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Press Conference: Karine Jean-Pierre Holds a Press Briefing at The White House - February 27, 2023

  • Karine Jean-Pierre
    Person
  • John Kirby
    Person
  • Question
    Person
Positive

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:00:00-00:00:07 (8 sec)
Good afternoon. Happy Monday. 1

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:00:07-00:00:34 (26 sec)
Okay, so before we dive into regular -- regularly scheduled programming here, I have my colleague from the National Security Council, who will be -- John Kirby -- who will be talking about some recent developments over the weekend in the Middle East. And he'll have something to say at the top to share with all of you and then take some questions. And then, we'll take -- I'll take the rest of the questions you have on domestic issues, I'm sure. 2

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:00:34-00:00:39 (6 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Good afternoon, everybody. 3

John Kirby

Unknown
00:00:39-00:00:48 (9 sec)
So, I just have two updates for you from the Middle East region, with one also related to Ukraine. 4

John Kirby

Positive
00:00:48-00:00:59 (12 sec)
As you saw in the statement yesterday from Mr. Sullivan, senior officials from Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States met over the weekend in Aqaba, Jordan. 5

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:00:59-00:01:25 (25 sec)
This was the first meeting of its kind in decades, with political and security representation from all participants. It also resulted in the first agreement of any kind in many years. The Aqaba Communiqué includes commitments from the Israeli and the Palestinian sides to de-escalate and prevent further violence. The two sides also affirmed their commitments to all previous agreements between them and to work towards a just and lasting peace. 6

John Kirby

Very Negative
00:01:25-00:01:39 (14 sec)
Now, as we said, this meeting was a starting point, but it was an important one. And the importance was demonstrated quite clearly by the violence we saw just yesterday in the West Bank, and we're seeing reports today of additional violence. 7

John Kirby

Very Negative
00:01:39-00:01:50 (11 sec)
But in ye- -- yesterday's violence, two Israelis were murdered, and then Israeli citizens sought to take revenge in a Palestinian town, resulting in one Palestinian death and many others injured. 8

John Kirby

Very Negative
00:01:50-00:01:56 (6 sec)
The State Department spoke to this yesterday; I'm sure you saw that. And we condemn the violence, of course, in all its forms. 9

John Kirby

Slightly Positive
00:01:56-00:02:10 (14 sec)
We also agree fully with the statements from President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu that citizens cannot take the law into their own hands. What happened was totally unacceptable -- something that we've heard loud and clear from our Israeli partners. 10

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:02:10-00:02:21 (11 sec)
The Aqaba meeting was designed precisely to help manage and defuse crises like this -- to enhance political and security coordination to help protect Israelis and Palestinians alike. 11

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:02:21-00:02:28 (8 sec)
The President extends his personal thanks to His Majesty, King Abdullah of Jordan, and to President Sisi of Egypt for helping to convene this session. 12

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:02:28-00:02:37 (9 sec)
The United States will continue to remain actively engaged in this format with all parties over the coming weeks, including through a follow-up engagement next month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. 13

John Kirby

Positive
00:02:37-00:02:47 (10 sec)
Now, my second update has to do with Saudi Arabia and Ukraine. As you know, we are and we have been for the last year asking all partners to do what they can to support Ukraine. 14

John Kirby

Negative
00:02:47-00:03:07 (19 sec)
And so, we welcome the visit made yesterday by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister and senior Saudi humanitarian and energy officials to Kyiv for meetings with President Zelenskyy and, of course, the rest of his leadership team. This was the first ministerial visit by an Arab state to Kyiv since the war began. 15

John Kirby

Slightly Negative
00:03:07-00:03:21 (15 sec)
During the visit, the Saudis and Ukrainians formalized arrangements for the delivery of $400 million in assistance, including generators and badly needed energy products and supplies. Now, these deliveries will begin arriving next week. 16

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:03:21-00:03:33 (12 sec)
This is an important announcement. I'd also point to Saudi Arabia's vote in favor of the U.N. General Assembly resolution just last week on Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- its fourth on these resolutions. 17

John Kirby

Positive
00:03:33-00:03:43 (10 sec)
Coming on the heels of the President's historic visit to Kyiv, we are asking all partners to do what they can, as I said, to support Ukraine. And we recognize these are sovereign decisions that they have to make. 18

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:03:43-00:03:49 (6 sec)
The Saudi initiative is a positive step from the Middle East region, and we hope to see more from our partners over there in the coming months. 19

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:03:49-00:03:50 (1 sec)
Thanks, John. 20

John Kirby

Positive
00:03:50-00:03:52 (2 sec)
Yes, ma'am. 21

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:03:52-00:03:53 (2 sec)
Go ahead, Nadia. 22

Question

Very Positive
00:03:53-00:04:14 (20 sec)
Thank you. I have two questions, actually, on both topics. Let me start with Saudi Arabia. You just praised them on the U.N. votes and on sending $400 million in energy supplies to Ukraine. How does it fit in the general strategy -- or the review, rather -- that the White House said it will take in the aftermath of the OPEC+ decision? 23

John Kirby

Slightly Positive
00:04:14-00:04:18 (5 sec)
Okay. Do you have a second one, or do you want to wait on that one? 24

Question

Unknown
00:04:18-00:04:19 (1 sec)
I'll wait. 25

John Kirby

Slightly Positive
00:04:19-00:04:20 (1 sec)
Okay. [Laughs] 26

John Kirby

Unknown
00:04:20-00:04:35 (15 sec)
So, look, Nadia -- I think you know this, and I've spoken to this many times: I mean, looking at this bilateral relationship was never about producing a homework assignment. That's just a misnomer. That was never the intent here. 27

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:04:35-00:04:51 (16 sec)
We have been strategic partners with Saudi Arabia now for eight decades, across multiple administrations and certainly across party lines. And there's been ups and downs in this relationship. We've been very candid about that as well. 28

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:04:51-00:05:04 (13 sec)
But this announcement yesterday in Kyiv of $400 million in support, largely to help Ukraine recover from the energy attacks on their infrastructure, is an important one. And again, we were glad to see it. 29

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:05:04-00:05:39 (34 sec)
The other things that we've been happy to see in recent months is a truce now in Yemen, that's on its 10th month, been consistent. I mean, literally thousands of Yemeni lives have been saved by this truce, by moving forward on a regional defense architecture with Saudi Arabia to help -- not only help Saudi Arabia defend itself against attacks -- and they still come under attack -- but also to help us by helping them in protecting the 70-some-odd-thousand Americans, both military and civilian, who live in Saudi Arabia. 30

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:05:39-00:05:45 (7 sec)
We're working with Saudi Arabia, and we're glad to see progress on things like 5G and 6G, through something called O-RAN technologies. 31

John Kirby

Positive
00:05:45-00:05:56 (11 sec)
And, obviously, coming on the heels of the President's trip, we're working to -- continuing to work to see -- to see if we can improve integration of Israel throughout the region. 32

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:05:56-00:06:19 (22 sec)
And I think now that that -- you remind me that that announcement over the weekend from Oman, that they are now going to allow overflight of their airspace to and from Israel. That also is significant progress that we've seen here. And that is a direct result of the President's engagement on that trip over the -- over last summer to the region. 33

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:06:19-00:06:34 (15 sec)
So, look, I've been very consistent, and I'll say it again today: We are focused on making sure that this, like all other bilateral relationships, serves the interests of the American people first and foremost. That's where the President's head is, and that's what we're focused on here. 34

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:06:34-00:06:42 (8 sec)
We're focused on -- on moving this forward. And we believe that the announcement, again, over the weekend by Saudi Arabia is a step in the right direction. 35

Question

Very Negative
00:06:42-00:07:00 (18 sec)
And second, on the Aqaba Communiqué, despite what you said, it did not really translate on what's happening on the ground. We have seen another wave of violence this morning, as you alluded to. Thirty houses of Palestinians have been torched by settlers who are -- according to international law, they are illegal in these -- in the settlements. So how do you -- 36

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:07:00-00:07:12 (12 sec)
Well, our position on settlements is -- stays consistent. I mean, nothing has changed about that. We -- we view the expansion of settlements as an obstacle to peace. We've been very clear about that. 37

John Kirby

Very Negative
00:07:12-00:07:24 (12 sec)
And as I said in my opening statement, the violence we saw over the weekend is -- is just another example of why it's important that we get both sides together to work on ways to de-escalate. 38

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:07:24-00:07:40 (15 sec)
So, the Aqaba Communiqué, while I understand the point of the question -- it happened over the same weekend that there was violence -- but that it happened is still a good sign and at least a step that both sides are willing to work to de-escalate it. 39

John Kirby

Positive
00:07:40-00:07:52 (12 sec)
And you saw very swiftly, coming out of the Israeli side, condemning Israeli citizens who were, as I said in my opening statement, taking the law into their hands. That was -- their law in their own hands. That was not an insignificant statement on their part. 40

Question

Unknown
00:07:52-00:08:00 (8 sec)
But my question is about Mr. Net- -- Prime Minister Netanyahu, who said he will continue with the settlement activities. How -- is there any consequences for him announcing that? 41

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:08:00-00:08:08 (8 sec)
Well, if you look at the -- if you look at the communiqué, it says that they're not going to be discussing additional settlements now for six months. That's a positive sign, we think. 42

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:08:08-00:08:24 (16 sec)
And again, we've been very clear with the prime minister and the new government about our position on settlements: obstacle to peace. We want to see a viable two-state solution. We don't believe that additional settlement -- settlements work to that end. We've been very consistent on that. 43

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:08:24-00:08:25 (1 sec)
Go ahead. 44

Question

Very Negative
00:08:25-00:08:45 (20 sec)
To follow up on Nadia, when the -- when the Saudi Arabian government decided to slash oil production targets last year, you said that was an effort to aid Russia's war effort. Given what you've seen over this weekend, would the administration now say that Saudi Arabia is helping Ukraine in this war? 45

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:08:45-00:09:09 (23 sec)
Yeah, I think I -- I don't know that I could improve upon what I've said before here on this. We view this announcement over the weekend as a step in the right direction, and it's an important one. That they are giving -- that they actually went to Kyiv and, through their foreign ministry, directly pledged $400 million in energy infrastructure and in financial assistance is not insignificant. 46

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:09:09-00:09:12 (3 sec)
So, it's a positive step. We're glad to see it. 47

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:09:12-00:09:13 (1 sec)
Go ahead, Jacqui. 48

Question

Somewhat Positive
00:09:13-00:09:33 (21 sec)
Thanks, Karine. John, on the Department of Energy's findings, the lab leak most likely caused the pandemic. How should Americans respo- -- how should Americans understand China's response here, saying that this is politically motivated, it's a lie, there's no science to back it, and swatting down this information? 49

John Kirby

Leans Positive
00:09:33-00:09:42 (8 sec)
Well, I can't speak for the Chinese, and I wouldn't endeavor to do that, but just let me back up a little bit. 50

John Kirby

Unknown
00:09:42-00:09:53 (11 sec)
The President made trying to find the origins of COVID a priority right when he came into office. And he's got a whole-of-government effort designed to do that. 51

John Kirby

Leans Negative
00:09:53-00:10:02 (10 sec)
There is not a consensus right now in the U.S. government about exactly how COVID started. There is just not an intelligence community consensus. 52

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:10:02-00:10:18 (15 sec)
And, I would add, one of the things the President did was he -- he's the one who tasked the National Labs, which report up through the Department of Energy, to study this as well. So, it wasn't just an effort that was confined to the intelligence community. That work is still ongoing. 53

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:10:18-00:10:37 (19 sec)
But the President believes it's really important that we continue that work and that we find out, as best we can, how it started so that we can better prevent a future pandemic. I mean, it's -- that's -- the idea here is to get ahead of it so that, you know, should there be another one or should there even be the signs of another one, we can better get ahead of it. 54

Question

Very Positive
00:10:37-00:10:49 (13 sec)
China, though, is pretty clearly accusing the Biden administration of smearing them and trying to say that this is baseless, people shouldn't believe it, and it's a politically motivated attack. 55

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:10:49-00:11:10 (21 sec)
I'm not going to get ahead of where we are in the process, Jacqui. We -- the intelligence community and the rest of the government is still looking at this. There's not been a definitive conclusion, so it's difficult for me to say, nor should I feel like I should have to defend press reporting about a possible preliminary indication here. 56

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:11:10-00:11:27 (17 sec)
What the President wants is facts. He wants the whole government designed to go get those facts, and that's what we're doing. And we're just not there yet. And when we're there yet and if we have something that is -- is ready to be briefed to the American people and the Congress, then we're going to do that. 57

Question

Very Negative
00:11:27-00:11:42 (14 sec)
How would the President respond to China, though, if it's determined that they lied about all this and now we're trying to paint the administration as -- in such a negative light? How will he respond to Xi and -- 58

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:11:42-00:11:56 (14 sec)
Well, let's not get ahead of where we are in the process right now. There is not a consensus on what caused COVID to start. The President wants to understand that so we can prevent better future pandemics. He's made that a priority. 59

John Kirby

Neutral
00:11:56-00:12:09 (12 sec)
And I just don't -- we don't have an answer to speak to, and I certainly -- so, given that we don't have a consensus, it would be foolish for me to get out ahead of speculation on hypothetical situations to come. We just aren't there yet. 60

Question

Very Positive
00:12:09-00:12:21 (13 sec)
Thank you. Thanks, John. The President said that he wants cooperation with China, not conflict. But does the U.S. believe that China is pursuing policies -- for example, the spy balloon -- that make conflict more likely? 61

John Kirby

Positive
00:12:21-00:12:42 (21 sec)
One of the things that concerned us about that whole episode, aside from the fact that it was clearly designed to spy from a high altitude over potentially sensitive military sites, is that the lines of communication weren't as open, particularly on the military side, as they need to be. 62

John Kirby

Neutral
00:12:42-00:12:53 (10 sec)
So, the President maintains that his goal in the relationship is competition, not conflict. That has not changed, even in the wake of that spy balloon event. 63

John Kirby

Unknown
00:12:53-00:13:06 (13 sec)
But one of the things that really does need to -- we need to move forward on is opening up lines of communication, particularly on the military-to-military lane. And as you know, those were shut down by the Chinese after Speaker Pelosi -- then-Speaker Pelosi went to Taiwan. 64

Question

Very Negative
00:13:06-00:13:13 (8 sec)
And also, do you think that there's -- what would happen if China were to send lethal weapons to Ukraine? How would that affect the bilateral relationship? 65

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:13:13-00:13:35 (22 sec)
You know, again, I'm not going to get into a hypothetical here and speculate. We have not seen the Chinese make a decision to move in that direction. We have been very honest and candid, not only with all of you publicly but with the Chinese privately, about our concerns over the provision of those kinds of capabilities. And you heard Sec- -- you heard Jake Sullivan talk about this yesterday, in terms of the fact that there would have to be ramifications for that. 66

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:13:35-00:13:35 ( sec)
[Inaudible] 67

Question

Very Positive
00:13:35-00:13:45 (10 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Mr. Kirby, on the Energy Department's assessment, should the evidence that the department is basing this assessment on be shared with the American people? 68

John Kirby

Positive
00:13:45-00:13:56 (11 sec)
As I said, if we have something that we believe can be reported to the Congress and to the American people that we're confident in, we will absolutely do that. 69

Question

Unknown
00:13:56-00:14:06 (10 sec)
You said that, right now, there is not a consensus. Will there ever be a definitive answer from the Biden administration on the origins of COVID-19? And how much of that is dependent on cooperation from China? 70

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:14:06-00:14:21 (15 sec)
We really do want to know what happened here because the President wants to make sure that we're postured to prevent any future pandemics -- or if not prevent them, to be able to get farther along ahead of them. So we're working very hard to understand this as best we can. 71

John Kirby

Slightly Negative
00:14:21-00:14:29 (8 sec)
Again, there's just no consensus across the government. The work continues. And I'm not going to get ahead of conclusions that haven't been arrived at yet. 72

Question

Unknown
00:14:29-00:14:33 (4 sec)
Just one last quick follow-up. Who is -- what agency is taking the lead on this? 73

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:14:33-00:14:42 (9 sec)
This is a whole-of-government effort. And, clearly, here at the National Security Council -- I mean, we're running the interagency process on this, but it's a whole-of-government effort. 74

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:14:42-00:14:43 (1 sec)
Go ahead. 75

Question

Unknown
00:14:43-00:14:45 (3 sec)
Chancellor Scholz is coming to the White House on Friday. 76

John Kirby

Positive
00:14:45-00:14:46 (1 sec)
Yes, he is. 77

Question

Unknown
00:14:46-00:14:55 (9 sec)
It will be his second visit in roughly a year. Can you talk a little bit about the expectation for this visit? And is it not unusual that he comes again in such a short time? 78

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:14:55-00:15:11 (16 sec)
I don't think there's anything unusual about it. Germany is a strident NATO Ally and a good friend and partner. We're really excited to get the chancellor here on Friday. I'm sure we'll have more details to share with you as we get closer to the end of the week. Some of the agenda is still being formulated. 79

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:15:11-00:15:34 (23 sec)
But I think, without question, I'm comfortable telling you that the war in Ukraine will be a prime topic of discussion. And this will give President Biden yet another chance to thank the Chancellor and the people of Germany for all the support that they have provided to Ukraine. They really have stepped up, and they have evolved the capabilities that they're willing to send to Ukraine as well in a very meaningful way, the Leopard tanks being the most recent example of that. 80

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:15:34-00:15:37 (3 sec)
So, we're grateful for all that and look forward to a good discussion. 81

Question

Unknown
00:15:37-00:15:43 (6 sec)
What caused DOE to shift its assessment? And was the President himself briefed on that shift? 82

John Kirby

Unknown
00:15:43-00:15:49 (6 sec)
Again, I'm not going to confirm the press reporting. I'd refer you to DOE, but I'm not going to confirm the press reporting that was out there. 83

Question

Unknown
00:15:49-00:15:50 (1 sec)
And was the President briefed on this? 84

John Kirby

Unknown
00:15:50-00:16:00 (9 sec)
The President has stayed informed throughout this entire process of a whole-of-government effort to try to get at the at the roots and the origins of COVID. 85

Question

Unknown
00:16:00-00:16:00 (1 sec)
But was he briefed on the DOE -- 86

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:16:00-00:16:10 (9 sec)
The President has been kept informed and kept apprised. And he's been -- and he's -- you know, he's actively wanted to know what we know every step along the way. 87

Question

Neutral
00:16:10-00:16:11 (2 sec)
Okay, so not quite sure there. So going -- 88

John Kirby

Unknown
00:16:11-00:16:14 (2 sec)
I didn't say that. I said the President has kept informed. 89

Question

Slightly Positive
00:16:14-00:16:15 (1 sec)
Well, I don't know from your answer whether or not he was briefed on it. 90

John Kirby

Unknown
00:16:15-00:16:16 (1 sec)
I ans- -- I -- 91

Question

Slightly Positive
00:16:16-00:16:16 ( sec)
Okay. 92

John Kirby

Unknown
00:16:16-00:16:16 ( sec)
I got it. 93

Question

Unknown
00:16:16-00:16:18 (2 sec)
So, other thing. Is the administration 94

Question

Leans Positive
00:16:18-00:16:31 (12 sec)
confident in the Israeli government's approach to the recent violence, given the conservative right-wing nature of the government, its relationship with the settler movement? How does the administration feel the Israeli government is poised to handle this situation? 95

John Kirby

Neutral
00:16:31-00:16:50 (20 sec)
I mentioned that in the opening statement. You know, we noted that both President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu were very quick out of the gates to condemn citizens taking the law into their own hands and to provide some additional security forces to the West Bank to quell the violence. That was important, it was significant, and we're grateful for that. 96

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:16:50-00:16:51 (1 sec)
Just a couple more. Go ahead. 97

Question

Very Positive
00:16:51-00:17:15 (23 sec)
Thanks, Karine. To follow on the lab leak theory: Back in October 2021, it was also the case that there was no consensus from the intelligence community, you know, where COVID came from. Without revealing sensitive information, has the IC gathered new information, new intelligence, since then that might have led DOE to draw a different conclusion? 98

John Kirby

Unknown
00:17:15-00:17:28 (14 sec)
We -- again, without confirming the press reporting on the Department of Energy's work here -- and the context for them is that they run the National Labs, and the President wanted the National Labs involved. Again, a whole-of-government effort. 99

John Kirby

Positive
00:17:28-00:17:43 (15 sec)
The work is still ongoing. There hasn't been a final conclusion arrived at here. And not everyone in the intelligence community or across the government necessarily has come to a consensus view here on how it started. 100

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:17:43-00:18:07 (25 sec)
But I want to go back to what I said before, and that's that -- that we -- the President believes it's important to know so that we can better prevent future pandemics. And obviously, regardless of what -- what the source is, it's important for people to know that scientific research can still occur -- needs to occur in a safe and secure manner. 101

Question

Very Negative
00:18:07-00:18:21 (14 sec)
And on Friday, the President was asked if he was worried that China will side with Russia in the war. And he said that there is "no evidence of that so far." So does President Biden believe China is neutral in the conflict? 102

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:18:21-00:18:31 (10 sec)
I can't really improve upon how the President characterized it. The -- we have not seen China go all in with respect to supporting Russia. 103

Question

Unknown
00:18:31-00:18:36 (5 sec)
So, it takes them going all in for -- is that the bar for partnering? 104

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:18:36-00:18:51 (15 sec)
They have not gone all in in supporting Russia. They abstained from the vote in the U.N. They -- while they have not condemned the invasion that Mr. Putin perpetrated down on the Ukrainian people, nor have they made a decision to provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine. 105

John Kirby

Positive
00:18:51-00:19:01 (9 sec)
And as the President said, he doesn't believe it's in China's interest to do that -- that they -- that they should not want to do that, to go in on the side of Russia. 106

John Kirby

Leans Negative
00:19:01-00:19:27 (27 sec)
Now, look, the other thing is -- a couple things. Every country has to make its own decisions here. And we have been exceedingly clear that we want to see China be on the right side here, which is not support Mr. Putin in any way; condemn this invasion, like so much of the rest of the world has; and participate in the price cap on oil revenue so that Mr. Putin can't profiteer it; and to enforce sanctions. 107

John Kirby

Neutral
00:19:27-00:19:35 (8 sec)
Now, they haven't chosen to do all those things. We obviously believe that they've -- they've got decisions that they have to make. We want them to make the right ones. 108

Question

Unknown
00:19:35-00:19:35 ( sec)
But he wasn't -- 109

Question

Unknown
00:19:35-00:19:36 (1 sec)
One on -- 110

Question

Leans Negative
00:19:36-00:19:50 (14 sec)
Sorry. Just one more point of clarification. He wasn't asked specifically about the lethal aid. He was asked if China will side with Russia or not. And he said there's no evidence of that, but they're providing non-lethal aid as one example. 111

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:19:50-00:20:16 (26 sec)
The Chinese have decisions they have to make for themselves. We want them to make the decision that so many others nations around the world have made, which is to not make it any easier in any realm, whether that's economic or military, make it any easier for Mr. Putin to continue to kill Ukrainians. And you -- and, again, we don't believe that it's in the Chinese best interest -- and this is his point -- to move in that direction. 112

Question

Somewhat Positive
00:20:16-00:20:17 ( sec)
Thank you. 113

Question

Unknown
00:20:17-00:20:17 ( sec)
Do you think -- 114

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:20:17-00:20:18 (2 sec)
Go ahead, Phil. Go ahead, Phil. 115

Question

Positive
00:20:18-00:20:36 (18 sec)
Thank you, Karine. Two quick questions, sir. First, has President Biden asked or does he plan to ask President Xi to cooperate and to -- cooperate with investigations into the origins of the virus? Or at this point, does the administration believe that cooperation will not come from China? 116

John Kirby

Positive
00:20:36-00:20:49 (12 sec)
We've -- we have -- we have consistently made it clear that we want China's full cooperation in a full, transparent way with the investigations into COVID, including when he met with President Xi in Bali just a couple of months ago. 117

Question

Positive
00:20:49-00:21:07 (19 sec)
And then, without weighing in one way or the other on origin of the virus -- you've made clear that there's no consensus -- does the President believe, though, that the reward outweighs the risk when it comes to gain-of-function research? 118

John Kirby

Somewhat Positive
00:21:07-00:21:10 (3 sec)
Does the reward outweigh the risk when it -- 119

Question

Unknown
00:21:10-00:21:10 ( sec)
Does it -- 120

John Kirby

Unknown
00:21:10-00:21:11 (1 sec)
-- comes to gain-of- -- 121

Question

Unknown
00:21:11-00:21:12 (1 sec)
Does he think that that type of research is -- 122

John Kirby

Unknown
00:21:12-00:21:16 (3 sec)
I got a history degree. You're going to have to -- say that again. 123

Question

Unknown
00:21:16-00:21:21 (5 sec)
Does the President believe that this type of gain-of-function research is prudent? 124

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:21:21-00:21:48 (27 sec)
He believes that it's important to help prevent future pandemics, which means he understands that there has to be legitimate scientific research into the sources -- or potential sources -- of pandemics so that we understand it so that we can prevent them and we -- prevent them from happening, obviously. 125

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:21:48-00:22:05 (17 sec)
But he also believes -- and this is why he wants the whole-of-government effort here to understand it -- that that research has to be done. It must be done in a safe and secure manner as -- and as transparent as possible to the rest of the world so that -- so people know what's going on. 126

John Kirby

Positive
00:22:05-00:22:08 (3 sec)
So, I think that's a fancy way of saying "yes." 127

Question

Very Positive
00:22:08-00:22:30 (22 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Hi. Just a quick question on the Northern Ireland dispute and the fact that it has been resolved. Does that open the doors for the United States to perhaps resume talks with London for a free trade deal? And that was nearly done under the Trump administration, but really hasn't gone anywhere under this administration. 128

John Kirby

Slightly Positive
00:22:30-00:22:32 (2 sec)
Yeah, I won't get ahead of where things are right now. 129

John Kirby

Very Positive
00:22:32-00:22:55 (22 sec)
I mean, we're grateful that the two sides were able to come up with this "Windsor Framework," as they call it -- this -- this agreement in keeping with the Northern Ireland Protocols. We do -- we believe that this will help improve the prosperity of both the EU and the UK, and will open up all kinds of, now, avenues for trade that -- that were somewhat at risk. 130

John Kirby

Neutral
00:22:55-00:22:57 (2 sec)
So, we're -- we'll leave things where they are right now. 131

Question

Neutral
00:22:57-00:23:01 (4 sec)
What about the EV tax credits and the dispute over that with the mention in the ERA? 132

John Kirby

Slightly Positive
00:23:01-00:23:03 (2 sec)
Yeah, again, I'm just not going to get ahead of where we are right now. 133

Question

Somewhat Positive
00:23:03-00:23:04 (1 sec)
Follow-up please? 134

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:23:04-00:23:07 (3 sec)
We got to go. Last question. 135

Question

Very Negative
00:23:07-00:23:24 (17 sec)
Thanks, John. Just real quick, the ambassador -- the U.S. Ambassador in Israel, Thomas Nides, has just written on Twitter that he can confirm that a U.S. citizen was killed in West -- in the West Bank in some of the terror attacks tonight. Are you guys aware of this? Do you have any comment on it? Or is this the first you're -- you guys are hearing of it? 136

Question

Somewhat Positive
00:23:24-00:23:34 (10 sec)
Mr. KIRBY: I have not heard that report until just now. I'm deeply sorry to hear that if it's true. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers will go out to the -- to the family, but I just don't have any more information on it. 137

Question

Unknown
00:23:34-00:23:36 (2 sec)
A follow-up on Northern Ireland? 138

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:23:36-00:23:37 (1 sec)
We got to go. 139

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:23:37-00:23:38 (2 sec)
Thank you. Thanks, Kirby. Appreciate it. 140

John Kirby

Positive
00:23:38-00:23:39 ( sec)
Thanks, guys. 141

Question

Positive
00:23:39-00:23:39 (1 sec)
Thanks, John. 142

Question

Very Positive
00:23:39-00:23:40 (1 sec)
Thank you, Admiral. 143

Karine Jean-Pierre

Slightly Positive
00:23:40-00:23:43 (3 sec)
All right, just a couple things at the top and then we'll get going. 144

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:23:43-00:23:54 (11 sec)
So, today, we are thrilled to announce the May- -- that Mayor Steve Benjamin will join the White House as Senior Advisor and Director of the House -- of the Office of Public Engagement. 145

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:23:54-00:24:05 (11 sec)
Mayor Benjamin is a long-time public servant who has served the people of South Carolina for over two decades statewide and as a three-term mayor of Columbia. 146

Karine Jean-Pierre

Slightly Positive
00:24:05-00:24:18 (13 sec)
As a former president of both the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the African-American Mayors Association, his deep relationships with communities across the country will serve our administration and the American people well. 147

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:24:18-00:24:31 (14 sec)
Under Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms's leadership, the Office of Public Engagement has kept equity at the heart of our agenda and has continued to connect with everyday Americans who may not have a voice to reach Washington otherwise. 148

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:24:31-00:24:39 (8 sec)
She has been a close advisor to the President, and he is grateful to Keisha for serving our nation with honor and integrity. 149

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:24:39-00:24:50 (10 sec)
This was always intended to be a short-term assignment, which Keisha graciously extended, and we wish her the best as she returns home to Atlanta to be with her family as planned. 150

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:24:50-00:25:04 (15 sec)
A couple of notes on the President's schedule today and tomorrow. I'll start, clearly, with today. In a coup- -- in about an hour or so, later today, the President Biden and Vice President Harris will deliver remarks at a reception in the East Room honoring Black History Month. 151

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:25:04-00:25:22 (18 sec)
At the beginning of the month, President Biden issued a proclamation in celebration of Black History Month, and the White House will release an updated factsheet on the Biden-Harris administration's ongoing efforts to advance equity, opportunity for Black Americans and communities across the nation. 152

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:25:22-00:25:30 (8 sec)
Throughout this month, President Biden has issued an executive order to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government. 153

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:25:30-00:25:44 (13 sec)
The President also hosted a White House screening of the film "Till," the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who pursued justice after the lynching of her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, back in 1955. 154

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:25:44-00:25:55 (11 sec)
Vice President Harris and Senior Advisor for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms hosted student reporters from more than 100 HBCUs across the country for a briefing at the White House. 155

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:25:55-00:26:20 (25 sec)
White House officials hosted Black leaders for roundtables around issues including reproductive health and women's rights; national security; disparities impacting the Black community, including the LBGTQ+ Black community; Black media priorities; legislation in historic state legislatures led by Black speakers; and efforts to close the racial wealth gap with Black venture capital and private equity stakeholders. 156

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:26:20-00:26:32 (12 sec)
The White House also hosted a first-of-its-kind forum with HBCU student veterans and cadets and the first-ever engagement with HBCU leaders by the National Security Advisor. 157

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:26:32-00:26:58 (27 sec)
Agencies across the administration also facilitated events and announcements, including the Department of Health and Human Services Black Health Summit; SBA Administrator Guzman's listening sessions with Black business owners; and the Department of House -- Housing and Urban Development's closure of the Road Home program, which disproportionately impact Black Americans [and] will free 3,000 Louisianans from repayment obligations. 158

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:26:58-00:27:16 (18 sec)
And last Friday, the President and the Vice President met with members -- Black members of staff from across the Biden administration to emphasize the importance of having diverse voices at the decision-making table and thank them for helping to create a more fair and inclusive democracy across our nation. 159

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:27:16-00:27:29 (12 sec)
The Biden-Harris administration will honor and continue the work of Black Americans who have created a more fair and inclusive democracy, helping our nation move closer to the realization of its full promise for everyone. 160

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Negative
00:27:29-00:27:52 (23 sec)
And tomorrow, as you all know, the President is going to be traveling to Virginia Beach, where he will highlight how Republicans are threatening default and economic catastrophe unless they can force through their agenda that would raise healthcare costs for seniors, working families, and Americans with preexisting conditions and cause millions of people to lose their coverage. 161

Karine Jean-Pierre

Negative
00:27:52-00:28:20 (28 sec)
As the President said before his State of the Union address, he will release his budget on March 9th, and Congressional Republicans should provide that same transparency as well. The American people deserve to know what Republicans are looking to cut, given that, in countless previous budgets, they have repeatedly proposed devastating cuts to essential programs like the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, which are lowering costs for tens of millions of Americans across the country. 162

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:28:20-00:28:32 (12 sec)
So, we will have a preview call for all of you, as we normally do ahead of -- ahead of these types of trips. It will be at 4:45 p.m., so in about an hour and 40 minutes, which all of you should turn -- tune into for more details. 163

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:28:32-00:28:45 (13 sec)
I also want to highlight that this week the Commerce Department is announcing a major milestone for the CHIPS and Science Act, a pillar of the President's agenda to rebuild our infrastructure, supply chains, and manufacturing right here at home. 164

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:28:45-00:28:58 (13 sec)
They are ma- -- announcing their process and guardrails for companies seeking to utilize the legislation to invest in this historic effort to rebuild America's semiconductor industry, known as a "notice of funding opportunity." 165

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:28:58-00:29:14 (16 sec)
I know a lot of you had questions about the next steps, so here you go. It will be a major point of focus in ensuring we have a skilled, trained workforce that can fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs we are currently recrat- - -- creating right here in America. 166

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:29:14-00:29:33 (19 sec)
The need for childcare to boost our for- -- workforce is undeniable. Part of the solution to that is that the Commerce Department is going to require companies seeking substantial CHIPS funding to submit a robust childcare plan that reflects the needs of their workers' communities where they plan to build. 167

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:29:33-00:29:54 (21 sec)
The country needs more workers, especially women, in order to deliver on the President's bold agenda. And we are committed to working with the private sector to ensure the CHIPS -- the success of CHIPS for America and to unlock the full potential -- the full potential of our economy. This is a major innovative step just to do that. 168

Karine Jean-Pierre

Leans Negative
00:29:54-00:30:16 (22 sec)
And finally, as you all may have seen, a couple of hours ago, the President -- at the President's direction, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services announced new actions to crack down on child labor violations and ensure that sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children are vigorously, rigorously vetted. 169

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Negative
00:30:16-00:30:24 (8 sec)
Child abuse -- child labor is abuse, and it is unacceptable. Again, it is unacceptable. 170

Karine Jean-Pierre

Leans Positive
00:30:24-00:30:59 (35 sec)
This administration has long been combating a surge in child exploitation. And today, the Department of Labor and HHS announced that they will create a new interagency task force to combat child exploitation. They will also increase scrutiny of companies that do -- that do business with employers who violate child labor laws; mandate follow-up calls for unaccompanied migrant children who report safety concerns to the HHS hotli- -- hotline; and audit the sponsor vetting process for unaccompanied migrant children over the next four weeks. 171

Karine Jean-Pierre

Somewhat Positive
00:30:59-00:31:05 (7 sec)
Today's actions make clear that we will continue -- we will continue to investigate and hold companies accountable. 172

Karine Jean-Pierre

Neutral
00:31:05-00:31:28 (23 sec)
We will also -- what we also need, which is incredibly important here -- we need Congress to take action as well. We need Congress to provide the resources this administration has long requested to better enforce child labor laws. And we need Congress to increase the maximum civil penalty for child labor violations to better deter these bad actors. 173

Karine Jean-Pierre

Neutral
00:31:28-00:31:30 (2 sec)
With that, Chris, want to kick us off? 174

Question

Positive
00:31:30-00:31:44 (14 sec)
So, a follow-up on the child labor issue. Is the administration, is the President satisfied with Secretary Becerra's handling of this issue, given the push that he and others have made to more quickly re- -- release children to sponsors, where they wind up in child labor situations? 175

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:31:44-00:31:49 (5 sec)
So, let me first say: Yes, he has full confidence in the Secretary of HHS. 176

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:31:49-00:31:54 (5 sec)
And I'm assuming you're -- you're talking about the "assembly line" comment or -- 177

Question

Unknown
00:31:54-00:31:54 ( sec)
Mm-hmm. 178

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:31:54-00:32:07 (13 sec)
So, look, you know, I just want to be very clear. Of course, the President does not believe that -- that processing migrants should be treated like an assembly line, and neither does Secretary Becerra. 179

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:32:07-00:32:17 (10 sec)
His -- I would refer you to -- HHS addressed that particular comment in the story. And I would refer you to what he was -- what was said there. 180

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:32:17-00:32:37 (20 sec)
Look, more broadly, though, the health and safety and the wellbeing of children is the priority of this -- this President, this administration, and also Secretary Becerra. That means getting kids out of congregate settings and rigorously, as I just mentioned at the top, vetting -- vetting families and sponsors that would take in these children. 181

Question

Very Negative
00:32:37-00:32:55 (18 sec)
Another question on the abortion pill ruling that is pending. What is the administration doing to prepare for a perhaps unfavorable ruling? Will women lose access to abortion if this really happens? Or does the administration have something else planned for that? 182

Karine Jean-Pierre

Neutral
00:32:55-00:33:17 (23 sec)
So, a couple of things that we do want to say here is: What's at stake is that a single judge is making a decision about a drug that has been around -- you've heard me say this from here; you've heard Jen Klein, my colleague, who has been really leading this effort here, along with the Vice President, internally, for more than 20 years -- if you think about this particular drug that they're going to make an announcement on. 183

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:33:17-00:33:38 (20 sec)
So, look, mifepristone is used safely in more than 60 countries. Not just here in the U.S., but 59 other countries have been using this for 20 years and in a safe way. And the FDA has repeatedly considered the clinical evidence in making science-based determinations to guide its safe and effective use. 184

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Negative
00:33:38-00:33:53 (16 sec)
Look, while I want to be careful -- we don't know where the co- -- the court is ultimately going to land here and what they're going to decide -- the decision could be unprecedented, of course, and devastating to women's health. And we may find ourselves in uncharted territory once again. 185

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:33:53-00:34:09 (16 sec)
So, we are working closely with the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, as you -- as you all know, to be prepared for a range of potential outcomes that may come out of this. And we'll be prepared to review and take actions to ensure -- to ensure the -- the safety and the healthcare of women. 186

Question

Very Positive
00:34:09-00:34:23 (14 sec)
And I'll let you go on, but I just want to ask this, like, very clearly: Can the administration protect access to these medications if the judge rules against the administration? 187

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:34:23-00:34:37 (15 sec)
So, again, we're going to be ready for any -- any, you know, judgment that may come that may actually put mifepristone at risk. And we are working with the Department of Justice here. We're working with HH- -- HHS to figure out what could be the steps in moving forward. 188

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:34:37-00:34:47 (9 sec)
I'm not going to get ahead of a ruling that seems to be imminent -- a court ruling that seems to be imminent, but just wanted to lay down where we are and how we see this process. 189

Karine Jean-Pierre

Positive
00:34:47-00:34:55 (8 sec)
Remember, this is a 20-year drug that's been around, that's been used safely, that's been used in 60 countries. And -- and so, I'll just leave it there. 190

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:34:55-00:34:55 (1 sec)
Go ahead. 191

Question

Leans Negative
00:34:55-00:35:07 (12 sec)
Thanks, Karine. To follow up on the child labor violations: First, is the crackdown in direct response to the investigative reporting that came out over the weekend? 192

Karine Jean-Pierre

Neutral
00:35:07-00:35:20 (13 sec)
So, I just want to be very clear here. Look, the New York Times story is heartbreaking and it is completely unacceptable. And this is something that we have taken action on. So, just also want to be clear on that. 193

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:35:20-00:35:29 (9 sec)
The President and his administration has long focused on -- on making sure that this growing problem of child exploitation is dealt with. 194

Karine Jean-Pierre

Somewhat Positive
00:35:29-00:35:38 (9 sec)
Just a couple of things that I'll lay out in what we have done -- especially the Department of Labor has done -- over the last the -- last year or two is -- because they have been focused on this. 195

Karine Jean-Pierre

Negative
00:35:38-00:35:47 (9 sec)
Just last fall, they secured a court order stopping an Alabama manufacturer of Hyun- -- of Hyundai and Kia parts from employing children. 196

Karine Jean-Pierre

Slightly Negative
00:35:47-00:35:59 (12 sec)
They recently also -- they got one of the nation's largest food safety sanitation providers to pay $1.5 million in civil penalties for violating child labor laws. 197

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:35:59-00:36:15 (15 sec)
So, that doesn't mean that the work is done. That's why you heard the announcement today that you did from -- from the two agencies on what we can do next from the Department of Labor and HHS on what other actions that we can take to move forward. 198

Karine Jean-Pierre

Slightly Positive
00:36:15-00:36:34 (20 sec)
But, again, you heard me say this at the top: We also need Congress to act. The President asked Congress, in his fiscal year '23 budget, for more fundings. It fell short by $50 million. And -- and so what that -- it was a request for the DOL Wage and Hour Division to be able to do its job. 199

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Negative
00:36:34-00:36:43 (9 sec)
And because of that funding shortfall, it prevented the department from hiring nearly 200 additional staffers to combat these violations. 200

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:36:43-00:36:51 (8 sec)
So, again, we've been working on this. This administration has been working on this for the past two years, taking this incredibly seriously. 201

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:36:51-00:36:54 (3 sec)
And now we're going to take additional actions to get to the bottom of this. 202

Question

Very Negative
00:36:54-00:37:07 (13 sec)
So, apart from lack of money, lack of resources, is there any agency, anyone who should be held accountable for the failure of oversight that led to this situation in the first place? And who is being held accountable? 203

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:37:07-00:37:18 (11 sec)
Look -- so, here's the thing: We've taken action to try and deal with a real issue -- a really true issue that was exacerbated, let's not forget, by the last administration. 204

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Negative
00:37:18-00:37:34 (16 sec)
And so, that's what we walked into. HHS took action on day one. Let's -- if we take a step back -- when we came into came into office, migrant children were being expelled to Mexico where they were subjected to gang violence and exploitation. 205

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:37:34-00:37:43 (8 sec)
So, we've reversed that policy, making clear that we -- we as a nation have a -- more responsibility to do better. So, we took action there. 206

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:37:43-00:37:53 (10 sec)
And, look, we knew that decision would bring new challenges. We were dealing with a once-in-a-generation pandemic that required unprecedented safety measures for children in HHS care. 207

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:37:53-00:38:10 (17 sec)
And you heard us -- you heard us, beginning of this administration, talk about how we were moving -- trying to move -- trying to improve the situation for unaccompanied minors when they were coming in and also how to move them in the most safe way possible. 208

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:38:10-00:38:23 (13 sec)
So, is there more work to be done? Absolutely. But to say that we have not taken this seriously after I just laid out what the Department of Labor has done -- over the past several months, in particular -- I think, would -- you know, would -- would be inaccurate. 209

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:38:23-00:38:28 (5 sec)
And, of course, the President wants to get to the bottom of this. That's why we put forth and announced a task force. 210

Question

Positive
00:38:28-00:38:28 (1 sec)
Thanks, Karine. 211

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:38:28-00:38:30 (2 sec)
Let me move around. Phil, I know I didn't call on you. 212

Question

Very Positive
00:38:30-00:38:47 (16 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Kirby got at this a little bit, but given the President's personal interest in the Northern Ireland Protocol -- the negotiations that have been underway -- is there an assessment from the administration on the deal that was reached? And does the President have a view of it? Because he's stated very openly in the past that he's very interested in it. 213

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:38:47-00:38:57 (10 sec)
So, we welcome -- we welcome today's announcement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on the implemen- -- and the implementation of the North- -- Northern Ireland Protocol. 214

Karine Jean-Pierre

Somewhat Negative
00:38:57-00:39:07 (10 sec)
We understand the Prime Minister Sunak just addressed this, or is about to address it -- I've lost track of time here -- to the Parliament. And so, we will further have comment following that. 215

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:39:07-00:39:21 (14 sec)
But, of course, this is something that we welcome. And we have long said -- we have long stated that we wanted to see the UK and the EU reach a negotiated agreement. And so we commend the officials for doing that. And we certainly welcome the announcement. 216

Question

Positive
00:39:21-00:39:49 (28 sec)
And then, to just go back to the DOE assessment, since I didn't get a swing at Kirby. Without asking specifically about that, but just more of the tempo and rhythm of things, I think the surprise was that it just kind of popped in the last 48 hours. This has been an all-of-government effort. It's been across agencies. Can you give us a sense of how this is actually working in terms of, you know, what the timelines are? What kind of effort is going in on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis as to why this would happen now, why there would be an update now? 217

Karine Jean-Pierre

Very Positive
00:39:49-00:39:58 (9 sec)