreme Court nominees.  Can you talk to the thinking behind that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I got to be mindful here.  It was — it was said in a campaign — a campaign event.  And he certainly was answering that in — in — you know, as it relates to the 2024 election, so going to be super mindful.  I’m going to allow you all to do — you know, to do the — the work on this and to kind of figure out who he was talking about, what he meant. 

But, look, I’ll say this.  Next Monday, a week from today, we are going to be, sadly, commemorating the Dobbs decision.  Two years ago, from — a week from today, we saw what the Supreme Court was able to do.  They were able to overturn Roe v. Wade, which was the law of the land for almost 50 years, which gave women the ability to make a decision on their own body, gave women the oppor- — the ability to make important, critical, difficult decisions on their healthcare.  That was taken away. 

And when that was taken away, we saw contraception was poten- — is — is now under attack.  We see now IVF is now und- — under attack.  We saw what Republicans did just last week. 

And there are freedoms that are now under attack because of what the — the Supreme Court was able to do by just overturning something that was the law of the land for almost 50 years.  And we know that happened because of what the former President did, which was appoint — appoint justices who — who he believed would be part of overturning Roe v. Wade.  And they did just that.

Q    But disliking — disliking what the current justices do —


Q    — is different than —


Q    — getting the opportunity to nominate two new justices.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  But — but I think you’re just — hopefully, you’re — you’re seeing what I — how I’m trying to connect the two.  Right?  We — it was said back in 2016 — right? — that we got to be really mindful on how we move forward here. 

And what happened in the last administration is that — that the former President was able to appoint three justices.  And look what happened: The Dobbs decision happened.  Right?  So, there is — there is history here. 

Because I can’t speak to 2024, I’m speaking to the past and what occurred.  And next Monday, we are going to be commemorating a day where the Supreme Court justice overturned a constitutional right that was around for almost 50 years that has created 21 states now that have banned abortion. 

We’re talking about 27 million women who are of — of reproductive rights — you know, reproductive health, who now can’t make that decision for themselves.  You have doctors — if they performs healthcare for — for women that relates to reproductive healthcare, they could get arrested.  I mean, that is where we are right now. 

That’s why I’m using the past to try and — to try and help answer the question that you’re asking of me.  But I — I’m not going to dive into who the President was speaking of. 

But you see a pattern here, is what I’m trying to — to speak to.

Go ahead.

Q    Yeah, thanks, Karine.  I want to ask you about the American Dream.  So, overall, the average sale price of a home is up 29 percent under President Biden.  We have record-low inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors.  And the cost of a mortgage is up because interest rates are up to fight inflation.  So, is the American Dream out of reach for a lot of Americans now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, Ed, I appreciate the question, and I — I hear what you’re saying.  And, look, the President understands that Americans are struggling right now to pay for their rent, to — to buy a home, and we get that.  That’s why the President took action some time ago in hi- — early in his administration.  And the things that it did was reduce mortgage insurance premiums by 900 bucks per year for hundreds of thousands of first-time home- — home- — homebuyers, expand rental assistance to 100,000 additional household, cut the red tape and expand financial — financing to build tens of thousands of affordable housing. 

And because of that, we see a record 1.7 million housing units are being built nationwide, and that is the most ever.  And more apartments are being built each year under — under this president since — since — than any oth- — other administration since 1980s.  And so, that matters. 

But the President also understands that there’s more work to be done, but he has taken action.  He’s created a task force to deal with this issue, because he understands how much — how much Americans are struggling just to buy a home, just to pay rent. 

Q    So — so you —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And so, he’s going to continue to do that.

Q    So, you’re sort of saying eventually prices will come down.  And — and what’s the timeframe?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, what I’m saying is the President has taken action, and we have seen 1.7 million housing units are being built — affordable housing mu- — units are being built.  There’s more work to do. 

The President also is calling on Congress to pass his housing plan, which was called by experts “the most consequential housing plan in more than 50 years.”  So, he’s taking more action. 

We’ve seen how the three things that I laid out in answering your question has actually helped: taking away red tape, continuing to expand rental assistance, making sure that thousands of Americans are able to have these insurance premiums and 900 bucks per year — these mortgage insurance premiums — which is all important in how they’re trying to — you’re right, trying to get that American Dream.  Buying a home is indeed very much part of that American Dream.  And the par- — the President understands that. 

Q    One more if I could on —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, sure.

Q    — on thr- — talk about — the President talks about threats to democracy.  And this is the first time I’ve had a chance to ask you questions since former President Trump was convicted.  How is — how is it not a threat to democracy when you have a prosecutor from the same party as the President waiting seven years to prosecute a political opponent in an election year? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m sorry, I don’t — the —

Q    A threat — how is it not a threat to democracy when you have a prosecutor of the same political party as the President waiting seven years — the crime happened in 2017 — to prosecute in an election year —


Q    — a former President who’s now an opponent?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That — that’s a question for the Department of Justice on their timeline and how this moves.  I can’t answer that for you here. 

Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thank you.  There was some confusion on this previously, and the President seemed to address this in passing as he was walking away from that joint press conference —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, yes.

Q    — with Zelenskyy.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I know the question.  Yeah.

Q    So, I just wanted to clarify.  President Biden has ruled out any type of commutation or reduced sentence for his son, Hunter Biden, correct?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, he has.

Q    Thank you, ma’am. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Yeah, Karine, is there anything inappropriate when a reporter — a reporter asked a question about Gaza at an event where the President wants to focus on Ukraine or another subject?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’ll say this: I think — and — and you kind of s- — are stating it in your question.  The President — if you think about what happened when he walked — right before he walked to the podium and what was done in front of all — all of your colleagues, all of you, the world was that they signed a security agreement and — which was incredibly important. 

And so, for the President, as he’s standing to his — to his right, the President Z- — President Zelenskyy is standing to his right, they’re talking about, obviously, a war that’s been going on, Russia’s agress- — aggression into Ukraine that’s been going on for more than two years.  He, in his mind — right? — it’s like, okay, there’s — there is a — an important bilateral press conference, if you will, currently happening with a president that is fighting for their freedoms, fighting for their democracy.  So, in his mind, it is — the focus should be on that. 

But we’ve seen many press conferences where other questions are asked, and he answers them.  And even in saying that and what he said, he still took the answer.  He still, obviously, took the question and answered it. 

But that is how he’s thinking it: President Zelenskyy standing to the right — his right; they just signed an important security — security agreement that is going to be critical to the people of Ukraine as they have been fighting this aggression by Russia. 

And so, that — that’s it.  I wouldn’t — you know, he respects the freedom of the press.  He does.  I wouldn’t read too much into it.  But that is —

Q    There’s no rule or anything like that that was violated?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, I — I just — no, there isn’t.  That is what he was thinking at — in that moment, in that time.  You know, there is a — a — an important moment that was developing in front of everyone.  And that’s kind of what he was hoping the focus would be on. 

Q    And just a quick follow on the video —


Q    — you were talking about. 


Q    There were two instances in recent days where leaders — former President Obama and Giorgia Meloni of Italy — they physically put hands on the President to guide him and to show him — give stage — stage directions.  Are they doing that on their own?  Or has anybody asked them to —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — look —

Q    — run the show like that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  First of all, let me spoke to the most recent, right?  As we saw on Saturday, the — President Obama put — President Obama’s office put out a statement, so I would refer you to that statement, about what was being accused in those — by others.  And he said this did not happen in the sense of what people were saying — saying they were seeing — right? — or what was being falsely reported that they were seeing. 

Let’s not forget, President Obama, President Biden have a relationship.  They are friends.  They’re like family to each other, and I think that’s what you saw.  You saw the President put his hand behind the — on the back of — of President Biden, and — and they walked off the stage after — after taking questions or in a — at an event taking questions from Jimmy Kimmel.  That is — that is what you saw.  But I would refer you to President Obama’s off- — office statement.  They talked about this.  They discussed this, and they came out with it pretty — pretty quickly. 

All right. 

Q    And Meloni?  You wanted to say something about Meloni?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Meloni, I — I don’t have anything.  I don’t know specifically what happened with Meloni.

Q    The wandering.  The parachutist. 


Q    (Inaudible.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, that was — as I said, it was a cheap — you know, a cheap fake.  That was definitely a cheap fake.  It was.  This was widely fact-checked.  That video was widely fact-checked, including by conservative media, on — on what had — what happened that — what occurred. 

The President walked over to give a thumbs up to divers who had just landed right in front of him.  And if you run that tape a little bit longer, you would see — you would see what was happening, what the President was actually doing, and it is a cheap fake.

Q    So, this is much ado —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is what —

Q    — about nothing, and he is totally normal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I am saying is, this is a president — right? — and ste- — let’s step back for a second. 

Instead of — and I said this moments ago — instead of Republicans, you know, focusing on the President’s performance in office and what he’s been able to accomplish, his actual record, they do these cheap fakes.  They are cheap fakes.  And you’re asking me about the Meloni.  You’re asking me what happened.  That video —

Q    I can ask you about Juneteenth as well. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That video — that video was — okay, let’s talk about Juneteenth. 

Q    Let’s.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President stood there listening to the music, and he didn’t dance.  Excuse me.  I did not know not dancing was a mental — was a — it was a health issue.  That is a weird thing to actually flag when, if you — if you look at the people who were around him, if th- — you look at the expanded video of the people who were around him, they were not — they were — there were some folks who were not dancing either.  And that has been fact-checked.

I mean, just because you’re standing up, listening to music, and not dancing, that is not a health issue. 

Q    So, the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is just not a health issue. 

Q    The majorities of American voters who are telling pollsters repeatedly for years now that they have serious concerns about this President’s cognitive fitness are being misled by cheap fake videos?  Is that what you’re telling us?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m saying that there have been — in recent weeks, there have been cheap fake videos that have been fact-check.  They’ve been fact-check — by conservative media as well — to say that these videos are false.  They’re purp- — purposefully being altered. 

Q    So, he’s fine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is —

Q    So, he’s fine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is — look —

Q    He’s fine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — the President has done more in his three years — three and a half years as president than most modern-day president in what he’s been able to deliver.  He’s able to do that because he knows what he’s doing.  He knows how to deliver for the American people. 

He’s able to make sure that we attack climate — the climate crisis with the Inflation Reduction Act.  He’s made sure that we were able to create 15 million jobs, 800,000 manufacturing jobs.  He was able to make sure that unemployment went down.  He was able to make sure that we are able to have Medicaid actually able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.  Something that no other — no other president has been able to do, this president has been able to do.

I think that tells you everything that you need to do by looking at his record.  And what you’re seeing right now is Republicans — instead of talking what I just listed about — what I just talked about, they’re really diving into these cheap fake videos.  And it’s in bad faith.  That’s what I’m saying.  What they’re doing is pure bad faith.  And it’s been fact-checked by many, including conservative fact-checkers.

I got to — go ahead.  Go ahead, Naomi.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Just on another topic.  Does the White House have a comment on Press Secretary — or former Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s testimony that’s upcoming about — in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee about Afghanistan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have any comment at this time.

Q    And then, sorry, you sort of said last that next week you are going to commemorate the anniversary of Dobbs.  Are there any measures that we should expect or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, don’t have anything to — to read out at this — at this current moment.  But obviously, the President and the Vice President are going to continue to talk — to talk about the Dobbs decision and how that’s affected millions — tens of — tens of millions of women across — across the country and the devastating impact — the devastating impact that we see.  Once we have more to share, certainly, we will.  I just don’t have anything at this time.

All right.  Thanks, everybody.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

Q    Thanks.

Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Bye, guys.

3:09 P.M. EDT

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