Okay. We will also keep you guys updated on when the pool needs to gather, as
well, as we see if weíre on time or not.
So, good afternoon. As you all know, later today, the President will be
delivering remarks on how his Build Back Better Act will lower prescription drug
prices for millions of Americans.
Ahead of these remarks, the President is currently meeting with some of the one
in four Americans who take prescription drugs and struggle to afford them, and
heíll talk about that in his remarks today. He will discuss their conversation
and their -- the plights of the people heís meeting with.
The three people he is meeting with struggle to pay for insulin, even rationing
doses. These stories are all too common. Nearly 30 percent of Americans who take
prescription drugs have skipped a dose.
The Presidentís Build Back Better Act will provide relief to Americans
struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, and for good reason.
Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, often two
to three times as much as citizens of other -- from other developed countries.
That includes many medicines that were invented long ago and cost very little to
make, such as insulin, which was invented a century ago and costs only a few
dollars to make but whose costs have skyrocketed in recent years, often to over
The Presidentís Build Back Better Act will cap the cost of insulin to $35 a
month; limit seniorsí prescription drug expenses to $2,000 a year; empower
Medicare to negotiate down prices for some of the most expensive drugs; penalize
drug companies that raise the cost of medicines more than inflation; lower costs
for seniors by ensuring they never make more -- pay more than $2,000 a year for
drugs under Medicare Part D; and expand healthcare coverage to millions more
He also isnít waiting to take action. Heís already acted to bring down the cost
of prescription drugs with an executive order that increases competition which
will lower prescription drug costs, directed the FDA to get less expensive
generic drugs to consumers faster, and ordered the FDA to work with states and
Tribes to import drugs safely from Canada. This is expected to save Coloradans,
for example, 60 percent of their drug expenses.
So, youíll hear the President talk more about that later this afternoon.
Also, I just wanted to provide a quick update on our booster program.
To date, the United States has administered more than 47 million boosters. Just
in the last week, weíve seen strong demand for boosters, with close to 7 million
Americans getting their booster in the past week.
This is critical to ensuring Americans have the best protection against COVID-19
as we head into the winter. And as part of our comprehensive push on boosters,
this week, CMS will issue email booster reminders to the more than 14 million
people that receive Medicare emails.
It will also launch booster reminders at the beginning of calls to its 1-800
line, which receives more than 2 million calls per month.
Aamer, why donít you kick us off?
Question: Thank you. First, I just -- on the Olympics and the diplomatic boycott: Several
reports that the President has decided to move forward with the move. Is that
correct that heís come to this decision?
The Biden Administration will not send any diplomatic or official
representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given
the PRCís ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other
human rights abuses.
The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100
percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the
fanfare of the Games.
U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these Games as business
as usual in the face of the PRCís egregious human rights abuses and atrocities
in Xinjiang. And we simply canít do that.
As the President has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the
DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights.
And we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to
advance human rights in China and beyond.
Question: The Chinese Foreign Ministry has already suggested that thereíll be
countermeasures -- ďfirm countermeasuresĒ is, I believe, the term that they used.
Have they indicated to the Administration yet what sort of action that they
might take for this move?
Well, I donít have anything to read out in terms of their intentions
or what they would convey from officials from the PRC. But our view is thatís
not the right way to view or frame our relationship.
Our view is that cooperation on transnational issues is not a favor to us. It is
not a transaction. The PRC should be taking action on issues, aware of where the
global community -- to meet the needs of the global community. And thatís what
they should do in order to be a part of leadership in the global community.
So I donít have anything to read out on their front; they can certainly speak
Question: And can you walk us through a little bit of the logistics of tomorrowís video
meeting with President Putin -- just everything from who will be in the room on
the U.S. side, how much time has been blocked out for meeting, and how much do
you expect to be focused on Ukraine versus Iran, cybersecurity, some of the
other issues of tension or mutual interest in the relationship?
Sure. Well, Iím certain we will put out a list of the delegation who
will be attending. I can see if thatís something that we can provide to all of
you later this afternoon. And I can also check on the logistics of how much time
is blocked out for the meeting.
In terms of the focus of the meeting, as was announced when we announced it this
weekend, it will -- it is an opportunity for the President to underscore, of
course, U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with
Ukraine, and reaffirm the United States support for the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Itís also an opportunity to discuss a range of topics in the U.S. and Russia
relationship, including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues.
But you can certainly expect that the -- our concerns about the military
activities on the border will be a prominent part of the discussion.
Question: Thanks, Jen. Should Americans be prepared for the likelihood to see American
forces on the ground in the region in the event that Russia does invade?
Iím not going to get ahead of the Presidentís conversations with our
-- his transatlantic partners, which is going to happen later this
afternoon. And weíll provide you a list of who will be participating in that
call as soon as those scheduling details are finalized.
But I would say that our objective here, Cecilia, is conveying diplomatically
that this is the moment for Russia to pull back their military buildup at the
border, that diplomacy is the right path forward here, but that we are going to
continue to coordinate closely with our partners -- our transatlantic partners
on a range of economic sanctions and steps that could be taken should President
Putin decide to move forward.
Question: And how would the White House characterize relations with Russia heading into
this call right now?
I think our objective from the beginning of the Presidentís time in
office has not been to escalate the relationship but has been to move to a more
stable footing in the relationship. But certainly, that means that we can raise
concerns where we have them, specifically about areas like the military buildup
weíve seen on the border in Ukraine.
We -- Many of us lived through a similar playbook back in 2014. And the President
is not going to hold back in conveying his concern and also conveying our
conversations and our preparations should they be warranted.
We donít know that President Putin has made a decision. We donít know that yet.
But thatís why this is an opportunity to have a conversation.
But thereís also an opportunity in this call to have a conversation about a
range of topics where there can be mutual interest, whether itís Iranís --
nuclear capabilities as a member of the P5+1 talks and what that looks like
moving forward, and other strategic stability issues where we have worked
together in the past.
Question: And just very quickly on China, if I may: Is a diplomatic boycott enough,
given the human rights abuses that youíre concerned about?
Well, let me first say: Everybody can call it whatever they want to
call it. I would just remind you that, often, when you use ďdiplomatic boycottĒ
-- that phrase -- that brings people back to 1980, and we are not. The athletes
will be participating. We will be rooting for the athletes from home. I am an
Olympics-obsessed person, so Iím looking forward to doing that. But I think this
is just an indication that it cannot be business as usual, that not sending a
diplomatic delegation sends that message.
That does not mean -- I think this was your question, just to come back to it --
that we are -- that is the end of the concerns we will raise about human rights
abuses in Xinjiang.
Weíve already taken a number of steps. Weíve been a leader in the world in
leading actions through the G7. Weíre obviously also working with Congress. But
this is just sending a message that, given these human rights abuses, we cannot
proceed with business as usual.
Question: Are you trying to get other allies to join the United States in this
Well, Steve, we have informed them of our decision, and obviously we
will leave it to them to make their own decisions.
Question: And why not pull American athletes from the Olympics?
I donít think that we felt it was -- it was the right step to penalize
athletes who have been training, preparing for this moment. And we felt that we
could send a clear message by not sending an official U.S. delegation.
Question: And on the Putin call, how specific will the President be with Putin on what
the consequences will be if thereís an invasion?
I think the President will be clear, as we have conveyed publicly,
that we have been preparing a range of economic sanctions -- or economic options
that could have a detrimental impact on the Russian economy.
In terms of what level of detail, I will leave the President the space to do
Question: Thank you.
Question: On those potential sanctions, obviously European partners have different
equities here, particularly on the energy side of things. Will these all be done
in concert with transatlantic allies, or is there a possibility that the U.S.
would operate some on a unilateral basis?
Itís a great question, Phil, and I think the President is going to
have this conversation with a number of key partners this afternoon. Obviously,
we -- itís important to us to move in coordination and in lockstep with our
transatlantic partners and allies, but I donít want to rule anything in or out
before those conversations are had.
Question: And on the domestic front, Senator Schumer sent a letter to his colleagues
this morning, making clear that his deadline of Christmas to finish Build Back
Better still stands at this point in time. It seems like thereís still a lot of
work to do. Is that a deadline you guys subscribe to, would like to see? Or can
you see it going further than that?
Well, as you noted in his ďDear ColleagueĒ letter -- a very Washington
term -- it said -- Leader Schumer made clear today that heís moving full speed
ahead and that there -- he outlined in very specific, wonky Hill detail -- that
Iím sure you, of all people, appreciate, Phil -- all of the work happening behind
Obviously, weíre engaged in that, but we certainly support Leader Schumerís
effort and push to move this forward and get it done in the coming weeks.
Question: I guess what Iím asking is: Is Christmas ďdrop dead,Ē or can this be something
that moves past Christmas, if the legislative realities make that the case?
I certainly understand why youíre asking. We have many conversations
and briefings between now and Christmas. So, weíre just encouraged by Leader
Schumerís effort to move this forward, all of the work happening behind the
scenes among staffers, among the members to move this forward and get it done.
Go ahead, Ashley.
Question: Thank you. Jen, on the Democracy Summit, can you explain why countries such as
Hungary, which is an EU member, and Turkey, which is a NATO member, are not
invited, while other countries like the Philippines and Pakistan, which have
some especially egregious record on human rights, are included?
Sure. Well, the Democracy Summit that will happen later this week is
an opportunity to bring together U.S. officials, civil society leaders, and
foreign leaders who represent a diverse array of experiences to talk about
strengthening democracy, defending against authoritarianism, fighting
corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.
Inclusion or an invitation is not a stamp of approval on their approach to
democracy, nor is exclusion a stamp of the opposite of that -- of disapproval.
So, itís just meant to have a broad scope of leaders, a broad scope of private
sector and civil society officials represented.
Question: Just to follow up on that briefly, there is sort of
-- of the roughly 110
countries youíve invited, thereís a group of about a dozen or so that are a
little, to use a non-wonky term, ďcusp-y,Ē right? They feel like they can kind
of go either way. Can you just give a little thinking on how those decisions
were made when there was a debate over a country?
Sure. I mean, I would think -- say, broadly speaking, that this is an
opportunity, again, not to celebrate everything weíve done on democracy, either
for the United States or all these countries, and call it a day; itís an
opportunity to continue to strive to do better.
The President feels that, you know, democracy is always a work in progress.
Youíre always trying to make yourself better, to lead better, to push other
countries to be better. And this is an opportunity to do exactly that.
So, I understand -- I understand, of course, the interest in the invite list, but
itís not meant to be, again, a stamp of approval or disapproval; itís just meant
to have a diverse range of voices and faces and representatives at the
Question: Thank you, Jen. You mentioned that Biden was obviously deeply involved with
the Ukraine in 2014.
Question: And Iím wondering if you could talk about what his takeaways are from that
experience, because a lot of the things that heís saying this time -- supporting
NATO Allies on the eastern flank, sanctions -- those sound like the same things
that you guys tried to do in 2014, and it didnít stop Russia from taking Crimea.
So, whatís -- why does he think this will be different?
Well, I think, first, our objective at this point, Mara, is of course
to prevent them from moving forward and to convey on the front end that we have
been working in lockstep and in coordination with Congress, with countries, our
NATO partners, with transatlantic partners to prepare a range of steps that
could be detrimental to their economy.
I would say that there are some -- certainly lessons learned or things that weíve
watched and seen that we certainly saw back in 2014: a massive spike -- more than
tenfold -- in social media activity pushing anti-Ukrainian propaganda,
approaching levels last seen in the lead-up to Russiaís invasion of Ukraine in
2014. That was something that didnít have a lot of past precedent at the time.
But, to us, we see that as an indication of efforts to influence inside and
outside, of course, as well.
Weíve also seen evidence, as weíve noted here, of Russia making plans for
significant, aggressive moves against Ukraine.
So, I would say our objective -- or the Presidentís objective is to, on the front
end, always lead with diplomacy, have those conversations. Weíre having them
directly with Russian leaders. The Secretary of State obviously met with his
counterpart last week. And weíre having those at a range of levels. The
President is speaking with President Putin tomorrow. But in the meantime, to
prepare a range of options should they decide to move forward.
Question: Why do you -- why will your efforts this time be more successful than last
time? Why do you think they will be?
Well, we will see if they are. But our objective, first and foremost,
is to prevent the move forward, the military progression that we saw happen in
Question: And I have one quick question on testing. Last week, obviously, the President
explained some ramp-up in testing, but there are still a lot of countries, like
Germany and the UK and South Korea, that basically have massive testing, free of
charge or for a nominal fee. Why canít that be done in the United States?
Well, I would say, first, you know, we have eight tests that have
been approved by the FDA here. We see that as the gold standard. Whether or not
all of those tests would meet that standard is a question for the scientists and
medical experts, but I donít suspect they would.
Our objective is to continue to increase accessibility and decrease costs. And
if you look at what weíve done over the course of time, weíve quadrupled the
size of our testing plan, weíve cut the cost significantly over the past few
months, and this effort to push -- to ensure -- ensures youíre able to get your
tests refunded means 150 million Americans will be able to get free tests.
Question: Thatís kind of complicated though. Why not just make them free and give them
out to -- and have them available everywhere?
Should we just send one to every American?
Question: Maybe. Iím just asking you --
there are other countries --
Then what -- then what happens if you -- if every American has one
test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?
Question: I donít know. All I know is that other countries seem to be making them
available for -- in greater quantities, for less money.
Well, I think we share the same objective, which is to make them less
expensive and more accessible. Right?
Every country is going to do that differently. And I was just noting that,
again, our tests go through the FDA approval process. Thatís not the same
process that -- it doesnít work that way in every single country. But what weíre
working to do here is build on what weíve done to date and continue to build out
our testing capacity, because, Mara, we absolutely recognize that this is a key
component of fighting the virus.
Question: Thanks, Jen. On Russia, first: You said that the goal is to prevent Putin from
invading. So what is President Biden willing to threaten, in this phone call,
will happen if Russia invades, just beyond more sanctions?
Well, again, I think that itís not about threats; itís about
conveying that the right path forward here is through diplomacy.
In the meantime, on financial sanctions, weíve consulted significantly with our
allies and believe we have a path forward that would impose significant and
severe harm on the Russian economy. You can call that a threat. You can call
that a fact. You can call that preparation. Whatever you want to call it. But
that is something weíve talked about publicly, and certainly the President would
convey that as well.
Question: Is President Biden prepared to warn that thereís the possibility of U.S.
military involvement if Russia invades Ukraine?
Again, Iím not going to get ahead of the Presidentís conversation,
but that is not our first objective.
I would note that, in the past, if you look back at 2014, that one of the
outcomes here, if they were to decide to move forward, is that the other
countries in the eastern flank, in -- many of them NATO partners -- will be
looking for reassurance from the United States. Thatís something that was a
follow-up to 2014. Iím not sure that is what Russia wants to see. But that would
be a natural consequence if they were to move forward as well.
Question: And then, on China, did the White House consider going a step further and
barring U.S. athletes from participating
in the Games?
Iím not going to get into additional considerations. All I can convey
to you is where we landed and the decision that was made and why.
Question: And why did you make that particular decision? Why not bar U.S. -- why not
go further and bar U.S. athletes from the Games?
Because not sending a U.S. delegation sends a clear message that we
cannot conduct ourselves with business as usual, that we are not in a state for
business as usual as appropriate, at a time where there are human rights abuses
that we have been outspoken about, that we have taken actions on. And we feel
this sends a clear message.
At the same time, we believe U.S. athletes -- people who have been training,
giving up a lot of blood, sweat, and tears preparing for these Olympics -- should
be able to go and compete. And we look forward to cheering for them from home.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Question: Thank you, Jen. On the violent crime spike that weíve been seeing, there have
been smash-and-grab robberies, there was the pretty alarming murder in the
wealthy Hollywood neighborhood last week, and then an attack -- a violent robbery
in Pacific Palisades on Friday. This is sort of similar to the crime spike that
we saw over the summer. And one of the Presidentís biggest pushes to address
that was the DOJ strike teams that were sent out to those five cities; it was
D.C., New York, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco.
Since those strike forces were assembled in July, have they accomplished
Look, I think we sent those strike forces in part because of the
spike in gun violence -- something that continues to be a concern. And we sent
them -- the Department of Justice, I should say -- sent them in order to work in
partnership and in lockstep with law enforcement on the ground.
Weíve also recently taken steps. The Justice Department, the FBI, and federal
law enforcement have been working with local jurisdictions -- especially areas
like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and others where weíve seen a rash of break-ins
-- to offer their assistance and provide assistance through multi-jurisdictional
We know that weíve seen over the course of time -- while weíll let other people
determine what the cause and effect is, we know weíve seen an increase in crime
over the course of the pandemic. Weíve seen that timeline.
What the President has been focused on doing is working to ensure thereís
funding to support local cops, to support local jurisdictions; to ensure that
law enforcement at a federal level is a partner, both in the short and long
term; to address either these spikes in crimes or gun violence, which is an
ongoing concern; and to ensure thereís adequate funding in the budget.
So thatís what we are working to do. The Department of Justice, Iím sure, can
provide you an update on the strike forces.
Question: Are you talking about the funding in the Build Back Better plan then?
The funding in the Presidentís proposed budget, which was an
increase, significantly, over what former President Trump proposed.
Question: So are you saying that passing the spending plan would address crime then, in
Well, Iím saying that passing the Presidentís budget, which is
something obviously we want to get to next year -- since we could only get to a
short-term CR -- has a significant increase in funding to support police
departments, support the fighting of crime, and a significant increase from
former President Trump and something the President supports.
Question: And then is there any concern that not having an ATF nominee while all this is
going on is somehow leaving vulnerability or a gap in leadership?
Well, I think our collective view here is that the blocking of a
fully qualified, experienced former ATF agent from serving in that role
certainly is something Republicans didnít have to take the step to do, but here
we are. So, we have to nominate a new person. And when weíre -- when the
President finds the right person, Iím sure heíll be prepared to do that.
But again, we could have had a nominee -- somebody who was qualified, ready, and
prepared to serve in that role confirmed and working.
Question: And, real quick, I just want to ask about the Washington Post article. Thereís
another article thatís come out after a string of articles detailing dysfunction
in the Vice Presidentís office. And then, the Director of Operations put out a
tweet today talking about how much he loved his job. There was a similar sort of
social media push this summer following some negative headlines about ongoings
in the Vice Presidentís office. Did anybody ask the Deputy Director to put out a
positive tweet today, or was that all him?
Iím not aware of any asks for a positive tweet or a specific tweet. I
would point you to the Vice Presidentís office. But I work with a number of
people in the Vice Presidentís office who certainly are looking forward to
continuing their jobs.
Question: Jen, did President Biden give President Xi any kind of a heads-up about his
intention and decision-making with this diplomatic boycott?
When they spoke a few weeks ago?
Question: Yes. Or --
It was -- the Olympics --
Question: -- Or before your announcement today.
-- the Olympics were not a topic of discussion during that call.
Question: Will he? Will there be any conversations between the two governments
explaining the decision-making?
Certainly lower level than President Biden -- they were made aware of
Question: And on the call tomorrow with President Putin, the President says he expects
it will be a long one. Of course, tensions with Ukraine will be a major topic of
discussion but not the only one. How much time do you anticipate will be devoted
to that versus the follow-ups from the Geneva Summit on strategic stability and cybersecurity?
Well, we certainly expect Ukraine to be a major topic of discussion
during the conversation, but there are other topics that we also expect to
receive some attention.
So -- And I understand the desire for an understanding of the breakdown. I expect
weíll have a better breakdown once the call actually happens that we can provide
to all of you tomorrow.
Question: And, finally, just on COVID, Dr. Fauci said yesterday the Africa travel bans
are being evaluated ďon a daily basis,Ē that itís possible the policy could end
at any time. So what would the White House need to see happen in order to lift
It wouldnít be the White -- It would be a recommendation from Dr. Fauci and the health and medical experts that we should pull back those travel
restrictions. And thatís something thatís being evaluated and discussed on a
Question: Back on Ukraine, just to distill it down to a couple of important terms of
art: Does the President view the current territorial integrity of Ukraine in the
vital national security interest of the United States?
I would say: Of course, we view the territorial integrity of Ukraine
as a vital interest -- global interest -- for the global community. And it is of
our interest to ensure thereís stability across Europe. But Iím not going to
give further definition to it.
Question: Okay. So -- But if they answer is
yes, it means one thing; if the answer is no, it means --
Well, I donít -- I think youíre asking this in, sort of, you want a
yes-or-no answer, and I would say foreign policy is a little more nuanced than
that. So, keep going. Whatís your next question?
Question: -- the ďRemain in MexicoĒ program. Immigrant rights advocates say that the idea
that the United States government is going to be able to facilitate lawyers for
migrants who want them is an empty promise. What can you say to assure those
people that, in fact, youíll live by that commitment?
Well, I would say first to all of these people that it is not our
preference to be reimplementing and reinstituting the Migrant Protection
program. We -- Protocol. We are doing that because of a court order and legal
requirement to do so, and that we have put in place a number of changes to make
-- from the Department of Homeland Security -- to improve some humanitarian
components. But we still feel that the program is inefficient, inhumane, and we
are not -- we werenít -- we were -- did not eagerly reimplement it, I should say.
But in terms of people who are skeptics, we are absolutely committed to doing
everything we can, as we are required by court order, to implement this, to take
steps to ensure that there are -- that we are injecting additional humanitarian
considerations and providing the assistance that we have promised to people who
are participating in the program.
Question: Jen, David Barnea, the chief of Mossad, is in town. He met with the CIA
Director a few minutes ago. So heís trying to push, as a military option,
against the nuclear plants in Iran as a last resort. Would President Biden
support this option in case that negotiation does not make any progress?
Well, every President has a range of options. Iím not going to
outline those from here. Our approach, our desire continues to be a diplomatic
path forward. The last rounds of meetings were disappointing, and Iran did not
come to the table prepared to make progress on the sixth round of negotiations.
All of the negotiators are back at home having consultations. Iíll let them do
that and give them the space to do that.
Question: I have a couple of questions.
Question: First, just to go back to Build Back Better, obviously we know that the
President is talking about drug pricing in that bill in a few minutes. But, you
know, I think the big question is still just, you know, where Senators Sinema
and Manchin are on this. It has been four months at this point.
As the President and senior staff work on negotiating with them, are they
confident that thatís something they can actually get done in the next couple of
weeks with those individual people? I know, overall, the committees can do their
work but still been this -- there has been this -- these sticking points for quite
some time, and they donít -- they havenít seemed, in their public comments
recently, to really be yielding all that much. So how do you handle that from
here? And is the President planning on speaking or having either of those
senators over in the next couple days or weeks?
We have been in close touch with a range of senators, including the
ones you mentioned, at a senior-staff level, and I expect that will continue.
And, of course, Leader Schumer certainly understands and knows that you need the
vast -- the majority -- every single Democrat -- in order to successfully move
forward with a vote.
But in the meantime, he is leading the effort to do important preparations to
get to that point. And obviously, the President is highlighting the components
of the package on prescription drugs that lower the cost, that ensure that
people who are -- the millions of Americans who are dealing with covering the
cost of insulin donít have to choose between that and food or share insulin with
other people, as some of the stories heíll outline today will tell you.
But in terms of what individual senators will do or where they are, I really --
they have to speak for themselves.
Question: The Presidential Commission on the
Supreme Court is holding its final public --
Question: -- meeting tomorrow to vote on their report that will go to the President. How
are your -- what are your plans for how the President will -- and the White House
staff -- will process that information and then respond to it? Will -- you know,
that came from an executive order with an 180-day timeline, so will there be a
shorter timeline for an evaluation of this?
I think that youíre seeing, just since the oral arguments last week on abortion,
a lot of concern among a lot of people on the Democratic side about the Court.
And -- you know, how are you going to kind of respond and move forward on those
Well, so, as you noted, later this afternoon, it will be posted, and
then thereíll be a meeting and they will -- tomorrow, I believe -- and that will
be the next step in the process.
The President will then get the report and will have time to review the report,
but I donít have a timeline for how long it will take him to review the report.
I would remind you all: Itís not recommendations that he either accepts or
denies. He asked this diverse group of experts from a range -- from across the
political spectrum, from across the viewpoint spectrum to look at and assess a
range of issues that have long been discussed and debated by Court experts,
whether it is how cases are taken up or the length of individual justices
serving or Court expansion, and to assess and provide a review of that -- not to
make, again, ďhere are the five recommendations; accept them or deny them.Ē
So thatís the next step. It will be posted. You all will see it. And then, in
terms of when -- how and when the President will review it and what that means, I
will give him the space to do that.
Question: Okay. But thereís no -- thereís no kind of plan at this point of how you will
(inaudible) to that?
Well, heíll have to review it first. And I donít think weíre going to
set a timeline for what that looks like and what it will mean after that.
Question: Thanks, Jen. Thanks, Jen. The Biden Administration today put out a big report
about addressing corruption. I want to ask you two quick and hopefully pretty
easy questions about that.
Shortly after President Bidenís virtual meeting with the Chinese President, the
First Sonís attorney said that he has finally divested from a Chinese investment
fund controlled by state-owned entities. I was hoping you could commit to basic
transparency about that transaction, including the name of the buyer, the dollar
amount, and the timing.
And the second question is: My colleague Miranda Devine has a new book out
called the ďLaptop From Hell,Ē and I was hoping that you could confirm that the
laptop is indeed authentic and not Russian disinformation, as you seemed to
suggest on Twitter last year.
Well, on the first, the Presidentís son is not an employee of the
federal government, so Iíd point you to his representatives. And as it relates
to the book, I have neither had the time nor interest in exploring or reading
Go ahead, Tina.
Question: But the First Sonís attorney --
Go ahead, Tina.
Question: -- didnít give any information on the transaction.
I think I answered your question.
You can go to the representative of the person who is not an employee of the
Go ahead, Tina.
Question: Yes, but he doesnít give any information on that.
I think we have to move on. Go ahead. Question: Is there anything the White House is doing to help parts of the U.S. where
weíre seeing hospitals that are overwhelmed again with the Delta variant, like
parts of Massachusetts and New York? Is there any help that can be sent out to
Let me check on it specifically. What we have done over the past and
I suspect weíre doing now -- but I just donít have the information in front of me
-- is working with state public health officials to ensure we are sending surge
resources to them. Because, as weíve talked about a fair amount in here, itís
not just the vaccines, to your point -- itís ensuring that there are health and
medical experts as needed, additional resources; sometimes itís, you know,
medical needs or medical equipment needs. And weíve been really surging those on
an as-needed basis. So I will check and see, on Massachusetts, if thereís
anything in addition.
Question: Also, if I could just ask about if the White House is concerned about the
Child Tax Credit expiring on December 15th. Is that something thatís being
discussed with Senate Democrats in negotiations with them?
Absolutely weíre concerned, as should millions of Americans be. And
that is an area that is a part of the Presidentís Build Back Better Agenda and
why he and we are so eager to get it done.
Question: Thanks, Jen. You said, in response to Ashley, of the Presidentís belief that
democracy is always a work in progress and that you have to push yourself to do
better, as well as pushing other people to do better. So what does the President
believe the United States needs to do better?
Well, I think, first, when the President took office, he -- one of his
key objectives is restoring trust and faith in not just government but in
institutions, and doing that in a range of ways. That means not only respecting
and valuing the freedom of press and media here and around the world; it also
means ensuring we are speaking out against human rights and ensuring we are
taking steps to address corruption around the world. We just put out a major
report on corruption today, too, in advance of the Democracy Summit.
So what I was getting at, I think, is -- and I think why you were asking -- is
that it is not -- you know, we are continuing to work hard, do better, ensure we
are protecting our own democracy here at home. And I think it is -- there -- it is
unquestionable that as people around the world, countries around the world
looked at the events of January 6th, looked at what happened here in the United
States, it was clear that when the President came into office, this was going to
be front and center on his agenda, and it has been.
Question: Shifting gears on one other
Question: -- besides Build Back Better, what legislation, realistically, does the
President think that Democrats can pass into law before the end of his first
year in office?
Before the end of his first year in office?
So, letís see -- next January? Look, thereís a lot of steps --
Question: Itís about six weeks away now.
It is six weeks away. Look, Iím not going to get into the legislative
calendar; Iíll leave that to Leader Schumer to take steps on. And Iím not going
to give a timeline on it, but the President obviously wants to get his Build
Back Better Agenda done as soon as possible.
He wants to get -- make voting rights a reality. He wants to get police reform
done. He wants to ensure that the CHIPS Act passes through and we can ensure
that we are taking additional steps in a bipartisan manner to address the supply
chain crisis. He wants to get his nominees through.
So thereís a lot that he would like to see happen in short order, and weíre
going to continue to work with leaders to do that.
Question: Two quick things: Are you going to do a readout later of these leader calls?
Oh, after the call this afternoon? Yes, I expect -- I expect we will.
Question: Okay. And then, lastly, did you have a reaction to the court in Burma finding Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of charges of incitement?
Yes, I believe that we put out a statement from -- or the State
Department put out a statement. But let me reiterate some of these key points,
The Burmese militaryís regime -- military regimeís unjust conviction of Aung San
Suu Kyi and the repression of other democratically elected officials are yet
further affronts to democracy and justice in Burma. The regimeís continued
disregard for the rule of law and its widespread use of violence against the
Burmese people underscore the urgency of restoring Burmaís path to democracy. We
urge the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained,
including other democratically elected officials.
Go ahead, Karen.
Question: Jen, is the President going to attend Bob Doleís funeral this week? And if he
does, will he be giving a eulogy for his friend?
Sure, I certainly understand the question. Iím just going to leave it
to them to finalize and announce any details of the funeral for former Senator
As you saw in the Presidentís comments yesterday, obviously heís somebody he
considered a friend; somebody he respected; somebody, even when he disagreed, he
felt was a lion of leader in his time in public office.
Question: And on Russia -- one quick one.
Question: The Russians are urging people to not have high expectations going into this
call tomorrow Ė
Question: -- between the presidents. In that the White House message too?
I think it is. I mean, our objective here is that this is an
opportunity. We had been talking about having a conversation about a range of
issues. The President believes in leader-to-leader diplomacy, and this is an
opportunity to convey very clearly and directly where we have serious concerns,
including as it relates to Russiaís military activity on the border with
Ukraine, and to reaffirm our own support for the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Ukraine.
It is certainly up to President Putin to make the decisions about what steps he
is or is not going to take.
April, why donít we do you as the last one?
Question: Thank you. Back on MPP, really fast.
Question: Haiti is included in that. What is the update on the investigation that Mayorkas was having on that?
On the --
Question: On the situation of Haiti.
Sure. I know that the Department of Homeland Security has put out
comments on that. I donít have anything new to update you on in terms of the
Question: And when it comes to COVID, advocacy groups are very upset that many of those
who are coming into this nation are not being vaccinated, and they say itís a
ripple effect. As you talk about getting vaccinated and boosters, what do you
say to that?
I would say, first, that for MPP, for individuals who are being -- are
in Mexico and are coming in for court hearings, they would be offered a vaccine.
And also, we are still implementing Title 42 because we are still in the middle
of a global pandemic, which means that for people who are trying to irregularly
enter the country, that would still be applicable.
Question: Thank you.
Question: Jen --
Thank you, everyone. Weíll do it again tomorrow, everyone. We got to
wrap it up.