Live: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds briefing

Live: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds briefing

oh um um all right right there oh yes um okay family everybody is is [Music] okay i did yeah it’s a good questions right um um okay i know um uh he’s off today thank absolutely [Music] okay oh thank you kind of going up okay thank you [Music] is let’s try this okay um we are pleased to have a return uh guest uh our national security adviser jake sullivan who will give some brief opening remarks and then take some of your questions so with that i’ll turn it over to jake thanks jen good afternoon everyone i’ll make some comments and then as jen said i’m happy to take your questions i want to start once again by saluting our troops and civilians at the kabul airport kabul fell just over a week ago within 48 hours they had secured the airfield they had safely and effectively drawn down our embassy compound and retrograded our embassy personnel they have now facilitated the evacuation of more than 37 000 people out of the country since august 14th american citizens third country nationals our afghan allies and afghans at risk of persecution or worse in the last 24 hours alone 28 u.s military flights have evacuated approximately ten thousand four hundred people from kabul in addition 61 coalition aircraft have evacuated approximately 5 900 additional people that is more than 16 000 people in 24 hours and the flights are continuing hour by hour as we speak we have established a network of transit centers in multiple countries in the gulf in europe where we are getting u.s citizens on flights home and we are running biometric and biographic background checks on afghan evacuees before bringing them to the united states or having them relocated to a third country all told 26 countries on four continents are contributing to this effort one of the largest airlifts in history a massive military diplomatic security humanitarian undertaking a testament to the power and purpose of the united states and our allies i want to provide an update on american citizens we’ve helped thousands of americans leave kabul already we’ve contacted americans still in afghanistan by email by phone by text to give them specific instructions we have developed a method to safely and efficiently transfer groups of american citizens onto the airfield for operational reasons i’m not going to go into further detail on this many people have asked reasonably why we cannot provide a precise number of american citizens still in country let me explain when americans have come to afghanistan over the years we asked them to register with the embassy many have left without deregistering others never register at all that is their right of course and it’s our responsibility to find them which we are now doing hour by hour in the days remaining we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the american citizens who want to leave kabul this operation is complex it is dangerous it is fraught with challenges operational logistical human and it’s produced searing images of pain and desperation but no operation like this no evacuation from a capital that has fallen in a civil war could unfold without those images the question is are we on track to fulfill our objectives of this operation to bring out our people so many of those afghans who helped us and so many of those afghans at risk and we believe we are as we conduct these operations we are sustaining the highest level of vigilance for an attack against the airport by isis-k or another terrorist group our commanders on the ground have taken every step they can to prepare for such an attack our president has authorized every capability that those commanders have asked for to protect the airfield against such an attack we remain in close touch with allies and partners to coordinate the evacuation of their own citizens and their priority personnel as well as to respond to the ongoing political and security situation in afghanistan the president has spoken twice now with the british prime minister he has spoken with the german chancellor the french president the spanish president the italian prime minister the emir of qatar and the crown prince of the uae tomorrow he will participate in a g7 leaders meeting on afghanistan to ensure the world’s leading democracies are aligned and united on the way forward we are working with partners to address the acute humanitarian needs of the afghan people and we will remain persistently vigilant against the terrorism threat in afghanistan and in multiple other theaters we have proven in other places that we can suppress terrorism without a permanent military presence on the ground and we will do the same in afghanistan finally we are deeply moved by the outpouring of support from so many americans so many of them veterans to help the afghan evacuees those afghans at risk our afghan allies settle here in the united states this is the best of the american spirit and we look forward to working with them in the days weeks and months ahead and with that i would be happy to take your questions a taliban spokesman has said that it would be a red line for the u.s to keep troops in afghanistan past its own august 31st deadline are you engaged in talks with the taliban over extending that deadline and how are those talks going we are in talks with the taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels i’m not going to get into the details of those discussions here to protect those discussions which are covering a wide range of issues we are also consulting closely with our allies and partners on the issue of the evacuation and its progress in fact the president just got off the phone with the british prime minister a short time ago we are taking this day by day we believe we are making enormous progress and taking a step back a week ago i don’t think almost anyone in this briefing room would have thought we’d be standing here today with 37 000 people already evacuated from the country we believe we’re making progress we’re going to keep making progress and the president will ultimately make his decision about the precise shape and scope of the operation has the president decided whether he is going to need more time beyond august 31st to get all u.s personnel and afghan people out of the country as i said the president believes we are making substantial progress dozens of flights thousands now tens of thousands of people evacuated from the country we believe today will be an efficient and effective day and tomorrow and the next day as well and as i said he is taking this day by day and will make his determinations as we go yes just to follow up does the administration think that they need taliban agreement to extend beyond august 31st as i said we are engaging with the taliban consulting with the taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in kabul right now on what’s happening at the airport on how we need to ensure that there is facilitated passage to the airport for american citizens sivs third country nationals and so forth we’ll continue those conversations with them ultimately it will be the president’s decision how this proceeds no one else’s yes okay you said you we have the wherewithal to get americans out but you didn’t it forgive me if i didn’t get the quote right so in your statement but you didn’t say that we have the ability to get them out he didn’t set a time frame by august 31st so is that as i’ve said before as the president has said before we believe that we have time between now and the 31st to get out any american who wants to get out yes yes i i wanted to ask you said that you have said multiple times the president has said that you could not leave afghanistan without these chaotic scenes no matter when you left that would happen i guess my question is why did the administration prepare the american public and say to the american public there are going to be very chaotic scenes you are going to see it’s going to be rough there’s going to be a rough couple weeks before this happened instead you have the president saying don’t worry we’re not going to be you know evacuating uh ambassadors or or diplomats from the roof of the embassy don’t worry about that why if you knew that there would be chaos did the administration not prepare the american public for the chaos so first i’m glad you asked this question and i want to take a step back and address the nature of an evacuation in a circumstance like this and then i’ll come to your specific point on messaging whether kabul fell in august or september or december or next august the fact is whenever it fell there were going to be american citizens in kabul who needed to be evacuated there were going to be third country nationals in kabul who were going to be evacuated have to be evacuated there were going to be afghans still in the fight who had supported the u.s war effort over the last 20 years who were going to have to be evacuated so an evacuation operation in a dangerous situation was going to have to happen at some point and when you run an operation like that when you are trying to position assets to go in and secure an airfield in a city that has been taken by opposing forces with a government that’s collapsed your contingency plan is going to hit head-on with reality and there are going to be complexities and challenges and difficulties and you work through them you make adjustments and you ultimately get an operation going that is moving out thousands if not tens of thousands of people daily that is what we have accomplished over the course of the week it has not been without its immense difficulties and we are very mindful of those difficulties we are clear-eyed about those difficulties but that is how we have watched the last week unfold why the president didn’t walk out and say let me explain to you exactly what is going to unfold in afghanistan all along the president has been clear that the united states was not going to enter a third decade of american military deployment in the middle of another country civil war and in his speech in april and in his speech in july and in comments he has made since then he has been clear that that could mean difficult times in afghanistan we have been clear-eyed about this from the start but what we were not prepared to do what the president was not prepared to do was to say that for that reason we need to keep american men and women fighting and dying in this civil war yes yes whether it’s august 31st or shortly thereafter it’s clear that all of the eligible afghans who work for u.s forces and the u.s government are not going to be able to get out for those watching what do you say to them what advice do you give should they try to get to a third country on their own should they wait for some diplomatic solution so first we’re in touch with the afghans at risk eligible for special immigrant visas and other categories of support from the us government we are trying to get as many of them to the airport as quickly as possible to get them on flights home and as i said yesterday in comments on the sunday shows we will continue to get afghans at risk out of the country even after u.s military forces have left yes thank you sir um the president has criticized his predecessor he’s criticized the afghan army the afghan government for all of their failures one group that he hasn’t seemed to criticize at length though is the taliban why is that and then also why does the president continue to say that the taliban is facing an existential question about how they’ll be viewed on the world stage i mean they’re going door to door going after the families of these translators don’t they already know who they are so first the president has been very clear about his views of the taliban you’ve asked him repeatedly do you trust these guys and he’s told you repeatedly no i do not of course he does not of course none of us do because we’ve seen the horrific images from the last time we’re in power because we’ve seen the way that they’ve conducted this war because we’ve seen the fact that they have been responsible for the deaths of american men and women through two decades of world war that the president was not prepared to continue for a third decade so we have no illusions about the taliban and uh from our perspective what we need to do right now is focus on our task at hand and our task is to get thousands and thousands of people out of the country as safely and efficiently as possible that is what we are doing and what we believe that we can achieve thank you jake so friday the president said that we got rid of al qaeda in afghanistan sunday the secretary of state said there is al qaeda in afghanistan so are you presenting the president with the full picture or is he just applying the intelligence when he makes these public statements the president was referring to al qaeda’s capability to attack the united states which the intelligence community tells us today is not present in afghanistan today it is not present in afghanistan what is president in afghanistan right now to our forces at the airport is a serious threat from isis k which we’re trying to deal with and of course there’s the possibility that al qaeda could reconstitute an external plotting capability in afghanistan that’s why you’ve heard from the president repeatedly about the need for an over the horizon capability that will allow the united states working with partners to continue to suppress the terrorism threat in afghanistan from al qaeda or isis k or anyone else just as we work to suppress the terrorism threat from al qaeda and isis in yemen in syria in somalia in the islamic maghreb in many other countries and let me just finish by saying the president has been clear that from his perspective american counterterrorism capabilities have evolved to the point where we can suppress that terrorism threat without keeping thousands or tens of thousands of troops on the ground in the country we have proven that out in other countries and that isn’t exactly what we intend to do in afghanistan and the president has spoken about the terrorism issue in afghanistan repeatedly on multiple occasions yes does the administration regret not moving quicker to evacuate more afghan civilians who work for the united states so again i’m very glad you asked that question so this refers to the special immigrant visa program the special immigrant visa program has been around for a significant number of years and it was never designed as conceived by congress for a mass evacuation circumstance your individual applicant for a special immigrant visa typically took under the law the way that it was applied by the various agencies the us government through multiple administrations 18 to 24 months per person to get through the various vetting and other requirements to get their visas sometimes longer sometimes multiple years when we took office in january the trump administration had not processed a single special immigrant visa since march of 2020 in nearly a year so what we did when we came in was move as rapidly as possible to process as many applications as possible as fast as possible trimming months and months and months off of that process working with congress to get them to actually change the law over the summer to relax the requirements so we could move people forward even then we put in place an evacuation operation using charter aircraft starting in july to begin moving sivs and their families out now as i said the last time i was at this podium we did contemplate a big grey tail move of afghans and others in the july early august time frame we made the determination not to do so because not just afghan government officials but supporters of the afghan government in afghanistan including many of the people who want to come out now said that doing so would trigger a complete crisis of confidence in the government as it turns out not taking out the evacu not doing that evacuation didn’t exactly save the afghan government we acknowledge that but that was a considered judgment at the time once we faced a circumstance in which we needed to move rapidly to secure the airfield to help get those folks out that’s precisely what we did and that is precisely what we are doing now does the president intend to fire reassign or ask for the resignation of any white house personnel or administration officials who’ve handled the situation against them i have not heard him say so it’s of course your job to ask those kinds of questions it’s my job just to keep doing what we’re doing which is every day try to get as many people out as possible what if the us can’t get americans and afghan allies out of the country by august 31st but what happens then if the taliban says they are not willing to extend is the u.s going to abide by their red lines so i’m not going to take this on as a hypothetical question what i’m going to say is what i said at the outset which is we’re in touch with the taliban daily we’re in touch with our allies and partners we’re reviewing our progress in this particular operation which we feel has been substantial over the past few days and the president will make his own determinations yes okay straight um can you say uh approximately number or percentage wise uh the number of evacuees that are american citizens thus far and then secondly i know you don’t want to get deep into operational details but the president’s made clear that the area around the airport there’s been an expansion in the safe zone does that mean american troops are operating outside the perimeter of the airport american troops are not operating outside the perimeter of the airport what has happened is through these military channels of communication with the taliban they have extended the perimeter from the point of view of their checkpoints to allow americans through to allow third country nationals through to allow siv holders through that is what is happening now not right at the gate but rather a substantial distance away from the gate and i’m not going to get into the precise details of those distances but that is what he was referring to with respect to the extension of the perimeter on the question of relative ratios the uh significant majority of those coming out are afghan evacuees because the total number of americans in country was a relatively uh limited number of folks so in terms of percentages of the 37 000 uh the substantial bulk of them are afghan evacuees but there are also have been a few thousand americans who have already been evacuated and we’re working on the rest now so a few thousand do you have anything more specific are these people traveling with passports or other kind of documentation and is that why you can’t answer that question more specifically are they not traveling so again the reason why we can’t give you a precise number is because not every american who comes into afghanistan goes and puts themselves in a database at the u.s embassy that they don’t have to many of them choose not to so it’s our responsibility to put out the call to every means we know how try to work through to get in contact with them and ultimately build as credible a list as we can of folks who are holding those passports so that we can bring them to the airport and get out an obvious number of americans who are in afghanistan waiting to get out how many americans have you so far oh i see we can get you the precise number on that yes one just a clarification you had said that you would get all americans in kabul who want to get out did you mean kabul or did you mean the entire country and and second one of the things that you all bragged about over the weekend was the rapidity with which you guys negotiated over the last several days with third countries the ability to bring flights in to you know to expand the number of places throughout europe in the middle east why wasn’t that done months ago i mean you yourself have just said you knew exactly that this chaos was going to erupt at some point why would there be the need to negotiate on the fly with these countries if it couldn’t that have been done before so i’ll take your second question first i i have to tell you i bristle it saying we bragged okay i haven’t bragged about anything i’m trying to give you the straight dope from here the good and the bad and that means a lot to me secondly it is certainly the case that we’ve had to add countries and try to add capacity in places we did spend months negotiating transit centers to set up as part of our contingency planning in both the gulf and in europe as it turns out we have been able to produce a throughput that exceeded even our optimistic expectations in terms of the number of folks who could get out so the fact is we are actually over performing in terms of the evacuation numbers and therefore we need a higher ceiling in terms of the number of beds and other facilities at transit centers so we’re simply adding capacity but you can’t go from a standing start you can’t go from zero to yes in 24 hours this is something that we have prepared pre-positioned engaged with allies and partners on over the course of time so that when we pick up the phone and call they don’t say what are you talking about they know what we’re talking about they know that the ask has gone from a 5 000 cap to a 10 thousand cap they adjust accordingly and that reflects the work of painstaking diplomacy over the course of many months yes the first question about afghanistan versus just oh i see yes we are trying to get americans out wherever they may be in afghanistan yes and sivs how many sivs are being brought to the united states is there a goal for how many you intend to bring to the united states what’s their long-term plan and outside of adding a priority to designation what else is this administration doing to expedite the process of getting sivs out of afghanistan we’re not putting a precise number on it the program doesn’t put a precise number on it there isn’t some cap on the number of sivs or some target so we are working to get as many out as we possibly can if you think about the fact that there has been 20 years of conflict in afghanistan the sheer number of afghans who in one way or another have worked for the united states i’m not going to put a precise number on it i’m not going to put an estimate on it i’m only going to put a principle on it and the principle is we are working to get out as many afghan allies as we possibly can prime minister johnson has said that he will ask president biden to extend that august 31st 31st deadline did he make that ask in the call and what will president biden tell prime minister johnson if and when he does make that either today or at the d7 meeting tomorrow i’m not going to speak for prime minister johnson or read out the precise details of the call all i’m going to say is that the president continues to consult with the prime minister and our other allies on how this evacuation should proceed from here and he’ll ultimately make the decision what he’ll say when prime minister johnson does ask that is the reporting right now that the pm is going to ask the president to do this so i’m i’m not going to preview what the president will say in the g7 meeting tomorrow at the moment he’s focused on private conversations with foreign leaders he will have the opportunity to have that engagement in that private session with the g7 leaders tomorrow and i’m not from the podium going to read out what are sensitive conversations among uh leaders between the united states and our house a little bit more on how this administration is determining who is still left what americans are still left in and which ones are not because as you said there’s some people who did not deregister with uh the embassy how is the administration trying to determine who is there who’s not sure um so what we have done is we have put out through multiple different means telephone email text and publicly on radio online uh through every possible both broadcast and targeted means possible to americans who may potentially be in afghanistan please respond please contact us please tell us your location please tell us if you’d like to leave please tell us how many there are with you so we’ve gone through that process and then we’ve done a series of calls through all of the folks who responded to then have a refined conversation with each of them we have tried to take that and then match it up against a plan to as i said before put americans into groups to efficiently transfer them onto the airfield but of course when you’re trying to ultimately determine a precise fixed number that is a dynamic and ongoing process it’s ongoing today it will be ongoing tomorrow and i’m just going to take one more question are you matching it some kind of way to make sure they’re not incapacitated or captured or something like that for those who didn’t respond are you matching it up to make sure they’re not there so we have gone we we have gone through our list of everyone who we believe is in country and reached out and tried to communicate with them in every way we know how and as far as we’re concerned there’s two universes one universe is the people who did register we’ve gotten in touch with all of those people or reached out to all of those people the second list is folks who responded to the all call which doesn’t necessarily match that first list that is a different group of people some of whom never registered in the first place and we’re negotiating um negotiating we’re we’re discussing with them the best way to get them to the um to the airport if in fact they want to come to the airport last question thank you so much two questions one of the communication of the taliban would president biden consider himself speaking with the leaders of uh taliban and the second question president bide seems to be keeping the america first policy on afghanistan how can you say that america is back on the global stage after seeing the scenes in afghanistan and how do you think the world is looking at the united states right now so on the second question you look at the scenes at the kabul airport and what i see is the united states securing an airfield at the risk of several thousand american troops to facilitate not just the evacuation of americans but to facilitate the evacuation of third country nationals from friends and foes alike and to facilitate the evacuation of tens and thousands of people who for humanitarian reasons want to leave afghanistan this is an enormous logistical diplomatic security humanitarian undertaking there is no other country in the world who could pull something like this off bar none so that’s what i say to the second question with respect to whether or not the united uh president biden is likely to speak with the leadership of the taliban that is not in contemplation at this time thank you thanks everybody thanks everyone thanks for coming thank you just let me just do it let me just do a top on just another topic and then we’ll take plenty of questions okay um today a group on another topic a group of over 70 leading economists led by former cea chair austin goolsbee announced in an open letter their support for both pillars of the president’s economic agenda the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the bill back better plan their letter reinforces the case we’ve been making to the american people that this historic investment these historic investments are vital for the strength of our economy and the financial well-being of middle-class families writing quote these once-in-a-generation opportunities will create millions of jobs lower costs for american families and lead to significant economic growth both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and build back better agenda could likely ease inflationary pressures just one other note for all of you vice president harris is currently as you know in singapore her next step will be vietnam this trip is an important uh important for the biden harris administration it’s about strengthening and deepening our partnerships with singapore vietnam and southeast asia because these partnerships matter to the people prosperity and security of the united states i’d also note that she her meetings in singapore today resulted in several substantive deliverables across a range of key issues and reaffirmed the strong u.s commitment to southeast asia and the u.s singapore strategic partnership following their bilateral meeting they announced agreements on coven 19 and preparing for the next pandemic climate change inclusive growth and innovation and resilient supply chains obviously her trip will continue armor go ahead um on uh what is your message the moderate house democrats who want to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal before they’ll vote on the 3.5 million trillion dollar budget blueprint and um why not just do the bipartisan deal first well for i would first say that the president has every intention of signing each of these pieces of legislation into law and what i want to be clear with you all about is he supports speaker pelosi’s proposed path forward to get this process done i’d also note and you follow this all closely but for those of you watching at home this is a procedural vote important one but there are a number of different ways forward here and this is the debate currently and a healthy one an important on within the democratic caucus on what different parts of the president’s core agenda should be passed in what order in some ways that’s a high class problem to be debating that’s what they’re discussing and it’s not one that should be unexpected given there are disagreements about a range of issues even within the democratic caucus that’s democracy but i would note that the president’s view is not just 36 years in the senate but this isn’t his first rodeo not even his first rodeo this summer he had one in june and july and we’re going to work closely with speaker pelosi he’s going to continue to talk to a range of members i would note for all of you that the president had multiple calls with speaker pelosi in recent days and also had a call with her leadership team and 15 committee chairs about how vital the buildback better agenda is because it will lower prescription drug costs reduce the cost of housing and education strengthen care for veterans take on climate change help families afford child care and care for older americans so we will continue to be fully engaged but we understand this is a healthy debate and we’re confident about the path forward i’m able to reach out to some of those moderate lawmakers who have raised concerns uh we have been from the white house and senior team in touch with a range of officials and members across all political backgrounds in our caucus so you can be confident in that today’s vaccine news um is there any expectation that this is going to move the ball and get people off who have been resistant off the sideline and how significant well it’s a really good question amer i think we’re going to have to wait and see i mean there have been polls um several weeks ago or the last ones i have seen that have showed that of the percentage of people who are not yet vaccinated about a third approximately depending on the poll would feel more confident uh if there was final approval by the fda we’ll see you saw the president speak to this today you will see him speak to this more and you will see senior members of our team speak to this more because we want to seize this moment and take advantage of of course this fda independent approval to reach out to americans who were waiting for that moment uh to let them know but i don’t know that we have a prediction of how many hopefully it will have an impact on those who have expressed concern go ahead and talk a little bit more about the g7 sure are you expecting any specific agreements to come out of it this is really a forum as you know steve to continue the discussion that these leaders had just a few months ago when the president was on his first trip we certainly know and many have talked about their desire to raise questions about the timeline that’s not a surprise and the president is happy to have that discussion um i’m not of course going to get ahead of our national security advisor or our the president of the united states but it’s an opportunity to discuss not only our commitment to getting american citizens out and our afghan partners who have fought alongside us and many of our allies over the last 20 years but also to work with them to continue to get their citizens out as well so expect the discussion will be around that but i don’t i don’t know that i’m going to predict big announcements out of it imposing sanctions on the taliban anything like that look i don’t think i have more to preview i think there’s a range of topics that g7 members could certainly raise i know this president lightly touched on this yesterday but right now our focus day in and day out is on the operations and evacuating and relocating as many people out of the country as we possibly can go ahead back to uh what’s going on on the hill as you know this isn’t the president’s first rodeo is he considered offering something to the moderates is there something that he’s willing to put on the table that perhaps would have swaged some of their concerns knowing how legislation and forced trading works on capitol hill uh he certainly is familiar with that but he also is certainly familiar with the uh the leadership of speaker pelosi and her ability to get things done uh and i would also note that uh he has been a part of this town and watched healthy disagreements about a range of issues within his own party for many decades that’s a part of the process but our focus right now is engaging with a range of members from a high level staff level we’re going to continue to do that and the president will certainly engage if it is constructive and moving the ball forward uh and we again are focused on getting this done for the american people want to clarify there’s potentially a number of ways forward on this but the speaker has a way forward you guys back that way forward and if you’re counting votes that seems like the way forward what are the other ways well and i was clear and i appreciate your question that the president uh supports the speakers proposed path forward what i was trying to get at and perhaps not articulately enough is that this is a procedural vote to move the bill forward and the president is committed to signing each into law and he’s confident in speaker pelosi’s approach and process and will stay closely aligned go ahead we heard from head on that all the refugees arriving in the us from afghanistan are being tested is the administration working on a plan to get them vaccinated so that is correct on the uh on they are being tested um and we are working through uh offering uh vaccines and what that process will look like i hope to have more of an update on that for you in the next day or two and one more uncovered will the white house convince more businesses to require vaccines now that kaiser vaccine has been approved by the fda will we require or will we push them will you push them to businesses and and require certain certain businesses to or or push them sure no i just wanted to make sure i was understanding your question um we have already started doing that over the last several weeks and i think we’ve you’ve seen the president speak to this you’ve seen a number of senior officials be more forward-leaning i should say about the role the private sector can play in mandating vaccines or taking steps with their own workforces that is always going to be decisions for them to make but some may assess and some private sector companies have spoken out about how final approval of the vaccine may help them take that additional step so we are here and we are here to be a resource as they have questions but certainly we’re hopeful this will help uh put in place additional measures around the country thank you jen there are taliban fighters right now carrying american weapons they’re wearing american fatigues the full kit of gear how is that advancing america’s national security interests well peter i think my my colleague jake sullivan spoke to a version of this last week but let me tell you let me reiterate some of what he said when the president made this decision to bring our men and women home from afghanistan who were serving he knew he made that decision not lightly he made the decision uh with a clear assessment from his national security team about what the impacts could be we have taken steps over the past few months to retrograde materials to bring materials home to make them not available to the taliban we have taken those steps from our military but our our choices at hand the president’s choices at hand were either to equip the afghan national security forces with the materials and the equipment and the weapons they needed to fight or not he made the decision to equip them with the weapons to fight and we will continue to take steps to retrograde our materials and equipment does the president have a sense that most of the criticism is not of leaving afghanistan it’s the way that he has ordered it to happen by pulling the troops before getting these americans who are now stranded does he have a sense of that first of all i think it’s irresponsible to say americans are stranded they are not we are committed to bringing americans who want to come home home we are in touch with them via phone via text via email via any way that we can possibly reach americans to get them home if they want to return home there are no americans stranded is the white house’s official position on what’s happening in afghanistan i’m just calling you out for saying that we are stranding americans in afghanistan when i set when we have been very clear that we are not leaving americans who want to return home we are going to bring them home and i think that’s important for the american public to hear and understand okay and then following up on what somebody asked jake the president likes to say america is back but his policies have americans getting beat up by the taliban and afghans handing babies over barbed wire fences is that what he meant when he said america is back what the president meant is that we are going to continue to lead in the world including being the leaders in evacuating not just our afghan partners not just american citizens but now also our allies and we have done that by evacuating approximately 42 000 people over the last month that is americans leading that is our men and women in our military leading on the ground securing the airport after the afghans fleed and didn’t secure the airport and ensuring that we are taking care of our partners as we promised to go ahead more broadly the president was asked about the polling uh i’m going to ask you about church would you acknowledge this has been a particularly challenging period for the president there have been questions about his decision-making among some americans reflected in some of the polls well i would say that as the president said yesterday but let me try to answer your question again his focus right now is on taking the steps and making the decisions that he feels are in the interests of our national security and the american people and that may mean that there are chaotic scenes that may mean that there are people disapproving of his decisions he understands that and accepts that but he also believes if you look at the work of his team and i know this question was asked earlier that the test of competence and of leadership is not about how you operate on your best day it’s about how you operate when the chips are down when things are difficult when you need to adapt and make decisions and that’s what we’ve seen over the last week that’s what we’ve seen the men and women in the military do that’s what we’ve seen our national security team do a week ago just over a week ago we didn’t have control over the airport now we’ve evacuated 35 37 000 people that is american leadership and that is certainly competence of his team but certainly we understand that people are seeing uh chaotic uh photos but he continues to believe that this was a decision that only the commander-in-chief chief tim is is able to make and one he had to make for our own long-term national security interests knowing there’s about a week or so until the deadline do you anticipate that the risk to american troops american citizens and afghans will increase will there be you mean on the ground kelly will there be more a desperation knowing that the number of flights out may be dwindling and if so how do you adjust for that in terms of your preparation well i would say that security on the ground is is risky and volatile and we are not naive about that we are very clear-eyed about that and that certainly is a factor as the president is considering the august 31st question and the timeline uh it is also a factor of the fact that we have expedited over the last 24 to 48 hours our flights and the number of people we’ve been able to evacuate and his objective uh is continuing to focus each day asking detailed questions about how many more people we can get out each day because that is that is a real issue and that’s one of the reasons and jake talked about this a little bit earlier that we continue to adjust and take operational steps as it relates to the perimeter of the airport and as it relates to how we’re engaging with american citizens and our afghan partners about how and when they should come to the airport as well jake mentioned that he’d be able to get us a breakdown of the number of people who are being evacuated who are americans and the number who are afghans but that’s something that reporters have been asking for not getting for several days do you have those numbers and if not when could we expect to see them i certainly understand the question i know that my colleague john kirby said a few thousand americans have been evacuated earlier today as jake noted the vast majority have been afghans given this size of the population that we are moving out and i’m happy to also follow up after the briefing and see what information we can achieve go ahead one other thing that jake saw that said in his opening remarks is the president look forward to working with veterans the sib applicants are integrated into american society and vets and vote vets a number of other groups that did an open letter today urging a meeting with the president in their letter they said that if the afghan allies are not safely evacuated it would condemn veterans and survivors of the conflict to a lifetime of moral injury when does the president agree with that sentiment and two will the president meet with his veterans well let me first say that we’ve been in uh in regular contact with a wide range of veterans groups on afghanistan and will continue to be and we’re in touch with the organizers of this letter uh to arrange a meeting with senior white house officials to discuss this letter the va is also working with vsos and outside advocates on how to assist siv applicants which i know is a primary concern to a number of these groups as it is to us and the president as you know has the utmost respect for people who have served as being a father himself of of someone who had served and he he knows how determined veterans of our military conflict in afghanistan are to make sure that the afghan allies who risk their lives to help our troops are evacuated to safety i would also note that one of the things the president has noted to many of us over the past couple of days is that as he thought about making this decision one of the moments or several moments that has stuck with him is that many of you covered him as vice president know this but he spent every christmas day at walter reed sitting with gold star families and sitting with men and women who had been injured in afghanistan those are veterans too those families are families of veterans some of those families lost people and he was not going to send another generation to fight a war that the afghans were not failing to fight themselves but i will tell you we have been in touch we will continue to be in touch and i can assure you that the president will look for opportunities to uh discuss and engage with veterans groups soon about the fda’s action today sure it brings to mind a question that you’ve been asked several times in this room and that is um why hasn’t the president nominated an fda commissioner is there a specific hold up that you can point to right now that explains why there’s not a qualified doctor in the country that the president could nominate for this problem i can assure you i wish i had a nominee for the fda commissioner standing behind that door so that i could present them to all of you and it is a very good question and the president wants to nominate the right person to serve in this important post and yes of course there are a range of qualified and talented medical experts and doctors out there we have not identified the right person yet and hopefully we’ll be able to do that soon go ahead in keeping with the question of appointments if you’ll forgive me for putting on the bloomberg hat because federal reserve you got it i knew it it’s like bingo academy yeah has he made a decision on whether to reappoint jay powell my colleague saleh mohsen reported this weekend excuse me the secretary yelt has privately expressed her support for reappointing uh chairman powell to if has he made a decision when will he make the decision i don’t have anything new for you on this uh nor do i have a timeline of when he might make a secretary ellen’s decision preference i i will i will leave that to secretary yellen and that and the treasury team go ahead thank you thank you oh no go ahead do you have any uh this week is supposed to be the end of the 90-day review into the origins of the coronavirus uh do you have any update on when that report would be released what can we expect to see publicly sure it’s actually tomorrow just to mark your calendars i know peter’s especially excited about it i would say that it will take it typically takes a couple of days if not longer to put together an unclassified version to present publicly and obviously the president would be briefed first on any findings so i don’t have an exact date for you but i would expect it will be uh several days a couple to several days after tomorrow go ahead thanks jen two questions just one on vaccines to clarify an earlier point the president talked today about he encouraged companies to step up their vaccine requirements but will today’s announcement lead to any new or any additional vaccine mandates from the administration beyond nursing home employees and the stuff that you guys have already owned i expect there will be more sure as we’ve said all along and i would note that my colleagues at the department of defense conveyed that they would move in the coming days to mandate the vaccine now that the approval has come from the fda for pfizer so we certainly expect there will be more mandates for factions of federal employees on afghanistan a broader question does the president see any substantive differences between the taliban leadership that exists right now and the regime that existed two decades ago i don’t think we’re in a position to make any assessment on that front at this point in time i would just reiterate this is not about trust this is not about providing validity for anyone our focus right now is on working to get american citizens our afghan partners working with our allies to get them out of the country part of that has been a discussion and ongoing discussions with the taliban about individuals moving safely to the airport that’s what the focus of our engagement with them has been at this point go ahead yeah jim thanks uh just following up on the kobe 19 origins report is that going to be released in full or could there be uh reactions following the process you were talking about on unclassified documents just uh talk about that and and what is the process in which the administration is going to release this are you going to i mean is it just going to come out in a in an email or is there some way you’re going to do this uh i would expect that there would be an unclassified version uh and sometimes that means declassification i can’t assess that at this point in time because tomorrow is 90 days not last week and then we certainly would make you all aware of what the um what the outcome uh is i don’t know what format that will take at this point in time yet it’s a good question go ahead karen follow up on the question that was just asked when the president said today that he’s calling on companies to require the vaccine he said do what i did last month to just get more specific will he expand that federal employee vaccine requirement and actually mandate it so there’s no more option of opting out and doing the testing every week for all federal employees i think you’re looking more at agency to agency or different factions of the government at this point but uh expect there will be more on that front is this does the administration now see this as an opportunity to refresh the public messaging campaign that you guys have been doing on vaccinations now that there’s the full fda approval yeah karen i mean it’s a really good question i think what we don’t know how to assess is obviously there has been a percentage of people in some of your polls as well who have said i’m waiting for the vaccine to get final approval and it’s not approved yet we’re sort of going to test that proposition and see and we are hopeful that there are there are a number of those people who have said that who will now go out and get vaccinated and certainly communicating directly with people who are not yet vaccinated is always a priority but this is a moment to redouble efforts to do exactly that good so uh the president said today’s gonna talk more about safety reopening schools uh is there any changes to the administration’s guidance that we should be expecting coming forward when do we expect to hear from them on that uh i would say soon i think we’re still working to finalize what that might look like but the president is certainly as a as a parent and a grandparent himself well aware and as somebody who employs a number of us who have children well aware of the understandable questions that parents have some have anxieties and he wants to be able to speak directly to what his preparations are how we rely on the science and all of the steps we’ve taken through our department of education to make sure schools have the resources they need to open uh and stay open uh if they apply them uh this school year uh but i don’t have a scheduling uh preview for you at this point in time but i expect you’ll hear from him soon personal learning is still a priority like still yes nothing expects to be open five days a week correct nothing has changed in that regard now i will i will say this um a lot has changed over the last eight months uh in that we have provided uh tens of millions of dollars out to schools out to states that has been distributed to many school districts who didn’t have the resources they needed to uh replace uh air conditioning systems or vent ventilation to do social distancing in some cases uh to ensure they had testing requirements that has changed uh the secretary of education has made this his one of his top if not his top priorities sharing best practices working directly with school districts as we have seen across the country in some particular states we cannot force these states to allow school districts to put in these precautions that will help keep students safe if they don’t put in place the precautions it’s more likely there will be cases and then they will have to take steps regarding quarantining etc but we have done uh we have taken every step we can think of to engage to empower to equip school districts with the resources they have so that they can stay they need i should say so they can stay open five days a week go ahead jen what’s your reaction to former president trump this weekend at a rally in alabama asking his supporters to get vaccinated and then getting booed well uh one we will take anyone who has a big platform out there who wants to encourage people to get vaccinated uh doing it that’s a good thing and we understand that some of the people who are not yet vaccinated are not people who may have biden harris stickers on their cars and that’s okay in terms of i think it’s just a recognition as we are very clear-eyed about that there are still people who are skeptical out there in the country uh that there are still people who whether because of misinformation or a range of factors are not yet getting vaccinated even though it could save their lives it means we still have more work to do and we are committed to doing exactly that go ahead again thank you at the risk of this being a yes or no answer is the president concerned about being put on the spot with these pledges to get americans out of afghanistan by the 31st all those who want to get out of afghanistan is he concerned about being put on the spot with us by whom by just the general public opinion or whatever with these pledges from him from jake and others but doesn’t it put the president on the spot a little bit the president believes it’s the responsibility of any president and the united states to convey to any american that if they want to come home we’re going to find a way to bring you home and that commitment does not end on the 31st but he is absolutely focused every single day and i’ve been in a lot of these meetings on ensuring we are expediting our processing we are thinking creatively we are adjusting operations as needed to get more americans to the airport and out of kabul go ahead thank you i’ll go to you next time let me go to andre then i’ll go to you next okay thank you jake mentioned that you u.s would try to extract americans who are outside of kabul and other parts of the country does that apply also to afghan sid applicants who are also in that same situation perhaps in rural areas and they can’t make their way to capital because the taliban is controlling the roads i don’t have anything operational i can preview for you on that front i can tell you that our commitment to our afghan partners uh is um is is has not wavered and we are going to do everything we can to contact them directly which is exactly what we’re also doing to figure out the best way for them to safely get to the airport but i don’t have anything more operationally to preview for you last time you briefed team event you were asked about the number of sib-approved afghans who chose to stay yeah in the country before the latest sort of chaos that we’ve seen you said you might get back to us with an overall figure have you have you been able to dig that up it’s really a number and i understand and i uh that your question uh it’s really a number the state department has um and it is not it okay it’s not a program that we administer from here i’m happy to follow up on that as well as nancy’s question and kelly’s question about the numbers president said it publicly why can’t you come up with a number if you’re gonna say it again it’s an it’s a program that’s administered by the state department um and the details of that are something that’s under their purview go ahead thank you first of all it was a nice discussion actually not nice very tragic i’m from afghanistan everybody know i don’t have anything to say everybody know that thousands of people 14 000 people around the airport outside the airport no food no shelter i know every single time i get like a 20 30 phone call contact everybody is crying especially women men i know it’s difficult for united states too just as a woman as a current woman that afghan people really trust you they love you so much and their expectation that the united states never leave them alone but it happened it happened just uh what’s your message do you have any message positive message because women under a lot of emotionally bad situations like i’ve just admitted well first let me say um that watching these scenes is incredibly heartbreaking and tragic and uh you know i have been to afghanistan a number of times and i’ve met a lot of these women you’re talking about the president has been there a number of times uh has met these incredibly uh brave and courageous women uh and i will tell you that i’m sure that part of the conversation the president will have with his partners and will continue to have with the united nations is how we can continue to provide assistance continue to stand up for these women and their rights in afghanistan so i don’t want them to feel they have been forgotten they have not uh and we will keep them in our hearts and thank you for your question go ahead thank you jim related to kelly’s question about the polls and the political fallout is the president concerned about the afghan crisis causing a lot of momentum and all the other things he’s been trying to do it’s a pretty unique situation to have such an enormous domestic crisis with the pandemic and a lot of people still not wanting to vaccinate now the afghan thing which is naturally sucking up all the attention and effort and energy and his landmark piece of legislation this is which is now hanging i’m in the air can you just describe just give us a little bit of an overview of the bandwidth that you have that he has for i’m sure he wasn’t expecting to be here um right back in the summer of freedom well first you’re not elected president expecting to do easy things you’re expecting to do hard things you don’t come and work at the white house because you’re expecting to have easy days you come to work here because you’re expecting to do hard things and be a part of doing hard things and certainly that’s what we’re facing right now but let me give you kind of another way to look at this uh we have now uh vaccinated more people than ever almost if not ever have been vaccinated ever in the united states in history we are about we are operationalizing perhaps the largest airlift u.s airlift in history we are working toward getting two major pieces of legislation through congress through the house of representatives and then hopefully and then i then the president will look forward to signing each into law that will change millions of people’s lives across this country fundamentally address the climate crisis and invest in industries to make us more competitive for our future so yes i know we we see polls many of your organizations have seen polls but we also came here to do hard things and i would say those are a couple things that we’re proud to be a part of go ahead yeah this stuff in some of these schools and the kids even in some of these schools without mass mandates are getting sick some of them very sick secretary cardona seemed to hint last week that the federal government could investigate districts that failed to provide a safe return to school does the president think there should be consequences and is there any discussion of tools that the federal government could use well uh thank you for your question as a mother myself um as i i know i’ve noted many times but it would be incredibly scary to me as my daughter is preparing to go to kindergarten next week if there were not masks in elementary school and i know a lot of parents in florida texas and other states around the country are confronting that and some kids are getting sick we have talked a bit about steps we have taken to ensure that these superintendents and school districts and teachers are kept whole financially if there are restrictions put in place and hopefully prompting them to take a number of the steps that uh schools and school districts have taken over the past couple of months we will continue to encourage that uh in terms of consequences i don’t think i have anything to preview for you on that front thank you everyone i’m so sorry i gotta run we’ll see you tomorrow you
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Live: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds briefing

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