10:23 A.M. EDT   

Q    What did you give up for Lent?

THE PRESIDENT:  All sweets.

Q    All sweets?

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’m — you know me, I start off with dessert. 

Q    So, no ice cream?

THE PRESIDENT:  No ice cream.  Nothing.

Q    Mr. President, how worried are you about President Zelenskyy?  And do you think he should stay in Ukraine, or do you think he should try to leave?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s his judgement to make, and we’re doing everything we can to help him. 

Q    Have you made any other attempts to reach China or talk to them about the situation at all?

THE PRESIDENT:  Not directly yet.  We — the staff has been in contact with them.

Q    Do you support permanent U.S. military presence in Poland and other Eastern European countries now after what’s happening in Ukraine?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ve always been there.  We’ve always been — all the NATO countries. 

Q    I’m talking about permanent bases.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I — that’s a decision for NATO to make.

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

THE PRESIDENT:   I’m sorry.

Q    Mr. President, are you considering banning Russian oil imports?

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s — nothing is off the table.

Q    Do you believe Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are following it very closely.  It’s early to say that.

Q    Pope Francis asked for prayers and fasting today for the people of Ukraine on this Ash Wednesday.  Pope Francis is asking for prayers and fasting.  What’s your reaction to that that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think he’s right.  I was with the Cardinal this morning.  He came over to give me ashes.  We both prayed for that — for the people of Ukraine.

Q    And last night, you continued to support Roe v. Wade. As a Catholic, why do you support abortion as a Catholic, defying church teachings?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I tell you what, I don’t want to get in a debate with you on theology.  But, you know — well, anyway.

Q    But why?  Why support abortion as a pro-life —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not — I’m not going to make a — I’m not going to make a judgement for other people.

Q    If you’re Catholic, why — why defy church teaching?

Q    Mr. President, do you believe Russia is intentionally targeting civilian areas?  There are over 2,000 civilian deaths right now according to —

THE PRESIDENT:   It’s clear they are. 

Thank you.  Thank you.

10:25 A.M. EST

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