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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  January 10, 2022 10:00am-11:00am PST

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plus, earn up to $50 extra bucks rewards each year just for filling at cvs pharmacy. if it's monday, more cases and more confusion as the white house is pressed to change course on a coronavirus as disruptions worsen and schools and hospitals and around the country. plus what happens next? following the high stakes meeting between american and american diplomats in geneva as there's more warnings to putin about invading ukraine. after vowing to defend u.s. democracy, the president preparing for a major address on voting rights. he faces major obstacles in congress first. welcome to "meet the press
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daily". the white house certainly has a lot on its plate. talks with russia today. a big push on voting rights tomorrow, and build back better still just sitting in the u.s. senate. but right now the most urgent matter facing the administration for a political and policy standpoint is probably still covid. as the associated press notes the explosion in omicron cases has led to something of a breakdown in essential services at schools, hospitals and workplaces. the number of covid hospitalizations nationwide are about to eclipse the pandemic record. the number of daily infections nationwide just the ones we know about are obliterating previous records, and the surge has completely overwhelmed this nation's testing capacity. more schools are preparing for the possibility of remote learning as pediatric hospitalizations have spiked in the last month to new pandemic highs. but as "the new york times"
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notes, the number of incidental patients, people who test positive for covid-19 after being admitted for some other reason make up close to half the cases in hospitals. what do we do with that information? former advisers to biden are pressing the administration to overhaul the strategy and focus less on stopping covid spread and more on figuring out how to live with it. in part, it's a way of mitigating the impact on essential services and the economy. but that leaves the administration with an awkward line to walk on covid, because president biden staked so much of his presidency on defeating it outright. joining me now from the white house is josh letterman, meghan fitzgerald is in chicago where classes were cancelled for the fourth day, and also the director of vaccine education center at the children's hospital of philadelphia, a member of the fda's vaccine advisory committee. josh, the former covid advisers to the president are now starting to press the administration on this idea of
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shifting strategy. trying to prepare the public for some kind of new normal with covid. but is the white house there yet? >> reporter: i think the white house is trying to figure out how to thread the needle in talking about this. they are coming to the conclusion that they need to talk about covid in a way that's different than they were several months ago. yet, they don't want to play into the hands of critics who are going to say if they move to a different type of rhetoric about talking about this, the biden administration is conceding covid is going to be here with us forever, that it's the job has failed. so you hear president biden, for example, when he had his jobs remarks on friday, he was asked by peter alexander about cdc director's comments about covid-19 being endemic in the future. he said well, as we know covid right now, it is not here to stay. that yes, there may be a new normal, but that new normal is going to be better than the current one, and that certainly the tools that we have not only the tests and the vaccines but of course, the therapeutics put
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us in a very different point now than we were one year ago. so they're trying to find a way to talk about this that seems more optimistic than to suggest game over, we just have to deal with covid-19 the way it is now forever. i thought it was interesting we also heard wa len si responding to some of the barrage of criticism about the loss of credibility for the cdc about the way the administration has handled this. she was pretty frank and saying look, this is difficult. we're talking about science and circumstances that are constantly changing and evolving or trying to provide the best information in realtime that we can, but that information is necessarily going to change because of how fast covid is changing. and that sometimes gets misconstrued as poor communication creates this confusion that so many americans around the country are dealing with. >> and in speaking of communication, the white house has put a presidential address on covid on the calendar for thursday. are we to assume in the next few days, they're trying to figure out what they want their messaging to be about the
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long-term strategy? >> the white house saying the remarks on thursday will be about the whole of government response to covid-19. so i think you're going to expect to hear more from the president, particularly about these home tests, these 500 million tests that are supposed to be mailed out. the government has just ipged some of the first contracts for those. we haven't seen the website americans are supposed to sign up to get the tests. we're already approaching the middle of the month. they've promised the tests would have activity on them this month. we expect we will hear an update from biden about all of what his administration is rye trying to to get it up and running. >> the testing infrastructure has been a problem since day one. it continues to be. meghan, in chicago these public schools, students are still out of school. the schools are still closed. how did the most recent negotiations between the union and the school leaders go over the weekend? are we any closer to seeing kids back in schools there? >> look, you know, they've made some progress. that we know. but as far as any indication as to when the students will return
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to the classroom, that is still unknown. we heard earlier from the president of the chicago teacher's union, and he says he doesn't have what he needs to be able to make an agreement here. to come to some sort of an agreement to get these kids back into the classroom. he also had some choice words for the mayor. a lot of frustration. he says what his members want, what he's calling for are better metrics so they can identify how much virus at any given time is inside schools so that would then trigger online learning. they want better quality masks. they're calling for more testing. specifically this opt out method which means that students would be subjected to testing unless their parents opt out of that. that's something the mayor says is not happening. i want you to listen to what both sides have to say. >> this an untenable situation and completely avoidable. i'm going to be on the side of the parents fighting every single day to get our kids back in school. >> the mayor is being
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relentlessly stupid. she's being relentlessly stubborn. she's refusing to seek a combination, and we're trying to find a way to get people back in school. we understand the community wants that. i get it. but we got to find some kind of common ground here. >> reporter: yeah, so we have seen the mayor come to the table with some of the demands of the teacher's union. she said there will be masks available to any teacher, staff member and student who wants one. they are working on implementing more testing. but the biggest bone of contention here is the fact that teachers don't want to return back into the classroom until january 18th. that's about the time when they believe that the virus, the surge of omicron here in chicago will subside some, making it safer to return, and the mayor says that is not happening. that is a nonstarter. she wants to see teachers and students back in the classroom as soon as possible. >> that's only a week away. they might end up at that point
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without a deal. i'm curious what you're hearing from patients. -- parents, rather. the mayor has said parents are outraged at the union. does that track with your reporting? >> reporter: you know, we've heard from both sides on this. there are parents who are also very frustrated, because look, they are caught in the middle of this. they're not learning until late at night sometimes, 8:00, 9:00 at night whether or not there's going to be school the next day. they then have to scramble to try to figure out what they'll do with their children. so frustration, them wanting their kids to be back in school, but there's the other side of the coin, and the reality as we see across the country, that covid is surging. and there is concern for the safety of students. some of whom have not yet been vaccinated. some who aren't even eligible to be vaccinated at this point. >> that's a great point. thanks to you. i'll pivot to dr. ofit. chicago is seeing a rise in pediatric hospitalizations, four
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times as many kids in the hospital with covid today than a month ago. we did not see those numbers at any earlier stage in the pandemic. so i'm curious, what are you seeing at your hospital? and what do you think is behind those numbers? >> right. we're seeing the same thing. as many children as i have ever seen admitted to our hospital, including the intensive care unit in the last two years with covid. it's a combination of factors. one, it's a highly contagious virus. our behavior is different this winter than it was in the previous winter in terms of what we had schools and businesses close and it's a different time. and we still have a highly susceptible population. when people talk about communities that are undervaccinated like, for example, the african american community or evangelical christian community. the bigger community that's unvaccinated are people less than 30 years of age. they're the most susceptible group. this is a highly contagious
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virus that's found that group. >> and the percentage of the kids under five who are vaccinated is zero. right? i mean, that's the biggest gap here is getting the youngest kids vaccinated. when do you think they might be eligible? i mean, what are we looking at here? is it this spring? is it this calendar year? >> hard to know. i mean, it's supposedly at the last advisory committee for immunization practices, they said they hope to be submitting data by april. there is a vaccine for 5 to 11-year-old, but only 25% from gotten it. 12 to 15%, only 50%. this is an undervaccinated population. the frustration at working at a children's hospital right now is for all the children and suffering we see and the crying parents that we see, these children are invariably not vaccinated. the parents aren't vaccinated. the siblings aren't vaccinated. that's the problem. we have to find a way to vaccinate the unvaccinated.
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they're trying to find a way to limit the virus, trying to find a way not to die from the virus. we found that way. it's vaccination. but it doesn't work if you don't take it. >> it is still the simplest way out of this pandemic. right? you can't mask your way out of the pandemic. you can't close your society out of this pandemic. you have to vaccinate your way out of it. it's not just the kids. i think that's a big part of it. we're seeing fully vaccinated older folks not getting their boosters. to what do you attribute this gap we seem to have where there's a big demand for testing but we're not seeing the same demand to go out and get shots? >> we're also not going to test our way out of this pandemic. and we're not going to boost our way out of this pandemic. booster are of value for people over 65 and immune compromised and live in long-term care facilities, but i don't think boosting healthy young people is our way out of this pandemic. the way out of this pandemic is to vaccinate people who are unvaccinated. and it's just incredibly
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frustrating that we have -- that a large percentage of this population, at least large enough that doesn't allow us to get -- take our ticket out of this pandemic. look at israel. israel has roughly 91% of their population vaccinated. they're averaging two deaths a day in israel. that was true a few days ago. it's if equivalent to maybe 70 here. they figured it out. vaccinate the population. it's not that hard. we have to do it. >> israel also has rolled out a fourth shot now. they seem to think an additional booster is necessarily down the line. i wonder if you think that's necessarily where the u.s. is headed. and i can't help but think that something like the flu shot isn't politicized in this country if in the longer term we're talking about getting your covid shot every year like the flu shot, if that's the direction we're ultimately head you get a flu shot every year, because even if you're vaccinated the year before, you are not protected against serious illness. that doesn't appear to be true for the covid vaccine.
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the covid vaccine appears to protect you against serious illness. the booster gives you an additional three months of protection for healthy young people, against mild disease. that's not a lot. the trick is vaccinating the unvaccinated. >> i want to ask quickly about this idea of the new normal. it's weird to wrap your mind around. a doctor talked about it this morning on our air. i want to play for you what he said. >> once we're down, we have to sustain it, and we will live with it. we'll be in a new normal. we won't have to wear masks all the time. we can go into restaurants. ventilation will be improved. that is the situation. that's where we want to get to. we can get to it probably by the summer. if we work in a very concerted effort, people get vaccinated. we get these rates down. >> once we're down, is a phrase that's doing a lot of work in that clip. but what do you make of his timeline there, the idea that by
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summer, perhaps, we could be on course for whatever is next in this pandemic? >> it's a winter virus. definitely we're going to have a decrease in cases and hospitalizations and deaths starting frankly in early and mid spring, and then it was down last summer. it will come back in the winter unless we have a critical percent of the population vaccinated. you can look at influenza. two years before this pandemic, we had 70 0,000 hospitalizations from influenza and 60,000 deaths. year before this pandemic, we had 400,000 hospitalizations from flu and 20,000 deaths. we accept that. i mean, i think if we mask and social distanced every winter, we would probably decrease the numbers, but we accept that. i don't know what the numbers are for this virus, but this virus will be year around for a while and we're going to need to have a highly protected population from vaccination for a while. >> doctor, thank you. this was super helpful, i think. still to come, what went
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down in those first high stakes meetings between american and russian diplomats as russian troupes remain ready to invade ukraine again. later the senate battle ground map is now set after two republican incumbents announced they will be running for reelection. and democrats, well, they're watchening them closely. you're watching "meet the press daily". "meet the press "meet the press daily" that they don't recall things as quickly as they used to or they don't remember things as vividly as they once did. i've been taking prevagen for about three years now. people say to me periodically, "man, you've got a memory like an elephant." it's really, really helped me tremendously. prevagen. healthier brain. better life.
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it appears today's high stakes talks between the u.s. and russian diplomats were diplomatic. after seven hours of meeting, wendy sherman said the u.s. was willing to discuss limits to military exercises in eastern europe. russia's deputy foreign minister meanwhile claimed russia has no intention to invade ukraine. he made that claim, though, despite this. russia's buildup of more than 100,000 troops along the border with ukraine. a move that alarmed the u.s. and
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the nato allies. not to mention the ukrainians. our chief foreign correspondent spent time in the krenchs literally with ukrainian troops preparing for a potential russian invasion. >> ukrainians are welcoming 2022 by preparing for a possible russian invasion. digging new trenches by hand in the frozen earth. lined by mine fields, the trenches stremp for miles. defenses that have changed little since world war i. a ukrainian soldier says he'll fight to the end. but of the talks, he adds, my opinion is wars have always been resolved through diplomacy. we expect our leaders will solve these issues. maria, a forward scout, didn't see her four-year-old son for christmas, and may not for many months to come. >> translator: hopefully on the other side they love their families just like we do and don't want to see bloodshed and death, she says.
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>> richard joins us from ukraine, and also with us former u.s. ambassador to ukraine and now vice president of the u.s. institute of peace. richard, how much faith are ukrainians both on the frontlines and ukrainians more broadly putting into this week's meets? >> well, i think you can see it in their actions. when they are building new trenches and widening the trenches they have today in the frozen ground, i think you can see that they do not have a tremendous amount of confidence in these talks. and they are -- they are not confident for two reasons. one, the russian troops are still there. they are already positioned on ukrainian territory. there are two pockets held by pro-russian separatists where russian troops are already positioned so they are poised potentially to attack from within. and then there are the 100,000 plus troops on three sides of the ukrainian border to the south, to the east, and to the
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north. and those troops are still there. so they're worried what they could potentially be ready to do. they could invade in a pinser like attack coming in from multiple sides. and they worry about the demands that russia is making. russia's demands seem to be getting bolder and bigger by the day. today and for the last several days, in fact, for the last 72 hours we've been hearing this new kind of demand from russia that nato roll back to 199 7 levels. that would mean effectively, dismantling nato's military presence in the baltics, in eastern europe, giving up a lot of territory that it has taken, that nato has taken or countries that have become nato members near russia since 1997. and ukrainians believe that's an unrealistic demand. u.s. officials believe that's an unrealistic demand. they say they know that russia
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must realize that this is an unrealistic demand, so they worry if russia's making such a demand, perhaps it is creating a pretext for an invasion. a reason to say, well, it gave it a -- war is the only answer. >> to that end, we've been watching. the world has been watching this buildup of troops over months along the borders. is there a sense there that the talks now are potentially the beginning of the end, the culmination of those tensions before the next phase begins, whatever that may be? >> they don't know how imminent it is. the troops there, they're fairly cut off. there's little internet service. they don't have television. they're not really connected to the world. so i must say the troops in literally the trenches in very remote eastern ukraine are not following the ins and outs of the discussions. but they know the troops are there. and they know what would happen
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if those troops decided to cross over the trenches. they would put up a defense. they say they will give their lives. they will hold for as long as they can, but they're also realistic and think that if the full might of the russian army came rushing at them, they wouldn't be able to hold the line for long. but this maximalist demand from russia is one that i think we're hearing more and more. and it goes back to vladimir putin himself. vladimir putin has been making this kind of argument for years. that nato's expansion, nato's expansion since the collapse of the society union in 1991 has been in his eyes unjust. it has been a betrayal. it's been taking advantage of russia when russia was at its weakest moment when the soviet union collapsed. and now putin, effectively is saying, we want nato to scale back or else it could take a major country by force. a major country that is not a
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nato ally but a u.s. ally. >> richard, thank you. >> nato member, but a u.s. ally. >> right. right. >> ambassador, what do you make of that? is this the typical bluster from putin, or are these demands designed to be as richard suggests, a poison pill, a pretext for starting the war of the invasion that he wants? >> that's a good question. richard is right. this is what is the potential is there. and ukrainians as he indicated, are taking it very seriously as they should. i mean, putin has invaded the country before, and so we -- in 2014. and that's why those troops are in the trenches. i've been in those trenches. richard, i'm glad you're seeing those there. it's a good question to ask -- i think mr. putin probably would like to get his demands filled, achieved, without an invasion. i think he would like to see if these troops on the border can
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intimidate president biden in washington ar nato, and if he can get some -- if he can accomplish his goals without an invasion, he would probably be pleased with that. it sounds like in the discussions today, in geneva, the deputy secretary of state wendy sherman pushed back firmly on this idea that the united states would have to close the door to nato membership for ukraine. this was a strong statement by secretary sherman that we were not going to agree to these demands that the russians have put forward. and apparently these discussions will continue. the deputy foreign minister didn't stomp out. the discussions will continue. they'll continue in brussels on wednesday. they'll continue in vienna on
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thursday. and deputy secretary sherman said that the governments will be back in touch. the u.s. and the russians will be back in touch end of the week to see what the next steps are. it does sound like there's a serious conversation. >> i can't imagine a scenario in which we would agree to turn our back on the baltics and some of the things that mr. putin is putting out there. is the best case scenario at this point that these talks just continue and continue and continue and those russian troops stay parked on their side of the border for as long as we can keep the discussions going? >> i don't think that's the best case. i think you're right to say that serious discussions cannot take place until, unless there is a deescalation. until the troops are moved back from the border this. but if that happens, then there can be, and maybe we're setting the stage now for some serious conversations about where missiles are located. or they also talked about the possibility of transparency and
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risk reduction, having to do with military exercises. so if we know when the russians are going to exercise militarily, and we some observers there, and the russians know when nato is doing its exercise, and they have observers there, that could increase the transparency of the two sides, and that -- those two things, the -- a new missile treaty and a new conventioal forces treaty updated and reciprocal with all the input from the countries that would be affected, that would be a step forward. >> ambassador, those all sound like carrots, if you will. are sanctions our only available stick, and is that a big enough stick if the carrots don't work? >> the sanctions are a big stick. they're not the only stick that has been wielded in the attempt to deter this invasion that we've been talking about. the sanctions could be very,
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very harsh. and we know the russians, when they raise these sanctions all the time, the russians have recently said, i think mr. putin told mr. biden, president biden, that if we put these sanctions on, it would disrupt and damage relations beyond hope. so they're clearly concerned about these, but they're not the only thing. we indicated we'll continue to provide military support, training, exercises, weapons to the ukrainians. we will even provide some training and weapons to territorial forces. even if there's an invasion the russians will be a hard time with ukrainian citizens who are armed and will conduct guerilla warfare. they make it hard, bloody for the russians. and if the russians do invade, that means the tanks are coming toward nato, and nato allies on the eastern flank will be eager
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to have, and will request urgently reinforcements from the united states, and mr. biden indicated he would respond positively to those requests. >> ambassador, we've got to leave it there for today, but i suspect this won't be the last time we lean on your expertise. thank you for coming on. >> thank you. coming up, a reality check on the democrat's push for voting rights legislation as the president gets ready to give a major speech on the issue, and majority leader schumer gets ready to try for a major rule change to get it done. right now it all seems to be leading toward a major disappointment for democrats. you're watching "meet the press daily". "meet the press daily"
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ask your healthcare provider about rybelsus® today. welcome back. president biden is headed to georgia tomorrow to deliver a speech on voting rights legislation as party leaders in congress continue to promise action. house speaker nancy pelosi told nbc yesterday the stakes are clear. >> it is absolutely essential to our democracy. we do not pass this legislation, it's clear that the republicans will try to undermine our democracy as they did on january 6th. >> what remains unclear is the path forward as democrats try again to pass the legislation. democrats don't have the votes needed to pass the filibuster rules. some republicans are signaling a willingness to cooperate on specific voting rights reform
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that would safeguard electoral college vote certification. we have the latest from capitol hill. big picture, where does this voting rights effort stand on the eve of the president's speech? we've seen this renewed determination from democrats but determination does not a plan to get votes make. >> we saw this in december as we left for the year. now coming into 2022, you're sort of in an instance on capitol hill of the more thing things change, the more they stay the same in an a dynamic and action sense. there's an everyone us the own momentum toward wanting to do something on voting rights but in terms of strategy and being able to get it done, that's where things fall apart. you have the same two senators, manchin and sinema, reticent to change the rules enough that they could push forward on the change for voting rights. that means even though chuck sheemer is saying we'll see action by martin luther king junior day, monday, that means we're going to see action this week, but where it goes is the
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open question here. there's also the reality that you're heading into a midterm year where voting rights and actually codifying them at the federal level is something that democrats are probably going to be campaigning on. what voters are going to have to now decide is what democrats have done with their majorities in the house and senate. voters are going to have to decide if that's enough for them to continue turning out at the polls, especially when we've seen inaction on voting rights and a litany of other progressive policy ideals including things like the build back better agenda that's still languish agent the start of this year. democrats trying to use both january 6th and the upcoming holiday next week as an impetus for action. it's unclear how it pushes forward. >> on the idea of the rules change front, we've seen a number of things talked about here. whether it's a car vow to the filibuster just on voting rights issues. a broader change to the rules to put more pressure on the minority. i mean, feel free to nerd out here a little bit. is there'ven any agreement on
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which of these rule changes are the ones they think are most likely to get the votes necessary to put into practice? >> no. and we hear people here on the hill talk about trying to put pain in the filibuster, making people go through and talk on the senate floor, making it so it's not just a threat but something they actually have to carry through on. that idea of a talking filibuster is one potential reform just to try to make that a more solid threat. there's also the idea that some people have said let's lower the amount of votes necessary to get onto a bill and allow it to be debated. one of the things that the senator has repeatedly said is he wants to see this get a debate on the senate floor, and right now that's not even something that they can move onto. so there are some conversations and some different ideas being proposed. i know we closed out the door. there were several democratic caucus meetings where some senators who are integral to the effort laid out what some specific rule changes could be. but that doesn't mean there's still not the reticence there. many of the senators have gotten
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briefings from other senators who have really lobbied for changes in trying to make this body work better. it doesn't appear they have all 50 of them on board. and that's the magic number you need to actually push this over the finish line. a lot of ideas but not a lot of agreement yet. >> last week we were chasing doing some reporting on the group of bipartisan group of senators trying to nudge open the door to maybe changing the electoral count act. basically, making it clear the vice president doesn't have the authority to throw out electoral votes. an election protection bill focussed around january 6th. is something that might continue to get momentum or a nonstarter with democrats? >> it's an idea, but democrats would be the first to tell you that is not the end all be all for them. that's not a replacement for actually codifying voting rights at the federal level in the way they want to do so. but also take a step back and realize where we are here. that you have to codify that and come back and say, hey, a vice president does not have the
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ability to change the election results or overrule the election results. after january 6th, the fact that there's legislation even coming around that, given the whitewashing we've seen to the sixth from republicans, that is potentially a crack of the door in the right direction. people trying to take the mistakes and the potential pitfalls of january 6th and apply it so that cannot happen again, especially when the more we learn about january 6th, the more we know about the pressure that then vice president pense was facing from people in conservative legal circles and in trump's orbit to go a different direction of the results saying trump won when he didn't. there is that, but it's not a replacement wholesale for the other voting rights conversation that democrats want to push forward and are likely going to have to push forward alone. >> and we'll all be watching this week to see if the january 6th committee decides to increase the pursuit of mike pence or opens the invitation more formally to testify after indicating last week they would
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do so. >> we should note moments ago, word of another democratic retirement. the congressman of colorado announced he's decided not to run for reelection. it brings the total number of house democrats not seeking reelection to 26. the battle ground is set and wisconsin is shaping up to be one of the most contentious and probably expensive races of the year as democrats try to unseat a staunch trump ally. you're watching "meet the press daily". g "meet the press g "meet the press daily" ♪ who would've printing... could lead to growing trees. ♪
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welcome back. turning to the 2022 midterms. the senate landscape is a lot more clear today after a couple of republican incumbents made up their minds on reelection, nrkding one who is a major target for democrats. first there's the number two senate republican who finally announced he will run for reelection.
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his decision is a big victory for the traditional wing of the gop. and on the other end, there's wisconsin republican ron johnson who announced he's running for another term as wisconsin democrats well know he is a staunch trump ally, and has spread outlandish misinformation on the coronavirus, on vaccines, and on the january 6th attack. despite once saying he would call it quits after two terms, johnson wrote in an op ed yesterday, quote, i believe america is in peril. as much as i'd like to ease into a quiet retirement, i don't feel i should. democrats were already looking to wisconsin as an opportunity to pick up a senate seat and the chance to send johnson into retirement anyway makes it even more enticing of an opportunity for them. joining me now is charles benson, political reporter at wtmj, and mark murray, senior political editor. wisconsin's senate race is in the middle of the tossup
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category. what does johnson deciding to run again mean for the race? >> i think it means another close election. you look in 2010 and 2016 when he won twice there, his second term, he wins by 5% the first time around. 3.5% the second time around. they were always close elections, but they were in years that favored republicans. remember, in 2010 he was the tea party candidate and rides that red wave. but in 2016, he wins by 3.5 points, but he only gets just above 50 % in 2016. that's the year president trump also wins in wisconsin. turning wisconsin red for the first time in nearly 30 years. he has been in years that have favored republicans, and this time around, he has some of that historical edge. >> i think of him and roy blunt as probably the two republican senators who most benefitted from trump's coat tails in 2016. charles, nationally, i can tell
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you from here in washington, there's no seat that democrats want more personally to pick up than this one from the conspiracy theories to the kind of general trolling. what is ron johnson to democrats? >> well, he is the target. he's got the bulls eye on the back. democrats here in wisconsin have had 2022 circled for a year. i think they were hoping they could match up and go after senator johnson even though he had pledged in 2016 he would only do two terms. they have been ready. they've been running ads in 2021 about him. but it was game on seconds after the announcement came out yesterday. and even today we're seeing senator johnson already out with a digital ad on why he changed his mind to run in 2022, because he says things have changed since 2016, and by the way, one of the things you've said about the coat tails in 2016, it was senator johnson who was one of
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the few republicans in 2016 who outperformed at the top of the ticket. he got 70,000 more votes than donald trump here in wisconsin in 2016. >> so mark, as much as democrats would like personally to beat johnson, does him running again make it more challenging for them to pick up that seat? he can also spend a lot of his own money. >> yeah. as charles was saying, it's an incredibly competitive seat, but you're right. what ron johnson gives republicans is a sure thing. on the democratic side, we're seeing a free for all democratic primary. and ron johnson says look, i'm not running for reelection, i'm not running for another term, it would create a free for all republican party. so the republicans are foregoing what would be a very open and combative primary race, but we are going to be assured of yet another polarized and incredibly competitive race in wisconsin and another general election. >> is it better for democrats if
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this race is about ron johnson or if he stepped aside and the race was about joe biden? i mean, how much does his standing in wisconsin matter in this case? >> you know, garrett, it's probably better that they're able to make it a referendum on ron johnson or at least try to make a referendum. it's shaping up to be a pretty tough political environment for democrats. once again, charles will probably agree with this. it seems like almost every wisconsin election outside of that 2016 one comes down to 10,000, 20,000 votes. so i don't care what the issue is like, it seems like democrats and republicans are perfectly polarized in arguably the nation's post polarized state. >> your name was invoked, charles. i'll let you respond to that. >> yeah. i agree with mark. democrats, i think, are -- yeah, i think democrats want to take on ron johnson and make it a referendum on ron johnson. but i also think ron johnson
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wants to make this a referendum on what democrats have been doing in washington for the past year. so they will both see it as a referendum on where voters think the direction of the country, the direction of the state should be in 2022. and you know, knowing that in 2018 when you look at yes, we've had these close elections, but in 2018, a very progressive, liberal democrat named tammy baldwin won in 2018 by double digits. so go figure. but i do expect this race to be very close. >> any idea who is going to be on the democratic side of it? mark said it's pretty much wide open. is this mandela barns' race to lose? what's the state of the democratic primary? >> i hear a lot of people say it is lieutenant governor mandela barns' rice rais to lose. he's been active and very much so out there, but he's got some other opponents here who will make the challenge, and it is a wide open field right now in
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some of his own polling it suggests he's ahead. i think it's a lot of time before the august primary, and i think the other candidates are going to be going after knowing they want to take on senator johnson. >> mark, we only have about third seconds. how big is the sigh of relief from mitch mcconnell's office and his wing of the party that john thune is going to stick around and try to defend his seat in south dakota? >> normally the types of john thunes have been heading for the exits. and so they probably are nice and saying hey, pat toomey, we saw him leave. john thune wants to stick around in the republican party. it's still dominated by donald trump. there are some voices that are necessarily super trumpy that will come after the 2022 midterms. so a sigh of relief, but also one of the exceptions rather than the norms. >> one of the three johns we're watching for future republican leadership. but that's a segment for another day. charles and mark, thank you
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both. and up next, an update on the worst fire in new york city has seen more than 30 years. stay with us. s seen more than 30 years. seen more than 30 years. ay with us his girlfriend just caught the bouquet, so he's checking in on that ring fund. that photographer? he's looking for something a little more zen, so he's thinking, “i'll open a yoga studio.” and as for the father of the bride? he's checking to see if he's on track to do this all over again... and again. bank of america's digital tools are so impressive, you just can't stop banking.
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anything. >> those were some of the survivors of one of the deadliest fires in new york city history, talking about the moments during the inferno. a short time ago new york city mayor eric adams revised the death toll down slightly to 17 people, eight of which were children. according to the new york city fire commissioner, a malfunctioning space heater started the fire. investigators are looking to see if it was up to new york fire code. joining us now from the site is nbc correspondent lisa gutierrez. what else did we learn from the mayor's press conference today? >> reporter: hey, garrett. first of all, i apologize, you might hear a helicopter. it's more than 24 hours since the fire broke out at this 19-story apartment complex. as you can see, this is very much an active scene. residents are walking around, trying to figure out if they can get back in. yes, we did hear from officials moments ago. the mayor said this he did hear from president biden, who expressed his condolences and
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said that the white house is here to support the city and the victims in any way that they can. another thing that we learned is that some residents will actually be able to reoccupy their apartments, many of them unable to, however. the city and the red cross are working right now to house dozens of families who will not be able to go back inside. something else that they talked about a lot is the presence of a gambian community here in this area, particularly among the residents and the victims. we even heard from the ambassador to gambia. he spoke after the mayor and said they're a small country but today they are in mourning, just totally in shock by this unthinkable tragedy that impacted many of their families and friends all the way here in new york city, garrett. >> what about the status of the investigation? are investigators looking to see if any of them was preventible or influenced by the design of the building or anything like that? >> reporter: well, we did learn
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a few key facts here this afternoon. but first of all, just a reminder that what investigators have been saying since yesterday is that what caused this fire on the second and third floors, a two-story unit there, was a malfunctioning electric space heater. now, what they said today is unfortunately we're more at risk of these kinds of accidents, particularly in the wintertime, when residents are trying to stay warm, if the heating systems in their units are not doing enough, they try to supplement that with these electric space heaters. but what we did learn is that there was actually a malfunction in the apartment door in that unit. and that is key here, because investigators and officials have been saying since yesterday that something that made a huge difference here that really did most of the damage is that the union door was open, allowing that fire to go into the hallway and eventually the flames -- sorry, the smoke to engulf most of the building, garrett.
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>> ilsa, thanks. chuck will be back tomorrow with more "meet the press daily" and msnbc coverage continues next with katy tur. next with katy tur trelegy for copd. [coughing] ♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze driftin' on by... ♪ if you've been playing down your copd,... ♪ it's a new dawn, it's a new day,... ♪ ...it's time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. ♪...and i'm feelin' good. ♪ no once-daily copd medicine... has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy. with three medicines in one inhaler, trelegy helps people breathe easier and improves lung function. it also helps prevent future flare-ups. trelegy won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. do not take trelegy more than prescribed.
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good to be with you, i'm katy tur. welcome to the great sickout, as covid cases shoot off the charts. one economist estimates 5 million american workers could be calling out sick this week, either because they themselves are not feeling well or a family

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