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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  January 29, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST

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as we come on the air this hour one new sign of hope and one more big challenge in the fight against covid. johnson & johnson just out this morning with trial results on its single-dose vaccine. it is less effective than pfizer and moderna's but it's still effective, it still helps keep people out of the hospital according to the data. that is a big deal in and of itself. >> 60% efficacy would still be a really strong tool in our
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toolbox. >> johnson & johnson now set to file for emergency fda approval within a matter of days as the u.s. for the first time confirms two cases of the south african variant believed to be more dangerous and the current vaccines don't seem to protect as well against it. what public health experts are recommending ahead. and any minute now we're taking you live to the white house briefing room. we expect to hear from press secretary jen psaki. the next steps getting set for pushing that covid relief bill forward with or without republicans. good morning, i'm hallie jackson in washington along with tom costello dr. nahid bhadelia and stephanie gosk in west virginia. photograph give me if i interrupt you, but talk about those new vaccine trial results. good news here, the efficacy numbers aren't as high as we've seen in other vaccines, but this isn't like a bad situation here. >> let's give you the bullet points before the briefing because they're important. 72% efficacy in the united
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states with the new johnson & johnson vaccine. in addition it is 85% effective in preventing severe disease. now, you say, okay, that's not as good as the pfizer and the moderna vaccines. true, but a typical flu vaccine offers about 60% effective. so it's 72%, that's pretty darn good. overall effective rate we have to explain this. that's the global number. why is it the global number? because it was drawn down not as effective as you can see in south africa against that variant, however, overall very effective and keep in mind that there are other -- there are treatments -- other treatments out there of course, the moderna vaccine, the pfizer vaccine, they have already determined they are a little more effective against the south african variant. this is a critical tool right now in the toolbox because we now would have if this is approved by the fda a third vaccine, a single shot would not require the booster, does not require a deep freeze, if you will, and it is easily
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transferable, if you will, or distributable, i should say, across the country because it does not require the deep freeze conditions. >> and, tom, thank you. jen psaki, the white house press secretary taking the lectern. we will listen in. >> thank you and the american people are interested in the news coming from johnson & johnson's trial data. the president is encouraged by positive data on a potential new vaccine. he also knows that this is just new data and now is the time for the fda to do its job of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. in the meantime he continues to urge all americans to mask up and follow public health guidelines until it's their turn to get vaccinated. now i know there may be a lot of questions you have for us about the trial data or johnson & johnson. i'm here to tell you that i'm not going to get ahead of the experts who you will all get to hear from in the next hour in our public health briefing from the covid response team. they will discuss this more with you and what everything means
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then. at wednesday's briefing i also shared some of the engagement and outreach the white house is doing to move forward the american rescue plan from the president and the vice president on down. that work has continued and accelerated. yesterday senior staff spoke again to governors about the challenges they are facing and the importance of relief. today national economic council deputy director david cayman will meet with the council of state governments. the office of public engagement will brief black civic groups, anti-hunger advocates and key progressive groups and invite their feedback. these conversations are critical to building support and moving the president's bill forward. according -- but we also saw evidence this week that the american people overwhelmingly want their elected leaders to work with the president to confront the pandemic and get -- and put people back to work. according to a monmouth poll released wednesday, 71% of the american people want republicans in congress to work with
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president biden. that number is up nearly ten points from right after the election, meaning the trend of support for working in a bipartisan manner with the president is only growing. finally, the president is committed to getting relief to working families, hence he is also meeting this morning with his economic -- members of his economic team, with the vice president and treasury secretary janet yellen for a briefing on the cost of inaction and the impact of a delay in moving forward with a relief package. millions of americans don't have enough food to eat and millions more have lost their jobs, but interest rates are at historic lows and that means it's the right time to make smart investments. moody's a wall street firm has said we could end up with 4 million fewer jobs this year if we don't act on the president's plan, that's 4 million americans who could get back to work. i'm sure they will discuss all of that at their briefing later this morning. last thing, we are venturing to
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provide a week ahead to all of you -- or return to providing a week ahead to all of you so a quick preview. next monday the president will meet with the secretary of state at the state department. on tuesday president biden will deliver remarks and sign an executive order advancing his priority to modernize our immigration system. and friday is of course jobs day and the president will deliver remarks about the economy. we will have hopefully more over the next couple days, but we wanted to provide as many details as we could. with that, zeke, why don't you kick us off. >> reporter: with violence surging in afghanistan is the president still committed to wind down operations there and bringing troops home this year? >> the president -- i have not spoken with our national security team about this in particular, but his commitment remains. >> reporter: at the top you mentioned that americans should follow public health guidance. what are the challenges it has been over the course of the last
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ten months is public health guidance from state to state vary. some states have mask mandates, others have indoor dining and schools open, others don't. what guidance should the american people follow, their governor's guidance or should they follow the president's? >> well, first what we're venturing to do is provide more concrete guidance from the federal government, from the cdc, from health and medical experts on the important steps all of the american people can take to keep themselves safe. that includes the importance of mask wearing, of course, and how -- how vital that is to keeping us safe. it also includes the importance of hand washing, of restricting travel. these are all guidelines that have come in recent days and weeks, i should say, from the president of the united states and from our medical and health experts. but in addition as we discussed yesterday, there are guidelines including the safe -- for the safe reopening of schools that he signed an executive order on, directing both the department of
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education and hhs -- and the cdc, i should say, i'm sorry, to produce those guidelines to give more specific advice and markers to states and local school districts on what they should follow. so it will ultimately be up to states to governors to local school districts and others to make determinations, but we do want to provide more clear guidance from the federal government based on the expertise of health and medical experts on what people should follow and what will help keep the american people safe. >> i just want to a quick follow-up on that one. the cdc the study that was discussed here a couple of days ago one of its recommendation as part of reopening schools immediately was to close indoor dining, restaurants and bars. is that a part of the federal guidance that we should be expecting to see from the cdc and the department of education soon? >> well, the good news is you get to hear from our director of the cdc, i believe, in about 45 minutes and our medical health experts and you can certainly
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ask them if there's going to be any updated guidance. go ahead. >> reporter: dr. fauci says the u.s. may not be able to meet that goal of reopening most k through 8 schools in 100 days because of the trajectory of the pandemic. given that is the president going to adjust his goal of trying to get all these schools reopened at 100 days? >> well, as we talked about a little bit yesterday, the president wants to not only reopen schools, we wants the schools to stay open and -- but he does rely on the guidance of his health and medical experts and obviously he's not going to do anything that is not safe and doesn't keep teachers, students and our school districts safe. but a key part of this is the guidelines as we mentioned, the executive order he signed to ensure that school districts are getting the information they need and clarity they need on what steps that they should take to keep their students safe and teachers safe of course. but it is also funding and we've talked about this quite a bit in here and the american rescue plan is pivotal for a number of reasons including ensuring that
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americans have food on the table, including that we can get shots into the arms of people across the country, but also that school districts, especially public schools, have the funding they need to take steps on everything from ventilation to ppe to testing. and the longer that's delayed the harder it's going to be to meet that goal. >> and has president biden spoken to former president trump since taking office and if so can you give us any update on what president trump said in his letter to president biden? >> i don't have any update. i don't have any calls to report on. there are no calls to report on, i should say, and i don't have any update on the letter. as i said when we talked about this about a week and a half ago, it seems longer than that i'm going to acknowledge, the president of course thought the letter was gracious and generous, but he plans to keep it private. go ahead. >> reporter: i understand you don't want to get too much into the johnson & johnson vaccine given the data that's out there, but this likely won't be the
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only vaccine that is less effective than the pfizer and the moderna vaccines. so i wonder what is the president's message to those americans who would be less -- who would be more reluctant to get one of those less effective vaccines and are you concerned about the impact that that would have given how many doses have already been bought on the front end. >> first when the president announced his plan earlier this week to ensure we have enough vaccination -- vaccines to give every american two shots by the end of the summer with the purchase of moderna and pfizer vaccines, he was doing that without the need for additional vaccines approved. obviously if additional vaccines, johnson & johnson or any others go through the fda approval process, that's a positive step, right? no doubt about that. but he purchased these -- the large orders for vaccines that we'll have by the end this have summer to get into the arms of americans to ensure that we would be able to do that even without any of those steps moving forward. >> and so he would encourage
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americans to get any vaccine that is approved by the fda for emergency use authorization? >> well, again, we're not going to get ahead of the fda, i'm not suggesting you're asking that, but we will rely on our health and medical experts to advise. if there are additional vaccines, if and when, i will be optimist iks that are approved by the fda and how that will impact our vaccine distribution plan. >> reporter: secondly, on the coronavirus relief bill, in his first month in office president obama traveled to a number of key states to drum up support for the recovery act. does president biden have any plans to do something similar to drum up support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill? >> well, then vice president biden also traveled to a number of states to drum up support for the american recovery act at the time and obviously we weren't dealing with a pandemic so the circumstances were quite different. but he fully recognizes as do we the importance of speaking directly to the american people about the components of this package, whether it's the importance of funding to get
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schools open or get vaccines in the arms of americans or just to ensure that people know they can put food on the table. so we're having to take a number of creative steps to do that, whether that's direct television or local media or from the president, the vice president and others, we're doing that, whether it is engaging with governors and local elected officials to ensure that we're answering all of the questions they have and that they can convey to the public. so we're taking number of creative steps, a little outside of the box, certainly his preference would be to get on a plane and fly around the country but that's not the step we're planning currently. >> reporter: as a candidate president biden did travel a fair amount, especially in the final weeks of the campaign. he has now received both doses of the vaccine and a number of safety precautions are in place and could be in place for his travel so why wouldn't he be traveling or is that something -- >> well, it's also about keeping the public safe. you know, we are not going to do an event, a rally with 20,000 people. that wouldn't be a recommendation made by our health and medical experts. >> reporter: but there wouldn't
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be any plans to travel without a crowd and to go out into the country? >> we may travel certainly, but i have nothing to preview for you at this point in time. what i'm conveying is that it is vital for the president and the vice president and every member of our team to be speaking directly to the american people and so we're looking for creative ways to do that. >> reporter: could i ask you a foreign policy question? >> sure. >> reporter: after alexei navalny was poisoned last summer then candidate biden said there was no doubt that the kremlin was responsible for his poisoning and he vowed to, quote, hold the putin regime accountable. this week you told us that the president conveyed his concerns to president putin but hasn't yet taken any action to hold russia accountable. i wonder does president biden hold president putin directly responsible for the poisoning of alexei navalny and if so why hasn't he taking sanctions action to punish russia for its actiones. >> first the president spoke with president putin earlier this week as you know and he did not hold back in his concerns about a number of the actions of
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the kremlin and of the russian government, but there is a review under way that we have spoken about a bit in here by our national security team and we will let that review carry forward. that includes the solar winds breach, it includes the poisoning of alexei navalny, it includes the -- i'm kind of losing my thought here, but it includes a number of steps, a number of concerning actions they've taken. we want that reviewed to carry forward and to be completed and the president always reserves the right to respond in the manner of his choosing and at the time of his choosing. >> reporter: does he hold president putin responsible for the attempted a nas nation of alexei navalny. >> we will receipt the review carry forward i'm sure we will have more to say about it at that point in time. >> reporter: the new york attorney general release add report saying that the state had undercounted the number of covid deaths by as much as 50% in nursing homes. would president biden support a
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federal investigation into what happened and governor andrew cuomo's role? >> i have seen those reports. i would say any investigation i would point you to the department of justice. >> reporter: does the white house think that it should be looked into further? >> again, any investigation would be led by the department of justice. we are in a new age where they are independent and they will determine what paths they make moving forward. >> reporter: okay. on immigration i know you said yesterday that it was never 100% that today was going to be immigration day, that it was just an early draft and things change, but can you help us understand what exactly changed and why it's taking a little bit longer for these executive orders and actions on immigration to execute? >> sure. you know, one, it's of course been widely reported that the president is planning to announce his task force -- or not plans -- plans to announce his launch of a task force on reunifying families. his wife dr. biden is personally
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committed to and invested in. he will plan to make that announcement next tuesday. the task force will be led by secretary of homeland security once he's confirmed alejandro mayorkas and we had planned to sign that executive order today or at the end of this week, early plans sometimes do change and that was a draft plan which those change many times, i can assure you, from sitting through many scheduling meetings. we had planned to do it this week because we had opened that ale mayorkas would be confirmed by the end of this week but because of the fill busting of his nomination we expect him to be confirmed on monday evening and the president will sign it on tuesday and secretary mayorkas will be overseeing that moving forward. >> reporter: one more question, a foreign one. can you give us just a little bit more of a timeline in terms of how much longer you think it will take for the white house to engage with iran on its nuclear program? because you had one of iran's top diplomats saying yesterday that it believes the window is
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closing. >> well, i'm not going to give a timeline on it. obviously it requires iran complying with the requirements of the nuclear deal. we've said previously, but i will reiterate here, that the president also sees it as an opportunity to build on the plan from here -- there, and i apologize, i just want to make sure i give you the exact language. he believes that through following diplomacy the u.s. should seek to lengthen and strengthen these nuclear constraints and address other issues of concern including iran's ballistic missiles program and its regional activity. but, again, iran must resume compliance with the significant nuclear constraints under the deal. now, he's also talked about and thematically we have talked about how working with our partners and allies including the europeans, members of the p5+1 is pivotal to any engagement moving forward of course including on what the future of the iran nuclear deal
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is. go ahead. >> reporter: just to follow up on iran, would the president consider meeting with his iranian counterpart rouhani and maybe have a telephone conversation with him? >> i think we're getting a little bit ahead of where we are in the process. the first step is for iran to comply with the significant nuclear constraints under the deal, but i am certain we will continue to discuss this issue in here and at the state department and other parts of government. holland, i didn't recognize you with your mask for a second. >> reporter: just to follow up on jeremy's question did president biden specifically call on president putin to release alexei navalny? >> yes, as we have publicly as our team has repeatedly called for through the course of the last several weeks. in terms of the specifics of conversation, i don't have any more details for you on that. >> reporter: we don't know what putin said or did he make any promises? >> i don't have anything to read out on president putin's
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comments, no. >> reporter: in the wake of the game stop trading incident is there a public role the white house can play in educating people about the dangers of this deep trading? >> steve, i know the sec issued a new statement earlier this morning or just before i came out here and i certainly would point you to that and others to that and we of course respect the role of regulatory agencies. they are closely monitoring the situation, but it's under their purview at this point in time and i guess part of our education can be conveying to people that the sec is the regulatory body that would oversee this and can speak to it further. go ahead. >> reporter: thanks, jen. two on capitol security. so the acting chief of police on capitol hill has recommended permanent fencing around the capitol. i was wondering if the biden white house or president biden himself has any thoughts on this if this permanent fencing is the right answer? does the project the wrong picture to the american public? >> i am not sure we're going to
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have any comment on that specifically but i'm happy to talk to our national security, homeland security team if we have anything further to add. >> reporter: speaker pelosi said, i believe it was yesterday, that she feels that threats are coming from inside the house with other members being allowed to carry guns of course you have conspiracy theorists among the ranks of the gop now. do you and does the white house agree with that assessment that there is security threats coming from inside the house? has biden spoken to pelosi and is he worried about the safety, the physical safety of members of congress? >> well, he speaks with speaker pelosi on a regular basis and has reiterated his support for her and members of the caucus and he has spoken publicly about his concerns about the rhetoric of course around the events of january 6, but some of the rhetoric that has continued and the role of social media platforms. so he is in close touch with her about events on the capitol, about the safety of members, but i don't think i have anything more for you to read out beyond that. go ahead in the back. >> reporter: thank you, jen.
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two quick foreign, one domestic if that's okay. can you i don't know firm officially that roberto mali has been appointed special envoy for iran. >> i can. i believe it's been announced this morning and i can confirm it here for you, too. >> reporter: as you know settlements have been a major obstacle to getting the palestinians to the negotiating table. would president biden consider it -- does he believe settlements are -- should be halted in the west bank so that the palestinians will come back? >> i don't have any new comments from president biden on this or the current circumstances. he has obviously spoken to this particular issue in the past and conveyed that he doesn't believe security assistance should be tied, but i don't have anything more for you on the path forward toward a two-state solution. >> reporter: following up on the capitol hill fence, there is a fence outside here a temporary one around the white house, it's been up since last summer,
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president trump took a lot of criticism for it. would president biden consider bringing that fence down so people can take photos in front of the white house again? >> i think we would all like that, including members of my family and people in washington, but i will talk to our security team and see if there's any -- anything further to convey to all of you. go ahead. >> reporter: as you guys are thinking about the task force to reunite the parents and the separated children, what are you sort of learning about the scope of that challenge? is it something that groups have tried to do in the past and failed. how many people do you think would need to be tasked to that to actually make it effective? >> those are excellent questions and i expect that when we announce -- the president signs the executive order next week when we put the task force together, when ale mayorkas is confirmed as the secretary of homeland security maybe we will have him come to this briefing room or i'm officially inviting him here today to come to this briefing room. there is no question that we recognize this is going to be incredibly challenging that
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there will be a lot of work to be done. that is why this will be a priority. it's not only a priority for the president, but will be a priority for secretary mayorkas, but i will leave it to him and to others at the department of homeland security to outline and preview for you the path forward. go ahead. >> reporter: thank you, jen. i know that president biden and the first lady are acutely aware of the sacrifices that military families make. that being said, we have an incident with the garage with the national guard that was kind of embarrassing and now i'm hearing from spouses of guards members that they had a covid outbreak and were not tested or vaccinated before they arrived in d.c. i'm wondering if there's any concern by the president about how these guards men are being treated, whether he can do anything specifically to safeguard their health before they arrive, while they're here, can he get vaccinating -- vaccinations to -- and testing
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to governors specifically for the purpose of providing some health safeguards to these soldiers? >> well, as you noted at the beginning of your question, but i would just reiterate, the role of the national guard and i've spoken to the president about this directly, and the incredible sacrifices they make is something that is personal to him given his family connection to the national guard. he had called the head of the national guard just last week when the reports came out about the treatment of the national guard and the fact that they had been -- many had been sleeping in garages and of course conveyed his dismay of the photos he had seen and their treatment and also offered his personal -- personally any help that he could provide, whether even if it was boosting morale. and certainly that line of communication remains open should there be something that he can do from his end. in terms of specific prioritization of the vaccine, i would point you to the department of defense and
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leaders over there to speak to that more specifically. >> reporter: okay. one follow up to that. on the question of nancy pelosi, speaker pelosi's concern about the enemy within, has the president been briefed on such a threat and does he agree that the national guard should be here until mid march during the impeachment trial? >> i will speak with our department of homeland security -- or homeland security colleagues here to see if there's more specifics we have from our end, but i would point you to the department of defense and the national guard team otherwise. >> reporter: the romper asks i've learned that the irs employees nationwide are having telework suspended. they're all being called back into the office. this despite an omb directive issued tuesday ordering federal agencies to only allow 25% capacity in federal buildings. if irs employees have been doing
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telework successfully, why is now the time to bring them all back into the office? is that safe? >> i would point you to the department of treasury where the irs is located for any further comment on that. go ahead. sorry, i will come to you next, too. >> reporter: jen, it's on the defense production act. you've been asked in the briefings about the specific instances of the defense production act being used. yesterday the chief of staff ron klain suggested that it was being used as it relates to the production of n95 masks. is there anything specific you can tell us on that or any other companies or products where the defense production act is being used now? >> well, we are not going to get into specific companies, obviously there are procurement processes here that also take place at federal agencies and also we are early in the process, it was invoked just last week. i can give you more specific detail in terms of how we plan to use it, on vaccine supply, i think one of the -- also the products that ron klain spoke about was low dead space syringes which are the key to
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getting the sixth dose out of the pfizer vile, pivotal into getting more vaccines out into the public. n95 masks, isolation gowns, nitro gloves, again, safely and keeping people safe from infection, pipet tibbs and high absorbancy swabs for testing and lipid nano particles which are key to the mrna vaccine and bio reactor bags which is what the vaccine is mass produced in. as you can tell a lot of this is materials that will help ensure that the vaccine can be used by vaccinators and transported in some cases to vaccine locations so there are several components of it and very specific materials that we're focused on. >> reporter: and then at the national security agency michael ellis a trump political appointee was installed as the general counsel which is a career position as you know. is there -- are you guys considering reviewing that decision or attempt to go remove michael ellis from his position as general counsel of the nsa?
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>> i don't have anything new for you on that other than i don't have any personnel announcements, certainly we're reviewing personnel across -- across government, including political appointees, most of whom have left, but i don't have anything new on any decisions there. go ahead. oh, wait, sorry, i promised you. go ahead. >> reporter: thanks, jen. fema has asked active duty troops be used at vaccination centers when they get stood up across the country. does the white house support that request? >> i did ask our team about this. you or someone else may have asked about this the other day, i think i have something on it here. one moment. thanks for your patience. lots to say about covid. no doubt about it. let's see. let me talk to our team about
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it. i know i've seen that request from fema, obviously part of our objective is ensuring that we have vaccinators on the ground, i know that's not what you're asking about, but also the ability to move materials and move vaccines. so we are tapping into any resource we can, but it's more predominantly focused on kind of a health and medical core and the ability to get those people into communities, but i will check with our team and get you something more specific. >> reporter: just one on double masking. there's been some increased discussion about that publicly. we've seen pictures of the president double masking and those around him. is that a personal preference or has he been advised by his medical advisers to do that? >> well, you're going to talk to the medical advisers in the next 15, 20 minutes, whatever the time is and you can ask them for specifically. there hasn't been specific cdc glide ans as you have probably seen dr. fauci spoke to this i believe in the last couple days and said it was common sense or
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made sense, i can't remember how he phrased it, but there hasn't been additional medical guidance given. i've been around the president where he's been wearing one mask, obviously he abides by the health and medical advice. sometimes not to get into detailed but it looks like two masks sometimes because we put the n95 one on and it's more comfortable to have this one on top of it. i would encourage you to ask the health and medical steam on the call coming up. >> reporter: did the white house have advanced notice of the johnson & johnson results and did that affect the white house's decision to go ahead and purchase 200 million doses from pfizer and moderna? >> no, the decision was made to purchase the pfizer and moderna doses to ensure that we had enough doses to give two shots to americans by the end of the summer. we did our planning without the need for an additional vaccine to go through approval. now, remember, even though we saw the news this morning it hasn't gone through fda approval yet, we don't have a timeline of when that will happen. we leave that to the fda. go ahead.
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>> reporter: thank you. a couple questions on the economy starting with china. former president trump signed a phase one trade deal with beijing. does president biden consider that deal still to be in effect and does he expect china to meet its commitments under that deal? >> well, the national security team, the newly confirmed secretary of state, president biden, are all reviewing all aspects of our national security approach including certainly our relationship with china. you know, we are focused on approaching that relationship from a position of strength and that means coordinating and communicating with our allies and partners about how we are goings to work with china, it means strengthening our economy at home and it means, you know, determining the best path forward to address a range of issues not just economic, but strategic and also security.
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so, again, everything is under review, but i don't have anything for you on the -- more on the china relationship. >> reporter: to clarify, so it is still in effect as the past administration left it off? >> well, again, everything that the past administration has put in place is under review as it relates to our national security approach. so i would not assume things are moving forward. we are just reviewing what the path forward looks like and doing that, again, from a position of strength, which means coordinating with our allies, members of congress and making a determination before we ep gauge further. go ahead. >> reporter: can you confirm the "politico" story about the president warning his family members to avoid any conflict of interest with his presidency and their business ties? >> well, i'm not going to get into private conversations between the president and his family members. we all have lots of conversations with different family members i'm sure. the president is committed to ensuring we have the most
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ethically vigorous administration in history and that includes restrictions on what -- how his image can be used and that is something that he has conveyed publicly and privately as well. so let me just reiterate the policy for all of you which is i think maybe your next question or i will just reiterate it proactively, it's the white house's policy that the president's name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way that could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support. he has issued the farthest reaching executive order with respect to the ethical commitments required of his appointees ever and is very proud of it. that's something that he is committed to conveying to anyone it applies to. let me just get to a few more in the back. all the way in the back. >> reporter: thank you very much. does president biden endorse the [ inaudible ] of genocide concerning the chinese treatment
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of the uighur minority? >> yes, secretary blinken, i almost called him president blinken, i'm giving him a bit of a promotion, you never know, he spoke about that during his confirmation hearing so i would certainly point you to those comments. >> reporter: [ inaudible ]. >> he was speaking on behalf of the u.s. government. did you have a question right there? go ahead. >> reporter: the governor of puerto rico said last night he was in touch with the white house about releasing remaining disaster relieve funds held by the previous administration. do you have an update on that? >> i don't. but i will talk to our team about what the status of relief funds is for puerto rico. >> reporter: is the white house tracking the confirmed cases of the south african strains that have been found in south carolina? have you been in touch with local officials there? >> certainly our health and medical team have been and they will speak to it at their briefing that's coming up at 11 a.m., i would encourage to you join that, but as we see reports our team has been monitoring variants as there have been developments around the world and the potential for them to
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travel here. it reiterates or reemphasizes the importance of getting vaccines into the arms of americans, something that our health team has said will make people safer and also reiterates the need for getting the american rescue plan passed so that we can ensure we can expedite that effort. go ahead. >> reporter: thanks, jen. just two quick questions. one following up on the political question. to that degree is the white house going to make a commitment one way or the other that members of biden's family is not going to serve in the administration? >> we've made that commitment. so that continues to be the commitment. >> reporter: vally biden or anyone else? >> no, reports that there was an office in the west wing were not accurate. >> reporter: gotcha. and then one -- i know you said earlier that you would not like to be commenting on her, but it's a major story. does the white house have any concerns about a qanon supporter, somebody with a history of racist, anti-semitic
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comments serving on house committees? >> well, i think the reason i conveyed that is because we don't want to elevate conspiracy theories further in the briefing room so i'm going to leave it at that. we'll leave -- we'll leave decisions about committees to members of congress and we've certainly seen speaker pelosi speak to that. go ahead. >> reporter: thank you. 24 republican members of -- republican senators sent a letter to president biden yesterday requesting a meeting after some of the executive orders and actions targeting the domestic energy sector. is that a meeting that president biden will take? >> well, president biden is committed to and this is -- you can see this through his actions, working and engaging with democrats and republicans to address the crises we're facing including climate which is one of the crises that he has identified. we don't have no plans for a meeting of that kind, but i can read out for you at this point in time sounds like a lot of people to be in a meeting during covid, too, but he is certainly engaged on an individual basis
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with leaders in the senate, members of democratic and republican senators and they can certainly raise any concerns they have through that means. >> reporter: one more question, apologies if you answered this in response to steve's question but i just want to be clear here. do you anticipate president biden to address the game stop controversy when he meets with his economic team a little bit later on this morning? >> no. do i anticipate him addressing it publicly? >> no, just talking about it with his economic team? >> well, the focus of the meeting is about the recovery plan, about the status of the economic recovery, about obviously the data that we saw yesterday. i'm sure they will cover a range of topic during that meeting, but that's not the focus. >> reporter: it's a big story. okay. >> i know it's a big story but obviously our focus and our big story is getting the american people back to work. go ahead. >> reporter: i know hundreds of white house staffers now have been vaccinated for the coronavirus. any specific updates in terms of who have been covered by that and also more broadly because of
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that does that give the white house sort of -- is that a model for the rest of the country, schools, for instance, should every teacher be vaccinated in the next 90 days so that the president is meet his commitments to opening schools? >> sure. well, on the first we -- i think we announced a couple of weeks ago that about three dozen members of the senior white house staff including members of the cabinet, national security officials had received their first dose which means right around now a number of people will be receiving their second dose. we are also as you noted released a couple of days ago that the objective and the plan of the white house medical unit was to vaccinate hundreds of additional staffers to create a covid-safe environment here. as you know, there has been -- the president has -- and our team, i should say, has spoken about the prioritization of course of teachers and educators and child care providers. we would certainly defer to cdc on what that should look like and they may speak to that on this 11:00 a.m. call as well,
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but i'm not going to get ahead of their outlines or prioritization or specifics. >> reporter: and just one more on game stop. not to belabor the point -- >> i love the effort. you guys are trying so hard on this. >> reporter: what is the broader message to the american public, the people around the world that in large cases individual investors acting collectively against large financial institutions are shut down pretty much overnight while the big banks and financial institutions, for example, in the 2008 housing crisis got a get out of jail free card? >> well, the message is that the u.s. gopt is starting to work how it should. the sec is a regulatory agency that oversees and monitoring developments along these lines and it is currently in their purview, they put out several statements this week, we will certainly defer to them on that and a i point you to them for further questions. go ahead in the back. >> reporter: thank you. jen, can we expect to see the president in this briefing room
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anytime soon? >> are you seeing for see him, is that what you're saying? >> reporter: sure. >> the president took questions earlier this week when he did an event and we certainly are going to look for opportunities to continue to do that. the location of where the locations will take place, i don't think i have anything further, but we will look for additional opportunities for him to take additional questions from all of you. go ahead. >> reporter: thank you, jen. what does president biden make of reports that senate democrats including bernie sanders will chair the budget committee -- who is chairing the budget committee are planning to expand the use of the budget reconciliation process for legislation that's not revenue -- does not directly impact federal revenue, like the $15 minimum wage? is that something that president biden is okay with? >> well, the president is going to leave it to congress to determine their parliamentary process for moving legislation forward, as should be the case. you know, i think it's obviously
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been broadly reported that there is consideration on the american rescue plan of what the path forward will look like and how to expedite moving that forward and there's an urgency and we certainly feel that, but our view is that this bill should be bipartisan, 74% of the public support it and we want republicans to work with republicans on fighting covid and putting the american people back to work, but as we work on this bill if, you know, we are going to -- our priority is on getting this through and not on the focus on what the parliamentary process is. >> reporter: what is his message to progressives who are arguing that the $1.9 trillion relief package should be the floor and not the ceiling and would president biden consider pushing a relief bill that is more than 2 million? what about the idea of reoccurring stimulus checks that some progressives are advocating for? >> well, we've seen those reports and obviously he has had conversations as our team has
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with members of the progressive caucus and other progressive members of congress and as i've said in here many times before, i mean, part of this process is that the president laid out his vision, he is getting feedback, a lot of the focus in here has been members who have said it's too big, but some are saying it's too small. as a part of the discussion we have those engagements and determine how to improve the bill and what opportunities there are to do exactly that. so he welcomes their engagement, he welcomes their ideas, but he's put forward his plan and his main bottom line is that we're not going to break it apart and the three components of it are pivotal in moving it forward. but the size and the scope of the package, this is the legislative process, this is democracy at work now. >> reporter: -- an opinion and that's very influential in the process so would he think it's realistic to go above $2 trillion? >> well, again, i think the best place to look for what's realistic is to members of congress and their whip counts and i'm sure that the leadership
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can give you an assessment of that. go ahead. >> reporter: is there any chance that the democracy which was mentioned during the campaign could happen before summer? >> before summer? >> yeah. >> i don't have any -- i know it was a campaign promise and asking that was mentioned during the campaign, but i don't have any more details on plans at this point in time. go ahead. >> reporter: yesterday we saw vice president harris do local media interviews in the states of west virginia and arizona. you know, obviously there's been a lot of focus on your efforts to get republicans on board. are you concerned that budget reconciliation even, you know, may not be realistic or that you may lose some democrats? is that why vice president harris was making those calls to shore up democratic support? >> vice president harris was making those calls because we want to make the case to the american people across the country. obviously she's not traveling to those states and holding big events or even events with not big crowds but some crowd and so
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this was a way to do exactly that. >> reporter: why those states specifically? >> i think she will do a number of additional -- more regional calls and regional interviews as the other members of the team and including on national networks of course and that will continue in the days ahead. >> reporter: one more on -- you covered the topic of reconciliation, i know it's wonky -- >> that's okay. that's what we're here for. >> reporter: the president as you said multiple times is reaching out to republicans in an effort to get a bipartisan bill. at the same time majority leader schumer and speaker pelosi seem to be aggressively moving towards reconciliation. do you think -- does the president think that the democratic leaders' push for reconciliation at this time is hurting his chances to get republicans on board? >> well, the president's focus is on the end goal of delivering relief to the american people. not the parliamentary
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procedures, as we've said. we can imagine that the one in seven families who are hungry or the thousands who have lost a loved one to covid care much about the procedure, either. i would flip it the other way to you. i think a fair question you might ask our gop or republican colleagues is why they oppose proposals that have the support of 71% -- 74%, sorry, of the american public. and even if this bill moves forward through the reconciliation process, again, a parliamentary procedure, it doesn't mean they can't vote for it and the president's objective and focus is to continue to have those conversations and pursue a path forward where he can gain bipartisan support. but, again, the public, 74% of the public, is with him in that endeavor and their constituents. go ahead. >> reporter: the president spoke with the nato secretary general the other day. is the president satisfied with the level of defense spending by nato allies? >> well, we did --
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>> reporter: has it come up in the conversation? >> i know we put out a readout of that and a fun video if i may note of his conversation with the u.n. secretary general. you know, he had spoken about the importance of nato allies and partners, you know, making -- playing the role and contributing their fair share when he was vice president. that remains his commitment, but i don't have any more detail of the call than what has already been read out. >> thank you, guys. have a great day. let me do one more thing. so it's important to me but also to the president that everybody know everybody on the press team so i'm just going to embarrass t.j. who you guys all know and karine who are two deputies in the press office, principal deputy karine, deputy t.j. who you should all know, the public should know. they will be familiar faces and they play a pivotal role. thank you, everyone. happy friday. >> you have been listening to white house press secretary jen psaki along with her two
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deputies of torse t.j. and karine jean-pierre with her as well. she was largely kicking questions relating to news of the morning that the new data released on the general coronavirus vaccine to the experts who will be briefing in just about 15 minutes. we do expect to hear from the top public health officials in the white house on that, but a number of other highlights from psaki. let me bring in nbc's white house correspondent kelly o'donnell, nbc's garrett haake, "washington post" national political reporter colby i can owe wits and dr. nahid bhadelia. telly, a lot of topics. she has not engaged on issues related to game stop, issues related to marjorie taylor greene and what's happening in the republican party. covid front and center this morning given that we're seen on that south camp can variant that
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has been confirmed in the united states in south carolina and the johnson & johnson vaccine. big priorities for the biden administration. >> the approach is instructive beyond the questions and answers because it gives you that sense of where is the biden administration's focus and where are they going to try to move issues that may be popular of interest, controversial and being discussed in the national conversation but not engaged in with officials here at the white house. so that's where you're getting that sense. there may be a lot of heat and energy around a figure like marjorie taylor greene, but the white house briefing room and you this administration and this moment is not likely to engage. also, when it comes to some of the new developments on coronavirus and the vaccines and so forth, trying to, again, emphasize science over even the voices of the administration speaking on behalf of the president by saying the experts will be available in a separate briefing. so those things not only deal with the issues of this moment, but may give us a bit of a roadmap, hallie, as to how the
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biden administration is handling its engagement with the public. some of that is helpful, some of its interesting and some of it will be frustrating for us. >> and, kelly, interesting, too, the question was asked whether president biden would travel to basically drum up support for people >> reporter: which is normally one of the tools a president has to get attention, to drive a conversation and to go to regions or places that could be affected by the output of the legislation as well as getting all the local media associated with that. so we saw some questions about vice president harris doing local interviews in places like arizona and west virginia. that's a part of the strategy. but it's being done remotely now with no travel for the president being announced just yet. >> one of the questions, because obviously with this news of the morning about the vaccine, from j&j, the data released, put this into perspective. people go, wait a second, it's not as effective as pfizer and
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moderna. what's the benefit to that one? we know it's a single shot. it doesn't need to be refrigerator at the same level or time as the other vaccines. it's easier to get out. psaki called it encouraging. do you see it as the same? >> i do. it's another tool in our toolbox. not only that, what the j&j results show is there's a decrease -- 72% decrease in the u.s. in moderate to severe cases. this is not all infections, just moderate to severe cases. almost 85% decrease in severe disease in hospitalizations. if you take it out to 49 days, it's 100% protection against severe disease and hospitalization. that's a win. the reason why is because we're in this precarious position, having found all three variants we think are more transmissible, the thought is that end of february, beginning of march, you might see another surge that
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might overwhelm the health care systems again. the vaccine adds another tool. >> as tom costello pointed out as and our medical unit has pointed out, the flu not is not as effective, the level of efficacy of the vaccine. the white house press secretary was asked about what's happening on capitol hill as it related to inside the republican party. the issues, for example, with marjorie taylor greene, a conspiracy theorist turned congresswoman. garrett, you have a front line vantage point of what is happening inside a party that is in many ways at war with parts of itself, if you will. >> reporter: yeah. kelly touched on this. it's interesting, a different approach this white house will take from the last one where they don't feel compelled to insert themselves into every story line and controversy. in this case, not inserting themselves into a battle over the future of the republican party aligns with what president
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biden said in terms of his attitude towards negotiations. he said, he is not out to embarrass republicans. he is trying to find ways to work with them when they can. the fact that the white house is staying away from the marjorie taylor greene controversy and the controversy over liz cheney, it's notable. they are not trying to pile on. the future of the republican party is something i'm going to spend a lot of my time trying to suss out over the next couple of years. it's dramatic and changing all the time. taylor greene, speaker pelosi said is the republicans' problem to reign in. do they want her on committees? what are they going to do about it? that's the question from the capitol hill perspective that has not yet been answered. we know that kevin mccarthy says he will have a talking to with her. okay. what does that mean this party is about when it comes to having
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conspiracy theories as some of their most prominent members? >> that extraordinary statement from nancy pelosi about 24 hours ago where she described what she called the enemy within. colby, you are reporting on that? >> they are angry at the republicans for not doing more about these conspiracy theorists. i talked to a congressman who said members of congress are buying bulletproof vest because they are afraid having her and others like her in their midst. pelosi called on mccarthy to do something. while she was calling on him to do something about the likes of marjorie taylor greene, he was at mar-a-lago courting president trump. that tells you a little bit about where the direction of the party that mccarthy thinks they are going in. >> we have one minute left. let's wrap up everything. there's a lot of headlines today. biggest is what's going on with covid and with this new vaccine and specifically with the new variant in south carolina.
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combine those two stories. the vaccine out this morning, less effective against the south african variant that is now in the u.s. it doesn't mean it's not effective. it sounds like, that should not be a warning sign scaring people away from this thing. >> absolutely not. hallie, that's the reason we talked about it. it's preventing severe disease in hospitalizations, shots in arms keeps us from having that surge and overwhelming the health care system. the important thing is that this is the second vaccine this week that showed decreased clinical efficacy against the south african variant. novavax released results, showed similar efficacy with the south african variant. we need to do one of two things -- three things. keep infections down in this country so we don't give the variants a chance. we need to keep surveillance on how prevalent they are. three, our vaccine manufacturers will have to look at boosters quicker than we thought.
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>> thank you so much. thanks to all of you for rolling with us out the white house press briefing. that ends our show. thank you for watching. we are on twitter. see you there. we will see you after the break with craig melvin picking up our coverage next. th cigra melvin pr coverage next. les ] [ engine rumbling ] ♪♪ [ beeping ] [ engine revs ] ♪♪ uh, you know there's a 30-minute limit, right? tell that to the rain. [ beeping ] for those who were born to ride, there's progressive. think you're managing your moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's disease? i did. until i realized something was
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good friday morning to you. craig melvin coming to you live
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from north charleston, south carolina. here the story of the pandemic not like any other happening right now in our country. that's because south carolina just reported our country's very first cases of that south african virus variant. one of the cases right here in the low country region of the state. coming up, i will talk to a member of the state's department of health about how quickly this thing may have spread. first, in the last few hours, johnson & johnson releasing information about its vaccine candidate. it's 72% effective in the united states. folks, this vaccine is different. it's one shot, not two. and it also does not need to be kept in those near freezing temperatures like the other two. any moment now, we should hear more about this vaccine news and the new virus variant from the white house covid-19 response team.


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