Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

So, today we announced that President Biden will travel next week to the United Kingdom and Ireland.  He will head first to travel to Belfast.  That will be his first sta- — stop, where he will mark the tremendous progress since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago and underscore the readiness of the United States to support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities.

Next, the President will travel to Ireland, where he will discuss our close cooperation on the full range of shared global challenges.

He will also hold various engagements — including Dublin, County Louth, and County Mayo — and — and celebrate the deep historic ties that link our countries and people.

We will have more information on this trip to announce soon.

And finally, I want to wish a happy Passover to Jewish Americans in communities across the country who will gather around the Seder table tonight.

As the President said today, Passover is more than just recounting of the past; it reminds us of our moral obligation of state cle- — clearly and forcefully that antisemitism must stop.

Passover is also a story of redemption, resilience, and unity — a story of people coming together with a shared faith and a shared people [hope] for a better tomorrow.

With that, Zeke, you want to kick us off?

Q    Thank you.  First off, on your last note there about Passover, the President, in his op-ed this morning, referenced his antisemitism strategy.  He hasn’t — Doug Emhoff, the Second Gentleman, has talked about this as well.  When does he actually want to see that strategy released?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, don’t have a timeline for the strategy on when we would want to see that moving forward.

But clearly, the President has been very vocal on the antisemitism that we have seen across the country, the violence.  And so, of course, we’re going to continue to speak to that — as I just did just now, as the President did, clearly, in his statement.

I just don’t have any update on the particular — on the specific strategy.

Q    We’ve seen additional devastating tornadoes and storms the — the last several days.  Does the President plan to travel to Arkansas?  Are there additional calls you can read out?  And what’s the status of federal support for these hard-hit communities?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I don’t have a — an update on any travel that the President is going to be making.  I can say federal teams continue to work closely with state and local officials to get impacted communities the support they need.

President Biden has been in touch with leaders across the impacted states.  We’ve got hundreds of FEMA personnel on the ground.  That includes over 400 FEMA personnel in Mississippi, over 120 FEMA personnel in Arkansas.  They’re surveying damage, assisting with recovery efforts, and more.

In Mississippi, for example, FEMA has distrib- — distributed more than $2 million in individual assistance.  And we’re committed to supporting impacted communities as long as it takes.

Of course, this is something that, unfortunately, the President has had to deal with when it comes to these type of extreme weather during his first two years of administration, so he takes this very seriously.

I just don’t have anything to share on travel, but clearly FEMA is on the ground doing — and other government officials, entities are on the ground doing everything that we can to support the — the citizens of these — of these two states in particular.

Q    And just one last one on a different topic.  The attacks on the — on the prosecutor in New York, on the judge in New York in the — in the Trump case, some directed by the President.  There’s criticism from the Mexican President of that prosecution.

I understand that you — yesterday, it was well covered that you don’t want to talk about the specif- — specifics of the case.  But could you speak to criticism or attacks on the judiciar- — on the judicial system and the nation’s, you know, system of governance and jurisprudence?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  I totally understand the question.  And I’ll — just so that I’m on the record, per usual, I’m not going to speak to an ongoing case.  And I’ve been — we’ve been very consistent and very prudent about that, so going to continue to leave that there.

But more broadly, of course — and you’ve heard me say this, you’ve heard the President say this many times: We — we condemn any type of attacks on any judge that — any — or our judicial system that we have seen over the last two years in particular, as the President has been in office.

But, again, I’m not going to speak to the case specifically, but that is something that we definitely condemn.

Q    Just one more on that topic.  Can you just confirm or tell us how the President was informed of the charges against his predecessor?  Was he briefed on this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Do you mean — oh, do you mean yesterday with the —

Q    Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, you know, the President clearly — and I said the President — I said this yesterday — the President’s focus is on the American people.  That’s going to continue to be his focus.

He — as he was last week, when — when the announcement was made of the — of an indictment, he was, of course, briefed by — by the — his — senior members of his staff, just like — as we all found out, you all learned through — through reports, the media reporting.

And that’s all I have.  I don’t have anything more to share on that.

Q    And on the meeting between the House Speaker McCarthy and the Taiwanese President, has the U.S. seen any signs that China could be preparing some kind of response to this meeting — you know, any evidence that they could launch any kind of military drills like they did around Speaker Pelosi’s visit?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m just going to be very — I’m just going to repeat what Secretary Blinken said, as you — you all heard him moments ago when he did his press avail in — in Belfast, Belgium — pardon me, in Brussels.  Was confusing with the topper, with the President going to Ireland and the UK.

He was very — very clear, and we’ve been very clear.  We have said there is no reason for Beijing to turn this tra- — this transit into — into something that is used as a pretext to overreact.  We’ve been very clear about that.

This is something — when you look at this transit that the President of Taiwan is doing, this is something that’s been part of a long tradition — of a long U.S. tradition.

And so, again, we just do not see — there should not be a reason for the PCR [PRC] to — to overreact here.

Q    And just one quick one on the trip to Ireland.  In the past, the President has taken members of several generations of his family with him when he’s made similar trips.  Can you discuss: Is anybody else going be coming along?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ll have more to share.  I don’t have anything specific on who — if there are going to be members of his family attending the trip next week.  But we’ll certainly have more to share as we get closer to the date.

Q    Along those lines, is he going to retrace his family roots there?  Why is it personally important for him to go on this trip?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, just to give you a little bit more — so, again, we’ll have more in the coming days.

Look, the President is eager — I actually had a conversation with him this morning about this particular trip — he’s eager to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland, two nations who we have close ties to.

He, as I mentioned, will have a series of engagements — Belfast and Dublin and County Louth and County Mayo.

But as I — as — you know, as I mentioned, look, he’s looking forward to this.  The President is going to be highlighting, as you talk about his family, how his family history is part of that larger shared history between U.S. and Ireland.

Waves of Irish immigrants helped shape America’s spirit of freedom and of our drive for independence, which launched an irrevocable friendship between our two countries.

So, yes, that part of the trip, where it connects to his family, is going to be incredibly important to him, but also the broader — the broader Irish American community as well, as we talk about immigrants, as we talk about how this country was created.

So, he is — he’s — he’s definitely looking forward to this trip.

Q    On the debt ceiling, definitely interested if you have any updates to share, conversations that have happened, including on a staff level.  But more specifically, is the White House open to a short-term increase at this — at this time?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I can say is what we’ve been saying for — for months now, for weeks now, which is: We believe that the debt ceiling should be dealt with in a way that Congress has done so in a bipartisan way for the last — for the last couple of decades — right? — if you think about the three times where Democrats came together with Republicans to lift — to deal with the debt ceiling.

This is how — we believe it’s their constitutional duty.  We do not believe that the full credit and — faith and credit of our nation should be held hostage.  We’ve been very clear on that.  There is no negotiation that we will be having on that particular issue because it is something that Congress needs to deal with.

So I don’t have anything more to share on that.  We are waiting — we’re waiting for House congressional members to put forth a budget.

The President did that.  He showed his values.  He showed what — how he sees the fiscal responsibility of — of the President as we move forward and to show and be really transparent to the American people.  We’re waiting for — we’re waiting for House members to do the same — House Republican members to do the same.

Q    So is the White House open to a short-term increase?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I’m saying is we’ve been very clear that Congress needs to deal with this issue as they have done in the last administration three times.

Q    Could I get any sort of reaction from the White House to this liberal judge winning in the supreme court election in Wisconsin?  Just broadly speaking, does the White House see this as voters casting their ballots in support of abortion access and a sign of things to come heading into 2024?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, so more broadly, time and time again, the American people have shown their resolute support for reproductive freedom in our democracy.  And last night was no different.

We saw that clearly after the midterm elections, at every opportunity following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade; from Kansas’s ballot initiative in August; and to the clean sweep of five abortion ballot initiatives, as I just mentioned, in November; to Virgi- — to Virginia’s special election in January; to last night — to last night’s elections in Wisconsin.

The message from voters has been clear: Americans want the freedom to make reproductive healthcare decisions without government interference.  They have been very clear about that.

Yet, though, you see Republican elected officials are more committed than ever to attack those fundamental freedoms that Americans should have.

And, look, you have Republican officials in Florida, in North Carolina, in Nebraska who are attempting to pass extreme abortion bills.  You have — in Congress, where we’ve seen three national abortion bills come out this year on — on — from — from Republicans in Congress.

And so, look, we believe that it is important for Americans to have their freedom, including their right to make a decision — of women to have their right to make a decision on their own — on their own healthcare.

And so, this is — this is an administration that’s going to continue to fight for — fight for those freedoms.

Q    Just one more on a different race — the mayoral race in Chicago.  Does the White House feel like there are any lessons for Democrats based on the results of that race, particularly in terms of how the party should talk about and discuss issues related to crime?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’m not going to — I’m limited in what I can say as it looks forward to ’24 or any future elections.

But I can speak to, and as we’ve done many times here, is speak to the President’s record.  He believes that we should find the police and give law enforcement the resources they need for effective accountability and community policing.

That is something that the President has been very vocal about and has taken action on.  That’s why he supported, again, the COPS program and he signed the American Rescue Plan, which had 350 million dollars — billion dollars to local governments to keep cops on the beat.

So, the President has been very clear about this and — in his support, in making sure that American families and communities are protected and feel safe, and he’s going to continue to do that work.

But not going to dive into any specifics on how, politically, to move forward, especially as we get into 2024.

Q    Karine —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    — on that, though, I hear you being a little more laudatory in terms of the results in Wisconsin versus in Mr. Johnson’s win last night.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I — well, I was asked specifically about crime and how we move forward on crime.

Q    But what does he make of Mr. Johnson’s win?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, yeah, yeah —

Q    Is there any plan to talk?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, okay, that was not the question that I got asked.  I got specifically asked about crime.

Look, I can say this: The President is — sends his congratulations to Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson.  The President looks forward to working with him to deliver for the people of Chicago.

And, look, you know, what I can say is this: The Mayor- elect Johnson is a former teacher and a union organizer.  His vi- — his victory is a testament to the strength and the organizing power of our educators.  And that’s something that we saw yesterday.  And so, I’ll just leave it there.

Q    And can I button up regarding yesterday and how the President went about all this?  Are you telling us that he only learned about this through staffing, or did he consume any of this as a news consumer himself?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, I can tell you this.  Here’s what I can tell you — is that the President was focused on working on behalf of the American people.  He met with his senior advisors, his senior team yesterday, and — in the Oval Office.  That’s — that’s what he was continuing to do throughout the day.

And — and that’s kind of how he’s moving forward.  That’s what he’s going to pay attention to.  And you saw that.  You saw that in Minnesota this week, his focus on — on the CHIPS and Science Act, how we’re bringing manufacturing back to — to this country, creating more than 800,000 jobs.

That is something that the President is going to continue to focus: how do we build an economy that leaves no one behind.

So that’s what the President is doing.  I’ve been very clear about that.  That’s going to be his focus.

He’s not focused on — on this indictment.  That’s not what our focus is on.  That’s something that is an ongoing case.  We will let others deal with that.

Our focus is what the President was elected to do — is make sure that we deliver for the American public.

Q    And just real quick — not a question but a request following up on Mary’s question about who’s going with the President from the Biden family and the wider clan.  Can we get clarification at some point in the process of that, of exactly how this is paid for?  There have been questions in the past about when he travels with family or when people are staying here, about how that is handled.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  And we’re not doing it any differently than other families who have — have been in the White House, who have held this — held the office.

And — and so, you know, we’ll share more when we have more to share on who’s going to be traveling with him.  I don’t have that information, so don’t want to get ahead of that.

But, of course, the President is a president that follows the law — (laughs) — and does — does — does these types of things in the appropriate fashion and appropriate way.

Go ahead.

Q    Hey, Karine.  You mentioned the President traveled to Minnesota this week.  He had a meeting yesterday on artificial intelligence.  You said he’s looking forward to this trip to Ireland as well.

In any other news environment, these might be stories that are really driving both national and local headlines, but as the questions that you got yesterday indicate, there’s one other story really dominating the news right now.  Can you talk about the White House’s strategy to make sure the President’s message is getting through to the American people?

And the Pres- — the former President’s legal troubles are likely not to go away at all this year.  Is there concern that this will take away from the President’s ability to communicate that message this year?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we’ve been very clear.  I — here at the podium yesterday, as you just mentioned, and today, we’ve been very clear what our focus is on.  I actually got questions on AI — a few questions on AI yesterday that we were able to answer and speak to from the podium.

Look, our focus is going to continue to be the American people.  What you all cover is up to all of you, but we’re going to do our best to stay the course, to talk about the issues that matter.  Right?  When you think about the economy, Americans really care about the economy; they want to hear how the President is going to lower — continue to lower costs for them.  And that’s what we’re going to continue to talk about.  And so that doesn’t change anything.

We talked about AI.  We went to Minnesota to talk about the CHIPS and Science Act, a very historic piece of legislation that’s going to make a difference in creating good-paying jobs and bringing jobs back here to — to this country.

And so, again, things that — we’re not going to stop to talk about these critically important issues that the American people really want to hear from this President about.  So we’re just going to stay the course.  That’s our focus.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Today marks one week since the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich was detained by Russia.  Secretary Blinken today he has “no doubt” that Evan was wrongfully detained.  If that’s the case, then what’s the holdup in making a formal determination?  Can you provide more clarity on timing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And he also said in those very remarks that there’s a process, right?  There’s a process that’s underway.  And — and so, you know, we have to let the Secretary of State — the Secretary — the department do their — the Secretary of State Department do their — do their job here.

Wrongfully detention determinations, again, are made by them.  And the Secretary of State has said that while there is still a formal process that needs to play out, he has no doubt on this one, right?  And so I think that says everything that you need to know.  Their commitment, the priority that — that he has to — to make sure that — that we do everything that we can for Evan and also make sure that we bring Paul Whelan home.

Q    And why hasn’t President Biden spoken directly to Evan’s family?  Does he have any plans to meet with them, as he did with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan last fall?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, this case is a priority to the President.  As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t have any calls to read out.  But I will say that — you know, that our thoughts are with Evan’s family.  And, again, this is a priority for — for this — for this President.

I’ll give you a little bit of an update.  Yesterday, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations, as you all know, spoke with her counterpart today and — Ambassador Nebenzya — to announce — to once again convey the United States’ gave — grave concern about his detention and call for his immediate release.

And so, again, the department — and I said this yesterday, the Department of State continues to — to seek consular access to Evan.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has not yet received any approval for consular access despite repeated requests.  It will likely take some time — a couple of days — before we have access.  But again, this is a — this is a priority for this President, and — and we’re going to be steadfast of that.  You heard from the Secretary himself say — say no doubt in his mind, which I think tells you everything that you need to know.

Go ahead, Steven.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Yesterday, your office put out word that the President would not be attending the King’s coronation — King Charles — and that the First Lady would be going on behalf of the United States.  Can you explain the decision and why the President decided that he would not go, as head of state, on behalf of the U.S.?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So let me just first say — and the President had about a 25-minute, 30-minute call with the King — King — King — King Charles III, and during which he cra- — congratulated the King.  I think we put that out last night — his upcoming cor- — coronation.  And they have a very friendly conversation.

They have a — a good relationship with the King.  He talked about how he enjoyed meeting — visiting the Queen, I should say, back in 2021 — he and the First Lady at Windsor.  And he hoped to visit again soon.

Actually, during that call, the King offered for him to come and do a state — a state visit, which — which the President accepted.  And — and so they will see each other again very soon.

And I’ll — I’ll just leave it there.

But again, they have a very good relationship.  There are many things that they both care about — key shared values, key shared issues that they want to continue to discuss, like climate change.  And that conversation will continue.  And there will be a visit in the near future.

Q    Any sense whether that state visit might happen before the end of this year?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t — I don’t have a timeline at this time.  Don’t — I can’t say if it — when it will be.  But the President was — was appreciative of the offer by the King and looks forward to — to that state visit.

Q    A follow-up to that question.  Will the President meet with King Charles when he’s in the United Kingdom next week, or the Prime Minister?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I — we’ll have more to share on who he’s going to be meeting with.  I just don’t have anything to share at this time.

Q    And just another question quickly.  There was a study today that was released by the former Bureau of Labor Statistics director showing that Americans are working fewer hours.  Is there any concerns that that could add pressure to the job market and the Fed’s efforts to bring down inflation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I’m not going to talk to the Fed’s efforts — their monetary policy.  And that’s something that we’re going to do here — from here.  The President has been very clear: We want to give them the space to have their independence.  So, not going to speak to any actions or potential actions that they might take.

As far as the report, that’s the first time I’m hearing about this, so would need to connect with our economics team here.

But, look, the President — we have talked about how the economy — the President’s policy, when it relates to the economy, is working.  Right?

We see — we see created jobs.  The President, under his economic plan, has created jobs — more than 12 million jobs.  We saw — we saw 300,000 jobs that we crea- — we created just last month.  We saw — we see unemployment that is at a historic low at 3.6 percent.

And so, we’re continuing to see a plan that doesn’t leave anybody behind and makes sure that we’re building an economy from the bottom up, middle out.

As far as that report, I would have to connect with the economic team.

Go ahead.

Q    (Clears throat.)  Excuse me.  Thank you.

On the Wisconsin election, what — I guess I’m curious about what the President’s role is on abortion.  The VP is obviously taking kind of a lead in speaking out on it.

But what is the President’s role?  I mean, we haven’t really seen him take the issue on the road, for example, meeting with stakeholders.  Kind of, what — what kind of — what position is he playing in this — in this area?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, if you look at what the administration has done, we’ve taken historic action.  We’ve taken historic action because of the President leading that eff- — effort, asking his administration to figure out what other ways that we can — we can move forward in to make sure that there is access to reproductive healthcare.

And so the President has taken a whole-of-government approach through his reproductive healthcare task force.  He put that together — right? — to protect women’s access to reproductive healthcare.  And he signed two executive orders to protect a woman’s right to travel to receive reproductive healthcare, strengthen privacy measures, and address discrimination in — in care.

This is something that the President has taken very seriously, along with the Vice President.  But what we’re seeing on the other side is Republicans doing everything in their power to make sure that reproductive care is not available to women.

When you see these national bans, when you see these — these types of draconian pieces of legislation across the country, that is not something the American people want to see.  We know this by just looking at the midterms.

I just laid out all of the — all of the different special elections that we saw and issue-based elections that we saw just last year where the American people spoke very loudly.  They want their freedoms.  They want the opportunity to decide what — what they should do, what — their decision when it comes to healthcare.

Q    Can I ask — regarding Beijing and the — pardon me, the meeting between McCarthy and the Taiwan President.  Has — what kind of conversation has the White House been having with Beijing, if any, just to kind of dissuade any potential violence or any type of, you know, response to the meeting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, our channels of communications are open, and we have had a consistent message that has urged restraint.  And in recent days, we have conveyed directly to the Chinese at high levels that escalation is uncalled for.  And — and so, we’ll continue to keep those channels of conversations open.

Go ahead.

Q    On the violence in Jerusalem, what’s the White House’s response to that?  And can you talk about any conversations going on, on that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, on the violence that we saw very recently, at least starting with the mosque, we remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence, and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation.  It is imperative now more than ever that Israelis and Palestinians work together to de-escalate tensions and restore calm.

And, look, you know — and that’s what you’ve been hearing from this President and from this administration privately and publicly for over the past six weeks.  And — and again, we’re going to continue to do that, again, privately and publicly.

Q    Thank you, Karine.

Q    (Member of the press opens the door to the Press Briefing Room.)  Señor?  (Laughter.)

Q    Karine, there seems to be a bit of a mix-up on — I don’t know if it was a messaging mix-up or what was going on — about the invitation to LSU, the basketball team from — from LSU.  But it seems that their star, Angel Reese, has said that she will not be coming and the team won’t be coming.  I think that was even after the White House cleared up this mix-up about whether the runners-up will also be invited.  Can you clear it up for everybody?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President and the First Lady have expressed their — their — very much how they’re looking forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers and also the University of Connecticut — the men’s basketball team, the Huskies — right here at the White House, continuing a long tradition that we have had here celebrating — a White House tradition that we have had celebrating the championship.

So, we look forward to — to welcoming them, LSU Tigers and also the UConn Huskies.  And that is — that is something that we are — are — we are, again, looking forward to — to having.

Q    As far as you know, they’re coming — the Tigers?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, as you — as you know, the President put out — put out a statement inviting them.  I don’t have anything further to share on that.

But again, we’re looking forward to — to celebrating both teams here — the UConn Huskies and also the LSU Tigers.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Twitter labeled National Public Radio as a government-influenced entity, putting NPR in the same category as Russia Today or Chinese media.  Do you have a comment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, so, social media companies make their own independent decisions about content rules, so I won’t comment on Twitter’s rules.

But what I will say — more broadly, I’ll say: There’s no doubt of the independence of NPR’s journalists.  And has been — if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of their — of their questions, you know this; you know that they have their independence in journalism.

NPR journalists work digently [diligently] to hold public officials accountable and inform the American people.  The hard-hitting independence nature of their coverage speaks — speaks for itself.  And so I’ll leave it there.

Go ahead, Michael.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  About a week ago, the governor of Idaho signed a bill into law authorizing the use of firing squads against death penalty prisoners.  Idaho is the fifth state to legalize the use of firing squads.  Do you have a comment or does the administration have a position on this specific —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I haven’t talked to our team about that particular law.  I would have to look into it before I can speak about it from here.  And so I’ll just leave it there and will get back to you on that particular question.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I wanted to follow up on your judicial nominee for the trial court in Mississippi.  Senator Hyde-Smith had said she wouldn’t support the nominee. I know you’re sticking with your nominee.  What do you hope to see Senator Durbin do next?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, when you think about our nominee, it’s chosen a — Biden was very proud to choose someone who is deeply qualified, dedicated to our Constitution, and who received the backing of Republicans and Democrats in Mississippi.  And he is a duly elected district attorney, is clearly trusted by many of — many of Senator Hyde-Smith’s constituents and keep — to keep them safe and ensure that justice is done.

So, it is unfortunate, sadly, that regardless of being duly consulted — consulted well in advance and despite Senator Wicker returning a blue slip, Senator Hyde-Smith is preventing the people of Mississippi from having a judge in place in a timely fashion to uphold the rule of law for her state.

So, you know, furthermore, Senator Hyde-Smith never raised these issues before today, over the course of months, including when she met with Mr. Colom several — several weeks ago and never suggested any alternative candidates.

And so, look, to your point, we’re going to stick with our — with our — we think — our highly qualified candidate.  And — and I’ll leave it there.

Q    Do you or does the President still believe that blue ships [sic] — blue slips, excuse me, should be required for trial court nominees?  Or would you want the senator to move forward with this one?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’ll leave it to — to Congress, and I’ll leave it to the Senate to figure that piece out.  But what I can say is we believe Scott is a thoroughly qualified candidate.  And — and we’re going to leave it there and continue to support his candidacy, his nomination.

Q    Thank you.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  First, on the news of the day.  Does it bug President Biden when former Presidents suck up all the oxygen?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What’s important to the President is to continue to focus on the American people.  That is what’s important to the President.

Q    So it’s good to lay low for a couple news cycles then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, here’s the thing.  Here’s the thing, Peter — and this is what we will speak to: We will speak to the fact that this is a President that has been able to get historic pieces of legislation done.

When you think about the infrastructure legislation, something that, you know, we heard many times during the last administration, “Infrastructure Week,” “Infrastructure Week” — guess what this President was able to do?  He was able to bring both — both sides together to get this done.  And now we have — we’re seeing investments in the country, a rebuilding in the country that we haven’t seen in 70 years.

That’s what the President cares about.  He cares about the fact that Medicare is now able to — to work, you know, talk to Big Pharma to lower — and negotiate and lower costs.  That’s what the President Trump cares about.

What he wants to see is how do we build on his economic policies, economic plan that we — that has been able to turn this country around from when he first walked in from — from, you know, what we saw happen in the last administration — basically, a mess when it came to the economy, when it came to dealing with COVID.

So what the President wants to do is to build on that, and that’s his focus.  He wakes up every morning thinking about the American people.  He goes to bed every night thinking about the American people.

Q    Okay.  On the Taiwan President visit, if China tries to take over Taiwan, is President Biden still committed to putting U.S. boots on the ground in Taiwan?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ve — we’ve answered this question multiple times.  I’m not — I’m not — I don’t have anything else to share.

Q    Okay.  And then, on the China spy craft, why did President Biden say about the Chinese spy craft, in February, “[W]e were able to protect sensitive sites against collection” if that’s not true?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to go into — or dive into any reporting.  That’s not something I’m going to do.  I’m not going to confirm any reporting.

Look, we knew the flight —

Q    That’s not reporting.  The DNI said today that the U.S. does not appear to have provided critical new insights to the People’s Republic of China.  So is it they didn’t provide any new critical insights or they didn’t get anything?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would refer you to the ODNI if you have specific questions on their reporting.

What I can tell you from here and what we have said many times is that we knew the flight path of the balloon before it crossed the United States.  We took precautions in advance to ensure that it didn’t get sensitive information.  And when it — when it — when it comes to technology like this balloon, it has limited added value compared to other means of intelligent collection.  And we have said that.

And the — and the bottom line is: This is the administration that identified the problem and took action.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  How is the White House preparing for the medication abortion rulings?  And who’s involved in leading those efforts?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, again, I’m going to be very careful, as that is — as we’re still waiting for the ruling to come forth.  We have been talking internally how we would move forward if that were — this unprecedented action was taken.

And so, just don’t have anything more to share on that.  But again, this is something, if it were to happen, it would be unprecedented.

I don’t want to get into specifics around ongoing litiga- — litigation.  I’ll say this: that this is about the FDA’s authority to make its independent evidence-based decision on drugs.  Decision on what medication can be used in our country should not be determined in a court; they should be determined based on their safety, science, and the data.

And so, the bottom line: When you think about mifepristone, this is something that’s been — this is a drug that’s been around for two decades.  This is a drug that is — that is used in 60 other countries.  Again, this is something that is an FDA authority.

And so not going to get invol- — I’m not going to go into — into more deeply about this specific case.  But, yes, it would be unprecedented.

Q    But is the White House concerned that you could have two different federal courts with two different rulings and that this could then wind up before the Supreme Court, which last time — or returned abortion rights.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we’re going to prepare for all the different range of scenarios — that’s what I can promise the American people; that’s what I can say here — to ensure that the access to this drug for women — that women have this access to this drug.

So, we’re — again, we’re going to prepare for any — for the different scenarios.  I’m just not going to get ahead of that.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  If I could follow up just on the coronation.  Aside from the readout that the President had with the King, can you just explain why it’s not the President himself going to represent the U.S. and the First Lady instead?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, the President is looking forward — he had a great conversation, has a good relationship with King Charles III.  And they’ve — they — as you know, they’ve met before.

And there’s a lot of shared interests and shared values of issues that they want to discuss and they will continue to discuss, one of them being climate change.

And — and at some time in the future, the King invited the President for a state visit.  He accepted and that will happen.

Just don’t have anything further to share on that.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Are you concerned that the British people might see this as a snub that the President is not going?  I know Presidents haven’t gone in the past, but now we have airplanes and much more modern technology that makes these kinds of trips easy to do.  And what does this say about the special relationship?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, they should not see it as a snub.  Not at all.

Again, the President has a good relationship with the King.  They had a friendly conversation.  And I will leave it at that.  It is not a snub.

Go ahead.

Q    Yeah.  Last year, when the President was — gave his democracy speech, the networks all said they wouldn’t air it because it was political.  Some of the same networks last night aired a political speech by the President’s opponent.  Is that something you’d now see as a precedent the next time you want airtime?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to speak to that.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Former Vice President Pence said that if the shooter who killed six people in that Christian school in Tennessee was mova- — motivated by a hatred towards Christians, that the crime should be categorized as a hate crime.  I’m wondering what the President thinks of that kind of designation.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s not for us to decide.

Q    And then, today, Indiana just banned puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and gender transition surgeries for minors.  I’m wondering what the President’s reaction is to the Indiana governor signing that bill into law.  And does the President have a position on at what age these kinds of therapies and surgeries are appropriate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s something for a child and their parents to decide.  It’s not something that we believe should be decided by — by legislators.  So I’ll leave it there.

But — well, you know, in the past couple of months, we have seen a record number of LGBTQI bills — anti-LG- — LGBQI bills.  More than 600 of them have been filed in statehouses.  And a significant number of them have been anti-trans bills and, you know, targeted at youth.

And this is a President that has said that when these — these are some of the bravest people he knows.  And — but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves.

And so, this is a President that has com- — been committed to this community; that has been committed to our — to our kids in the trans community, to trans youth.  And he’s going to continue to fight for them.

But — but, again, I’m just going to leave it there.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.

Q    Two — two questions on legal matters, so I know you may not be able to speak to them too much.

First, the attorney general of Texas is apparently going to court trying to block implementation of the omnibus on the grounds that there wasn’t a quorum present of the members of the House of Representatives in person when that was passed.  Does the administration yet have a view on — on the legality of the — the omnibus and what the Texas Attorney General is suggesting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m just not going to comment to that.

And what’s your second question?

Q    And the second one is: There was a ruling about preventative services in the Affordable Care Act and the — and what is the message to insurers and providers with that ruling having been made?  And obviously, appeals coming.  But right now, what’s the message to providers and to insurance companies about the court blocking that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The Texas ACA?

Q    The Texas — yes.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President is glad to see that DOJ is appealing this decision, which blocks a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that has ensured free access to preventive healthcare for 150 million Americans.

This cade [sic] is — case is yet another attack on the Affordable Care Act, which has been around, as you know, for 13 years and — and survived — has survived three challenges before the Supreme Court.

The administration is going to continue to improve — to fight to improve healthcare, as we have seen him do the last two years, and make it more affordable for hardworking — working families.  That is something that the President has been committed to.  And so, we’re going to continue to do that, especially as it faces attacks by special interests.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a concealed — a permitless concealed weapon law.  I know you released a statement, but does the White House feel that when laws like this are passed in places like Florida that it undermines the work he’s doing to address the nation’s gun epidemic?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we think it’s shameful.  It’s certainly shameful and tragic, especially after a school shooting.  That’s what — that’s what the Florida governor decided to do.  And again, we spoke — we spoke about this last week.

And if you think about this bill — this law, it eliminates the need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon.  This is what was signed after we heard what occurred in Nashville, Tennessee; after we heard three kids and three — three administrators were — you know, were murdered.

And so, look — what we think: It’s the opposite of common- — commonsense gun safety, which we know the majority of Americans want to see.  This is not what they want to see.  They want a way — to see a way — a commonsense way on how we’re going to protect our communities, how we’re going to protect our kids, and how we’re going to protect Americans.

And so, you know, too many lives have been ripped apart.  Too many lives have been taken.

And the President is going to continue to call on Congress to move forward with the assault weapons ban.  He’s going to be very clear about that — the high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of firearms, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and require background checks for all gun sales, and for state officials to take action on the state level as well.

But it is incredibly shameful to see what was done in Florida.  And — and, again, it’s just unfortunate after a tragic event.

Q    Thank you.  I have two China-related questions.  First, the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. sent a threatening letter to Speaker McCarthy and congressional members of both parties, warning them: Do not meet with the Taiwanese President.  What is the White House response to China’s intimidation to the U.S. politicians on the U.S. soil?  What are you going to do about it?

And the second one is that: How does the administration see Beijing tomorrow hosting Iran and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers in their path towards normalization?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’ve spoken to your first question before, just moments ago.  I spoke to it yesterday — just spoke to it moments ago.  And I also — also highlighted what Secretary Blinken said today in Belgium.

And again, we’ve been very clear: There’s no reason for Beijing to use this transit that has been done many times before.  This particular President of Taiwan has done it six times before.  It is an unofficial visit.  It is a private visit.  And it should not be used to — for any kind of escalation or overreaction.  And we’ve been very clear about that.

I talked about how we’ve had conversations — open line of — wanting to keep those open line of communications with Beijing.  And we’ve had direct conversations about this.

And — and lastly, I’ll just say Congress is a separate and co-equal branch of government.  And, you know — and so any specifics about that particular meeting, I would certainly refer you to the — to the Speaker’s office.

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