Skip to content
Fact
ba
.
se

Press Briefing Karine Jean-Pierre Holds a Press Briefing at The White House - February 9, 2024

  • Ian Sams
    Person
  • Karine Jean-Pierre
    Person
  • Question
    Person
Unknown

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:00-00:00:03 (3 sec)
Good afternoon, everyone. 1

Question

Unknown
00:00:03-00:00:04 (1 sec)
Good afternoon. 2

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:04-00:00:08 (5 sec)
I have a couple things at the top, and then I'll hand it over to our guest today. 3

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:08-00:00:23 (15 sec)
Today, the Vice President and the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention are hosting community violence intervention leaders from across the country to recognize their efforts in reducing and preventing violence -- [a reporter sneezes] -- and ultimately saving lives. God bless you. 4

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:23-00:00:31 (8 sec)
The event is a culmination of a week of activities [DEL: host :DEL] [hosted] by the Office of Gun Violence Prevention for Community Violence Awareness Week. 5

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:31-00:00:50 (19 sec)
Community violence intervention programs are a key piece of the President's Safer America Plan and have been shown to reduce violence by as much as 50 percent. That's why the Biden-Harris administration continues to make major investments in community violence intervention, and other proven solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence. 6

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:00:50-00:01:05 (15 sec)
The President's American Rescue Plan provided over $15 billion to prevent crime and promote public safety, while the Bipartisan Safer Community Act provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives. 7

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:01:05-00:01:14 (9 sec)
These actions are reducing crime and saving lives nationwide, with homicides and gun violence rates on the decline in 2023. 8

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:01:14-00:01:26 (11 sec)
We will continue to work to protect American communities from this senseless violence while calling on Congress to do its job and take further action to implement commonsense gun safety measures. 9

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:01:26-00:01:35 (10 sec)
And finally, I also want to share a brief readout from a recent visit by -- by senior U.S. officials to Guyana, Colombia, and also Mexico. 10

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:01:35-00:01:45 (10 sec)
Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Fi- -- Finer traveled to Guyana and Colombia February 4th and 5th, which followed a series of other high-level U.S. visits. 11

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:01:45-00:02:11 (26 sec)
In Guyana, he met with President Ali and Caribbean Community -- CARICOM -- Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett to reaffirm U.S. support to Guyana's sovereignty, to advance economic and security cooperation, and to discuss CARICOM's priorities for their February 25th meeting. Haiti and Venezuela figured prominently in these discussions, as did Guyana's priorities on the United Nations Security Council. 12

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:02:11-00:02:42 (31 sec)
In Colombia, we issued a joint statement following Mr. Finer's meeting with President Gustavo Petro that -- that covered financing for sustainable infrastructure under President Biden's Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity initiative, as well as ongoing cooperation on security and migration. The statement reaffirmed support for competitive and inclusive elections in Venezuela and implementation of the Barbados Agreement between representatives of Nicolás Maduro and the Uni- -- Unitaria Platform. 13

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:02:42-00:03:00 (17 sec)
Mr. Finer expressed appreciation for Colombia's continued effort to promote dialogue but also underscored the need for the international community to support an electoral process free of harassment and intimidation, where all candidates are eligible to run for office. 14

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:03:00-00:03:33 (33 sec)
Turning to Mexico for a second. White House Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Sherwood-Randol- -- -Randall led an interagency delegation to Mexico February 6th and the -- and 7th. She engaged in a wide-rang- -- -ranging discussion with President -- President AMLO. And then, separately, our delegation met with Mes- -- Mexico's security cabinet -- both focused on bilateral and regional issues, including sustained cooperation on migration and joint efforts to promote economic opportunity and development in the Americas. 15

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:03:33-00:03:56 (24 sec)
During the fourth meeting of the Trilateral Fentanyl Committee -- established by President Biden, President AMLO, and the Prime Minis- -- Prime Minister Trudeau -- the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to a 10 joint actions to counter the trafficking of illicit synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, and firearms in North America. These are contin- -- these are outlined in our joint statement that was issued yesterday. 16

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:03:56-00:04:17 (21 sec)
On February 7th, Treasury des- -- designated one of the -- one of Ecuador's most violent gangs and its leader for fueling the recent surge of violence in Ecuador. The sanctions are just one part of the significant assistance we are providing to our Ecuadorian partners as they confront transnational organized crime and illicit narcotics. 17

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:04:17-00:04:36 (18 sec)
Finally, allow me to once again pay respect for the people of Chile as they mourn the loss of former President Sebastián Piñera. Our prayers also go out to the -- to all in Chile who lost loved ones to the wildfires and forced thousands to leave their homes. 18

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:04:36-00:04:50 (14 sec)
The United States is supporting firefighters by deploying technical staff, by providing satellite imagery, and offering funds to the purchasing fi- -- to purchasing firefighting equipment. And we stand ready to do more. 19

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:04:50-00:04:58 (8 sec)
With that, thank you for your patience. I will turn things over to my colleague, Ian Sams, from the White House Counsel's Office. 20

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:04:58-00:04:58 ( sec)
Ian. 21

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:04:58-00:05:01 (3 sec)
Thank you, Karine. Good to see everybody. 22

Question

Unknown
00:05:01-00:05:03 (2 sec)
Thank you for coming. 23

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:03-00:05:04 (1 sec)
Sure. Thanks. 24

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:04-00:05:10 (6 sec)
I want to start by talking about a few things that I think are important for you all to hear and for the American people to hear. 25

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:10-00:05:23 (13 sec)
The President spoke powerfully about this last night. After a long investigation that turned over every stone and explored every theory, the special counsel decided that there was no case there. 26

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:23-00:05:28 (5 sec)
Notably, he said this would be true whether President Biden was president or a private citizen. 27

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:28-00:05:37 (9 sec)
The special counsel's assignment when he was appointed was to determine whether any criminal conduct occurred. He found it didn't. That was the finding. 28

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:37-00:05:39 (2 sec)
The case is closed. 29

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:05:39-00:06:03 (24 sec)
I want to read you something from none other than Ken Starr -- who most people in this room will remember is the independent counsel who investigated former President Clinton. After that investigation, here is what he said to Congress: Quote, "What I see the conclusion as being is just a determination that no criminal charges would be brought. Period. Full stop. That is it. It is all over at that stage," end quote. 30

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:03-00:06:05 (1 sec)
That rings true here. 31

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:05-00:06:13 (9 sec)
The Special Counsel report goes on at length about the President's unprecedented cooperation in this case. I want to share a few things about that because I think it's very important. 32

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:13-00:06:25 (12 sec)
One, when the classified documents were found, it was self-reported. The President directed his team to ensure that any classified documents were returned immediately. 33

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:25-00:06:42 (17 sec)
Why did he do that? Because the President takes classified information seriously. He always has. He did not intentionally take classified documents. He understands documents like that belong with the government. He never, never made any attempt to obstruct. 34

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:42-00:06:48 (5 sec)
Two, he took unprecedented action to get the special counsel what he needed. 35

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:06:48-00:07:13 (25 sec)
He opened up every room in his family home and his beach house for comprehensive FBI searches -- a first time in history. He sat for two days of interviews -- an interview that, I'll add -- and the President talked about this last night -- took place the day after the brutal attack on Israel. The President was managing an intensive international crisis. You just heard the Vice President talk about this. 36

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:07:13-00:07:17 (4 sec)
He answered dozens of follow-up questions to the special counsel in writing. 37

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:07:17-00:07:31 (14 sec)
Three, he didn't exert executive privilege over any contents of the report. He was transparent. He had nothing to hide. There was a long, intensive, and, in many ways, yes, excessive investigation. 38

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:07:31-00:07:46 (15 sec)
But for context, you should all remind -- remember, in the case of former Vice President Mike Pence -- who had a very, very similar incident occur right after President Biden -- the case was closed within a few months. It was a brief, one-page letter to Mike Pence. 39

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:07:46-00:08:12 (26 sec)
But in this case, there was a 15-month investigation. The Special Counsel interviewed 150 witnesses. He sought and obtained 7 million pages of documents, down to emails about moving trucks during the transition in 2016 and 2017. He spent more than three and a half million taxpayer dollars exploring every possible theory that he could. 40

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:08:12-00:08:22 (9 sec)
And what was the result? He reached the inevitable conclusion based on the facts and the evidence that there was no case here. 41

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:08:22-00:08:38 (16 sec)
And this is important to think about in context of how this report is being viewed and, by many of you, being covered. This is the first special counsel investigation ever that hasn't indicted anyone. Every theory was explored. But the facts and the evidence disputed them. The decision was that there was no case to be made. 42

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:08:38-00:08:55 (17 sec)
In that reality, we also need to talk about the environment that we are in. For the past few years, Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have been attacking prosecutors who aren't doing what Republicans want politically. They have made up claims of a two-tiered system of justice between Republicans and Democrats. They have denigrated the rule of law for political purposes. 43

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:08:55-00:09:13 (18 sec)
That reality creates a ton of pressure. And in that pressurized political environment, when the inevitable conclusion is that the facts and the evidence don't support any charges, you're left to wonder why this report spends time making gratuitous and inappropriate criticisms of the President. 44

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:09:13-00:09:30 (17 sec)
Over the past 24 hours, we've actually seen legal experts and former prosecutors come out and give their analysis. Former Attorney General Eric Holder said the report, quote, "contains way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent with longstanding DOJ traditions." 45

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:09:30-00:09:41 (11 sec)
The former Acting FBI Director said he had overseen many cases like this, and, quote, "You have -- you have to have explicit evidence of willful retention of those documents, and that is just not present in this case." 46

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:09:41-00:09:53 (12 sec)
The former FBI General Counsel, who I'll add is als- -- was also lead prosecutor in the Special Counsel Mueller investigation, said, it was, quote, "exactly what you're not supposed to do, which is putting your thumb on the scale that could have political repercussions." 47

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:09:53-00:09:59 (5 sec)
That's the assessment of seasoned professional law enforcement officials and prosecutors with deep experience at the Department of Justice. 48

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:09:59-00:10:16 (17 sec)
Unfortunately, the gratuitous remarks that the former Attorney General talked about have naturally caught headlines and all of your attention. They're wrong, and they're inaccurate. And they obscure a very simple truth that I want to repeat one last time, since I know it's is hard to wade through 400 full pages. 49

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:10:16-00:10:32 (16 sec)
One, the report lays out example after example of how the President did not willfully take classified documents. The report lays out how the President did not share classified documents with anyone. The report lays out how the President did not knowingly share classified information with anyone. 50

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:10:32-00:10:47 (15 sec)
On page 2, which I know you all read, the report argues the President willfully retained materials. But buried way later, on page 215, the report says, and I quote, "there is in fact a shortage of evidence on these points." Two hundred pages later. 51

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:10:47-00:11:01 (14 sec)
Put simply, this case is closed because the facts and the evidence don't support the theories here. The gratuitous comments that respected experts saying is out of line are inappropriate. And they shouldn't distract from the fact that the case is closed, and the facts and evidence show that they reached the right conclusion. 52

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:11:01-00:11:04 (3 sec)
With that, I'm happy to take questions. 53

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:11:04-00:11:06 (2 sec)
Go ahead, Aamer. 54

Question

Unknown
00:11:06-00:11:10 (4 sec)
Just a couple of housekeeping. When and whom was the President briefed about on the contents of the report? 55

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:11:10-00:11:12 (2 sec)
The President was briefed by his lawyers. 56

Question

Unknown
00:11:12-00:11:24 (12 sec)
And, second, the President -- and as you mentioned, again, you thought some of the characterizations were gratuitous. Does the President still have confidence in Merrick Garland after selecting Hur to be put in this position? 57

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:11:24-00:11:37 (14 sec)
The President spoke this last night. I think -- I can't remember which of you asked him what his thoughts were on the appointment of the special counsel. And he answered that, I think, thoughtfully and powerfully. And I don't really have anything to add beyond what the President said. 58

Question

Unknown
00:11:37-00:11:48 (11 sec)
And just finally, does the President support the release of the entire transcript of his interview to put to rest some of these things that you think are being overlooked? 59

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:11:48-00:12:00 (12 sec)
And it's a reasonable question. I think that it's important to know that we're dealing with classified materials in this conversation. There are classification issues there. I don't have any announcement on, you know, releasing anything today. 60

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:12:00-00:12:07 (7 sec)
But it's a reasonable question, and there were classified stuff, and we'll have to work through all that. 61

Question

Unknown
00:12:07-00:12:19 (12 sec)
So, but once you can work through, like, say, a redacted version, would the President support the release, as long as you can obviously keep what needs to be kept secret secret? 62

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:12:19-00:12:23 (4 sec)
Well, we'll take a look at that and -- and make a determination. 63

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:12:23-00:12:24 (1 sec)
Go ahead, Justin. 64

Question

Unknown
00:12:24-00:12:45 (21 sec)
Thanks, Ian. Two questions. First, you said in the topper that the President takes classified information seriously, and the President said last night that he never discussed classified material with anyone. But the special counsel's report said that on three different occasions, he did discuss it with his ghostwriter. 65

Question

Unknown
00:12:45-00:12:55 (10 sec)
I understand it didn't meet the bar for prosecution. But how do you reconcile the President's statement with what's in the report? 66

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:12:55-00:13:12 (18 sec)
Sure. Well, if you read the full report, it actually gets into each of those three instances. I think Justin rightly points out that we're talking about three instances out of two hundred and, you know, fifty pages of evidence that they're talking about criticizing. I think it's important to look at those three examples. 67

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:13:12-00:13:45 (32 sec)
Two of them are his own notes to himself in his personal diary that he was reading about to his ghostwriter for his memoir -- for a memoir about his life after his son Beau died. And he was reading these passages that he had written to himself to share information with him, and he took pains -- and the report lays this out -- to express how sensitive some of the information was and that we should be careful with it. And of those two passages from his diaries that he talked about with his ghostwriter -- weren't in the book. There's no classified information in the book. And so -- and so, I want to just make that point. 68

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:13:45-00:14:03 (18 sec)
And the second is there's a -- kind of an allegation of, you know, willfully taking a classified document that he talked about with his ghostwriter. That's false. As the President talked about last night, he was, again, talking about a handwritten letter that he had sent to President Obama and faxed to him about the Afghanistan troop surge. 69

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:14:03-00:14:10 (7 sec)
These are -- these are the President's own personal writings -- you know, the President's own diary notes to himself. 70

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:14:10-00:14:27 (16 sec)
And I think there's an important thing to think about here. There's plenty of history- -- historical analogues, the most notable of which is Ronald Reagan -- President Reagan -- whose diaries very famously became a subject of a lot of attention in the country. The Justice Department knew that President Reagan's diaries had classified information in them -- knew it at the time. 71

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:14:27-00:14:44 (17 sec)
He took those diaries home. He read those diaries to people. He shared the actual physical copy of the -- of the -- of the diaries -- which this special counsel report talks about Joe Biden never even gave custody of his notebooks to anybody. And -- and they never even asked for those diaries back, and they never launched an investigation. 72

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:14:44-00:15:04 (20 sec)
And why is that? It's because historically, going back to the beginning of the country, presidents keep diaries. They -- we should want our presidents to be thoughtful and deliberative about the decisions that they make on the most consequential issues of our time. And we have -- we have entrusted presidents to be safekeepers of this information and to -- 73

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:04-00:15:17 (13 sec)
And we have expressed, you know, great gratitude, including many of you in the press, when -- when presidents share, through books and other things, insights into their thinking and decision-making and historical context. 74

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:17-00:15:34 (17 sec)
And so, I think it's lost in the shuffle of all this that the President did what all of his predecessors had done, which was take notes for himself, keep a diary of his own daily life so that he could think back on these big moments of -- of the time. And so, you know, those are -- that's important to know about this allegation -- 75

Question

Unknown
00:15:34-00:15:35 (1 sec)
Is the -- 76

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:35-00:15:35 (1 sec)
-- that there was -- 77

Question

Unknown
00:15:35-00:15:36 ( sec)
Is -- 78

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:36-00:15:39 (3 sec)
-- that there was sharing of classified information. 79

Question

Unknown
00:15:39-00:15:47 (9 sec)
Right. Is your contention that just because the President rewrote classified material in his own words and then shared it with somebody who didn't have the security clearance for it that it was okay? 80

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:47-00:15:58 (11 sec)
Well, let's look at the report. I mean, we talked a little -- a lot about this report. I understand it's long -- 400 pages. I -- you know, I'm not sure how many people in this room have read the entire thing. 81

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:15:58-00:16:25 (26 sec)
Page 3, which I think is what everybody is asking about -- and understandably -- says, quote, "Mr. Biden shared information, including some classified information, with his ghostwriter." Right? But if you go to page 248, the report says, quote, "We conclude that the evidence does not establish that Mr. Biden willfully disclosed national defense information to his writing assistant." That's in the report. That's the conclusion that was made based on the evidence. 82

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:16:25-00:16:40 (15 sec)
And I -- there's something else I want to add about this, because it's gone -- we've gone back and forth. On page 1 of the report, it says, "The President willfully retained classified-marked documents relating to Afghanistan." But on page 215 of the report, it says, quote, "There is, in fact, a shortage of evidence on these points." 83

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:16:40-00:17:04 (24 sec)
On page 5 of the report -- everybody read that -- first few pages -- it says, quote, "Mr. Biden's memory was significantly limited." But here's something that everybody should make sure that they see: Elsewhere in the report, he says, quote, "We expect the evidence of Mr. Biden's state of mind to be compelling," pointing to him providing, quote, "clear and forceful testimony." That's his comments on his state of mind later in the report. 84

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:17:04-00:17:15 (11 sec)
And so, I think it's important to kind of take the report in its totality and understand that, in that report, the facts and evidence refute the theories that are floated that they explored. 85

Question

Unknown
00:17:15-00:17:25 (10 sec)
I think maybe we disagree on if he should have used the word "willfully" last night. But there's one other thing I wanted to ask you about, which was that his attorneys said that they were going to work on the process to make sure that none of this happens again. 86

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:17:25-00:17:25 ( sec)
Yeah. 87

Question

Unknown
00:17:25-00:17:30 (5 sec)
Obviously, there's the potential that this administration has less than a year left. So, I'm wondering if you could detail what -- 88

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:17:30-00:17:31 (1 sec)
Don't say that. 89

Question

Unknown
00:17:31-00:17:34 (3 sec)
-- [laughs] -- what the timeline is on that, what you guys are considering for -- for that type of process. 90

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:17:34-00:17:52 (18 sec)
That's a great question. I think that something that this issue a year ago brought to light is that this is a, unfortunately, very common occurrence in our country. The National Archives has talked about how 80 different libraries and collections just in the last decade or so have called and said, "Oh, we found classified documents in these papers." And they have a process that you're supposed to turn those back in. 91

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:17:52-00:18:03 (11 sec)
But then, you know, we had the issue with President Biden. Immediately after that, we had the issue with Vice President Pence. And I think it's important to understand that this is a common occurrence, and the President thinks that we should fix it. 92

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:18:03-00:18:11 (8 sec)
Like, he gave all these documents back. He knew he did not -- that these governments should be in possession -- that the government should be in possession of these documents. 93

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:18:11-00:18:38 (27 sec)
And so, what we're going to do is the President is going to appoint a task force to review how transitions look at classified material to ensure that there are better processes in place so that when, you know, staffs around the building are rushedly packing up boxes to try to get out during a transition as quickly as possible at the same time and up until the very moment that, you know, they're still governing and doing matters of state, you know, they're going to try to make recommendations that that can be fixed. 94

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:18:38-00:18:41 (4 sec)
And he's going to appoint a senior government leader to do that. We'll have more on that soon. 95

Question

Unknown
00:18:41-00:18:43 (2 sec)
He posted in 2017 that he -- 96

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:18:43-00:18:44 (1 sec)
Go ahead, Kelly -- Kelly O. 97

Question

Unknown
00:18:44-00:18:46 (2 sec)
-- had classified material down -- 98

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:18:46-00:18:47 (1 sec)
Kelly O. Go ahead, Kelly. 99

Question

Unknown
00:18:47-00:18:48 (1 sec)
He boasted about it. 100

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:18:48-00:18:49 (1 sec)
Go ahead, Kelly. 101

Question

Unknown
00:18:49-00:19:11 (22 sec)
In your advocacy here and in the President's counsel writing back to Mr. Hur, you're saying that there were gratuitous comments, that there are false pieces of information. How is the American public supposed to process this when we also live in a world where former President Trump asserts that there was a politicized process that resulted in his prosecution related to classified documents and other things? 102

Question

Unknown
00:19:11-00:19:27 (15 sec)
So, for the public, if Democrats and this administration say, "Trust the Department of Justice; trust the institutions," but you're also arguing here gratuitous political cheap shots and false assertions, how are they to process that? 103

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:19:27-00:20:00 (33 sec)
Well, I talked about this actually a minute ago. And I think, you know, when you have the former Attorney General, when you have the former acting FBI director, when you have the former general counsel of the FBI, you know, these are experienced people at the Justice Department who spent decades working at the Justice Department. And they're saying it's gratuitous. They're saying that this is inappropriate, that this is inconsistent with DOJ policy and practice. That's them saying it. 104

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:20:00-00:20:11 (11 sec)
We agree. You know, you heard the President speak forcefully about this last night. You heard the Vice President speak forcefully about this today. We certainly agree that it's gratuitous. 105

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:20:11-00:20:26 (16 sec)
But I explained this a little bit in the opening. We're in a very pressurized political environment. And when you are the first special counsel in history not to indict anybody, there is pressure to criticize and to make, you know, statements that maybe and otherwise you wouldn't make. And, you know, I think that it leaves you wondering why some of these critiques are in there. 106

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:20:26-00:20:54 (28 sec)
But I think it's also important to just fundamentally distinguish between the -- the prior case that you mentioned. I want to be careful in terms of commenting on that. But the special counsel report goes into great detail about the differences and distinctions there. And I think it's important to understand that the criticisms that you're hearing of the gratuitous comments in the report -- which are wrong, frankly -- you know, this is being shared by people who have deep experience at the Justice Department. 107

Question

Unknown
00:20:54-00:21:31 (37 sec)
On the many issues related to memory, they certainly seemed to prompt an angry response from the President and from his advocates. Is there anything being done to address that issue in an ongoing way? Obviously, counsel wrote, asking for some of those things to be removed. It is potential that Robert Hur could be called before Congress to testify in public. Are there any steps that the administration would take addressing that specific issue? Is it in relation to overall medical physician's report of the President or other things to demonstrate what is the issue with memory and is it a factor that deals with his capacity to serve? 108

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:21:31-00:21:45 (14 sec)
Well, I have a lot of issues with the contents of that question. And Karine has answered a lot about the President's transparency in his medical records and his physical and things of that nature. And I, you know, leave that to -- to Karine to handle. 109

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:21:45-00:22:04 (19 sec)
But I'll say, I just read you this. Page 248 -- or -- sorry, excuse me. Later in the report, he says, quote, "We expect the evidence of Mr. Biden's state of mind to be compelling," pointing to him providing, quote, "clear" and, quote, "forceful testimony." 110

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:22:04-00:22:29 (25 sec)
I can't explain why the report veers all over the place on this issue. I can just say -- and as you've heard from the Vice President; you heard from members of Congress yesterday talking about their recent interactions with the President -- one, Congressman Goldman from New York, talking about his interaction with the President the day before this interview, when Congressman Goldman was on the ground in Israel, and the long and intensive and detailed conversation they had about what was going on on the ground. 111

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:22:29-00:22:41 (12 sec)
We just reject that this is true. And -- and I think that -- I think that it -- it does raise questions about the gratuitousness. And it raises -- you know, makes you wonder why that's in there. 112

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:22:41-00:22:43 (2 sec)
Go ahead, Weijia. 113

Question

Unknown
00:22:43-00:22:59 (15 sec)
Thank you, Karine. And thank you, Ian. So, you are discrediting some of the findings in this report. You are discrediting some of the observations of President Biden. So, why should the American public accept the conclusion that charges weren't warranted? 114

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:22:59-00:23:02 (3 sec)
I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're asking. 115

Question

Unknown
00:23:02-00:23:13 (11 sec)
I'm saying you're claiming that much of the report is inaccurate. So, why are you so confident that the conclusion is correct? It seems like you're cherry picking -- 116

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:23:13-00:23:43 (31 sec)
The conclusion has been obvious from the very beginning. It was a long, intensive, sort of meandering investigation that came to the conclusion that, in February of last year, everybody knew: that this wasn't intentional; that this was an accident; that they were found, and as soon as they were found, the President said, "Give them back. Get them back as soon as we can and fully cooperate with everything." So, he reached the inevitable conclusion because it's the truth. 117

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:23:43-00:23:53 (9 sec)
The conduct of the investigation throughout and the gratuitous comments in the report are troubling and they're inappropriate. But I think that the -- the finding was the obvious one because it's the truth. 118

Question

Unknown
00:23:53-00:24:08 (15 sec)
President Biden blamed his staff largely for the mishandling of documents and where they ultimately ended up. Does the President believe he did everything right when it comes to handling classified material? 119

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:24:08-00:24:28 (20 sec)
Well, just look at the re- -- again, look at the report. I know it's long. But the report talks about how the evidence is that these were most likely things that were packed up by staff during movements and transitions and things of that nature. So, that's reflected by the report. 120

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:24:28-00:24:40 (13 sec)
It's not some accusation by the President. It's just true. I mean, you guys know. You guys work with White House staff all the time. We support the principal; that's our job. And the principal relies on their staff to help them with things. 121

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:24:40-00:24:52 (11 sec)
And the President said this last night. You know, he talked about how, you know, looking back, if he had been more eng- -- he wishes he had been more engaged in that process of the packing and the moving things to make sure that things were being done the right way. 122

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:24:52-00:24:59 (7 sec)
And I think the most important thing to remember is once it was realized that something wrong had happened, he did everything right to give it back and to fix the problem. 123

Question

Unknown
00:24:59-00:25:11 (12 sec)
What about all the stuff that he talked about that was in his home in filing cabinets that were either locked or able to be locked in his house? What stuff was he talking about? Classified materials? 124

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:25:11-00:25:15 (4 sec)
Well, we talked ab- -- I mean, the report goes on at length about this. I'd encourage you to -- to read it. It talks about -- 125

Question

Unknown
00:25:15-00:25:22 (7 sec)
No, I'm talking about what he said last night. He said: The stuff in my house was all in filing cabinets that "were either locked or able to be locked." 126

Question

Unknown
00:25:22-00:25:25 (3 sec)
Didn't he put them in his home? 127

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:25:25-00:25:35 (10 sec)
I'm -- I'm not really following the question. I think that what's clear is that -- and I told this to Justin a minute ago: You know, he has personal diaries that he had. Of course he has his personal diaries. 128

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:25:35-00:25:41 (7 sec)
The documents that were taken were jumbled up in boxes and found inadvertently in places. And -- and that's -- that's what happened, so -- 129

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:25:41-00:25:43 (1 sec)
We -- we've got to move on. Go ahead, Tam. 130

Question

Unknown
00:25:43-00:25:54 (11 sec)
Thank you. How concerned is the President and -- and the team here that the, quote, "gratuitous comments" are going to damage him, damage public perception of him? 131

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:25:54-00:26:28 (34 sec)
I think the public is smart. And I think that they can see what's going on. I think that they see a president who fully cooperated. I think they see a president who did the right thing and made sure everything got back. And I think that they see that this was a long investigation that ended without a case to be made. And, you know, I think that they can see and understand, you know, when people are gratuitous and -- and make comments that they shouldn't make and that are beyond the -- the remit of a prosecutor to do. I think that they understand that. And I think that they -- I think that they'll -- they'll understand that the President did the right thing here. 132

Question

Unknown
00:26:28-00:26:50 (22 sec)
If the 7th and 8th were obviously -- or 8th and 9th were obviously, like, very busy days where the President was overstretched, taking calls in the middle of the night, all of this, why continue with the interview with Hur? Why not do it on another day? Why give him the opportunity to have these lines in the report about lapses about timelines? 133

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:26:50-00:26:53 (3 sec)
Is that -- he should have thrown up roadblocks, is that you're saying? I mean, no -- 134

Question

Unknown
00:26:53-00:26:54 (1 sec)
No, I -- I'm saying -- 135

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:26:54-00:26:55 (2 sec)
-- he -- he committed to it. And as -- 136

Question

Unknown
00:26:55-00:26:58 (2 sec)
-- he could have told the Special Counsel -- 137

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:26:58-00:26:58 ( sec)
And -- 138

Question

Unknown
00:26:58-00:27:00 (2 sec)
-- like, "Hey, the world is on fire. Could we do it another day?" 139

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:27:00-00:27:22 (22 sec)
I'll tell you what's interesting about this -- and this is oddly not in the report -- is at the beginning of his interview, the special counsel told the President, "I understand that, you know, you're dealing with a lot of things right now. And I'm going to be asking you questions about stuff from a long time ago. I want you to try to recall to the best of your abilities," you know, things of that nature. That's often what prosecutors would tell witnesses. 140

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:27:22-00:27:31 (9 sec)
So, you know, he understood that. But the President was going to commit to being cooperative. He talked about this last night. He wanted to make sure he had everything he needed, and he didn't want to throw up roadblocks. 141

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:27:31-00:27:32 (2 sec)
We've got to move on. Go ahead, Tyler. 142

Question

Unknown
00:27:32-00:27:49 (16 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Just a first question: Has the President read the entire report? And when was he given the -- the report? Did -- did he review it when his lawyers did the privilege review? And do you have any, just, context on when he himself found the -- the findings of it? 143

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:27:49-00:28:02 (13 sec)
We received the report yesterday from the Justice Department formally, like, present -- you know, sending it over. Obviously, the President's lawyers were -- were doing the privilege review that we disclosed to everybody was happening and disclosed when we had concluded it. 144

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:28:02-00:28:15 (13 sec)
And so, I think, you know, they were -- you know, they had -- they had briefed him on -- on -- on the material, as the client, you know, as is typical in a -- in a legal case. And then we received the full report yesterday. 145

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:28:15-00:28:23 (8 sec)
You know, the President has been pretty busy. I'm not sure if he's read 400 pages. I'm not sure how many, you know, folks in this room have read all 400 pages of it. But he certainly is familiar with the contents of the report. 146

Question

Unknown
00:28:23-00:28:42 (19 sec)
And then just one quick follow-up. The President was animated last night, rejecting the idea that he did not remember when his son died. Can you provide a little bit more context about was he directly asked in the interview by the special counsel for the dates? Was it part of a broader conversation? I just think some additional context to understand what is in that report might be helpful. 147

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:28:42-00:28:55 (12 sec)
Yeah, I think -- I mean, the President was pretty clear last night, and I think that the American people have heard from him for years about the pain and the suffering that they went through when Beau passed away and the gravity of that. 148

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:28:55-00:29:13 (19 sec)
And I think to suggest that he couldn't remember when his son died is really out of bounds. You know, the conversations in the -- in the interview back and forth -- you know, he's being asked about, you know, file folders from a basement and "how did they get there" and "what is that" and "what were you doing around that time" and things of that nature. 149

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:29:13-00:29:26 (13 sec)
I don't want to -- just to be very careful, I don't want to get into specific, you know, things while it's still in a classification process. But, you know, it is safe to say that, of course, the President knows when his son died. 150

Question

Unknown
00:29:26-00:29:34 (8 sec)
So do you have any sense of why the special counsel would write explicitly in the report that the President did not -- was unable to recall when his son died? 151

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:29:34-00:29:37 (3 sec)
You'd have to ask the special counsel why he chose to include that. 152

Question

Unknown
00:29:37-00:29:49 (12 sec)
Thanks, Karine. Thanks, Ian. So, you said that you told the special counsel that the criticisms of President Biden were inaccurate, gratuitous, and wrong. So, how did the special counsel respond when you told them that? 153

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:29:49-00:29:49 ( sec)
[Inaudible] 154

Question

Unknown
00:29:49-00:29:53 (4 sec)
So, they ignored it? 155

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:29:53-00:30:00 (7 sec)
I'm unaware of any changes that were made in response to our very strong, forceful, and rooted-in-evidence arguments that we provided. 156

Question

Unknown
00:30:00-00:30:19 (19 sec)
And you had just mentioned how these interviews happened shortly after the October 7th attacks. The President mentioned it last night. In mentioning that, does that mean that possible memory lapses happened because he was so distracted by what was happening overseas or do you dispute that he had any memory issues during those hours of interviews? 157

Question

Unknown
00:30:19-00:30:35 (16 sec)
I -- I dispute that the characterizations about his memory that were in the report are accurate, because they're not. And I think the President spoke very clearly about how he -- his mind was on other things. I mean, he was dealing with a huge international crisis of great global consequence. 158

Question

Unknown
00:30:35-00:30:40 (5 sec)
And, you know, he was trying his best to -- to answer questions in this interview, because he wanted to be fully cooperative. 159

Question

Unknown
00:30:40-00:30:43 (3 sec)
So, there were no memory lapses during? 160

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:30:43-00:31:09 (26 sec)
I think you -- I think there's something important that people should remember about the way that sort of interviews like this happen. If God forbid, you know, one of you guys ever have to get interviewed by a prosecutor -- and, you know, I hope you don't -- you know, witnesses are told, as I mentioned, by Special Counsel to do the best they can to recall or remember things. And they're -- they're not supposed to speculate. You know, they want facts. They want facts and evidence. 161

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:31:09-00:31:20 (11 sec)
And so, you know, I think probably in almost every prosecutorial interview you can imagine that people have said that they don't recall things, because that's what they're instructed to do. So, I think that's just important context to keep in mind. 162

Question

Unknown
00:31:20-00:31:37 (17 sec)
And just lastly, in September, the President was asked about Trump's classified documents being found in Mar-a-Lago, and he said, quote, "How could that possibly happen? How could anyone be that irresponsible?" But there were classified documents found in the President's garage in a damaged cardboard box. So, would that be considered irresponsible? 163

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:31:37-00:31:50 (13 sec)
Look, I think the President made clear that he gave everything back as soon as he found out that he had it. And so, you know, I think that it's fundamentally incorrect to try to analogize the situation or to and -- and frankly, the report says that too. 164

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:31:50-00:32:00 (10 sec)
And the idea that -- that he did anything except be totally cooperative and to take great strides to ensure that the classified documents were returned speaks for itself. 165

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:32:00-00:32:02 (2 sec)
Okay. Go ahead. 166

Question

Unknown
00:32:02-00:32:11 (9 sec)
Thank you. Ian, the Vice President referred today to the report as being "politically motivated." Is that the position of the White House, that this report was politically motivated? 167

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:32:11-00:32:15 (4 sec)
I -- I saw the Vice President's remarks, and I thought they were very powerful. 168

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:32:15-00:32:49 (34 sec)
And I talked about this a little bit at the top of our conversation here today. You know, there's an environment that we are in that generates a ton of pressure, because you have congressional Republicans, other Republicans attacking prosecutors that they don't like, and it creates, you know, a need -- if you're going to determine that charges weren't filed, people are human and they're thinking through, you know, what do we need to do? And, you know, it leaves one to wonder exactly why he included a lot of the criticisms that were in there. 169

Question

Unknown
00:32:49-00:33:10 (21 sec)
Also, on -- with regard to the staff, President Biden has had some staff members who've worked for him for decades. He referenced their mistake last night. Has he had a visit with any of these staff members? Do the staff members who are responsible for taking those documents to his house -- do they still work for the President? Have there been any consequences? 170

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:33:10-00:33:18 (9 sec)
Well, I think I talked about this also before. I mean, this is an issue that has plagued administrations of both parties for 50 years, where accidentally things get shuffled up and taken and removed. 171

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:33:18-00:33:28 (10 sec)
And the Archives has, you know -- literally, they put a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website about what you do if you find them accidentally. That's how often it happens. 172

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:33:28-00:33:38 (10 sec)
And, you know, he gave them all back as soon as he found out about it. We understand that mistakes happen sometimes. I'm not going to get into sort of individual witness or parsing like that from the report. 173

Question

Unknown
00:33:38-00:33:45 (7 sec)
It didn't happen for President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush, Sr., or President Bush, Jr. I don't know if three people makes it a common -- 174

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:33:45-00:33:52 (6 sec)
That's actually not true. Officials from all administrations from the past, you know, half century or so have had this accidentally happen. 175

Question

Unknown
00:33:52-00:33:53 (1 sec)
But not the principals. 176

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:33:53-00:34:04 (12 sec)
But you're -- you're parsing two things. You asked me about the fact that -- and the report states this clearly: This is likely the result of inadvertent packing by staff. And you asked exactly about the staff issue. And so, I'm responding about staff issue. 177

Question

Unknown
00:34:04-00:34:07 (3 sec)
And -- okay. And you can't say whether the staff still work for President Biden? 178

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:34:07-00:34:23 (16 sec)
Well, I'm saying that -- that the -- the question you're asking about the frequency and normalcy, unfortunately, of mistakes like these being made, they happen. And what -- what matters is how you respond to it. And when you find out that there was a mistake that was made, you give everything back, and that's exactly what was done. 179

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:34:23-00:34:26 (3 sec)
All right. We're trying to get as much people as possible. Go ahead, M.J. 180

Question

Unknown
00:34:26-00:34:39 (13 sec)
Thanks, Ian. What does it -- what does it say about Merrick Garland's judgment that he appointed someone who ultimately put out a report that was so egregious, so inappropriate, and flouted department regulations and norms? 181

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:34:39-00:34:47 (8 sec)
I think the President actually answered this question last night. I'm not sure which of you asked him it. But he talked about, you know, his views on the appointment of the Special Prosecutor, and I really don't have anything beyond what he said. 182

Question

Unknown
00:34:47-00:35:01 (14 sec)
Two things I was hoping you could quickly clarify. The report says that in 2017, the President told his ghostwriter that he just found all the classified stuff downstairs. Why did he not report that at the time? 183

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:35:01-00:35:14 (13 sec)
Well, and this is included in the report, as well, if you read through it. The President was talking about a handwritten letter that he had sent to President Obama -- that he faxed to him -- about the Afghanistan policy in 2009. 184

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:35:14-00:35:28 (14 sec)
And, you know, he says -- you know, and this is in the report -- that he's -- and he said last night, you know, "I should have said 'sensitive'; I should have said, you know, really care- -- you know, more careful language about that," because he was talking about something that was a personal -- like, a letter he sent to the President. 185

Question

Unknown
00:35:28-00:35:32 (4 sec)
So, in his mind, it was "sensitive," but what he said was "classified"? 186

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:35:32-00:35:44 (12 sec)
Yeah, this is in the report. They talk a lot about how, you know, the President actually took great care when talking with his book writer to note things like, "Hey, I -- you need to be really careful with some of this stuff. I'm not entirely sure about it." 187

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:35:44-00:36:00 (16 sec)
And so, I think that -- I think that that's important to realize, that the report itself actually talks about what care he took with this sort of information as they explore all the theories and go through all the evidence that sort of refutes most of those theories -- almost all of -- actually, all of those theories, when you think about the judgment that there will be no case in this -- in this matter. 188

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:36:00-00:36:02 (2 sec)
So, you know, that's -- that's addressed in the report. 189

Question

Unknown
00:36:02-00:36:25 (23 sec)
And the second thing. The President also said last night, "All the stuff that was in my home was in filing cabinets that were either locked or able to be locked." But the report says that some of the classified documents were in cabinet drawers, while others -- about Afghanistan, for example -- were in unsealed and "badly damaged box" sitting in his garage. So, did the President misspeak last night? 190

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:36:25-00:36:38 (12 sec)
Look, I think the President was responding to a number of inaccurate allegations in this -- in this report. We've talked a lot about -- Justin asked about the diaries. I mean, this is his personal diaries. Of course, he has them in his house. 191

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:36:38-00:36:41 (3 sec)
So, you know, I don't have anything kind of to add on what he said last night. 192

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:36:41-00:36:42 (2 sec)
Go ahead, Zolan. 193

Question

Unknown
00:36:42-00:37:01 (18 sec)
I want to follow up on the Vice President's comments. You've been saying "gratuitous." She said "politically motivated." Is it this -- is it this administration's stance that this report was issued in part or there was a motive in this issue -- a goal -- a goal with this report to inflict political harm on the President? 194

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:37:01-00:37:24 (24 sec)
I think that you have to look at what -- I mean, we talked about this at the beginning of our conversation today. You have a situation where former DOJ officials are talking about the political repercussions of these actions and that it's incumbent upon the prosecutor to take great care to follow departmental policy to not criticize unindicted conduct and behavior or characteristics, which we've seen in -- in this case. And -- 195

Question

Unknown
00:37:24-00:37:36 (12 sec)
I understand that's former DOJ officials. But this White House right now -- is it the stance by this White House that this report was issued, in part, with a motive and a goal to inflict political harm on the President? 196

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:37:36-00:37:43 (7 sec)
I -- I heard the question the first time, and I'm just -- I, you know, have nothing to object to in what the Vice President said. I thought she was powerful and forceful. 197

Karine Jean-Pierre

Unknown
00:37:43-00:37:44 ( sec)
Go ahead, Frances- -- 198

Question

Unknown
00:37:44-00:37:52 (8 sec)
But also, just to follow up. I'm sorry. This administration, as you said -- you said that Republicans have often attacked prosecutors' -- 199

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:37:52-00:37:52 ( sec)
Yeah. 200

Question

Unknown
00:37:52-00:37:53 (1 sec)
-- independent systems. 201

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:37:53-00:37:53 ( sec)
That is well known. 202

Question

Unknown
00:37:53-00:38:12 (19 sec)
And you said that's created an environment where, if I've interpreted this right, there is an incentive by the special counsel to include some of this language. But often I've heard from Democrats and this White House say that those attacks against independent systems can also sow distrust with the public and those independent institutions. 203

Question

Unknown
00:38:12-00:38:20 (8 sec)
By saying that this is politically motivated -- not just gratuitous but politically motivated -- does this not also sow distrust with the public and independent institutions? 204

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:38:20-00:38:38 (18 sec)
I reject -- I reject that question. You see this -- and it's in the report -- the letter that the -- the President's lawyer and the White House Counsel's Office sent to the special counsel to talk about the Department of Justice norms and policies that they see as being violated by some of the comments and remarks made in the report. 205

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:38:38-00:39:06 (28 sec)
And so, you know, I think that that's a false equivalence kind of question, because what we have argued and what we continue to say and believe is that you're not supposed to make these sorts of things, according to Justice Department policy. We -- the President, when he ran -- and you guys all know this because you heard this -- talked about how important it was to restore the rule of law. And he understands that. And he talked about this last night, to M.J.'s point, about the appointment of the special counsel and, sort of, how he felt about that. 206

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:39:06-00:39:23 (17 sec)
You know, this is a president who is committed to the -- to restoring those norms. And I think when we object to some of the gratuitousness in the comments that you're asking about, you know, we're -- and you heard me talk about the former Attorney General and other people who have made those comments -- you know, they are criticizing that this does not follow those norms. 207

Note

Unknown
00:39:23-00:39:23 ( sec)
[Crosstalk] 208

Ian Sams

Unknown
00:39:23-00:39:26 (3 sec)