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tv   White House Deputy Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  February 14, 2022 7:08pm-7:56pm EST

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this is something that just went out. the president spoke today with prime minister boris johnson of the united kingdom, the leaders discussed their recent diplomatic engagements with ukraine and russia. they also reviewed ongoing dramatic -- diplomatic responses to the buildup on ukraine's
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border. they discussed efforts to reinforce the defensive posture on nato's eastern flank at underlined the continued" a nation among allies and partners -- continued to underline partnerships between allies and partners. there are a few more things for all of you at the top. today marks four years since the parkland shooting. as the president said in a statement, we can never bring back those we have lost. we can come together to fulfill the first responsibility of our government and our democracy. each other safe. for all of those we have lost. for all of those left behind. it is time to uphold the solemn obligation. since his first in office he has worked to uphold that obligation and to save lives by preventing gun violence.
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he called on congress this morning to act including to expand background checks to keep criminals from getting guns. to ban the sort of high-capacity magazines that were used to kill two police officers. he calls for another half billion dollars to fight gun violence. congress will act and the president is not going to just wait and sit back. he has done more than any other president in their first year in history to advance commonsense gun violence prevention measures and he built on that earlier this month with a new mattress announced in new york city. last june he laid out a comprehensive strategy to address a violence from every angle. -- gun violence from every
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angle. the plan is comprehensive addressing both the supply and demand side. contributors to gun violence, pursuing prevention, intervention, and accountability using every tool in the toolkit. regulation, enforcement, budget, the full pit, and legislation and pulling together the federal agencies for a whole of government that -- effort. we are addressing the root causes of gun violence by expanding educational and economic opportunities. where going after dangerous firearms with new proposed -- we are going after dangerous firearms with new proposed rules with modifications of that turn guns -- rivals into pistols. we are looking at strike forces and establishing a zero-tolerance policy for gun dealers who willfully sell guns illegally.
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we are providing cities and states with unprecedented amounts of money including through the rescue plan to invest in community policing and effective community violence and intervention programs and aft. during an event at the white house today, a vice president, harris announced a long side of the sec chair and senior advisor that more than 10 million households are enrolled in the affordable connectivity program. the nation's largest ever broadband affordability program created through the bipartisan infrastructure law. the affordability connectivity program enables low income households to apply for a discount for monthly internet service and a one-time discount on tech equipment such as laptops or computers. this is one of the many ways that the biden administration is
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ensuring that every american has access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. the reports and infrastructure law delivers a historic $55 billion to ensure that every american has access to reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure development that internet service is affordable by lowering costs and increasing competition and creating price transparency. with that, a couple of questions. >> a couple of questions on ukraine. what is your reaction to the kremlin signaling it is ready to invade over ukraine? does the white house see that as fear on the side of the russians? >> thank you for the question. we are working to reach a diplomatic solution to de-escalate the crisis.
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as you know, the president spoke with president putin and we remain engaged with the russian government in full coordination with our allies and partners. the path for diplomacy remains if russia chooses to engage constructively. we are clear eyed about the prospect of that given the steps that russia is taking on the ground in plain sight. this is something that the national security advisor talk about right here on friday. right before our eyes, what we are seeing with russia. we are seeing new russian forces arriving at the ukrainian border every day. as we have said before, we are in the window, when an invasion could begin at any time. we will not comment on any details of our intelligence information except that it could begin this week despite a look of speculation it would happen after the olympics.
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-- and a lot of speculation it would happen after the olympics. it is unclear which path russia will choose to take. america is ready for any situation. president biden has made it clear this weekend that if russia undertakes a further invasion of ukraine, the united states together with our allies and partners will respond decisively and imposed a swift and severe costs on russia. president biden reiterated that a russian invasion would produce widespread human suffering. it would diminish russia's standing. we continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners. president biden spoke with boris johnson, this afternoon, we are in close contact with our allies again and partners across all levels of government.
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our partnership with our european and nato allies have never been stronger. we are collectively in escalating tensions at the ukrainian and russia border. the severe economic consequences and irreversible reputational damage caused by taking innocent lives for a bloody war will only weaken the country, not strength the it -- not strength it. >> is at the view that russia is wanting to -- is that the view that russia is wanted to continue the dialogue? is it sincere? >> we have been clear about this. there's only one country who is currently building up their forces at the ukraine border and that is pressure. as we have stated, we in the
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past 10 days or so always continue to see a buildup. we are open to diplomacy, that are diplomacy is open as we have said. that is what we are heading towards. if -- we will be ready for whichever decision that president putin decides. clearly, we would prefer that passive diplomacy. i want to say one more thing, this is something that my colleague said at the department of defense. a austen is going to travel so that you all have this, the secretary's window mate with allied defense ministers and nato leadership to discuss russia's military buildup around ukraine and reiterate the u.s. commitment to article five and continue the alliance's progress
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on deterrents and ensuring that the alliance is to appear to face challenges. -- ready to face challenges. >> can you give us a status report on preparations for the state of the union message? is there a draft? >> this is a president who was vice president for eight years and he was senator for 36 years and he has spent a lot of time listening to state of the union speeches so he understands the importance of delivering such an impactful speech. the purpose of talking about their successes this past her and how he is with to build on that success, i do not have anything more to share but this is something that is important for him and he is working
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towards delivering a speech to the american public. >> i want to follow up. russia's foreign minister is advising putin. is that the escalation? -- de-escalation? >> we are seeing more than a hundred thousand troops at the border. it has been every day more troops. we are certainly open to having conversations and seeing de-escalation. right now, this is the door that is open for diplomacy and this is up to president putin. it is his decision to make on what direction he wants to
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take this. >> russian units moved into attack positions, is that the understanding of this administration of what you are seeing? >> own are into any intelligence information, we are not going to show that. what we have seen and the national security advisor said this himself, we have seen an increase of forces at the border. not a decrease. what we are saying to president putin with our european allies and partners, we have been working in lockstep for the past several months. that are diplomacy is open. -- that door to diplomacy is open. conversation is the path we would like to take. >> jake sullivan got the attention of the entire world
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with the urgency of the briefing that he gave on friday. is the situation as eminent today as it was on friday? >> jake was also on the sunday show yesterday and again, we are in the window of when an invasion could begin at any time. i am not going to comment on the intelligence information except to say it could begin this week despite alla speculation it would only happen after the olympics. >> this is a follow-up. i understand that you will not stop a true buildup but russian groups say that they have lessened military exercises that have caused concerns. >> i'm not in a position to confirm that but i know that john kirby spoke to that moments ago. >> about ukraine and the
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vatican, we have reports saying that ukraine has turned mediation and they have invited the pope to visit the country as soon as possible. does the president support such efforts? >> i cannot confirm if he is aware or not. >> will the administration support the effort? >> i need to talk to our team. >> there are no guarantees that the u.s. has agreed to make available forces for the ukrainian economy. you need about $200 million to guarantee that. does the administration need to make more appropriations available to make sure the program works? >> i can confirm that it is something we are considering as part of the additional
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microeconomic support. we are exploring to help ukraine's economy and midst pressure resulting from the military buildup. i do not have any specifics on the appropriations. >> could you support some ukrainians who are not -- would you support ukraine joining nato? >> nato membership, nato has an open-door policy. that is something that ukraine will have to decide on its own. that is not something that we are in consultation with or are even deciding on. that is something that nato and ukraine has to decide on. that is up to them on how they move forward. >> jake said that two leaders, president biden and putin are talking and discussing the state of play.
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do you have any idea of what the discussions are and if anything has occurred? >> jake sullivan had a conversation this morning with one of our european partners and allies. >> u.s. and russia. >> i do not have anything to read out or predict. you mean on the staff level or -- >> principal level. >> our staff has been in constant contact with russia and ukraine and our nato allies as well. >> there are concerns in terms of european economic sides of things. domestic things, does the white house economic team look at anything to pursue if anything comes to pass about what you could do about the oil market and the stability of markets? >> i do not have anything to
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read out at this moment. as we talk about energy, that is one of the things you are asking about, we are working with countries and companies around the world to ensure the security of supply and mitigate against price shocks affecting the american people and the global economy. we are continuing our discussions with major producers around the globe to supply and meet demand. the energy supplies is transiting ukraine would most likely affect a gas markets in europe. we are engaging our european allies to coordinate response planning including how to deploy their existing energy stockpiles. we have been working to identify additional volumes of non-russian and natural gas from north africa in the middle east to asia and the u.s..
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we thank japan for sending energy to the region. we ask about gas producers around the globe to understand capacity and willingness to surge and natural gas output and allocate these values to european buyers. we are engaging with major buyers and suppliers of lng to secure flexibility and enable diversions to europe. >> ukraine officials saying that the president believes that an invasion is eminent. it is sarcastic or ironic. is that sarcasm or irony in the
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white house? >> here is what i can tell you about that. i heard the statement but i have not heard it in context. the irony of it i could not speak to. i am not going to speak to intelligence matters as i have said, our intelligence with the ukrainians. we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time. it remains unclear which path russia will choose to take. we do not know it is his decision to make, we remain engaged with the russian government. the path for diplomacy remains available if russia chooses to engage against -- chooses to engage constructively. we are coordinating with our partners in case they attack ukraine. >> is the expectation is that
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the president will interview nominees this week? does the demonstration know that there is a short list of people being considered? >> after having a series of conversations and good discussions with lawmakers from both sides of the party, legal expert scholars, the president is reviewing materials as he considers deeply qualified candidates as we have said w ith integrity and the rule of law. i do not have any information on who he has interviewed. we do not have anything else to share for today or for the he hal
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nominees. to answer your last question, he is on track to select a scott us -- scotus nominee. reporter: real quick, that looks like that may happen tomorrow. have you lined up all of the democratic votes? ms. jean-pierre: we are confident they will be confirmed with bipartisan support and urge the senate to confirm him tomorrow. it is critically important to have confirmed leadership at the fda in the midst of a pandemic, as we all know. he had a strong bipartisan showing coming out of committee including from ranking member burr. he was confirmed 89-4. many folks who supported him then are still in the senate. we are in a daily contact with
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hhs. officials are making a lot of calls to the hill, figuring out need, information. secretary becerra is making calls in support to a bipartisan group of senate offices. he is scheduled to meet with 47 senators, and that number continues to increase. his bonus -- it is one of the highest number of meetings for any nominees done so far. reporter: in his conversation with president putin, did president biden give him any signal for how he could de-escalate? would it have to be something difficult like moving forces, could be something in the realm of verbal, is there anything the
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president set out as a cue to tamp that down? ms. jean-pierre: the call was professional and substantive. it lasted a bit over an hour, as you will know from the readout. the presidents agree that our teams would stay engaged in the days ahead, but there was no fundamental change in the dynamic. reporter: just to close the loop on the supreme court, you are not saying the president -- ms. jean-pierre: just to be clear. potential interviews. reporter: the president has some travel schedules this week, but given the volatility of world events, do you anticipate, i know this is hypothetical, but often when there are unpredictable events, there can be changes to the schedule. do you think that can be a situation where the president would remain at the white house if things were to change? ms. jean-pierre: as you said, it
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is hard to read in hypotheticals or give an answer. the president deals with multiple things at once, and that is what this president is prepared to do. reporter: on the ripple effects of a potential invasion, is the administration prepared to block russian oil imports to the u.s. if russia invades, given imports have reached their highest in 11 years? ms. jean-pierre: i just laid out what we are doing. we are talking to countries and companies around the world, engaging with them on all of the different potential outcomes if this were to happen. i don't have any more specifics than that. one of the things we have said over and over again, and the president has made this very clear to vladimir putin, is if russia chooses to invade, there
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will be swift and severe economic consequences. reporter: wouldn't it be difficult after all of the rhetoric we have put forward about russia needing to not invade ukraine, pressuring germany to come out strongly on nord stream 2 as a possible punishment if they were to take this step -- wouldn't it be tough for the u.s. to continue to import russian gas? ms. jean-pierre: it's a hypothetical. i am telling you we have been very clear, the president has been clear, we all have been clear either from this podium or direct communication with russia, whether it is with the president or leadership, that if they were to invade, in coordination in lockstep with our allies that there would be severe, decisive economic
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consequences. reporter: can you confirm if an invasion -- why would the white house want a provision like that in a sanctions package? ms. jean-pierre: we have been clear about this. the president said this during his press conference last week with the german chancellor, if russia further invades ukraine, there were no longer be a nord stream 2. we will bring an end to it. at this moment, nord stream 2 is not operational. reporter: is the right house -- white house directing congress -- ms. jean-pierre: that is the first i'm hearing of that. i am just telling you where we have been in a strong and definitive way on nord stream 2.
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reporter: second topic, the durham investigation. does the president have any -- using computer experts to infiltrate computer systems of competing presidents or even the president-elect for the goal of creating a narrative? ms. jean-pierre: that is something i cannot speak to from this podium. reporter: monitoring internet traffic -- is that spying? ms. jean-pierre: i can't speak to that report. reporter: generally speaking -- ms. jean-pierre: i refer you to the department of justice. reporter: what message does it send to the ukrainian government to be closing the embassy? ms. jean-pierre: the embassy in kiev? i know the state department made an announcement on it earlier. the state department announced today that they are temporarily
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relocating our embassy operations in ukraine from our embassy in kiev due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of russian forces. a core team of embassy staff is remaining to engage with the ukrainian government, coordinating diplomatic efforts. i just wanted to also say, because the state department put out a statement on this, the state department has no higher priority than the safety and security of americans around the world. that of course includes our colleagues serving at post overseas. these precautions in no way undermine our support for our commitment to ukraine, our commitment to ukraine sovereignty is unwavering. we continue our sincere efforts
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to reach a diplomatic solution, and remain engaged with the russian government, and the secretary's discussion with the foreign minister. the path for diplomacy remains available if russia chooses to engage in good faith. we look forward to returning our staff to the embassy as soon conditions permit. in the meantime, we have made this very clear, these measures, the safety of our staff -- we strongly urge any remaining u.s. citizens in ukraine to leave the country immediately. that has been our message for the past several days and several weeks. reporter: does the white house have any comment on the russian figure skater in the doping investigation? ms. jean-pierre: that is not a comment -- i refer you to the
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committee, the olympic committee. reporter: the d.c. mayor announced a vaccination requirement, the mass mandate will be dropped by the end of the month. does the president support this? ms. jean-pierre: let me lay some stuff out for you here because i know this is a question many have had. a number of governors have announced changes based on conditions in their states, that is not new. what i can say from here, as dr. fauci has said, as a country we are making strong progress towards moving to a time where covid is no longer a crisis, and dr. walensky has clearly said the cdc is looking at all of their guidance, including mask guidance in light of declining cases and hospitalizations. that may be getting lost in some of the reporting, the cdc made
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clear they are looking at their guidance. we want to make that very clear. the cdc has to move carefully and deliberately to make sure these good trends are confirmed across the nation. the cdc has a responsibility to make guidance for the entire country and everyone. they must consider its impact on a variety of constituencies, including people who are disabled, immunocompromised and most vulnerable. we are spending significant time and energy on the path forward, working with experts and leaders within and outside the government, and if this progress continues, we expect updates in the weeks ahead. this is a huge, huge responsibility we do not take lightly. one that we take very seriously. we want to make sure we get this right. reporter: during the conversation on sunday, the president of ukraine reportedly
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asked president biden to visit ukraine, and said a visit would be a powerful signal that could contribute to the de-escalation. ms. jean-pierre: i don't have any travel plans to announce or preview at this time. i will say this, as you know, president biden smoke with zelensky -- spoke with sil ski this weekend, secretary blinken spoke with the foreign minister this morning, and we are in regular contact throughout the administration, including at the white house, state department, defense department. i laid out travel to secretary of defense will be making. the president has dispatched a number of senior administration officials to visit ukraine in recent months, including secretary blinken.
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our northstar has been nothing about ukraine. we will continue to coordinate closely with ukraine as we try to reach a diplomatic solution to the end of this crisis. reporter: could i bring you back to the gun issue? a bunch of years ago, a large number of people in the obama administration fought fiercely for closing the gun show loophole, and described it as the least that could be done. a ban on assault weapons. you did not mention any of that, the president's message did not mention any of that. is it fair to assume that either this president no longer thinks those things are needed, or has
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simply abandoned any hope of getting them passed? ms. jean-pierre: i would not assume that. one of the things i did say is we are encouraging congress to act, as well. there is a legislative component to this as you laid out. that is important as well. i want to read a couple of quotes about the president executing on his historic, comprehensive strategy. there is support therefore it. i know you are talking about a specific thing, but i want to not just take our word for it. brady has called the president's plan historic, and said the administration is taking comprehensive action to address violence in our country. the biden harrison administration -- commended the biden-harris administration for announcing a comprehensive strategy.
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gun violence is a complex problem, and as stated, requires an array of solutions. president biden and vice president harris understand. this is a quote from giffords. every town said president biden is taking the comprehensive approach we need to address this crisis. is there more work to do? absolutely. the president is going to do everything he can from his perch to get this done. reporter: if the things he is pushing on that list, that he talked about, that would be good enough? ms. jean-pierre: we are not calling it good enough. he is doing everything he can from his perch from the white house, federal government, and using every tool in our toolbelt. that is what we try to do to make sure we are addressing a real problem, gun violence. the other part of that is urging congress to act as well, but he
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is not going to sit back. he is going to act. reporter: he is not going to push a ban on assault weapons, or closing the gun show loophole that just a bunch of years ago, he described as vital. ms. jean-pierre: we are constantly in conversation with folks in congress, with leadership, congressional members, senators, that is on an array of issues. the president is going to continue to fight to make sure we get these guns off the street, and truly deal with gun violence. he is doing his part from the white house, and will continue to work towards that effort. reporter: afghanistan. the biden administration appears to be downplaying some accounts involved in the evacuation, a spokesperson said the criticism was cherry picked, president
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biden rejected those accounts. two questions i want to ask to clarify. one, does the white house agree that the evacuation should have been started earlier, which is what some senior military officials have asserted, and secondly, did jen misspeak last week? ms. jean-pierre: to your last question, no, jim did not misspeak. -- jen did not misspeak. this is not the review on afghanistan, that report will examine the final months of america's longest war in cover from february, 2020 through the end of the evacuation. the me just say something i think is really important. i'm going to quote john kirby
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who did a show yesterday, i believe this was fox news. " i would also add here in washington, we have been planning for an evacuation as far back as april. there was no effort by washington, certainly not by the national security council, specifically to slow down the planning, slow down those pre-positioning of forces that we did in the summer. to slow down the actual execution of the evacuation." this is john kirby. these were documents that assert impressions and perspectives, which are very important down at the tactical level in real time. we need to conduct a larger, more strategic level after action review to get the whole sense of this, and we are doing that. that report is one important review of what occurred that
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day, but it should not be mistaken for a full follow-up on the last month of the war in afghanistan. reporter: different topic. on the supreme court, you said the president has not conducted any interviews yet. does the white house, will the white house disclose which candidates the president does interview with? ms. jean-pierre: but i can promise you right now is the president -- what i can promise you right now is the president will make his selection by the end of this month. that is what we know, that is what he stated, that is what we will do. reporter: vice president harris is headed abroad to the munich security conference. can you talk about what the white house hopes she will accomplish there, and is she going to be the sole representative of the administration in some of these meetings? ms. jean-pierre: i don't have any specifics, but i can say we are very proud to have the vice president leave the delegation
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to munich. i do not have any specific details. i am happy to talk to the team to see exactly what her schedule is going to look like. the president is proud she is going to be representing the united states. reporter: couple of quick ones. can you confirm whether president zelensky asked president biden to come to ukraine this week, and whether the administration considered it at all? ms. jean-pierre: all i can tell you is what i just said. we do not have traveled to confirm -- travel to confirm. that is what the president's schedule looks like, certainly not confirming to go visit ukraine. our focus right now is to continue to have the conversations on the staff level to continue to make sure we keep the door to diplomacy open. there is too much at stake, there human lives at stake which is what the president told
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president putin and that is our focus. how do we stop a war? reporter: pfizer withdrew its application for the vaccine for young kids. is that a disappointment? ms. jean-pierre: the fda is committed acting urgently to save lives, and they continue to work with pfizer to review additional data on its vaccine for kids under five. in recent days, new data emerged regarding pfizer's submission to the fda for its vaccine for kids under five years old. based on the assessment of the new data, the agency concluded additional information regarding a third dose should be considered as part of any authorization. the initial data has been helpful to the process, but the fda believes more information including the impact of a third
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dose is important to the evaluation. that is the process right now. that should give parents competence in the process. we want to make sure the process is working. the fda is in the middle of a thorough process to review this vaccine, and if vaccine is authorized, it will have met fda's rigorous standard. as a parent myself, you should be very proud the fda is doing this. reporter: on the d.c. mask mandate, do you -- ms. jean-pierre: as always, local communities will make their own decisions as they have throughout the pandemic. we are going to do is abide by the cdc guidance. local communities make that decision. reporter: the white house is not
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following -- ms. jean-pierre: to be clear, we are going to follow the cdc guidance. reporter: is there discussion in the white house about -- ms. jean-pierre: i don't have any insight on that, that is another hypothetical i can't answer. what i can say is we are proud she is leading the u.s. delegation to munich, and that is scheduled to happen. reporter: on the embassy in kiev, do you know if -- ms. jean-pierre: i do not have that information for you. reporter: [indiscernible] ms. jean-pierre: can you say
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that one more time? reporter: [indiscernible] ms. jean-pierre: the russian issue in particular? secretary blinken was in the region, where he met with the quad. it was an opportunity to discuss russia's ongoing threat to ukraine. they discussed the threat that the aggression poses not only to ukraine, but the entire international rules-based order, which has provided a foundation for decades of shared security and prosperity for the region and around the globe. throughout his meetings with the quad partners, secretary blinken discussed the challenges russia poses to the rules-based international order, and our readiness to support our allies. reporter: [indiscernible]
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should india follow u.s. actions as well? ms. jean-pierre: we are not going to go into specifics. we have been clear about discussions, not going into details. beyond what we read out from the secretaries meeting last week. we are working closely with a range of allies and partners, including india. reporter: what role does president biden expect india to play in the quad? ms. jean-pierre: we will continue to put -- build a strategic partnership in which the united states and india work together to promote stability, collaborate on health, space,
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cyberspace, deep in our economic technology cooperation, and contribute to a free and open indo pacific. we recognize india is a like-minded partner, and leader in south asia, and the indian ocean, active in southeast asia, a driving force of the quad and engine for regional growth and development. thanks, everybody. don't forget those flowers and candy. >> antonio guterres


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