Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby

June 05, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:12 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi. Good afternoon, everyone.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, with all of the foreign policy news happening this mor- -- this morning, or throughout the day, we wanted to have Admiral Kirby join us in the briefing room to take some of your question.

And as you know, the Denmark Prime Minister is here with -- meeting with the President currently, doing a bilat. So, he'll give a preview of that. And as you also know and are tracking, the UK Prime Minister, Sunak, will be here on Thursday as well.

And the Admiral can take any questions that you all have with the busy foreign policy news.

All right. The floor is yours.

MR. KIRBY: How you all doing today?

So, as Karine said, this afternoon, the President is meeting with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark. That meeting just started, and it's really designed to help strengthen the deep and enduring ties between the United States and Denmark. This is a visit that the President has been looking forward to for quite some time, and there's a -- a pretty fully agenda.

Obviously, they're going to review our efforts as NATO Allies and close partners to strengthen transatlantic security, bolster economic prosperity. They're also certainly going to discuss our unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's brutal aggression. And in that context, I think you can certainly expect that they'll raise the issue of the F-16s and the mutual consortium that we have put together to try to advance some -- as an initial step anyway -- training of Ukrainian pilots.

And, of course, they'll coordinate on a range of other issues, including energy security, climate change, and other global issues that, of course, we'll have a readout for you when it's -- when it's over.

I'd also just like to highlight, quickly, as you've from the Departments of Treasury and State, the United States is now taking additional action to combat Russia's malign influence in Moldova.

The individuals that were designated today were part of a plot to capitalize on protests in Chisinau to -- that were designed to seize the Moldovan Government House and conduct an opposition meeting.

These actors provoked, trained, and oversaw groups in democratic countries that conduct anti-government protests, rallies, marches, demonstrations.

And the U.S. government is going to continue to support the Moldovan government and their people in their efforts to combat coercive activities that undermine democracy there.

With that --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. Go ahead, Ed. Welcome back. I haven't seen you in a while.

Q: Good to see you. John, good to see you.

In the span of a week, we've now had two close encounters -- one at sea, one in the air -- with the Chinese military. Are these isolated incidents, or is China becoming more aggressive?

MR. KIRBY: Sadly, Ed, these are part and parcel of an increasing level of aggressiveness by the PLA, the PRC's military, and particularly in the area of the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea. One -- the air -- air intercept was over the South China Sea, and the maritime intercept that you talk about was in the Straits.

And, sadly, this is just part, again, of a growing aggressiveness by the PRC that we're -- that we're dealing with, and we're prepared to address it. You heard Secretary Austin speak to that out at the Shangri-La Dialogue just this past weekend. And we're going to continue to keep the lines open with the Chinese to make it clear how unacceptable those particular intercepts are.

Q: There was that handshake at the Shangri-La conference. Has there been any other conversation between U.S. and Chinese officials (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I think you know we have two officials in Beijing right now. The senior director for China, Sarah Beran, here, and Dan Kritenbrink from the State Department are in Beijing as we speak.

Q: I know you have to be very careful about the words you choose, but what is -- in describing this -- but what is the best way to describe what China is doing in the air and on the seas?

MR. KIRBY: I'll try to give you an answer, but I sure would like to hear Beijing justify what they're doing.

That said, these are intercepts. Now, look, air and maritime intercepts happen all the time. Heck, we do it. The difference is, when we do it, when we feel like we need to do it, it's done professionally, and it's done inside the -- the inter- -- international law, and it's done in accordance with the rules of the road.

These two that you saw recently -- and there's -- they happen -- they have happened with more frequency than we'd like. Not all of them are unsafe and unprofessional, but these two were.

You saw on the air intercept that they forced our -- our aircraft -- an RC-135 -- to basically go through their jet wash. That -- that -- you saw the bump in the cockpit. That shows you how close that Chinese fighter was to our jet.

And in the -- in the maritime intercept in the Taiwan Strait, it's 150, 140, 150 yards. Speaking as an old sailor myself, I'll tell you, that's pretty close when you're -- when you're in open waters like that. And you can see the head of steam that that -- that that Chinese vessel had on it as it crossed the bow of one of our destroyers. No call for that. It's unsafe. It's unprofessional.

And as to why they're doing it, I think, again -- I think that's a great question to ask them. What I would tell you from our perspective is: We're flying, we're sailing, we're operating in international airspace and international waters, and both of those incidents were in com- -- in complete compliance with international law. There was absolutely no need for the PLA to act as aggressively as they did.

It won't be long before somebody gets hurt. That's the -- that's the concern with these unsafe and unprofessional intercepts. They can lead to misunderstandings; they can lead to miscalculations.

When you have pieces of metal that size, whether it's in the air or on the sea and they're operating that close together, it wouldn't take much for an error in judgment or a mistake to get made, and somebody could get hurt. And that's just got to be unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to them as well.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jacqui.

Q: Thanks, Karine. John, you just said that this was a -- these two incidents are part of a pattern of increasing level --

MR. KIRBY: That's right.

Q: -- of aggressiveness. So why was it appropriate to send two senior officials to visit China on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre?

MR. KIRBY: A couple of things. First of all, it wasn't timed to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square. Number two, it wasn't timed specifically to deal with these intercepts. You can imagine a trip to Beijing by U.S. officials takes some time to plan, so it wasn't timed to these events.

That said, both these U.S. officials used the opportunity to raise our concern over these two intercepts that I just talked to Ed about. Absolutely raised the concerns that we had.

Now, we had raised those concerns through our embassy as well, so this wasn't a new message that the Chinese were hearing.

But I think you can also understand, Jacqui, that particularly when times are tense, particularly when there's a risk of miscalculation, and particularly when the PLA is acting as aggressively as it is with no reason whatsoever, that's the time that you want to be able to have a conversation, whether that conversation is over the phone or face to face.

Now, this visit was very much in keeping with our larger, longer efforts to keep the lines of communication with the PRC open. And we'll see where this goes after that.

Q: There's been some criticism, though, of the administration for sending officials on that anniversary. Was that decision a messaging misstep?

MR. KIRBY: We would not call it a misstep. I mean, this was a -- a long-planned trip. And this is the way the schedules worked out. But the -- I think, honestly, people will be -- criticizing the timing of Tiananmen Square are just making a whole heck of a lot out of nothing.

It wasn't timed to do -- to do anything with -- with the anniversary. And again, both these officials were nothing but candid and direct about our concerns, particularly over the intercepts. And of course, they brought up issues of human rights as well, as we always do.

It's important to have these communication vehicles open. It's important to be able to have those kinds of conversations. And I think we're a whole lot less worried about the date on the calendar than we are about what's on the agenda when we start talking to them.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Terry.

Q: Aside from expressing verbal concerns and communicating with Beijing our displeasure with this, is the United States kind of letting any kind of response to back China down from its increased aggressiveness?

MR. KIRBY: We have continued to convey that message to them. I mean, obviously, we're not in control of their military and their military assets or their military leaders. They -- we urge them to make better decisions about how they operate in international airspace and sea space.

Whether they acknowledge those rules of the road or not, they are the rules of the road. And for a nation like China that continous- -- continuously touts international law and sovereignty and territorial integrity, you would think that they would understand when a vessel or an aircraft is operating, in fact, in international airspace and sea space. We're going to keep standing up for those rules of the road. We're going keep standing up for that international law.

And as I said earlier, we're going to keep flying, we're going to keep sailing, we're going to keep operating where international law allows us to. It's an important concept, freedom of navigation -- whether it's in the air or on the sea. It's an important concept that the United States is going to continue to stand up for.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Darlene.

Q: Thank you. On Ukraine, what is your understanding of whether the counteroffensive has begun? Has it begun?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to be talking for the Ukrainian military. That's for them to speak to. And I think you heard them say earlier today that they -- that they're conducting some offensive operations. But I won't go beyond that. That's for them to speak to.

What I can speak to is how hard we work to prepare them to be ready. So whether it's starting now or starting soon, or whenever they decide to step off and whatever they decide to do, the President is confident that we did everything we could over the last six, eight months or more to make sure that they had all the equipment, the training, the capabilities to be successful.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jenny.

Q: Thanks. Back to China. Do you think, though, all of these incidents are sort of an effort to intimidate or impact other channels of communication that you are trying to keep open? Or do you see them compartmentalizing the military sort of realm from you guys trying to send Blinken over there and Yellen over there and Raimondo?

MR. KIRBY: It's difficult to know for sure, Jenny. I mean, obviously, when you fly and sail as aggressively -- and you saw the video for yourself; I mean, you don't need me to tell you how aggressive it was -- you're trying to send some kind of a measure -- a message. At the very least, it's -- it's a statement of some sort of displeasure about our presence in that part of the world.

But as the President said very clearly in Hiroshima, we are a Pacific power; we're not going anywhere. We've got serious commitments in that part of the world. Five of our seven treaty alliances are in the Indo-Pacific. The vast majority of international economic trade flows through the Indo-Pacific. We've got real needs there, and we're going to stay there. And we're going to continue to strengthen and revitalize those alliances and partnerships.

So, again, I can't speak for the PRC. Wouldn't do it. But if the message that they're trying to send is that we're not welcome or -- or our presence needs to be diminished, or they want us to stop flying and sailing and operating in support of international law: not going to happen.

Q: Would you say though, as this is going on, that you're continuing to make progress in setting up these visits for Secretaries Blinken, Yellen, and Raimondo?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I think the fact that we were able to get two officials there -- to Beijing here -- while we're talking is a good sign. We want to keep those lines open. It's important, especially, as I said, now.

So, in general, without predicting what the next visit is going to be or by whom or when: Yes, we are feeling like we are making progress in terms of opening up additional lines of communication.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Janne.

Q: Thank you. Thank you, Karine. And thank you, John. I have two questions. National Security Advisor Sullivan said last weekend that the United States proposed a talk with China and Russia for nuclear disarmament. As you know, North Korea has nuclear weapons, whether we (inaudible) it or not. Do you think nuclear disarmament -- the talk with North Korea are possibility of resolve the North Korean nuclear issues? Or will you continue to wait for the talks with the North Koreans?

MR. KIRBY: It's not about waiting, Janne. We have made it clear to Kim Jong Un and the regime in Pyongyang that we're willing to sit down without preconditions to talk about the denuclearization of the Peninsula. That hasn't changed. We're not -- it's not about waiting. We continue to send that message.

What we haven't gotten is any indication from Pyongyang that they're willing to engage in those kinds of talks, but the offer still stands.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Andrea.

Q: Yeah. John, I just want to ask -- go back on the China question. Is there some possibility of sequencing the visits differently? So, Secretary Yellen has talked about sequencing being an issue, which sort of implied that, you know, perhaps Blinken should go first. But given the challenges and the sort of political and -- realm and the military realm, does it make sense to foreground the economic visits first and have the economic team go first in terms of visiting?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, that -- that -- that's putting that cart way ahead of the horse right now.

I think we're glad that we were able to get this visit in Beijing, and we'll see what they come back with.

I mean, clearly, one of the goals was to advance the communication with the PRC and see what we can do to get these higher-level visits in play. We're just not there yet to talk about sequencing or specific scheduling. But, you know, look, we're hopeful, and we'll see what they come back with and what we're able to talk about.


Q: On the NATO, John -- can I just --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Inaudible.)

Q: On the NATO Secretary General succession thing: This is an issue. Do you know whether the President intended to speak with the Danish Prime Minister about that today and whether he has any thoughts about the importance of having a woman lead NATO for the first time?

MR. KIRBY: That is not the purpose for the trip, not the purpose for the conversation. I sort of detailed in my opening statement what they're really going to focus on.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Asma.

Q: If I can shift gears to two different topics. One is, how do you all interpret Saudi Arabia's decision to unilaterally cut oil production?

MR. KIRBY: We'll let them speak for their decision to cut production. What we're going to stay focused on is making sure that there's a balance between supply and demand.

You see the price of oil was not dramatically affected by this announcement of these additional cuts, and the price of gasoline continues to come down.

So the President is going to stay focused on what's best for the American people, what's best for our economy, and making sure that we're -- that we're looking after those needs. And we'll let the Saudi Arabians speak for themselves in terms of this decision to cut.

Q: And then, on a separate topic, I also wanted to ask you about another visit from a foreign leader coming up later this month: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q: I know you will have made a very large focus in this administration on the divide between autocracies and democracies, and there have been questions about the health of India's democracy under Narendra Modi. I wanted you to articulate why have the invitation for the state dinner. And then I have a follow-up (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: India is a strong partner on very, very many levels with the United States. You saw that, in Shangri-La, Secretary Austin announced some additional defense cooperation now that we're going to pursue with India. Of course, there's an awful lot of economic trade between our two countries. India is a member of the Pacific Quad and a key friend and partner with respect to Indo-Pacific security.

I could go on and on and on. There's -- there's innumerable reasons why India certainly matters not just bilaterally between the two of our nations, but multilaterally on very many levels. And the President is looking forward very much to having Prime Minister Modi here to talk about all those issues and to advance and deepen that partnership and that friendship.

Q: And then, the follow is: Is this administration at all concerned about the health of democracy in India?

MR. KIRBY: India is a vibrant democracy. Any -- anybody that, you know, happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. And certainly, I would expect that the strength and health of democratic institutions will be part of the discussion.

And, look, we never shy away -- and you can do that with friends; you're supposed to do that with friends -- you never shy away from expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world.

But this visit is really about advancing what is now and what we hope will be a deeper, stronger partnership and friendship going forward.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Kelly O, go ahead.

Q: John, with Ukraine being an important topic this week, with the Prime Minister today, and the UK here this week, when you consider the President's investment -- the United States and allies' investment in Ukraine -- does the President want to see Ukraine adhere to some of the President's wishes with respect to aggressive moves within Russia, with reports of the covert action on the part of Ukraine having an ability to act inside Russia?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I can tell you the Ukrainians have already spoken to some of these, quote, unquote, "raids" and in -- I know then denied participation in them. So I'll let them speak to that.

What I can say, Kelly, and we've said this before: We don't encourage, we don't enable, and we don't support strikes or attacks inside Russia.

Our effort -- and we have been exceedingly plain about this with the Ukrainians -- our effort is to support them in their self-defense, in defending their territory, their sovereignty. That's what's been violated here by Mr. Putin and Russia. And that's what we're helping them get back: their independence, their territorial integrity. And that's -- and that's where the focus is.

And I'm not telling you anything here in this briefing room that we haven't said privately to the Ukrainians in terms of expressing our concerns about that.

They know -- they know our concerns. They have provided us, all the way up to President Zelenskyy, assurances that they will respect those concerns.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Emel.

Q: Thank you. Thank you, John. I hope you can clarify one thing. On Taiwan: President Biden, in Japan, during news conference, when asked about Taiwan, he said that there is a clear understanding among most of its -- our -- our allies that if China were to act unilaterally, there will be a response.

What did he say? What did he mean by response? Was that sanctions? Did he mean unilateral -- sorry, military intervention?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I'm not going to go beyond what the President said. He has said that before, that we don't want to see the status quo changed unilaterally. We certainly don't want to see it changed by force.

And the other thing the President said, and he said a gazillion times, is there is no reason for it to, because nothing has changed about our One China policy. We don't support independence for Taiwan.

Now, we obviously do support their self-defense capabilities, and we'll continue to do that.

But there's no reason for this tension in the Taiwan Strait to devolve into any kind of conflict.


Q: Thanks. Hey, John. I understand that you don't want to characterize whether or not we're witnessing the beginning of this counteroffensive --

MR. KIRBY: That's right. I don't.

Q: But is this within the timeframe of when Ukrainian officials told Americans that they could potentially begin a counteroffensive? Are -- are we within that timeframe?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I'm just not going to go there, Jeremy.

I mean, they -- they need to have the right and the responsibility to speak for their own military operations and -- and how they're conducting them and where and when.

And I -- I just -- it wouldn't be appropriate for us to speak to that.

Q: Okay. And, secondly, President Zelenskyy told the Wall Street Journal that he needs more Patriot missile batteries and air defense to protect both the civilians in Ukrainian cities, as well as frontline troops, from Russian airpower. Is the U.S. in the process of identifying additional Patriot batteries that they could potentially send or additional air defense? Could we see some of that (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: What I would tell you is we've been prioritizing air defense now for many, many months. And in this last package, one I think we just talked about last week, there were additional interceptor missiles.

So, without getting ahead of announcements to come, I can assure you that air defense remains top on the list of the kinds of capabilities that we're going to continue to make sure Ukraine has.

Q: Are Patriot batteries -- and I know that those are tough, because they're fairly scarce. So is that a possibility?

MR. KIRBY: They are. There's not a lot of them, either in our inventory or the inventory of -- of nations that have purchased them.

But, again, I don't want to get ahead of where we are.

We know air defense is a priority. And we know how well the Patriots have been performing inside Ukraine, which is, again, why we provided some additional interceptor missiles last week.

All I can tell you is that we're going to prioritize it going forward, and I just don't want to get ahead of announcements.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Steven. And then we'll go to the back.

Q: Thanks. John, if I could ask you about the NORAD intercept yesterday.

MR. KIRBY: Yes, sir.

Q: If you could help us understand: There was a period of time yesterday where it wasn't clear what was going on. We think we have a sense of what happened -- a tragic incident.

But can you walk us through, maybe give us a tick-tock of NSC involvement in this? And was there a point at which yesterday the Commander-in-Chief was informed that there was a wayward plane headed for Washington and might have heeded --

MR. KIRBY: Well, the President was certainly briefed and informed.

I don't have, like, the -- I would -- I should have brought it with me. I don't have, like, an exact tick-tock, minute-by-minute. But I can walk you through a little bit of how it transpired and the process.

Before I do that, though, I -- I do want to express our deepest condolences to the family members, the loved ones of those who died in that crash. Just -- just terrible. Terrible news. Nobody wants to get that. And we need to keep them front and center as we talk about this.

But this is part of -- you might remember after 9/11, Operation Noble Eagle was stood up. And it's a -- it's an organized, operational way of policing airspace, particularly sensitive airspace, over the United States in the wake of 9/11.

And so there are -- there are Noble Eagle-like incidents that happen from time to time where private aircraft wander into secure airspace, and we have to notify them to -- to leave.

And 99 times out of 100, that's all it takes, is a quick call on the radio, "Hey, you're -- you're getting into some airspace you don't -- you don't need to be in." And -- and usually that takes care of it.

But under this process, if an aircraft -- if a pilot is nonresponsive to those requests and continues on course and speed and altitude to enter restricted airspace, then there are -- under NORAD's authorities, there are the responsibilities to put aircraft up to -- to, again, send the message and -- and get -- and get a different outcome.

And that's what happened here. Six F-16s from three different air bases on the East Coast -- certainly, Joint Base Andrews was one of those three. Launched -- launched into the air six F-16s. Three air bases launched to intercept this particular Cessna cite- -- citation.

As I understand it, the -- the two from Andrews were the first ones to reach the Cessna.

And they had to -- they had to turn on the speed to get to them, which is why people here in the District area heard a sonic boom. The -- they had to break the sound barrier to get up to speed to get -- to get to the -- to the aircraft in question.

When they did, they -- they did exactly what they're supposed to do: try to get on the radio, communicate to the -- to the -- to the pilot. That wasn't working. Made themselves visible; that didn't work.

And tragically, it ended, obviously, in -- in the crash and the death of all on board.

But throughout that process, there's a conference call that's set up when you have a Noble Eagle incident, where NORAD is on the phone, DOD is on the phone, NSC was on -- on the phone in real time, monitoring it, and getting real-time updates from the pilots -- in this case, these two F-16 pilots -- and so that -- so that everybody is in the loop, literally in real time. And that's what happened yesterday.

And, again, at the appropriate time, the President was -- was briefed and kept informed.

Q: Was he informed while he was at JBA? Or did -- was it after --

MR. KIRBY: I honestly don't know the exact moment at which the President was informed, but he was briefed on -- on the incident.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Jon, in the back.

Q: Thank you, Karine. Thank you, John. I wanted to ask you, going back to the China question and the various episodes which have occurred over the course of the past few weeks involving China's military and our military: At what point does the President pick up the phone, reach out directly with President Xi, and say, "Enough. You can't continue these episodes"? For all the reasons that you talked about earlier, at what point does the President himself get involved in this?

MR. KIRBY: We have sent that message directly to the PRC, as I said earlier, through various vehicles, including the conversations that these two officials, one from the NSC and one from the State Department, are having in Beijing as we speak.

The President will have another conversation with President Xi, and he'll do it at the appropriate time.

And I'm sure that when he does, he'll be just as candid with President Xi then as he has been in the past in terms of our -- our concerns, the challenges in this bilateral relationship, but also about the opportunities that still remain and we want to continue to pursue.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Right behind you. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you. Just a follow-up question on China. We are getting a feel -- we're getting mixed messages from China that while Secretary of Defense Austin is not being able to meet his counterpart in Singapore, and yet Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary, is visiting China.

So, do -- my question is: Do you think it's more difficult to establish communication channel, military-military communication, rather than diplomatic?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, that's -- has proven more difficult. Sure.

I mean, go back in time to when then-Speaker Pelosi visited Taiwan. The Chinese, in retribution for that, shut down some lines of communication, and one of them was the mil-to-mil line. And that's still not open.

In fact, that's one of the reasons why we want to get Secretary Blinken back over to Beijing, because that was part of -- his -- his task was to see if he can't open up some of those lines.

Now, it shouldn't take the Secretary of State to fly to Beijing to do that, but I know he's willing to if -- if needed.

Secretary Austin has, on his -- for his own part, tried to get those military-to-military lines back open for himself. And we have been unsuccessful. And that's unfortunate, particularly because while we spent the first 10 minutes in this press conference talking about these two dangerous, unsafe, unprofessional intercepts.

It's exactly because of that you want to be able to have open lines of communication in the military channel.

So, yes, it has been more difficult, and we hope that that can change.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Sebastian.

Q: Thanks. Hi, Admiral. Could you give us a little more preview on Rishi Sunak's visit? And apparently, he is also pressing for his candidate for NATO Secretary General. So, I mean, he's apparently actually going to bring it up. So what do you have to say about that? Ben Wallace -- does that sound good to you?

MR. KIRBY: I'll let Prime Minister Sunak speak to what he intends to raise with -- with the President. The President is very much looking forward to this visit as well. I mean, obviously, the United Kingdom is a strong, strong ally and terrific friend on so many fronts. I have absolutely zero doubt that the war in Ukraine will be a prime issue of discussion. And the Brits have been right there, literally at the -- at the fore in terms of -- in terms of helping Ukraine for the last 15 months. And I have no doubt that they'll talk about ways in which we can work together going forward for the future.

I just don't have anything on the next NATO Sec Gen to speak to. The President hasn't made a decision about who the United States would support, and I certainly don't want to get out ahead of him on that.

I will say, while I've got the chance, that -- that the President remains very grateful and appreciative of the leadership of Jens Stoltenberg as Secretary General. He's been extended, what, two or three times, I think? And he's just done a masterful job, particularly when you look at what the Alliance has been able to do unilaterally, sometimes bilaterally, in terms of supporting Ukraine.

So an awful lot of NATO business to be done. And I have -- I'm sure that they'll discuss a whole range of those issues. But I -- I don't want to get ahead of that discussion.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Catherine. Then I'll go to the back.

Q: Thanks, Admiral. On the sonic boom situation, was there any effort yesterday to evacuate the White House or the Vice President's Residence as this plane crossed through the airspace? And if not, why not?

MR. KIRBY: I'm going to let the Secret Service talk about security here at the White House. That's not something for me to tackle.

Q: Is there any review now of how this was handled, if the response was appropriate, you know, given the risks?

MR. KIRBY: I refer you to DOD to talk to whatever after-action they might do. It's not uncommon after any operation for the military to take a look at how it performed.

Having observed this myself for many years, what I saw was just a classic, textbook response to, in this case, what was an unresponsive pilot, an aircraft, again, with a completely tragic outcome.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Anita.

Q: Thank you so much, John. On Iran: Iran is reopening its embassy in Saudi Arabia after a seven-year break, and it was a Chinese-brokered deal. I just wanted to get the U.S.'s assessment on what this could mean, what the implications are. Will this help the security situation in the Persian Gulf or the Strait of Hormuz? Will the U.S. decrease its maritime presence in that area? And how could this affect the Abraham Accords?

MR. KIRBY: Which one of those seven do you want me to take first?

Q: All of them, please.

MR. KIRBY: Look, we'll let the -- we'll let the Iranians and the Saudis speak more specifically to this.

What I would say just in general is we support more integration, more dialogue, and more transparency throughout the res- -- region. And if the Iranians opening up an embassy in Riyadh can help increase transparency of what they're doing and why, if it can de-escalate tensions, if it can lead to a reduction in their destabilizing behavior, including intercepting maritime shipping as they attempted to do over the last several days in the Strait of Hormuz, then all that's to the positive.


Q: Thanks. Two questions on Ukraine, if I can. To follow up on Jeremy's question, in that Wall Street Journal interview, Zelenskyy also said that Russia's dominance of the skies over the battle zone will mean many Ukrainian soldiers will die in the counteroffensive. Does the White House agree with that assessment that he gave?

MR. KIRBY: I certainly wouldn't think that it would be appropriate for us to -- to lend veracity to estimates by the Ukrainian military in terms of the -- what casualties they might take. That's really for them to speak to.

Again, bear with me, because I know this is going to sound like I've said this a gazillion times, but we have done everything we can to make them ready. And we- -- and that's not just about weapons systems, it's about training and how to use it. And more critically, it's about how to integrate those capabilities on the battlefield in what we call combined arms maneuver, which is what they believe they're going to need to execute to be able to conduct successful counteroffensive ground operations. And we have really done a lot to help get them ready for that.

But as to how many casualties they might take, I think that's really -- certainly nothing we would speculate on. And in war, those things are unpredictable, and it's -- a lot of it's going to depend on how and where they conduct these operations and what kind of resistance they face from Russian forces.

Q: And on the second one, can you give your assessment, the administration's assessment on how significant the recent and ongoing gains are by Ukraine around the city of Bakhmut?

MR. KIRBY: I -- I would just tell you that -- again, I don't want to -- I don't want to armchair this thing, you know, day by day. There have -- there has been continued vicious fighting in the Donbas area. Certainly Bakhmut did not see much of a reprise of the -- of the violence. The Ukrainians have been fighting bravely for Bakhmut. Even as they withdrew forces, they still stayed in the vicinity of Bakhmut.

I'll let them speak to the reasons why that's important and why they're conducting those operations the way that they are. Again, our focus is on just making sure that they're ready.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Rob.

Q: Thank you. There was Microsoft Outlook outage this morning. Is the NSC monitoring any reports of foul play involved?

MR. KIRBY: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: And I asked last week about Mauritius. I wonder if you had a chance --

MR. KIRBY: (Laughs.)

Q: -- to read -- (laughs) -- read up on it. I mean, it --

MR. KIRBY: You know what, there was a second -- there was a second today where I'm thinking, "I wonder if I should make myself ready on Mauritius." And then I thought, "Nah, there's, like, no way that question is going to come up again." (Laughter.)

So I do not have an answer for you, brother. I'm sorry. I'll have to get -- I'll have to get back to you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

MR. KIRBY: Man! (Laughter.)

Q: Thank you.

Q: On Saudi Arabia -- again, on the decision to cut production -- was that -- any advance notice given to the administration on sort of what their thinking was on that? And I guess more broadly, what you can share as to how it plays into this sort of ongoing review of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

MR. KIRBY: I know of no advance notice, nor would there need to be. I mean, that's not a -- you know, that was a unilateral decision by a sovereign state, so I'll let them speak to that.

And we've talked about this relationship before. I mean, as I said I think a few weeks ago, there's going to be issues where we don't agree with Saudi Arabia, and we have the kind of relationship that we can express those concerns directly, and we do all -- all the time. But we're focused on the future.

Saudi Arabia is still a strategic partner, has been for eight decades, will be for the next eight decades. And we're managing that relationship going forward. That's what our focus is on.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: A couple more. James.

Q: Thank you very much, Karine, as always. Admiral, thank you. I want to ask one question about Ukraine's strategy and one question about the series of national security leaks that were first detected in early April, if I may.

On Ukraine, I wonder if you could explain a little more why it is that the United States urges Ukraine against the conduct of cross-border operations. Wouldn't it be the swiftest way to bring this war to a conclusion if Russia were made to feel even a fraction of the kind of pain that it has inflicted on Ukrainian territory?

MR. KIRBY: We have been pretty consistent about -- about this, James. We don't --

Q: I want the rationale, is what I'm asking.

MR. KIRBY: We've been consistent about the rationale too.

I think we can all agree, no matter where you stand on the war in Ukraine, that having it -- having it escalate to be exactly what Putin has claimed it to be from the beginning -- a fight against the West versus Russia, or United States versus Russia, or NATO versus Russia -- is not good for anybody. It's certainly not good for the Ukrainian people. It's not good for our European allies and partners. It's not good for the Russian people.

So we don't want to see this war escalate beyond the degree that it's escalated before. And that's been our justification since the very beginning.

Q: On the national security leaks, I wonder if you have today any better sense of how damaging to national security they were. I ask this because I was struck by the divergence, if you will, in your comments and those from President Biden on the subject.

You came to this room, and you pleaded with all of us not to publish this material even if we came into possession of it, presumably because of the damage it would cause. In fact, even in court filings in the ongoing prosecution, federal prosecutors are referring to the great damage caused and the potential for greater damage. And yet we saw President Biden say that there was nothing of great consequence in these leaks. How could that be true?

MR. KIRBY: Both are true. That -- first of all, when I -- we made those comments, it was at the very beginning of these disclosures. We didn't know the full scope of what was out there. We didn't know what hadn't -- hadn't been made public yet, and the classification on a lot of this intelligence gave us proper pause for concern.

And I still would make the same point I made before: We would urge you not to publish this material. We don't think that this pub- -- this material belongs in the public domain.

That said, the more we have come to learn over time -- and this is what the President was referring to -- is that much of the information that's out there -- and I say this with the caveat, James, that I still don't think we know for sure that there isn't more coming -- but what we've seen thus far, now weeks afterward, it's -- it's a snapshot in time, a very distinct period of time -- six, eight weeks' worth. And certainly events and follow-on intelligence assessments have simply moved on from where those assessments were, or those ones that were -- that were published.

The other thing I'd say is that many of them were based on unfinished intelligence. It's no different than, in many ways, the way you guys do your job. When you -- when you get a source that tells you something, you do the right thing, and you follow it up and you check it with two or three other sources until you triangulate yourselves and get where you're comfortable with what you've got. Right? A lot of that information was based on -- on early reporting that had not been corroborated.

Q: How can you tell us that you are not sure that there isn't more material coming? You have not turned off this spigot even with the arrest of this airman?

MR. KIRBY: Look, I -- what I can tell you is: We can't say definitively that there couldn't be more documents out there, James. I wish we could have a different answer to your question. But -- but that's the honest answer.

Now, we don't -- we haven't seen many more disclosures in recent weeks, so that's a positive, but it's not like we're going to go whistling past the graveyard and just say, "Okay, we're done." I mean, we're going to keep looking.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: A couple more. Go ahead, Diana.

Q: Okay, one question on the House Oversight investigation, please. As you know, on May 10th, they issued a report showing that the Biden family allegedly funneled $10 million into their bank accounts while Joe Biden was Vice President. Members of the committee have said there may be several national security concerns at hand here with their alleged ties to the foreign countries.

Admiral, have you read the report yourself? And do you personally think that there are any national security concerns here?

MR. KIRBY: No and no.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.

Q: Thank you, Karine. So nice of you. In a letter to the President, six congressmen requested urgent action to stop human rights abuse by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Also urged President Biden for measures, including stricter individual sanction, and to give the people of Bangladesh the best possible chance for a free and fair parliamentary election. What is your response about these --

MR. KIRBY: Look --

Q: -- lawmakers' recent letter to the President?

MR. KIRBY: Look, we've been consistent, and I'm aware of the communication. We've been consistent on the need for Bangladesh to hold free and fair elections. And to demonstrate that commitment, the State Department, as you know, recently announced a 3C visa policy that would restrict visa issuances to individuals who undermine Bangladesh's elections.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay, Andrew, last question.

Q: Thank you, Karine. John, a few weeks ago, I asked you about the case of a former Afghan Air Force pilot who is facing deportation from the UK to Rwanda. He had also requested aid from the U.S. You said you'd look into it. Thank you for that.

Now, the Air Force is -- is not apparently cooperating and making some of the officers who work with him available to at least speak with us, in part because -- I'm quoting from an e-mail here -- "the publicity may invite more requests for support." Now, you previously said that the U.S. government wants any former Afghan servicemen who served alongside U.S. and British forces to request support to come to the U.S. to get asylum.

Has there been a policy change? Do we no longer want requests for support from publicity in cases such as these?

MR. KIRBY: Well, without confirming the Air Force's response, which I had not seen, the short answer to your question --

Q: (Inaudible.)

MR. KIRBY: No, I'm not -- I'm not questioning it. I'm just saying I haven't seen it. And without seeing it, I won't speak to it. But the short answer to your question is no, there's no b- -- no -- no policy.

We continue to want to see our Afghan allies get out, be able to have a life of freedom. And, certainly, if they want that life here in the United States, we're still willing and able to te- -- provide it to them.

No, there's been no change in policy at all.

Okay, thanks, everybody.


Q: Thank you.

Q: I have a question on Sudan. I have a question on Africa.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks. Thank you so much, Admiral.

Q: (Inaudible) question.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Darlene.

Q: Thanks.

Q: It's crazy what's happening here.

Q: Can you clarify one thing? When Kirby was describing, in response to Portnoy's question about the chain of events yesterday, did the President have any role in the decision to scramble F-16s, or is that process self-contained? Is NORAD and DOD and NSC, is --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So what I can say for sure is that the President was -- they were certainly briefed and -- throughout the process and kept -- kept abreast.

Can't speak to the exact process and what comes first and how it all runs down. Clearly, this is a Department of Defense that kind of led -- certainly led this operation, but can't speak to where -- where the President -- where the President kind of engaged or not.

I can tell you that he was certainly kept abreast.

Q: One other question. Looking ahead to the trip on Friday, when he goes to Fort Liberty, given that it was just renamed, will the President in his remarks get into the reasons behind the renaming, the whole debate over being woke? Or will his remarks just be a tribute to troops?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, that's a few days away. (Laughs.)

Q: I know.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So we'll have more to share and certainly preview on what the President is going to say on -- on Friday when he's in North Carolina. Just don't have anything right now.

And as you can imagine, the remarks are continuously being worked on and edited by the President, but I just don't have anything to share specifically on what he's going to lay out and speak to.

Q: Okay. Thanks.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right, go ahead, Catherine.

Q: The Cabinet meeting tomorrow -- anything you can tell us about the theme or the focus of the --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. I can tell -- I can share a couple of things about tomorrow. As you -- as you all know, the President is going to be convening his Cabinet secretaries tomorrow in the -- in the Cabinet Room, as he does from time to time, to discuss the progress we've made in investing in America.

That includes the 13 million -- million jobs created in the last two and a half years under this -- under this President, unemployment being below 4 percent for nearly a year and a half, an annual inflation falling now for 11 months in a row, and more than $470 billion in private sector investments. And let's not forget the bipartisan budget agreement that was -- that the President signed on Saturday, which will also be a conversation to include just the progress that we've made in the -- this last two years of this administration. And also the priorities and the funding levels and all of the historic pieces of legislation that the President was able to do just the last two years. So -- and that's ending -- including ending COVID-19 public health emergency and Title 42 at the border.

And what you can expect as well is he will be talking to his Cabinet's members -- Cabinet secretaries about the next 100 days, which we think is incredibly important as we move forward with this rest of this year, unleashing more infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing investments across the country, and our work -- let's not forget -- to curb gun violence as well, and also what we're seeing across the country on what's -- the attacks that we're seeing on women's reproductive rights.

So that certainly will be part of the conversation that you all will -- will hear and see from the President tomorrow.

Go ahead.

Q: Also, Karine --


Q: -- journalists at Gannett newspapers are on strike today. Just wondering if the President has a message for them. Does he support them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you know, the President, when it comes to -- when it comes to these types of issues, he clearly hopes that they continue to have a conversation and they come together in good faith. And certainly, he always supports, in this -- in this -- this particular journalist to make sure that they get -- get a fair share here.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Picking up on the Cabinet meeting, does the President still have confidence that Julie Su can get approved to be his Cabinet Secretary (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. Yes, he has confidence that she will get through and, as you can imagine, that she has the support of this administration to get her through, to get her confirmed.

She will be in attendance tomorrow. As you know, she's the Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor. And he has confidence, and we're going to do everything that we can to make sure that she actually becomes Secretary.

Q: He nominated her at the end of February; it's now June. So what is he doing to help speed this process up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, Julie Su, as you've heard me say many times from here, was confirmed -- supported as the Deputy -- Deputy Secretary at the Labor for -- by all Senate Democrats. That occurred when she went -- the first time she went through this process, clearly, as Deputy, and has garnered the support of businesses, labor, several organization across the spectrum.

If you think about Gene Seroka, the executive director of Port of Los Angeles -- recently wrote that Julie Su is a consesu- -- "consensus-builder whose impact…" -- "impact has played out in real time throughout the supply chain industry. For these reasons among others, no one is better suited nor better qualified than Julie Su for the job of Secretary of Labor."

So this is a full-court press to get Julie confirmed. Outside groups continue to -- to also push her forward. And certainly she will get the support from the White House as well and from this President.

So we are confident, and we're going to continue moving forward.

Q: The last thing on this topic. Does the President feel, after the debt ceiling negotiations, that he has a little cache here to use with moderate Democrats, such as Senators Manchin and Sinema?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I mean, if you look at the last two years of what this President -- more than two years now -- of what this President has been able to do, he -- the bill that he signed into law just -- just -- just a couple of days ago, the budget negotiations agreement, that was number 350 bipartisan piece of legislation.

And so he's able to get that done when people said that he would not be able to get that done, which is bring both sides together. And he's worked with Democrats across the ideological spectrum over the past two years as well to get things done.

You think about the Inflation Reduction Act, that is something that Senator Manchin -- right? -- he -- he steered that through and something that the President worked very closely with him on. You think about the American Rescue Plan.

There has been many, many times where there has -- where you've seen Democrats come together to deliver for the American people. And let's not forget the bipartisanship that this President and -- because of his leadership has been able to do.

So, yes, he believes that we can continue to get things done. And there's a -- there's a long list of legislative agenda that he wants to see -- to see done. As I just mentioned, gun reform is being one of them; as I mentioned, reproductive rights as being another. And many other ways that he believes that we can continue to deliver for the American people.

Go ahead.

Q: Karine, just another labor issue. The National Retail Federation has asked the White House to intervene in the stalled West Coast port negotiations, or labor negotiations there. Do you have intention of doing that? Are you concerned that the -- you know, the problem there could actually exacerbate the supply chain issues that you have just gotten ahead of?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, certainly, we're -- we're monitoring these -- these -- these discussion or this situation very closely. And we're going to continue to monitor. That's what we've been doing. And so what -- the way that we see our role here is we know that the parties who are negotiating -- as we know, negotiations are very hard, as I've -- we've talked about many times from here in the last couple of weeks, but they have overcome some major sticking points already and are continuing to address most difficult issues right now.

But we are -- what we see is the best way to move forward is for both sides, or for all sides to continue to work to come to the table and come to a solution here. And so that's what we are going to continue to encourage all parties to work in good faith toward a mutually beneficial resolution that ensures that workers get the fair -- fair benefits, equ- -- quality of life, and wages that they deserve. And that's what we believe that we're going to continue to be very vocal about.

Q: Can I ask you about the latest flight of migrants, this time to Sacramento? I understand that the White House -- you know, that the state authorities are investigating where that flight originated and who -- or, rather, who paid for the flight to go, whether there was some involvement by Florida.

Are you in close touch with the California authorities? And do you have any initial findings now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, yes, we are in close touch with state officials on the -- on the issue that you just laid out.

Look, as you just mentioned, Andrea, there is an investigation currently happening. And so, certainly, we'll refer you to -- to them on any specifics on the outcome of -- of what they're looking at.

And so I've said it many times from here, repeatedly from -- from this podium, that busing or flying migrants around the country without any coordination with the federal government -- we've talked about this -- state or local officials as well -- is dangerous and unacceptable. And we'll continue to be very, very clear about that.

It is dangerous and unacceptable because you're putting people's lives at risk. And it's dangerous and it's unacceptable because you're putting people's lives at risk. And it's dangerous and it's unacceptable because you're actually putting a lot of pressure on these states and local -- and local -- local areas.

And so, again, we're -- we're in touch with state officials to offer any assistance that they might need. But I would refer you to -- to them on any specifics on how -- on the investigation.

Go ahead, Jeremy.

Q: Hey, thanks, Karine.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Then I'll go to the back.

Q: So one of the results of these budget and debt ceiling negotiations, beyond averting default, seems to have been that there's a bit more goodwill that's been built up between the President and Speaker McCarthy and their teams. So I'm wondering, do you guys see any opportunities for bipartisan legislation going forward? And what is next on these -- on this administration's legislative agenda?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, we -- like I said, we've seen -- under this President, there's been about 350 pieces of bipartisan legislation that this President has signed into law -- many of those were historic pieces of legislation -- when you think about the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, Inflation Reduction Act. All these pieces of legislation that's going to create good-paying jobs, lower costs for -- or healthcare costs for Americans, lower energy costs for Americans. The CHIPS and Science Act. When you think about manufacturing jobs, creating manufacturing jobs in this country.

So, look, these are all important things, important issues that the President wants to continue to work on, to continue to implement.

And I talked about the gun -- gun reform. We believe that there is a commonsense approach here that we can move forward and work with Congress on. Reproductive rights -- we believe that this is something that we need to continue to work very hard towards. Making sure that the wealthy pay -- you know, pay their -- what -- what they -- their fair share as well, and not just leave it on the -- on the little guy.

And so, look, we're going to continue to work on -- on -- on an economy that works for everyone, making sure that it -- we build it from the bottom up, middle out. Those are the things that the President feels that he needs to continue to work towards.

And so, yeah, there are places that we see that could be a bipartisanship here. If we're really serious about the deficit, really serious about making sure that we reduce the deficit, the President put forth a plan, a budget plan March -- on March 9th on how we can reduce the deficit by $3 trillion in the next 10 years.

And so, yeah, there are ways that we believe that can be -- that we can move forward here with the -- with Congress.

Q: Any plans for the President and the Speaker to meet again in a non-crisis, non-emergency setting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No plans yet. (Laughs.)

Q: And then secondly, last night during a CNN Town Hall, former Governor Nikki Haley suggested that allowing transgender girls into female locker rooms is driving up suicidal thoughts among teenage girls. I'm wondering if you have any comment on that.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm not going to go beyond what we've talked about when it comes to Department of Education, when it comes to this President as it relates to that particular issue.

But, look, I think more broadly what we have seen from Republicans just across the country as it relates to transgender youth, as it relates to the LGBTQI+ community, we've seen more than 600 bills. Many of those are targeted at transgender youth. And -- and that is something that the President is going to continue to speak out against. It is appalling what we're seeing -- the hate, the attack on this community.

And so the President is going to be very clear that he supports the LGBTQ+ community. This is Pride Month, as you know; he's going to continue to lift up the community and all their accomplishments, celebrate them.

And so I'll just -- I'll just leave it there for now.

Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. Nikki Haley, also last night, refused to answer a question about whether she would sign a bill for a six-week abortion ban if it came to her desk, saying that the administration has not yet outlined their position on whether they would sign bills allowing abortions at 37, 38, 39 weeks.

Could you give us the sort of correct -- correct position of the administration in terms of what kind, if any -- kinds of restrictions on abortion the administration supports?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I didn't watch this -- this town hall, so I can't really speak to exactly what she said. What I can speak to, what the President has said, which is that he will continue to call on Congress to restore Roe v. Wade.

And so if you know the particulars of Roe v. -- v. Wade, you'll see where the President stands, so I'll just leave it there for now.

Q: And one other one on Nikki Haley. She also said that a vote for President Biden is a vote for Vice President Kamala Harris. What do you say to anyone who is questioning whether the President would survive a full four-year term?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me just say this: It -- I'm not going to comment on the 2024. She is a candidate, so I want to be very careful here. And we do follow the Hatch Act, so I want to be really, really mindful here.

Look, this is a President -- if you look at his track record, if you -- and I'm saying this more broadly: If you look at what he's been able to do, he has been able to push forward and get done historic pieces of legislation. He has gotten more done than any other President, when you think about the infrastructure legislation.

When you think about the last President, it was a joke. We were talking about Infrastructure Week; it was literally a joke. Now you hear this President talking about infrast- -- Infrastructure Decade.

When you think about being -- for Medicare being able to negotiate and lower cost for Americans, that matters. That matters to the American people.

When you think about actually creating jobs, good-paying jobs, which is part of this President's economic policy, that matters to the American people.

The President literally -- literally just was able to get done a bipartisan agreement on the budget, which many people didn't think he would be able to get done, and this President was able to get done.

So, look, this is a President that has been attacked during 2020, where people said, "Oh, no one's going to -- he's not going to win. He's not able to get it done. There's no way he's going to be the next President." And he made it happen.

In 2022, the same thing: "There's going to be a red wave. It's not going to happen. Democrats are in trouble." And look what happened. And because of what the President was able to go and do, and make sure that there was a message out there that Americans can see on what he's been able to do and what Democrats were able to do, he really had one -- had one of the best midterm outcome for a new Democratic President in 60 years. In 60 years.

And so, look, I'll leave you with a quote here. Here's something that I think that was said a couple of days ago. It's a Huffington Post headline: "After calling Joe Biden senile, Republicans complain he outsmarted them."

I'll leave it there.

Go ahead.

Q: But to follow up on this -- because the other argument that was being made in a comment by that candidate is that a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Vice President Harris to possibly become President. Does the White House see those continued attacks from Republicans -- and, frankly, comments from Democrats concerned about that -- as sexist, racist, politically convenient?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm going to be really careful -- 2024. I'm not going to speak to 2024 from here.

What I can speak to -- what I'll say more broadly is that the Vice President has been a partner -- has been a partner to this President. You've heard him say that multiple times. When it comes to difficult decisions, when it comes to important decisions that matter to the American people, this is something that -- this is -- these -- those are issues that the President has talked to with the Vice President.

And so, you've heard him say that. You've seen her do that out there on the road or whether it's even here speaking to different issues that are incredibly important to the American people.

So, I will -- I will leave it there, but not going to go into a tit for tat -- "what does this mean, what the -- what -- what are -- you know, what is this outcome going to be."

What I'll speak to is what I know here in this White House and how they have worked very closely to get all of the things that I just laid out get done on behalf of the American people.

Q: I had one other. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee says they're going to vote to hold the FBI Director in contempt on Thursday for withholding documents about some uncorroborated corruption allegations dating back to when the President was Vice President. Does the White House have any comment on the Oversight Committee's continued focus on this?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I would have to refer you to the FBI. They've actually put out a statement on this, and I would refer you to them.

All right. Go ahead.

Q: Thanks, Karine. You mentioned Pride Month a minute ago. I wanted to ask: The Pentagon announced last week that it will no longer allow drag shows to be hosted at military facilities. Did the President or the White House -- were they consulted at all on this decision? Or do you have any response to what it says that that was announced, you know, as the White House is trying to celebrate Pride Month?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, that was a DOD decision, so questions related to that, certainly I would refer you to them.

I'll say a couple of things here. I want to start out by saying that this is a President who is proud of the LGBTQI people serving in our nation's military. As Secretary Austin has expressed in his Pride Month statement that he put out just last week, the Biden-Harris administration will celebrate LGBTQI+ service members' contr- -- contributions -- contributions during Pride with -- with pride across federal agencies, including at the Department of Defense.

And also, as the Secretary said last week as well in his statement, and I'll quote him, "Who you love or how you identify has nothing to do with how bravely you…fight for our country."

And so, again, they make these decisions. The DOD makes these decisions independently, so I would have to refer to you -- to them on any specific questions.

Go ahead, Ed, in the back.

Q: Thanks. Can I ask you about China, if I could? So, the President says we're in a competition with China. He's been in office 28 months. Are we winning the competition?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I would point you to the 800,000 manufacturing jobs that were created here. I would point you to the CHIPS and Science Act that was bipartisan that the President was able to get done to make sure that we bring back jobs here. I would point you to, as you always ask me about, the -- our economy and how it's growing: more than 13 million jobs created, unemployment at a record low.

And so, the President has done the -- the work to make sure that we bring those jobs back. You see the investment. We talk about investing in America. And the President is able to talk about that and go around the country laying that out because of what we've been able to do: historic pieces of legislation to prove that point that I'm making.

Q: So he feels like we're winning that competition?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we feel like is we are -- we are in a place where we are -- have -- have created an economy that the President hopes that will work for everyone; that we don't leave anyone behind; that we create good-paying jobs, like we have manufacturing come back to -- to America.

And we see that. We see those investment. We see companies saying that they're willing to invest and then create jobs. We see the 800,000 manufacturing jobs out of the 13 million jobs that this President was able to create in just two years -- in just two years. That's historical. No other President has been able to do that even in four years.

And so, yes, we're going to continue to be competitive. And I think that's incredibly important to the American people and to how we see the -- the economy moving forward for this country.

Thanks, everybody. See you tomorrow.

3:13 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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