Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:44 P.M. EST

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Happy Monday.  As many of you are tracking, this week, House Republicans will vote to raise gas prices on American families.  The contrast in priorities could not be more stark.  The President spent the last two years, as you know, doing everything he could to lower gas prices for American families, and prices are down about $1.60 a gallon since last summer.

Now, House Republicans are using their narrow majority to force the American people to pay higher gas prices, just as big oil companies are amassing record profits.  What’s even more alarming is that this isn’t — this is only — this is not the only attempt by House Republicans’ majority to raise costs on middle — middle-class families. 

House Republicans are also pushing a tax increase on middle-class families, an inflation-worsening tax cut for the rich, and high prescription drug costs as well. 

These extreme policies would subject working families to immense financial pain and balloon our deficit, all just to benefit the wealthiest taxpayers and big corporations.

Joining me today, as you all see to my right, is Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to talk about how the House Republicans’ latest attempt to raise prices for American families will result in oil supply shortages and help Putin’s war aims by interfering with our ability to release oil.

Secretary Granholm, the floor is yours.  Thank you for joining us.

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Great.  Thank you so much, Karine.  Appreciate it.

Hello, everybody.  I’m honored to be here again.  As Karine said, you know, President Biden really has been singularly focused on reducing costs for American families, especially energy costs, especially both transportation as well as at home, whether it’s, you know, increasing the biofuel blends of gasoline to offering additional funds through weatherization for lowering costs for low- and moderate-income households.

But particularly, he has acted to shore up additional oil supply following the market disruptions that were the result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  Coordinating with allies and with partners through the International Energy Agency, he secured globally a collective release of 240 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves worldwide.

As Karine said, the average price of a gallon of gas is now down about $1.60 from last summer’s peak, about a 30 percent decline.  And, in fact, prices are lower today — gas prices are — than what they were at the start of Russia’s invasion.

Analysts who have looked at this have credited the releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for filling the supply gaps that were resulting from the invasion and the lessening of Russian oil on a global market, and have credited the SPR with lowering prices.

Earlier in January, for example, the Global Head of Energy Analysis for the Oil Price Information Service said, and I’m quoting him — his name is Tom Kloza — “There is no question that SPR sales mitigated the price impact of crude last year.”

Yet, as Karine said, House Republicans are now pursuing this extreme agenda that risks worse- — worsening supply shortages in times of crisis, and risks raising prices — gas prices for American families.

When you consider H.R. 21, which is a bill that they’ve introduced, it needlessly aims to weaken the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s usefulness as a tool to ensure energy security in America.  The SPR — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — gives us the means to increase supply when the market need it — needs it most, and it gives us the tool to increase it quickly — “quickly” being the operative word.  Speed is key.

But H.R. 21 would impose unnecessary, unhelpful restrictions on when the SPR can be used to help provide supply.  It would require these arbitrary reports regarding energy production on federal lands before waiving any new restrictions.  It would not offer any tangible benefits to the American people.  Instead, it would interfere with our ability to be responsive to release oil de- — during an international emergency, helping Putin’s war aims.  It would potentially delay allowing oil to be released for domestic emergencies following a natural disaster or a pipeline outage at home, leaving, again, prices at risk of rising during — in the wake of a market shock because of emergencies due to extreme weather events.

As I noted in the letter I sent to the Hill last week, be clear: There is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil and gas production.  In fact, production is on track for a new record in 2023.

From the beginning, the President set out to use SPR as a bridge, boosting oil supply while the production ramped up.  So, production was down globally because of Russia’s invasion and the pulling of Russian barrels off the market.  He wanted to increase the Strategic Petroleum Reserve amounts to make a bridge while calling upon domestic oil and gas industry to increase production.  And that is exactly what has happened.

Today, the SPR remains the largest strategic petroleum reserve in the world.  And with our plans to refill it at the lowest — you know, at lower prices than what we sold at, the use of the SPR not only saved Americans money, but these releases will end up delivering a return for taxpayers.

And so, it’s not a tool that we should be taking off the table.  We are willing to work with Republicans and with Democrats alike to make our system — actually do it — more reliable and more resilient, and our country more energy independent, and costs more affordable.

The Inflation Reduction Act is already reducing costs, and it’s made the United States the most attractive country in the world to invest in clean energy production.  We believe there’s room for bipartisanship to advance a managed transition.  We believe that there is room for bipartisanship to expand our ability to create more affordable, reliable energy in America.

But proposals like H.R. 21, which risks raising these gas prices and making it offer to — harder to offer Americans relief in the future are simply nonstarters.

So I’ll be very clear: If Congress were to pass H.R. 21, the President would veto it.  He will not allow the American people to suffer because of the backwards agenda that House Republicans are advancing.

So, with that, I’m happy to take your questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Let’s go to the back.  Alex? 

Q    Thank you.  Secretary, two questions, please.  First, on our exports of liquefied natural gas and the criticism that some environmental groups have surfaced regarding that and climate change, can you address that?

And number two, Texas is now, I think, poised or has already surpassed California in renewable energy production.  Is there — what do you make of Republican states like Texas going in on green energy?  And are there lessons to be learned from the way they’re doing it, as opposed to blue states?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Yeah, so, first, with respect to LNG, we know that our liquefied natural gas exports have been a significant help to our allies. 

And it’s an important — it’s very important to make sure that they have the means.  We are fortunate in that we have an abundance, obviously, of natural gas in this country.  Our prices are low.  But during times of challenge, we want to help our allies as well. 

We want to make sure it’s the cleanest natural gas, which is one of the reasons why the Inflation — excuse me — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law really invested in carbon capture strategies and storage strategies. 

So, that’s an ongoing issue and an ongoing conversation we’re having with industry, and that includes reducing methane as well. 

But with respect to Texas, what an opportunity for every state to be able to produce clean energy.  And, in fact, a Politico story this morning suggested that there was an abundance of announcements coming out of red states.  Great!  That is fantastic. 

We want to be able to see energy — clean energy produced in every pocket of the country: blue states, red states.  Really, it helps to save people money, so it’s really all about green.  And green in the sense of: Yes, it’s helpful to the planet, but it’s also helpful for jobs.  And it’s also helpful for us to be energy independent, which is exactly what the President would like to see — homegrown clean energy, independent — so that we are strong and resilient. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Steve.

Q    What sort of conversations with the Senate have you been having about H.R. 21?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Well, we — I think the Senate knows the position that we have with respect to it, and we’ll see what the Senate does with it. 

But obviously, I think there’s a lot of concern that — anything that it hampers.  I don’t care whether it’s a Democratic president or a Republican president; why would you hamper the ability of the country to be able to respond to emergencies and hamper the ability of us to be able to lower costs as a result of those emergencies?

So, I think the Senate understands the importance of that and hopefully will act accordingly. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thanks, Madam Secretary.  You mentioned the refilling or replenishment of the SPR.  I know in January, you guys, I think, kind of rejected offers that you didn’t feel like were adequate to start that process, kind of delaying, at least from the February perspective. 

What’s your sense of how successful the process you guys have laid out will be, given this first delay or insufficient offers?  And do you have any concerns about the ability to get exactly what you need based on the floor and the plan that was laid out a couple months ago?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Yeah, I have no concerns that we will be able to refill and replenish the SPR and do it at a savings to taxpayers.  And our goal was to start with the first 60 million barrels of replenishment. 

The offers that we received did not meet specification or price.  And so, we’re going to — stay tuned for an announcement on how we’re going to go back at that first 60. 

But we have a three-part strategy too.  One is to accelerate some of the exchanges that were announced before to get those back in. 

And second was: In the omnibus bill at the end of last year, we canceled the sales of the congressionally mandated sales for ‘24 and ‘25 — up through ‘27, actually.  So, there was a significant savings of having to send out oil. 

But we’re going to continue to work on this.  I think, in the end, because of the way this has been managed, people will be pleased to see the savings to taxpayers. 

Q    Just real quick, could you tease a little bit of the statement that we’re supposed to be staying tuned for?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Well —

Q    Maybe a little bit?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Just stay tuned.  It’s going to happen very soon.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Just a couple more.  Go ahead, Ed, and then April.  

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Thanks, Secretary Granholm.  So, gas prices are now up 33 cents over the past month.  The President took credit for the prices coming down.  The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as you mentioned, is no longer releasing.  Does the President get credit for the price of gas going up?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Well, it’s obviously based upon international and climate events. 

So, for example, Winter Storm Elliott pulled 2 million barrels off the U.S. market because of refineries that went down.  That crimp in supply causes prices to go up. 

What happens in China?  Are they going to be opening up soon?  Is there expectations regarding an increase in demand? That is something that happens on a global market. 

The whole point of this is that this Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a tool that we have, that we can control.  We may not be able to control the weather.  We may not be able to control what happens at OPEC+ or China.  But we can control what we have access to, and that’s why this tool is so incredibly important. 

We’ll see what happens with respect to the price of gas.  We know that there are still refineries that have been pulled down, both for maintenance as well as because of Winter Storm Elliot.  But in the end, we think it’ll — it’ll be balancing out soon. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, April.

Q    Secretary Granholm, two questions.  You’re sounding the alarm about H.R. 21.  But let’s say they do pass in both the House and the Senate and, for whatever reason, the President didn’t veto.

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  That’s a big assumption. 

Q    I know it is.  (Laughter.)  And (inaudible).  As you’re sounding the alarm —

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Yeah.

Q    — and we’ve seen some of the most — the highest gas prices we’ve ever seen in this country.  If H.R. 21 were to pass and be signed into law by the President, what would it look like at the pump for the average American?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Prices would go up because we would have lost this tool.

Q    But how high?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Well, it’s hard to know because we don’t know the circumstances around it.  We don’t know what would be the reason for — for actually exercising an additional action at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  But know this: Prices would go up because we don’t have this tool. 

And again, it’s always in response to an emergency, like war or like, you know, an extreme weather event.  We do know that taking that tool off the table would harm the American family. 

Q    And lastly, the second question: When the President did release the strategic oil reserves and — and a million-a-day gallons came out — or barrels — whatever the —

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Million barrels a day.

Q    Yeah.  I forget the numbers.  But in the midst of that, there were some communities that felt the relief.  Other communities did not, particularly those in urban areas; there was price gouging, et cetera.  Could you talk about that?  Because we’re still very — we’re still — this is — this could actually happen again, at some point. 

And could you explain why there was such a difference in communities with gas prices in one community versus the other?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Yeah.  I mean, there — there are definitely differences in terms of infrastructure across the country.  And so, some rural areas, for example, or some who might be at the very end of a — of a line or may not even have a line — that may get it trucked in — it takes longer and it’s more expensive. 

If you’re not near a refinery, that’s another reason why the transportation costs are tacked on at the pump.  So you’re seeing, for example, when refineries go down in regions, then the prices go up in those regions much more than they would nationwide. 

So, a lot of it depends on local infrastructure.

Q    But specifically, the urban areas.  Because there was still a big pinch in urban areas with these gas prices when the outlying communities, particularly majority white communities, were seeing the drop to $3, and many of these urban areas were seeing $4 and $5 gas prices.  Could you speak to that?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Yeah, here’s what I would say, is that, obviously, gas station owners are often indi- — they’re often owned by individuals.  Most of them are not part of the branded oil companies.  Most of them are owned by individuals. 

And so, if an individual is taking advantage in a region, that is something that for sure — I know I did when I was an attorney general — local attorney — I mean, state attorney generals should go after because gouging is illegal.  You cannot take advantage of a crisis to jack up the prices in that way.

So, we en- — we encourage local law enforcement to really get on it, because that should not be happening ab- — absent some other, dis- — you know, infrastructure lack that might cause prices to go up.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, last question.  Kelly O.

Q    Since you oversee the nation’s nuclear arsenal and it’s 11 months now with war in Ukraine, has anything changed in your management, maintenance, and so forth of the nuclear arsenal, given the potential concerns of war and some of the threats that have come from Russia?

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Well, it is clear that we are singularly focused at the NNSA of making sure that we have a stockpile that is safe, secure, and effective.  And so, all of the modernization plans that are happening at the NNSA are — are pointed in that direction.

So, it is — we’re watching this very carefully, obviously.  But people should know that we have an incredible relationship with the Department of Defense and incredible professionals — professionals who are experts at the NNSA who are focused on making sure that those three things — safe, secure, and effective — are the adjectives that we apply to the stockpile.

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

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  Okay.  Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Appreciate it.

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  You bet.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks for coming, again.  It’s always good to have you.  Thank you.

SECRETARY GRANHOLM:  All right.  Great.  Thanks, you guys.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay, just a couple of things, and then we’ll get going.

Thank you, guys.

As you saw last night, the President and the First Lady shared their condolences for those killed and injured in the deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park — which is in California, as you all know — this past weekend.

The President was briefed early yesterday morning by his Homeland Security Advisor, Liz Sherwood-Randall — -Randall, and directed her to ensure full federal support for local officials responding to the situation.  She continued to provide him with updates throughout the day and evening.

Our team continues to be in regular contact with law enforcement officials leading the response, and the President has been briefed today on the latest developments.

As the President said last night: While there is still much we don’t know about this attack, we do know how deeply it has impacted the AAPI community.

Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this past weekend.

But instead of celebrating, yesterday many families in Monterey Park were grieving or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds.

Last night, the President lowered the flags at the White House to half-staff to honor those who lost their lives this weekend.

Now, turning on to another piece of news for all of you. 

As you all saw last week, the State Department launched the Welcome Corps, a new private sponsorship program that will create opportunities for Americans to directly sponsor refugees from around the world arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in U.S. refugee resettlement in four decades and will make a meaningful difference in the lives of refugees and Americans alike.

The Welcome Corps program is designated to strengthen and expand our country’s capacity to resettle refugees by harnessing the energy of private sponsors from all over the United States.

Local communities have long been at the heart of America’s resettlement program.  And we have seen over the past year the overwhelming response of the American people to welcome our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, and Venezuelans fleeing violence and oppression.

The Welcome Corps builds on this enthusiasm by establishing a durable program for Americans to privately sponsor refugees from around the world.

Groups of private sponsors will help refugees find housing and — and employment, enroll children in school, and connect with other essential services so they can thrive in their new home.

The State Department is working with a consortium of non-profit organizations with expertise in welcoming, resettling, and integrating refugees into U.S. communities to make this program a success.  This Welcome Corps team will pro- — will guide private sponsors through every step of sponsorship journey.

Our goal for the program’s first year is to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to step forward as private sponsors and offer a welcoming hand to at least 5,000 refugees. 

I’m proud to share we’re already off to a strong start, thanks to the generosity and tremendous support of Americans across the country.  Nearly 250 diverse organizations representing every sector, national and community-based service organizations, veterans’ groups, and a wide diversity of faiths have already joined in expressing their support for the program.  More than 100,000 people have visited the Welcome Corps website since its launch this past Thursday, and over 10,000 people have signed up for more information. 

And this week, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Ambassador Susan Rice and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer will host a briefing with stakeholders to dicu- — discuss the Welcome Corps.

President Biden made a commitment to rebuild, enhance, and expand the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and the Welcome Corps is one of the many ways in which we are doing this.

We encourage anyone who is indeed interested in sponsoring refugees to visit WelcomeCorps.org to learn more about the program.

Finally, we have a preview for some new travel on the President’s schedule for next week.

Next Monday, the President will travel to Baltimore, Maryland.  And next Tuesday, he will travel to New York City to discuss how his economic plan, including his success bringing Republicans, independents, and Democrats together to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is strengthening America’s economic competitiveness, creating good-paying jobs, and proving that we can still do big things when we all work together.

In Baltimore, the President will discuss how Bipartisan Infra- — Infrastructure Law funding will replace the 150-year old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel — as you — many of you have probably experienced and gone through during your — your outing in your cars — to address the largest bottleneck for commuters on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

In New York City, the President will discuss how Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project will improve reliability for the 200,000 passengers trips per day on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

Both projects will create good-paying jobs, including union jobs; lower commu- — commuting times; and enhance safety.

These two critical, important projects funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, much — much like the — the Brent Spence Bridge project connecting Ohio and Kentucky that the President visited just a few weeks ago, alongside Senator — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with thousands of other projects across the country, will make life better for people in communities nationwide.

During both visits, the President will also discuss how his economic plan to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out is leading to billions of dollars in private sector investments in Maryland, New York, and across the country.

With that, Zeke, you want to kick us off?

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Does the President or the Vice President have any plans to visit the community in Monterey Park in light of this weekend’s shooting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, that’s a good question.  Don’t have anything to share at this time on any travel to California, specifically Monterey Park, at this time.  But if we have — if that changes, certainly we will share that with all of you.

Q    And then, over the weekend, there was a reporting that Ron Klain will be stepping down as Chief of Staff, being replaced by Jeff Zients.  Can you confirm that?  And when will that changeover be effective?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I know many of you have a lot of questions on this.  I know that you might have some — a lot of questions today on this particular story.  I don’t have anything to preview or share or announce at this time. 

I do want to take just a personal — pers- — point of personal privilege, as — when the President was senator would say.  Look, Ron has been an incredible boss.  He is someone that I’ve enjoyed working with every day. 

And we are — many of us — and I think all of us here are a part of the “Klainiacs.”  If you don’t know, I would suggest you go on Twitter and find out what the Klainiacs are. 

But he has been an incredible leader, an incredible boss, as I just stated.  And we credit the President, as we should, for the impressive legislative successes, historic successes that the President has had the first two years.  But in part, it was because of Ron’s leadership — incredible leadership that we were able to get that done. 

So, again, don’t have anything to share with you all today at the — on this front. 

But, again, Ron has been an incredible, incredible leader these past two years.

Q    So just an out-of-context praise for Ron?  (Laughter.)

And then — I’ll let some of my colleagues follow up on that one.  And then, finally —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Feel free.  I’m sure they won’t be shy to follow up.

Q    On the — on the FBI search of the President’s home —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes.

Q    — on Friday.  The President, when the initial batch of documents were reported a couple of weeks ago, said he was “surprised” the documents — that there were classified documents down at the Penn Biden Center.  Was he surprised that there was classified material found at his home on Friday, as well the prior discovery at his house a few weeks ago?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, again, there’s going to be a lot of questions on this.  I know my colleagues from the White House Counsel’s Office has been pretty diligent on taking questions these last couple of days. 

They’re going — there’s going to be a call in less — I think less than an hour or so from my — White House Counsel Office.  And look, they’re going to answer the questions from — from — from here. 

Any specifics, the Department of Justice — any specifics to this particular legal matter, I would refer you to the Department of Justice. 

I’m going to continue to be prudent from here.  I’m going to be — continued to be consistent and make sure that those questions go to my colleagues in the White House Counsel’s Office.

Go ahead, Mary.

Q    Another question on the documents.  You have said, though, from this podium many, many times over the last two weeks that this President takes the handling of classified material very seriously.  And yet, we continue to learn about more documents being found and discovered at his home, including now some that go back decades to his time in the Senate.  So why should the American people believe that this President takes classified material seriously, and the handling of it?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, the President — the American people heard from the President directly on this when he was asked by your colleagues, at least twice now, about —
about how he sees this process.  And he was very clear what — with the response of what we’re currently seeing.  And he says, “I take this very seriously.”  He said, “I didn’t know that the documents were there.” 

And look, I think, as it relates to the American people and the President standing with the American people, it is going to be up to them to decide how they see this President. 

Look, this is a President that came into office — 9 million people had lost their jobs, the unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, and hundreds of thousands of small businesses had closed their doors. 

And in the past two years, we’ve created nearly 11 million jobs, the unemployment rate is at a record low at 50 — a 50-year record low.  And the last two years were the best years for small businesses’ applications on record.  We talked about that last week just from here. 

The President has built the most significant legislative record since LBJ.  Let’s not forget, there’s the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure legislation.  I just walked through what he’s going to see next week when he’s traveling to Baltimore and also New York City.  The Inflation Reduction Act, which is going to deal with lowering costs. 

So, the President has been in office for the last two years focusing on the American people, and, you know, we saw that.  We saw what the American people had to say during the midterms.

As it relates — again, as it relates to this, as it relates to this ongoing legal matter, I would refer you to — to my colleagues at the White House Counsel.  Again, they’re going to be speaking with all of you in just — in just less than an hour or so. 

Q    But I do want to ask one more time, because you have been the one messaging that he takes this seriously.  You have also been saying over and over again that you are cooperating fully —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah.

Q    — with this investigation. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That hasn’t — that hasn’t changed, Mary.

Q    But given that, why then did it take several searches and the FBI coming in to uncover the full extent of the documents at his house?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I understand your question.  I — I’ve said many times, the President has said many times he takes this very seriously.  You’ve heard directly from him.  You’ve just said that his team is cooperating fully. 

And just want to add, you know — and you heard from his team — that the FBI was invited into the President’s home.  I’m not going to go beyond that.  That is — that was in the statement that was released on Saturday. 

Again, these are questions that should — that have been answered to our — you know, that have been answered from here, that has been answered from my colleagues.

Anything else, my colleagues or — my colleague is going to speak to all of you in just a few minutes — a few moments.  And you can ask more — more intel and detailed questions.

Q    But I do just want to clarify one thing that you just said.  You just said the President said that he “did not know the documents were there.”  I’m not actually sure he has said that that clearly.  Are you saying the President did not know —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, he said he was surprised.

Q    — that any of the documents were there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He said he was surprised. 

Q    Any of the documents?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He said he was surprised.  I’m just going to leave it there.  And I’m going to refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office.  He — I’m just repeating what he said.  And he said —

Q    But I wanted to clarify what you just said.  You said he —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He said —

Q    — did not know the documents were there. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He said he was surprised that the documents were there.  He said that and that he takes this very seriously.  That’s what I want to make sure that the American people understand.  And I just refer —

Q    But can you understand why the American people might question that?  Given that you keep every — I mean, every few days it seems we are finding that more documents have been found at his house. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What I’m telling you is what the President has said, which is he takes this very seriously.  I will refer you to detailed explanations from statements that have come from his — from his personal lawyer. 

Again, anything further on this, my colleague is going to be taking your questions, Mary, in — in the four o’clock hour.  I would refer you to them.

Go ahead. 

Q    Has Ron Klain told the President that he’s leaving, planning to leave?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Don’t have anything further to share.  And just to — to be very clear, Ron Klain is still very much the Chief of Staff.  He is still here with us.  I just don’t have anything to share.

Q    Does the President think Jeff Zients would be a good Chief of Staff?  (Laughter.) 

Q    What about Steve Holland?

Q    Ha!  No — 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Steve Holland, do you want to be Chief of Staff?  (Laughter.)  I think I hear a — I hear a name.  Someone just called you out as — as poten- — Chief of Staff material.

Q    So, this popped up on Friday.  When will Speaker McCarthy visit President Biden?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So don’t — don’t have a meeting to share at this — with all of you at this time.  The President is looking forward to — to sitting down with Speaker McCarthy to talk about an array of issues that —

And this is — this is — this is normal, right?  During a new Congress, it is normal for the President to sit down with the Speaker to talk about how they can work together. 

You heard the President say this right after the midterms, how he wants to work in a bipartisan way with members of Congress to deliver — to continue to deliver on the successes that he has had this — this first two years in good faith.  He wants to do this in good faith. 

So, once there’s a meeting locked — locked in, we certainly will share that with all of you. 

Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On the debt limit, Senator Manchin, I think today, called the White House position on the negotiations, quote, “not responsible.”  And yesterday, I think he called it a “mistake.”  I understand what your position is.  Is there any concern that Democrats not siding with that position could undercut the effort you guys are trying to put into place over the next four months?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just let me — look, lowering the deficit has always been a top priority when it — for this President.  As you know, he’s lowered the deficit in record fashion at $1.7 trillion under his presidency.  And he has said — he’s always said he is happy to talk to anyone who wants to deal with — with that in a responsible way.

But preventing default is a separate matter.  That is a separate matter within itself.  It is a basic responsibility for Congress.  We’ve said this over and over and again, and I’ll continue to say this.  And it’s the responsibility that they — that Congress has to the American people.

And so, it must be done without conditions, even — even as they’ve pushed for a tax givea- — giveaways to the rich.  Republicans want to cut Social Security; they want to cut Medicare and other critical programs.

And let’s not forget — these critical programs have already been paid into.  These are programs for veterans, for seniors and taxpayers.  This is what we’re — they’re talking about taking away from these really critical — critical programs for critical groups here.

So, President Biden will never — will never allow Republicans to cut benefits that our hardworking Americans have earned.  This is what they have earned.

So — but I’ll also note, as it relates to Senator Manchin and to your question, Phil: He agreed on the need to protect Social Security, he agreed on the need to protect Medicare, and called on Republicans to take cuts to those programs off — this is a quote — “off the board right now.”  And so, just want to make that very, very clear as well.

Q    Are you actively asking Democrats not to break ranks on this issue? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’ve been very clear.  I don’t —

Q    Do not form groups.  Don’t start meeting with people —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, we’ve been very public about this.  You guys have all covered what we have said from here about how we see this process moving forward, that it should be done without conditions.  This is something that has been done 78 times, when we’re talking about lifting the debt ceiling, in the pa- — since — since 1960, I believe.  This is not unusual.  It was done three times in the past — in the past administration, under Donald Trump.

So, this is nothing unusual.  This is something that should be done without conditions.  And we should not be taking hostage key programs that that the American people really earned and care about.  Social Security, Medicare — it should not be put into a hostage situation.

And again, the President is going to continue to fight for — for those programs.  And we’re going to be very clear about how we see how Congress should move forward.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  The President said last week that he has no regrets when it comes to the handling of classified documents.  Why doesn’t he have regrets, given that classified documents keep turning up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I talked about this last week.  I’m not going to go beyond what the President said.  Again, I would refer you to the White House Counsel for anything further on — on this legal matter.  Again, I’m just — I spoke to this yesterday.  I’m just not — last week, pardon me — last Friday.  I’m just not going to go beyond what the President —

Q    But that’s not a legal question.  It’s about his statement —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I understand.

Q    — from last week.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I understand.  And I said I’m not going to go beyond what the President said, and I think it speaks for — speaks for itself.  I’m not going to go into what he meant or didn’t meant.  He laid it out.  He said it to all of you when he was — when he was out — out, I believe in California, when he answered one of your colleagues’ question or when he addressed this particular matter.  I’m just not going to go into what he meant or didn’t mean.

Q    But going back to what Mary was asking, when — the President says that he takes classified material and the handling of it very seriously.  This weekend, top Senate Democrats, who have known him for decades, described this situation as “unacceptable” and “completely irresponsible.”  What’s the disconnect here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  They also said, I may add — if I may add — that the President is handling this in the appropriate fashion, that the President and his team has been completely — complying completely with — with the investigation.  They also said that.

And so, I will — I will leave it up to — their comments up to them.  I’m not going to go beyond what they have said.  But they also said that piece too, and I think it’s important to note that they believe that the President has handled this properly, as well.

Q    Who’s paying the President’s private attorney on this matter? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, it’s his private — it’s his private attorney, so I would leave it —

Q    So, he’s paying them?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would — I would — I would just say it’s his private attorney.  Any questions, anything in particular to this, I would ask the White House Counsel Office.

Q    We’ve asked his private attorney at least four times, and they haven’t given us an answer.  Don’t we deserve to know whether he’s paying for it or a super PAC or the DNC?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I hear you.  No, I totally understand, Nancy.  My colleague is going to be speaking to you moment in — momentarily.  You can ask that question in that conversation — on-the-record conversation with all of you.

Go ahead.

Q    On Friday, when we were here, you were asked about the President going to Rehoboth and if that had anything to do with searches, and you declined to answer that.  Did you know Friday there was a search going on at the President’s home? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I’ll say this — and I think I said this on Friday as well: They go to Delaware almost every — every weekend.  We put out guidance last Monday, as you know — Monday night — that they would be spending the weekend in Rehoboth.  So, it was indeed preplanned.  So just want to put that out there.

And I’ll just, you know, put — I’ll just mention what was said in the statement just on Saturday, which is the DOJ requested that the search not be made public in advance, in line with its standard procedures.  And we — we did adhere to that. 

As you can understand, that is something that we are going to take very seriously.  And it was, again, a request from DOJ for us to make sure that we did not make that public in advance.

Q    Should we anticipate other searches are possible?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That part, I would definitely refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office.

Q    More broadly, given the fact that classified documents and their handling have been an issue, has the White House Counsel put out any guidance to staff members here who have the opportunity to interact with classified materials to just reaffirm how that should be done?  Or has there been any follow-up on proper procedures for staffers — not the President, not this circumstance?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, no I get — I understand the question.  Again, you’re going to have an opportunity to ask that very question to the White House Counsel’s Office about if they’re going to — you know, what’s their next steps as it relates to staff.  That’s something that’s better for them to answer, and they’ll be speaking to all of you momentarily.

Go ahead.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  I wanted to ask about — the President of Turkey today so that he would not support Sweden’s bid to join NATO.  Obviously, the U.S. supports that.  Is there concern that that bid could fall through?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, just a couple of things that I want to make sure — I want to echo the comments of the Swedish Prime Minister, who said, “Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply respectful [disrespectful] act,” and “what is legal is not necessarily appropriate.”

As we have said before, Finland and Sweden are ready to be NATO Allies.  Both are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partnership.  Their militaries work seamlessly with Alliance forces. 

Finland and Sweden have already taken concept steps — concrete steps — pardon me — to fulfill the commitments they made under the trilateral memorandum of agreement with Türkiye signed on the margins of the NATO Summit in Madrid, including substantial strengthening their bi- — substantially strengthening their bilateral cooperation with Türkiye on key security concerns.

We continue to expect that NATO will formally welcome Finland and Sweden as members.  This will enhance their security as well as that of the Euro-Atlantic region.

As their membership process continues, the United States is fully committed to Finland’s and Sweden’s accession.  The strength of that support can be seen in our Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan vote for their membership just weeks after their application was submitted.

Q    And just checking, did you mean “disrespectful” or “respectful”?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Disrespectful act.

Q    Okay.  Just making sure.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you for the clarity.  “Deeply disrespectful act.”

Q    And just one more question.  There’s a proposal right now in Congress to tie the debt limit to GDP.  Would the White House entertain anything along those lines?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, it’s basically what I just laid out.  Like, when it comes to dealing with the deficit, it’s something that the President has made his top priority.  As I mentioned earlier, $1.7 trillion was the record — was the — the — the record that the President was able to lower the deficit under his administration.

Any ideas — he takes any ideas that come to him in a responsible way.  He’s — he’s happy to listen.

But again, this is a separate matter.  When you’re thinking about preventing default, it’s a separate matter.  And so he believes it should not be done — it should be done — pardon me — without conditions.  And it should be done in a bipartisan way, as it’s been done many times before.  I mentioned the number 78 that’s been done.  It’s 78 times since 1960, 3 times under the last President.

And again, it should be done without conditions.  And that’s where we stand on that.

Go ahead.

Q    Karine, can I have a follow-up to the question about Turkey?  Have you all spoken with Turkey since they expressed this public outrage?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have a conversation to read out to you at this time.  I know that we’ve had — been asked if — if we — if we see them as reliable partners.  I was asked this last week.  And my answer to that was “yes.”

Q    Okay.  And I wanted to ask you a follow-up, actually, about this new members reception that is coming up.  Do you have any guidance on how many new members the President intends to have?  And a follow-up to that, actually.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes — no, it’s a good question.  Don’t have any numbers to confirm to — with — to you at this time. 

Q    So it wouldn’t be the whole class?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I would have to go back to the Office of Leg Affairs.  As you know, that process is run through them.  I don’t have a number to share at this time on who is confirmed to attend.

Q    And is George Santos invited?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I — I do- — (laughter) — I love how everybody laughed at that.
Q    But it’s not funny.  (Laughter.)

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, look, as you know, it’s a — it’s a — it’s a event for the new member — the new — the new Congress, so everyone is invited who is part of the new Congress.  I just don’t have a confir- — a confirmation on who is attending at this time.

But I understand the question.  I just don’t have that.

Go ahead.

Q    All right, I hope you have an answer for this one.  On the debt ceiling crisis: There’s so many different agencies and different social programs that are impacted. 

But I want to ask you this: As we’re watching this, once again, mass shooting, are there programs right now that are in jeopardy because of the debt ceiling that are targeted on gun violence, mass shootings; targeted on, you know, trying to — to fix this gun crisis in the nation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, to your — kind of to your first question, one of the things that we have called out is Republicans threatening to — to default, to force cuts on Social Security, to force cuts on Medicare.  And that is indeed programs that could be at risk, which is why we continue to call this out, which is why we have said we should not be using this as a political football, which is why we have said that, in the last — since 1960, 78 times this has been done in a bipartisan way. 

And it is the basic responsibility of Congress to deal with this issue, because there are programs that are incredibly important to the American people that would be in jeopardy if this is allowed.

There’s a couple of validators that I just want to read out to you.  Mark Zandi, Moody’s Ana- — Analytics, said, “Financial markets and the economy will crater.” 

Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, that many of you speak with: “A default would be catastrophic [a catastrophe].  It would mean higher borrowing cost forever.” 

And lastly, Wendy Edelberg from Brookings: “It’s playing a game with the U.S. economy and people’s lives that I think is irresponsible.”

So, yes, there are programs that will definitely be at risk if this is the — if this is the direction that Republicans in the House decide to take.

Q    Okay.  So, another follow-up to this.  Are there efforts afoot in this White House, up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, to safeguard if there is this crisis that continues to loom?

For instance, you know, you talked about Social Security checks.  Not just Social Security — Medicaid, Medicare, and military checks and other items.  Are you guys working on any kind of process to be a safety net so that the military can get paid, so that these checks can come out in the midst of this crisis, as you’re fighting about raising the debt limit, that is constitutional?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, it’s a very good question.  And you’re right, veterans, senior citi- — seniors are taxpayers.  This is — if — if Republicans go down this road, they will be the ones who are hurting here.

We’re going to continue to do what you’ve been seeing us do and hearing us, from — from myself, from this President, which is call this out and say very clearly that we are — we are — we — Congress should get this done without conditions.  And that’s what you’re going to continue to hear from us.

Q    But again, are there any meetings, any conversations about plan B, plan C, plan D if this does go into that moment where checks aren’t going out?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, April, I hear your question.  I’m saying there’s not — there shouldn’t be a plan A, plan B, plan C.  There should not be.  This should be done without conditions.  We should not be negotiating around this.

This is — again, the last president — under the Trump administration was done three times in a bipartisan way.

So, again, we’re going to continue to talk about this.  We’re going to be very clear and continue to have conversation with Congress.

We are talking to Congress.  I talked about this last week, how the office of Leg Affairs has been — has been doing outreach to new members of Congress in particular to let them know who is their point of contact, what conversations — opening up for conversations on things that are important to them.

And so we are having those conversations and will continue to — to engage with Congress.  But again, this should be done without — without conditions.  Seventy-eight times that — that Congress has been able to do this.  And it is their basic responsibility.  Their basic responsibility.

I’ll go in the back.  Let’s see.  My gosh.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  Tomorrow, Democratic congressional leaders will be coming to the White House.  What does the President hope to achieve?  And will the debt ceiling be one of the agenda items discussed?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, a range of issues.  As you know, this is how these conversations happen.  There’s always a long agenda of items that both — both sides want to talk about.  I’m not going to get ahead of what the conversation is going to be or what’s going to be actually discussed.

Look, the President has said very clearly — he said very clearly: When it comes to this new Congress, when it comes to moving forward to deliver for the American people, he’s — he wants to do this in a bipartisan way, he wants to build on the successes that we have seen the last two year.  That has not changed, and that’s working with Democrats —

Q    (Inaudible) Republican leaders —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — that’s r- —

Q    — as well to that meeting?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, we’ve already — we’ve already mentioned that there’s — this is going to be part of a series of meetings that will be happening.  We’ve talked about the President looking forward to meeting with Spe- — Speaker McCarthy.  So that is — we’ve already said that.  This is just one of the first of series of meetings.

But, look, again, the President, right after a historic — a historic midterm elections for a Democratic president in 60 years — when you look at how the Senate turned out, when you look at that there wasn’t an actual red wave that was being reported on — that he wants to do this and continue moving forward in a bipartisan way.  That’s what the American people wants to — wants us to do.  And so that’s always going to be how the President is going to lead into these conversations.

Q    And on the energy bill, Secretary Granholm outlined that she doesn’t want the U.S.’s ability to draw down these strategic oil reserves to be hampered in a time of future crisis.  But would the administration support a minimum threshold of oil to keep in those reserves for national security purposes?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, I’m not going to get into any policy decisions that the Department of Energy is going to be making.  You heard directly from the Energy Secretary from here — right here at the podium — moments ago.  I’m just not going to get ahead of any potential policymaking.

Go ahead, Andrew.

Q    Thanks.  The President is scheduled to go to Camp David this weekend.  Just to clarify, should we read any- — anything into that?  And does he have full access to his homes right now, both Wilmington and Rehoboth?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would — I would refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office.

Q    And then, just really quick.  I know you can’t say much about the Chief of Staff, but can you say whether any women or people of color were considered for his next Chief of Staff?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, we don’t have an announcement.  We have not made an announcement.  Don’t have — 

Q    Or are being considered?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I understand.  You’re asking me about a process.  We haven’t made an announcement and don’t have anything to share on that front at this time.

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you so much, Karine.  A follow-up on the story in the New York Times this weekend about Russia’s agents could be directing far-right groups to mail bombs in Spain.  Is the White House concerned that Russia could carry out terrorist attacks in European countries that are supporting Ukraine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  As we — as — you’re asking about the letter bombs that was — has been reported on?  Look, I’m not going to get into intelligence matters or any ongoing investigation.  But there are a couple of general — general points that I would like to make. 

First, we take extraordinarily seriously the safety and security of our personnel — personnel abroad, including at Embassy Madrid.  That means we’re doing everything possible to work with Spanish partners to figure out what happened here and prevent similar threats in the future. 

Second, we’ve offered the Spanish full cooperation and support in their ongoing investigations.  And they know the importance — they know the importance to us of this matter and importance they, of course, share, obviously.

The Spanish are good partners, and we’re up apre- — we’re appreciative for the seriousness for which they are taking this and responding to it. 

Again, I’m not going to go into any — any more details on when it comes to an intelligence matter.

Q    And another question about Brazil.  The attacks in Brazil is linked to also far-right groups here in the United States.  Members of Congress here are already asking the administration to share information on either some of the planning who were actually taking place here. 

Is the administration sharing information with the Brazilian authorities about that?  And is there concern that the attacks originating here?  And what could we do to counter that from happen- — from these kind of attacks being planned here, either in Brazil and other countries?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I totally understand the question.  I want to be very mindful on any intelligence matters.  I would — and I don’t want to comment on diplomatic discussions here.  So, I’m just going to leave it — leave it there.

Q    Can I just — one more about that — about that.  Is the White House considering sanctions — imposing sanctions on individuals or corporations involved in the January 8 attacks in Brazil?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, don’t have anything to share on sanctions.  I totally understand your question, but don’t have anything to share on that — on that piece at this time.

Okay.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you so much.  I have some Africa questions today.  First of all, how does the White House feel about the Russian Foreign Minister being in Pretoria, being warmly welcomed and preparing to host naval drills with South Africa together with China?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, you know, we have — the United States has concerns about any country, as we’ve said before –country exercising with Russia while Russia wages a brutal war against Ukraine.  We’ve said this before.  We’ve been consistent on this.  Of course, every participating country will make their own decision. 

But again, we have said this before: We do have concerns.

Q    Have you expressed this to Pretoria?  Or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have — don’t have any conversations to read out.  But we’ve been very, very consistent as it relates to this.

Q    And then, on other Russian involvement on the continent.  On Friday’s announcement that Wagner has a new designation as a terrorist group, I believe: What are the consequences for African governments that work with them — Mozambique, Mali, so on and so forth?  Is that going to affect the amount of cooperation between the U.S. and those countries?  And is that something maybe that Secretary Yellen might be talking about with those leaders during this trip?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Again, I will leave any conversation that Secretary Yellen is having with leaders — or has had with leaders — to her to speak to and to her office to speak to.

Look, we have — we’ve been very clear about our concerns, especially as Russia, as we have said many times, is doing this brutal war against Ukraine.  And — but I’m not going to go beyond that.

Q    Karine?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  I’ll come back to you.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  On the economy.  So, more companies are announcing layoffs.  We’re seeing retail sales drop off for two months in a row now.  And inflation is back to 40-year highs.  Is this the stable growth that you’ve been talking about?  If not, when does that stable growth get here?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’ve been very — very clear.  And when you think about the inflation, it has been a — look at the CPI data that came out recently, PPI data that came out recently — we have seen that inflation has been going down for the past six months.  And that is because of the work that we have — that this President has been doing since he walked into the administration, focusing on crises — right? — focusing on COVID and making sure that there was a comprehensive way to deal with COVID, and making sure people got shots in arms; making sure that the American Rescue Plan was passed.  That was only voted by — by Democrats in — in Congress. 

And those actions that he has taken has helped deal with the economy, has helped actually create 11 million jobs, has made sure that manufacturing jobs — 750,000 manufacturing jobs have been created here. 

Look, we are still seeing transition to a stable and steady growth.  That is what we’re seeing when we look at the data. 

And, look, yes, there are layoffs that you’re ta- — you’re asking me about.  And we’ve previously said, on the broader economy, layoffs remain near record lows according to job opening data. 

So, these — we’re looking at the data.  And this is what the data is — has been telling us. 

And also, let’s not forget, unemployment — unemployment is down by — is the lowest that we have seen it in 50 years.  And so, again, this is an economic policy, an economic plan that is working.  And a lot of it is because the President has taken bold steps.

Q    But when?  When can Americans see that stable growth you’re talking about?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, I think you look at this — again, I pointed to the CPI data, I pointed to the PPI data, where we have seen inflation coming down.

Let’s not forget the Inflation Reduction Act, where it’s going to be implement- — implemented in the next couple of months, where we’re going to see Americans actually feel — feel some relief when it comes to prescription drugs, when it — with Medicare being able to negotiate, something that they have not been able to do. 

And so, look, the President has taken this very seriously, has an economic plan that’s going to help Americans build the economy from the bottom up and middle out.  And that’s going to continue to buil- — to be his focus. 

Look, what we have been saying is we want to work with — with Republicans, Democrats, and independents to continue on the successes that we have seen in the last two years; continue on the historic — historic legislation; implementing those legislation.  And that’s what you’re going to see from this President. 

Go ahead, Peter.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  When you found out that the FBI had located even more classified materials in Wilmington, which four-letter word did you use?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  (Laughs.)  Oh, my goodness, Peter.

Q    Can’t say?  (Laughter.)  Okay.

President Biden is still intending to run for re-election in 2024, right?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’ll just repeat what the President said after the midterm election, which is he intends to run. 

I’m going to be very careful from here, as you know, because we are covered by the Hatch Act.  And I’m not going to speak further to his process.

Q    Is there a precedent for people running for President after FBI agents search their sock drawer?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Say that one more time.  Say that beginning part. 

Q    Is there a precedent for people running for President after —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It sounds like you —

Q    — FBI agents are —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It sounds like you already know that — the answer to that question.

Look, here’s what I — here’s —

Q    I don’t know the answer to that question.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  No, here’s — here’s — here’s — here’s —

Q    An FBI search of a President’s residence is a big, big deal.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Here’s what the President is going to focus on: He’s going to focus on continuing to deliver for the American people.  That’s his focus.  That’s what he focuses on every day.  That’s what he’s been focusing on the last two years.  And nothing is going to change that. 

You think about the bipartisan infrastructure legislation.  You think about the Inflation Reduction Act.  You think about the CHIPS and Science Act.  Bipart- — those — the bipartisan one — the last two that I mentioned, done in a bipartisan way.  That’s what the President wants to do. 

He wants to continue to deliver on his economic plan that is going to build the economy from the bottom up, middle out. 

Q    And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  That is what matters to the President.

Q    — the House Oversight Committee Chairman says this document situation has all the makings of a potential coverup.  Is President Biden involved in a coverup?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We have been very clear here, from this administration.  The President has been very clear that he takes this very seriously, when it comes to — that — when it comes to classified information, when it comes to classified documents.  And that his team has been — has been fully cooperative with this legal matter. 

Anything else, Peter — and this is — I’m going to be very serious.  You asked me, kind of, a question that everybody laughed at, which was an interesting question to ask.  But any other — any other underlying questions that you may have, I would refer you to my colleagues, the White House Counsel. 

I’m going to continue to be prudent.  I’m going to be — continue to be consistent, and refer you to — any questions you have there. 

Go ahead, Joey [Michael].

Q    Thanks, Karine.  We are approaching the statutory deadline for the President to submit his budget to Congress.  The deadline is the first Monday in February, which is two weeks from today.  So when does he plan to submit that budget?  And will he do it before that deadline?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Joey [Michael], it’s a good question.  When we have more to share about that budget process, certainly we will have that to share with you. 

The OMB is some- — that is something that the OMB is working — an issue that the OMB Director is working very hard on and very closely on.  Once we have more to share, we certainly will lay that for you — lay that out for you. 

Go ahead, Karen. 

Q    Has the President invited the Justice Department to search his home in Rehoboth, Delaware?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office who will be speaking with all of you pretty soon.

Q    Okay.  And on January 12th, in response to my question, you told me “The search is complete.  He…” — the President — “…is confident in this process.”  But since then, the searches have continued, more documents have found.  Is the President still confident in this process and how his lawyers have carried out the search for material in his residences?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  He’s confident in this process.  And my colleague has talked about this.  This is an ongoing process.  And, you know, we’ve continued to provide the information that we’ve had at the time. 

Anything else — anything specific, underlying issues on this or questions that you may have, I would refer to the White House Counsel’s Office.

Q    And a non-process question then.  We had a poll with Ipsos — ABC News/Ipsos — that was taken before the most recent items were discovered that found that 64 percent of Americans believe the President acted inappropriately in the way he handled classified files.  How worried is the White House that this issue is hurting the President’s trustworthiness in the eyes of Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, our focus is going to continue — basically, what I’ve said to your colleagues — on delivering for the American people.  That’s going to be our focus.  That’s what the President is going to do every day in and out, which is: What can we do to make the lives of Americans a little bit better?  And that’s what he has done. 

And I’ve laid out the historic pieces of legislation that the President was able to do, some of them in a bipartisan way.  And many of the pieces of legislation that have passed by his economic policy plan has changed the lives and will change the lives of millions of Americans across the country.  That’s going to be our focus.

I’m not going to go into, you know, a rabbit hole or go into details or thoughts about polls.  That’s not what I’m going to do from here. 

What we’re going to do is talk to all of you every day about what our message is to the American people, and continue to have that healthy back-and-forth, and talk about our policies, talk about what the President is doing, again, every day with the Vice President, with his team, to make sure that we deal with issues that truly, truly matter to the American people. 

Just yesterday, you saw — you heard from the Vice President in Tallahassee, who talked about an issue that mattered to the American people. 

We saw that — right? — coming out of the midterms, which is making sure that women’s rights were being protected.  When you think about Roe, yesterday it would have been Ro- — 50 years of Roe, which was a constitutional right for Americans.

And so, that’s what Americans want to continue to see us do: fight for their rights, continue to deliver in a way that they can feel it.  Right?  When it comes to gas prices, bringing those prices down.  When it comes to healthcare costs, bringing those costs down.  And that’s really going to be our focus.

Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thank you.  When you and the White House and the President all say that the President takes these classified documents very seriously without commenting on the ongoing legal issue, what would you point us to that would demonstrate that seriousness?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to really refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office.  I — I am.  I’m going —

Q    So you can’t tell us how —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I am.

Q    So the President continues to say that he takes —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I am.

Q    — this seriously — 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well —

Q    — and you can’t demonstrate —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Wait.  Hold on.  I —

Q    — how he takes it seriously?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Let me just finish.  Let me finish my answer. 

Q    It’s been a —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to — I’m going to refer you to the White House Counsel’s Office, and I’m going to refer you to the statements that you’ve received from his personal lawyer. 

I’m going to refer you to the 45 minutes of conversation, of back-and-forth that my colleague has had with all of you last week.  He’s about to do another one where you can ask questions about this particular legal matter.  Again, that’s where this belongs.  That’s where I’m going to refer you to. 

But, again, you’ve seen the statements.  You’ve heard from the President a couple of times.  You’ve heard from his personal lawyer.  You’ve heard from the White House Counsel’s Office. 

And that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Q    On a different topic then.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Sure.

Q    The House has passed bipartisan legislation that would ban the export of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Chinese companies.  Given that oil has flowed to China from that reserve during both this administration and previous one, is that the type of reform that the President would potentially support?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I think this is a little bit of what the Secretary was talking about just moments ago.  This bill addresses a non-issue; we’re very clear on that.  We focus — we’re focused on advancing legislation that would lower costs for American families, not raise them. 

So, I’m just going to leave it there.

Q    Thanks, Karine. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, go ahead. 

Q    Just two quick ones.  One, does the Pres- — I know the President has answered a few questions here and there.  But is there any plans for the President to come out and sort of address this investigation in a more fulsome way, give more of a detailed timeline?  I know you’re referring us to the Counsel’s Office, but I’m wondering if we will hear more fully from the President himself on this matter.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, as you just stated in your question to me, the President has addressed this — spoken to — about this a couple of times.  And I don’t have anything to announce right now. 

But he’s going to continue, again, to take questions from all of you, as he has done these past several months — these two years.  And he’s going to take these questions, as he understands, on behalf of the American people as you guys ask questions and — and do your reporting. 

Just don’t have anything to announce specifically on that question. 

Okay.  Thanks, everybody.  See you tomorrow. 

3:48 P.M. EST

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/01/23/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-and-secretary-of-energy-jennifer-granholm-2/