Joe Biden

Pool Reports of January 31, 2022

January 31, 2022

Pool Reports by Tal Kopan, San Francisco Chronicle

Sent: Reports:
January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 1: Good morning and new event

Good morning from another cold morning at the White House, where nary a tourist was to be seen and only the hardiest few protesters were active in Lafayette Square.

Please note a new event being advised by the press office – which will NOT include President Biden:

Today at 12:30 PM, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, representatives from Government of Qatar, the Boeing Company, GE Aviation, and Qatar Airways will participate in a signing ceremony in the EEOB Diplomatic Room. The President will not attend, and the event will be open to pre-credentialed media.

Please RSVP here by 11:30 AM.

Otherwise, per the guidance copied below, we expect to see the President twice today, once at the NGA meeting, and once with the Qatar bilat.

Will be in touch soon, holler if you have any questions for the briefing.

11:00 AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT host the National Governors Association at the White House for a meeting
East Room
In-House Pool and Pre-Credentialed Media Spray at the Top (Gather 10:45 AM – Palm Room Doors) [RSVP here by 8:00 AM]

2:00 PM THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar
Oval Office
Restricted In-House Pool Spray at the Top (Gather 1:50 PM – Brady Press Briefing Room)

Briefing Schedule

1:00 PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki

January 31, 2022
In-town pool report 2: Holding for NGA event

Pool is holding in the State Dining Room awaiting our spray of the NGA event.

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 3: NGA event

Pool was let into the East Room at 11:12 a.m. as the event was ongoing. Below is the speaking program. The room is set with a large square table, with Biden and the VP offset. Will tweet some pictures.

Shortly before we were let in, some sustained applause could be heard in the hallway where we were waiting.

More to come.

Speaking Program:
Julie Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Governor Phil Murphy (NJ), National Governors Association Vice Chair
The Vice President
Governor Asa Hutchinson (AR), National Governors Association Chair
The President

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 3a: Attendees

From the White House. Opening remarks are ongoing, generally thankful pleasantries. Will send more later. No VP or Biden speaking yet.

In attendance for the President and Vice President’s meeting with the National Governors Association:
Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Department of Energy
Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture
Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, Department of the Treasury
Brian Deese, Assistant to the President & Director of the National Economic Council
Gene Sperling, American Rescue Plan Coordinator & Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Governor Asa Hutchinson (AR), National Governors Association Chair
Governor Phil Murphy (NJ), National Governors Association Vice Chair
Governor Mike Dunleavy (AK)
Governor Doug Ducey (AZ)
Governor Ned Lamont (CT)
Governor John Carney (DE)
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (Guam)
Governor David Ige (HI)
Governor Brad Little (ID)
Governor John Bel Edwards (LA)
Governor Janet Mills (ME)
Governor Larry Hogan (MD)
Governor Charlie Baker (MA)
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (MI)
Governor Greg Gianforte (MT)
Governor Pete Ricketts (NE)
Governor Chris Sununu (NH)
Governor Steve Sisolak (NV)
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)
Governor Kathy Hochul (NY)
Governor Roy Cooper (NC)
Governor Doug Burgum (ND)
Governor Mike DeWine (OH)
Governor Kate Brown (OR)
Governor Pedro Pierluisi (PR)
Governor Henry McMaster (SC)
Governor Spencer Cox (UT)
Governor Albert Bryan (VI)
Governor Tony Evers (WI)
Governor Mark Gordon (WY)
Bill McBride, Executive Director, National Governors Association
Tiffany Waddell, Director of Government Relations, National Governors Association
Eric Wohlschlegel, Director of Communications, National Governors Association

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 4: NGA remarks

A couple of noteworthy things first and then will send a fuller report later:

VP Harris spoke for about 5 min ahead of Biden and talked about the importance of the governor-administration relationship.

She closed with a notable plea to the bipartisan governors to ensure voting access

(Check all quotes against transcript)

"I would ask that in this coming year we work together to ensure that all Americans who are eligible to vote have meaningful access to the ballot," Harris said.

Biden is still speaking (about 5 min in). He's highlighted the American Rescue Plan and noted other efforts from the admin and areas to work together (climate to immigration issues, he said, gun violence, education, child care, etc)

"Those of you who said send money, we have, we've sent a whole hell of a lot of money and we're going to send more if you keep spending it as well as you have, Biden said.

"We are at an inflection point," he continued America "has come out of every crisis stronger than it went in … I think that's where we are again."

More to come.

January 31, 2022

In town pool report 4a: ushered out

Biden spoke for about 11 minutes, mostly reading off his notes but at the end extemporizing some responses to the openings from the governors. More to come on that in a second. He particularly spoke to Hutchinson on the governor’s calls to move to an endemic Covid posture and border security, Biden said schools should stay open and he believes we need to focus on why people leave their countries.

At 11:34 he said he was told to first take a question from Gov Cox and the wranglers started to usher us out. A very audible question was shouted from the press about when he would start meeting with Supreme Court candidates but Biden gave no discernible response. The room then chuckled, seemingly at the scene of the press question and Biden non-response. We did not hear the start of q&a as we left.

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 4b: Rest of remarks/color

I'm not going to transcribe the full remarks, if you need those I can share my low-quality phone recording or refer you to video I assume C-SPAN will put up later.

But here are the highlights I will share with you, again I advise you to check them against the transcript. I've already highlighted the newsiest moments and flesh them out below, including the VP's full quote on voting rights.

As for some color: The mood in the room was very cordial while we were in there. Lots of expressions of gratitude and appreciation for each other. During Biden's remarks, all the governors appeared to paying close attention and some were taking notes at times. When VP Harris concluded her remarks and introduced the President for his, there was a solid round of applause, unclear to me if it was for her, or him, or both of them.

Biden was rather subdued in his demeanor as he read the remarks, and at times almost came across as a little bit hard to hear. My recording is at times quite difficult to make out.

Here's how the event unfolded:

Gov. Murphy spoke first, thanking Biden for attending yesterday's dinner and congratulating Harris on making history as well as thanking her for recently visiting New Jersey. His remarks were overall pleasantries.

Then Hutchinson spoke (note, VP did not speak between them as the released speaking order suggested). He overall made thankful and laudatory remarks as well, telling the administration to give states flexibility in spending funds because they know what to do.

"Send us the money, give us the flexibility," Hutchinson said.

He then gave a couple points where he wanted to see more from the administration:

  • He asked Biden to have the CDC give states guidance to move to "more endemic status" with COVID. "We want to go from today to more normal," he said. (This is what Biden spoke to about the importance of keeping schools open.
  • Hutchinson also asked the administration to allow states to use their National Guard to help with border security (This is what Biden responded to about addressing root causes of migration, and added he wanted to personally speak more with Hutchinson about this.

Then the VP spoke. The newsiest part was her entreaties on voting rights, which the White House press corps of course knows is one of her portfolio issues and has been a challenge for the administration.

"I would also like to ask that In the spirit of bipartisanship that we think about our partnership in the context of our states being laboratories of our democracy and particularly on the issue of voting. I believe that regardless of who we voted for in the last election, we all as leaders of our nation understand the importance of ensuring that all people who are eligible to vote have the ability and a meaningful ability to vote and access to the ballot. So I would ask that in this coming year we work together to ensure that all Americans who are eligible to vote actually have meaningful access to the ballot."

Otherwise, some snippets of her remarks:

"For so many of you these last two years have probably presented some of the greatest challenges of your career."

"During these days you have held the trust of the people you represent … you have inspired confidence in the people of your state to have some optimism that things will get better … and all the while you have not relented; you have not given up."

She said the relationship of any administration and governors is "historically a very important relationship" and listed some recent historical examples of bipartisanship along those lines.

"When we in particular face crises, we come together … to do the work that must be done," she said, noting challenges like climate and COVID and cybersecurity.

She handed it off to Biden after the voting rights remarks, which were her closing, at which point there was the applause I mentioned earlier.

Biden said he has a lot of mayors and governors in his administration "because they know how to get things done," telling an anecdote about Vilsack on the campaign trail with him.

He spent a lot of his remarks focused on the American Rescue Plan, and I didn't hear a ton of mentions to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, certainly not as many, but it's possible I missed them.

"The American rescue plan was a lot of money," Biden said. "Those of you who said send money, we have, we've sent a whole hell of a lot of money and we're going to send more if you keep spending it as well as you have."

"We are at an inflection point," he said, noting America "has come out of every crisis stronger than it went in … I think that's where we are again."

He asked the governors to help America "restate and reassert our world leadership" on everything from the environment to immigration.

He then launched into his lengthy remarks about the challenges/opportunities of the administration, including "a lot of challenges out there" like a surge of gun violence, Education, child care, health care workers burnout, workforce hiring and retention.

"You said you know how to build roads and bridges, we have a whole lot to build … we have an opportunity to build back a lot better," he said (advise you to check this quote if you can.)

He said this is a chance for us to come together through the pandemic and come back stronger and that the U.S. is doing better than any nation in the world and has to keep that up.

"I know you spoke today with the … head of the Covid team in here, we've got a way to go on that but we're moving," he said, re-emphasizing the importance of keeping schools open.

He then addressed the border security stuff, saying "If we figure out why they're leaving in the first place, it's not like people are sitting around in Guadalajara…" thinking about how fun it would be to hire a coyote to take them to a country they don't know and don't speak the language.

"There's also a way to deal with the reason they're leaving in the first place," he said to Hutchinson, saying he would like to speak with him "personally" about it.

Then he said he was told to take the first question from Gov. Cox and we were ushered out.

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 5: briefing begins

Psaki’s briefing began at 1:10 p.m.

I will not be sending a note when it concludes, trusting that if you track these things, you’ll be following along online.

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 6: gathering for bilat

Domestic and foreign press are gathering to go into the bilat spray

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 7: Oval comments on Russia

Pool went into Oval at 2:08 pm with Biden and his guest seated in front of the fire. They took off their masks when we walked in.

Remarks on Russia at the top:

"I had a productive talk last week with President Zelensky and we continue to engage in nonstop diplomacy"

We laid out the full nature of Russia threat at UN today

"We continue to urge diplomacy as the best way forward but with Russia continuing its buildup… we are ready no matter what happens"

Mentioned Houthi missile, directed Secretary Austin to offer America's support

"America will have the backs of our friends in the region"

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 7a: Fuller Oval comments

Here are the fuller remarks from the Oval sit-down, with a big debt of gratitude to our TV colleagues for their assist allowing the pool to hear a clean audio feed. (Also noting it's possible he said "the Ukraine" and not "Ukraine" but I've listened to it several times and don't feel confident declaring which one it is. I've used "Ukraine" below.


"I had a productive talk last week with President Zelensky, and we continue to engage in nonstop diplomacy and to deescalate tensions in and attempt like the devil to improve security for our allies and partners and for all of Europe, for that matter."

"Today at the United Nations we've laid out the full nature of Russia's threat to Ukraine's sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine as well as to the core tenets of a rule-based international order, and we continue to urge diplomacy as the best way forward. But with Russia's continuing its build-up of its forces around Ukraine, we are ready no matter what happens."

"I also want to note that the UAE defeated a ballistic missile attack launched by the Houthis, a separate issue, from Yemen yesterday and we've been in daily contact with the UAE to address those threats and I've directed Secretary Austin to do everything he can to communicate the support of the United States for the UAE, Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf region. America will have the backs of our friends in the region."

He called the emir a friend and noted that there's now been 50 years of partnership between Qatar and the U.S.

"This past year our partnership with Qatar has been central to many of our most vital interests: relocating tens of thousands of Afghans, maintaining stability in Gaza and providing life-saving assistance to the Palestinians, keeping pressure on ISIS and deterring threats across the Middle East," Biden said.

He noted the bilat would cover topics including: security in the Gulf, the broader Middle East, global energy supplies, the people of Afghanistan, and "strengthening commercial and investment cooperation between our two countries."

He added: (I) "want to applaud" the Qatar Airways-Boeing deal, which will support tens of thousands of good-paying US jobs

"I am notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of our relationship, I think it's long overdue."

The emir also noted the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship and said he wanted to focus the bilat on topics including regional security, cooperation on Afghanistan (also highlighting the massive evacuations) and also: the "equal rights of the Palestinian people" as I mentioned in the last report.

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 8: Qatar news

Biden gave some remarks about the bilat and announced he'd be designating Qatar as a major non-NATO ally "to reflect the importance of our relationship."

The Emir then gave some remarks on his agenda including to discuss the equal rights of Palestinian people, in his words.

After those and about 5 min total in the Oval, pool was ushered out as wranglers shouted over a number of shouted press questions. None were answered.

As your pooler was being ushered out, she could see Biden making an exaggerated grimace expression at the din and chaos of the scene, which took some time to spill back out of the Oval.

Will tweet some pictures of the scene and come back with more remarks

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 9: Bilat participants

(Still working to clean up the remarks in the Oval from difficult audio situations as best I can)

From the White House:

Participating in the President’s bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar:

U.S. Manifest
The President
T. H. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
T. H. Jake Sullivan, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor
T. H. Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, NSC
T. H. Barbara Leaf, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, NSC
Mr. Thomas West, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Ms. Lyndsey Merrill, Director for Transnational Affairs and Regional Security, NSC

Qatar Manifest
His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Special Advisor to His Highness the Amir for Investment
H.E. Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Chief of the Amiri Diwan
H.E. Abdulla bin Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, Head of the Qatar Security Service
H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States
H.E. Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Hajri, Director of Policy Planning and Research, Amiri Diwan

January 31, 2022

In-town pool report 10: Lid

Per the White House, the bilateral meeting ended at 3:23 p.m.

The White House called a travel/photo lid at 3:51 p.m.


Pool Reports by Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Al-Arabiya

Sent: Reports:
January 31, 2022

Foreign Pool #1 POTUS with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani

Pool entered Oval at 2:10 pm, both the Emir of Qatar and POTUS were seated behind a cosy log fire. President Biden spoke first on Russia-Ukraine , "I had productive talks last week with President Zelensky and continue to be engaged in nonstop diplomacy and deescalate tension and to improve security of our ally and all of Europe."

On the UAE, POTUS said the Emiratis defeated a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis from Yemen and the administration has been in daily contact with the UAE to address the threats, he instructed the Secretary of Defence to communicate the support of the United States for the UAE and Saudi Arabia and added that America will have the back of its allies in the region.

On Qatar, he talked about the 50-year Partership, he praised Qatar role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, maintaining stability in Afghanistan, keeping the pressure on ISIS, and deterring threats across the Middle East. He added that he will talk more about security in the Gulf, ensuring stability of global energy supply, strengthening commercial and investment ties. He applauded a new deal signed with Boeing and Qatar Airways of $20 billion dollars. POTUS announced his intention to inform congress to designate Qatar as major non-NATO ally, The Emir spoke in English, he talked about " the strong relationship", and the 50-year-old diplomatic tie, he said he will discuss different topics , security of the region and how they worked together to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan. He also said that he will raise the right of the Palestinian people .

The Emir met earlier with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and expected to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and he will meet members of Congress from both parties to discuss Afghanistan among other regional issues.

The Emir is the first Gulf leader to meet with President Biden. The United States and Qatar will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations in March. Qatar is an important trade Parter for the US, they imported more than $23 Billion worth of goods and other things over from the United States over the last five years.

The administration in particular praised Qatar for their help of evacuating US citizens and green card holders from Afghanistan, its estimated that 60,000 evacuees went through Qatar.

Hopes were raised when Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani visited Tehran and talks were centred about the fate of four hostages held in Iran who are dual citizens, (American- Iranian) It's reported that Qatar is mediating to secure their release. No news on this front at the bilat.

The White House said earlier that the meeting between the President and the Sheikh will consult on a range of regional and global issues of mutual interest, including promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and broader Middle East region, ensuring the stability of global energy supplies, supporting the people of Afghanistan, and strengthening commercial and investment cooperation between our countries.

Joseph R. Biden, Pool Reports of January 31, 2022 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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