tv Meet the Press NBC January 31, 2022 2:00am-3:00am PST
importance of the rule of law. >> it gives president biden a chance to make an historic appointment. >> that person will be the first black person ever nominated to the supreme court. >> and a disappointed corps of democratic voters. despite the votes, will the president still try to fight this nomination? >> they're trying to use this to
distract from what is their failed agenda. plus, russia moves more troops to ukraine's border. >> i think you would have to go back to it is cold days to see something of this magnitude. >> it was enough troops to move far into ukraine, sparking conflict. my guests this morning, dick durbin. as far as covid, cases are heading down in all regions of the country, even as a new omicron variant emerges. i'll talk to two governors, governor phil murphy of new jersey and asa hutchinson of chicago. joining me for inside analysis are nbc news correspondent carol lee, eugene scott of the "washington post," democratic senator clare mccaskill, and
stephen hayes. welcome to sunday. it's "meet the press." >> announcer: the longest running show in television history. this is "meet the press" with chuck todd. and a good sunday morning. just last week we said president biden was in desperate need of a reset, his polling numbers falling in particular among african-americans and there is a fear that he will be sunk from a lack of enthusiasm by the very voters who put him into office. just like that, mr. biden was thrown a lifeline with the news that justice stephen breyer would retire at the end of his term. president biden would be assigning a black woman on the supreme court, proving that elections have consequence and see they matter.
that would give mr. biden a political win after disa appointments over voting rights and build back better. of course, replacing breyer with another liberal won't change the tilt, but president biden has a chance to put real points on the board and at least temporarily change the narrative of his presidency. >> it's long overdue. >> president biden looking over supreme court picks hoping to pick up momentum after a difficult month. >> the person i nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the united states supreme court. >> mr. biden's approval rating among african-americans has dropped nearly 20 points in april to just 64%. >> do you think president biden has done enough for black woman voters? >> i really don't. >> reporter: now he has a chance to show he can keep his campaign promises. >> i'm looking forward to making sure there is a black woman on the supreme court.
>> this is a promise that was made and a promise that will be kept. >> among the contenders, katanji brown jackson. leondra kruger. she clerked for justice stephens, she's 45 and was a justice during the obama administration, arguing a dozen cases before the supreme court. and jamie childs. she's 55 and close to jim clyburn. >> she's got a bachelor's degree from university of south florida, she has a doctorate from the university of south carolina, from university of law. she's thoroughly southern.
>> now a vote that requires the senate will give him months of party rules on voting rights and build back better. while some conservatives would like to take a hard approach -- >> the irony is that the supreme court is, at the same time, hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination, and while adding someone who is a beneficiary of this sort of quota. >> without votes to block the nomination, most republicans are signaling they will stay focused on high prices. >> rampant inflation. incredible inflation. >> a 40-year high in the united states. >> when you don't change people's lives, people get upset. >> and remind democrats of the supreme court fights to come, including the likelihood that the court will anymore nature
protections for abortion rights. >> this is going to be a massive issue at the ballot boxes, there's just no question about it. there is going to be rage. >> but with inflation on dragged-out democrats, the question is when can the supreme court appointment break through? >> where is the war room on the cost of living? chair dick durr ban of illinois. senator durr ban, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thanks, chuck. >> you'll be overseeing this confirmation process of whoever the president ends up selecting. before we get into specific names, i want to get into a couple numbers here. amy coney barrett, 27 days from nomination to confirmation, sonia sotomayor, 60 days from nomination to confirmation. i know you questioned the speed of amy coney barrett. what should we expect timewise,
amy coney barrett or sonia sotomayor? >> if that person is seeking the supreme court, then they know quite a lot about that person, and that can being taken into consideration. if there's no new developments before the committee in the previous year or two, it makes a real difference. i'll just say this. it's going to be fair, it's going to be deliberate and we're going to be timely about it, too. this is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. we should take it seriously. >> look, i'm obviously going to try to pin you down one more time on timing. easter recess, mid-april. is that a fair target at this point to get it done before you guys take off? >> before. by the amy coney barrett test, yes, it is. we'll see what develops. a great deal, maybe all of it, depends on the nominee and the background. >> it's interesting to me, you just said it depends if they've
been before a committee before. katanji brown jackson, she's been there before. based on that, do you think she should be a frontrunner for this post? >> i sure don't want to speculate on that. the white house made it clear when they told me about the breyer vacancy that the president had not made the decision, and i want to respect that. i think suggesting there is a frontrunner or this person is now moving ahead, it's unfair to all the nominees. this is in the hands of the president as it should be. >> what kind of conversations have you had with the ranking member, lindsey graham, about what kind of process this is going to be, or are relations just sort of, eh, it's just not how it works anymore? >> i would say that the ranking member is now the senator from iowa. i called him the next day.
we had a brief conversation about it. and i have a good working relationship with senator grassley. we really trust one another. i like him, and i hope he likes me as much, and i think we're going to do the best to serve our country in this capacity. he's been through it, i've been through it for seven of the current supreme court justices. i suggest he might even be in for a longer term and has really faced them all, so have experience on the subject. >> you know, it's interesting here, clarence thomas is about to become the only member of the current supreme court, nominated by one party and confirmed by another party. do you think we'll see that again in our lifetime? >> think about that with stephen breyer. here's a man who worked as chief assistant to ted kennedy, and when his vote came up in the senate, he was approved 87-9.
it's an indication of the good old days when there was much more bipartisanship. but my goal is to make sure we have a more deliberate, timely hearing but also to reach out to the republican side and see if they can join us to make it a bipartisan nomination. i think it speaks well of the court and the senate if we can achieve it. >> i want to more aspect of the supreme court nominees that has become the norm. it's something that was written about because it's about age now. no one would choose anyone over the age of 60. even the most perfecting their t for a long time. served to the public to have cleared the bar. we do rush these folks under the judiciary -- both parties do it -- if we think they have the qualifications again on the
supreme court. are we choosing age too quickly these days? >> it's a factor. i'm not going to mislead you, in the selection of judges at every level. i have a lot of my friends in chicago who are attorneys in their 60s who would like to cap off their career by being a federal judge. it really doesn't make sense when you consider how long they're likely to serve before they reach senior status or leave quickly. we need younger candidates by supreme court and federal court standards. it's done on both sides. i don't think there's any surprise that both republicans and democrats would like some longevity in the service. >> i want to turn to the issue of ukraine. both you and my other republican guest are chair of the ukranian senate caucus, if you will. both you and senator portman have populations in your states.
he seemed to wonder why russia hadn't been punished yet. he was concerned it looked like we were waiting until after we were encroaching on the border and not before. what would you say to him? >> i would say, president zelensky, we need to accept one basic premise. any decision made will be made by ukraine. it won't be made in washington or the european union or belarus. it's their future, their fate and their decision, as far as that's concerned. i have listened closely to what president zelensky has said, and he reminds us time and time again that there could be a way out of this short of military action, and i hope there is. but it's his decision to make. if he decides that the future membership, if there is to be one in nato for ukraine, and the question of occupation in ukraine are two things to put on the table, i think we could move
to a solution for this, and i hope we do soon. >> that's interesting, you think he would accept limitations on his relationship with nato? >> i don't want to assume anything. it's his decision entirely. but as i listen to the diplomacy back and forth, it seems to me that the russians want to try to delay any ukraine involvement in nato and ukraine, of course, wants the russians out. i'm not talking just about the troops at the border but those who invaded their country seven or eight years ago, and currently the little green men, or however they characterize it, continue the warfare in killing. >> that's a pretty optimistic note you're sounding. you really think we'll have a diplomatic exit here? >> well, we better be prepared for the worst, and i think the president is stiffening our resolve to face that if we have to with serious sanctions and our nato forces doing everything they can to protect the baltics and poland and other countries. i do like the fact that the
diplomacy continues, and that to me is an encouraging sign. >> senator dick durbin, democrat of illinois, member of the senate and judiciary committee, we'll be seeing a lot of you as these hearings get started. thank you for your opinion. >> thanks, chuck. with me senator portman from ohio. senator portman, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thanks, chuck. >> i know you and mr. durbin had the senate caucus and you were recently in country, met with president zelensky. i kind of want to pick up on the conversation i just stopped with senator durbin. do you share this sense that zelensky, that ukraine itself might be willing to limit its interests in nato as a de-escalation to the russians? is that a viable, diplomatic solution here? >> well, look, it's up to nato and up to ukraine. nato has an open door policy and
we have to continue to defend that. i don't think that's something we're going to decide. i will say two things. one, dick durbin and i are co-chairs of this caucus and we have been unified as republicans and democrats in standing up to what russia has done, both with regard to what they did with crimea of seven and eight years ago and the dombas region. and certainly now while russia has this intimidating force on the border and elsewhere. we are working on a package which include sanctions, which includes military assistance, which would include fighting the cyberattacks that russia continues to to use on ukraine, and also trying to stabilize the government. this is where the cause of
freedom is being waged, and we need to stand up as democrats and republicans. >> i wonder if you can explain what zelensky is saying publicly and possibly privately. during his press conference on friday, he was a bit critical of some western leaders, including president biden, feeling as if they're talking up war too much. here's what he said, a bit of the translation. the signals were sent by respected leaders of their respected countries. sometimes they're not even using diplomatic language. this means panic of the century, panic of the country. he wishes our sanctions would be imposed before russia were to invade it. is he saying one thing behind the scenes and saying one thing for public consumption? >> well, look, he's got a slightly different constituency than president biden. president biden's job is to mobilize our allies, mobilize america to be prepared for the possibility that vladimir putin
will make a huge mistake and put together consequences that will be devastating to try to avoid that from happening. president zelensky is trying to maintain his economic growth in his country, which by the way, is pretty strong right now, and keep the country from panicking while having them be prepared. but we're together. that's what's important. as to russia and what russia is doing, the ukranians and the americans are absolutely together. but so are so many other allies. really the entire free world. it's been very impressive as i look at what estonia, lithuania, the baltics, finland and denmark, canada and the u.k. have done. our alliances are very strong. one thing biden has done successfully is tightening the alliance, and we're looking at this and saying, we can't let this happen. for the first time since world war ii, we could have a major conflict and a very bloody conflict in europe unless we
stand up together and push back. and so far so good, we're doing that. my hope is that vladimir putin will see that and realize the consequences will be devastating for him. by the way, chuck, the other thing that was interesting in being there is that the commitment and the patriotism of the ukranians. i've been at the line of contact. i was there in 2014 after this revolution of dignity. ukranians feel a very strong sense of nationalism, and they're going to fight. >> senator, you're speaking very optimistically about the western alliance. germany hasn't exactly been, let's say, as aggressive as perhaps the rest of the western alliance would be, whether it's on shipping weapons or on dealing with this nordstrom pipeline. are you confident that if russia invades, germany will be on board, cutting off the nordstrom pipeline? >> well, apparently they're saying that privately. they should say it publicly. i'm also, as you know, a little disappointed in their inability
to approve arms sales. if something was made in germany, in east germany they made howitzers that are with the germans. they want to supply them to ukraine. these are artillery weapons that the ukranians need badly, yet germany is not approving it. that makes no sense to me, and i've made it very clear in conversations with the germans and others. my hope is that germany will step up even more. but they're with us. they said they would cut off nordstrom 2 pipeline should there be an invasion of any type, and i certainly hope that's true. >> i want to ask about republican unity on this issue. i have to play a clip here from tucker carlson which has been leading more rank and file republicans to question what we're doing with russia and ukraine. here's what he said. >> at this point nato exists primarily to torment vladimir putin, with however many faults,
has no intention of invading western europe. vladimir putin does not want belgium, he just wants to keep his western border secure. >> i'm sure you love being asked about a cable tv news host, but it has led quite a bit of rank and file americans to ask this question. are you worried that there is a movement in the republican party that has become pro-putin? >> i wouldn't call it a movement, but i think we have to be sure we're understanding what's going on here. the ukranians are not asking for american troops to come to ukraine. i've gotten a number of phone calls from these cable news shows saying, you know, we've got to keep our troops out of there. they're not asking for our troops, nor is anybody talking about that. we are talking about strengthening the countries around the region who are looking for more help, nato countries like the baltics, like poland. second, again, this is about the fight for freedom. this is a country that has decided that they want to be like us. they want to be a democracy. they want to respect the rule of law.
they want to have a free enterprise system that's strong and vibrant. this has all happened in the last eight years, and they have turned to the eu and turned to the united states and said, we want to be part of the west. by the way, everyone speaks for ukraine. putin sees it falling to the west. i think people ought to believe that sovereignty matters and the dignity of the ukranian people matters, and this is what they want. so their territorial integrity is at risk right now, and it's appropriate that the free world stand by them. >> senator portman, republican from ohio who happens to be retiring, i was going to make you do your icky shuffle today. i have clare mccaskill on the panel. she has her chief's mask. i'll tell her to do the icky shuffle if you guys will.
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and if you don't have the right home insurance coverage, you could be working out a way to pay for this yourself. get allstate and be better protected from mayhem for a whole lot less. welcome back. panelists here, clare mccaskill, carol lee, stephen hayes, founder of "the dispatch" and your new cufflinks are in the mail. carol lee, we said this was a lifeline politically for the president. did you notice a change in the white house posture this week? >> absolutely. chuck, they see this as a moment to reset. if you think about the timing of it, it comes a week after the
divisions over the voting rights legislation. so when you talk to white house officials, they cast this as an opportunity to rally the party to kind of take a breath, remind everybody what their goals are and to come together and be unified, and they see two moments where this could be particularly energizing. obviously right now, when they have this opportunity, the president is going to have the moment when they have a name and something the party can really rally around. in terms of politically going forward, they don't see this as something that will define the midterms, it will be a line or two in a speech, but for now it allows them to take breath, talk quietly about how they figure out a path forward on some of the president's legislative agenda and move forward with some names. >> i want to talk about why
people believe it's time for an african-american on the high court. there are 1400 judges, just 51 of them right now are african-american women. that's less than 14%. the importance of this to african-americans getting this representation in court. >> a black woman has not seen someone who looks like them, but to your notes earlier, it's also important to people who have a high level of diversity and so many of these constituents were key players in helping biden get to the white house, so not just black leaders, but women who understand that the bench has not looked like one that so many find them seeing in these times. >> you've been a star in terms of people's point of view. what should we expect?
is this one going to be drama free? >> i would think mitch mcconnell is not going to want to claw this out. sometimes the drama around the nomination motivates bases. i certainly felt that in 2018. >> a reverse. >> a reverse, yeah. a football day, over and under is about 53 votes for the nominee in the senate, maybe 54 if he goes with a non -- and i think susan collins, senator murkowski has been pretty down the middle on voting. when i was in kansas city, the only woman i had seen in a black robe was in a church choir. we have made progress in a lot of ways, but not ever have we had a black woman on the supreme
court. i'm sick and tired of the republicans, because ronald reagan put a woman on the court and they didn't say boo. >> it feels like what roger wicker did, and i don't know if he knows he intended -- did he actually make it harder for republicans to criticize this pick? he went in a direction -- we don't even know the pick yet. >> that's the point. you need to know who the pick is. before we talk about votes, we need to know who the pick is and what are her credentials are, what she's done. >> let's put them up here, we have ketanji jackson, leondra kruger. >> i don't think there's anything wrong with president biden making a critical argument
when he said in the context of a campaign, having lost long island and new hampshire, that he was going to pick a black woman. it helped him. it was a political announcement. republicans were fine with that point. i think they would be wise to wait to look at the actual credentials and the arguments of the women who are nominated. >> the white house was ready for this. they were prepared for the white house to lean this direction. there are people close to the president, political advisors, who do think republicans want to pick this fight, it's one they want to have. >> you're smiling on this. >> i think this is going to be a strong moment for the biden presidency. i think if anybody doesn't understand how important black women are in the democratic party, they're not paying attention. >> eugene, does this give kyrsten sinema and joe manchin a
chance to repair their relationship with the democratic base? >> it could happen, especially manchin who was critical of the republicans last time when amy coney barrett was moved close to the presidential election, and they have a track record of supporting the president when it comes to moving for his judge picks. it would be consistent of them to do that in this situation. >> and carol, on timing, how fast does the white house want to do this? >> that's interesting. durbin's comments were interesting really weigh in. you had portman saying it was going to happen fast. the president wants to consult with senators. they're going to announce an outside sherpa team who will come from outside the white house. they want to move methodically. if that's fast, they're fine with that, but they want to show they're doing a very deliberative and thorough
process. >> carol, would you use this as a cover so you could do build back better cases behind the scenes without ankle biting? >> i don't think there is a reason for this to be put on after-burners in terms of speed, and i think the white house understands that. they need to do this flawlessly. they need to make sure whoever is selected is vetted thoroughly, they need to count some republican votes before they announce her, and i think all of that will happen, and the timing of it, i think late summer would be probably perfect. >> so you would let it drag -- drag is the wrong word -- let it methodically play out very publicly? >> i think so. the only thing i'm not up on right now is members. >> always risks and there's no way to talk about other than it's called life. >> it's called life. when we come back, with covid cases falling but deaths still rising, we'll talk to
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welcome back. there's actually been some welcome news on covid recently. the 7-day average of cases has dropped about a third the past two weeks with every single state showing a decrease. but they are a lagging indicator. the government has been on the front lines of this covid battle, and that battle means they've been at the front lines of our many political divisions. 77% of americans said our differences were likely to grow, other than just 27% who agree that while we have differences, we always seem to come together. joining me now, asa hutchinson of arkansas, governor phil murphy of new jersey. government, let me start with you. in these extraordinarily divisive times, what can you guys do to make the nga actually effective in a bipartisan way.
how do you do it? >> first of all, i'm glad to be on this show with governor murphy. he's a vice chair, will next year be the chair for the nga. for 114 years the government has been convening in a bipartisan way to work on challenges and promises. let me assure everyone, there are still differences. governor murphy and i disagree on a lot of issues and we can fight over those, but there's so many things we can work as governors on. this is what's great, we gather together as governors. we meet, we discuss, we set aside the things we can't agree on, but when you're looking at infrastructure, when you're looking at computer science, which is my initiative, when you're looking at the challenges of covid, we benefit from discussing and working on these things together, and it's a common voice that we can have with the administration. so it's been very productive in a bipartisan way, and i think it's a good example for america. >> governor murphy, what is realistic, though?
what is realistic that can get agreed to? >> i would echo much of what asa has said. i actually think the nga is a very formidable, effective organization, and i think governors have never mattered more. if you look at the agenda this weekend, reiterate infrastructure, important across the aisle. computer science education, which the chair has pioneered or ran on the past year. covid response to pick three. education more broadly. i'm an optimist. i think those numbers go the other way, chuck. i think we're going to see more commonality -- again, we're not going to agree on everything. that's never going to happen. but i believe we're going to actually find more common ground as opposed to less. >> let's talk about preparing for the next wave. and i say it this way because we don't know how big it is, we don't know how small it is, but i would like to think everybody has learned some lessons from what happened pre-omicron.
if we assume we're going to get another one, what do you need, if it's another summer surge like you dealt with, what do you think you need from the federal government that lets you have the tools you need to handle your summer surge? >> first of all, we're delighted to see our cases go down. we just peaked last week. we hope the omicron continues to go down. we believe it will. i do believe we need to move from a pandemic status in a mode of operation to more endemic where we're normalizing, taking it very seriously preparing, but i think we need to move out of the panic mode. i think we need to handle this to make sure that we continue with our normal lives. but the response should be, and there's two things, because we know that there will be additional variants coming down the way. first of all, it's to continue to build the infrastructure. for my state and other governors, we want to make sure our testing capacity is there. we want to make sure that we have access to the therapeutics,
and that's where the federal government needs to step up. we need to make sure that there is a quick production. they need to rely upon the states for the distribution, and there is a lot of discussions about that. they need to improve that supply chain. let's take advantage of this going down to be better prepared around the corner. >> governor murphy, how do we not run into the testing problem we ran into pre-omicron? >> you have to preempt this clearly and we're now getting caught up as a country. fortunately our cases went down. new jersey, new york went down early on all of these waves. but i agree with governor hutchinson. we're not going to manage this to zero. we have to learn how to live with this. please, god, there is not another significant wave. every time you think you got this thing figured out, it humbles you. >> you decided to make the booster part of a mandate. >> yes. >> you obviously haven't done any mandates and i'm well aware of the policies of arkansas.
but there's been a vaccination problem, but you've got an even bigger discrepancy, political discrepancy, ds and rs, when it comes to boosters, and you've run into some problems. do you have a new message try to get people to get boosted? >> first of all, it's very important. i've got my boost and i'm delighted with it because i think it adds a great level of protection. so it's education. quite frankly, the mandates that were imposed at the federal level that the supreme court struck down were counterproductive, as we predicted, that i predicted. it increases resistance. our vaccination rate has slowed. we're continuing to go up gradually. the hands-off approach does not work. it has to be that ion, that consistent messaging, so we want to continue those numbers, but man daylights is not the right route. >> why haven't mandates worked
for you? you added the booster before the cdc has? >> yes, we tweaked the booster. the u.s. supreme court upheld biden's request on health care, that was an easy step for us to take. boosters add much more defense for you. frankly, in new jersey, we're getting more people boosted. whether it's mandated or not, we're getting more people boosted. >> just sitting here together, some might criticize you. some of the left may criticize you, some of the right may criticize you. it kind of is an absurd thing this has happened. what's the way to fix it in arkansas? it looks to me like politics have gone further to the right.
your likely successor is probably going to play a little further to the right than you. >> the key thing is leadership. leadership needs to set an example. phil and i, we fight in the partisan trenches and elections, we feel strongly about our respective parties. but once you get elected, you serve the people, and you have to find a common ground for america and our states. that's setting the right example in that. that doesn't weaken us in terms of the criticism or the differences of opinion, but we have to be responsible adults whenever we're leading a state. and we've got to implement things that impact people's lives. so to me it's leadership, but it's also the communication. that's what the nga does, it brings us together and we're not together enough. >> governor murphy, in the fast, the governors might be an interesting group to lobby and talk about electoral reform. is that going to be on your agenda this week, and is there a way to sort of -- we see that
some states are going off into some uncomfortable places. is the nga going to try to play a role here, or is this issue too divisive? >> i should make one point. there are 39 governors here, by the way, contingent for both parties. >> the three largest aren't. >> but i'll take 39. you would love to hear 50. i think that's one where it will be a pretty partisan debate and divide, honestly. >> you guys probably can't come together. >> we want to expand it in new jersey and i'm proud of that. i know other states are taking a different approach to that. that's probably one we'll have to agree to disagree, sadly, in my opinion. but there is a lot of common ground. infrastructure, education and so on. >> what do you expect to hear from the president tomorrow? you guys are meeting with him at the governors' ball tomorrow, right? >> we are. first of all, i expect to -- his administration has really been responsive on questions we've had about the infrastructure
spending. i expect the president to talk about bipartisanship. i'd actually like to see that implemented in policies that go forward. but this is an annual tradition i expect to go very well. >> like you said, with an infrastructure bill to tell you how to implement, i imagine everyone is going to be in a pretty good mo. od people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible... with rybelsus®. the majority of people taking rybelsus® lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than 7. rybelsus® isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. don't take rybelsus® if you or your family ever had medullary thyroid cancer or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or if allergic to it. stop rybelsus® and get medical help right away if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, or an allergic reaction. serious side effects may include pancreatitis. tell your provider about vision problems or changes.
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welcome back. the increasingly common debate over free speech took a few different forms this week. whether you're talking about podcasts or spotify or books in classrooms, it remains to be seen what you can say in public. these days the importance of freedom of speech. 80% of all students agree on the importance of freedom of speech. they are broken down between
all-white males and females. there was a majority of students who all felt free speech was pretty secure in this country. two years later, the numbers haven't changed among democrats, but down almost 50% among republican students, double digits among independents who believe free speech in this country is not as secure as it was two years ago. this extends to college campuses themselves is the school's climate is stifling free expression. half the students thought it did in 2016. five years later, it's up even more, 65%. that doesn't mean that some students don't believe there should be some curbing of some speech. for instance, there are majorities that colleges should be able to restrict offensive racial slurs. but go down. how about close with confederate flags? only a third believe colleges should do this.
this issue of free speech is something that students care about and, with their experiences on campuses these days, are worried about. when we come back, pentagon officials are ♪♪ for skin that never holds you back. don't settle for silver. #1 for diabetic dry skin #1 for psoriasis symptom relief and #1 for eczema symptom relief. gold bond. champion your skin.
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as you know for months now, russia has been deploying forces to crimea and along ukraine's border, including in belarus. while we don't believe president putin has made a final decision to use these forces against ukraine, he clearly now has that capability. >> carol lee, those were some pretty striking words by the secretary of defense. very straightforward, and it was almost a bit alarming at how -- i think you and i were talking about this the other day, it almost felt like they were taunting putin like, okay, you've got everything. what are you going to do? >> if you talk to administration officials, there is a growing concern, and particularly you heard chairman of the joint staff saying you would have to go back to the russian war in terms of air power, ballistic missiles, 100,000 ground troops,
that that is something that could become horrific, is the word that he used. what they're trying to do is essentially lay the groundwork for something that people in the administration really genuinely believe could take place. at the same time, then, you see the president of ukraine, zelensky, taking a very different tone. what i've been told by administration officials is that's not their view, they're much more sober about this. he has a domestic audience to play to also. he has to worry about people panicking. one of the interesting things about this, if you look at the afghanistan example, they were critical of not being pulled out of overseas, now they're taking a very different tact and different environment and moving some families of diplomats out of ukraine. >> yet eugene zelensky was upset we were shipping out our embassy saying, hey, stop sending that
message. >> exactly. he wants to keep his approval ratings high. he wants people to believe that things are safe and not panicking, but he also needs western allies to be available to push back on russia if they move forward because they can't protect themselves without our help. >> steve, it feels like we're trying to figure out, is putin a rational actor? >> that's a good question. i think when we look at this from our perspective, we look at the things he's doing and we say, this doesn't make a lot of sense. you see that in reporting of the media. but go back and look at what vladimir putin has been saying all these years. he was telling us what he wants to do. he wants to reconstitute the russian empire, the old soviet union. when you have autocratic leaders like that tell you what they want you to do, you're smart to pay attention. the problem, from my perspective about the biden administration, is this alarm comes a little too late. it's not like these 100,000
troops just went to the border, and they've been there for a long time and you have republicans raising arms, pointing out military assets that were in position months ago. and the biden administration seems to be just catching up. >> claire? >> first of all, i think you have to assume putin is rational. he may be irrational. if i had to look, i would say he's trying to mine germany right now. he's trying to exacerbate those worried he's against them. he's trying to make nato not a strong alliance by playing this card at this time. and the other thin i got to say, you say republicans. the other thing that's happening here, it's amplifying a divide in the republican party. when you've got people on the
fox cable news network -- >> look, he's being used. i could show you some clips here. he's being used on rt, the propaganda arm of putin, all the time now. >> republicans are letting up on putin right now. a bunch of them. >> donald trump did this earlier, right? he did this throughout his presidency, he was very warm in his rhetoric to vladimir putin, even though his policies were tougher in some respects than joe biden's. the challenge is he's trying to exploit these divisions. he's doing it in nato a on international scale. it wasn't helpful, i think, when the president talked about nato divisions almost as an analyst, like he were here with us on the roundtable. >> he spoke honestly. >> honestly, but when rob portman said in his conversation with you was a lot more appropriate for a leader fortunate country like the united states saying, look, we're doing what we can to bring nato together. on the domestic side, there is
no question that republicans are divided on this. i hear republicans saying irresponsible things about vladimir putin, pretending he's not the threat that he is. >> part of the reason you're seeing this alarm right now is because the window is closing for any sort of diplomatic resolution. if you look at the timeline in terms of when putin would invade, the nation looks at mid-february to the end of march. that's when this would happen. so there is a very limited amount of time for diplomacy. i thought senator durbin's comments to you was very interesting in that he was putting this on the ukranians. why don't you just say he wouldn't join nato? i talked to officials over the weekend and they won't touch that, at least politically. the other question is, would it be enough? >> that's an interesting question that i don't have time to deal with here. that's all we have for today. thank you for watching. next week as the olympics get underway, i'm not going to jinx the bengals or the chiefs by saying go to either one of them. the bills and the packers are
thousands remain without power, and the deep freeze continues. president biden's list of potential supreme court nominees is growing by the day. this morning we'll break it down for you. overnight, podcast king joe rogan speaks out about the growing controversy and outcry for musicians over his comments on covid and treatments. super bowl lvi is set. the bengals put down the chiefs and return to the big game for the first time since