Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

May 07, 2024

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:42 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. Okay, I just have one thing at the top and then we can get going.

Do I sound okay?

Q: Yeah.


Q: Yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, not a weird echo? Sounds like a weird echo.

Q: There is a little bit of an echo.

Q: There's a little bit of echo.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It happens from time to time.

All right. So, yesterday's Trustees Report made clear Medicare is stronger and Social Security remains strong. President Biden's economic plan has helped extend Medicare solvency by a decade.

The President's budget lays out his plan to further protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare by extending Medicare solvency permanently by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and extending Social Security solvency by asking the highest-income Americans to pay their fair share without cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security.

House Republicans have a different agenda. Their recent budget could cut Social Security by $1.5 trillion; increase the retirement age to 69; convert Medicare to a system that would raise premiums for seniors; slash Medicare's authority to negotiate lower prescription drug costs; repeal the President's $35 cap on insulin; and get rid of the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap in the Inflation Reduction Act. Their plan would hurt our seniors, raise costs for families, and take us backward.

President Biden will continue to fight for America's seniors and prevent Republican elected officials from cutting Social Security and Medicare.

With that, Zeke.

Q: Thanks, Karine. There have been multiple reports that the Biden administration has slowed arms transfers to Israel, including of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and potentially some — some other weaponry. Can you confirm that? And if not, why not?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we don't comment on specific cases. What I can say — and we have been saying and we will reiterate from here — is that our commitment to Israel's security is ironclad. I know my colleague from NSC was asked the same question a couple times from your colleagues, and I — we just don't have anything to say beyond what I just laid out.

Q: So, is it fair to say, then, you're trying to send a message to the Israelis in private, but you don't — not want to make that from here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I will say is our commitment to Israel's security is ironclad. I'm not going to speak to every case.

Q: And then, in terms of the operation that we saw in Rafah over the last 24 hours, does the President believe that that is within the bounds — that doesn't cross his red line that he set for an invasion of Rafah?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to be careful about red lines here. I know the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, when he was here a couple of weeks ago, had — when — had a back-and-forth with you all about red lines. So, just — we're not going to get into that.

What I will say is the Israeli government has spoken to this. So, obviously they can speak to their operations.

They said it was limited. This was about designating — making sure that — designated cut of [designed to cut off] Hamas of their ability to smuggle weapons, smuggle funds. And it was a limited operation. Again, I would let them speak for their — for themselves.

And what I will say is we have been very clear from here about our concerns about a major operations. We have been very clear from here about protecting civilians. There are more than 1 million civilians that is in Rafah, a densely — a dense, populated area in Rafah, more than 1 million, and we want to make sure that there are no civilian casualties here. And so, we've been clear about that.

We are going to continue to monitor the situation closely to see how it unfolds. And certainly we will continue to speak out.

Q: And on a different topic, just briefly. TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the effort to force them to divest ownership — or ByteDance from divesting ownership of TikTok in the U.S. Does the White House have any response to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I've seen the reports. Going to be mindful here. They are — this is a — obviously, a litigation process here, so we're going to refer to Department of Justice on this one.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. On your concerns, obviously, about the — the risk to civilians and escalating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, I want to follow up on something that Kirby said earlier. He said that the U.S. doesn't support an Israeli operation in Rafah that results in a higher risk to civilians and civilian casualties. But the IDF has now closed, you know, the border crossing in Rafah, cutting off aid. How does that not impact civilians?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, one of the things that we've been very clear about — that the crossings that have been closed need to reopen; it is unacceptable for them to be closed. You have heard us say over and over again, we need to upsurge the humanitarian aid.

This is why the hostage deal is so important. It would lead to a ceasefire. It would lead to making sure hostages, including American hostages, come home and get that humanitarian — more — more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

So, Israel has committed to reopening the Kerem Shalom. That's a conversation, as you all know, from the readout that the President had with the Prime Minister of Israel, and we want to make sure that we — we get that done. That's going to — we were — we've been told that that's going to happen tomorrow. We are working to move that up.

Fuel deliveries through Rafah should also commence tomorrow. That's what we've been told.

And we believe Rafah border crossing should also be quickly reopened for the movement of humanitarian assistance. We are insisting that there should be no disruptions of humanitarian assistant flows. It is important. We know — you all, obviously, have been reporting on this — how dire the situation is currently in Gaza, and we want to see these two crossings open.

Q: And is it still your expectation that Israel will, you know, alert the U.S. when it does plan — if it does plan to — to go ahead with a full-scale operation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, obviously Israel is going to speak to their own operations. We have had continuous conversations. You — you all are aware of the two virtual calls — virtual meetings that the National Security Advisor led. And so, we're continuing to have those conversations, obviously, with our counterparts in Israel.

The President had a conversation with the — the Prime Minister yesterday about the Rafah operations.

Again, very, very clear here: We do not want to see a major operations happening in Rafah. We want to see a plan — a comprehensive plan on how Israel plans to protect the 1.5 — more than 1 million civilians that are currently seeking refuge in Rafah.

Q: And just one more follow-up on TikTok. They're obviously suing the federal government over this potential ban, but in their suit — there's a line in their suit where they say "the continued use of TikTok by President Biden and members of Congress undermines the claim that the platform poses an actual threat to Americans."

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as it relates to the campaign and, obviously, other congressional members, they have to speak to themselves, the campaign has to speak to it. But we are — and we've been very clear what this law is: It is not a ban. It is a divestment.

I do want to be really mindful, because it — there is a legal — obviously, it's in litigation, and I just don't — can't — want to speak to that any further.

Q: Well, why is he still on this platform?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would ha- — I would have to refer you to the campaign. They can spe- —

Q: As President, will he commit to not using it again?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We — it is banned. We can't — we can't — we can't use it here in the — in — in government — in federal government.

Go ahead.

Q: The President gave a speech on antisemitism today to mark Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day. Are there any plans for him to give similar remarks either about the plight of Palestinian civilians or about Islamophobia and anti-Arab —


Q: — statements and violence.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just want to — obviously, today was a very important day. And many presidents have spoken on the Hill on this day and delivered remarks about — about remembering the millions lost in the Holocaust and reaffirming our commitment as a nation: Never again. This is not the first president to have done so, and the President wanted to meet that moment.

And what we have seen, as well, in the past several months, as you all know, is the rise of antisemitism here. And we have been very clear to call that out. That is hate speech. We're going to continue to do so.

And, you know, you've heard the President address the war. And we're — address the — the suffering that we're seeing in Gaza. You've heard him address that many times.

And this also speaks to how important the hostage deal is. We're seeing talks continue in Cairo. That is important. We're going to — we're going to obviously support that process. We want to see that hostage deal so it could lead to a ceasefire, lead to that all-important humanitarian aid getting into — getting into Gaza. And let's not forget bringing home the hostages to their loved ones.

So, the President is going to — has spoken about what's happening in Gaza, has spoken about what we're seeing there, the dire humanitarian — the dire humanitarian situation, and calling to — for Israel to reduce, obviously, what we see — the civilians' lives los- — the loss of civilians' lives is unacceptable.

Q: But no plans for anything more formal?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the President has been speaking to this, has spoken to this many times.

I also want to just flag that the Secretary of Education put out a letter, a "Dear Colleague" letter that went out to universities talking about Title VI and giving examples of antisemitism but also was very clear — was very clear about the hate that we have seen — been seeing more broadly: antisemitism, anti-Israel, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian. We have seen that across — across campuses and across the country, obviously, in communities, and laid out our deep concerns.

And so, that "Dear Colleague" letter came — went out today, on the same day that the President delivered this really impactful speech on a dark moment in time. And so, the President has spoken about the war in Gaza and the casualties that we have seen and will continue to do so.

Q: Question on the case of the Army Staff Sergeant, Gordon Black, who was arrested on May 2nd in Russia. He was not there, apparently, on official travel. But I'm curious, what does the Commander-in-Chief make of yet another military service member going to a country he has been told not to visit?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know the Admiral spoke to this yesterday. What I can — there's also — what I also can confirm is that there are two separate cases of U.S. citizens being detained in Russia. The State Department is actively seeking consular access to both individuals, neither of whom were in Russia on behalf or in affiliation with the U.S. government. We take seriously our commitment to assist U.S. citizens abroad and provide all appropriate assistance.

We iterate — and this is kind of to your question. We iterate our strong warnings about danger posed to U.S. citizens in Russia. We have been very clear about this. State Department has been very clear about this. And we will continue to say: U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately, as stated in our travel advisory for Russia, and U.S. citizens should not travel to Russia at this time, period. And we're going to continue to be very, very clear about that.

Any fur- — for any further details on those two cases, I would refer you to the State Department.

Q: Why do Americans who don't heed those warnings warrant government assistance, if they knowingly flout them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Because it's the President's — he believes it's his — his responsibility, when — when American is held hostage or wrongfully detained, to get them home to their families. That is a commitment that he has made.

At the same time — and I can't speak to these two cases right now. They're — the State Department has to speak to them and where they are in their process. So, I want to be really mindful about categorizing where they are.

But the President is committed. He's committed to getting Americans home, if they are being held hostages — hostage or if they are wrongfully detained. He believes that is his duty as Commander-in-Chief, as President, to do so. And that's so- —

Q: Has he conveyed any concern to the Pentagon that this is a case of yet another service member walking into another country that has hostile relations with the United States? Or — there was the one that went to North Korea.


Q: Now, there's this guy.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we've been clear about all U.S. citizens not going to Russia. We've been very, very clear. And there's a — as I stated, there's a travel advisory that came out from the State Department. So, this is all citizens — all U.S. citizens.

I don't — you know, not going to get into private conversations from here. But obviously, we are concerned, and the State Department is actively working this.

Q: And one other. How is the President himself personally learning details, if any, about the trial of his predecessor?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, as you know, the President — speaking — just looking at today, the President delivered a really impactful, important, meaningful speech on a — on a —

Q: I get how he fills his schedule. But how is he —


Q: — learning about —


Q: — the case himself?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — wait. Jeez, Ed. Give me a second. (Laughter.) Give me a moment to warm up, get to your quest- — get to your question.

So, look — I mean, look, the President had a really important day. You just saw him do — there was a pool spray. You saw him interact with the Romanian President. That was important.

You saw him give a — deliver a really important, impactful speech on a day that we talk about, "Never again," on a dark time in our history — not just here, obviously, our history more globally — and what we saw — what we saw happen to a community, millions of people.

And so — so, look, the President is really busy. Obviously, he probably catches up during the day, like — like many of us here.

But, look, the President is going to focus on the American people. That's his focus. We're going to go —

Q: So, no sense of when he's on the Peloton in the morning if he's watching the news — (laughter) — or if at night, when he's done, he's going home and watching highlights? You don't know?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, all I can say is the President consumes the news. He pays attention to the news. I cannot speak to the current situation that is happening that many of you all are covering right now at this moment of the former President. Can't speak to that.

But the President has been — I mean, he's had — I mean, you could admit to this, right? He's had a busy day. He's been very much focused on what's going on in the world.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Just quickly on the two cases in Russia that we were just talking about. Is — has there been an official determination that those are wrongful detention cases?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would refer you to the State Department. They will work on — on the official determination. Going to be really mindful from here. That is something that the State Department works through.

Q: And — okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're trying to make sure that they have a counselor, obviously, accessible to them. I — they — they could speak more to this.

Q: Okay. And then there was an independent investigation of the FDIC that found widespread sexual harassment and other misconduct. Does the White House still have confidence in the leadership of that organization?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, obviously, I would refer you to the FDIC for details on this. It's an independent agency. As you know, the President, of course, expects the administration to reflect the values of decency and integrity and to protect the rights and dignity of employees.

My understanding is that the FDIC Chairman spoke to this. He apologized and has — has committed to the recommendations that have been provided by the independent report and going to further fix the longstanding issues, obviously, that are in the report. But don't have anything beyond that. And, you know, he — he apologized. And so, would refer you to them.

Q: And then, lastly, is the White House committed to not withholding weapons assistance from Israel that's needed for its self-defense?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we are committed to is Israel's security. That is ironclad. And don't have anything beyond that. Obviously, we're going to, you know, look at all options that we have, continue to have conversations with Israel and our counterparts. But our commitment to Israel is ironclad, as — as far as their — Is- — Israel's security.

Go ahead.

Q: On the hostage deal. Is the White House's view that, in the first phase, all hostages who are released should be alive?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to get into details. As you know, there are talks happening in Cairo. That is incredibly important. And we want to support those — those talks. And so, don't want to get into — to details from here.

One thing that I can say is tha- — from the assess- — from our assessments, it looks like the two sides should be able to come to — to a deal here — at least close the gaps to get to a deal. That's our assessment.

I'm not going to get into details or specifics.

Q: Because — because one of the gaps seems to be that Hamas has suggested that some of the hostage- — hostages that they would release would be dead. They would be bodies of hostages. Is that something that you think that the President would accept?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to be a super mindful. This is — there are conversations happening in Cairo. I think it's important. We're going to support those talks that are currently underway. And our assessment is — is that — our close assessment: that the two sides' position suggests that they should be able to close the gap here. And I think that's important.

But it is our priority, obviously. It continues to be the President's priority to get to a hostage deal, to get those hostages home to their loved ones, to make sure that it — we get a ceasefire. Right? It'll ensure that, and it'll ensure that we surge humanitarian assistance into Gaza. As we know, as you all know, it is a dire situation right now in Gaza.

Q: And the — the Biden administration is facing this deadline this week on notifying Congress on whether Israel is violating international law. Can you say how involved or how not involved the President, personally, has been on this process?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, obviously, the President is kept updated on all of these — on this — on many matters, including this.

My counterpart over at the State Departent — Department, Matt Miller, spoke to this today about where we are in that process. The State Department is working very hard to get this done, to get this over to Congress.

I don't have anything else to add. But obviously, the President is kept abreast.

Q: So, the President hasn't gotten final word about what that decision is yet?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: They're working — the State Department, as Mr. Miller mentioned today during his briefing, is working very hard to get this done. And so, I will leave it to them.

Go ahead, Karen.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Ukraine says that two of its colonels, part of their state protection service, were recruited by Russia and were — are now identified as part of a group that were planning to assassinate President Zelenskyy. Does the White House have a reaction to this? And then, broadly, how concerned is the administration about Zelenskyy's safety and security?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we saw — we saw the announcement. It certainly is very concerning news. And obviously, we are glad that the potential assassination attempt was averted.

I would — I don't have anything beyond that to share. Certainly, would refer you to the Ukrainian government. But it is certainly concerning news.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Cindy McCain, the head of the U.N. World Food Programme, said over the weekend that northern Gaza is currently experiencing "full-blown famine." That famine is moving southward towards southern Gaza. Currently, as you and Mr. Kirby have said, the two main checkpoints for aid, Kerem Shalom and Rafah, are closed, and the President has asked for those to be reopened.

This is an ongoing pattern. Israel closes crossings. The President asks for them to be reopened. The crossings are eventually reopened. Some aid starts to flow through again. But then, Israel cuts off the flow of aid into Gaza once more, even though the President has said multiple times that it is important that aid be flowing continuously. And he seems to keep pushing for it, only to get these one step forward, two steps back results.

Does the White House have any plan to convince, cajole, pressure Israel into allowing a steady flow of aid into Gaza, other than asking nicely?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let's just — just say — just give a little bit of readout. Over the past — since early April, the past several weeks, we have seen over 5,000 trucks entered Gaza. That includes almost 200 humanitarian and commercial trucks a day, on average, entering Gaza in the last three weeks. Some days, 400-plus truckloads have enter- —

Q: And some days zero —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wait — wait —

Q: — because Israel closes the checkpoints.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let me — let me — it is important to let the American people know that we have seen an uptick here, and it is important. There are other crossings. These are not the only two.

But to your point, it is unacceptable that these two crossings are closed, which is why the President called the Prime Minister directly yesterday to — to ask and to say that the Sharem [Kerem] Shalom crossing should be open. We have said — I said at the top to — answering one of your colleagues' questions that we expect the crossing — the Shalom — the Kerem Sha- — Shalom crossing to be open tomorrow, including Rafah.

It is important. We agree it is important to get that humanitarian aid in, and we will continue to do so, continue to — to make sure that we get as much humanitarian aid as possible.

That's why we've been upticking our efforts. And it is also why the hostage deal is so important. This is why the Cairo talks are critical and important, which is why we've been supporting those — those conversations, obviously. We need to get to a hostage deal so we can see a ceasefire, get

that humanitarian aid in — a surge, obviously, in that aid — and get hostages home.

So, that is going to be our focus. That's going to be our focus.

Q: At what point does the President consider other uses of American leverage to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We have seen — and I just laid out what we have seen —

Q: I — I understand that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hold — wait. You got to let me finish here. (Laughs.) You just have to, so I can — we can have a back-and-forth, but you got to let me finish my answer.

That's why we've seen an uptick in humanitarian aid. That's why we have seen an increase in humanitarian aid since early April. That is because of the President's leadership.

We need to get more in. We know and we see and we understand the dire situation in Gaza right now. We got to get that in. The hostage deal is important. And we're going to continue to work on that.

Q: You keep talking about these upticks, but there is a famine right now.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — and I am acknowledging that there is a dire situation in Gaza. I am acknowledging that. We understand that, which is why the President has worked so hard in the last several months to get more humanitarian aid in. That is why we're working around the clock to get the hostage deal done.

So, I think we're kind of talking in circles here. But the President is committed — he is committed to getting this done.

Go ahead, Peter.

Q: Can you, Karine, say declaratively that no one in the Biden administration knew about the latest hostage and ceasefire deal — proposal that Egypt and Qatar negotiated with Hamas before Hamas said that it had accepted it yesterday?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here's what I can say. Look, these are extremely difficult prep- — this is an extremely difficult process. It just is. And — and you have negotiations being conducted through intermediaries — right? — in Doha and also in Cairo.

And — and so, that is just where we are. They are difficult times. They're a difficult process. And so, that's what I can speak to. That's what I can say. An- —

Q: I guess I — I just want to get to — to the fundamental question —


Q: — which is we all recognize these are difficult times —


Q: — there's been too much loss on all sides; everybody agrees. But in the simplest of terms, can you say declaratively that no one in this administration was involved in some deal that was accepted by Hamas yesterday without having been previously communicated to Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say: This is an extremely difficult process. It is. It —

Q: Why isn't — why — why can't the U.S. just say declaratively from the White House podium that the U.S. was not doing any side deals that Israel didn't know about?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: A side deal? There's — no, absolutely not. I didn't know that was the question. I can say absolutely not, no. There was no side deal.

Q: So, what Hamas accepted yesterday is not a proposal the U.S. had ever heard before Hamas presented it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, throughout this process — here's what I can say: American diplomats have been engaged with our Israeli counterparts on this throughout this process. There was no side deal. I didn't realize that was the question you were asking me. Absolutely not.

These are extremely difficult process right now that is happening. There are intermediaries that are in Doha; obviously, today, in Cairo. And so, there — it is — it is not an easy process.

Q: So, then, just to make —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Is there a side deal, to your question —

Q: So, just to make — so that we won't use the word "side deal," because that — I used that word —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is —

Q: — and I don't want to —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is a no.

Q: But — so, let me ask you. So, in the clearest of terms, there was no one in the administration that was involved in conversations with Egypt and Qatar and Hamas about any proposal that Hamas accepted yesterday?


Q: No. Okay.

Let me ask you: The President is going to go to a bunch of different campuses in the near future. He has a series of commencement addresses. Other members of the administration will surely do the same.

We heard about the President's views of antisemitism and hate speech on campus. Would the President welcome peaceful protests during those commencement ceremonies, as we've seen elsewhere?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But you see the President do this all the time. It doesn't matter where he is, where he's speaking. It doesn't matter if it's a commencement, it doesn't matter if it's at one of his events, he welcomes peaceful protests. And you actually have seen the President engage in that process. And he's —

Q: So, if people raise Palestinian flags, as we've seen at the University of Michigan —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the Pres- —

Q: — and elsewhere, he would welcome that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President —

Q: — when he's speaking?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President has said two things — right? — and I have said two things: We understand how deeply painful this moment is for many, many communities here in this country, for many Americans. We understand that.

And we also understand that all Americans have the right to peacefully protest. And we accept that right, and we understand that right. It is part of who we are in this country. It's part of our freedoms. Right? It's part of our democracy.

And so, we understand every American has the right to peacefully protest.

Q: Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Karine, the Romanian President wants to run NATO. Do you know if that issue is coming up at all? You know, obviously, the President supports the Dutch leader and — along with other Western leaders, to become the next lead- — leader of NATO.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So — so, we're going to have a readout later today. Obviously, the — the meeting is probably still in progress, as we're here in the press briefing room, so I'm not going to get ahead of that. They'll do their readout.

But I'll say that the President has been looking forward to hosting President Iohannis to celebrate Romania's 20 years as a strong and stalwart NATO Ally and has been looking forward to recognizing this president — President Iohannis's leadership within NATO and the many contributions that the — Romania has made to NATO security, particularly in the Black Sea region, and obviously their strong support to helping Ukraine against Russia's aggression.

I — I don't want to get ahead of anything here. So, I will let the readout speak for itself once it comes out.

Q: Just one more on Russia. Putin is beginning his fifth term today as Russian president. He claimed that Russia does not refuse dialogue with Western states. Does the President have any reaction to Putin, sort of, beginning another term and — and does he see this, perhaps, as a — an opportunity to attempt to resume direct communication with — with Putin?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, let me first say and — that the U.S., as it relates to its — to Russia's inauguration — or Putin's inauguration, the U.S. directed its embassy not to attend inaug- — inauguration, as you know, in protest, obviously, to Russia's aggression — aggression into Ukraine.

So, as you also know, under Putin's leadership, Russia launched this brutal and unprovoked war and Russian authorities have engaged in draconian repression at home as well as aggressive actions abroad.

And so, I think we've made ourselves very clear here. I just don't have anything to add.

Go ahead, Michael.

Q: Thanks, Karine. In light of the President's speech today, does the administration support the Antisemitism Awareness Act that just passed the House last week? And would the President sign it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I've been asked this question a couple of times. Look, we — we appreciate Congress's effort to deal with, obviously, an issue — not just an issue but antisemitism, which is hate, and all — and we have denounced that over and over again and we've called it abhorrent. And so, we appreciate that Congress is taking action here.

I know there are other — other efforts — legislative efforts. And so, we're going to let that process move forward.

But this is a president from — you know, one of the reasons, obviously, he decided to jump into the 2020 election is because of what he saw — the antisemitic vile that he saw in Charlottesville, wrote about it, decided to jump into — into the elections that — back in 2019.

And so, he's — he has spoken against antisemitism throughout his career. He's — he'll continue to do so. We're going to let Congress go through their process.

Go ahead.

Q: On the border — Southern border and border security. Can you give us an update on executive act- — actions that the President is planning? Are you planning a rollout of those actions in — in coming days or weeks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don't have any announcement on any executive actions. Obviously, we look at all options. We believe the — the challenges at the border is a priority important to majority of Americans. We believe that the immigration system — it's not even something we believe; it's fact — has been broken for decades now. And that's why the President took action on his first day in office and put forward a comprehensive legislation.

Now, there is indeed a bipartisan Senate agreement that should move forward but was held back because of the former President saying that it would hurt him and asked Republicans to reject it. We want to see that move forward. And we're going to continue to call on Congress to move that forward.

We believe in order to really fix what's happening with the immigration system is to move forward with that piece of legislation. The President wants to sign it and put that into law. It would be the — the fairest, the toughest law if he was able to be given that opportunity — and it would pass, obviously — for him to sign it.

Any other actions that may come out of this administration, we always look at all — at all potential actions that we can take. But the number one way we believe to move forward is to move with that bipartisan Senate agreement.

Go ahead.

Q: Yeah. What can you tell us about the President's trip tomorrow to Racine, Wisconsin?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We'll have more on that later today. As y- — as you — as you just mentioned, he's going to be going to Ra- — Racine, Wisconsin, to focus on investi- — investment — investing in America, continuing that — kind of that dialogue directly with the American people.

And then the other parts of that trip is going to be campaign, so I would refer you to them.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you so much. So, we heard the President today speaking about antisemitism. But can you just clarify for us where he believes the line is? Is it antisemitic, in the President's view, to say harsh — to express harsh criticism of the Israeli government or its actions? Like, where is the line?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I shouldn't have to talk about a line. It's very clear, right? It — it presents itself in the most hateful, abhorrent way. And antisemitism is hate speech. It is just hate speech.

I'm not going to stand here and give examples. That's not something I'm going to do. But it is obvious when you have hateful rhetoric, when you have the type of speech where you're attacking a community, we should call that out. Or violent speech, violent type of rhetoric, we should call that out.

I'm not going to stand here and lay out a line here. That's not what we're going to do. But it is very clear when we hear antisemitism. It is very clear when we hear language that is anti-Israel. It is very clear when we hear language that is anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian. It is hate. And the President believes, as President of the United States, that he should call that out. And that's what you saw him do today.

And we also announced some additional actions as it relates to the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, because the President is going to continue to take action, not just speak to it.

Q: So, it speaks to the intention.

Let me ask you also about the President's call last week for order on college campuses. This moment is being compared to what happened in 1968. But in the intervening years, American police forces have become significantly more militarized.

Does — did the White House provide any guidance for police departments around the country as to what "order" means and what actions they should and should not take? Are you leaving them to interpret that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we have done and been very clear here: It is up to the university and local law enforcement on how they decide to deal with what's been happening on the ground. They know better than we do on what's happening on the ground.

We have been very clear: We believe all Americans should have the right to peacefully protest within the law. You heard that from the President last week. You've heard that from me. You've heard that from others here in this administration.

What we don't want to see is hate speech, violence. That's not what we — we don't believe that is part of peacefully protesting. And so, we're going to continue to be clear about that.

But we leave the actions and how universities decide how to move forward to them. They know what's going on on the ground, and they know how to move forward.

Go ahead, Gerren.

Q: Thanks, Karine. New York Governor Kathy Hochul made a controversial comment yesterday at the Milken Institute Global Conference while discussing the need to bring AI jobs to Black and brown communities. She said, "Right now, we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don't even know what the word 'computer' is." What is the White House's respond — response to that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to be super mindful. I have not heard these comments. So, I want to make sure I go back, read the comments, and get a sense of what was happening here. So, I don't want to comment, and be really mindful speaking at this podium on behalf of this President.

So, I just want to go back and see exactly — I know you're reading an excerpt or a line from what she said, but I just want to be super, super mindful here.

Q: Does the White House believe it is right to ins- — to insinuate that Black kids don't know what the word "computer" means?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, obviously, we don't think that is the right way to speak about — about young people in any way, in any form. But I do want to be mindful and to be fair here and — and go back and hear exactly what she said. Just want to be mindful, speaking from here at the podium.

Q: Just one more question. There was a viral video on the campus of the University of Mississippi last week. A Black female Gaza protester there was — she was protesting. There was counter protesters who were primarily Black — white — white male students —


Q: — one of which imitated a monkey. Another called her "Lizzo," assuming — addressing her size. The NAACP is calling for those students to be expelled for this video.

Has the President seen this video and what is the White House's reaction?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is — and I know the video that you're speaking to, and this is something that I can speak — speak on, which is that the behavior captured in that — in that video is undignified, and it's just racist, period. And it is beneath any- — anyone — anyone to be sharing that kind of material. And the actions in the video are beneath any American.

And so, it is insulting to everyone who has to view it and — and whoever they are. And it is saddening. It is incredibly saddening. And so, we are so much better than that. We are. And we owe it to one another and ourselves to — to act like it.

Q: And just one follow-up. Congressman Mike Collins of Georgia reposted that video and wrote, "Ole Miss taking care of business." Any reaction to him and that comment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, and I think I just said it's — it's beneath any person to be sharing that video. It's — it's beneath any elected official or a leader to be sharing that kind of material. And — and the actions in that video is beneath of who we are supposed to be.

And, you know, it is — what — what we saw in that video is certainly — it's sickening. It is sickening.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. So, a follow-up on the police response. President Biden has condemned violent protests on campus. He didn't address the police response. What do you think about the arrests of hundreds of students? Is that the response the White House likes to see?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm sorry. Can you — can you start that question again?

Q: Yeah. What do you think about the — the arrests of hundreds of students on campus? Is that the police response the White House like — likes to see?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know, I've spoken to — about this last week. And I have said that, you know, these are incredibly difficult times. And we understand what — what people are feeling and the pain that they're feeling. And in these times, it could be — you know, it can be incredibly difficult even for law enforcement. And I said this last week, and I'll continue to say that.

And what I will add is: It is important that all Americans — and I've said this before — have the right to peacefully protest within the law, and it should be their right to peacefully protest. But when — when someone is taking — unlawfully taking over a building or vandalizing, that is not peacefully protesting. That is just not what peacefully protesting looks like. And so, we'll call that out.

I'm not going to speak to arrests. That is something that local authorities can speak to directly. Can't speak to that.

But we will continue to reiterate the fact that all Americans have the right to peacefully protest within the law.

Go ahead, Aurelia.

Q: Thank you so much. In his remarks this morning, the President mentioned Jewish students having been attacked, harassed, and blocked. Does the White House have an estimate of how many antisemitic incidents actually took place or were reported during the protests, either like physical abuse or —


Q: — verbal attacks?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I would refer to Department of Justice or local law enforcement. I don't have a number for — to share with you at this time.

But, look, we've seen an uptick in antisemitism. That's what we have seen in the last couple of months. It is abhorrent. We have to call that out. And that was part of the President's speech as well. We've got to take action to call out hate. And so, we're going to continue to do that.

As far as any numbers, would certainly refer you to local government or the Department of Justice.

AIDE: Karine.


Go ahead. Go ahead, Jacqui.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Hearing all of your answers on the responsibility to call out antisemitism, when does it become the President's responsibility or the administration's responsibility to call on some of these local governments? Because this D.C. situation at GW — obviously, we talked yesterday about how, you know, GW asked for police to intervene. They ignored it. That call has been escalated up to the mayor. It has still been unanswered.

The President said today that, you know, hate speech, acts of violence, vandalism — against the law.


Q: And you have an encampment that we could literally walk to from here where you had student protes- — or, excuse me, protesters who the university has said may not even be affiliated with the school carrying out a mock trial, calling for beheadings of school leadership.

So, at what point is it the responsibility of the federal government to call on some of these local entities to take action?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, when it comes to local entities, it is up to them to take whatever action that they deem is necessary. We're talking about colleges; we're talking about universities. It is up to them to decide on. We've been very clear.

Q: But just —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But — wait.

Q: What if they don't, though?


Q: That's where we are.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's been — we've been we've been very clear on that.

When it comes to taking action, you're talking about a president who — who moved forward with the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. He has taken action. We're talking about more than 100 new actions.

And then on top of — on top of that, when he first announced it back in May of 2023, we took some actions today.

And so, we're going to — and when we talk about actions, we're talking about the Department of Education, we're talking about Homeland Security, we're talking about a whole-of-government eff- — effort to deal with what we're seeing, this uptick that we're seeing in antisemitism.

So, there are four pillars of that. We're going to continue to take actions on this. We're going to continue to work with u- — I've talked about the Department of Education, Secretary Cardona sending out — sending out letters — letters to his colleagues. And in that, we have said to them, if there are trainings that they need, if there is assistance that they need, we are worl- — willing to work with them.

As it relates to law enforcement, that is something that colleges and universities and local government have to decide on.

But we've put forward something that no other president has ever done, because we see what is happening in — with antisemitism. We see that it is something that this president needs to speak to and act on, and we've done just that.

Q: And then just on the messaging around the — the administration's ironclad commitment to Israel. How can the U.S. have ironclad commitment on one hand, and then, on another hand, slow-walk arms sales?


Q: I mean, the President said that the supplemental was imperative, and now this. How do you square that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not going to speak to the second part of your question. I just said in — earlier, answering to one of your colleagues, not going to speak to cases. And our — as you just stated in your question, our commitment to Israel's security is, indeed, ironclad. And we proved that. We proved that in getting that supplemental done. That is going to be incredibly important to Ukraine, to Israel, to making sure humanitarian aid gets into Gaza, gets to Sudan, gets to Haiti and other places across the globe that need that humanitarian aid. All of those things are important.

Two things could be true in the sense of having those conversations — tough, direct conversations with our counterparts in — in Israel. The President having his conversation with his counterpart — obviously, the Prime Minister — and making sure that citizens' lives are protected — are protected, and getting that commitment. So, two of those things could be true.

I'm not going to speak to your question about arms sales. I'm not going to speak to that. I'm not going to speak to cases.

But I will continue to commit and the President is continued to commit, as you heard from him today in his speech, that his commitment to Israel's security is ironclad — is ironclad.

Q: If you won't talk to us about it, will you commit that the administration would answer to Congress about this question of the arms sales? Will administration officials answer questions from lawmakers?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I mean, that's — that's up to Congress to decide on how they want to address any questions that they have with us.

Q: There have been requests.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We've been — we've been — I have not seen those requests. What I can tell you is our commitment to Israel's security is ironclad, and we've proved that. We've proved that many times over and over since October 7th.

All right, guys. Thank you, everybody.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Thanks.

3:25 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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