Joe Biden

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

March 12, 2024

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:46 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Happy Tuesday. A couple things at the top before we go to our guest.

So, I wanted to recognize tomorrow is Olivia Dalton's last day at the White House.

Q: Nooo --


Olivia started working for President Biden nearly 20 years ago, and has served as a trusted advisor, working -- working in his Senate office, in the Obama-Biden administration, on the President's transition team, and at the USUN before joining us at the White House.

Olivia is smart, she's strategic, and a natural leader. She's someone you can rely on to get things done. She's also a great colleague and a friend.

Olivia, we are so proud of you. Everyone in this building is going to miss you, especially the press team.

We're so excited for your next journey, and we can't wait to see all the amazing things you'll get to do in your next chapter.

So, thank you. Thank you for your service. I know, again, we're all going to miss you. (Applause.)

All right. And come back and say goodbye to Olivia today or tomorrow if you have a -- if you have a moment.

As you know, the President will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tomorrow. This is part of a busy travel schedule where the President is hitting the road, talking to Americans, and presenting his vision for the future, which he laid out in the State of the Union Address just last week.

In Milwaukee, the President will share how this administration's investments are rebuilding our communities and creating good-paying jobs.

As the President said in his State of the Union, his policies have attracted $650 billion in private-sector investments in clean energy, advanced manufacturing, which creates tens of thousands of jobs here in America.

Because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 46,000 new projects are -- have been announced in communities throughout the country.

As the President noted, some Republicans voted against these bills but are still cheering when investments are announced in own districts and also states.

Ultimately, these investments are critical for all Americans. And we are looking forward to highlighting some of those investments tomorrow in Milwaukee.

And finally -- finally, a word about the passing of David Mixner.

David was a trailblazer in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. His moral clarity never wavered, which is why he became such an invaluable confidant for so many, including presidential hopefuls, elected of- -- elected leaders, and the voices of the movement for LGBTQ+ equality.

Perhaps most importantly, he was deeply dedicated to mentoring the next generation of LGQ- -- LGBTQ+ leaders fighting to create a better world. Those of us doing this work today, including myself, owe him a debt of gratitude.

And now, truly finally, I'm going to turn things over to our National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, who is here today to talk about the leaders of Poland -- the meeting that the President is going to have -- be having in a couple of hours and also the dus- -- discuss the situation in Ukraine.


MR. SULLIVAN: Well, thank you, Karine. And first, I just want to say that it has been an absolute honor and privilege to work with Olivia, to have her as a teammate, to be in the foxhole with her these past few years. We're going to miss you terribly.

So, I didn't realize actually that you were being announced as your last day today. Now I'm going to do very badly at the podium because I'm sad about that, but -- (laughter).

I beg your indulgence because I have a number of things I want to say at the outset before I open it up for your questions. But I promise I will get to your questions.

And before I turn to Poland and Ukraine, I want to start with Haiti and the situation there. I want to underscore that we remain focused on the challenging situation in Haiti and we welcome the outcome of the meeting in Jamaica yesterday, which was led by dozens of Haitian stakeholders and was designed and, in fact, took steps towards creating an inclusive, broad, transitional presidential council.

We're grateful for the leadership of CARICOM, to other international partners, and we can- -- commend Prime Minister Henry for putting his country and Haitians first, agreeing to step down once this council is established.

And as you saw, Secretary Blinken, who was there playing a critical role in that meeting in Jamaica -- he announced yesterday additional support for the Multinational Security Support Mission to Haiti as well as additional humanitarian assistance. And we urge others to do what they can to enable this Kenya-led mission to deploy in support of the Haitian national police.

We know there is a lot of work ahead, but these are positive steps to pave the way for the Haitian people to elect their leaders, stabilize their country, and determine their future.

Now, turning to today's events. As you all know, President Biden looks forward to welcoming President Duda and Prime Minister Tusk of Poland for a joint meeting at the White House this afternoon.

President Biden has twice traveled to Warsaw for historic visits in 2022 and 2023. And today, he has the opportunity to repay the hospitality of the Polish people and the leaders of Poland. The leaders will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Poland joining the NATO Alliance, which is more united, determined, dynamic, and larger than ever -- now 32 nations strong after Sweden joined the Alliance last week.

This afternoon, the leaders will reaffirm their ironclad commitment to the NATO Alliance and to our collective self-defense under Article 5, and they will coordinate in advance of the upcoming NATO summit, which will be hosted by President Biden here in Washington this summer.

They will also discuss our shared support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's brutal war of aggression. As you know, Poland has provided significant security assistance to Ukraine. It's also played a critical support and logistics role for the U.S. and our allies and partners in a historic and unprecedented effort to supply Ukraine with the tools that it needs to defend Ukraine against this Russian imperial war of conquest.

The Polish people have also generously opened their doors to about 1 million Ukrainian refugees.

Poland's leadership has also demonstrated that once again, in a very live and almost technicolor way, that Putin's illegal invasion has produced the exact opposite effect of what Putin intended. Today, Poland is spending nearly 4 percent of its GDP on defense -- double the NATO commitment -- and is serving as an anchor in a vibrant, vital Alliance, just when Putin thought he would divide and weaken the NATO Alliance.

Our bilateral relationship is also growing even stronger. Today, the President will share with Poland's leaders that the United States plans to move forward with a new $2 billion Foreign Military Financing direct loan to Poland using previously appropriated congressional funds, and we'll offer to sell Poland 96 Apache helicopters.

These and other initiatives will equip Poland with cutting-edge capability to defend itself while also strengthening NATO interoperability and contributing to American jobs.

The leaders will also discuss the strong U.S.-Polish energy security partnership, the robust economic relationship between our countries, and the enduring importance of democratic values.

I also want to provide an update about Ukraine.

For two years, with the support from a coalition of more than 50 partners led by the United States, the people of Ukraine have remained unflinching against an adversary bent on their destruction. They've retaken more than half the territory that Russia occupied at the start of the conflict. They repulsed Russia's attempts to take large -- large swaths of Ukrainian territory now two winters in a row. They've severely degraded Russia's Black Sea Fleet. But they need our continued support, and they need it urgently.

Ukrainian troops have fought bravely, are fighting bravely throughout this war, but they are now forced to ration their ammunition under pressure on multiple fronts. And we're already seeing the effects on the battlefield.

When Russian troops advance and its guns fire, Ukraine does not have enough ammunition to fire back. That's costing terrain. It's costing lives. And it's costing us, the United States and the NATO Alliance, strategically.

So, today, on behalf of President Biden, I'm announcing an emergency package of security assistance of 300 million dollars' worth of weapons and equipment to address some of Ukraine's pressing needs. This is possible because of unanticipated cost-savings in contracts that DOD negotiated to replace equipment we've already sent to Ukraine through previous drawdowns.

When we sent Ukraine weapons last year, we negotiated contracts to replenish those weapons in U.S. stockpiles. We budgeted the full amount of appropriated funds for those contracts. It turns out we negotiated well. Those contracts came in under budget, so we have a modest amount of funding available.

And to put a fine point on it: We're able to use these cost-savings to make this modest amount of new security assistance available right now without impacting U.S. military readiness.

And the President has directed his team to use these cost-savings. This emergency package that we're announcing contains a large tranche of artillery rounds and GMLRS for the HIMARS. It is assistance that Ukraine desperately needs to hold the line against Russian attacks and to push back against the continuing Russian onslaught in the east and in other parts of Ukraine.

This ammunition will keep Ukraine's guns firing for a period but only a short period. It is nowhere near enough to meet Ukraine's battlefield needs, and it will not prevent Ukraine from running out of ammunition in the weeks to come.

It goes without saying, this package does not displace and should not delay the critical need to pass the bipartisan national security bill.

As you all know, we've said repeatedly –- here in the briefing room and President Biden said it to the entire nation in the State of the Union last week –- that we cannot provide ongoing assistance to Ukraine without significantly impacting our military readiness absent congressional action.

That remains the case, despite this modest amount of cost-savings that we are putting to use on an urgent basis. Congress must act.

The House of Representatives must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental as soon as possible. We all know that if it came up for a vote, it would pass on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, just as it did in the Senate.

And there is no other way around this. The House has got to pass the supplemental as soon as possible to allow us to continue the flow of vital security to assista- -- vital security assistance to Ukraine, to replenish the U.S. military's munition stocks, to invest in our industrial base, and to support jobs in 40 states across the United States.

The world is watching. The clock is ticking. And we need to see action as rapidly as possible, even as we do everything in our power to get Ukraine what it needs in its hour of need, and that is another step that we took at the President's direction today.

With that, I'd be happy to take your questions.


Q: First, on Israel. If Israel moves forward with the Rafah operation without having contingencies in place to ensure what you guys believe is adequate safety for civilians, would the White House set any sort of conditionality on further aid?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, I've read these reports. They're based on uninformed speculation by anonymous officials. I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals.

The President has been very clear about our position on Rafah. And our position is that a military operation in Rafah that does not protect civilians, that cuts off the main arteries of humanitarian assistance, and that places enormous pressure on the Israel-Egypt border is not something that he can support.

We are talking to the Israelis about that. We are working through it. And I'm not going to stand at this podium and entertain hypotheticals on it.


Q: Jake, just on that question, on that issue. The President did say over the weekend that if Israel forces were to go into Rafah that that would be a crossing of a red line. I'm just wondering, what would the Biden administration do if that did come to fruition and Israeli forces did go into


MR. SULLIVAN: I would just note, having been around a little while, that I know all of you are obsessed with this concept of the red line.

The President didn't make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements. The red line came up in a question. He was responding to that question. I think he gave a full answer to it. I think it's worth going back and reading his full answer to that question.

And he answered it completely. So, I've got nothing to add to what he said.

And again, as I said to the earlier question, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals. We've made clear our concerns about an operation in Rafah, we've made clear our concerns about the fact that an operation would put an enormous number of civilians at risk, and we have not seen a credible plan to protect those civilians.

That is the position the United States has set forward. We've been clear about it. We've been principled about it. We're engaged with the Israeli government about our concerns. And again, I'm not going to entertain hypotheticals.


Q: But the question he was asked, Jake, though, was "Do you have a red line? For instance, would -- invasion of Rafah, which you have urged him not to do, would that be a red line?" And he answered definitively, "It's a red line."

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I think you stopped conveniently after a single sentence, and it may not have exactly been that sentence --

Q: "But I'm never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical."

MR. SULLIVAN: And keep going. And if you read the full answer -- and I'm just going to leave it at his answer, because I think he put it in his words the way he wants to communicate this issue and the way that he's talking to the Israelis as well.

And again, I just want to point out that the whole issue of the red line as you all define it is something that you guys like; it's almost become a bit of a national security parlor game.

For the President, he's really focused on the substance, on the policy, on his concern about the protection of civilians and about Israel being able to sustain a campaign in a way that ultimately leads to an outcome in which the people of Israel are secure, Hamas is crushed, and there is a long-term solution to stability and peace in the region.

He believes there is a path to do that, and that path does not lie in smashing into Rafah, where there are 1.3 million people, in the absence of a credible plan to deal with the population there.

And again, as thing- -- as things stand today, we have not seen what that plan is.


Q: Thanks, Jake. On Poland, you mentioned energy conversation. Do you expect that the U.S. will make progress or even maybe secure the second nuclear plant contract during these talks?

And the President, yesterday, said that he didn't believe that additional Polish troop- -- or additional U.S. troops were needed in Poland. That was a request that the Poles were bringing to this meeting. Could you talk through why he doesn't believe that that's necessary considering the, sort of, geopolitical climate?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, just take a step back and look at the incredible array of assets the United States currently has deployed in Poland, including a permanent combat headquarters, including elements of brigades, including the largest complement of U.S. forces on the ground in Poland at any time. And that's in response to exactly that elevated threat that we see on the basis of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its bellicose statements about NATO Allies, including Poland.

So, we are looking at an enhanced, effective U.S. presence and a broader NATO presence in Poland and in the countries neighboring Poland. And at any time the President determines that additional capabilities are needed anywhere across the Alliance, he's determined -- or he's demonstrated the capacity to flow forces rapidly, as we did in the days leading up to the invasion, and that could be land, air, or sea.

So, the President looks forward to the conversation with President and the Prime Minister today. He believes that we are postured well, that our deterrence and defense capacity, both in terms of boots on the ground and in terms of the plans that we have in place to defend Poland should it come to that, are strong. And he has also sent a very clear message, which he is backing up with our force posture, that every inch of NATO territory will be protected.

Q: On the --

MR. SULLIVAN: With respect to the -- the question of additional nuclear plants, we've had very constructive conversations with Polish counterparts. I don't have anything to announce from the podium today. But we do look to an ongoing, deepening, and broadening civil nuclear cooperation with Poland.

Q: And very quickly on TikTok. The President said yesterday that he would sign the House bill if it passed. Earlier, you guys had said you were broadly supportive but had some concerns. Can you outline what those concerns are? And are you confident that the House bill, which seems like it's teeing up for a vote, would stand up in court and -- and be able to force the sale of -- of TikTok to a U.S. (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, I just want to be clear about what this bill is all about because a lot of people are going around throwing around the words "ban TikTok," "TikTok ban." And the ultimate objective of the bill is about a question of ownership. Do we want TikTok, as a platform, to be owned by an American company or owned by China? Do we want the data from TikTok -- children's data, adults' data -- to be going -- to be staying here in America or going to China?

That is the fundamental question at issue here. And the President is clear where he stands on that fundamental issue. Then the -- in terms of how that gets implemented precisely, that's something that we have continued to stay in touch with the Congress on. And obviously, as you've seen, there's been an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the committee. Now it will come to the floor, and we'll see what happens in the House. And I'm not going to get ahead of that.


Q: Thanks, Jake. So, in response to what the President said about the red line, Prime Minister Netanyahu -- he ultimately sounded like he vowed to defy what the President said. He said he would press ahead with an invasion of Rafah. So, is the President losing influence with Netanyahu?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, let's just take a step back. You've got the President, who from the very first day that this crisis began -- and let's remember it began with a horrific, vicious, brutal assault by Hamas on the people of Israel killing 1,200 people, raping and pillaging, and causing the most death since the Holocaust for the Jewish people.

And the President stood up and said Israel would never be alone. He went as the first-ever American president in wartime to Israel to say, "I have Israel's back." And he has had Israel's back. He has backed up those words with deeds all the way through, and not just in terms of providing for Israel's security against Hamas and Hezbollah but a broader constellation of steps in terms of military deterrence to keep this war from spinning out in ways that Israel could not handle.

So, that's where the President comes into this. He also is going to speak out when he has concerns about the level of protection for innocent civilians in Gaza, the level and access to humanitarian assistance for innocent civilians in Gaza, and he's going to make his views known.

Now, President -- excuse me, Prime Minister Netanyahu is the leader of a sovereign country. He can make determinations about what he's going to do, and let's actually see what happens.

At the end of the day, the President has laid out his views about Rafah, he's has been clear about them, and that's not just true publicly but privately we've communicated with the Israeli government on this. We intend to continue to communicate directly with the Israeli government at every lev- -- level, including between the President and the Prime Minister. And we will see where things go from here.

So, we believe that the President has the capacity to engage his Israeli counterparts in an effective way. And Rafah is one element of that. There are other elements as well. And so far, from our perspective, the real issue is what happens on the ground, not so much what happens in the -- in the back-and-forth of words.

Q: Why is it being communicated in the public sphere? It -- the records show that they haven't spoken on the phone for nearly a month. Why is that?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, we talk to the Israeli government nearly every day. I had the Israeli ambassador in my office less than two hours ago. So, there are plenty of channels of communication where we take direction from the President, they take direction from the Prime Minister, and we're able to communicate.

Second, whenever the President feels he needs to directly speak to the Prime Minister, he speaks with him. And, you know, undoubtedly, he will speak with him again.

And then, third, if you'd prefer not to have public communication on this issue, I'd be happy not to take any more questions on Israel and Hamas. (Laughter.) So, that would be just fine. The President, I'm sure, would be happy to do that too.


Q: Two quick ones for you, Jake. Are there any plans for the President to speak to the family of Itay Chen?

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't have any plans to announce right now.

Q: And, on Haiti --

MR. SULLIVAN: But I would just like to say, on that front, the President has met with Ruby Chen, Itay's father. He's met with Itay's brother. He's had the opportunity to sit with them here at the White House. I've had the opportunity to meet with Ruby and other members of Itay's family six times.

This hits hard for us, this news. It hits hard for the President. It hits hard for me. It hits hard for a wide number of people who you guys have never heard of in the U.S. government who are working tirelessly for Itay's release.

And I can't imagine what the family is going through. And I know that the President, who -- he and the First Lady put out a statement on it today. That won't be the end of it for him, because this is something that he is invested personally in, trying to bring all of those who are held hostage in Gaza home and -- and elsewhere around the world.

And the fact that we now have news that Itay was killed on October 7th, it's just a -- it hits hard.

Q: And in that realm, given that now another hostage -- believed hostage is now confirmed dead, what does that say about the fate of the others? Does this give any more hope, less hope that others will be found alive?

MR. SULLIVAN: Look, we've been straight with you from the start that we haven't been able to tell you the condition of the hostages, whether they are still alive, whether they're in decent health, whether their injuries are, you know, causing grave concern.

All we can do is work every day to try to generate a deal that gets all of the hostages home and, for us, especially the American hostages home. We are working at that around the clock. The President calls me every single day asking me for an update on those efforts. And they continue as we speak today, and we're not going to rest until we get everyone home.

And I will just reiterate what we've said all along. You know, we can't know until we get confirmation, either by having someone safely out or getting the terrible news that we got about Itay, what exactly the situation is. And we will be straight with the American people every step of the way.

Q: On Haiti real quick --

Q: Thanks, Jake. One, can you respond to calls from Senator Sanders as well as some Democrats about stopping providing weapons to Israel to -- until some of the restrictions for the -- for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, we share the goal of getting more humanitarian aid into Gaza. The President made that a central theme of his speech -- the State of the Union last week. We are taking steps ourselves, including this temporary pier and the airdrops that are ongoing. We just had our seventh airdrop today. We're also working with the Israelis to increase the throughput of humanitarian assistance by ground, both through Kerem Shalom and through a new crossing where we had the first trucks get in last night. And we need to see more where that came from.

Second, we've made clear all along that our policy to date has not involved the kinds of steps that you're talking about. And we also have said we're -- we're not going to engage in hypotheticals about what comes down the line, and the reports that kind of describe what the President is thinking on this are uninformed speculation.

Q: One of things that they -- they say is that the restrictions are a violation of the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act. Do you agree with that assessment that it is a violation of the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act? And have you had a discussion with the Ambassador or any other officials about that -- about that potentially being a violation of that act?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, first, we believe that we are complying with U.S. law in every act that we have taken throughout this war. And we will obviously continue to do so.

Second, the President actually signed a national security memorandum -- National Security Memorandum 20 -- which speaks to both compliance with international humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations and the need not to unduly or arbitrarily restrict humanitarian assistance from going in.

So, it's something that's very much a priority of his. We'll stay focused on that. And we will make sure that everything we do complies with our law but also complies with the policy that the President has set out and the priority he places on the provision of humanitarian assistance.


Q: Jake, does the package that you're announcing today for Ukraine include ATACMS?

And, on Israel, can you give us an ups- -- an update on the hostage talks and -- and the potential for a temporary ceasefire before Ramadan?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, I've got no announcements for you on ATACMS today.

When it comes to the issue of the hostage talks, one of the things that I have found somewhat absent from the coverage is that what we are talking about in the first phase is women, elderly, and wounded civilians. Those who would like to see a ceasefire in Gaza -- a ceasefire is on the table today for six weeks to be built on into something more enduring if Hamas would simply release women, wounded, and elderly.

And the fact that they will not do so says a lot to me about Hamas's regard for innocent Palestinian civilians -- the fact that they are holding on to those folks and refusing to release them and refusing to step up and say that we could get this ceasefire in place, which not only would bring calm to the fighting but also would create an enormous opportunity to flow humanitarian assistance in in much greater quantities. Because a significant part of the problem on the humanitarian assistance front, as you know, has not just been getting trucks into Gaza but getting trucks around Gaza because it is difficult to move them in light of all of the -- in light of all of the fighting.

Now, we've also encouraged Israel to stay at the table, stay engaged, because we believe that there still is scope for this deal to get done.

Notwithstanding the fact that we have entered the Ramadan period, Bill Burns was just out in the region actively pushing on this in Qatar and Egypt. Secretary Blinken is deeply engaged in this. I am. Brett McGurk is. And the President himself has been making phone calls to regional leader trying to move this along.

So, we will stay at it. We are determined to try to generate a ceasefire for at least six weeks with the hostages coming out and then try to build on that into something more enduring. But I can't make any predictions about where this will lie.

I will just say that as we press particularly on our friends in Israel to do their part to help deliver this ceasefire, it is incumbent on voices around the world to press Hamas to step up to do their part to release innocent women, wounded, and elderly hostages as a first step, and then we can move from there.


Q: Thank you, Jake. Is it the position of the United States government that Hungary, a NATO Ally, is a dictatorship?

MR. SULLIVAN: I know why you're asking the question. I'm not going to speak on behalf of the Biden campaign. You should direct those questions to the campaign.

What I will say, as the Biden administration, is that we have made no bones about our deep concerns about Hungary's assault on democratic institutions, including the judiciary; Hungary's corruption; and other erosion of democracy in Hungary from the leadership there. That is something we have been deeply concerned about, that we have directly engaged them on, and that people at this podium have stood and spoken about and will continue to do so.


Q: But it's not the position, officially, that Hungary is a dictatorship? We have heard your concern voiced before. I know you don't want to comment on the campaign, but, typically, a foreign policy statement of that magnitude would be made with, you know, some coordination. It wouldn't happen at the footnote of a campaign email. So, without talking about this campaign specifically, is it the position of the U.S. officially that Hungary under Orbán is a dictatorship?

MR. SULLIVAN: Again, it seems like the question you're asking is really about the campaign. So, I think you should --

Q: But why won't you --

MR. SULLIVAN: -- direct it to the campaign.

Q: -- answer what the official position is?

MR. SULLIVAN: I just -- I literally just stated what our position is.


Q: Jake --

Q: I don't think you did.

MR. SULLIVAN: As I said before, our position is that Hungary has engaged in an assault on democratic institutions, and that remains a source of grave concern to us. And I take it from your question it may be of grave concern to you as well.


Q: Thank you, Jake. One on Gaza, and then a quick one on Haiti. There's actually a breaking report from the region that says that Hamas reportedly agreed to a modified U.S. initiative for a ceasefire deal and gradual return of internally displaced persons in the Gaza Strip, citing a Hamas official. Have you heard anything about that?

MR. SULLIVAN: I have not. So, if there is an offer from Hamas to start releasing prisoners as part of the -- a ceasefire deal, that would be welcome news. It's not something I have heard yet. But as I said before, we've been encouraging both sides to move on this, and we've been encouraging the world to put some pressure on Hamas. And, obviously, I'll look into that report.

Q: And then, quick- -- quickly on Haiti. Did the U.S. wait too long in its support of Prime Minister Henry, given that he had been accused of being involved in the plot to assassinate President Moïse? And how can the U.S. avoid getting dragged further into this conflict?

MR. SULLIVAN: You know, ultimately, decisions about Haiti should be made by the Haitian people. That's why we supported a conference in Jamaica that was led by Haitian stakeholders, not led by the United States, not dictated by us.

It's not for us to make the call on who leads Haiti. It's for the Haitian people to make that call. And we've been proud to support the effort that was undertaken yesterday. We hope it will move forward. And seeing what Prime Minister Henry did -- not because of a U.S. diktat, a decision he made -- is something we support because we think it does take into account the best interests of Haiti and the Haitian people.



Q: On Lebanon. So, we have seen, lately, a new level of escalation on the border between Israel and Lebanon. And also, there was a missile felled by mistake in a Christian areas by a plane passing by -- Israeli plane -- and escalation has taken different approach now. What are you doing to accelerate -- not to get -- let this conflict get out of hand and we see an expansion in the region, also innocent people maybe will -- will suffer from that?

MR. SULLIVAN: This is something we've been focused on since the start of the conflict. And we would like to see an end to the cross-border attacks between Hezbollah and Israel. But, of course, let's recall how this all started. It started with Hezbollah firing on Israel in solidarity with Hamas. So, one way to move forward here, of course, would be for Hezbollah to stop firing on Israel.

Secondly, we need to work on a long-term solution to this, consistent with past agreements and consistent with the principle that the people who have been displaced from their homes can return to them and that there not be a future enduring security threat on that border. That's what we're working towards with both sides.

We're trying to do that as effectively as we can, as quietly as we can. Because we believe that this requires delicate diplomacy in both Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Beirut. That is the work that is ongoing as we speak.


Q: Can I follow -- Jake, can I follow up on the -- on the Hungary thing? I know you want to talk about the -- dismiss it to the campaign, but the President of the United States said that Orbán, a NATO Ally, is quote, "looking for dictatorship."

The Foreign Minister of Hungary then summoned the U.S. ambassador to answer for it and says that these were lies and an insult. Does this -- are you walking back the President's statement? Does the President regret that statement? Or does he stand by that statement? And what do you say to a -- to the Hungary -- Hungarian Foreign Minister who says that the President is lying?

MR. SULLIVAN: Of course the President stands by his statement, and I'm not walking back his statement. And all I'm saying is that our position is totally consistent with everything you just said and is documented and is the exact opposite of a lie.


Q: Yeah, I wanted to pivot back to Haiti. There are reports that Kenya is, you know, thinking about taking back its stabilizing force or not sending 1,000 police officers. I wonder what the United States plans to do to address the power vacuum in Haiti, and is there a contingency plan for if Kenya does, in fact, step back?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, we've had good constructive conversations with the Kenyans. I'm not going to speak on their behalf. But we continue to support their effort to plan for and operationalize this mission and add additional partners. And, in fact, in the last several days, additional partners have stepped forward to say they also are prepared to participate in this.

So, we've remained hopeful that this mission can go forward and can go forward effectively. But, of course, at the end of the day, the question you're posing is probably best directed to Nairobi rather than to this podium. But I will tell you that the level of partnership, engagement, and the depth of it that we've had with Kenya so far has been exemplary.


Q: Thanks, Jake. On Ukraine. How long do you think this latest aid shipment is going to last? Are we talking weeks, months? Do you have any idea how long --

MR. SULLIVAN: Absolutely not months. Weeks. Maybe even just a couple of weeks. It's not going to be for a long time. And that's why we so urgently need them to act on the supplemental.


Q: Jake, in regards to today's meeting that the President is having today with his Polish counterparts. On Friday, Poland's Foreign Minister said that NATO military personnel are already present in Ukraine. Can you clarify that? Can you quantify that, please?

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm sorry, who said that?

Q: Poland's Foreign Minister.

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't see that remark, so I'm not sure what he's referring to. The U.S. will not have boots on the ground in Ukraine. We don't intend to do so. We don't plan to do so. And I'm not sure what he's referring to.


Q: Yeah. Thanks, Jake. With Itay Chen now determined to have died on October 7th, how many Americans or dual citizens are now believed to have been -- be held hostage currently in Gaza?

MR. SULLIVAN: We believe that that number is five. It was six. We believe it is now five.

Q: Thanks.


Q: On -- back on the Ukrainian aid. Can you say when the weapons and equipment will get there? How quick of a turnaround this will be? And does the White House anticipate more cost-savings like this that could result in another package in the near future?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, as my friends at DOD like to remind me, we can't plan on cost-savings. So, we can't plan on any future drawdowns being available on the basis of cost-savings. So, we're not anticipating that. It's not built into what we're looking for.

Of course, we didn't plan this one. We got it -- we got it, in part, for example, because, you know, we had budgeted around for $155 at 130 bucks, and we managed to negotiate a contract at $93, and there are other examples like that.

So, it is not part of our current planning that there will be another opportunity beyond this one to get this kind of cost-savings.

And we can move this stuff fast. We have proven that over time. We have built a logistical pipeline and backbone to be able to do that.

I can't give you a precise estimate for operational reasons, but it's going to move very quickly.


Q: Jake, you have a long foreign policy experience. If you look back, do you think that bear hugging Netanyahu and his extremist government -- including an openly racist member like Ben-Gvir -- supplying them with lethal weapons that killed 70 percent of women and children, excluding the defensive weapons, was it successful?

And do you believe that American national security now is at risk, as we hear some testimony yesterday at Congress, because of the war -- because of the war -- how it was conducted?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, what I didn't hear at all in your question was anything about Hamas, who conducted a grievous attack on October 7th that --

Q: You're not a spokesperson for --

MR. SULLIVAN -- that --

Q: -- Hamas, with due respect.

MR. SULLIVAN -- killed --

Q: I'm asking you here.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah, but -- but --

Q: I would ask the question if I'm there, but I'm asking you here, as the National Security Advisor.

MR. SULLIVAN: But -- but what -- what has been the purpose of our policy since October 7th? A fundamental part of our policy since October 7th has been to help Israel defend itself against a group that authored the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust and had its leaders go out after that and say, "We're going to do October 7th again and again and again until Israel no longer exists."

And, from our perspective, Israel had a right and an obligation to take action against Hamas. And Hamas created a set of burdens on Israel's military operations that are nearly unprecedented by hiding among the civilian population. And that made it more difficult for Israel to conduct its military operations.

It did not take away Israel's responsibility to take every possible step to protect innocent people. And far too many innocent people, including women and children, died. And the President spoke to this I thought quite powerfully on Thursday night, and we are very mindful of it. And every one of those deaths is a tragedy. And we have said Israel has to do more when it comes to the protection of civilians. And we've spoken today at some length about Rafah.

But I do feel it is important to continue to ensure that this conversation, this story, is complete, that all elements of it are brought into the picture and not just some. And that does mean paying attention to the suffering of innocent people, not just their vulnerability to the military actions of Israel but also their vulnerability to a lack of food, water, medicine, shelter.

And these are things that we work on around the clock. These are things I personally stay awake at night about. So, I care about this very much. But I also care about making sure that our partner and ally, Israel, is not facing in the future the kind of threat that it faced on October 7th.

And -- and our country and any country in this circumstance would take action against terrorists doing this kind of thing. And the President has said from the beginning of this conflict both that we need to support Israel in its efforts to go after Hamas and that Israel needs to do so in a way that protects innocent civilians. And he has spoken out about his concerns about the protection of innocent civilians with sincerity and authority. And I think you saw that on full display in the State of the Union.

Yeah, April.

Q: Hello, Jake. Back on Haiti, real quick. Can you quantify and qualify the support and humanitarian aid you were just talking about at the top? And also, realistically, with all of the movement that's going on -- the Blinken involvement with the Caribbean leaders, et cetera, and African leaders -- what realistically do you expect for Haiti by the end of the year?

MR. SULLIVAN: I hate to make predictions about what's going to happen in the United States by the end of the year.

Q: Well, what do you hope for?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, it's very difficult for me to make predictions about what's going to happen in Haiti.

Q: But what is -- what is the United States hoping for with Haiti by (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Let -- let me start with the easier question, which is the quantifying of -- of assistance. It's $300 million now, a sum total for the multinational security support mission; $33 million dollars in a new additional announcement on humanitarian assistance.

And -- and then, what we are driving toward is a transitional council that can pave the way to elections and the restoration of calm on the streets of Haiti, and then a new government that can come in alongside this multinational security support mission, enable security, and then build from there. That is what we are driving towards.

Can I confidently predict that will happen? I cannot. Do we have to contingency plan against other scenarios? We do and we are.

But that is what we are working towards. I think what happened in Jamaica yesterday is a good step towards that. And we just have to keep working on it.

And I'll -- I'll let you guys go.


Q: One more on Poland.

Q: A follow-up on Haiti.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Inaudible.)

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much, Jake.

Okay, Aamer.

Q: Thanks. I just wanted to ask first about the Hur report. Pre- -- the President a few weeks ago now was pretty indignant and saying the Special Counsel inappropriately raised the death of his son in the interview. The transcript has come out. It seems a little more space in there for that. Does the President regret the outward anger that he displayed towards the Special Counsel about that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just a couple things. My colleague addressed earlier the transcript, so certainly would refer you to him. And that's my colleague at the -- at White House Counsel's Office.

As it relates to -- I know some of you are -- want to ask about the hearing that's currently going on. It was going on when I walked out here. My colleague at the White House Counsel's Office is g- -- is planning to take questions. He's going to gaggle right after the hearing wraps up today. So, I know that he is going to continue to be responsive, so he will be able to take your questions.

But we want to wait until the hearing is completed. And once that's wrapped up, he'll be -- he'll be right at the Sticks doing a gaggle.

Q: Is the President --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I believe at the Sticks, maybe not. He might -- but he is going to do a gaggle.

Q: Is the President monitoring the hearing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President is obviously meeting -- as he does every day, meet with his senior -- senior advisors, senior staff -- is preparing for tomorrow's trip. As you know, he's going to be going to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I cannot speak to what the President is keeping track of or watching. Obviously, he'll -- he'll get updates on it as -- or -- or get updates himself as -- as the day goes by.

But he's focused on the American people and tomorrow's trip, obviously.

Q: And if I could ask you something --


Q: -- unrelated. Annual inflation ticked up to 3.2 percent in February. How concerned is the White House, given the President has been saying that Federal Reserve should be cutting rates because of lower inflation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things. So, let me just answer your first question first, which is, look, the President in the State of the Union was very clear. We have more work to do to lower -- lower costs for hardworking families. And so, that is something that we're going to do -- and, obviously, also middle class. And that -- that work continues.

But just a couple of things. As you know, we've talked about this -- and I think it's important to -- to note this: Inflation is down two thirds, and we have the lowest annual core inflation since May 2021. Prices fell over the last year for gas, milk, eggs, chicken, appliances, and also used cars. Wages are rising faster than prices over the last year since the pandemic. And forecasts broadly expect progress on inflation to continue over the rest of the year.

And so, that is important to note. And like I said, there's more work to do. We're going to continue to -- continue to take on Big Pharma, to -- to lower prescription drugs and healthcare costs. We're going to crack down on price gouging.

You hear talk about jug- -- junk fees. The President talked about that last week. And so, also lowering housing costs, which is something that the President, obviously, spoke about very recently.

Look, I also want to -- as you asked me about the second question, the Federal Reserve, I just want to be really clear. Unlike previous presidents, the President does very much believe on the importance of the Fed being independent. And as you are asking me a specific thing that the President said last week, he was simply commenting on a widely accepted market view that -- he was not saying what the federal policy should be. But it was regarding the interest rates, obviously a widely market view.

So, I just want to be super, super mindful, because we do very much respect the independence of the Fed.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. What's been the President's reaction so far to the Robert Hur testimony?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have anything to share on that. Like I said, my colleague from the White House Counsel is going to do a gaggle once the -- once the hearing wraps up. I don't -- I don't -- I'm not going to speak to the President's reaction.

Q: And the President has said that he would sign into law the bill that could have TikTok banned. If the President is so concerned about the national security risks around TikTok, why is he posting on the platform?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'll say this. Jake Sullivan, our National Security Advisor, just spoke to the -- more broadly why this bill is -- is important, why we welcome this bill. Obvi- -- it's going to the process. And so -- and we're offering tech- -- technical support. So, I'll just leave that piece there.

As it relates to the campaign, I would have to -- and their strategy as it relates to TikTok, I'm just going to leave it to them.

Q: So, there are a lot of people in businesses that rely on TikTok for their financial livelihood. What is the White House's message to those folks if TikTok were to be banned --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look --

Q: -- which is a possibility if that goes through?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Our National Security Advisor laid out in a very, very clear terms why this bill is important about ownership ca- -- who -- if it's imp- -- about ownership here in this country or elsewhere, in -- in particular, China. Right? He spoke about that.

Where do we want that ownership? Where do we want that data of Americans to be: here or in China? Like, that is basically what the National Security Advisor laid out. And so, that is the -- the underlying -- the importance of that bill. It's a bipartisan bill. It is something that we welcome. We're obviously, again, going to s- -- offer technical support.

I'm just not going to add anything more to that. But it is important bill that we welcome here at the White House.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. The President said yesterday that he had no plans to address the Israeli parliament at this moment. Does that indicate that it's something that he or the White House is planning for in the future?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He also said that he wasn't going to speak to conversations about that particular question that he was getting about a meeting. I don't have anything else to share.

Obviously, and Jake said this -- Jake Sullivan said this himself, he is -- they -- he is in constant communication with -- with his Israeli counterparts, NSC, the State Department. They are in constant communication. So, I just don't have anything else to share beyond that -- beyond what Jake shared.

Go ahead.

Q: Does the White House ever digitally alter photos of the President, Vice President -- (laughter) -- First Lady, or Second Gentleman before they're released?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Digitally altered? Not that I know of. I would say no. Why would we digitally alter photos?

Q: I mean, it --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Are you talking about -- are you -- are you comparing us to the -- what's going on in the UK?

Q: I'm doing due diligence to ensure -- (laughter) -- that the leader of another --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, wh- --

Q: -- country wouldn't alter photos --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wh- -- why does the monarch --

Q: -- of themselves before released.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- have to do anything with us? No, that is not something that we do here.

Q: Okay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)

Q: That's why I asked.

Why isn't he taking questions today alongside the two Polish leaders?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You know what, and I've said this before, if you're asking about the two-plus-two or, in this case -- I don't know what we'd call it. A three-plus- --

Q: A one-plus-two.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: One-plus-two. I don't know. But I think it is -- I think -- (laughs) -- (inaudible) -- but I think it's -- look, I actually think it's important that we have the two leaders of Poland here. I think it shows unity, and I think it -- I think that's important to show.

And also, obviously, it's a part of the -- part of the meeting is -- is celebrating the 25 years of Poland being part of NATO. And you heard Jake lay out the importance of this meeting, especially as it relates to Ukraine and other -- other important agenda items that -- that the -- that both the U.S. and Poland are engaging on.

Obviously, you're -- you'll -- you'll see them shortly. But look, every -- every meeting is different. Every engagement that we have with foreign leaders are different. This one does not have a -- let's just call it a two-plus-two; I'm not sure what else to call it ri- -- at this time off the top of my head. But you'll obviously -- you'll hear from bo- -- all the leaders today when they're -- when we have the bilateral.

Q: So, no desire to, perhaps, celebrate their unity and raise solidarity or concerns about press freedoms in Poland than -- (laughter) -- having them take questions today --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, we --

Q: -- in a country that celebrates press freedom?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: As -- as you know, as you just stated, in your last part of your question to me, press freedom is something that's important. That's why we exercise in this back-and-forth that we do almost every day. It is important to have that. Your -- the press is going to have a moment to see the leaders. And I'll just leave it there.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. The President said yesterday that he was hoping executive action on the border would happen by itself, that Congress would legislate it. Can you just confirm for us that this indicates that he's no longer considering executive action on the border?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, the President has been very clear, and I've been very clear anytime I've [been] asked about executive actions here, we -- the bottom line -- the bottom line is: In order to have -- actually have change -- extensive change, real change, comprehensive change -- that Senate bill that was -- that was negotiated between Republicans and Sen- -- obviously, Democrats in the Senate would have been the best way to go.

It would have been the toughest, fairest piece of -- piece of legislation -- law, if you will -- if it had been -- if it had been moved and the President was able to sign it into law. And that's what's important.

The President is trying to make it very clear: No executive action would a- -- would have that effect -- the effect that this bipartisan negotiation would have had. And he's going to be optimistic. He wants to see it moved.

And let's not forget the reason why it was stopped, the reason that it didn't go forward, is because Republicans were told in Congress to reject it by the former President. That's what happened. They chose politics instead of a majority of the American people.

I do want to lay out here a couple of things. It would have meant more resources to secure the border: Border Patrol agents, immigration judges, asylum officers, and law enforcement personnel to combat fentanyl. That's what would have been. That is what's in that bipartisan negotiation, and so much more.

And they rejected it. Republicans rejected it because of politics.

But the President stands behind the majority of Americans who want to see change happen at the border, who wants to see our immigration system that's been broken for decades fixed.

Q: I understand his -- his preference to legislate. But the reason I'm asking is we've had conflicting answers over the span of a few weeks on whether --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't think we've had conflicting --

Q: From the President --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, we haven't

Q: -- on whether executive action was something he could do.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We haven't.

Q: He -- he first said that he had done everything he could with the stroke of a pen. Then, he said that there was more he could do but that you would prefer the Congress legislate this. And, you know, things were under consideration, potentially, for executive orders that would make changes to, you know, the border, who can who come across.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- so --

Q: And then, yesterday, it seemed like he said, "No, nothing is coming."

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. So, I -- I disagree. I think there are a couple of parts here. You're asking me if there's executive actions that we can take, and what we're saying is there are no executive actions that would have done the work or would have actually been able to deal with the issue that's happening at the border and starting to really fix the immigration system than the bipartisan bill that came out of the Senate that -- well, negotiation that came out of the Senate. And we are saying that that's the best way to go.

We are always looking at options. We have said this. We're always looking at ac- -- options -- executive actions, right? -- to see how to move forward.

But we believe -- fundamentally, we believe -- and it is proven by what is in that negotiation -- that the way to move forward is to actually move forward with what could have been a -- the toughest, fairest law that we've had in some time.

So, we're continuing to call for that. We always say --

Q: So, executive act- --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We always --

Q: -- orders aren't off the table?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- we always say that --

Q: I understand -- I understand what you -- what you're saying about the bill. I do. But yes or no: Is --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You're not -- I'm -- what I'm saying to you is that we always look at all our options. That's what I'm saying to you. But we are saying also -- is the only way to move forward to actually deal with this issue, the challenges that we're seeing, that Republicans rejected because of the last President -- because of Donald Trump -- is that negotiation bill, that bipartisan negotiation bill. That is the way to move forward here.

Are we always looking at options? Yes. But we haven't made a decision on that. That's the bottom line. We have not made a decision on that.

But we want to see this bipartisan Senate negotiation proposal move forward that Republicans are rejecting because of Donald Trump. They are putting politics -- politics ahead of what works for the American people, what the American people actually want to see.

Q: And very quickly on a different subject. Why was the President in that interview using the Gaza Ministry of Health, which is run by Hamas -- their numbers on the death toll in Gaza? It -- they -- there was a 30,000 figure that he cited on MSNBC. The last time he cited Hamas numbers, officials here dismissed it as a reference to publicly available data. But I would assume that the U.S. has its own assessment of what the death toll is.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We've been very clear here. We -- there are public available data that you all have -- you all also are taking a look at that we are citing as well. That's what we're talking about. That's what the President --

Q: We should use that number, too, then?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: You could use whatever you want. I'm just saying that --

Q: I'm asking you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: -- what we -- we have said -- we've been really clear: There are publicly available data that showed, sadly, how many -- how many deaths that we have seen in Gaza.

And the President has been very clear. There's too much. It's tragic. It's tragic what we're seeing. And the President's going to keep -- continue to speak to that.

Go ahead, Gabe.

Q: Hi, Karine. Quickly on SB4, the law in Texas that would allow local police to arrest migrants. Today, the Supreme Court extended the order blocking that until at least next week. Is the administration coming up with any contingency plans if that were to be able to go into effect? Or what's the latest on that from the White House's perspective?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to be super careful here and don't want to go beyond the Department of Justice. And so, I'm just going to be super, super mindful.

I don't have anything else beyond that. I don't have a contingency plan to announce at this time. So, just want to be super mindful there.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. I wanted to first ask you about a Politico report that described a toxic culture, including verbal harassment, by a former aide at the White House advance team. The story said that things have gotten so bad that the White House Counsel's Office had opened an investigation. Just wondering what you can tell us about that and also whether the President was aware of any of these issues.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, a couple of things.

As to your -- to your question about investigation. Going to be really careful here. I'm not going to comment on a personnel -- personnel matters one way or -- or the other, on the investigation part.

On the top -- on the top of your question, I'll say this. So, the President is deeply proud of his advance team, its leadership, and Ryan Montoya -- who is a stand-up, dedicated group -- a stand-up, dedicated group whose expertise, camaraderie, and professionalism have been critical to his 242 domestic and 31 international trips -- flawlessly executing events in unprecedented environments, ranging from multiple active warzones outside of American control to a once-in-a-century pandemic.

So, he's grateful to everyone who has served and is serving on it -- on an unmatched team that represents the diversity of the country as they have fought every day to help him bring his message to the American people and to the entire world.

So, you know, I'll just leave it there from -- for now. I'll just leave it there.

Q: And can you say whether the President has been made aware of any potential issues?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: The President is aware. I mean, I just laid out how -- how the President feels about his team and everyone who has worked for him -- everybody who has worked for him.

Q: Okay. And, I guess, a follow-up to Ed's question. On a serious note.


Q: I mean, I'm just asking this seriously. I'm curious. Does the President have any thoughts on the controversy surrounding Kate Middleton? Is it something that he's been following? Do you know if he is worried about her?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- I think when we originally heard about the -- her health situation. Obviously, we offer -- offer her a speedy recovery. I don't have anything else to add beyond that. We -- you know, we ho- -- offer her a speedy recovery.

And I'm just going to leave it there. I don't have anything else to share. I have not spoken to the President about -- about this. But that's something that I can for surely say.

MS. DALTON: Karine, you've got to --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

MS. DALTON: -- wrap it up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Can you give a preview of the President's trip that he's taking this week to the Midwest -- to Michigan and Wisconsin?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I shared a preview at the top. This is part of the President's busy travel that he is un- -- obviously, he is undertaking as we just laid out his State of the Union. So, it's not unusual. Presidents go out there after giving a successful speech.

And he's going to talk directly to the American people. He's going to share how his administration investments are rebuilding our communities and creating good-paying jobs. And, as you know, in the State of the Union, his policies have attracted $650 billion in private sector investment in clean energy, advanced manufacturing, which creates tens of thousands of jobs here in America. Let's not forget the 46,000 projects that are ongoing that's coming out of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

So, he's very -- very much looking forward to going -- being out in Milwaukee, speaking directly to the -- the American people, talking about his investment in America and how he's delivering on the needs that the Americans have, especially as we talk about an economy -- building economy from the mo- -- the bottom up, middle out.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'll take one more.

Q: This is -- just one last thing, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, April.

Q: This -- this related to -- to relate to that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I -- we just got pulled. So, go ahead.

Q: Marcia Fudge --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm being pulled. Go ahead.

Q: Marcia Fudge is leaving --


Q: -- as HUD secretary. The President really was excited and exuberant that she accepted his nomination to be HUD Secretary. What does he feel about her leaving in this moment?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, we -- the -- we announced that the Secretary is going to be leaving at the end of the month and is going to spend some more time with her family. Obviously, the department could speak more to that.

She has been a tr- -- tremendously important. Her work at -- at HUD has been important as we talk about the President's economy, the President's housing policy he just announced a couple of days ago on how he's going to move forward to make sure that -- to make sure that we deal with one of the issues that matter to the American people -- right? -- housing, lowering costs. What else can the federal government do to -- to make that happen?

And so, look, her role has been instrumental. The President could not have been able to deliver in a way that he has on the economy without her. And the last three years, the ambitious housing agenda that we've been able to deliver, including that you -- you've heard him talk about in the State of the Union would not have been ha- -- would not have been able to happen without her leadership.

So, we are sad to see her go. And we are very much appreciative of the work that she's done as Secretary over the last three years.

Q: Are you anticipating them to still continue to talk about issues of housing and economy? I mean, she goes beyond that. She was a former congressperson. Now that she's no -- well, at the end of the month, she will no longer be HUD Secretary. Do you believe that she will be a consultant -- I guess, as the White House says, for those who are not Cabinet members, a "kitchen cabinet" member now? Is she now falling into that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So -- so, look, I can't speak to what she's going to be doing next. I can't speak to that. She would have to speak to -- to herself -- obviously, for that for herself.

Obviously, her -- you know, her -- her advice, her leadership has been incredibly important to the President. You know, will that continue? Potentially, possibly. They have a relationship, obviously.

And so, I just don't have anything to share about what it's going to look like next for her. But she is leaving to spend more time with her family.

As you know, those types of decisions are incredibly personal and difficult to make. I'm sure that was not easy for her to make that decision. But we have been truly honored to have her part of this team for the last three years. We've had a ambitious, ambitious housing agenda that she has led and has made Americans' lives just a little bit better.

And so, obviously, there's more work to be done, as the President stated in the State of the Union just last week. And so, we are -- very much have complete confidence in the leadership at HUD to continue those efforts.

Thanks, everybody. Bye, everybody.

2:47 P.M. EDT

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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