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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, November 10, 2022

  • Politics

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:57 P.M. EST  

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everybody.

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  So, this afternoon at Howard University, the President will thank — will thank staff, volunteers, and everyone who helped ensure everyone could make their voices heard in the midterm election.

As you heard him say yesterday — the President, “With their vo-…” — “With their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are.”

And while we don’t know all the results just yet, we do know that states across the country saw record voter turnout, and voters also spoke clearly about their concerns — from fighting inflation to addressing crime to protecting our democracy and the right to choose.  These are issues the President has been laser-focused on from day one, and remain top — and it will remain top priorities for him.

And as he said yesterday as well, no matter what the final tally in all these races will be, he is prepared to work across the aisle to deliver for the American people.  That’s what people want, and that’s what the American people deserve.

With that, I will turn it over to my colleague, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who is going to talk through the President’s upcoming travels.

Jake?

Q    Are you all right?  What’s happened to you?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s been a long couple of days, my friend.  (Laughter.)

Go ahead, Jake.

MR. SULLIVAN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I’ll take a few minutes to walk through the trip over the next several days, and then I’ll be happy to take your questions.  And I would just ask for your patience, because there’s quite a bit to get through, given an action-packed schedule that the President has across three stops over a week.

Before I get into the President’s travel across North Africa and Asia, I want to provide a brief update on our efforts to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself.

Today, the United States will be announcing another package of security assistance for Ukraine, including important air defense contributions like missiles for HAWK air defense systems, as well as four U.S. Avenger air defense systems that come equipped with Stinger missiles.

This equipment will complement other air defense contributions announced by our allies and partners in the context of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group that Secretary Austin chairs.

When I was in Kyiv last week, I had the chance to consult directly with President Zelenskyy and his team on the ground about what Ukraine needs to be in the strongest position possible on the battlefield.  This increased air defense will be critical for Ukraine as Russia continues to use cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack critical civilian infrastructure.

With that, let me turn to the trip.

As you all know, tonight, the President departs for Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where tomorrow he will participate in the COP27 climate conference and hold a bilateral meeting with President Al Sisi.

The President heads to COP27 with historic momentum on climate, thanks to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and other significant steps that put us on an enduring path towards meeting our ambitions and clean energy goals.

While he’s on the ground, he’ll speak to his personal commitment to addressing the climate crisis.  He’ll highlight some of the progress the United States has made both here at home and in rallying action on climate around the world.  And he’ll underscore the need to go further, faster, to help the most vulnerable communities build their resilience without losing sight of the need for the world, and particularly for the major economies, to cut emissions dramatically in this decisive decade.

While in Egypt, President Biden will also meet with President Al Sisi, as I mentioned, to discuss a number of critical regional and bilateral issues, following on his visit to the Middle East earlier this year, where he also had an opportunity to sit with President Al Sisi.

On Saturday, he’ll arrive in Cambodia and attend the U.S.-ASEAN Summit.  He’ll reaffirm the United States’ strong support for ASEAN centrality and build on the achievements of the historic U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit that was held in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.  He will also hold a bilateral meeting with 2022 ASEAN Chair, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen.

On Sunday in Cambodia, he will participate in the East Asia Summit.  He will underscore U.S. support for the ASEAN-led regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific and discuss opportunities to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific that is more connected, more prosperous, more secure, and more resilient. 

He’ll also hold bilateral and trilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of Korea in light of the continuing nuclear and missile threats posed by the DPRK, as well as growing alignment among our countries in promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

On Monday, President Biden will be in Bali, Indonesia, where he will hold a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.  He will thank President Widodo for his leadership, his chairmanship of the G20, and highlight the growing importance of the U.S.-India [sic] Strategic — U.S.-Indonesia Strategic Partnership.

Later in the day on Monday, President Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping of China.  This is the first time that President Biden and President Xi will have had — this is the first time that they will meet face-to-face since President Biden became President.

President Biden has made it a priority to keep lines of communication open with President Xi to responsibly manage the competition between our two countries, and he believes there is no more important channel than that between the leaders of the United States and China.

From day one of the Biden administration, our approach to the PRC has followed the same fundamentals: invest in the foundations of our strength here at home; align our efforts with a network of allies and partners; and compete responsibly to defend and advance our interests and those of like-minded nations.

The meeting between President Biden and President Xi will be an in-depth and substantive opportunity to better understand one another’s priorities and intentions, to address differences, and to identify areas where we can work together, because working together to address common problems is in our interest and because it is what the world expects of responsible powers.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the President will attend the G20 Summit where he’ll focus on a range of pressing global economic challenges, especially for emerging and vulnerable economies, including energy security and the clean energy transition, food security, debt relief for low- and middle-income countries, multilateral development bank reform, and the launch of a pandemic preparedness fund.

He will also rally likeminded nations to speak out forcefully against Russia’s illegal invasion in — and illegal war in Ukraine, which has exacerbated many of these challenges. 

President Biden will join with fellow G7 and G20 leaders to host an event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, PGII, where the U.S. and other partners will announce a series of high-impact infrastructure projects across the developing world. 

The President will have the opportunity to hold a number of other bilateral meetings on the margins of the G20, and we’ll announce those in due course.  Among others, we expect that he’ll have the chance to sit for the first time with the prime ministers of both the United Kingdom and Italy — the new prime ministers who have both recently taken office.

This trip comes at an important moment.  President Biden heads off with the wind at his back.  The United States has helped rally the world to oppose Russian aggression in Ukraine.  We have built a strong foundation of engagement with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.  We have launched impactful new initiatives in the Indo-Pacific, including PGII and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.  We’re leading collective efforts on climate, health, food and energy security.  And we’ve made far-reaching foundational investments in our industrial and innovation base and in modernizing our infrastructure here at home.

So we believe that we are in a strong position to both navigate competition and to work with partners to solve the great challenges of our time.  That’s what President Biden intends to do on this trip.

And thank you all for your patience, and I look forward to answering your questions.

Yes.

Q    Thanks, Jake.  In the briefing we had earlier about the Xi meeting, there was a mention of some proposals on areas where there could be some collaboration.  Was that specifically regarding tariffs and trade negotiations?  And will there be any progress on that?

MR. SULLIVAN:  I don’t think you should look at this meeting as one in which there’s going to be specific deliverables announced.  Rather, the two leaders are going to give direction to their teams to work on a number of areas, both areas where we have differences and areas where we can work together.  That will include direction to the economic teams to address our concerns about Chinese economic practices and to deal with some of the underlying differences of view and perspective on economic matters.

It will also involve giving direction to try to work on issues on which we do have common interest, whether it’s health, counternarcotics, climate, or other areas.

Yeah.

Q    So, a two-part question on the Asia trip.  First off, what impact does the midterm elections have on the President’s ability to deliver on, you know, American commitments overseas?  And, secondly, now that Xi is through the congress in China, does that affect his willingness to work with the United States or embolden him to, you know, conflict with the United States more?  What impact do you think that could have?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, first, when it comes to the President leaving after the results on Tuesday and the incoming results that continue to flow in, he feels very good about where things stand, and he feels like he is going out on this trip with the wind very much at his back.  And that gives him an excellent opportunity both to deal with competitors from a strong position and to rally allies. 

And as far as the continuing support of the United States for critical foreign policy initiatives, the President was clear yesterday, and he will be very clear on the trip, that there will be strong, enduring, unflagging, unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression. 

There is a bipartisan basis and foundation to our approach to China.  And he looks forward to working with both parties on that issue, whatever the final composition of the two houses of Congress are.

But in general, he goes out on this trip feeling like the results from Tuesday show that the American people,

you know, are sending him out onto the world stage in a very strong position.

Q    And on the China issue, what impact does the — you know, Xi’s new term in the Communist Congress — what impact does that have on their willingness to work with the U.S., do you think?

MR. SULLIVAN:  That remains to be seen.  And part of what the President is eager to determine is: In a face-to-face meeting where for the first time since he’s come into office, President Biden has come into the presidency, he will get to sit in the same room with Xi Jinping, be direct and straightforward with him as he always is, and expect the same in return from Xi.  And then he can make his judgments on that basis about how to take things forward. 

That’s why this meeting is extremely important.  There just is no substitute for this kind of leader-to-leader communication in navigating and managing such a consequential relationship.

Yeah.

Q    Jake, thanks so much for doing the briefing.  I want to ask you about Brittney Griner and then President Putin more broadly.  But she’s been moved to a penal colony and apparently hasn’t been seen for six days.  What can you tell us about her condition?  When is the last time that U.S. officials had any kind of update on her condition? 

And what is your level of optimism that now that we are past the midterms, President Putin will be more potentially serious about negotiating her release?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So I have to protect the confidentiality of our dealings with her family and some of our consular dealings with Russian officials.  But I will tell you, on a daily basis, our embassy in Moscow is focused on ensuring that Brit- — they are on top of Brittney Griner’s condition, location, and how the Russian government is treating her.

She is being held unjustly.  She should be released immediately.  We have made that clear to our Russian counterparts.  And we have put forward a series of proposals over the last several months for how we could resolve her case, as well as the case of Paul Whelan, to bring them both home.  So far, the Russians have not shown a willingness to engage in — in that back-and-forth to produce a result. 

As President Biden said yesterday, we are hopeful that we can renew that dialogue and find a way to get these cases resolved and to get both Brittney and Paul home. 

I can’t handicap it.  I can’t give you any predictions.  All I can tell you is President Biden is personally engaged on this.  I am personally engaged on this.  We are dealing with the Russians at very senior levels, and our diplomats on the ground are working overtime to ensure that they are staying in close touch with their Russian counterparts on her case. 

Q    And I know President Biden got a version of this yesterday, but if you could just help us understand this moment right now and what it means.  The fact that Russia has pulled out of Kherson, is the U.S. encouraging Ukraine to now start peace talks with Russia?  Is there any sense that that might actually happen?  And does it lower your concern or does it impact your concerned at all about Putin’s potential use of a nuclear weapon?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, first, this is a significant military milestone for the Ukrainians if, in fact, it happens that Russia follows through and withdraws to the far side of the Dnieper River.  Of course, we’re going to watch actions, and not just announcements, to see what actually unfolds. 

But if this does come to pass, that will mean in the Battle of Kyiv, in the Battle of Kherson, in the Battle of Kharkiv, the Ukrainians will have prevailed against an invading marauding force that conducted an illegal war in their country. 

But, of course, it’s not the end of the war.  As Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukrainian territory, we are continuing to support the Ukrainians in their effort to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

And as the President said yesterday, we’re guided by a very simple principle: “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”  It is ultimately up to Ukraine to make determinations about its diplomatic course.  It is our job to put them in the best position on the battlefield so that when and if there is an opportunity for diplomacy, they’re in the best position at the bargaining table.  I don’t have anything to offer you today about the likelihood or the proximity of any kind of negotiations. 

Right now, what the Ukrainians are focused on is defending their critical infrastructure against these barbaric attacks that are killing civilians and harming, you know, the basic functioning of the economy, and trying to take their territory back. 

The United States is not pressuring Ukraine.  We’re not insisting on things with Ukraine.  What we are doing is consulting as partners and showing our support not just through public statements or moral support, but through the tangible, physical support of the kind of military assistance I mentioned before. 

Q    Thank you.

MR. SULLIVAN:  Yeah.

Q    Thank you, Jake.  Just a quick follow-up on Kherson, first.  You said that you’d be watching actions instead of just hearing what they’re saying.  Do you have any indication that a withdrawal has actually started?

MR. SULLIVAN:  We do see some indications of movement consistent with what the announcements were yesterday.  But this is an involved operation.  The Russians had flowed a significant number of forces and personnel into Kherson city and to the west side of the Dnieper River.  So it’s not the kind of thing you just snap your fingers and it’s done.  So we will want to see how it actually unfolds in the coming days before we make any judgments about whether the Russians are fully — fully following through on the announcement they made, or whether they’re going to choose to change course at some point.  And we’ll continue to stay in close touch with the Ukrainians on that as well.

Q    And to follow up on Kristen’s questions about Griner — forgive me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t hear whether you have a condition for her — a current condition, how she’s doing since she’s been transferred to the colony.

MR. SULLIVAN:  Sorry, at the start of my answer to Kristen, what I said is, to protect confidentiality, I’m not going to speak to her condition from the podium today.

Q    And I have one more question, unrelated.  Sorry.

The President yesterday said that it should be — that Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter should be looked into as a potential threat to national security.  Can you offer anything about why?  And he also said there are many ways to look into that.  How would you look into that?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, you heard the President yesterday, and the CFIUS process is the normal process through which transactions that might have a national security nexus get reviewed.  And I will defer to the CFIUS process rather than comment on it further from this podium.

Yeah.

Q    Thanks, Jake.  At the G20, would it be better if Putin was there?  I mean, he’s arguably the most consequential player on some of those big issues that are going to be discussed: food security and energy security.

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, you’ll have to ask President Putin and the Kremlin why he’s decided not to go, as it appears he has decided not to go.  It’s not really for me to comment on.

What I can say is that President Biden is going to advance an affirmative agenda on all the issues that I laid out, and he’ll do that regardless of who’s sitting in the chair on the Russian side.

Yeah.

Q    Can I ask, then, on China?  Can you give an update on the, kind of, efforts that were launched before, about a sustained dialogue on risk reduction — the strategic stability talks?  Where do those stand?  What — what has been the impediment to try to get those risk reduction talks going?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, first, we do believe that with the U.S. and Chinese militaries operating in proximity to one another in the Indo-Pacific and in many different areas of the Indo-Pacific, it’s important to have channels of communication between our militaries so that we can avoid accidents, miscalculation, escalation, and we can avoid having anything that might tip over into conflict.  That, to us, is important — that type of communication and that type of engagement. 

Further, we’ve expressed our concerns about aspects of strategic stability in the context of China, as we have in the context of Russia.  And we’ve indicated that good, substantive dialogue between significant countries like the U.S. and China can help produce greater stability over time. 

I’m not going to get ahead of the conversations between the two presidents.  These topics, of course, will be touched on.  What comes of that — in what form, over what time, with what participation — I won’t get ahead of it today.

Yeah.

Q    Thanks, Jake.  The President said yesterday that he found it interesting that Russia waited until after the midterm elections to announce this withdrawal from Kherson, the implication being that Russia was — held off on withdrawing to have some kind of effect on the midterms.  So was the President just speculating there, or do you guys have any evidence to back that up?  And then I have a Griner question.

MR. SULLIVAN:  I think the President — what the President said should be taken at face value.  He thought it was interesting timing that they — you had the election on November 9th — November 8th, and on November 9th they made the significant announcement on Kherson.  And I’ll —

Q    So there’s no evidence —

MR. SULLIVAN:  And I’ll just leave it at that.

Q    — beyond that?  And then on Brittney Griner —

Q    Jake.  Thank you, Jake. 

Q    — on Brittney Griner, what — given that the President said that he would be open to meeting Putin to discuss Brittney Griner’s situation, would the President be willing to meet with the Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, at the G20 to discuss Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan?

MR. SULLIVAN:  There’s no plans for the President to meet with the Russian Foreign Minister.

Q    Thank you, Jake. 

MR. SULLIVAN:  Yeah.

Q    So I want to ask you about Lebanon.  Do you think this administration will deal with any elected president in Lebanon is backed up from Iran and Syria?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, I don’t want to get ahead of — you know, make ca- —

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. SULLIVAN:  I don’t want to make categorical statements because we’ll have to see what comes out of the democratic process in Lebanon. 

What I will say is that the President did directly engage with President Aoun just a couple of weeks ago, in the process of bringing to conclusion a historic and significant maritime agreement involving Israel and Lebanon. 

So we certainly believe it’s in the United States’ national security interest to have a relationship with the government of Lebanon because we think that that can help with regional security, with America’s security, with Israel’s security, and, ultimately, with the security and prosperity of the people of Lebanon.

But — but I’m not going to respond to hypotheticals about a president who doesn’t yet (inaudible).

Q    Sorry, one more question.  Hezbollah has been obstructing justice regarding the investigation of the Beirut explosion, and its allies as well.  What is the administration doing to push that forward?  We have over 226 victims, and no one really revealed any truth about this big tragedy. 

MR. SULLIVAN:  It continues to be the focus of the U.S. government, as it has been from the day that President Biden came into office, to try and drive towards answers and accountability when it comes to that explosion.  And we’ll continue to work that as actively as we possibly can.

Yeah.

Q    Thank you very much, Jake.  Questions about Brazil.  After (inaudible), after Asia, are you going to Brazil to meet with the President-elect Lula?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So we haven’t finalized plans, but I have been in touch with senior members of the president-elect’s team because we want to be able to coordinate very closely with them.  Whether that involves me going down there or some folks coming here, we’re still working out.

But I think that you can expect face-to-face engagement at high levels between the incoming team and our team so that we can hit the ground running once President-elect Lula becomes president in January. 

Q    And just quick a follow-up.  What kind of challenges do you see with the new government of Brazil?  For example, related to the Russia war in Ukraine, Lula said he will be able to talk with Russia and Ukraine to try to end the war.  What do you think about that? 

And today, Secretary Kerry met with Lula’s team, and they discussed help to protect the Amazon.  What kind of assistance is the United States considering?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, President Biden has had a very longstanding view that it is the obligation of the United States and other major economies to help Brazil protect its rainforest.  The same goes for other countries with significant rain forests, like Indonesia.  And so, he’s going to look for an early opportunity to sit with the incoming president, who has expressed a real commitment and motivation to protect the Amazon, and talk about a variety of forms of assistance we can give — not just technical assistance, but financial assistance as well.  That’s something President Biden sees as a real priority.

And with respect to Russia’s war on Ukraine, President Biden had an opportunity briefly to speak with the president-elect shortly after his victory, and they agreed that they would talk in detail about all of these issues, including the Ukraine issue, when they have the chance to meet in person.

I’m not going to get ahead of that conversation, as I think the two of them should have the chance to talk before I characterize it.

Yeah.

Q    General Milley yesterday had a pretty staggering assessment of the casualties from Russ- — of Russian casualties in this war so far, saying that 100,000 have been wounded or killed.  Can you discuss what impact is this having on Putin domestically in terms of support for this war?  And just how long do you think Russia can keep operating at this casualty rate?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, the numbers are really quite striking, and we’re talking about just an immense amount of suffering on the part not just of those who have died or been injured in the war in Ukraine, but their families and their communities across Russia.

And one of the reasons why we believe that Russia should end this war and leave Ukraine is for the good of those families and communities inside Russia.  It is difficult at the moment for us to characterize the internal political situation inside Russia.

For one thing, you’ve got the tight control of the Kremlin on the communications apparatus and on the political apparatus in that country.  For another, all of us in this room see surprises in our own domestic political context.  So trying to, you know, be effective armchair analysts of another country’s political process is something we should have significant humility about.

But we are watching closely for these impacts economically, socially, and beyond, because you simply cannot visit upon your country this level of suffering without it having reverberating impacts of various kinds.  So, we will have to see how that unfolds.

Q    And how long do you think they could keep operating at this level of casualties? 

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, first, it’s clear that the fact of Russian military losses on the battlefield is having an impact on their ability to hold territory in Ukraine.  We’ve seen that in Kharkiv.  We’ve seen that in the announcement that they have made about Kherson.  So, it’s having an impact.

But the larger “how long” question is not one that I can, you know, put a timetable on because war is inherently unpredictable.  And so all we can do is continue to try and make sure that, for our purposes, we’re giving Ukraine what it needs to do its part.  And then, we will, of course, analyze how Russia is postured and positioned as we go forward.

Yeah.

Q    Yes.  So, I wanted to ask two questions about the meeting with President Xi.  One, yesterday, the President did not commit to telling President Xi that they would — or the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily.  How should Taiwan be interpreting that answer?

And secondly, the Treasury released a report today saying that — or criticizing China for not being more transparent about its foreign exchange policy, and explicitly calling it a “failure.”  Will the two leaders speak about that tomorrow as well?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, on your first question, as many of you know, having seen President Biden go into consequential meetings with foreign counterparts, he doesn’t like to characterize what he’s going to say to them.  He likes to actually go say it to them. 

And as for how Taiwan might react to that, we’ll have the opportunity, as an administration, to brief Taiwan on the results of that meeting.  And I’m confident that they will feel very secure and comfortable in the United States’ position when it comes to our support for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and our commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, which does commit the United States to ensuring we’re providing the articles for Taiwan’s defense.

Yeah.

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. SULLIVAN:  Oh, and you asked about the FX report.  I would just say that this has been a longstanding concern of the United States.  It’s been reflected in previous reports.  It doesn’t come as a significant surprise, but it is an area of significant concern for the United States.

And I can’t tell you, standing here today, whether that particular topic will come up among the wide range of things we have to discuss with the PRC.

Q    Thank you, Jake.  Two questions.  On Egypt, can you give us a little bit of details about the bilat between the President and President Sisi?  Is regional security one of the issues going to be discussed?

And on the meeting with Xi Jinping, can you give us some kind of assessment of how do you see Russia position vis-à-vis — sorry, China’s position vis-à-vis Russia?  Do you think that you are able to neutralize them from supporting Russia so far? And what more do you think that the President can raise issues to make sure that they will stay the way it is and not involved with the war in Ukraine? 

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, first, on the PRC, we have not — since President Biden and President Xi spoke some months ago — seen the PRC providing military equipment, weapons for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.  And we have not seen the kind of wholesale efforts to backfill or undermine the sanctions regime, though, of course, the PRC has continued its economic relationship with Russia over the course of the past many months.

One other positive signal that we have seen was during the recent visit by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to the PRC: the statement on nuclear weapons — and Xi Jinping, specifically — talking about the need to avoid the use of or even the threat of the use of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world.  And in that context of that conversation, we regarded that as constructive.

On the other hand, we believe that, of course, every country in the world should do more to prevail upon Russia, especially those who have relationships with Russia, to end this war and leave Ukraine.

President Biden will have the opportunity to talk in detail about the Ukraine crisis during his meeting with President Xi. 

On the meeting with Sisi, it will cover a range of issues — issues between the U.S., in terms of our strategic partnership, as well as issues in the region.  And that includes, of course, Egypt’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — President Biden and President Sisi engaged directly last year during the conflict in Gaza; ongoing efforts to deal with both Gaza and the West Bank that Egypt has a stake and role in, and they’ll discuss that.  They’ll discuss what’s happening in Yemen, where Egypt also has an important role to play, as well as a number of other critical issues in the area.

Q    Thank you.  Thank you, Jake.  I have two questions.  North Korea has criticized the recent cybersecurity conference held by the United States when the President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol had this meeting.  Will the two leaders discuss North Korea’s cyber hacking, include nuclear issues?

Second question: Do you think North Korea will conduct its seventh nuclear test during the G20 and ASEAN Summit?  If so, how will you respond?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, we’ve been very transparent about our concern with North Korea that the DPRK would conduct its seventh nuclear test at some point in this broader timeframe.  And by “broader,” I mean we’ve been talking about this now for a couple of months.  That window still remains open.  Our concern still remains real.  Whether it happens in the next week or not, I can’t say. 

We are also concerned about further potential long-range missile tests in addition to the possibility of a nuclear test.  

And so, we’ll be watching carefully for both of those.  We are in very tight coordination with both the ROK and Japan.  And the trilateral meeting that the three leaders will be able to have on the margins of the East Asia Summit, I think, will be a significant milestone in the trilateral relationship and will help only strengthen coordination on DPRK.

Yes, I do think that the broader threat posed by North Korea in the cyber domain will be a topic of conversation between the President of the ROK and the President of the United States.

Q    A question on India?

MR. SULLIVAN:  Yeah.  On India.  And then I’ll do one more.  Yeah.

Q    Thank you very much, sir.  My question is on U.S.-India relations.  President Biden has good relations with many global leaders around the globe.  They can pick up the phone and call to each other. 

He has similar relations with the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. 

And second, sir — second part of the question is if President Biden is visiting India anytime soon.  Because 1.3 billion people are waiting to welcome him.  And at the same time, if Prime Minister Modi is visiting the White House.  Thank you, sir.

MR. SULLIVAN:  So, first, India is the president of the G20 next year.  So, President Biden certainly will intend to be a participant in that G20.  I don’t have anything to announce about visits prior to that, to India, or visits to the White House. 

But I would point out Prime Minister Modi has already been to the White House since President Biden took office, and the two of them have had the opportunity to meet in person multiple times and to talk by phone multiple times and to talk on video multiple times. 

When you add all that up, it is a productive, very practical relationship between these two leaders who see common interests on a number of critical issues and have really worked together to strengthen the U.S.-India partnership.  And President Biden is looking forward to seeing Prime Minister Modi at the G20 this year, as well as we look ahead to next year.

And I’ll take the last question.

Q    Thank you, Jake.  Two quick questions.  One, you mentioned sort of a robust agenda for Biden in his bilat with Sisi.  Does he intend, though, to bring up human rights and specifically call for the release of jailed activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah?  Is that — is that part of his agenda with Sisi?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So as President Biden, I think, has said to many of you, he feels you’re not the American President — you’re not really doing your job as the American President if you’re not raising issues of human rights.  So you can expect that he will raise human rights issues in that meeting, as he will with other leaders that he encounters at the G20.

On the particular case of Alaa Abd El-Fattah, we have been in high-level communication with the Egyptian government on this case.  We have deep concern about it.  We would like to see him freed.  We have had discussions through very senior channels.  And I think you can expect that those conversations will continue on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh, when we get there.

Thank you. 

Q    Jake just real quick on Xi Jinping and the meeting there.  Bid- — President Biden has obviously met with him many times in the past.  Some of the success of those meetings was seen to be a little bit of open-ended and sometimes informalities.  This will be different.  But is there anything that you guys are doing to try to recreate those, sort of, more informal exchanges that the two of them had?  Or is this, sort of, a meeting set up with many people alongside each side of the table that makes those types of informal discussions more difficult?

MR. SULLIVAN:  So the current setup of the meeting is one in which each of them will meet alongside their teams.  But even in instances on video conferences, where each leader has had their team with them, the hallmark of their engagement — no matter who’s in the room — is one where they don’t just read talking points, they don’t just kind of march methodically through each of their scripts; they actually do have a robust back and forth.  And it’s on the bigger picture: Where is this relationship headed?  Where is the PRC headed?  Where is the U.S. headed? 

And especially at this moment, as the President comes out of these midterms, as Xi Jinping comes out of the 20th Party Congress, that bigger-picture conversation is probably the most important element of this meeting.  That’s what the President has on his mind going in.  And I think for that reason, it is going to be an important and, in my view, highly constructive contribution to how we manage this relationship going forward.

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

Sorry, guys, I got to go.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Jake.

Okay.  Can do another, like, 15 minutes.  Chris, you want to kick us off?

Q    Sure.  A question about cryptocurrencies.  (Inaudible) the administration has seen those things crash.  And, you know, should regulators be taking a harder look at these things to protect investors at this point?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I’m not able to comment on it — on what specific actions independent regular- — regulators should or should not take on this particular issue.  But what I can say is the administration is aware of the recent developments on this, and we’ll just continue to monitor the situation.

Q    Should the administration do legislation — you know, new things that should be done to protect people?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the administration, as you know, Chris, has consistently maintained that without proper oversight, cryptocurrencies — they — it risks harming everyday Americans.  So this is something that, clearly, we monitor and that we see as an important — important issue.

But the most recent news further underscores these concerns and highlights why prudent regulation of cryptocurrencies is indeed needed.  The White House, along with the relevant agencies, will, again, closely monitor the situation as it cont- — as it develops.

Go ahead.

Q    One — just a quick follow-up on foreign policy first.  Kevin McCarthy has said that he would love to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan.  I’m just curious if you would discourage him from doing that if he becomes Speaker.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That’s not something I’m going to speak to about.  As you know, when you all were asking us about the Speaker’s travel, we did not comment about her travel.  We’re certainly not going to do that with Kevin McCarthy.

Q    Okay.  And then, just on the CPI statement this morning from the President: Most of the increase that we saw in inflation last month was due to rising costs for shelter.  President Biden’s statement didn’t mention that.  What is the administration doing to contain the rampant run-up in rents right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Of shelter specifically?

Q    Shelter costs, yeah.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I don’t have anything right now to share with you on that specific piece of the data. 

As you know, the report — the way that we saw it, and as the President says, it shows that we are making progress, which is important as we talk about CPI, on bringing inflation down.

As you know, inflation has been a number-one top priority when it comes to the economy — those lowering costs for the American people.  And so, without driving — without giving up all of our progress, clearly, that we have made with the economy when we look at the job — the labor market, the job creation.

So the prese- — the President’s economic plan, as we know — as we see it right now, because of this data and many other pieces of data that we have seen — we are seeing some strength, and it continues to grow.  And we were put in a situation to manage — to manage our economy through these global challenges.

So, again, we think that the data that we saw with CPI is a — is a step forward.  The President clearly is going to continue to do the work to bring down cost for the American people.  We talked about the gas prices and also Inflation Reduction Act.  So that will continue to be.

But that particular piece of the data, I don’t have anything to share with you on that. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  President Biden yesterday drew some red lines on issues where he will not compromise with Republicans: Medicare, Social Security, a national abortion ban.  He also did say that he would be willing to compromise with Republicans on some other issues, but he didn’t say which ones specifically.  So what are the areas where you guys do see room for compromise with Republicans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, the results are — all the results are not in yet, so don’t want to get ahead of that.  And we’ll have a better sense, hopefully in the next couple of days, if not the next couple of weeks, of, you know, what the Congress — the complexion of the Congress is going to look like.

I think what the President was trying to say is that the American people made themselves very clear.  You know, the last couple of months, you’ve heard the President lay out the stark contrast; he laid out the choices that the American people had to make just a couple of days ago — and they were very clear about that — which is making sure that we continue to lower costs; making sure that we do not repeal Inflation Reduction Act; making sure that we continue to deliver for the American people; making sure that — let’s not forget democracy was also a choice that the American people made.

And so that’s what he’s talking about.  He’s talking about the — basically, the wins that we have been able to deliver for the American people.  He’s not willing to roll that back.

And as we know, congressional Republicans made themselves very clear, leading up to Tuesday, that they were going to roll back Medicare, they were going to roll back Social Security — not even roll it back, just cut it all off — right? — chop it out.

And so the President is saying he’s just not willing to do that.  And let’s not forget these are issues that the American people see as very popular and important to them.  So that’s what he’s talking about.

Q    I understand you don’t want to get ahead of the results, but it was the President who said yesterday that he’d be willing to compromise on certain issues.  So has he not thought through what those issues would be?  It’s just a general statement?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No — no, I hear your question.  You’re saying he’s been willing to compromise.  But at the same time, we have to see what the results are. 

And of course he’s going to say that; he’s the President of the United States.  Of course he’s going to say, “I’m willing to work with the other side.”  We’re talking about President Biden, who has done that.  He also laid out that he has — since his administration, in the past 20-plus months, he has passed 200 bipartisan laws — will sign 200 bipartisan laws.

And so he is saying that he’s willing to work with the other side, as he has said before.  But we — you know, once we know what we’re working with in the next, hopefully, you know, couple of days, if not longer, then he’ll — we’ll have those conversation and can talk more.

Q    And then quickly on democracy.  The President yesterday talked about, you know, this being an example that democracy works.  He really emphasized that.  I think he’s expected to talk about that later today, as well.

I know that you guys have pointed to some statewide races where some prominent election deniers did not win.  But I believe, at the latest count, at least 145 election deniers running for the U.S. House have won their races. 

So, given that, how does the President assess the state of U.S. democracy and the health of that democracy when so many election deniers are being elected to Congress — a majority of the Republican caucus? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, the President has been very clear that he still sees that — he believes our democracy is still under — under threat and that the American people have to defend it.  That’s something that he’s going to continue to say.  And the — part of that is rejecting election lies or those who would use violence to overthrow democracy.

And so you did see that from the American people.  But, again, it’s still under threat.  It — one election will not change that.  Right?  And so there’s still work to be done.  There’s still work to strengthen our democracy, and there’s still work to protect our democracy. 

Again, it’s not going to happen under one election or even 2020 election.  Right?  We’ve continued to work towards that.

Okay, Mary. 

Q    Can I follow up on that real quick?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll come to the back in a second.

Go ahead.

Q    Can you describe more of the President’s phone call yesterday with Leader McCarthy?  He noted they don’t have much of a personal relationship, so how did it go?  Did he get a sense that there are areas where they will be able to compromise, going forward?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m not going to get into — into more details onto — into their private conversation.  I’m sure — I think — I’m sure Leader McCarthy will have more to say on his end.

But look, I think the way to look at the conversation and the President speaking with Kevin McCarthy is that he is willing, as he said yesterday, to work with — with folks on the other side of the aisle, as he has in the past.  He’s willing to do things in a bipartisan way.  This is a President who has — who has made that a priority, not just as President but as Vice President and also as senator.

And so he’s — just as long we are delivering for the American people, that is something that he wants to see.  And we’ve done that.  Let’s not forget the — the gun legislation.  We saw movement on guns in — that we hadn’t seen in 30 years.  The bipartisan infrastructure legislation.  The CHIPS and Science Act.  The PACT Act to actually really give us some relief, some healthcare to our veterans.

So there’s ways that we can work together.  But we’ll see.  You know, we’ll see what that — what the agenda will be.

Q    And is the President going to go down to Georgia to lend some support to Raphael Warnock in this runoff?  Is that under consideration?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I don’t have anything for you right now to speak to, but clearly, the President will do whatever Senator Warnock needs him to do to help him win.  The DNC made significant investments in Georgia this year.  But again, I don’t have anything right now to lay out as far as any travel that the President will be making.

Q    Has Warnock made a request?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I actually have not — I have not heard of a request.  I just don’t have anything to share on that.

Go ahead. 

Q    Israel follow-up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And I’ll come to the back.

Q    Karine, thank you so much.  The President is obviously going to this climate summit, to COP27.  How does he reassure leaders, given that he is anticipating a Republican Congress, that any new agreements that they come to will be carried out here, will be codified if need be, given that he’s got to reach across the aisle with Republicans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that last part.  How can he —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  How does he reassure the leaders that whatever new agreements they reach there will be carried out, will be codified here, given that we are expecting that he will be working with a Republican-led House?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I think — I mean, this is a President who has been in front of world leaders, who have — who has traveled abroad, as you know, multiple times in the past 20-plus months of his presidency and, let’s not forget, as Vice President and, let’s not forget, as senator.

So he has, as we know, a lot of respect for some of these leaders.  He has very close relationships with many of these leaders.  He has done business, if you will, and talked about really key important issues over the last few years, if not decades.  So I think there’s a level of trust and understanding on how this works.

And, you know, I — I also feel as if — I also think that we don’t want to go too far — right? — because we’re still waiting on results.  We’re still waiting on what will happen with — with Congress, both the Senate and the House.

But again, it was a good night for Democrats.  It was a historic night for Democrats.  And like Jake said just from here, just moments ago, the President goes into — you know, goes to Asia with the wind at his back.  And it’s not the first time.  One of the last times he went, it was the bipartisan infrastructure legislation.  You know, there are wins that he — they have seen us deliver on.  And so I think there’s — there is a level of trust with this particular President.

Q    I just want to ask you one quickly on the economy.  Inflation not as high as was expected, but we are hearing about these layoffs at these major companies, Meta and Twitter.  What is the message to American companies who are concerned that those layoffs could be a sign that the economy could be headed toward a recession?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So we are aware of the layoffs at Meta and other — other tech companies that you just laid out, Kristen.  I don’t have a comment on the moves announced by Meta today, specifically.  But more broadly speaking, the most recent jobs and CPI report — the one from today — suggest that the U.S. economy continues to grow, and it’s also adding jobs, which is incredibly important.

And Americans are begin- — beginning to see a much more needed break in inflation.  So that does matter.  If you just look at CPI, let’s not forget the GDP, where we saw the last quarter — we saw the economy grow by 2.6 percent.  All of this — all these data points matter as to how we’re — how we’re growing and where we’re headed in the economy.

Q    You’ve said several times from this perch right here that the White House wants to remain independent from the Justice Department.  I cover the Justice Department at DOJ.  Those folks will say, “We want to stay totally independent.” 

I know Jake was asked earlier by Weijia about this comment with Elon Musk and having people — it’s worthy of looking into Elon Musk’s relationship with other businesses.  He talked about CFIUS.  CFIUS is made up of the Treasury Department and DOJ officials.  The President has been criticized in the past for talking about the Department of Justice and looking into people relating to January 6th subpoenas.  What did he mean — what does that mean when the President says “worthy of being looked into”?  It’s raising some questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, just answered that question.  I’m just not going to go beyond that.  He is — he is, as you know, the advisor to the National Security Council.  I’m just not going to go beyond that. 

And as the President said, and as I have said many times, we just refer you to the committee.  I don’t have anything else to add.

Q    And, Karine, one follow-up.  I wanted to ask Jake this.  When the President meets with President Xi — it’s their first time meeting in person since President Biden took office — when he comes back, I know it’s too early to tell if Republicans are going to take control the Senate, of the House.  If so, even if one body — if they want to investigate — and when I say “they,” I mean Republicans — the origins of COVID-19 — that’s something Republicans have on their agenda; they’ve been talking about it — will President Biden ask President Xi about the origins of COVID-19 and bring up that issue with him in person?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I’m not going to get — and Jake has said this as well — I’m not going to get ahead of the agenda of what they’re going to discuss when they have their bilat. 

Certainly, we will share the conversation and what came up.  The President has always been clear on getting to the bottom of COVID and has been very clear in reports that we have put out on the origins of COVID as well, but I’m just not going to get ahead of that conversation. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The President said yesterday, “I’m not going to change anything in a fundamental way.”  But the President’s approval ratings are still low, with an overwhelming majority of voters in exit polls said the country is headed in the wrong direction, especially on the economy.  So is — how is the White House sort of squaring those two things?  Is — is there no change needed, I guess, in terms of satisfying those voters who are saying that they think the country is headed in a wrong direction?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we think that — well, let me step back for a second.  What the President was talking about then — he wasn’t going to renegotiate — renegotiate things that have already passed, right? 

You think about the Inflation Reduction Act, and you think about what that’s going to do for the American people — lowering costs, which is something that he has said is going to be a priority for him.  And continuing to do that — lowering healthcare costs, lowering energy costs, which — he also said this yesterday — American people are going to feel early next year, which is just a few weeks away, a couple of months — a month or two away. 

And so that’s what — when we talk about that, Republicans were very clear: They wanted to repeal that.  They wanted to take away the Inflation Reduction Act.  And so that’s what the President was talking about, making sure that we do not take away the things that — the things that we have been able to accomplish, the successes that we have been able to see for the American people. 

Look, I know you’re talking about the President’s poll.  But the thing about it is: When you look at these pieces of legislation, when you look at the work that we have done, when you look at the issues that the President has worked on, they’re all popular.  When you think about abortion rights and you think about how — how — how that was a top priority for the — for the American people, that is something the President is working on. 

You think about inflation: Yes, the American people are feeling that every day, but the President has also worked on these issues.  And those are the things he’s not going to stop on.  Those are things he’s not going to pull back on.  Trying to lower gas prices as another example of the things that he’s done.

Q    A question in the back?

Q    Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Inaudible.)

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Prior to the election, the President said that he would send a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade to Congress if Democrats gained two seats.  At best, he may only gain one seat in the Senate, so is it still his intention to send a bill to codify it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So I — I’ll say this: What’s clear in this week’s election — what we saw on Tuesday — is that Americans don’t want to see a constitutional — a right that they had for 50 years taken away.  They made that very clear.  We saw that in California, Vermont, Michigan when they enshrined abortion rights in their own state — from voters.  We saw in Montana and Kentucky where they rejected measures that would have restricted access to reproductive care.  So they made their voices very, very clear.  They want to see their — their access to reproductive care protected, and they want to see Roe codified.  And we’re going to do everything that we can to make that happen from here. 

Again, we have to see what the results are.  I know that you just laid out that we potentially could pick up — have — have the Senate by one, but we just have to see what the complexion of Congress is going to look like, and then we’ll — we’ll move forward from there.

Q    Is there anything else that the President thinks he can do if there is only one seat in the Senate?  Codifying Roe would be difficult.  So is there anything else to ensure abortion access (inaudible)?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, look, you know, the President has certainly taken actions from the federal government, with his — the HHS Agency and Department of Justice.  We’ve laid out executive actions that the President has taken.  We’re always looking to see what else we can do. 

But, again, I mean, the President has always been very clear: In order to really make sure that we protect women’s rights, we have to take action on the legislative level, and he’s going to do everything that he can. 

Let’s not forget, people have said he wasn’t going to get the bipartisan infrastructure legislation done.  He got it done. 

People didn’t think he was going to get the CHIPS and Science Act done.  We got it done. 

People didn’t think we were going to get the guns legislation done in a bipartisan way.  We got that done.  That was after — the last time that we were able to do that was 30 years ago. 

So we have been able to get things done, and that’s because of this President’s leadership.  So, again, we’re going to continue to focus on that and make sure that we actually, you know, deliver for what the American people want from us.

Go ahead.

Q    Hey, Karine.  Can I ask specifically about an area of compromise that has interest from different groups?  Does the President see marriage equality as a potential where — that he and the Democrats can work together with Republicans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, again, not going to get ahead of what — of what — what the next couple of weeks are going to look like as far as an agenda.  Clearly, marriage equality is something that’s important to the President; he has been a leader of, and a strong ally for, the LGBTQ+ community.  And he has spoken to the importance of moving that piece of legislation forward.  And so, of course, we’re going to continue to work on that. 

But I’m not going to get ahead of what our agenda is going to look like before we actually know what the Congress is going to — going to be.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Given the underperformance of candidates who were backed by the former President Trump, what does President Biden believe that says about Trump’s standing in the Republican Party?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, meaning like the — basically, the candidates that he put forward?

Q    Correct.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So — and the President has said this — you heard him say this many times over the last — especially the last several weeks — is that the election was a choice, not a referendum.  As the President said, again, through — throughout the fall, so Republican candidates said their top priority was undoing the Inflation Reduction Act, which would raise prescription jobs [costs], which would raise energy costs and also healthcare costs.  And so they were very clear on how they were going to lay out ways that it would hurt the economy, worsen inflation. 

And so Democrats ran on an agenda that was going to deliver for the American people.

We believe that choice was very, very clear for the — it was made very clear for the American people.  And what we saw was that the American people rejected the MAGA extremism, and they voted for democracy as well. 

And so, I can’t speak to, you know, what — what — what the — you know, what the candidates or what the Republican Party feel about their leader. 

But what I can speak to is what we ran on and what we laid out, and what we heard from the American people on what was important to them and what we can speak to with what congressional Republicans were trying to do, which is take us back, which is take away people’s rights.  And the American people responded.

Q    But — but, I mean, specifically Trump-backed Republicans.  Does the President think that, you know, their losses show that he is losing power within the GOP?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I can’t speak to the support that he has or doesn’t have.  What I could speak to — and as you’re asking me about the particular — you know, the folks that he backed, they were extreme.  Right?  They were MAGA extremists.  And that’s what I mean, right?  They were people who wanted to take away our freedoms, take away our rights, as we talk about abortion and, you know, codifying Roe. 

They were folks who wanted to just pull back and take away the Inflation Reduction Act — actually take that away, something that was incredibly historic.  They wanted to do the opposite of what we’re trying to do, which is deliver for the American people.  They had extreme views, even on — as election deniers — even on democracy.

You heard the President deliver very strong — strong remarks on democracy not too long ago.  And so, he laid that out, what we were seeing from these particular extreme candidates.

And, you know, that’s what we can speak to.  And I think that’s what the American people decided on.  And that’s the stark — the stark differences that the American public saw.

Q    And one quick one on China that I meant to ask Jake, but I didn’t want to ask him four questions.  (Laughter.)  So, on that briefing call, an administration official said that one of the main objectives is to deepen their understanding of each other’s priorities, with a goal of reducing misunderstanding and misperceptions.  What do you think are some misconceptions, misperceptions, misunderstandings that China has about the U.S.?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, you know, I don’t — I don’t want to get into deep specifics.  You know, I think you guys have followed the relationship between the two leaders over the last 20-plus months. 

Look, I think what’s important to note is that — and we — you’ve heard us say this too — the President really think it’s important to have that face-to-face, leader-to-leader conversation.  And — and, you know, the President and Xi has spoken, I think, about five times — which we’ve all read out to you when they have spoken — and this will be the first time they’ll be in person. 

And it — you know, we believe — the President believes it is critical to build a floor for the relationship and ensure that there are rules of the road that bound our competition.  But building a floor is not just about that, it’s also ensuring that we also are working together on areas where our interests align, especially trans- — transnational challenges that affect the international community.

So, there are a lot of things that I think that they are going to discuss.  This will be, again, their first meeting in person.  But don’t want to characterize that meeting too much because I want to make sure that the leaders — the two leaders, the President and President Xi, have an opportunity to have a really in-depth conversation and talk about the interests that matter to both of them.

Q    Karine, Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Karen.  And then I’ll go to the back.

Q    Karine, if you could just talk a bit about the lame duck Congress session right now.  Beyond the must-do items that Congress has to do, like funding the government, what are some of the top items on the wish list right now for the administration that you want to do while you still have the House and the Senate?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, the President is going to look for — is looking forward to talking to both Democrats and Republicans once those results are in.  Of course, the President believes we should get government fund- — keep the government funded, right? — that’s going to be an important priority — including what we need to respond to the — to disasters; continue to defend democracy in Ukraine, as you heard from Jake talk about our commitment to Ukraine; and fight new COVID variants.  So those are the things, clearly, that are a priority for this President. 

And we should pass the overdue marriage equality bill, as I was just asked just seconds ago; pass the Electoral Reform Act and the Defense Authorization bill, as well, which should include Senator Manchin’s permitting bill.  And we need to finish confirming the judicial nominations he made earlier this year.

So those are the things that we believe that’s important to work on.  Again, we look forward to discussing this with Democrats — both Democrats and Republicans, once we know — once the results are in.

Q    And how about something big on the debt ceiling, as some Democrats are calling for right now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, you know, it’s — again, it’s premature to say what the complexion of the House is going to look like.  But the President is looking forward to having those discussion — you know, priorities with Democrats and Republicans, as I was just saying; their congressional leaders.  The debt limit should never be a matter of political brinksmanship, as you’ve heard us say.

The President looks forward to working with Congress to responsibly address the debt limit before its expiration.  But again, we’re going to — we’re going to see the results once they come in.  And he looks forward to having those conversations with leaders from — from both sides.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  You talked a little bit earlier about a list of what the President was able to do versus what he wasn’t able to do.  And for those especially in the African American community who helped win — take Biden to the presidency, when you talk about going forward in these next couple of years, do you think, given those who are recently elected, that you’ll have more or less ground when it comes to issues of criminal justice reform and voting rights?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, as you know, when it comes to those two issues — voting rights, criminal justice reform — that is something that the President sees as a priority.  And when it comes to the Black community, the President has seen their issues as a priority as well.  Right?

I think everything — if you think about everything that the President has done, you think about the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, you think about the American Rescue Plan, you think about CHIPS — the CHIPS and Science Act, you think about the Inflation Reduction Act, all of those pieces of legislation that are now law had what — we believe equity at the center of it.  Right?

The President says all the time he wants to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, because he does not want to leave anyone behind.  He wants to make sure — if you think about the American Rescue Plan, he wants to make sure that people are able — when he put that forward — that people were able to hold on to their homes, that people were able to start small businesses; investing in HBCUs, in education, when you think about the student loan debt — debt forgiveness policy.  All of those things are meant to help families in the African American community but also just Americans across the board.

And so that is something that the President has done to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind.

But to your question about criminal justice reform and also voting rights, yes, that is something that’s a priority that we need to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind.

But to your question about criminal justice reform and also voting rights: Yes, that is something that’s a priority that we need to make sure that we work towards getting — getting those pieces of legislation done.  And the President is going to continue to work with Congress.

Q    Really quickly: For the states who — you talk about the infrastructure bill — for the states who did not use the money the way they — that — that the — that the Biden administration wanted them to —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You mean the American Rescue Plan?

Q    I’m sorry, the American Rescue Plan.  Forgive me.  American Rescue Plan.  Do you think that they have even hurt how some Re- — some pe- — Americans who were not in favor of Democrats or in favor of Biden and gave him low ratings, do you think that might have hurt?  Because even though the money was passed, it wasn’t spent like they thought it was going to be spent in their communities, and so that judgment came right back on the President.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m — let me see if I understood what you just laid out.  So the American Rescue Plan, yes, there are some states that have not used the funding to its — to its full capacity —

Q    Exactly.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Right?  I understand that.

And we have always encouraged those states and worked closely with local officials and — and state — state officials to see — to make sure, to encourage them to use those — those funding, because they’re meant for everything that I just laid out.  And so that’s something that we’re going to continue to encourage, continue to have those conversations. 

I didn’t quite get where you were — what was the second part of your question?

Q    Well, because many Americans may not have seen —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, I see.

Q    — what they thought, that that also may have even hurt Democrats.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I mean, I can’t — I can’t speak to that, because I’ve not seen that — the data on that.  But, look, I think it’s unfortunate — I think it’s unfortunate if local officials or state — or state officials refuse to use the funding that was provided through the American Rescue Plan.

We have to remember what was in the American Rescue Plan.  Let’s not forget the Child Tax Credit that helped lower poverty among children.  We cannot forget how it helped small businesses get going again.  We cannot forget how it opened — helped open schools.  When the President walked in, there were more — a majority of schools were shut down.

So there are — there was so much in that American Rescue Plan that met the moment.  And it is unfortunate if — if politicians use that in a political way, if elected officials use that in a political way, and not give that service that was provided — this funding that was provided to their constituents.  Because, again, the President is not a President for blue states or red states.  He says this all the time: He’s a President for all Americans.

I’m going to take one more.  I’m going to take one last question.

Q    Karine, you said in the back (inaudible) question.

Q    Who did you call on?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Inaudible).  You.

Q    Me?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    Whom exactly Jake has been talking to at Kremlin during the last month?  And what exactly was the aim of these talks?  Was it avoiding escalation or maybe mutual — mutual recognition?  And — or maybe are these talks aimed to lead to something more — for example, the negotiations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, we — I think you’re talking about when Jake was — the reporting.

Q    During the last months.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.  So, you know, I think you’re talking about the negotiations that people are saying — right? — that has been reported. 

So, you know, people claim a lot of things about the conversations that the United States has.  I don’t have any specific conversations to read out to you at this time. 

And — but, you know, we reserve the right to speak directly at senior levels, as you have heard Jake say just — just moments ago, about issues that concern the United States. 

But we want to be very clear: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.  It is — it is — it is something that the President has said; it is something that we take very, very — you know, we take — we see that as a very important strategy moving forward.

This is Ukraine’s decision when it comes to any type of negotiations.  We see our part in making sure that we strengthen, you know, through — we strengthen their — their — you know, their part in this, whether it is making sure that they have the security assis- — the security assistance to defend themselves, as they have been very bravely, or when it’s time, when they choose, to — to negotiate.

But again: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.  So I’ll leave it there.

Thanks, everybody.  Thank you.

2:04 P.M. EST 

Source: White House