tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC December 30, 2020 9:00am-10:00am PST
good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington, as the trump administration is playing defense. at this hour we're expecting a briefing on why their vaccine rollout is much slower than promised. so far the u.s. has vaccinated just 2 million americans, falling far short of its promised goal of 20 million vaccinations by the end of the year. now the administration is focusing instead on how many vaccine doses they have distributed, 11.4 million, to the states, blaming the states instead for not getting more shots into people's arms. the president is also blaming the states on twitter after president-elect biden slammed the trump rollout tuesday. >> the trump administration's plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind. it's going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the
american people. >> good news, though, today in britain, the uk giving emergency approval today to a new cheaper vaccine from astrazeneca and oxford university, a vaccine that is easier to transport and to use. and colorado today reporting the first identified case of the more contagious covid variant. joining me now, nbc medical news correspondent john torres, and nbc news foreign correspondent molly hunter in london. let's start with you, dr. torres, about that new variant. we're lagging far behind in genomic sequencing to identify the varying viruses. only 50,000 so far, experts say, have been even checked to identify that in the u.s. the uk far ahead of us, other countries even more far ahead than the uk. why are we, who defended genomic sequencing, so far behind in looking for these mutations?
>> they think this variant came out 35 miles that way, a little town of about 20,000 people in an assisted living center that has about 25 residents. the case that's confirmed was a person working there, a 20-year-old. there is a suspected case they think was working there as well. and what that tells me is that this is an assisted living center, so these people do not frequently go out very much and they certainly don't travel to other countries. and so that means that somewhere in the community, that virus came into the community, that variant of the virus, which means it came from another community, which means it's probably more widespread in this country than most of us think it is. this is just the first confirmed case of it happening. what that tells me is that the sentinel programs we have looking for a variety of different things happening in our society that could be dangerous aren't working very well when it comes to coronavirus. what they talked about was
taking a certain amount of samples and testing them over time to get a survey of what's happening in the community. and we don't really know how well they're doing with that or if they're getting the results they want to. in an ideal world you would have a certain number of samples being tested, of samples where people get normally tested through pcr testing across the country, and get them through this genetic testing, which is a little more difficult, time consuming, and expensive, to keep a lookout for these variants. that hasn't happened so far, andrea. >> that's just another example of the u.s. falling behind other countries in terms of, you know, testing, contact tracing, and the like. molly hunter there in london, the astrazeneca vaccine approval, this will be much easier to distribute, to transport to third world countries and developing countries. what do we know about its
efficacy? because the numbers from moderna and pfizer were off the charts, 94, 95% efficacious. >> andrea, that's right, it is good news, and the efficacy is lower than the pfizer and the moderna, so the data so far for the astrazeneca/oxford vaccine is 62 to 90% depending on the dosage. the key that uk regulators zeroed in on in their press conference is there is some immunity after the first dose, like the pfizer vaccine it's a two-dose vaccine so you have to go back for a booster shot. the uk is changing their strategy in the way they're administering the vaccine. they're doubling down on the first dose, they're going to try and hit as many people as possible with the first dose because there is suggested immunity after that first dose after about three weeks, then wait, andrea, 12 weeks to get that second dose. it couldn't be coming at a better time, today we just got the coronavirus numbers out of the uk, more than 50,000 cases. and andrea, the most deaths since april, 981. the goal of course to hit at
many people with that first dose. and we know why it's spreading so quickly, as you guys were talking about, this uk variant is spreading very quickly. the regulators were asked about the vaccine and the variant this morning. and they say so far, the vaccine suggests it will be effective against this new ultracontagious uk variant, andrea. >> and we're hearing from dr. slaoui, we apologize, this briefing is starting, he is coming on from home, the audio is very hard to hear so we're not going to put that up live, but what he says is that as tra zeneca is still being tested, they haven't applied for the emergency authorization use in the u.s. it's something for the rest of the world to be very excited about, which is important, we're talking about a global, obviously, pandemic that affects every place in the world, and we've seen how quickly variants can travel, how quickly the virus can travel. dr. adajha, we are lagging
behind in getting this nation vaccinated. they're defending their rollout, now they're blaming the states, changing their metrics, saying we've delivered to the states, rather than the original goal of getting shots in arms of 20 million people. what's your response to the president and others who say the vaccine distribution is just up to the states and it's them that are falling down? >> many of us in the field are tried to give them the benefit of the doubt to get this rolling. we knew there were going to be hiccups, we knew it wouldn't go off without a hitch. but when you compare the vaccination numbers in the u.s. versus israel, for example, we're falling far behind. this is the federal government again abdicating their responsibility, leaving it up to the states, just like they did with testing and we saw what happened with testing. this is just another example of how pandemic response is not being integrated between federal and states and their public health departments are underresourced. they're not funded enough to be able to do this, they don't have enough personnel, there are logistical challenges. there is a role for the federal
government to speed this up. we can't allow this to go at this slow a pace because we will continue to have hospitals on the brink until we cross that immunity threshold and get our vulnerable populations vaccinated. the only solution the u.s. has is to vaccinate our way out of this, we're not taiwan, we weren't able to test and trace. >> according to an nbc news analysis of the pace so far, it would at this rate take ten years to get the whole country vaccinated, obviously that's not tolerable. dr. torres, dr. slaoui has just said that if everything goes right for astrazeneca, at this rate they could be applying for emergency use authorization in april. so this is not imminently going to be helping supply lines here. >> and you're right, andrea, it's not going to help the supply lines for the first couple of months. actually it will get there when we start getting more of these vaccines, astrazeneca, johnson &
johnson, novavax, are all looking at getting emergency authorization in the early part of 2021, maybe into the springtime. that will certainly give us more supplies. but the issue right now, like the others have talked about, is the supply chain issues we have going on right now and the distribution issues, getting the shots in arms. there is a big difference, as he said, between 20 million shots being distributed and 20 million shots being given to people. that certainly hasn't happened. if you look at other countries, they do these mass vaccination events where they set up stadiums, these soccer stadiums and people come in there, they have either the military or medical volunteers in there who can just push people through those lines very quickly. we are not doing that here. we're pushing it down to the state level, the states are independently deciding how to do this. so it's a very fragmented system. we need to get that control up to a higher level where they can say, okay, we're going to do something, maybe it's the military, maybe it's the national guard, maybe it's local health authorities, but something have we start have these mass vaccination events.
without those, it won't take ten years but it will certainly take months. as people get more comfortable getting a shot, it will happen faster. it won't be like the flu shot, where people drive up, get it, and drive off, there are time constraint issues and that's going to come into play, andrea. >> indeed, and dr. slaoui says it could be approved in april. admiral brett giroir, part of the white house task force, says it's the hhs secretary who serves on the task force who was on with me yesterday, he defended the vaccine rollout, saying it was really up to the states. >> the federal plan is to provide the guidance, to provide the infrastructure. you know, we're providing all the vaccines, the distribution mechanisms, the needles, the alcohol swabs. it's really a state and local level to get vaccines in arms like it always is, every year, 170 flu shots. that's done at the local level.
the federal government doesn't invade texas or montana and provide shots to people. >> dr. adalja, any reaction to that? >> i wouldn't take a victory lap over this if these are vaccines that are just sitting in refrigerators. there's a big difference between a vaccine and a vaccination program. if they're not getting into people's arms, they're worthless. there's zero efficacy to a vaccine that isn't used. this isn't the time to shift responsibility to the states and the states are clearly faltering, so now is the time to show leadership in this pandemic, leadership that's been lacking from the very beginning, and allow us to put this pandemic behind us. i don't think you can say we've delivered these there and now it's up to you, because clearly it's not happening, we're not having people vaccinated at the rates they need to to have control of this. this is absurd that they're
trying to shift this to the states. >> thanks to dr. torres and dr. adalja. general perna is following his part of the briefing right now. >> following the eua by moderna. we are really doing well in my opinion in the distribution, over 14 million doses of vaccine have been distributed to date had, and every day we push more vaccine, i'll talk about that as we go forward. in fact, this week we started not only pushing first those vaccines but we started pushing second dose vaccine for the pfizer vaccine as people who received the first dose around 4 january will start to be eligible for the second dose, we wanted to ensure that the vaccine was available to all. you know, the cadence for our execution is really coming into good posture. we're allocating to the states.
on tuesday, states are available to order off the allocations on thursday. we're picking and packing supplies to ensure it can be delivered by the following week. really remarkable effort by the collective group of professionals, the men and women who have been working tirelessly from pfizer, moderna, mckesson, ups, and fedex as they execute this every day. and they are the ones that are executing the movement of the vaccine. i would be remiss if i did not highlight the great work by the state and local governments as they do the planning and they determine the allocation at the state levels and the final administration, i think has been an incredible task. so i just would like to take a minute as we close out this year to kind of think about where we've been over the last 7 1/2
plus months since dr. slaoui and i were notified and, you know, presented at the rose garden in may. so what we've done. we've developed two safe and effective vaccines now for use, authorized for use to the american people. we've scaled up manufacturing capacity in some cases building new brick and mortar from the ground up. we've issued 18 defense production act ratings which allows us to prioritize materials, supplies, and equipment essential to the u.s. government contracts. it puts them at the front of the line. hired and trained new staff and embedded logisticians in the facilities as we move forward. we developed and launched a new data system that connects hundreds of existing systems at the state and local level to allow us to have visibility, so
that we can see ourselves across the entire united states. we've executed extensive planning starting with the cdc putting out their playbook in september and then extensive coordinations with the state health officials every day, every week, and every month since. and it continues as we go forward. we dedicated regional planning teams that are constantly available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the cdc in support of the state and local governments. we provided i.t. specialists to help all the jurisdictions to see themselves so they understand exactly where everything is at a single point in time, they can plan and direct accordingly. we developed a program, we, the cdc really developed a magnificent program to, in collaboration with cvs and walgreens, to go to all of our
long term health care facilities and administer vaccine to one of the two top priorities, the elderly living in these homes. over 906 clinics conducted to date as we ramp up to 4,000 a week. so really a remarkable task. we've inked a partnership with 19 pharmacy chains to ensure as we go from stage 1a to 1b that we can expand the capacity of distribution throughout the country which gives everybody greater access to the vaccine in each state as directed by the governors and the state health officials. we funded distribution for vaccines alongside of ancillary kits to ensure that those things were there when they were needed. and we did this early on so that we had the right distribution mechanisms and the right
ancillary kits to be distributed with the vaccine. and we provided dry ice to everybody that wants it on the fish replenishment for all pfizer vaccines. we cut through the red tape, right, to ensure all the vaccines provided to americans will be free of charge. and finally, as i started out with, we've allocated and will be available for final order, 20 million doses by this thursday, distributed more than 14 million doses of vaccine to over 10,800 locations, and we have administered over 2 million doses in the last two weeks, really a remarkable feat. and everybody collectively should be very proud, right, the federal government, industry, academia, state and local governments. it has been a whole of america approach. as we work every day to make
sure that the vaccine gets to where it needs to be, we are out checking. yesterday i was able to go visit two hospitals in the local area, one in d.c. and one up in maryland, and i just saw remarkably dedicated staffs who were engaged, who understood the vaccines under their care, who were involved in making sure that they were executing administration the right way, to ensure that it's effectively used to the priorities of the governors and implementation. i was highly impressed, remarkably dedicated people working every day as they go through this. they've done this over the last two weeks through holidays, trying to give everybody some time off after a long year of fighting the virus, as they're working through the administration of the vaccine to
ensure that everybody gets it at a different time and not everybody at one time. and then they've worked through three major snowstorms in the last two weeks and still really a remarkable job. so i just want to applaud everybody's efforts collectively over -- as we work through the vaccines for the last 7 1/2 months, vaccines and therapeutics. our responsibility is to ensure that we are delivering or developing, manufacturing, and delivering safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics to the american people. and so i just -- i'm just thrilled to be a part of this and i'm excited about all the collaboration and great work that everybody's done to date. thank you. >> thank you to you both. >> and you've been watching a briefing with doctor -- excuse me, with general gus perna.
back with us is dr. torres and dr. adalja. dr. torres, you heard the defense of a very complex distribution process. there's no question the military is doing its job, they are getting the doses to the states. the issue is, is the federal government doing enough to facilitate getting people vaccinated once they get to the states. >> and i think what you heard there is him talking about developing, manufacturing, and distributing the vaccine, which is what operation warp speed has focused on and the military has certainly assisted with. but then you have the preparation and administration part of it as well and there seems to be a disconnect between those two parts. so until you get the administration part of it done, where people are actually getting their shots connected up to the distribution part, you're going to have these low numbers happening right now. and like i mentioned earlier, in some countries you're seeing mass vaccination events happening. one thing this country has been very good at in the past, if you look at world war i, world war ii, is mobilizing our entire industry, mobilizing our country
behind one cause in an emergency. this should be the cause we mobilize the country behind and say, we need to get these vaccines in people's arms, we need to get them to where they need to be and we need to get people shots as quickly as possible, let's do what it takes to do that. that means somebody centrally at the federal level needs to control that or at least make sure it's happening. >> and of course, dr. adalja, it is our system of federalism and states' rights and also in the uk and canada, they have the national health service so they have a ready-made way of tracking and bringing people together and distributing something like this in a very orderly fashion. what comes to mind now is, how well are we tracking the people who need their second doses? and also who has gotten moderna versus pfizer, down the road, a year from now, they need to know medically who got which vaccine in order to follow up. >> this is going to be a very hard data management challenge. i know when i got my vaccine,
coming up maybe ten days ago, i received a card that told me that i had the pfizer vaccine and told me when my second dose is due and i registered with the cdc app which helps you do so. i don't know how many people are doing it. this is something a lot of us anticipated would be difficult, especially as we now have another vaccine approved in the united states, the moderna vaccine, making sure people are in the right line, making sure they're coming back in the right time. one of them is a three-week interval. one of them is a four-week interval. this is more what public health does and what individual doctors and health systems do. so they need the support. that's where this gap is, where it's not connecting, is the distribution of the vaccine to the actual delivery of the vaccine. and that's where we want to make sure there's funding, that there's support, that there's guidance from the federal government to make this happen smoothly because as i said before, it's not going to do
anybody any good if states aren't able to vaccinate people with the vaccines that they've been distributed. many states, only 20 p% of thei vaccines have been actually given to people. so there's a problem right now and we need to address it and fix it. >> absolutely. and as with everything else, in this year, it's become political, with the president tweeting and of course joe biden criticizing. he's going to inherit this. we'll talk about that coming up as well. dr. torres, dr. adalja, our thanks to both of you. ahead, the first stimulus checks are on their way to americans across the country according to the treasury department. but will the senate take up the larger $2,000 payments, not just the $600 payments passed by the house? i'll talk to connecticut senator chris murphy about that fight and a lot more. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." stay with us. this is msnbc. nbc. restorative skin therapy. with our highest concentration of prebiotic oat intensely moisturizes over time to improve skin's resilience.
welcome back to capitol hill now where the senate is headed for the first veto override challenge of the trump presidency on the defense spending bill. also at stake is mitch mcconnell's decision to hold up axe on those $2,000 stimulus checks by tying them to a poison pill, action on the president's demands for an election fraud commission and other unrelated items. earlier house speaker nancy pelosi today addressing all of this and slamming mitch mcconnell. >> the president of the united states has expressed his support for the $2,000.
the democrats and republicans in the house have passed that legislation. who is holding up that distribution to the american people? mitch mcconnell and the senate republicans. >> as democrats go after mitch mcconnell over those stimulus checks, senator chris murphy is saying that republicans will try every conceivable way to kill the larger checks. and democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut joins us now. explain, what are you seeing in mitch mcconnell's strategy in not allowing a clean vote on the stimulus checks? >> well, it's important to note that the legislative session ends in three days. so there is only one path to get $2,000 into the hands of americans who are struggling today, and that is to pass the house legislation. two-thirds of the house voted in favor of this legislation. lots of republicans. it's hard to get two-thirds of the house of representatives to agree on what time it is, and yet they came together to agree
to up these checks to $2,000. donald trump will sign the bill. the only thing stopping this from becoming law is mitch mcconnell and senate republicans who refuse to bring it up for a vote. now, as you mentioned, he is attempting to say that he will pass a $2,000 check bill as long as we shove into that legislation massive internet reform to punish the internet companies for their attempts to hold donald trump to account on his lies. and this election fraud commission. all of that mitch mcconnell knows can't pass the senate, can't pass the house of representatives, before saturday. and so it's just an attempt to stop the $2,000 checks from becoming law. we're going to be on the floor tonight talking to our republican colleagues. we'll try to press them to push mitch mcconnell to bring this legislation to the floor. but it is really his decision right now as to whether american families get $600 or get $2,000. >> now, isn't there also the
issue of bernie sanders, who is threatening a filibuster, essentially, to hold up the defense override, the attempt to override the veto of the defense bill until the stimulus gets a standalone free ride? >> senator sanders, as i understand, is trying to use every tool he has at his disposal to try to get this clean vote on the house legislation, including, i understand, delaying the vote on the veto override of the defense bill. but again, it's donald trump who put us in this position where we are coming up to the end of the legislative session with the defense bill, which includes a pay increase for our troops still pending. the president could have signed that bill. instead, at the very last minute, he vetoed it, sending it back to congress at the zero hour. we will override that veto by the end of the session, i believe we'll do that. but i do understand that bernie sanders is trying to find every lever he has at his disposal to also get that vote taken on the
$2,000 checks, a vote right now that mitch mcconnell and senate republicans refuse to grant the american public. >> and your republican colleague josh hawley of missouri announcing today he's going to object to the electoral college vote certification on january 6. it's unlikely to change the result, it's not going to happen, but it's going to cause delay, lengthy debate, both houses in joint session. it's a complicated process that sets off. >> let's be clear. josh hawley and anyone who supports his effort are engaged in the attempted overthrow of democracy. there is no evidence that there was any fraud. senator hawley apparently believes that if a democrat wins the presidential race, it must be illegitimate by definition, even absent any actual evidence of misbehavior. and while you're right that senator hawley's efforts here
are not going to change the results of the election, joe biden is still going to be president, there won't be enough votes to overturn the electoral college, what he is doing and those who support him are doing is breeding in the american public and certainly amongst the hard core trump supporters this belief that the election itself was illegitimate and any time a democrat wins, it must be illegitimate. that is ultimately going to potentially end in the overthrow of democracy. at some point there will be a successful attempt by republicans at the state level or national level to throw out a legitimate election just because a democrat won. we don't do this in this country, right? we put our country before our party and our personal beliefs. senator hawley's efforts are not going to change the result of the election. but they pose a grave threat to american democracy, maybe not this year, but two years from now, four years from now, absolutely. >> and senator, i want to ask you about jonathan pollard, he's
back in israel, a convicted spy. the travel ban that was part of his parole had not been renewed by the trump administration. people are comparing this to the pardon, and this is certainly a gift to bebe netanyahu now facing a fourth election, he's had plenty of reelections that were helped by gifts from president trump including the annexation of the golan heights two years ago. how do you see this? is it time to let jonathan pollard go back to israel or is this giving away or letting a convicted spy who damaged the united states to go back to israel who arguably helped him in his spying? >> jonathan pollard is a convicted spy. and the actions that he undertook deeply hurt american national security. i don't think that this is sort of the equivalent of some of the pardons that donald trump issued to his friends and cronies that were in essence a way for the
president to avoid legal liability. this is fundamentally different. this is a very complicated case. all of that being said, joe biden is going to have a tough road ahead of him, because we ultimately need to conduct ourselves with respect to our relations with israel in a way that respects the u.s./israel relationship but also tries to drive towards a two-state future. there is no future for israel and the palestinians other than one in which there are two states, one for israel and one for the palestinians. and donald trump has taken us further away from that reality than any previous president in my lifetime. joe biden's going to have a lot of work ahead of him. >> senator chris murphy, thank you so much, thanks for being with us, a happy new year to you and your family, always appreciate you. >> you as well, andrea, thanks for having me. >> you bet.
joining us now, nbc news white house correspondents kelly o'donnell cover president trump, the president, you haven't seen him other than on the golf course, but you hasn't answered questions on any of the roadblocks. he's been waiting so long on the stimulus checks, demanding $2,000. he's been active behind the scenes but it's hard to figure out how this doesn't hurt mitch mcconnell and the senate republicans. as well as the american people waiting for their money. >> and that's part of the intention, certainly. he has cast aside one of the things that has been most prominent about his presidency and that's his willingness to engage with the public through the media and to explain his thinking publicly. we've seen him abandon that since the election. and here in florida, we have been told from time to time he is working the phones, receiving calls, and that sort of thing.
but he's been using twitter sort of like a sledgehammer to try to pound republicans to his will. one of those is mitch mcconnell. and the next steps that would unfold on the senate floor, with all the rules that can be used, and the strategy behind mcconnell's unwillingness to go so far as the $2,000 checks, but willingness, it seems, to give the president what he asked for, which is not only the $2,000 checks but two other more controversial elements that he is requesting, the social media liability protection being removed, and a commission on voter fraud. that makes it much harder for it to pass because democrats want no part of that. so will that make a difference for the president? what we can say is the $600 checks that were affirmed into law are in the pipeline now, those with direct deposit, for example, will see those more quickly. will it get plussed up to $2,000? that's an open question, but it looks like a long shot with the
strategy that mcconnell is employing to bring those three proposals into one. >> what are the chances for those checks in the senate? >> mcconnell rejected a standalone effort to raise the payments from 600 to $2,000. we know senate republicans in his caucus have been highly resistant to outright opposed to them. what he appears to be doing to placate president trump and respond to pressure from him, as kelly pointed out, is to package them with two other items. we've heard democrats say this is an attempt by mcconnell to kill the $2,000 checks, to make sure they don't pass. it's a relatively common maneuver on capitol hill, known as the poison pill. put measures that you know won't pass rather than outright coming out against a piece of legislation that is popular.
mcconnell is thinking about his georgia senators, david perdue and kelly loeffler, who face an election on tuesday, a crucial runoff that will decide control of the senate. they're under a lot of pressure from their democratic riflvals support the $2,000 checks for which they came out yesterday. this bill, if mcconnell brings it up, he hasn't specifically said he would, would give them an opportunity to vote on that and go home and say they did while democrats accuse the republicans of trying to make sure it doesn't pass, andrea. >> and geoff bennett, president-elect biden is now criticizing the trump administration's vaccine rollout effort which is obviously going to affect his commitment to 100 million vaccines in the first hundred days, that's likely not going to happen. how concerned is the transition about the problems they're facing there and also on national security from the pentagon slow rolling any transition efforts? >> yeah, well, the pandemic,
generally speaking, and the vaccine rollout, is the chief concern, and the problem, as you rightfully point out, that joe biden will inherit in three weeks' time. joe biden is promising as president to pick up the pace of the vaccine rollout and he targeted a strategy to do that. the trump administration for the most part has been focused on distributing vaccines. that's where they say their responsibility ends. but the biden approach includes both the distribution and actually administering the vaccine. so he has talked about how he would invoke the defense production act, it's a 1950s era law aimed at basically forcing private companies to produce items for the public good. so he would use that to ramp up the production of raw materials, to produce more vaccine, and the protective gear needed to administer it. he's talked about having federally-backed vaccination sites and sending mobile units into hard to reach communities across the country. and he also articulated this plan to have a massive public education campaign to boost vaccine acceptance. so joe biden will be held to account for this in much the
same way that outgoing president trump is being held to account because joe biden has articulated his own projection of having 100 million shots in arms, as he puts it, within the first 100 days, andrea. >> and also, kelly and jeff and sahil, sahil, to you, i wanted to ask you briefly about this terrible story about the collect-elect, luke letlow, only 41 years old, he's got two young children. from what i read, he was tested positive for the virus on december 18 and died yesterday. this is just such a terrible tragedy for this family. >> it's a horrible tragedy, andrea. there are condolences coming in from leaders of both parties including speaker pelosi and the republican leader kevin mccarthy. he was 41, he had two young children, 3 years old and just 11 months old. i think it's just a reminder of the horrors and the grief and
the tragedies that this virus has imposed on this nation and around the world. obviously the seat is now vacant. my understanding is louisiana law calls on the governor to essentially set up a special election for who will succeed him. right now nobody's really thinking about that. this is a reminder that covid is horrifying and it's deadly and it can strike anyone, even someone as young as 41. >> and we have heard very little from the president, if anything, about covid except blaming the vaccine rollout on the states and even on joe biden for what the obama administration did with the sars virus back then. kelly o'donnell, geoff bennett, sahil, thanks so much, happy new year to all of you. and joe biden and kamala harris are heading to georgia. so is president trump. which team is going to make a difference in those crucial georgia senate races with just six days now before the election? you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. buy from us, you get the freedom of the seven-day return policy.
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with his agenda on the line, the biden transition team announced today that president-elect biden will be in georgia on monday for that all-important senate race, both races. he'll be campaigning for democrats a day before the pivotal runoff election that will determine control of the u.s. senate. democrats have to win both races in order to gain control. president trump will hold a competing rally on monday night on election eve. invi vice president elect harris will be visiting on sunday. this morning david perdue and jon ossoff talked about their high stakes race. >> it is no exaggeration to say that black voters in georgia will determine control of the united states senate and the course of our republic for the next decade. >> this is a race to the finish here, we know that. we're the last line of defense against this radical socialist
agenda that they are trying to perpetrate on america. >> the choice would not be more dramatic. nbc's priscilla thompson is in gwinnett county, getting a firsthand look at georgia's ballot processing. what are you hearing as president trump is continuing to claim election fraud and is now even calling on republican governor brian kemp to resign? some in the black community are saying there is voter suppression and the secretary of state is not living up to his commitment to have really fair voting. >> reporter: andrea, we have certainly come a long way from just two weeks ago when governor kemp was tweeting from the white house christmas party, to now the president calling on him to resign. as the president is seeking to relitigate the results of the election in georgia, much of the electorate has turned their focus to these crucial runoff elections. more than 2.5 million georgians
have voted either early in person or by absentee ballot in these elections. that's more than the amount of people that have voted in any runoff election in history in the state. and we have actually been able to get a look at what is happening when those ballots are being returned to places like this. we're hearing gwinnett county, where those ballots are coming back in, the signatures are being matched and verified, and then these folks are able to actually, as of last week, were able to start opening those envelopes, looking at those ballots to make sure they have been filled out correctly and getting them scanned and ready to be tabulated on election night. some of the voters i've spoken to over the past several weeks have said they trust this process as far as they can see it. they don't know what happens after their ballot is turned in. but today, we're getting a look at what that looks like and these are folks who are working very hard to get that done and
get those results in on tuesday night. andrea? >> and priscilla, one of the reasons that the president was so angry was that cobb county, led by republicans, was saying there had been no fraud found in the votes that were counted there. that's of course what precipitated this attack against the governor as well. priscilla thompson, at the center of the action there in georgia, thank you very much. more red flags coming from president-elect joe biden's team, warning that the trump administration is stonewalling the transition. what they're saying, next. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." this is msnbc. this is msnbc.
post" reporter anne gearan. and "washington post" senior writer kimberly atkins. so great to see you both. ann, war you hearing from the president-elect's team how this is being slow-walked. saying, oh, no, this is a planned holiday break. not so much said joe biden. said it's critical for a smooth transition to be getting this information. >> yeah. andrea, we have heard from the president-elect's team that they haven't had a briefing at the pentagon and they haven't really been getting their questions answered for more than a week now. and this is not something that the biden team agreed to as the pa acting pentagon chief said last week that they had. quite the contrary, the biden folks have been asking, basically banging on a closed-door, for more than a week now, trying to get ahead of the new year's break which they will take a couple of days off. you know, trying to get greater
information, including about the current status of the drawdown of troops in afghanistan. and the peace talks ongoing related to that war. the president's incoming national security adviser jake coleman who you and i know well gave an interview to npr yesterday saying, you know, we have a war here. and we really need to know what the administration is doing in the final days to carry out the further forces. the biden folks feel like they just don't have the information they're going to need in 21 days in order to be the correct and careful custodian, of that drawdown, and that peace talks going forward. that's just one example. >> and, kimberly, the president-elect and vice president-elect are both going to be campaigning on georgia on sunday and monday, monday right before the tuesday's vote, a vital runoff election really could determine the course of
the biden agenda, certainly on capitol hill and confirmations. >> certainly, so much of joe biden's agenda will require congressional assistance. and they would really need to have control of the senate to make the biggest difference, particularly under more controversial issues. it's also an important election in terms of donald trump and his continual assault on democracy, if the voters in georgia elect two democrats, that in itself will be a major blow to donald trump's claim that there is election fraud going on there, as you pointed out, that is not something that even republican officials have said, on a number of levels to have a smooth election, that is crucial. >> anne, so many national security issues that are usually not done in transition in deference to the incoming team are done in coordination. now, we're hearing that
secretary of state pompeo is even considering declaring cubas a terrorist-sponsored state, as we know absolutely no evidence. >> yeah. >> it would be hard to unwind. >> is it would. it would. and it adds to a list of things that the outgoing trump administration appears to be doing to, kind of, you know, not only further very specific things in their agenda, which of course, anti-cuba, anti-venezuela, anti of regime there but also to complicates items before joe biden as you point out, a number of policy changes and additional sanctions including on iran most recently will be difficult for the biden folks to unwind quickly. and get traction on the policies that they want. you know, clearly, cuba, going back to some form of the obama administration outreach to cuba is a priority for the biden
folks and the trump folks know it. >> and, kimberly, the president's created so much trouble for mitch mcconnell and for those two senators who now had to flip on the $2,000. now, mcconnell creating this poison pill by combining the extra issues that the president wants with the $2,000 stimulus checks. how is this going to affect the georgia elections, do you think? >> well, it isn't helpful, i mean, both republicans in that race, senator perdue and senator loeffler have been campaigning say they want to give georgians relief for the pandemic and for the economic problems that it has caused. so, it is yet a number bit of dissonance on the part of the republican party. and mcconnell may be trying to give cover to the republicans in this chamber who don't want to give more money by tieing it to these poison pills, as you accurately point out but he has a lot of considerations here.
and there's really no good way for him to go. donald trump painted him in a corner politically by backing that $2,000. anne gearan, kimberly atkins, great to see you both. happy holidays, thank you. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." tomorrow, we have dr. anthony fauci joining us to talk about the vaccine rollout and all of the rest of coronavirus. during the pandemic. that's tomorrow at noon right here on msnbc. up next, kasie hunt is in for chuck todd with mtd daily. d. voltaren. the joy of movement. voltaren is powerful arthritis pain relief in a gel.
♪ welcome to a very busy wednesday. it's meet the press daily. i'm kasie hunt in for chuck todd who begins this hour with breaking news agency the white house is under fire for falling well short of its target for covid vaccinations. and as that new more contagious coronavirus variant from the uk now found here in the u.s. the goal was 20 million vaccinations by year-end. the actual number, according to the cdc, right now is just 1/10 of that. while the approval of multiple vaccines should rightly be credited as a medical marvel, the distributions of getting them into people's arms have been criticized as excruciatingly slow, including president-elect