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Psaki: 'Our objective here is not to escalate' as WH issues new sanctions against Russia

Jen Psaki
Posted at 2:29 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 14:29:03-04

"There's been a lot this week... and more to come!" White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about a range of topics on Thursday at her daily White House briefing.

Psaki opened with the news that 3.5 million COVID shots were distributed, a new Thursday record.

Psaki also informed reporters that President Joe Biden would host South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington late next month.

This would mark the second opportunity during the pandemic that President Biden would sit in person with a foreign counterpart since he took office, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, Psaki said Biden is still committed to raising the refugee cap, but still doesn't have a timeline.

"The President remains committed to raising the refugee cap, and I can assure anyone who has concerns that that remains the case."

On Thursday, Psaki spoke about President Biden's new Russia sanctions as 30 Russian entities and included the expulsion of at least 10 Russian individuals from the U.S. for interference in last year's presidential elections and cyber hacking of federal government agencies.

"Our objective here is not to escalate," Psaki said. "Our objective here is to impose costs for what we feel are unacceptable actions by the Russian government. We felt the reports were enough of a cause of concern that we wanted our intelligence community to look into the reports. ... They assessed with low to moderate confidence."

During the press briefing, Psaki announced that the White House plans to release $39 billion of American rescue plan funds to states, territories, and tribes to address the childcare crisis caused by COVID-19.

"These funds are critical steps to pave the way for a strong economic recovery and a more equitable future," Psaki said. "These funds will help early childhood educators and family childcare providers keep their doors open and make sure every state has a strong child care system that provides families with what they need."

On Thursday, some House and Senate Democrats introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 13 seats.

The Judiciary Act of 2021 is co-sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerrod Nadler, Sen. Ed Markey, Reps. Hank Johnson, and Rep. Mondaire Jones, NBC News reported.

During the press briefing, Psaki refused to say whether President Biden supported or opposed Democrats legislation to pack the court.

"He believes that members of congress have the right to put forward legislation on issues they support," Psaki told reporters. "He certainly understands that members of congress have a range of views, and they're going to propose legislation. He may or may not support it."

Another topic Psaki spoke about Thursday was Vice President Kamala Harris and the border crisis.

When asked about Republican criticism of Harris's migration role, Psaki called the confusion around Harris's assignment "perplexing."

"This confusion is very perplexing to me, and I have to be honest," Psaki said. "It is not a one-woman, even a one-woman job; it is a multi high-level official job."

Psaki added that the White House still plans to release the second part of its infrastructure/jobs plan by the end of April.