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tv   White House Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  August 27, 2021 1:53pm-2:52pm EDT

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center smith's home state, chief benjamin, it can be serving on the board. they have had limited outreach also to a city of high technical organization. in general, i don't know if i can answer the question on how many, but it has been very limited outreach. if you look at the federal -- the potential of the federal homeland bank, they have two areas. one is being able to reassure, provide liquidity for banks. there are a lot of native american banks that could benefit from that. on the others habit, if you look at their plans and their limited plans, they are not addressing the real needs of the indian country. meeting with the cdf technical advisor is not enough. it does not go to the understanding of tribal issues and capital needs tribes are faced with. senator rounds bringing up the
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final program is a great -- >> i have a couple items for all of you at the top. uncover 19 response. we got today's vexing report. for the rest of you who were not a part of that, the report is nearly one point one million shots in arms, 1.1 million is the highest single day total shots since july third which is a good sign. in august, we have gotten 12.5 million first shots into arms, already two million more first shots than in all of july. with several days left to go to add to that total. we have not had a major milestone in our effort to vaccinate adolescents at a particularly important time as people go back to school. 50% of 12 to 17-year-olds have at least their first child. more work to do, but a positive step forward. also i wanted to note that today the department of health and human services secretary announced 80 $5 million in
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funding to improve mental health services for our nations children and youth, which is a priority for the biden harris administration as part of our push to get kids back to school safely and address the impact of the pandemic on them. specifically, he announced the health resources and services administration is making 24 awards totaling $10.7 million in funds from the presence american rescue plan to expand pediatric mental health care and access by integrating health services, for example actions or technical assistance were pediatric care providers to diagnose, treat, and refer children. this will also, the subcommittee is also granting 29 awards totaling -- to enhance mental health services for school age youth. as an example, project aware, which stands for advancing wellness and resilience in education, will use funding to
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help raise awareness for mental health issues for young people and train personnel. i also wanted to note that today we are announcing that president biden has directed the department of homeland security to serve as the federally agency coordinate and cross the government to relocate evacuated afghans to the u.s.. dhs has been working closely with agencies across government and others to ensure all afghans are screened and vetted. evacuees want undergo covid-19 precautions including immediate covid-19 testing and offered vaccines upon arrival. dhs will coordinate with numerous other agencies to ensure relocated afghans have access to medical care and support to enable their successful resettlement in the u.s.. the president is grateful for the critical role, dedicated workforces across the federal government, including our
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military servicemen and women, diplomats, our intelligence law enforcement professionals and many others are implanting this effort. finally, this afternoon, the president and team administrator will host a call with the governors of louisiana, alabama, and mississippi to discuss ongoing preparations for tropical storm, i do, which is expected to make landfall on the gulf coast as a major hurricane on sunday. sunday is the 16th anniversary of hurricane katrina. which cause widespread devastation and claimed more than 1800 lives in displaced semi families. the administration was in leucine yesterday, she met with the governor to discuss how they are mobilizing to prepare for what could be a dangerous storm hitting a region that has been heavily impacted by the delta variant. the president will be closely tracking this and receive updates through the course of the weekend. >> you made a statement last
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year --[indiscernible] i know you are limited, but is there anymore specifically you can offer on what that threat is? and, what does it mean for the evacuation? will it restrict or limit the ability to veteran on 31st question mark --31st? >> what i can beat any statement was that the national security team --what i conveyed in the statement was that initial purity team advise the president
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and vice president that another terror attack in kabul is likely. they're taking maximum force protection measures at the airport and surrounding areas with armed forces a result. i will note that the department of defense gave a briefing this morning and i will echo some of the descriptions they offered. the threat is ongoing and it is the. of time when military commanders on the ground and forces begin to move not just troops home but also equipment. it is often a dangerous part of any mission. often there is an ongoing or acute threat from isis-k so that is what they're facing. the military made clear to the president that they are committed to continuing this mission. to saving lives, evacuating more people from the country over the
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coming days and completing their mission by the 31st. what it will also mean as they moved to this retrograde face is that there will be a reduction of numbers over the next couple of days. we have been putting those numbers out to you twice a day to see how we are evacuating people out of the country. those numbers will go down over the next couple of days and you should anticipate that as a result of the retrograde process that needs to take place. force protection is front and center and vital to the mission. reporter: president biden told reporters in the oval office, they talk to dr. fauci today about getting booster shots after five months instead of eight months. can you explain why he is good with that, what information he has that justifies the possibility of going back?
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ms. psaki: the president relies on guidance from the cdc. that continues to be eight months. if that guidance were to change for any group, he would abide by that. for those of you reporting out this, nothing has changed about the eight-month timeline as it relates to the boosters. reporter: why did the conversation change from eight to five? ms. psaki: i wasn't sitting in the meeting having a discussion with them on this. as israel has taken the step of doing six-month boosters and the president referenced advice that he had been given from the prime minister, obviously, we make our own assessments based on our own experts here in the united states and nothing has changed on that front. i think it was more likely a reference to that and we obviously have ongoing discussions with our health and medical experts.
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reporter: to afghanistan, i want to get an update on the president's plans if he has any -- ms. psaki: there has not been an announcement from the u.s. military about the timing of that. i can reiterate what i conveyed yesterday which is the president will look for any opportunity to honor servicemen and women who lost their lives yesterday, but i don't have anything to announce. reporter: there has been some -- could you tell us with the thinking is in the white house about whether that is appropriate and how are if that would happen after the end of august? ms. psaki: i would say first that we are looking at ways and i would refer to the secretary of state into the state department to engage. i know this wasn't exactly her question, but just to get in here. the president did direct the secretary of state to continue
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diplomatic efforts with international partners to secure means for third country nationals and afghans with visas to leave the country even after the u.s. military presence ends. a part of that would be having a coordinated approach and engagement with the taliban because in order to continue to evaluate -- evacuate any american citizen who is not prepared to leave who wants to leave, afghan nationals and third parties with visas, we need to coordinate with the taliban. that does not need or translate to a presence on the ground. we are pulling out by the 31st and that hasn't changed. reporter: -- a statement is that said we can't trust the taliban with american security. i guess my question is the coordination with the taliban is the best of options right now or the only option given what's on
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the ground? ms. psaki: maybe both. i think it's worth repeating as often as i can that we don't trust the taliban. this is not about trust. there is a reality on the ground and the reality is that the taliban controls large swaths of afghanistan including the area surrounding the perimeter of the airport. by necessity, that is our option to coordinate with to get american citizens out to get our afghan partners out, to get those eligible for the range of programs we have out. we have now evacuated or than 105,000 people as a result of those coordinated efforts of getting people out. i will say that as the department of defense noted earlier today, clearly something went wrong in the process that we saw the isis-k attack occur yesterday. we don't have additional information to suggest that it was intentional or anything
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along those lines which was a question that was asked yesterday. clearly, there was a break in the security process. there is no question about that. reporter: [indiscernible] if you are a tangible difference in what you are seeing now versus what the president decided based on a week ago? ms. psaki: i can't get into specific details from here. the reason we put this out publicly and the way they did is because yesterday, there was an attack by terrorists that killed 13 members of the u.s. military. it is important for us as a government to be clear about what threats are u.s. forces are facing on the ground as they continue to implement the mission.
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that threat is acute, ongoing, our troops are in danger and they are taking the steps they are to save lives and evacuate people because of their commitment to the mission and we thought it was important for people to understand that. reporter: you said in light of yesterday's attack, the troops there are taking maximum force protection measures at kabul airport. what resources are available to them that they didn't have yesterday? ms. psaki: any resources that they need and they request from the president, they will be granted. i will not get into additional details. reporter: i wonder if the president has plans to speak to the families of the fallen service members? ms. psaki: how this process works is the next of kin notifications happen by the department of defense typically in person. i believe they gave an update this morning on that to say the process was ongoing. the president would not reach
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out until that process was completed. it would be up to the next of kin or families as to whether they were prepared to receive a call from the president of the united states. it's important to note that this may be the worst day of their lives. they may or may not feel they are ready to talk to the president of the united states. that is their choice. i expect once any calls are completed, we will provide you all an update. reporter: i want to know if the white house has any reaction to the republican lawmakers who are calling on the president to resign over this? ms. psaki: seeing some of this occur or be called for or be put out on twitter, backdrop here is that u.s. men and women on the military deployed on the ground are bravely continuing to implement a mission to save lives on the ground. american citizens, afghan partners, many people that some of these same individuals are calling for us to evacuate. yesterday, they lost 13 of their
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own. the president made absolutely clear that we're going to hunt down, go after, and kill the terrorists responsible. everyone should be supportive of that. reporter: you are saying that now was not not the time for politics. ms. psaki: correct. reporter: when the president says we will hunt you down and make you pay, what does that look like? is he going to order a mission to kill the people responsible or will he be satisfied that they are captured and brought to trial? ms. psaki: he made clear yesterday that he does not with them to live on the earth anymore. reporter: as the u.s. is coordinating with the taliban over security for the next couple of days, some of the people running security for the taliban in kabul are terrorist with williams of dollars worth of bounties on their heads. rigell to try to bring those known terrorists to justice before we leave the country? reporter: our focus right now is on bringing -- doing everything we can to bring american
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citizens who'd want to depart out of the country. to get our afghan partners out of the country. as i just said, this is not a preferred relationship or a situation that we would have designed if we had started from scratch. i think that is very clear. now, we need to continue to coordinate and that is our focus for the next couple of days. reporter: you said the think we will have a great deal of leverage over the taliban after we leave. do you think we will have more leverage with no troops on the ground in afghanistan then we do with thousands of troops on the ground? ms. psaki: to be clear, one of the steps the president directed the secretary of state to take was to engage with our international partners to determine what the path forward looks like. there are key components. the taliban are going to want a functioning airport. so do we. there is an enormous amount of economic leverage that the global community has. reporter: in terms of the
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president commitment to make those responsible for yesterday's attack pay, he would be willing to send in american troops even in covert form to complete that mission to kill those who are responsible. ms. psaki: i'm not going to get into detail about what hunting down and going after the terrorists who killed 13 service members will entail or detail and i don't think the department of defense will either. that commitment will remain until it is done. reporter: does the potential exists for troops to go back into afghanistan. ms. psaki: again, i will not going to what that will require. reporter: just for -- so it's clear for americans, is the white house's commitment still that all americans who want to leave afghanistan will be able to leave for that date? reporter: that is what we are focused on, committed to, and working toward. reporter: what more can you tell
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us? how close is an agreement? will we have a diplomatic presence in afghanistan? ms. psaki: that's not what we are protecting. not diplomatic presence on the ground in afghanistan. what we are talking about is coordinating with our international partners in order to determine what the path forward looks like so we can continue to evacuate third country nationals, afghans with visas, and any american citizens who have not yet departed because they are not prepared to depart after that time. that will require ordination with our international partners and also continue engagement in some capacity with the taliban. i think we have been clear we are pulling our personnel out by the 31st. i will let the state department speak to any other plans beyond that. reporter: you indicated yesterday you believe the president has all the legal authority he needs to attack isis-k.
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is it the white house's view that the president could lean on the -- was passed after 9/11? ms. psaki: i can assure you the president and the military feel they have all the authority they need to attack isis-k. reporter: some members of the g20 are pushing for a special meeting on the taliban in italy. is there a discussion on having -- a date for a g20 meeting on afghanistan? ms. psaki: it would be coordinate through the state department. i would refer you to them and i expect them to have more details on their planned engagement in the coming days. reporter: if diplomacy fails in iran, can you talk about what other options might mean? ms. psaki: any president maintains a range of options. our focus is on a diplomatic path forward.
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reporter: there have been a lot of questions about this. i want to get some clarity around after august 31, the people who will still be on the ground and afghanistan -- in afghanistan and want to get out, does the u.s. have a vision of a process that they will use to get people out after august 31? what is the commitment after august 31? is it absolute, if you want to get out of afghanistan and you have helped the u.s. military you are an afghan you will be able to get out? if you are a green card holder or someone else who wants to get out, is the u.s. guaranteeing that you'll will be able to get out? ms. psaki: i don't think we can guarantee. what we can do is work toward and this is what the president directed the secretary of state to continue diplomatic efforts with international partners to secure means for third-party
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nationals, afghans with visas who may be eligible for our programs, any american citizen who remains in country to leave the country even after the u.s. military presence and. there are mechanisms for that. those conversations are ongoing. that is our objective. our commitment does not change on august 31. obviously, we need to figure out the operational mechanisms which is the conversation underway. reporter: u.s. green card holders, are they being prioritized or is it only u.s. citizens? ms. psaki: i think you can note from the numbers even if you look at the last two hours, we got more than 10,000 maybe it was higher than that people out. 300 of them were americans passport holders. the rest were afghans, green card holders, others who are still getting out of the country. reporter: the biden administration is filled with people who have had a long
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experience with afghanistan. many of them dating back years if not decades. including the president. most of that time, the taliban was the sworn enemy. is there recognition inside the administration of the irony, the grim irony of being in a position to rely upon and coordinate with and have negotiations with the adversary they fought for two decades? ms. psaki: irony is far too light of a term. the reality is, this is the circumstance we are faced with. the taliban controls large swaths of the country. that is not what anyone anticipated at this point in time. in order to get american citizens out, to get our afghan partners out, and cardholders out, we need to coordinate with the taliban. we have been able to evacuate more than 105,000 people as a result.
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is not the only place in the world where we have to work with adversaries or people who have been enemies at times in order to further u.s. national security objectives. it's what you have to be flexible to do when you are running the united states or when national security teams are looking to achieve our objectives. reporter: [indiscernible] -- a kind of frustration or whatever you want to call it with the situation that they find themselves in? ms. psaki: i understand your question. having sat in a lot of these meetings, there is not a lot of time for self reflection right now. the focus is on the task at hand. even as we are talking about these threats that are acute and ongoing and increasing, we are focused on that and the information is that it's incoming. what steps we can take to get more people out over the coming days or the remaining days. i wouldn't say there is a lot of focus on self reflection at this
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point in time. reporter: what is the white house's reaction to the supreme court yesterday overturning the cdc targeted eviction moratorium. does the white house want congress to act to issue a new moratorium and what is the white house doing to address what has now become a real eviction crisis? ms. psaki: president biden would of course support congressional action to provide an eviction moratorium and the supreme court has clearly outlined that as the only way a moratorium can remain in effect. the same time, it's important to remember our objective. that is to keep as many people around the country in their homes as possible. federal legislation is one way to do that. the eviction moratorium we had in place and we were issuing month-to-month is one way to do that. the e.r.a. funding that came through the american rescue plan and going out to states is another way to do that. we have asked and put out today
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the department of treasury and the secretary of hud called on all governors, mayors, county officials to put in place their own moratorium. seven states have done that. it has the same impact because it prevents people from being kicked out of their homes and the states have the funding thanks to the american rescue plan to get that done. the other place that is our responsibility that we continue to focus on is working to eliminate any red tape that exists. we made announcements earlier this week that allows renters to attest to their economic circumstances to make it easier. we have seen an impact in some states. we will continue to look for ways to ease the burden and get access to the funding. reporter: is president biden going to actively urge congress to take up a vote and pass one? ms. psaki: he has conveyed that. it's important for us to go back to not miss the forest for the
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trees. we are trying to prevent people from being evicted from their homes. if there were enough votes to pass an eviction moratorium and congress, it would've happened. it hasn't happened. what we're looking at is how to achieve the objectives that we all share which is, not everyone but a lot of the people calling for an extension on this. it's to keep people in their homes. there is means to do that in the states. seven states of taken the steps, more states can take steps they have the funding they need. reporter: there is a report that afghans have been leading -- landing at dulles airport sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time with no or limited access to food. is this something the white house is aware of and is dhs taking the lead -- what does the white house think about the citizens right now? ms. psaki: we are always working to improve the conditions for people coming into the country. the important context here is why that is.
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it is because our security vetting process is so thorough that even as people are vetted before they come, they go through a background check before they come, we implement multiple layer's of checks including a confirmation in some cases on landing. that is to check the manifest and in a limited number of cases, we have a vetting process that may be unresolved. very limited, but that might lead to a delay in individuals being held on the plane. so we can have that process seen through. of course, ensuring that people are treated humanely as they are coming to the united states, they have access to food and water is something we are committed to and we will continue to improve any of these conditions. i think the reason why these planes are waiting is also an important part of a context. reporter: earlier you addressed the republican criticisms. what is your message to democrats who have expressed
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concerns about the withdrawal from afghanistan? ms. psaki: is there a specific piece? reporter: a congresswoman said that it is clear we cannot continue to put american service members in danger but the evacuation process appears to have been egregiously mishandled. what is your response? ms. psaki: i don't have any direct response to any member of congress. what i will say is that it is easy to throw stones or be a critic from the outside. it is harder to be in the arena and make difficult decisions. the decisions that a commander-in-chief has to make include difficult options. these were the options. you send tens of thousands more troops to afghanistan to potentially lose their lives. that's an option. some support that. that is their prerogative. you pull out and you don't put anyone at risk, you don't put troops at risk and don't evacuate more than 105,000 people, that is another option.
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the option that he has chosen incoordination and based on the recommendations with his military commanders and advisors on the ground is to implement an evacuation that is -- has saved the lives potentially of more than 105,000 people. certainly at risk of those men and women serving in the military as we saw yesterday. that is the choice he has made. reporter: you guys have said repeatedly that there were only two choices. what evidence do you have that there weren't other choices that could have been made? ms. psaki: what was the other choice anyone is offering? reporter: for example, the afghan government in may, we are going to start a mass evacuation of all of the u.s. personnel, we will put out an announcement that says we advise all of our afghan allies who work with us to start evacuating as well.
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it would have been a show of no-confidence in the afghan government. i'm not suggesting that is the right weight, but it is another option and i'm sure there are 10 others that i haven't thought of. why do you present it as these being the only two options? ms. psaki: there are of course other options but there are consequences to every option. let's take her example. if we had evacuated and moved in c-17's 6000 troops and implemented this evacuation in may, do you know what would have happened? the threat on u.s. forces would have increased at that point in time. reporter: you would have been operating in a capital that wasn't overrun by the taliban. ms. psaki: how do you know that? reporter: the taliban wasn't near kabul at that point. ms. psaki: it's easy to plate backseat let's look at what could have happened three or four months ago. i think we have been clear on a couple of things i will say. no one anticipated including on
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the outside that the afghan government would have fallen at the pace they felt. the president and members of our national security team has spoken to that. we didn't anticipate afghan national security forces -- in response to the question, there are consequences to any of these difficult choices and decisions. that is what faces you as commander-in-chief and that was the larger point i was trying to make. reporter:. we didn't anticipate afghan national security [indiscernibl] ms. psaki: i wouldn't be in opposition to shared details about individuals that would come from the department of defense and as i noted, the next
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of kin notifications are still happening. reporter: [indiscernible] ms. psaki: it was approved by the fda and recommended here in the united states and that is the gold standard. reporter: in the last 24 hours, we understand that 12,000 people have been evacuated out of afghanistan. for security reasons, we can't get specific on what security plans are in place, but generally speaking, can you say if any of the protocols or plans on the ground have changed to enable these evacuations -- ms. psaki: certainly they make
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adjustments on the ground. the commanders on the ground do in order to keep their troops safe, in order to successfully evacuate more people from the country. as you noted, we will not get into this details from here. you will see a reduction in numbers over the next couple of days. that is because they are beginning the retrograde process. they will also be mindful of true posturing and keeping the men and women of our military safe to the degree they can't. -- to the degree that they can. reporter: we have seen shuman chains a human barrier holding people back in kabul. images of them walking -- blocking troops from getting to a certain area. ms. psaki: i would point you to
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the department of defense for any operational changes they can speak to. i would predict it will not speak to many in detail. what i will note and refer to is something general mckenzie said yesterday that stuck with me in terms of illustrating what is happening. in order to do security screenings necessary, people have to get quite close. the members of the military have to get close to individuals they are screening. they have screened tens of thousands of people. some images may reflect that. think you are talking about something different from that, but i would point each any specifics they can provide. reporter: the fake vaccine cards circulating around, we were told earlier there are increasing reports of people using fake covid vaccine cards. how worried is the white house that this might threaten the nations progress in the vaccine process? ms. psaki: of course we are
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concerned, i don't have an assessment of how widespread it is. reporter: i have two questions about the president's commitment -- the democratic congressman told a journalist even if you completely agree with abide administrations decision to withdraw, the way this is happened has been a total [ bleep] disaster. you said just now i we could guarantee that. ms. psaki: i think the question was actually about individuals who are still there because they are not prepared to leave or other afghans or others who may want to depart just for clarity. i know you care about context. reporter: is there a commitment to evacuate all americans and is there a deal with the taliban? the question is that the airport
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evacuation was disorganized. is there actually a plan behind president biden's commitment to evacuate every remaining american? ms. psaki: i think the fact that we had evacuated more than 105,000 people and i can give you all the latest numbers which i know the state department is about to give. of those evacuated since august 14, we had evacuated at least 5100 u.s. citizens, likely more. we have received confirmation of more than 300 additional americans in the last day. there are approximately 500 american citizens we are working with who want to leave and we are communicating directly and in direct contact with them. that speaks to our commitment. reporter: my question is yesterday a group released secret service records involving the first dog. one said secret service agents
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were bitten. at a march night briefing, you only described one biting incident and described the dogs as being spirited. that is not the world's most important story, but it is significant because we expect this information for minor stories. it can you explain why there was a misleading account resented to us? if you can't give us information about minor stories, why should we believe in the account about larger stories? ms. psaki: major has had some challenges adjusting to life in the white house. he has been receiving additional training as well as spending some time in delaware or the environment is more familiar to him and he is more comfortable. i don't have any additional specifics but i think that speaks to where major is located. be fully transparent and your ongoing interest in the dog.
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reporter: these evacuations happening during the pandemic, can you tell us i believe there is a quarantine but are these people being vaccinated? ms. psaki: let me give you an update on this, because there was a story out earlier today and i can give you a bit more detail on it. i can tell you basically that individuals who come in to the united states are offered a vaccine. for those who are coming in on parole as parolees, it is required as a condition of their parole to the united states. we have made this available at dulles and we continued look for ways to expand access to the vaccine to other places where individuals are landing to provide it as quickly as possible on landing. in terms of what steps we are taking, everyone is tested upon arrival.
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steps are taken if individuals test positive to quarantine them. american citizens are asked to quarantine like any other american citizen, that would be something they would do on their own. reporter: the president pledged to hunt down people responsible for this attack. how do you prevent that from becoming an open ended mission much like the previous targeting of terrorist groups in afghanistan? ms. psaki: again, i think the military and the national security team that serves the president has enormous capabilities and capacities and is pursuing a range of missions at the same time. the one they are undertaking in afghanistan is one that is front and center in the news right now. i will tell you that we are consistently looking and tracking down and hunting terrorists around the world where they are. this is going to be part of that effort. that will be ongoing. and of the reasons i will remind you all that president made the decision to bring our men and women home is because the terrorist threat has metastasized.
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where we don't have a military presence on the ground, or a diplomatic presence on the ground, we are still tracking counterterrorism threats. that will continue. reporter: -- isis-k has the capability to or wants to attack americans domestically in the united states? ms. psaki: that is not an assessment we have made at this time. is today your last day? thank you for your service in the media. [applause] i will look into that. [laughter] reporter: to ensure iran never develops nuclear weapons, president biden told the israeli prime minister today we are putting diplomacy first but if diplomacy fails, we are ready to
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turn to other options. can you discuss what are those other options? ms. psaki: any president has a range of options at their disposal. i'm not going to outline those from here. our first presence -- our priority is on the diplomatic path and pursuing a diplomatic path forward. that is where our priorities lie at this time. reporter: -- to deal with eviction issue? ms. psaki: that would be up to the speaker and leaders in congress to decide. the president would love decide -- sign legislation into law. reporter: friday usually give us a week ahead. ms. psaki: maybe i skipped that. inc. you, karen. hold on. i didn't mean to do that. thank you for the prompt.
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every day, some of these details will be finalized over the coming days as you can expect. every date this weekend and next week, the president will continue to meet with his national security team to discuss intelligence, security, and diplomatic updates on afghanistan. he will also be receiving regular updates on the hurricane. we will provide those updates to you as they happen. next week, the president will also welcome president zelensky of ukraine to the white house. it will affirm the u.s. unwavering support for ukraine's sovereignty. our close cooperation on energy security, and our backing for president zelensky's efforts to tackle corruption and implement a reform agenda. on friday, he will deliver remarks on the july jobs report and the progress to build the economy back better. as we have details over the weekend, we will provide them to you.
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reporter: two quick follow-ups. i want to return to the binary of continuing -- republic and democrat administration supposed -- opposed. the withdrawal, no matter what it would be messy. given the events of the past few weeks, does the president feel that u.s. military personnel will be able to carry out their mission on the ground? ms. psaki: anything the u.s. military has asked for as they are working to implement this mission, they have been granted. think they would confirm that as well. the president asked them that at the end of every meeting. something that was said yesterday, the department of defense briefing, this is why the men and women of the
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military are so amazing and incredible. they know they are putting themselves in harm's way when they are working to implement missions like these. they worked to implement plans and put together plans that have forced posture protection front and center. acting with a real threat from isis-k, of course events like yesterday unfortunately happen. reporter: yesterday, the president said that he may be -- made the assessment after talking to military advisors that the air force base was not a value. general milley said if we were to keep bagram and the embassy going, that would be a significant amount of forces that exceeded what we had. was that decision because it wasn't a value added or because it would require sending more troops? ms. psaki: bagram was an
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enormous base that required an enormous presence. it has a significant distance from kabul. it is far away from kabul. it would have required quite a presence to protect and it wasn't located in a place that would have been as effective in evacuating people who are located in kabul. reporter: the president said yesterday we have greater threats coming out of other countries. closer to the united states. is there anything you can tell us, what countries he was referring to in particular? ms. psaki: i think he was intending to convey what he has conveyed many times about the metastasizing threat from a range of terrorist organizations that have greater capacities around the world and how we need to keep our eyes focused on those as being one of the reasons why he brought our men and women home.
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reporter: [indiscernible] ms. psaki: that is certainly our expectation. reporter: someone said to me that the taliban is preparing to take over the airport by is earliest saturday and there may already be some infiltrations by the military. has the president moved up the august 31 withdrawal even unofficially? ms. psaki: no, and the department of defense gave an operational update two hours ago on the retrograde process. i have not seen that reporting and i'm happy to talk to them about it after, but nothing has changed. reporter: some members of the marine corps have taken to
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social media and they are criticizing not the president but top generals for failing to be accountable to a strategy for instance we have been talking about bagram. that they no longer have the high trauma capabilities to deal with these horrific injuries and that the airport was ill-equipped. people have to be medevac to germany. with regard to the president, he said he is listening to the general. does he believe he was given bad advice and will he ask for any resignations of his generals given the high cost of american s? ms. psaki: no to both of those questions. the president looks at yesterday is a tragedy and one that was felt viscerally of the leaders of the military as well. losing members of your men and
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women working for you from the service branches is devastating. it is devastating for the president, the leaders of the military as many times as it has happened. it is a reflection on all of them and the people on the ground that they are continuing to implement this mission even under difficult and risky circumstances. reporter: republican lawmakers have targeted the secretary of state. does the president -- the secretary of state and what is the president's response to the articles of impeachment? ms. psaki: yes he does and i have no response as we are still morning the loss of men and women from yesterday. reporter: do you have any updates for those americans that you say we are still trying to contact and figure out where they are? has there been any progress? ms. psaki: i gave a little bit
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of an update earlier. over the last day, we have evacuated more than 300 additional americans. those were a number of people that we were working to engage with and be in contact with. there are approximately 500 american citizens we are working with who want to leave and we are communicating reckless to facilitate their evacuation. that is the update from the state department. they may have more details given they are overseen the constant contact which we did another round of contact via text, whatsapp, phone after yesterday. reporter: the president said that he was still focused with fema regarding the around nuclear deal. how long is he willing to fight over that diplomatic task? when will he feel like it's done and he is moving to other options? ms. psaki: i'm not going to given end date even that it is by far and away our preferable option. we are in the situation because
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the prior administration pulled out of the nuclear deal and prevented us from having the visibility we need into iran's capabilities. that is why we will continue to pursue it, but i don't have an end date or timeline. reporter: [indiscernible] i wonder if the white house has made any preparations for -- ms. psaki: again, it will be up to any sitting supreme court justice about their timeline and how long they will stay. reporter: -- governors about the lack of assistance gone out [indiscernible] ms. psaki: i would say that we have had a number of members of the cabinet into senior officials who have engaged directly with governors about how to get a doubt and steps taken to cut the red tape and make it easier.
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it has been result in part of these discussions on how to get the money out. reporter: the u.s. has some ongoing asks from the taliban. cooperation on getting these future people out. what is the taliban asking in return? ms. psaki: it should be clear. there is no rush to recognition of any sort by the united states or any international partners. i am not a spokesperson for the taliban. i would ask you to ask them that question as to what they want. reporter: you talked earlier about covid -- do you have any
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indication of the positivity rate and can you say how many times are the evacuees being tested? ms. psaki: they are tested when they arrive here. reporter: -- vaccines that have been donated -- ms. psaki: individuals who test positive are quarantined and separated. that is how that is handled. reporter: the u.s. has donated over 3 million vaccines to afghanistan. a report went out saying the vaccinations and afghanistan has dropped since the taliban took over. it does the white house or does the u.s. government have any indication of what happened to those vaccines? are they in the hands of the taliban and are they being distributed or is there a concern that the taliban might try to sell those doses? ms. psaki: we have not worked with the taliban as the government. a lot of this is often
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distribute it through humanitarian organizations or others. i would have to check and see what the mechanisms are, but we're quite careful and very focused on vaccines not getting into the right hands and for countries we work with, remember this was an issue with cuba. we need to have mechanisms to ensure that they are getting out of the populations who need to get access to the vaccines. reporter: i would like to ask you, a link between taliban and isis? because the taliban -- [indiscernible]
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do you think there's going to be another civil war in afghanistan? tell a man and isis are they friends or enemies? ms. psaki: there is clear historic evidence that they have been enemies in the past. i don't have any assessment beyond what we have said over the last few days about the fact that we have no information to suggest that the taliban had knowledge of or engagement in the isis-k attack. beyond that what we have available is historic precedent. hello. we haven't done this in a while. this is blake patterson. thank you for joining us. he is from the advocate in baton rouge, louisiana. >> thank you for having me. hurricane ida is on louisiana's doorstep but today marks the one year anniversary of hurricane laura the devastated lake charles, louisiana. president biden promised that help was on the way and the
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region still has not received a penny in federal disaster relief. what can you say to the people of louisiana for how much longer they need to wait for president biden and congress to act and with this latest storm coming, why should louisiana's trust the biden administration will be there to back them up if this is just as devastating? ms. psaki: i can tell you that the president is incredible he focused -- incredibly focused on hurricane ida and the fact that it is approaching your community and your state later this weekend. i think we will announce this shortly, but i will tell you we are sending a response team, 50 fema paramedics, 47 fema ambulances will be supporting patient movement statewide to assist the state in decompressing hospital load should that be needed. we have over 250 personnel across the state and va hospital beds.
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we have been working to provide direct assistance and even get ahead of the storm. we are pre-positioning resources including food, water, and generators to respond to what could be a dangerous hurricane hitting the region. i also noted that yesterday the fema administration was down in the region and the president will speak with the governor later this afternoon. in terms of the supplementary funding from the hurricane from last year, i will have to check on the status of that. thank you for joining us and for your patience. thank you, everyone. we will see you all on monday. [indiscernible] ms. psaki: you should have faith in the capabilities of our military. thank you, everyone. ♪
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