Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

November 13, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:44 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I have one thing at the sto- -- at the top before I turn it over to our guest.

So, I want to start out by noting that this week we celebrate two years since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In that short time, this administration has made historic progress in rebuilding America, from breaking ground on major projects to rebuild our roads and bridges, to delivering clean and -- clean and safer -- safe water to communities across the nation, to cleaning up legacy pollution, expanding access to high-speed Internet, and building a clean energy economy here in the United States that supports good-paying jobs.

So far, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has enabled us to launch 40,000 infrastructure projects and award in 4,500 communities across the country.

This historic investment in America has allowed up to -- more than 21 million low-income households with access to free or discounted high-speed Internet service through the Affordable Connectivity Program -- that's what it's been able to provide -- those t- -- to 21 million low-income households; start improvements on hundreds of thousands of miles of roads and thousands of bridge repairs; helped purchase more than 3,000 clean transit buses, doubling their number on America's roadways, as well as 2,400 clean school buses; launched 2,300 projects to help communities build resilience to threats such as the impacts of climate change and cyberattacks. And that is not all.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the entirety of the President's Investing in America agenda has spurred more than $614 billion in additional private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments since President Biden took office -- not taxpayer dollars, private sector investments.

That is bolstering the President's work to create millions of good-paying jobs, including a record-high number of jobs in the construction se- -- sector.

That's exactly what Bidenomics is all about: investing in America and in American workers to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up.

And with that, we have Jake Sullivan here, our National Security Advisor, to talk through the President's trip to San Francisco this week and also the bilat that you all are going to see later today with President Widodo and take any other foreign policy questions that you all may have.

Go ahead, Jake.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Karine. And thanks, everybody. It's obviously an extremely busy time, so, I apologize, my opening comments are going to be a little bit longer than usual. But if you bear with me, I'll be able to answer whatever questions you have.

Today, President Biden kicks off a significant week of high-level diplomacy that will showcase the breadth of America's strategic and economic engagement in the world and the value we place on deepening our alliances and partnerships.

This afternoon -- in fact, very shortly -- President Biden will host President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.

On the cusp of celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Indonesia, our two countries will announce the elevation of our bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, a new chapter that will drive innovation and prosperity and cooperation for both of our countries.

President Biden and President Widodo will have the opportunity to discuss a range of key issues, including the clean energy transition, critical minerals, and deepening our security and defense cooperation.

On Wednesday, as you have heard, President Biden and President Xi will meet in the Bay Area for a summit. We anticipate that the leaders will discuss some of the most fundamental elements of the U.S.-PRC bilateral relationship, including the continued importance of strengthening open lines of communication and managing competition responsibly so that it does not veer into conflict.

The way we achieve that is through intense diplomacy. That's how we clear up misperceptions and avoid surprises. That's how we work together where and when our interests overlap and deliver on key priorities for the American people.

And that's why, in recent months, I've had the opportunity to meet with Director Wang Yi three times. And it's why our Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce all went to Beijing. It's also why China, for its part, sent its Vice President, its Foreign Minister, and other senior officials here to the United States in recent months.

President Biden comes into this summit on a solid footing, given the ways in which he has positioned the United States to be able to compete effectively both at home and around the world.

At home, we've had the strongest recovery and lowest inflation of any leading economy. We've created 14 million jobs -- more jobs in two years than any president in a four-year term. And we've had 21 straight months of unemployment under 4 percent for the first time in half a century.

Abroad, President Biden has deepened our alliances and partnerships. In just the last year, he's hosted the leaders from Japan, the ROK, the Philippines, India, and Australia for bilateral meetings here in Washington.

He formally launched AUKUS. He held a historic trilateral summit with the ROK and Japan at Camp David. He upgraded our relations with Vietnam on a historic trip to Hanoi. And he's hosted two summits at the White House for Pacific Island leaders as well as a special U.S.-ASEAN Summit.

Finally, at President Biden's direction, we've taken important steps to protect our national security. We've put in place new rules on outbound investment and updated our export controls on semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. And we've continued to uphold freedom of navigation in the region by flying, sailing, and operating wherever international law allows.

We're also looking for specific outcomes from the meeting on November 15th. I won't get too far ahead of the meeting, and I'll let the President speak for himself after he has the chance to meet with President Xi. But we believe that there are areas where our interests overlap, like our efforts to combat the illicit fentanyl trade.

There are also areas where we can more effectively manage competition -- for example, by reestablishing military-to-military communications.

And there are, of course, critical global issues that the two leaders will need to discuss, including Russia's war against Ukraine and the evolving crisis in the Middle East.

All in all, we're looking forward to a productive meeting. President Biden has a long history with President Xi. Their conversations are direct; they're straightforward. And President Biden believes that there is no substitute for leader-to-leader face-to-face diplomacy to manage this complex relationship between the United States and China.

Of course, this week, President Biden will -- this coming week will be doing a lot more than just meeting with President Xi. He'll be welcoming leaders from across the Asia-Pacific for APEC Economic Leaders' Week at a moment when the most dynamic economic region in the world is looking to the United States as the leading economy in the world.

While in San Francisco, you'll see President Biden put forward his economic vision for the region. He will speak about how the United States is the preeminent driver of inclusive, sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and how the Asia-Pacific is critical to growth here at home.

You'll see the President join leaders from across the region to announce, in record time, clear outcomes on a number of pillars of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

You'll see him hosting a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment -- PGI -- event with major CEOs and IPEF governments that will demonstrate how we are identifying new ways of working with the U.S. private sector to drive high standard investment in the Indo-Pacific in infrastructure, in innovation, and in other areas to unlock sustainable long-term growth.

And we're also hosting an event with major foreign CEOs focused on how President Biden's economic policies, combined with our strong partnership with Asia-Pacific economies, are driving historic and outsized investments here in the United States in critical and emerging technologies and in other areas and creating good-paying jobs for American workers.

Finally, before I take questions, I want to give a brief update on the Middle East. The United States continues to work round the clock to support efforts to rescue and reunite hostages held by Hamas with their families where they belong. This includes many young children, one of whom is a three-year-old American citizen toddler whose parents were tragically killed by Hamas on October 7th.

This is a top priority for President Biden, for Vice President Harris, for Secretary Blinken, for me personally. We have all spoken with families of U.S. citizens who are being held hostage by Hamas and have raised this issue with all of our counterparts. This remains a paramount priority for us.

Just yesterday, President Biden spoke with the Emir of Qatar to discuss the important efforts and the important negotiations ongoing to try to secure the release of the hostages being held by Hamas. And later today, here at the White House, I'll be meeting with some of the families of the Americans who are currently being held.

The United States has also been leading efforts to increase the flow of lifesaving, sustained humanitarian assistance -- food, water, medicine -- into Gaza. While we've made some progress, much more is urgently needed to alleviate suffering among the civilian population in Gaza.

We're glad to see Israel take an important step in this direction last week. And we remain in active discussions with the Israeli government about the importance of tactical humanitarian pauses in the fighting, to permit civilians to depart areas of active hostilities, to increase the flow of aid, and to enable hostage releases.

We continue to have discussions at all levels, including President Biden with Prime Minister Netanyahu, to urge Israel to continue taking every possible measure to protect civilians. The loss of a single innocent life is a tragedy, whether it's a Palestinian civilian, an Israeli civilian, or anyone else. And we grieve for every innocent who is lost.

At the same time, we will continue to stand behind the proposition that Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. And with Hamas, as I've said, you're dealing with an organization that has come out publicly since October 7th and said that it intends to commit another October 7th and another one and another one until Israel no longer exists.

You have a leading spokesman from Hamas saying that the objective of the organization is a permanent state of war with Israel. That is the reality that Israel is confronting, and it's a reality that would be unacceptable for any nation.

And with that, I will be happy to take your questions.


Q: Thanks, Jake. You said yesterday and the President said just now in the Oval Office that hospitals in Gaza need to be protected. Do you believe that the Israelis have received that message, and have they had any response?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, first, what the President has just said and what I've said is that we do not want to see firefights in hospitals. We want to see patients protected; we want to see hospitals protected.

We have spoken with the Israeli government about this, and they have said they share that view -- that they do not want to see firefights in hospitals. And you've heard from IDF spokespeople stating things along those lines.

The Israeli government has also told us that they are prepared to provide fuel to hospitals to ensure that they can continue to operate and that, for certain hospitals, they actually have not been able to be in communication with the people who are actually running the hospitals. So, that's something we will continue to work on.

But the position of the United States on this matter is clear: Hospitals should be protected. Hospitals should be able to run effectively so that medical care should be -- can be given to patients.

And finally, to the extent people need to be evacuated from one hospital to another hospital in order to ensure the continuation of care, evacuation routes have to be safe. And the Israeli government has told us as recently as today that there are and will continue to be evacuation routes for people leaving hospital compounds.

So, these are positions that for us are straightforward. They are clear. We have a constructive discussion with the Israeli government on this. And I believe that they have indicated they hold similar positions on these issues.

Now, as for what happens on the ground, you know, in a given hour on a given day, we can't react to every individual report. We can simply continue to state our position and continue to consult with the Israeli government to ensure that they are doing their best to fulfill their stated position on this.


Q: And then more broadly, the U.S. is now focused on two wars -- one in the Middle East, one in Ukraine. What would it mean for this government and, in particular, foreign policy and the military if there were to be a government shutdown come Friday night?

MR. SULLIVAN: This would be a devastating blow, first of all, to our service members at a very human level because it would have an impact on the ability of our troops to -- and their families to get all of the benefits and services that they deserve for the service they are performing for our country.

Second, it would send a signal to the world that the United States cannot pull together on a bipartisan basis to sustain government funding and to show a united face to the world at a moment where you see this turbulence around the world.

So, we will do everything in our power to support Congress coming together around a measure that will fund the government and not have a shutdown occur at the end of this week.


Q: Jake, what -- the President also said there's an effort to use the pause to deal with the release of prisoners, and it's being negotiated with Qatar. Could you amplify on that a little bit?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. There have been ongoing discussions with the government of Qatar. And, in fact, President Biden, as I mentioned in my opening statement, spoke by telephone with the Emir of Qatar yesterday.

Qatar has been talking to Hamas. Israel has been talking to Qatar. The United States has been talking to both Israel and Qatar in an effort to try to move forward these negotiations to a point where hostages can be released and reunited with their families.

We're not there yet. But we are continuing to try to make progress on that day by day, hour by hour. And as I said before, the President has no higher priority, which is why he is personally engaged on this issue.

Q: And secondly, on the trip itself, what does the President plan to tell President Xi in terms of getting Iran to rein in its proxy attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, from our perspective, the PRC should share the interest of every responsible country that de-escalation rather than escalation in the broad- -- broader Middle East should be the order of the day.

So, President Biden will make the point to President Xi that Iran acting in an escalatory, destabilizing way that undermines stability across the broader Middle East is not in the interests of -- of the PRC or of any other responsible country.

And the PRC, of course, has a relationship with Iran, and it's capable, if it chooses to, of making those points directly to the Iranian government.


Q: Hey, Jake. Yesterday, you alluded to Israeli intelligence. Does the U.S. have any independent intelligence that Hamas has military facilities, a bunker under (inaudible) Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, what I said yesterday is that I'm not in a position to comment on intelligence matters -- American intelligence matters. I can't divulge that to you.

What I can tell you is that we see plenty of open-source reporting about Hamas's use of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure to store weapons, to house fighters, to engage in -- in forms of command and control.

But beyond that, I'm not in a position to speak specifically to a report about a specific hospital or a specific bunker.

Q: And so, when the President says that hospitals must be protected, what does the President -- what does the United States want to see done with Al-Shifa Hospital, in particular, and the Hamas facilities that you now point to open-source intelligence saying lie under it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, your question points up the complexity of this conflict and the added burden that Israel is facing as it goes against murderous terrorists who continue to say their goal is the absolute destruction of the State of Israel.

You're dealing with a terrorist organization, Hamas, that takes civilian hostages, including little children; that uses civilians as human shields; that uses civilian infrastructure, even hospitals, in the most cynical way possible -- that is, as fighting positions, as military operation centers.

And so, Israel has to confront that while, at the same time, not wanting to go assaulting hospitals in firefights that could put innocent people who are getting lifesaving medical care in the crossfire.

So, there are not easy answers to this question. But this is the complexity, this is the burden that the Israeli Defense Forces are facing as they conduct their operations.

And our position is that Israel has the right to go after Hamas, but it does face this added burden. And that burden does not lessen its responsibility to act according to the laws of war.

And so, how that plays out in a particular operational dynamic -- this tunnel or that bunker -- ultimately, those decisions lie with the military fighting. The United States can't dictate that. But we will continue to stand for the principle that the laws of war must be respected even as Israel goes after Hamas and the tools and infrastructure of its terrorism.


Q: Do you have any proof of life on hostages, especially the Americans? In the negotiations that have been going on, has there been anything that could reassure the negotiators, the President, and you that hostages remain alive and potentially could be rescued?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, we have been very transparent about the fact that we have limited visibility into both the whereabouts of the hostages within Gaza and their condition.

And -- and I said as recently as yesterday that we have nine missing Americans, one missing green card holder, and I cannot look you in the eye and tell you how many of those hostages are still alive.

We do have information -- and I'll be careful about how I characterize that -- about some of the hostages and -- and a notion that there are a substantial number of hostages who are not just alive, but who could potentially be part of a hostage release.

But I couldn't give you a number of exactly how many Americans would be included in that. That's something that we will have to work through as we continue these negotiations.

And, of course, we won't know for certain until we -- we actually get the release of those hostages and they're safely returned to their families. So, that's something we're going to continue to work on.


Q: Thanks. I wanted to ask you about the House spending proposal. It does not include money for national security priorities that the administration has: Israel, Ukraine. Particularly Ukraine, what are the next steps for getting funding if -- if the spending proposal is not an option?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, I will leave it to Karine to kind of talk about the congressional dynamics and particular measures that have been put forward in the House.

What I will say is that the -- the President -- the Biden administration put forward a funding request for Israel, for Ukraine, for the Indo-Pacific, and for the border. We detailed exactly what we needed, including for Ukraine, and we still need that and we need it as soon as we can get it. And we are working actively with both the House and the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats to secure the votes and to get the vote to get that funding.

And I continue to remain confident that while this has been a winding road since we began the effort to secure additional funding for Ukraine, that there is a strong bipartisan majority in both houses to do it and we will ultimately get it done.

How exactly, through what vehicle and what measure -- that's something that I will defer to the legislative experts on. I will only say that we are continuing to make the case actively. I'm on the phone personally daily with members, both Democrats and Republicans, to make the case. And we are leaning forward in making it clear that the United States' national interests will be deeply harmed if we are not able to secure and sustain funding for Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and the border.


Q: And if I may ask about the trip, please. What -- what is the President's message going to be regarding Taiwan's upcoming elections? Will the -- will the President warn President Xi directly, for example, against interfering in the elections?

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not going to preview what exactly President Biden will say to President Xi because I think he should have the opportunity to speak to him directly in person without me proclaiming it from the podium.

I will say that the President, broadly speaking, is going to set out a vision for peace and stability and the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. And he will do that in his meeting with President Xi. But in terms of the specifics of that conversation, I will leave that to the President to do person to person, face to face.


Q: Thank you, Jake. How confident is the U.S. that the U.S. and China can restore military-to-military communications? It's now been more than a year since China suspended those talks. So, what are the main sticking points from the Chinese side?

MR. SULLIVAN: I'll defer to -- well, not defer to -- refer to China on the sticking points because, ultimately, they will have to answer that for themselves.

The United States has been ready, for that entire period, to sustain military-to-military communications because we think it's the only responsible thing to do.

Having our two militaries in communication is the way you reduce mistake, you avoid escalation, you manage competition so it doesn't veer into conflict. That, to us, is an absolutely straightforward factor. And no matter what else is happening in the relationship, those military-to-military links should remain intact.

That's our position going into San Francisco. We believe that the PRC has been constructive in the dialogue we've been having with them on this issue. We will see what happens in San Francisco and the President will be able to report after the meeting whether, in fact, we've made progress on restoring military-to-military links.


Q: What's your assessment for why the Chinese has been willing to engage so much more in recent months? How much of it has to do with China's economic struggles? And if that's the case, how can you be sure that what comes out of APEC is long-lasting and not just tactical from the Chinese side?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, look, I'm not going to speculate as to what China's motives are. Again, that's a question you should pose to them, and -- and they can lay it out for you.

I do think your question raises an important point, though, which is: Nothing stands still in the world, as we've just seen from the -- the October 7th crisis. And there will be, you know, inevitably, things that arise that are unanticipated; there will be turbulence, as there always is. And the question is: Can we create the lines of communication and the broad parameters in the relationship so that, through whatever comes, we can manage competition responsibly so it doesn't veer into conflict?

That's what the President has set out to achieve in this summit with President Xi. And so, he sees this not just as a one-off meeting but as an important moment to be able to establish the kind of basis upon which we can proceed out into the future.


Q: Jake, you mentioned that you guys see this as an important meeting on Wednesday, but I'm curious: Will the President, during his time with the Chinese President, try to hold China accountable for the spy balloon this year?

I know, obviously, it seems like it was 20 years ago, but it was this year. The Chinese have said it was still a weather balloon. They said they should get the technology back. What kind of response are we going to see from the President this week on the spy balloon?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, as I said before, I'm going to let the President be able to sit down with President Xi and speak to him person to person, face to face and, again, not be doing diplomacy from the podium. And we can report to you afterwards, consistent with whatever, you know, is appropriate to share publicly on these issues.

But I will say that President Biden took steps to take down that balloon once it was safe to do so and out of potential harm's way to civilians. We were able to recover it, to exploit it. And from our perspective, the critical thing is that because we were able to protect ourselves along the way of that path, we do not feel that there was any information gain that was problematic.

And so, the United States, the President is going to focus at this point on how he stands up for and protects American interests going forward across the full range of challenges in this relationship, of which this is one.

Q: Do you want China to apologize?

MR. SULLIVAN: Again, I'm going to let President Biden speak to President Xi. I'm not going to stand here from the podium and, kind of, create threats or raise questions or make particular demands, because I think that will not be the most effective way to secure the diplomatic outcomes the American people are looking for.


Q: Thanks, Jake. How would you rate relations between the U.S. and China since President Biden's meeting with President Xi last year? And what would you say that the U.S. has been able to achieve in the relationship as a direct result of their last meeting?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, the most important thing is that this is a complex relationship, a competitive relationship that could easily veer into conflict or confrontation if it's not well managed. And so, managing the relationship in an effective way is the single most important responsibility of the President and everyone who works for him on this file.

And then, beyond that, the U.S. and China have to be able to speak directly to one another on all of the critical issues that face our two countries, including issues in moments of crisis, like the Russia-Ukraine crisis. And President Biden has had a number of candid conversations with President Xi about the question of military support to the Russian Federation in the conduct of its war in Ukraine.

President Biden has had the opportunity to engage, and so have the rest of us, on how we effectively manage peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait so that we can sustain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

So, those are some of the issues that, through intense diplomacy, we have been able to manage intense competition.

And then we will look for opportunities to actually generate affirmative outcomes that deliver tangible progress for the American people in areas where our interests overlap.

I mentioned, for example, the issue of fentanyl. We're hoping to see some progress on that issue this coming week. And that could, then, open the door to further cooperation on other issues where we aren't just managing things, but we're actually delivering tangible results. We'll continue to work at that as we go forward.


Q: The U.S. yesterday launched its third round of strikes against facilities tied to Iran that were in Syria. I mean, you've said that this is, in part, to try to deter other attacks against U.S. servicemembers. But in the hours since that attack, at least four times, U.S. forces were hit in an attack. So, how is this a success if these incidents keep happening over and over?

MR. SULLIVAN: Our goal over time is to ensure that our forces are protected and that we respond if we get hit. That is what we have done; that is what we will continue to do. And this should be measured over the course of time, not over the course of 24 hours.

Now, if Iranian proxies continue to strike American forces, we will continue to respond. President Biden has been straightforward about that. We have followed through on that. We will continue to follow through on that, because the President's view is, ultimately, he has got to look out and safeguard the security and the physical safety of all of our forces in both Iraq and Syria.

We're going to continue to do that. And we have made clear that, if we continue to get hit, we will respond.


Q: Is there an updated timeline for when the current funding to Ukraine is going to run out?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, I mean, there's not a literal day on the clock. But each week that passes, our ability to fully fund what we feel is necessary to give Ukraine the tools and capacities it needs to both defend its territory and to continue to make advances, that gets harder and harder.

So, for us, the window is closing. But I cannot point to a date on the calendar because, of course, this is a dynamic situation. And we have to make decisions about drawdown packages, how we size them, what gets sent based on our assessment of the calendar of when we're actually going to get a bill passed.

So I can tell you it is already having an effect on our ability to give Ukraine everything that it needs, and that effect will only compound over time.

We are still able to supply the military assistance that Ukraine has been asking for. But if we got the full funding, we could do so on a much more certain and consistent basis. And that's what we're looking for.

Q: And there's a report that President Biden and President Xi are going to agree to a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in autonomous weapons. Are you able to confirm that or if AI will be a part of their discussion at all?

MR. SULLIVAN: Of course, AI will be part of the discussion, but I cannot confirm that report. I saw it this morning, and I'm not exactly sure where it came from.


Q: Thanks a lot, Jake. What's your level of confidence that China has not provided to Russia any military equipment or munitions or technology as it relates to Russia's war against Ukraine?

MR. SULLIVAN: Our latest assessment is that Russia ha- -- excuse me, China has not provided weapons to Russia as part of the war in Ukraine. But I will come back to you to confirm that that remains our latest assessment as of today, because my information is a few days old.

Q: And then, on Gaza, if I may. What's your satisfaction level as it relates to what was announced last week, this humanitarian pause? Would you like to see longer pauses beyond just four hours a day? Do you expect that to happen?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, I think there are circumstances where more than four hours a day is going to be necessary. And, in fact, the Israeli government has recognized that. They've extended some of these pauses to seven hours, for example, to create the corridor so that people can move around safely.

We believe pauses should not be dictated by a strict timetable. They should be dictated by what is necessary to achieve the objectives. And those objectives are safe passage, the ability to move around humanitarian aid. And then ultimately, we'd like to see considerably longer pauses -- days, not hours -- in the context of a hostage release, and that's being actively worked on as well.


Q: On the five Army special ops forces that were killed in a helicopter crash in the Mediterranean over the weekend. Because they were there as part of the force buildup because of what's happening in Israel, would you consider their deaths American casualties of that war?

MR. SULLIVAN: I would not. I would refer you to DOD for what the formal assessment would be.

But I would tell you, just as a straightforward matter, we have forces deployed around the world in every theater. And tragically, these training accidents do occur. This accident did not occur in combat. It occurred during a training mission. And so, that's why, from my perspective, it would not be from this war.


Q: Thank you, Jake. I have two questions on Gaza. A hundred staff at the State Department and USAID accused the Biden administration of spreading misinformation. The Israeli newspaper (inaudible) said actually some of the Israelis who were killed were killed by Israeli army on October 7th, and the number is 1,200, not 1,400. And that's not taking away from what happened on October 7th.

But you were adamant that you do not trust the Palestinian sources when it comes to casualties. So, accurate information is vital, especially in fighting antisemitism and Islamophobia. So, does the White House have credibility when it comes to information and accurate information? Can we rely on you when you stand at the podium and tell us certain information and statements?

MR. SULLIVAN: When I know information, I will tell it to you. When I don't know information, I'm not certain about it -- as earlier in this discussion when we were talking about the number of American hostages who are still alive, those who may have been actually killed by Hamas -- I will tell that to you. If we get new information that supersedes the information we had before, I will tell that to you.

And we have a track record from day one of this administration to do all of those things. We will continue to do that every day. And I categorically reject the notion that we are peddling any misinformation.


Q: Okay. But an- -- another question --

Q: Thanks, Jake. You said today, as you've said a number of times, about the importance of the laws of war being upheld. Israel has killed around 11,000 Palestinians. Around two thirds of those are women and children. The situation in the hospitals is dire. Israel has dropped an astronomical amount of ordnance in very built-up areas. Is Israel, in your view, abiding by the laws of war? And if it is, how do you come to that conclusion?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, as I said yesterday, I -- Jake Sullivan, standing here -- am not in a position to be judge and jury to make that determination. It's a legal determination.

What I can do is state for you the clear policy of the Biden administration, which we have been unequivocal about from the beginning of this conflict. And that is that even though Hamas is using civilians as human shields, is burrowing into civilian areas with its rocket emplacements that they are continuing to launch every single day at civilian areas in Israel, that puts an added burden on the IDF but it does not lessen their responsibility to act in ways that separate terrorists from civilians and does everything in their power to protect civilian lives.

Q: But the --

MR. SULLIVAN: That is -- that was the case. That remains the case today. That is the message that we've said publicly and we communicate to our Israeli counterparts privately --

Q: But --

MR. SULLIVAN: -- and we do that on a daily basis.

Q: I'm just trying to be clear, though. The administration's view is that the IDF is doing that?

MR. SULLIVAN: What I've told you is that I am not in a position to give you a legal determination to your question. I am not in a position to do that.

What I'm in a position to do is to state the U.S. government position on how Israeli operations should be conducted. And that is what I have done. That is what I continue to do. That is what I can do from this podium.

Q: Jake?


Q: Thanks, Jake. Did Governor Gavin Newsom give the White House a heads up on his meeting with President Xi? And have you guys gotten a readout from his team since? And what did you make of all that?

MR. SULLIVAN: We -- we had a heads up. We got a readout. In fact, Ambassador Nick Burns accompanied that delegation on that meeting. So, it was fully coordinated between the governor's office and the U.S. State Department.

Of course, I won't get into the details of that because those were private diplomatic conversations. But we've had a good opportunity to get a download, as we have from Senator Schumer's bipartisan delegation. And Senator Schumer and I actually just spoke today about some of the outcomes of that conversation, which are feeding into work the President will do this week and hopefully help result in some tangible progress.

Q: Jake?


Q: Thank you so much. Do you intend at some stage to provide more details about the kind of military equipment Israel is getting from the United States and the way it's using it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the Department of Defense will lay out what we are providing to Israel. I've stood up here before and told you about some of the key elements of that, which have included interceptors for Iron Dome, artillery ammunition, precision-guided munitions. And so, the DOD and the State Department will follow normal protocol in laying out the sales and transfers of weapons to Israel.


Q: Thank you, Jake. I have a question on your meeting with Yermak. But first, on the bilat.

As I understand, President Widodo will be bringing the resolution from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which includes a demand for immediate ceasefire and rejection of Israel's justification that its actions in Gaza is self-defense. So, clearly on the international stage, President Biden is losing ground on this issue. We see this at the U.N. every day. My question is: Is he ever at all concerned that he may be on the wrong side of history here? And how does he plan to engage with President Widodo on this issue?

MR. SULLIVAN: President Biden is looking forward to engaging with President Widodo across the full range of issues in the bilateral relationship and regional and global issues.

On many issues, they will agree wholeheartedly. In fact, they'll make significant progress. On other issues, they will have different perspectives.

President Widodo's position on the conflict in Gaza is well known, so is President Biden's. They'll both have the opportunity to respectfully exchange views on that issue.

They will also have the opportunity to elevate the U.S.-Indonesia bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and to make tangible progress on issues like critical minerals, like clean energy cooperation, and like investment.

So, you will see in this the -- the fullness of the relationship between the United States and Indonesia but also the robustness of that relationship and the way in which it has advanced over the course of the past three years, notwithstanding the fact that there are differences of perspective on certain aspects of the ongoing crisis.

Q: Can I ask about your meeting with Andriy Yermak --


Q: Thanks, Jake. San Francisco has cleaned up their streets ahead of President Biden and President Xi's meeting. They've moved homeless to other parts of the city, cleared tent cities and trash off the street. Is the President embarrassed that an American city needs to go through a total makeover to be presentable for his out-of-town guests?

MR. SULLIVAN: The President is incredibly proud of the record that the United States will bring as host to this summit, and I went through some of it today: the strongest economic record of any developed country, the lowest unemployment over a sustained period in half a century, far-reaching investments in innovation, in CHIPS, rebuilding America's infrastructure.

So, actually, the -- Joe Biden thinks he is walking into the summit on the front foot and able to showcase the United States as the premier destination for investment -- good job-creating investment here in the United States -- all of which will be on display while he is there.

And the countries of the world who are coming are coming with a recognition that the United States is in a strong -- indeed, for a lot of people, an enviable economic position. And that is going to, I think, sustain him very effectively through the course of the week.

Q: But Governor Gavin Newsom --


Q: -- said of the cleanup this: "I know folks are saying, 'Oh, they're just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town.' That's true." Does President Biden agree it's more important to impress the leader of China than the American people that live in San Francisco and pay taxes every day?

MR. SULLIVAN: First, I'd completely reject the premise of your question. But secondly, I don't know what -- the context of what Governor Newsom said. So, I -- I won't respond to it.

Last question.

Q: Here in the back?

Q: Secretary Blinken said there were Hamas tunnels under schools, hospitals, and mosques. Does the U.S. have intelligence on this outside of what's in the public domain to support this claim?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, I can't speak to intelligence matters, as I've said before. And I feel hamstrung by that because, obviously, we have intelligence sources ourselves, but I'm not in a position today to be able to share that intelligence.

Q: And is it fair to say the conflict in the Middle East is now on at least three fronts -- Israel-Hamas, Israel-Hezbollah, and U.S.-Iranian proxies?

MR. SULLIVAN: I think it's -- I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a three-front conflict. I would accept that there is an exchange of fire between Israel and Hezbollah, there's an obvious ongoing military operation in Gaza, and, yes, we have been struck repeatedly by proxy groups of the IRGC in Iraq and Syria, and we have responded. Those are all -- that is all correct.

Thank you, guys.

Q: Thank you for coming.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much, Jake. Okay. Let's continue.

Go ahead, Za- -- Zeke.

Q: Thanks, Karine. The Supreme Court today unveiled a Code of Ethics on Justices. There's been a lot of scrutiny of Justices' conflicts of interest. Has the President had a chance to review that? Does he have a position on it? Does he believe it goes far enough?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm not going to get -- add more to -- or go beyond what the President has said already in the ProPublica interview that he shared when it re- -- when we talked about -- when he was asked about the Supreme Court ethics.

So, there are ethics rules that apply to -- to other and lower -- lower federal courts, obviously. And so, obviously, the American people have the right to -- to expect those who are serving in high office to meet high ethics and transparency, obviously, standards.

And so -- but I don't have beyond that. I know the President has talked about this recently.

Q: And then, there was a security incident overnight with -- with a Secret Service agent, apparently, fired a shot at an attempted carja- -- a vehicle theft and breaking into a Secret Service vehicle guarding one of the President's grandchildren. Has the President been briefed on that incident, and does he believe that Secret Service handled that appropriately?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, for any questions about security matters, I would have to refer you to the Secret Service.

Q: Has he been briefed, though?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Any questions -- again, any questions referring to this, I would have to --

Q: It's about the President, though.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I totally understand. These -- this is personal information. Anything that deals with personal information, I would refer you to the Secret Service, especially as we're talking about security matters.

Q: And then, lastly, Jake just said he felt "hamstrung" by his inability to release U.S. intelligence assessments of Hamas activities. Has the President given any consideration to potentially declassifying that -- that intelligence? We've seen downgrades regarding all sorts of sensitive U.S. collections, particularly in the Ukraine context. But has the President considered that in -- in regards to what Hamas is doing allegedly under these hospitals?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just don't have anything to add to what Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor, shared today at the podium.

Go ahead, Nancy.

Q: Thanks, Karine. This year, auto thefts are way up. Carjackings are way up. Violent crime is way up here in D.C. A couple of members of Congress were attacked. Now this overnight.

How concerned is the President about the increase of crime in this city where so many government workers live?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we are definitely concerned about what we're seeing -- and not just here, across the country, obviously. And that's why the President's first -- first year in this administration, he made sure to get -- to pass -- to get passed the American Rescue Plan. And he did that with Democrats and not one Republican vote.

And in that American Rescue Plan, there was a -- there was billions of dollars that were provided to local cities to make sure that they were able to hire police officers and make sure that they ha- -- they felt like they could have a safer and more effective accountability -- community account- -- police accountability. And that is why he took those actions.

Last year, as you know, back in August of last year, he -- he talked about a safer -- Safer American -- America Plan, again, trying to call on Congress to invest over 3-point -- $35 billion to fund police and fight crime.

And so, the President has taken actions. He would like to do this in a bipartisan way with Republicans on the other -- clearly, in Congress. And they haven't done that. And they've used this as a political weapon, as a political talking point, while the President has taken action to make sure our communities are safer.

Are we concerned? Obviously. Obviously, we want to make sure Americans and their families feel safe in -- not just here in D.C. but across communities. But we can't do this alone.

The President, again, has taken action. He's -- with the American Rescue Plan, bli- -- billions of dollars were able to go into states, into communities so that they can -- they can provide funding and police -- and police officers to make sure that their communities are safe.

But we need more. We need Congress to act. That's why he put forward the Safer America Plan -- $35 billion.

Congress can act.

Q: Thanks.

Q: What does the President need to know about this laddered CR before rendering a judgment on it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we're going to let the negotiations continue. We're going to be in close contact with Democrats in both the House and the Senate, the leadership there, and have -- make sure that they are having their conversations to see the best path forward for the American people. And that's what the President spoke to.

I think there's -- he said there was going to conver- -- a conversation happening later this afternoon or, pretty much, very soon. And so, we're just going to let that be.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. So, the House plan includes no aid to Israel or Ukraine. Is the White House still confident that their supplemental funding request can pass on its own? And what vehicles remain here for Ukraine funding?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, Jake spoke about this very well from here and talked about the importance of making sure that we continue to fu- -- fund Ukraine, making sure that we have funding for Israel as well.

I'm not going to get into legislative negotiations from here, from the podium. But, look, I'm going to be very clear: Lives are at stake. Right?

The -- the national security supplemental that we put forward is incredibly important. It's important for our national security. Also, let's not forget the domestic supplemental as well. So, it's important for our needs here, for needs across -- across the globe.

And so, look, we're going to not negotiate from here. But I think Jake laid it out very clearly the importance of continuing to fund Ukraine and the importance of the funding that we've asked for Israel.

Q: You've called the laddered CR "unserious." What deal would the White House be willing to accept given all the stakes you laid out?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I mean, let's be very clear here. I know there's been a lot of questions on this and the supplemental.

Look, House Republicans are threatening a government shutdown. That's what we're seeing right now. That would hurt our economy, that would hurt our national security, as I just spoke to.

And in September, we saw this happen where House Republicans threatened to shut down the government unless they got their radical -- radical demands, then they shut -- then they shut down Congress for three -- for three chaotic weeks as they tried to figure out who their next Speaker was going to be after ousting the last Speaker.

And so, look, you know, there is work to be done. They have to get the work done. They got to keep the government open.

And so, negotiations are going to be happening. Democrat -- we're going to continue to talk to Democratic leadership on the House and the Senate. And -- and -- and so that we can make sure that we're moving forward in a way that's -- that's best for the American people.

And as I stated, the la- -- this latest proposal is very much untested. It is. It's untested. And -- where they could have, you know, avoided this weeks ago, but instead they were in their own chaos. This is -- I'm speaking about the House Republicans here. And so, we're going to continue to have those conversation with Democratic leadership.

Q: Is the President concerned that city crime could get this close to his family?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm not going to speak to -- speak to the incident. That's something for Secret Service to speak to. Not going to talk about it from here.

I spoke to the crime more broadly and what the President has done since almost day one of his administration, starting with the -- his first piece of legislation that he signed into law with his -- which is the American Rescue Plan -- billions of dollars going into cities, going into states to make sure that they have the funding available to protect communities, to hire police officers. That's something that the President is concerned not just here in -- in the district but across the -- across the country.

As it relates to anything else, I would have to refer you to Secret Service.

Q: Naomi Biden had been a resident here at the White House. And I wonder when did that change that she would move to her own residence --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look --

Q: -- with her husband?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- this is a personal matter. This is personal information, certainly not going speak from it -- from the podium. I would have to refer you to the Secret Service.

Q: One more thing. The President frequently talks about the fact that he speaks to his grandchildren every day. Do you know if he has spoken with Naomi Biden since this occurred?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to get into private conversations that the President has with his family. As he stated himself, he is -- speaks to his grandchildren regularly. He's very close to his family. I'm just not going to get into confirming conversations with his family.

Go ahead.

Q: A follow-up -- quick question about what Kelly was asking. Has the White House considered having Mayor Bowser back over here just to talk about crime in general? I know she was here, I think, early when the President took office, but I'm been just curious, any interest in --


Q: -- maybe hearing from her?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- we are -- we are in regular conversations with Mayor Bowser about an array of issues -- a range of issues that -- that is important to the residents here, obviously, in -- in Washington, D.C. That is something that is continuous.

We have an Intergovernmental Affairs Office here, and so we are in touch with her as Mayor of D.C., but also other mayors and governors across -- across the country.

Look, I've said this moments ago, and I'll say it again: We've been very serious on dealing with the crime that we have seen just across the country. And we'd love to work with Republicans on this. They have not been serious on this.

The President, again, put forth the American Rescue Plan, signed that into law, put billions of dollars into communities to help -- help mayors and -- and governors deal with crime in their city and their states.

But Republicans aren't serious. He put forth the Safer Americas Plan -- $35 billion to continue to invest and make sure that we're actually dealing with this type of crime. We don't hear anything from them.

So, House Republicans, Republicans more broadly in Congress, if they want to get this done, we're willing to work with them.

Q: You -- I'm sorry. But one follow-up --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to keep going.

Q: -- real quick.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I'm going to keep going.

Go ahead.

Q: But you mentioned -- you say it's the --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: -- American Rescue Plan --

Q: Thanks, Karine.

Q: -- is working --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: -- but if the money is not --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just going to --

Q: -- but if the money is there --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just going to keep --

Q: -- but what's changing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q: What's -- what's --

Q: Thanks, Karine. Meta platform said that it's going to require advertisers to disclose when artificial intelligence or other digital tools are used in Facebook or Instagram ads on social issues, elections, and politics. I wanted to find out what President Biden thinks about that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, don't have anything to share on their new policy -- Meta's new policy. Obviously, the President put forward a pretty comprehensive AI executive order recently. And so, outside of that, I'm just not going to -- I'm not going to really comment on private entities and -- and actions that they're taking.

But obviously, the President takes this very seriously, and you could see that with the comprehensive executive order that he put forward that touches on many -- many important -- important parts of different industries.

Obviously, the -- the goal here is to protect Americans.

Q: Could you speak more broadly about what the President thinks social media platforms should be doing within the next couple of months to prepare for potential AI-generated misinformation on their platforms, especially going into an election season.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to be very careful because you're asking me about election season. Don't want to speak to that from here.

Obviously, we take this very seriously because we put forth an executive order very recently that is seen as being comprehensive, that is seen as being transformative. And that is something that we can do here from the federal government.

I'm just not going to talk to -- talk about private companies from here and what they're going to do in -- in the upcoming election.

Q: Thank you, Karine. I wanted to follow up on the two-step CR that Republicans are putting out. You've previously said that this would be a recipe for chaos and more shutdowns. I'm wondering what the President's message is to those House Democrats who seem at least intrigued by this proposal. For instance, Minnesota representative Dean Phillips has said that Speaker Johnson's two-step CR, quote, "isn't perfect, but a whole lot better than a shutdown."

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, the latest proposal, as I just said, is definitely untested. And that's true. It is untested.

We are going to continue -- and this is something that the President was saying in the Oval Office just moments ago before we came out to the -- into the briefing rooms: We're going to be in touch with Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate. And our goal -- our number one goal is to make sure that we move -- we take the best path forward for the American people. That's what we're going to focus on.

But it is -- this is indeed untested. And that is -- that is something that we're seeing coming from them.

And, look, this is something that they could have avoided. And instead of avoiding where we are right now, just a couple of days away from a government shutdown, they've wasted time. They have wasted time.

So, Democratic leadership is just going to have that conversation in both the House and the Senate on how to best move forward.

Q: Karine?

Q: There was an update.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, go ahead.

Q: There was an update. I just wanted -- just curious -- the House Oversight Committee has now issued a subpoena for the former White House Counsel Dana Remus. They're also asking for four other transcribed interviews with White House employees regarding the classified documents that were found in Rehob- -- or in Wilmington. I'm just curious: Would the White House support cooperating with the Committee's oversight, specifically with this subpoena for Dana Remus?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going to comment from here, which is consistent with what we've been doing from here.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. A follow-up on -- on Phil's question. Will the House Democrats know the President's position on whether or not he would sign that continuing resolution before they have to vote on it? Is that --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, the President literally just talked about this. One of your colleagues asked -- asked him about this particular CR, and he said that he wants to -- there -- there's going to be conversations on the Hill, negotiations on the Hill, and he wants to talk to the leadership, and so, that's -- in the Democratic House and Senate, and that's what we're going to do. Don't have anything else to share.

I'm just going to go to the back. Go ahead, in the back.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Some Democrats, particularly in and around "The Squad," have openly disagreed with the President for being too supportive of Israel. There's also been some grassroot groups that backed the President and are now indicating that this could be a deal-breaker for them. Is the President worried that this will continue to be a wedge issue within the party? And why can't he get his fellow Democrats on the same page on this issue?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, in our party, there's going to be various range of agreements and disagreements and -- and that's the way it is -- right? -- and, in particular, in the Democratic Party.

The President is going to continue to be clear about this. You heard it at the top, when -- when Jake Sullivan was giving an update on the Middle East, where the President stands. The President has been very clear.

And when it comes to Israel and what we saw on October 7th, Israel has the right to defend itself. They have the right to defend itself. And so, we're going to support Israel in doing that.

Obviously, there is the rule of law -- right? -- that the Pr- -- that Jake talked about, that we believe that should be followed. And -- and, you know, we're going to continue to -- to be steadfast in what we believe and what -- how we see this moving forward and making sure -- we just talked about the supplemental, the national security supplemental, and making sure Israel has what it needs, Ukraine has what it needs.

Let's not forget, they are dealing with terrorism and tyranny. That's what they're dealing with. They're dealing with an organization like Hamas, who is a terrorist organization, who had said -- and Jake talked about this: A leader from the Hamas organization said that they would want to see an October 7th happen over and over and over and over again. And that's what Israel is dealing with.

All right, one last question. Go ahead, way in the back.

Q: Karine, thank you. President Biden and President Xi are expected to talk about combating illicit fentanyl. What outcome is he looking for here in that talk?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I'm just going to say this. I'm not going to get ahead of -- obviously, that's going to be a discussion that they're going to have. I'm going to let the President speak to that himself. They're going to have that leader-to-leader conversation, as Jake said moments ago. And -- and the President will have more to share once he has his meeting with President Xi.

Q: But broadly speaking, can you just talk about the importance of addressing this issue with --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, it's critical. It's important. This is something that we've talked about and taken very seriously, when it comes to fentanyl and getting that off our streets.

Certainly, we are -- we are certainly focused on making sure that we protect Americans and American families. So, obviously, this is an important agenda item that the President wants to have to discuss. This fentanyl getting -- taking -- getting that off our streets is certainly a critical -- a critical conversation that we need to continue to have. And the President certainly has taken actions on doing that.

All right. Thanks, everybody.

Q: Thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We'll see you on the road.

3:39 P.M. EST

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

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