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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  August 19, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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good day. this is "andrea mitchell reports," and we are following breaking news in washington. an active bomb threat investigation after an alert from the capitol police of a suspicious vehicle at the library of congress. joining me now with the very latest nbc news justice correspondent pete williams and garrett haake, terrorism analyst and retired atf special agent jim cavanaugh and msnbc national security analyst clint watts, former fbi special agent. pete, bring us up-to-date with the latest you've learned from police. >> so this has been going on for about an hour and a half, andrea. it happened when the driver of a black pickup truck stopped the vehicle in front of the library of congress building, the main
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library of congress building known here as the jefferson build coming is about a block away from the u.s. capitol. he claims to have a propane tank inside the vehicle and claims to be holding a detonator in his hand. now the authorities have not actually seen any explosive material at all. they have looked in the bed of the truck, the back part of the pickup truck. they don't see anything, but they have not been able to look inside the four-door cab of the truck to see if there is actually a propane tank. that's the claim that the man is making. he is communicating with them by writing on a dry erase board. the plastic board that you write on and then you can wipe off the ink and start all over again which is one reason why discussions with him are going slowly. he is known to law enforcement and they've been able to identify him now. we're not giving his name, but
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he is from north carolina, and they say he is expressing anti-government views. they have -- my understanding is they look into his history and they do have criminal violations in his past and i don't know the nature of those and that's the status of it right now. to state the obvious, nobody knows whether he actually has a propane tank in his truck as he claims or any kind of explosive materials, but that's what he claims and that's why law enforcement is treating this as seriously as they are, evacuating the main library of congress building and also the cannon house office building, one of the three buildings closest to the library of congress. they've ordered the evacuation of those vehicles and they have barricades like you're seeing on the screen here closing off traffic to a large area around where this is going on. so it's a slow process of trying
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to get him to come out of the vehicle, and the fbi has both bomb technicians and negotiators on the scene and the bureau of fire, tobacco and firearms, as well. d.c. or u.s. capitol police are in charge because it's up there on capitol hill. so we have everyone taking this very seriously, and not knowing whether there is a device or not. just one more important and just to situate all of us geographically. if it's up there by the library of congress it is up there, clearly next to the supreme court which is right next to the main building of the library of congress. >> the vehicles in front of the library of congress. so on one side of the library of congress building is the supreme court. on the other is the cannon house office building. of course, this comes at a time when much of official washington is out of town. congress is not in session and the supreme court and the supreme court is not in session.
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many capitol hill staffers are on vacation. so the capitol, that area is not nearly as well occupied as it would be in other times. >> garrett haake, our congressional correspondent, garrett, there are a lot of staff working in congress working on backed-up legislation when they get back next week. >> yes and no, andrea. i'm, just for clarification, about two blocks away and that's as close as you can get on street level to that investigation and what's going on here. there's a confluence of factors here. congress is on recess right now and with the delta variant, we see more offices going back to more remote work. there is never a good time for a bomb threat on capitol hill, but during recess at a time when
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most staffers are about as good as you can get. for folks who don't know this area, it is in the middle of a neighborhood. there were police officers working their way through the neighborhoods urging people to stay back from what is a very large perimeter. if you're on the north or east side of the capitol. it's to my eye, a larger perimeter than what was set up here in the immediate aftermath of january 6th. so they're pushing folks back and they're pushing people off the streets and the sidewalks around the capitol office buildings which have not up to this point been evacuated and that's the state of play around here. it's a lot of waiting and it's worth noting this is the second security incident in recent months while congress has been on recess and there was the good friday incident in which a capitol police officer was killed and it's the new capitol police who took over this department a few weeks ago and he's been getting up and running
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and as pete laid out a multiagency response to a bomb threat here on a summer thursday. >> on a hot, steaming summer thursday, indeed. jim cavanaugh, we spoke out of the police chief and he'd been out of retirement and a very large suburb to the north of the city, and this is a new challenge for him just as he's taken over into january 6th. yes. i know him. i've met the chief before and he's a capable guy and does a good job for the capitol police. he can handle this. the capitol police have the bomb squad and negotiators and so have metro police and the fbi have bomb technicians and negotiators and the atf have bomb technicians and negotiators and they're all working to slow this guy down. i would say everybody is safe.
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the staff is safe and everybody is back, where garrett is, he's safe there. these huge buildings will not be demolished by the payload in this truck or even explosives and they have the perimeter. be prepared for an abrupt end. detonation or drive away, he's not going to be allowed to drive away. there are more binoculars on this guy than the rarest bird in the world, and everyone is watching him and communicating with him. >> jim cavanaugh we will go to the chief major of the capitol police. >> sorry to keep you so far away, but safety is our number one focus this -- during this incident. around 9:15 this morning a man in a black pickup truck drove on to the sidewalk in front of the library of congress near first and independence southeast. we responded to a disturbance call. the driver of the truck told the
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responding officer on the scene that he had a bomb and what appeared, the officer said appeared to be a detonator in the man's hand. so we immediately evacuated the nearby buildings. as you all know, the house and season the are on recess, and but there are still people working throughout the buildings throughout this location. i don't want to get into the negotiations that are ongoing. i know that some information has come out and been live streamed so i know you may have some information and my negotiators are hard at work and trying to have a peaceful resolution to this incident. not only do we have u.s. capitol police on the scene, but metropolitan police department of washington, d.c. is with us. the fbi, washington field office and atf and of course, d.c.,
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fire and ems. i'll take questions that you have. >> chief major, can you tell us why he's doing this? >> is the live streaming hurting your investigation or uponing had the investigation? >> we are trying to get as much information as we can to find a way to peacefully resolve this. so we are in communication with the suspect, but i don't want to talk about exactly what we're talking about because the negotiations are ongoing. >> chief major, can you tell us why he's doing this? >> we don't know what his motives are at this time. >> chief, what can you tell us about the suspect? do you know if he is a veteran of the afghan war or the war in iraq? >> we don't know a whole lot. we do have a possible name and identity of the suspect, but we don't have much information at all about him at this time. we will give periodic updates and i'm sorry we don't have more information because this really is an ongoing situation, but we'll give you another period
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update shortly. thanks. >> and clint watts, i know you're standing by. they know who he is and they know according to pete williams something of a criminal record in the past and we don't know details on that. they said according to pete that he was antigovernment in his affect and from north carolina. what are they trying to do now in terms of figuring out how best to negotiate with him? >> andrea, i think some of the good news is they do know a significant amount about this individual this gives ability to negotiate something else and it's very difficult if you don't know anything else about the person to try to engage them in a way to de-escalate. if you know that this person has government views you can start to address those and try to build some sort of a bridge to de-escalate the situation. separately, though, we need to be asking why did he pick today?
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is this just a random act or i'm sure the fbi is very focused right now on if it is an anti-government view, is this part of a larger collective group in north carolina or elsewhere that's watching what's going on here and why is this individual trying to drag it out? >> it could be that this individual is trying to drag out this negotiation just to draw attention to his cause. that is literally what international terrorism is 20 or 30 years ago and maybe he's trying to drag out that situation. >> separately, we have to be asking why did he pick this target? it is the location of an insurrection on january 6th. there was a significant number of anti-government individuals that show up at that location and so when you look more broadly, i would be very concerned that this could be an incident that's either connected to a larger plot which i'm sure the fbi is running on or it could start a chain reaction of
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other similar type of incidents. picking up on that, jim cavanaugh, you know so much about profiling and negotiations and it was his people who were doing the negotiations. would it be they, atf, fbi or a combination that's specialized? >> no. it's a team and the capitol police have ney gosch wrarts and so do other agency, atf, fbi, there is a team of negotiators in the shack and they're doing everything they can do to work with the guy and not get him riled up and they want to keep him in place and they are active listening. why are you here? can you tell us something? >> it is very hampered if the communication is only by white board. he may be doing that because like, clint said, he wants to delay things or he fears
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persuasion. someone reported an anti-government fanatic. churchill said it's a guy that won't stop talking and can't change the subject. they don't want to listen to you. they just want to keep talking, but our experience with them has been after an amount of time of listening you will get to talk with them and maybe build a rapport with them and try to move the negotiation forward and get to talk to them on the phone. that would be the best. >> that is the key factor is that it's a slow communication by white board. pete williams, and you were the first to report that. any further details that you're hearing from authorities? >> we haven't reported this, andrea and based on the police chief, he is actually, while this is going on, making statements live on facebook.
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so that adds an additional complication to this discussion with him. the police chief was just asked a moment ago. does that complicate your discussions with him and we want all of the information we can get, but according to the people here that have been listening to what he's saying, it's a sort of broad stream of consciousness, anti-government message, and so that is, i guess, another reason why it's a little more difficult to do these negotiations with him because he obviously has some sort of cell phone or some kind of device on which he's speaking on facebook at the same time communicating with law enforcement by writing on a dry erase board and that is making things a little more complicated. pete, do we know anything about his age? >> no, i don't know his age.
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>> thanks to pete, clint and jim cavanaugh and all of you, thanks so much. we'll be keeping on top of this minute by minute. we want to also turn to a lot of other news and first and foremost now, afghanistan. president biden huddling again with his national security team today on the latest intelligence. he is on defense after telling abc news' george stephanopoulos that the chaos he saw play out at the kabul airport was inevitable in contrast to what the president had been saying for months. >> you don't think this could have been handled better in any way? no mistakes? >> no. i -- i don't think it could have been handled better. we'll go back in hindsight and look and getting out without chaos ensuing, i don't know how that happened. >> so for you that was always priced into the decision? >> yes.
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>> president biden and his advisers many of whom were against the withdrawal are denying reports that intelligence analyst his warned this could happen. >> there was nothing they or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days joining me now nbc white house correspondent kelly o'donnell and nbc military reporter courtney kubi. the president is not engaging with the press corps with this issue at all and he did speak with george, of course, with george stephanopoulos about the august 31st deadline to move our troops out and let me play a part of that. >> the commitment hold is to get everyone out and that we can get out and everyone should come out and that's the objective, that's the path we're on. >> americans should understand the troops may have to be there beyond august 31st? >> no, americans ought to
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understand that we'll try to get it done before august 31st. >> if we don't -- >> if we don't, we'll determine at the time who is left. >> and? >> and if there are american citizens left we will stay until we get them all out. >> so to kelly first, this does seem inconsistent, the message is inconsistent with a lot of what he said before especially chaos because he never said it would be chaotic. in fact, he predicted the opposite. >> he did, in april when he announced the plans for the large, strategic point of view of exiting the longest war and working with our partner allies and having an organized and orderly drawdown. he never suggested publicly that chaos would ensue and his reaction did appear defensive on that issue. also, we did not hear repeated from the secretary of defense and the joint chiefs chairman a plan to go beyond august 31st
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and just prior to that interview becoming public. in fact, it was secretary austin who said he would keep evacuating americans until the clock runs out. a very different sort of message than what the president said, and as you saw in the back and forth with george stephanopoulos, the only question the president's taken on this subject since the fall of kabul that he had stressed his belief that the evacuations could be completed before august 31st and in the back and forth, ultimately said no americans would be left behind. that has struck a lot of concern among members of congress who were saying that americans must be evacuated and still pentagon officials are not saying they have any capability beyond the kabul airport. the burden on americans to get from wherever they are in afghanistan to the kabul airport which means safe passage as promised by the taliban. andrea? >> courtney, let's talk about
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the numbers and what you heard about today's briefing in terms of what they're trying to accomplish there and trying to get people out. as you know, they said yesterday they cannot get people to kabul nor from kabul into the airport, the side of the airport where they need to be. so this evacuation is fraught with challenges to the afghans. >> right. one thing that is very clear right now is that the air capacity to put them in the country is exceeding the number of people that they are able to get through the taliban checkpoint, into the airport and manifested on these flights. we know now the u.s. has this capacity of anywhere from 5,000 to 9,000 people to move them out every single day on military airlift, but as of the past 24 hours based on the 3:00 a.m. timestamp they got 2,000 people out so they're below where they could be. they still are ramping up and
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they still are trying to get more people out and getting them through the taliban checkpoints and through the gates and on to the airport and actually getting the correct names to the military to manifest these people on. there was another very important thing we learned in the briefing here today and that is that the u.s. military is flying armed f-18 fighter jets over kabul. they're flying off of an aircraft carrier in the region. they're there for overwatch and security, but it also shows that the u.s. military not only has the capability, but they have it very quickly if they need it to conduct air strikes in and around kabul if the security situation deteriorates even more. one other thing i'd like to touch on. the comments that general milley was taking about the intelligence. he kept saying there was an intelligence that this would happen in 11 days and we have to point out this didn't happen in 11 days. the taliban offensive began several months ago. when i was in kabul in july there were real concerns because
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the taliban as part of this offensive were already threatening kandahar, one of the largest cities in the country. yes, it's true that there was a short period of time in august where they were able to roll through a lot of territory very quickly, but the notion that the taliban would take this whole country in the matter of 11 days is just not true. what we are hearing is that there were intelligence assessments and general milley touched on this that there were intelligence assessments that once the u.s. left it could be a matter of weeks or months before the taliban would take over, andrea. >> all really important information from you, courtney and kelly, thanks so much. and mark gallagher serves. from what you heard today are you at all reassured that this process is going any better? we still can't get our afghan
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colleagues and those who worked with the military and the sivs who have special privileges to get those planes and they can't get from where they are in afghanistan through kabul from there to the taliban lines and the airport. >> i'm not reassured at all. i have friends that have served in afghanistan and private citizens who are spending their days sending geocoordinates for safe routes to american citizens who are trapped there because the state department and the defense department are doing nothing for them. we have american citizen, 15,000 by some estimates behind enemy lines that have been thrown into some bizarre hunger games running man situation where they are in a city filled with enemies and we can't take care of them. we have efforts under way right now where we have planes that are charted, trying to have afghan women, the best and the brightest of the country and they're waiting on the green
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light from the white house. i'm not reassured and the whole execution of the withdrawal has been a fiasco and as for general milley's statement about how they didn't have a precise number of days, i say this as a former intelligence officers. that's not how intelligence works. they present a range of scenarios. they were all very grim so they didn't have the exact number of days in part because that's not how war works either. the enemy exploits the opportunity you present and we presented a massive opportunity for the taliban to take over the country, so i hope the biden administration definitively and categorically abandoned the august 31st date and we need to get every american citizen out thereof and do whatever it takes and we need to rescue our afghan allies who risked their lives for us. >> i talked repeatedly to the state department officials late last night and we are continuously talking to our
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sources there saying we can't get them from the city to the airport. they have no facility and that's what the pentagon said yesterday that the numbers of troops that they have there, they have to focus on the airport and deal with the taliban in that perimeter and they can't go out into the country. so the withdrawal is complete to that point. it almost seems immaterial whether they can stay beyond august 31st as courtney's reporting, they have more air light of capacity than they have people who can get there to get on those planes. >> that completely contradicts and undermines the argument that president biden is making, that this was inevitable. it wasn't inevitable that we would be reduced it a single choke point at the hamid karzai international airport. we could have gotten bagram until we had our people. we were pushing a bipartisan group. i was working with jason crowe and are thes for the, iv, the
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special immigrant visa holders and for the president to suggest otherwise and for the president to blame our afghan allies in the process really is not acceptable. it's shameful. so it may be too late for us to save face, but we can still save lives and one thing congress can do is go back into session. we can't access classified information. i'm in my basement in green bay here. we need to be back in session and for no other reason we're in the line of fire before this evolves into a complete humanitarian tragedy more than it already is. all it takes is one rogue, taliban warlord doing something stupid for this to ignite in flames. >> we should point out that similar to the nato allied reaction after the withdrawal from syria by president trump and what happened to the soleimani killing on the ground there especially the brits and our european allies are not happy and it is undercutting
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that america is back and they don't see this as the case because they didn't have any warning either. thanks for being with us today. >> thank you. >> we'll keep all over this story. starting next month all adults will have access to a vaccine booster shot. how does that complicate the current rollout? should we be sending those shots abroad? questions for dr. anthony fauci right here on msnbc. uh, i-i'm actually just going to get an iced coffee. well, she may have a destination this one time, but usually -- no, i-i usually have a destination. yeah, but most of the time, her destination is freedom. nope, just the coffee shop. announcer: no matter why you ride, progressive has you covered with protection starting at $79 a year. voiceover: 'cause she's a biker... please don't follow me in. so...i know you and george were struggling
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the biden administration is moving aggressively to fight against the surging delta variant by recommending booster shots in the fall and confronting republican governors fighting masking in schools and requiring nursing home staff to be vaccinated. all of this as the washington post reports criticism of the cdc for being too slow to share data about how the vaccine strength was waning against the delta variant. all questions today for the president's top medical adviser dr. anthony fauci director of infectious diseases, dr. fauci, thank you very much for being with us. it is an important day. >> it is. >> first, what drove the administration to recommend these booster shots starting september 20th?
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>> well, it was very clear, andrea, that the protection that the vaccine was affording with regard to infection and mild to moderate disease was diminishing. it still had very high protection against severe disease leading to hospitalization and death, but the direction was going wrong. in other words, you were seeing an attenuation over a period of time, particularly in the context of the very troublesome and highly transmissible delta variant. that super imposed upon the experience that israel was seeing and they're usually about a month or more ahead of us in the vaccine as well as in the experience with the delta virus, and the delta variant, and then we're starting to see not only an attenuation and protection against mild to moderate disease and infect, but then we're starting to see an uptick in the
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hospitalizations particularly in vulnerable people and because of that we felt that it was much better to stay ahead of the curve since we did not want to be in a position where we were having such attenuation of effect that we wait until we start getting into trouble before we recommend boosters and it is very clear right now that when you give someone a booster and we've done studies, it increases the level of antibody level that's associated with protection to a very, very high level and what happened just today which in israel that they're already starting to see an effect from their boosters, their third shot that it is helping very much in blunting that diminution in protection. so it was the right call. i mean, it does not mean that the vaccines are not protected. they still are really quite protected. we want to stay ahead of the
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game to make sure that the durability of that protection continues. we still feel the most important thing, andrea is that we get unvaccinated people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can and for those that have been vaccinated, this recommendation for a booster is to stay ahead of the virus and to make sure that the protection is high and prolonged. >> to stay ahead of the virus, though. how concerned are you? this is the first time i've heard you say that there's data from israel that it no longer fully protects against serious disease and hospitalization in some cases. i understand that these are early data, but that has to be very concerning because up until now we've been told if you're vehiclesated if you have a breakthrough space there have been more and more of these breakthrough cases it won't be serious and infectious and
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transmissible. >> good question, and there is a clear answer to it, andrea. right now when you look at this country and the vaccinations that have been given, for the most part there is a high degree of protection of protection against hospitalization and death. what we are seeing with the delta variant are breakthrough infections which you'd expect to see in a situation in which you have a vaccine that's not 100% protected. if you're vaccinated in general, those breakthrough infections are mild to moderate. sometimes even asymptomatic, but what we are starting to see over time is these signals that over a period of time it's starting to attenuate and come down. so even though we're protected now, rather than saying let's wait until we start seeing significant disease and hospitalizations, let's get ahead of the curve.
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let's get a booster to those people generally around eight months after the original regimen to prevent the kind of thing that you're talking about. we're not seeing it now. we want to prevent it and i believe that's good public health policy to make sure that we prevent something from happening prior to having to react to something happening. >> now i know that we've been all saying that people should -- that this is good public health policy, when we saw the early data that these vaccines were not as effective as originally thought and they were part of a test group. there's criticism in "the washington post" today that the cdc held back on these data. >> well, what happened is that the cohort data that the cdc was
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following and that we really were able to examine literally recently, and i saw the data myself just a short time ago led to the decision to now is the time to get ahead of the game. the data, remember. we've only been fully dealing with delta relatively recently. we went from delta being a few percent of several months ago to 20%, 50%. now it's more than 95% of the variants now, and that's relatively recently and it isn't as if we knew about delta doing this for a long period of time and that's the reason why as soon as the signal occurred that we were starting to see this diminution that we wanted to act quickly rather than waiting until all of a sudden we had a lot more people in the hospital who were vaccinated. >> you are moving before the fda has given even emergency use
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authorization for this. usually you say i'm not going pre-judge what the fda will do, but the administration just jumped right in this week. >> obviously, when you're dealing with regulatory issues particularly in the arena of safety, we always yield to the fda and that will be clearly a very important part of the rollout of this process and in addition, the cdc has been working with the sect with the acip and we don't expect anything different than what we are saying and we felt we needed to plan now rather than waiting because we wanted to make sure again, andrea that we stayed ahead of things and not in reaction to things. >> we are hearing, of course, that some people are getting a booster before the recommended eight-month period and i want to put aside moral questions about jumping in line and ethical problems with the rest of the world still unvaccinated, but is there any medical reason why
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this would be dangerous? should they wait the eight months? >> i wouldn't say dangerous, but one of the things that we've learned from an immune logical standpoint that if you get a prime and a boost three to four weeks later, you get the maximum effect of a late boost if you give the chance over a several month period and people will decide to go out and get their second dose a few weeks ago and now say i want to get my third dose now. i think that might defeat the purpose, and that's the reason why we landed at eight months when you look at the first people who got their vaccine. it was in january and interestingly, this works in doing it correctly and properly is those were the people who needed it the most, the most vulnerable. the elderly, health care workers
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who were at risk, people in nursing homes and if you look at the eight-month timeframe, picking the second, third and the third week in september, september 20th you have about eight months from that original group and to do it in an orderly fashion and you can do the cadence depending upon when you got that vaccine regimen. was it february, march, april and then you push back then and you obviously, what's going to happen given human nature, andrea. i don't want to wait for them and i'm not going to do it and there's not much you can do about that and recommend when it should be done. >> let me ask you something and i than can be expensive and not practical, but in a perfect world would you be giving people antibody tests, blood tests, a simple test to know how much their vaccine doses have lost efficacy? for the booster. >> the answer is no, andrea, to
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do that because the strict correlation, the accuracy of many of these tests, whether or not they actually reflect the complete complexity of an immune response and the protective immune response, we do know from some studies that we did that as the antibody level went up there was a higher degree of protection, but i think if you rely on an antibody test to make a decision it's going to be very complicated and there may be some missteps and that's the reason why the best way to do it is to do it on the basis of a time element and not on an antibody test. now i want people to understand, andrea, it's important. this is entirely different from the recommendations regarding people who are immune compromised. >> right. >> those people, you're not concerned about the durablity and those people as a group had a very good response to begin with and that's the reason why for them it was almost an
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emergent situation to make sure they get a boost because they never got to the level we wanted them at. it wasn't as if the level of attenuating. we needed to get them up right away. make sure we don't confuse the immune compromise that we were talking about a week or two ago with what we were talking about now which was the durability of the protection over time. >> how concerned are you that this messaging of boosters, a third shot is going to undermine efforts to get the unvaccinated onboard and please quickly tell us about the j&j, res inwrents and what's in store for them. >> what has to be allowed in clear message and let me say very clear, the most important thing we do need to do is to get those 90+ million people in this country who are eligible for vaccination to get them
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vaccinated because even though it's important for the vaccinated people to continue the level of protection that they have, it is as or more important for the unvaccinated people to get vaccinated in the first place. so let's not confuse those messages. it's absolutely critical. people should not look at this and say well, does that mean the vaccine doesn't work? no. the vaccines work. the booster that we're talking about is making sure that that protection, which is very high, lasts for a long period of time at a high level. the vaccines do work and because of that we've got to get the unvaccinated people vaccinated. that's a very important goal and a very important issue we need to address. your question about j&j. the j&j, rollout was a few months later than the original
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mrna. so right now when you're talking about the cadence of their response, they're going to be ready to get a booster at a later period of time and in addition, there's a regulatory issue with the j&j. they're getting data very soon now about the result of the boost to their original prime, namely the second dose. so we need to know about that, and we need to make sure that when you roll out a boost for the people who received j&j, that we do it in a way that's in association with the right regulatory mechanism. so the people who have gotten j&j, should not feel like they're getting left out of this and pay attention to the relatively smaller number of people who have gotten j&j. >> dr. fauci, thank you so much. a lot of questions. a lot of good answers. we appreciate it. thank you for being with us today. >> my pleasure, andrea.
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good to be with you. helping our allies. it's important to get americans and afghans out of kabul. we'll talk to an interpreter who worked with u.s. troops for more than a decade and is worried that the taliban will target his family. this is "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. wright brothers? more like, yeah right, brothers! reports" on msnbc. get outta here! it's not crazy. it's a scramble. just crack an egg. is your family ready for an emergency? you can prepare by mapping out two ways to escape your home, creating a supply kit, and including your whole family in practice drills. for help creating an emergency plan, visit
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a little preparation will make you and your family safer in an emergency. a week's worth of food and water, radio, flashlight, batteries and first aid kit are a good start to learn more, visit
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>> in afghanistan the taliban have set up check points to make it difficult to even get to the kabul airport. at the pentagon wednesday the secretary of defense admitted u.s. military simply doesn't have the capacity, they don't have the troops to provide a safe escort to those desperately trying to leave the country. >> we will do everything we can to try to deconflict and create passageways for them to get to the airfield. i don't have the capability to go out and extend operations currently and to -- into kabul,
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and where do you take that? i mean, how far can you extend into kabul and how long does it take to fly those forces in to be able to do that? >> joining me now is mohammed sahil who worked for 11 years as an interpreter in afghanistan and still has family in the country. hamid, thank you for being with us. i know you're in nebraska, i think, living here in the u.s. your family is back in afghanistan. what are you hearing from them? have they tried to get to kabul? >> thank you so much for having me, andrea, on your show. so, yeah, it is a very dire situation over there. it is very difficult right now for the people. i've been talking to my family. i talked to them this morning, as well, and i actually have been watching stuff on social media and also in the media, and actually, it's a very tough situation over there. it is very hard for everybody to deal with these situations.
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>> what are they being told about how safe it is? have they had to go through taliban checkpoints? have they tried to do this and been turned back? what have you learned? >> i talked to my brothers is there any way that you can get to the airport to see if you can look for a possible evacuation? they are saying they cannot get out from their home, but if they get out and if they go to the airport, if they are not allowed in the airport and they'll have to go home it will be a difficult situation because the situation going from your home to the kabul airport is really danger, and also there is a lot of people over there. so it's hard to even get to the door to talk to someone at the door to tell them what's been happening. so it's kind of hard. people are there for eight hours, ten hours and then they go back home for no reason and nobody is actually talking to
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them. you can see in the pictures and stuff that the people are there waiting in lines. so it's kind of difficult right now to just even talk to somebody at the gate. >> difficult and dangerous, to boot. do they feel betrayed by the americans? >> this is something that -- the siv, the special immigration visa program, we, the interpreters, woed with u.s. troops for 11 years, ten years. we are wearing the same thing like the soldiers are. a lot of the soldiers and veterans right now are going through the same mental health issues that we are going through because we are under pressure and they are under pressure. we do feel betrayed because right now, you know, first of all, we are surprised and shocked by what's happening in afghanistan and secondly, we feel betrayed because nobody is actually doing anything about them. so it's actually really
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disappointing and i feel really disappointed because i cannot do anything about my family, but to just help them to go to a safe place. >> and at the same time, how do you feel about the president and others blaming the afghan troops and the afghan government for what happened? >> this is actually, you know, what happened -- whatever was decided in doha or whatever like they were doing and stuff, we feel like there was something happening, political stuff happening behind the scenes and telling other people. we're really feeling shocked. i was not expecting this terrorist group would come and take the whole country or, you know, we had a military. i was not expecting this. what's happening is it is not a time for blaming and it is time that we act and save those lives
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before it gets too late. >> mohammed sahil, we hope and pray the very best for your family. we can't imagine how difficult this must and be how challenging. thank you very much. >> thank you much. joining me, democratic congresswoman barbara lee, the only one to vote against sending troops to afghanistan in 2001. congressman, what's your reaction to that and to the president saying that chaos inevitable. >> well, thank you very much, andrea, for that question, and let me just say i believe that, first of all, the president made the correct decision. secondly, i think there were gaffes in the way it was executed and we're seeing that now. thirdly, i am hoping and believe our intelligence committees of jurisdiction are going to do a deep dive so we can provide oversight and understanding and
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let the public understand what actually took place. so now it appears it may be becoming a bit more orderly, but as the prior guest indicated, we have to have safe passage for all those who helped the united states and this is all hands on deck whole of government response. we need to unpack what took place or what the intelligence was or was not. right now, we have to make sure that everyone gets safe passage to another country. >> right now what the president said is they will stay beyond august 31st if necessary to make sure all americans get out and that's understandable, that's the priority of the americans, but what about the afghans who fought alongside, our troops say they couldn't have done it without them. >> well, there are many of
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congress saying we must protect those that helped the united states. it is a matter of life and death for these individuals. so i chair a subcommittee that funds part of what is taking place in afghanistan. we're going to look at how we can help make sure that our allies, those that supported us, have safe passage. this has got to happen. we can't abandon people regardless of what we believed about going into afghanistan or not, it is our duty and responsibility to help our afghan allies, help women, help children, help everyone that needs to evacuate to be able to evacuate. >> congress passed legislation, parking lot of the supplemental, to cut some red tape on this so-called sib program, special visas for translators and others that worked with the military. when you talk to the state department, they say we're doing a great job, give you the numbers that they have brought people outgoing back from the beginning of the sib program,
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they'll tell you they brought out 76,000 people. that was starting i don't know how many years ago. is there any way they can speed this up? >> yes. we appropriated funds to do this and again, if we need to appropriate more, we're looking at that right now. but i believe these bottlenecks, they've had time to clear up the bottlenecks. the bureaucracy was pretty heavy, pretty deep. so they need to figure out methods and ways, understanding this is an emergency, and they do. i know they're working hard to do that, but we can't just wait, we have to insist, congress has oversight responsibility, and there are many of us insisting they find ways to expedite the process to make sure that people have proper documentation, to make sure everything is in place so they can expedite these visas, and also, andrea, work with our international allies to
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make sure refugee resettlement is in place and that we have to in our own country raise the cap for our refugees, we have a duty and obligation to not only expedite the process but make sure that refugees are placed in safe countries. >> congresswoman barbara lee, thank you very much. we're looking forward to the new documentary, barbara lee speaking truth to power. speaking to you about that soon. thanks for coming on today. president biden is facing growing challenges even from his own party for the chaotic aftermath of the troop withdrawal from afghanistan. the president having a hard time explaining how did it go so wrong as the taliban are now gate keepers of who gets into the airport, the country's only escape route. joining me, philip rucker and amy stoddard, columnist from real clear politics. the president in an interview
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with abc put some of the blame on former president trump but admitted this. let's listen. >> i was sworn in, all of a sudden i have a may 1 deadline. i have a may 1 deadline. i have one of two choices, do i say we are staying and do you think we would not have to put a hell of a lot more troops? >> would you have have withdrawn troops even if president trump hadn't made that deal with the taliban? >> i would have tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops, yes. >> amy, phil, let's talk about this. phil, first to you. he is all over the place in terms of messaging here. he said it wouldn't be chaotic and it was. he said it was five days ago it wasn't, it was only two days earlier. and the withdrawal is supposed to be over by the 31st now, that's an artificial deadline, but he said they will stay to take americans out but clearly not the afghan translaters and
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others. >> that's right. it continues to raise questions about planning and foresight by not only president biden but his national security and defense team. clearly they were not anticipating the strength from the taliban to seize control of the country as quickly as they did, but biden made clear in that interview with abc that his policy would have been no different than the one set in place by trump, even if he hadn't agreed to the peace deal, he very much wanted to withdraw troops from afghanistan and he knew it would be messy and chaotic and difficult, not perhaps as chaotic and messy and difficult as it has proven to be, but you're right to say the messaging is a little all over the place. we are hearing different deadlines, different explanations, and frankly a fair amount of blame, pointing the finger in other directions from the president and from his team as they have been under siege the last few days. >> correctly he is saying former
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president trump put a may 1st deadline on it, but he is the commander in chief, he can change that. he changed other things president trump had done, especially on foreign policy. amy, let's remind viewers what the president said about afghanistan and the taliban last month. >> there's going to be no circumstance you see people lifted off the roof of an embassy of the united states from afghanistan. the likelihood there's going to be the taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely. >> amy, do you have comments on that? >> right. well, andrea, we know expectations are huge part of politics and the idea that the administration didn't, if they believed it was going to be so chaotic, say so, and prepare the american public for this, that's part of the problem they face now. polling shows support among the american public for withdrawing from afghanistan has now gone
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down with the taliban in control, and why is that? because what they see unfolding, total chaos and a humanity crisis is really upsetting to them. president biden won and came into office with a reputation for vast experience, professional seasoned team that knows the issue inside and out and a measured, calm approach. he was the anti-trump. now that we've seen this unfold, he is not sorry, he is placing intense blame on the afghans and is very defensive and defiant. he's not explaining why he's trying to make this better and he's so sorry to see these scenes unfolding, so the empathy that is his trademark seems to be absent. that's why this is going to take a huge political toll on him. >> phil, we're seeing a new ap poll showing 62% of americans do
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not think the war was worth it in afghanistan. the president is banking on americans to pay them back for getting them out. is this still a smart bet though, people are watching the chaos and you're going to be hearing the horror stories of people that can't get to the airport. >> it's really unclear, andrea. for the past several years, polling shows the majority of americans want to get out of the wars, especially the war in afghanistan, think the time has long passed for u.s. troops to lift up and go home. the question becomes do people watch what unfolded over the past week and visit a sign of competence and lack thereof in the biden administration. this is a president who ran saying he would competently govern and run the country. we're seeing chaos on television. will that pay a price? we'll have to see. >> phil rucker and author of i
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can fix it. and thanks to you, amy stoddard. been quite a day. the standoff continues on capitol hill. capitol police, fbi, atf, d.c. police are trying to negotiate with one individual, a man from north carolina in a pickup truck. they haven't seen evidence of propane explosives he claims he has but can't see inside the cab of the truck, and he is communicating slowly with them on a white board live on facebook. that's a tense situation on capitol hill. more coming up with chuck todd up next with "mtp daily" now. thank you, andrea, if it is thursday, just what andrea was summing up there, an active bomb threat, just outside the u.s. capitol. nearby buildings have been evacuated. metro police stopped a suspicious vehicle. e