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tv   Washington Week  PBS  April 29, 2022 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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yamiche: new threats from russia and new covid concerns. >> no one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons. yamiche: russia's president warns the west not to interfere in ukraine, threatening ominous consequences. and president biden requests even more funds from congress to help ukraine sustain the prolonged war. plus, the highest ranking biden official yet catches covid, and dr. fauci makes headlines on the state of the pandemic. meanwhile -- >> with the title 42 public health order set to be lifted, we expect migration to increase. yamiche: the blame game on
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capitol hill over the expected migrant search at the border next. -- the expected migrant surge at the border next. >> this is "washington week." corporate funding is provided by -- >> for 25 years, we have offered a variety of plans and our customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit consumercellular.tv. >> additional funding is provided by the ewing foundation, committed to bridging differences in our communities, rose herschel and andy shreve's, robert and susan rosenbaum, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by donations to your pbs station from viewers like you.
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thank you. >> once again, from washington, moderator yamiche alcindor. yamiche: russia's invasion of ukraine is in its 10th week, and overnight, missiles hit the capital city of kyiv. russia claims it destroyed an arms factory, but ukrainian officials say a residential building was hit. that comess growing fears are expanding because the war could expand beyond ukraine's borders. on wednesday, russian president vladimir putin warned the west that any outside interference in the conflict could be met with a lightning fast response. >> if someone intervenes in events, they should know that our response to counter strikes will be immediate, quick. yamiche: on thursday, president biden requested an additional 33
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billion dollars from congress to help ukraine. president biden: the cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen. as long as the assault and atrocities continue, we will continue to provide military assistance. yamiche: joining me to discuss this and more, the white house correspondent from "the new york times," and with me in studio, the congressional correspondent from cbs news news and the political reporter for axios. thank you all for being with me on what is a busy night in washington. michael, i want to start with you. overnight, news broke that russia had sent a missile to kyiv, the capital city of ukraine. that came as the united nations secretary general was visiting, as we noted. it also came as the united nations secretary-general met with putin a couple of days
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before. i wonder what you make of the significance of this attk happening and the timing of it. michael: i think it underscores what has been pretty true for the last several weeks, at least in the united states in washington and capitals across europe and elsewhere, which is that this war is not ending any time soon. to the extent that vladimir putin pulled out of the areas around kyiv and is focusing his attention on the south and east of the country of ukraine, that was really a reflection of how poorly his forces had done in its attempt to capture the entire country, but if by no means, i think, signifies that this is about to end. i think one of the things putin is particularly good at is sending reminders that this is not over, that he is not done.
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for all of the poor performance of his military, that they still have lots of capabilities to inflict pain. you know, perhaps they will be able to seize a good chunk of ukraine on the east, but even if they are not able to do that, their weaponry allows them to inflict damage as far as they want across the country, if it's in the north, in kyiv, in the west, or in the east. i think it underscores that reality and, you know, helps to explain why the allies, the united states and others, are bracing and requesting and finding more and more resources to supply to kyiv and to ukraine because they know it is not about to end soon. yamiche: you talk about this idea that the war is not going to be over any time soon. ponce, i want to come to you
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because the defense secretary raised eyebrows when he sd the u.s.'s goal here is we want to see pressure's military capabilities we can -- weaken. hans: it is clear russia -- there is almost a cadence to what is happening where we have the nightly briefing from zelinski in ukraine and every other day, you get a deep pentagon debris of just narrating what is happening in the war and narrating it in a way that does not cast russia in a great light. it seems as though this is sort of the one-to punch in terms of the internal bolstering of zelinski and externally, the warnings and messaging to putin, but it does seem strong, and it does seem unique, and as michael is noting, the russians still have some cards to play. we all know there are some scary capabilities out there. yamiche: there are some
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wondering if all that is happening at the administration might be moving closer to direct conflict with russia. hans: there is still a red line there of actual shift to direct conflict. the president of the united states, a democratic president, going to a defense contractor lockheed martin, to watch javelins coming off the assembly line. that is a little bit stronger than just plain rhetoric. think of the images and backdrop of that. as you just heard the president talk of that, this is a white house that is prepared to spend whatever it takes. in this context, $73 billion is a lot of money. this is maybe 10 times the
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spending -- the military spending in israel and maybe a compressed timeframe. yamiche: 33 billion dollars is a lot of money. how does congress see this request from the white house? is there support? nicole: at this point, it seems there will be bipartisan support from both democrats and republicans. i had a chance to talk with the ranking member on the house foreign affairs committee. i asked if this figure was eye-popping to him. he said republican said we got to go through the package, but he feels strongly that ukraine needs all the military might it can get, and democrats, too, want to move forward with this package as soon as possible. majority leader chuck schumer says he plans to make it a priority. hans: there's also some economic assistance. there's some food security, so
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it is not all military, but again, it is the broader point, and that is that they want to bolster the government and make sure the ukrainian people have what they need to survive, injure -- in your -- endure, and hopefully succeed. yamiche: we have a whole block on covid, but talk about how much of a challenge this could be. nicole: the gamble is not just in this package, but really how they get it done. we have seen when democrats try to link packages in the past, it has not been so successful, but this time potentially could be no different. republicans are certainly balking at the idea of tying the ukraine funding to covid funding. the premise behind this for democrats is the administration has been clear that they also want this covid really funding past -- past -- passed.
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it did not succeed before the recess. they want to bring it up again. speaker pelosi has said they want to try to bring it up together. yamiche: the white house has indicated this $33 billion would last five months. that is at the end of the fiscal year a lot of money. inside the white house, what is your sense of what is motivating officials to make this ask? michael: i think it is two things. on the substantive side, they recognize that the war will be over soon. you do not want to be in a position of having to go back to congress over and over again with a bunch of small asks if you know or think that it will be a costly endeavor that is going to last a long time. i also think this is all playing out in a political context. it is an election year.
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i think president biden wants to be seen as solid and determined on an issue that does have bipartisan support. there is a lot of support across the aisle for ukraine for not letting them falter in the face of the russian invasion, and, you know, i sort of second han'' mentioning of the trip next week to the plant where they make these javelin missiles. i mean, it is remarkable that that is a trip that this president is going to take. he never wanted to make a trip like that. this is a president who wanted to spend the next several months before the election focused on the economy, on job creation, on the so-called bread-and-butter issues that american people care about. the fact that he is going and doing this photo op tells you all you need to know about where he thinks he needs to position himself politically at this
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moment. yamiche: it will certainly be striking when we see president biden next week in alabama. even as the american people say they want to talk about red and butter issues, there is the russian foreign minister who is saying -- bread-and-butter issues, there's the russian foreign minister who is saying the more the u.s. sends missiles, the more there is the risk for nuclear war. hans: it is troubling. i wish i had a better barometer for talking to national security officials for how concerned they are because they toss around phrases that troubled me, if i am kind of honest about it. talking about the potential for nukes, for tacticals, and just the ease with which officials are tossing these terms around makes you think that this is quite serious.
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none of us know what moves putin is going to make. we are in a difficult position, and it is troubling to anyone. they are threatening to use weapons of mass destruction. they can hide behind caveats, but they know exactly what their intent is. nicole: even senator lindsey graham, who is always very hawkish, said in an interview this week that he thinks that a nuclear strike could be a possibility are that the russians may be contemplating that. we do not know if there is intelligence to necessarily back that up, but we know there is concern among members of congress as well. yamiche: a inking about these concerns, not only now as i listen to hans sort of scare me about nuclear weapons and what could happen there -- thinking
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about these concerns. hans: i obviously do not have a roadmap to vladimir putin's mind. there are people much smarter than i at the white house who have's psychological profile -- putin's psychological profile. most of the predictions of what putin will do have an accurate, so there needs to be some acknowledgment of that, but people are talking about it as though this is a real possibility, and i don't know how quickly lindsey graham pivoted to other issues, but it seems like a moment when you have democrats and republicans on capitol hill communicating this. it just shows where we are. you spend all your time in the hallways, and i don't know what you're picking up in sidebar conversations. nicole: i think it remains a concern, for all the reasons you explain. you always have to be prepared for that worst-case scenario.
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hopefully, it does not get to that point, but certainly it is clear russia is not done, that they could escalate things, especially with this symbolic victory day coming up in a week or two. michael: really quickly, the one thing i would caution so listeners do not get totally panicked is that the u.s. military, our allies, they have not changed our own nuclear posture. you do not have the sense that any on this side have actually taken fundamental steps to change the military readiness vis-a-vis nuclear weapons, which gives you some indication that it is not as imminent as, you know, people might think. yamiche: certainly. and it is an important point to make. the next thing i'm going to transition to which is something that is also concerning is
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covid. we are having this conversation about what is going on abroad, but here at home, covid, especially in washington, is top of mind. on tuesday, the office of vice president harris announced she had tested positive for covid. later that day, dr. anthony fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president, raised eyebrows when he said this. dr. fauci: we are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic days. yamiche: he clarified the comment in an interview with npr. dr. fauci: is the pandemic still here? absolutely. we are transitioning -- not there yet, but transitioning more to an endemicity where people are learning to live with the virus. yamiche: this comes as president biden faces pressure over republicans and democrats over his land to lift a trump-era
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immigration policy. title 42 has forced migrants seeking asylum to remain in mexico, and the department of homeland security is focusing on how to handle the influx of migrants that will come to the u.s. if the policy is lifted of course, this is making its way through the courts, we should add. how concerned are democrats? nicole: i think the biggest concern among the administration right now, because they have been sending warning alarms for weeks now since this initial package was put forth with congress, and it is important to remember that it was significantly bigger based on what was ultimately negotiated in the senate, so again, this is kind of if the pandemic worsens again, to aid in future pandemics. the white house says this funding is needed, but we saw a right before the recess, that this got bogged down over this
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disagreement over title 42, with some republicans wanting to attach a provision to this covid funding package basically preventing the administration from being able to lift it, and because of the disagreements there, they were not able to move that covid funding or were. once it -- forward. once again, weee the administration trying to push this funding through. there's this possibility of trying to move it forward with ukraine funding because they know they will probably have more support for that, but again, if there is not that support for the covid funding or other things, this is something that could be a long slog. yamiche: i want to discuss title 42, but before i do that, i want to focus on covid for another beat. explain how the white house is justifying asking congress for all this funding when dr. anthony fauci is saying the acute phase of the pandemic is
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possibly behind us. michael: they are dinitely trying to walk a careful line on the messaging front in terms of balancing things that do not necessarily go together. i think their main message and fear on covid is down the line several months. they don't want to get to a place where there is another surge or there is a good development in a new vaccine that is developed, let's say, this fall, but because there is not the money, the united states government goes to the company -- maybe moderna, maybe pfizer -- and says we would like to buy 500 million doses of this, and the company says that's great but we are all sold out because other countries have already ordered their batches. they are trying to sell it as for a future development, but it
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is not a future like, you know, some years down the road something else may come about. they feel very strongly that there is a possibility -- a strong possibility -- that they are going to need that money in the next several months to continue to fight the virus, and i think they recognize will be blamed if they ultimately do not have the money and are sort of held back in their response to the virus. yamiche: the vice president, of course, was diagnosed with covid we learned this week. president biden is making the decision to still go to the white house correspondents dinner. it will be a dinner with at least 2000 people there. the president and white house are saying the president is going to take a lot of her cautions, but what is the thinking of sending him to that dinner, and is there any concern at all about the chain of command? michael: in terms of the chain
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of command, they have expressed lots of confidence that even if he were to get covid that it would be mild because he has been vaccinated and boosted and that he would continue to perform his duties or other people, of course if he were sick enough, the vice president would step in. i think they are really struggling to find the right place to be. you know, to find that sort of compromise where they reflect the growing attitude of most americans, which is that we are sick of this pandemic and ready to move on, while at the same time, you know, not throwing overboard completely all of the restrictions that they have been arguing for so many months are not only esstial but, you know, recommended. they are trying to find that sweet spot, and i think they are really struggling, as, a lot of us are who have taken off masks in certain environments but are
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putting on masks in other places. the white house said he would go to the correspondents dinner and will be there for the entertainment and the speeches and the like, but then he is not going to actually eat dinner there. he is going to leave to try to minimize the amount of time he is there. it is a real tough balancing act, and i think they are struggling to find where that right place is. yamiche: it is a tough balancing act, but i want to switch a little bit to talk about title 42 because the other thing they are struggling with is what to do with title 42. hans: on the covid funding, they want options. they want insurance. there is a sense that the democratic senators that are in tough reelections want title 42 extended, and the white house is on record saying that the cdc says we should repeal it.
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they are in a difficult position. you talk about the connection of a lot of these funding bills. is it pretty clear to you that title 42 will be attached to either the ukraine funding for the covid funding? nicole: i think it is too early to tell. there were also this week bipartisan negotiations around covid. there have been calls for comprehensive immigration reform, and the homeland security secretary made a point to a number of lawmakers who were criticizing him and the administration that president biden put forth a plan on day one. that being said, it is a very complicated issue. i think so long as is her stuff in the courts, it puts congress in a holding pattern. from some of the congress members i talked to as to if they will move forward with attaching provisions to a single bill, it remains to be seen. i did want to touch on michael's
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point on covid because is it's a delicate dance. i think as far as democrats' messaging, what some lawmakers have told me is we have to live with this. we know democrats a lot of times were masked up. there were masked mandates on the house floor. as we as the public come to accept, so i lawmakers. it is not an easy decision for any of them in terms of deciding what to go to, what not to go to, and there is just going to be a risk. yamiche: michael, you wrote a book on immigration. summarize if you can the politics of all this, given what we saw with democrats being very critical of president trump when he had title 42 going. michael: i mean, the truth is that immigration is a mess and headache for every president regardless of party. republicans are gearing up yet again to make illegal immigration a campaign issue
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this fall, and democrats, particularly the ones in the moderate, middle-of-the-road districts are very worried about that happening, and that dynamic on both sides is what is really driving the question over title 42 and all of the other border issues. yamiche: literally five seconds, january 6 public hearings are happening. is that going to be a big deal? nicole: eight hearings in june. that's a big deal. yamiche: huge news happening. be sure to tune in saturday. thank you for joining us. good night from washington. >> funding for "washington week" is provided by consumer cellular. additional funding is provided by cole and patricia yuan's with
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the yuan foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. sandra and carl delaney magnuson. rose herschel and andy shreve's. robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its captin content and accurac]
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