tv MTP Daily MSNBC January 26, 2022 10:00am-11:00am PST
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supreme court. for 27 years, justice stephen breyer, is retiring, paving way for president biden's first supreme court appointment. and it couldn't have come at a better moment. liberals have been pushing hard for breyer to retire before the mid terms, to ensure biden would have the democratic votes in the senate to get a more liberal nominee through the process. breyer said in an bur view, it was on his mind. it was clear he wanted a successor to continue his legacy on the court. the white house said it had nor mo details to share, but during the campaign, one of the biggest promises biden made on the trail was on this very topic. >> we talked about the supreme court. i'm looking forward to making
sure there's a black woman on the supreme court to make sure we, in fact get equal representation. it's not a joke. it's not a joke. i would push very hard for that. >> politically supreme court nomination fights can come with huge risks, but they also present big opportunities to unite a political party. just look what it did for trump and the republicans in 2016. it even worked to a degree in '18 with the senate races. but the debate over breyer's successor is a point to rally around. if it is an african-american jurist, it may go a long way to improving his standing among african-american voters.
joining me are pete williams, kelly o'donnell, and garrett haake, and ken dylanian is outthe supreme court. and i have jon meacham. pete, let me start with you. why today? i say that, is there something about consequentially today about justice breyer? other planned retirements? it's usually another month or two later in the spring, if you will. so why now? >> well, why now is because we reported it today. i don't think it was anyone's intention to announce it today. my understanding is that the plan was for justice breyer to sent a letter to the white house tomorrow or friday, and then the
white house would have a ceremony to announce it. the political question is, apparently the thinking was, according to the people we spoke to, was there was a desire to get it all out there, have everybody chew on it well in advance of the state of the union message so the two weren't competing. so get this and get this done. apparently justice breyer made this decision within the last couple weeks. you may recall, and you said earlier, there was a lot of speculation whether he would step down last term. it seemed like the all the pushes, the truck that said "breyer retire" seemed to stiffen his resolve. he worked in the senate, he was a staffer to ted kennedy on the jewel dish yes committee. he knows what the political environment is like. in the past they have tended not to time their retirements based
on the political calendar, but those days of comity and silver reflection on a nominee's qualifications are long gone. he knows that as well as anyone. it doesn't allow him to step down while the democrats still control both of white house and the senate. my expectations is even though the white house is sort of saying something that confirms this, there will be more to say when he formal letter goes up there, if they stay according to plan. maybe they'll send it early and get it over with, but my understanding is it would go up later this week. >> what will wannabe lawyers by studying breyer's rulings on. obviously on the liberal side of things, but paint his legacy. >> on two levels, the kind that
interests law professors and legal scholars, justice breyer was somebody who believes the court has to be practical. you have to look at the effects of the decision, that you look at sort of -- not that the constitution evolves, but time changes. you have to look at things through a contemporary lens. that's very different from the conservatives on the court who say, no, you interpret the constitution based on the words and what the found ersfounders' was. he spent his early career with scalia with a doing-and-pony show, and debate this. he's an expert on administrative law. he didn't always vote with the conservatives. he was somewhat of a technician in interpreting the administrative state, but he was a dependable liberal vote, twice or three times bailing out the
56rdable care act. and recently he took the position that the death penalty if not flatly unconstitutional, certainly has outlived its usefulness, and has many more problems than it's worth. and he's quite outspoken about the need, in his view, to get rid of the death penalty. >> ruth baders ginsburg had almost received icon status, but to me stephen breyer was the most talk atiff. he would show up at a new yorker festival and do a q&a. he would occasionally do interviews. he didn't mind talking about life at the supreme court, and it was so unusual. usually his eight other colleagues didn't. who becomes the most loquacious and you have he leaves. >> ruth bader ginsburg did a lot of interviews, but you're right, he loved to talk about the law,
the job of the supreme court justice. there's a famous pictures of him wearing a cat in the hat hat reading to kids. i'm not sure there's anybody, really that will step into those shoes. sonia sotomayor gets out there, but she tends to talk about her books. there was a lot of law professor in justice breyer, and you sometimes heard it on the bench, when he would ask long-winding hypothetical questions that were, you know, entertaining and sometimes illuminating, but, yeah, he had a great intellect -- has a great intellect. i remember talking to him once about when he learned french, because he loves france. he's gone over to give speeches in french.
he said, i taught it to myself. it's easy, he said. [ laughter ] >> i'm going to miss professor breyer. he was constantly trying to explain what he was doing. that place is so opaque, he at least tried to make it a bit more transparent. anyway, pete, as always, sir, you're on top of this great scoop. let's now sort of break this down of a bit of what's next. kelly o'donnell, as pete pointed out, it sounds like we got ahead of the white house a bait, but as i said at the top, i don't think this could have come at a before time politically. >> reporter: i love covers the white house this a single event can change the course of events. that's what this is today for the biden white house. after a successive series of
headlines that have not been favorable, whole numbers, high inflation, obviously we're carefully watching the situation with russia and ukraine which is still volatile and evolving. this is a moment where the president can be inserted into events and have a historic legacy opportunity that we didn't see coming, but is always within the pursue of the presidency, one where he has a chance to reconnect with his political base, and to have a chance to shape some of the national conversation in a way he's not been able to do because of the circumstances. so that's a real opportunity for the white house. to the extent that they have been prepared, i think it is fair to say they were not prepared for the public face of this today. so they're holding back, and dealing with other events, will choose timing of their own making. i think it would be fair to expect they will want to celebrate justice breyer in an
appropriate setting. it sort of changes some of the gravitational pull in the white house. so much has been going on in situation room, and now the legislative counsel office is the center of the universe. those are the people who will be instrumental in helping the president decide a list of nominees. certainly the president has been aggressive in making judicial picks in his year and a few days in office. he's got a list of those already. they'll be looking at those potential candidates and the president has publicly indicated he would like to see an african-american woman jurist be on the supreme court. so we can look at that, and that may refine our list. if i go a little further down the road, we will be spending some of our time in the offhours, chuck, looking for clues. are there interviews? are there people coming to town? all of that still to come. it's some some ways an exciting period and also one where people dig in and take their sides. >> well, when you look at the
nbc news poll, if he fulfills a promise from the campaign, it could go a long way. >> in one decision, right? >> yeah. i want to turn to garrett hill -- garrett haake, who is on capitol hill. it turns to senators manchin and sinema. >> reporter: so far they have hung with the party on questions about judges and appointments for the most part. if you're a kyrsten sinema or joe manchin and you're kind of on the outs with the party, there's no better way to get back on the inside than being a steadfast supporter of your party's nominee for the bench. chuck, i think there's a narrow opportunity here for the
president to make a pick that could get 52, 53 maybe votes here in a 50/50 senate? it's a small possibility, but i think it's possible. >> judge brown in the d.c. circuit, she got 53 votes. >> yes, she did. >> collins, murkowski and lindsey graham, who voted for both sotomayor and kagan, something he brags about all the time. i think that tells us a lot, does it not? >> reporter: it does. graham just put out a tweet threat that elections have consequences. if democrats hang together, they'll have the votes to confirm president biden's pick. he presided over the amy coney barrett hearings which some democrats thought was a much cleaner process than what we saw with kavanaugh, and just got
reelected. collins just got reelected, murkowski is in a tough fight. i think all three of them are potential in play. let's dip in quickly to the president. >> -- growth in a long time. the strongest economic growth in 40 years. but we face some real challenges. we've got to get prices in check and for working people out there. that's why the last component of my plan is so important and why the support of these incredible business leaders means so much. let me start by saying -- let's take child care. families across america, particularly big cities, pay as much as $14,000 per child for child care. we're keeping an eye on this event, covering it as it is, of
course, and if he says something about justice breyer, we will bring you those remarks. ken dilanie, you're outside the supreme court. if you had been out there most days, you would have been out there with a truck that said "retire breyer." >> reporter: i found it. most recently on the case involving president biden's vaccine mandate, the conservatives essentially blocked, breyer seemed aghast at the idea that the court was going to take away president biden's right essentially to
impose a vaccine mandate in the middle of a public health crisis. going to what pete williams was saying before s. that was more of a statutory interpretation, and also the abortion cases. when conservative justice are making it clear, they're poised to overhurricane roe v. wade, breyer fighting against that, but you have to wonder -- obviously his replacement isn't going to change the ideological balance on the court, but it prevents the court from becoming even more conservative. this decision ensures a liberal replacing justice breyer that could serve for many years to
come. >> let's change in a different angle with jon and mussina. jon, you've been an on again/off again sort of whisperer to the president. he made this pronouncement during a debate in 2020. it was an important moment, he thought it was an important promise to make. why? >> i've never talked to the president about this particular issue. i can speculate, the cultural significance, the genuine political significance of diversity. it makes sense. if you're looking at the panoply of the country, looking at america in 2021, what have we got here? a rapidly changing country. we've got a democracy in crisis. we've got a constitution that
has served us very well but is a precious and fragile and precarious thing. it may be that the supreme court itself stands in the breach. our finest hours as a country, in many ways have come because of the supreme court -- brown versus board of education. it wasn't a congressional bill, it wasn't a presidential decision. it was earl warren, a republican appointee. and some of the our worst moments. dred scott, plesy v. ferguson. there was a history here, but these decision affect the moment and the ages. i think that the president who spent decades -- remember, joe biden came to washington 50 years ago.
then you get a mix there. so the supreme court -- supreme court appointments are not a foreign country to joe biden. >> no, but it's interesting, joe biden came in with a supreme court that had eight white men and one black man. it's possible we'll have four women, five men, african american, latina, catholic, jewish. it would be the most diverse court we've ever had. >> absolutely. one of the things that i think is really important, as we all think about this moment, i would submit that, for all of our debates about 1865, 1965 is
vital to understanding where we are now. we have only been a multiracial, truly integrated democracy, for all of its imperfects since 1965. so the first truly integrated presidential election in american history was in 1968, which used to seem like a long time ago. as i get older, it's not. what happened in that race? nixon wins barely. humphrey comes in very close, and george wallace wins 13.5% of the popular vote and carries five states. so we're a very young democracy in terms of our questionity. we're a multiracial democracy, if we can keep it. jim mussina, you had been my guest on my podcast, we were
taping. the whole subject was about, how do you reset your white house, and what do you do? literally this happens, and my question was, well, there's your reset. i mean, the timing, if you're ron klain and president biden, and you're like, what do we do with build back better? voting rights is stalled, russia/ukraine, this has to be appear like a political elixir. >> both for the white house, and joe manchin and kyrsten sinema. there's no better issue that unites a party, but a supreme court pick. in the next month you'll be asking the white house about who they're thinking about supreme court. you won't be talking about build back better timing, or poll ratings. we'll be in this tolar about who will be the next justice? on the other hand, you know, this pick will be intensely political, in part because of
abortion. you talked about earlier, the supreme court will likely rule on some versions of rolling back roe v. wade in june. we're going to go straight to the politics of the supreme court, in a way that fundamentally has the potentially to change the elections. we were talking about the economy. we were talking about inflation, and now we'll be talking about the politics of the united states supreme court. >> as far as rowling out an announcement, jim, and a bit of the choreography, do you expect them to not put up a candidate where manchin and sinema are not on board? >> hell no. as you said, i was in the white house for two of these pickses. this is something the president cares deeply about. ron klain thought about the
process for obama's picks. they will will be focused, and will walk down to the hall to the legislative counsel, let's have no surprises, have conversations with the swing votes to make sure we have 50 votes. do no harm is the most important rule here about, can they get this person through the united states senate? >> i'm guessing you've been hearing the name i've been hearing the most with a certain sitting vice president. how do you mitigate the silly season stuff without it taking on a life of its own? >> i think you have those people knock it down. there's no way they're going to nominate the vice president. she's going to want to knock that down immediately because, of course, she would like to be the next president, so her team will be making sure that rumor gets knocked down. the amount of texts about michelle obama is amazing and
ridiculous. that's not going to happen either. >> right. >> they are going to look and say, who have we already got through? and who could get all 50 votes and maybe a couple republicans? they're going to look at people who hopefully have been through the senate process and been confirmed. >> jon, i want to end with you. what i loved about briar is he told me what he thought. i wish more justices would do this. i think it only helps our understanding. >> it's a tricky balancing act. >> i know it is. you know this. you want the court to be somehow pulled back from the arena, but you know intuitively it's a human institutions. so it's the reason that understanding these are
personalities. i'm always fascinated when someone dies or something like this, they unlikely alliances get talked about. but, you know it's one of the reasons we all do what we do. we want to figure out to what extent does the character, the lay person intersect with these broad realities to shape a moment in the line of the country? and breyer has been really good. i suspect will continue to be. breyer unleashed will be going to be fun. >> there's going to be a jung jon meacham who gets the opportunity to help steven breyer with his payment, and i promise it would be a good career. thank you both, and before that, my incredible team. thank you all. i want to transition to a member
of the united states senate. he sets ben cardin, democrat from maryland. before i get to russia/ukraine, you have been in this town a long time. you obviously have some friendship with justice breyer, so, first, tell me your reaction to justice breyer and his legacy? >> well, todd, first, it's going to be with you. what a giant of a jurist on the court. as has already been pointed out, he's very talkative, in that he can have a great conversation on just about any subject. i will always cherish the time with him, where we had a chance to talk about everything -- except pending supreme court cases, just about everything else. he's a great legacy on the court. he'll be there until his
successor is confirmed. we will miss his presence and his style. not only his substance, but the way he was able to operate on the supreme court. >> walk us through a bit of the expected timing here. i know they see are not all your decisions, but is this something -- let me ask you this -- should we expect confirmation hearings after the state of the union at this point? would it surprise you if they were before the state of the union which is on march 1st? >> until president trump, the normal process was abandoned altogether. normally there would be a period of conversations between the white house and the senate before a nominee is selected, in order to have input and smooth of process moving forward. that was not done with president trump. then there would be a time in which the nominee is nominated and visits to senate offices,
including democrats and republicans, before the hearings start before the judiciary committee. traditionally it's a time for the committee to do its vetting before the public hearings take place. normally it's a process that takes several months. as we saw under president trump, that can be very much shortened. >> but you expect senator schumer not to do that, correct? >> i expect senator schumer to move this nomination in a very efficient way, but i don't think he'll deny the members of the senate their normal opportunities to be able to meet with the nominee, and of course, the committee conduct its necessary hearing. so i think it will be a professional process, but it will be one that's efficient in order to get to the finish line during this years. let's talk about the topic
that we originally booked you on, member of the foreign relations committee, one-time chair as well. that is, obviously, what's going on with ukraine and russia. there seems to be a mini debate. there's a bit of a disagreement on whether some sanctions should be leveled right near versus the mother of all sanction bills. if you're waiting for action, why? >> i think there's a growing consensus among democrats and republicans. we've had conversations about this, that we're prepared to institute some sanctions today, if they give the president -- president biden a stronger hand in dealing with mr. putin. we think what mr. putin has done warrants additional sanctions, but we only want to put them in
place if it strengthens president biden's hands in strengthening unity with our allies. and also give him the authority to take the sanctions off if there's certainly conduct by president putin that avoid this current confrontation. so we want to give the president a stronger hand, but we want to make it clear, if mr. putin does do this invasion, that there's going to be extreme consequences, including, as senator menendez said, the mother of all sanctions. >> it sounds like you would like to see sanctions now. >> i do. i think what mr. putin has done has really elevated the stakes dramatically. he has very much compromised. sovereignty of ukraine. yes, i think we should impose additional sanctioning, but i think we should do it carefully, ones aimed at giving the biden
administration a stronger position in negotiating with europe and with mr. biden. >> it if you were to pick ones, would you pick what targeted putin as an individual? or something that hit the country wider? >> i think individual sanctions are always more effective in getting someone's attention, because it's very personal. individual sanctions have worked very well. expanding the group that are considered -- i think that would always be an effective message about how serious we treat what russia is doing today. >> you have sponsored a bill essential a ukraine lend/lease, to borrow a phrase from history. obviously you think they need more equipment. how much more do they need? and how much more should we be
providing? >> chuck, we recognize that ukraine is in a difficult position, as far as balance of military strength with russia. if russia invades, they'll be able to do things that will be difficult for ukraine to defend itself. we want to give them the strongest possible position, and also let mr. putin know that ukraine will have the resources it needs in order to organize their defense. so, with senator cornyn and others, we've said let's take a page out history, from world war ii, and allow or armments to be available for ukraine on a lend/lease basis, where they can get the latest. it's part of our overall
strategy, including support. we want to make it clear we're on ukraine's side. we won't be sending our soldiers, but we want them to be able to defend themselves. we will take steps with our european allies in unity to make it clear there will be a heavy price that russia will pay if they do invade on the sanction side. >> look, we have some soldiers on high alert right now that could get deployed into the region. obviously i don't think there's the political will to send those folks to ukraine, but is this the time to send american soldiers to our nato allies in eastern europe, in particular, as sort of a message for putin? >> oh, absolutely. i think we can make it very clear we're going to stand by our nato commitments. that means we are ready to deploy additional u.s. troops like with nato to our nato allies. we know they are now very nervous about whether russia
will stop at ukraine, whether they'll come into the baltic countries, or whether they'll come in beyond that. i think nato needs to be concerned, and we have to make that clear to mr. putin, we will not compromise our treaty responsibilities, nor will we allow mr. putin to determine how nato and sovereign nations will organ that i see their mutual defense. >> would you ever be comfortable if the deal that was cut with putin said, look, ukraine won't join nato for at least ten years, and nato is not expanding for at least ten years. is that too much to give putin? >> well, i don't want to compromise the independent decisionmaking of nato and sovereign countries. ukraine has to make its decision first, what it wants to do. it should be free to determine who it wants to have an alliance with, and what relations she
want with other countries. we shouldn't allow mr. putin to determine ukraine's future. to me that's the real crux of this. we'll make our own security decisions and it will not be based on what mr. putin tells us we have to do. >> senator cardin, we appreciate your time and perspective, sir. >> thank you, chuck. we have a lot more coming up, including the secretary of state's recent comments. and we've also been monitoring ceos meeting with the president. a few moments ago, reporters were ability to shout some questions. >> thank you, let's go. thank you, let's go, let's go. thank you. 's go. thank you. . >> every justice has the right and opportunity to decide what
he or she is going to do, and announce it on their own. there's been no announcement from justice breyer. make whatever statement he's going to make. i'll be happy to talk about it later. going to make. i don't know. i think they look good, man. mm, smooth. i'll be happy to talk about it later. a little tight. like, too tight? might just need to break 'em in a little bit. you don't want 'em too loose. for those who were born to ride there's progressive. with 24/7 roadside assistance. -okay. think i'm gonna wear these home. -excellent choice. some people have joint pain, plus have high blood pressure. they may not be able to take just anything for pain. that's why doctors recommend tylenol®. it won't raise blood pressure the way that advil® aleve® or motrin® sometimes can. for trusted relief, trust tylenol®.
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welcome back, moments ago secretary of state antony blinken spoke to reporters after the u.s. rejected demands from russia for security -- including a demand that ukraine never be allowed to join g-8o. he reiterated the u.s.'s goal of a diplomatic solution. >> there should be no doubt about our seriousness and purpose when it comes to diplomacy. we're acting with equal focus and force to bolster ukraine's defenses and prepare a swift, united response to further aggression. >> all of this comes as the u.s.
embassy and ukraine is ramping up calls for u.s. citizen to urgently consider leaving now while commercial travel is still available. it was warned that any action would severely impacts its operations. it seems ago if they have stepped up this urgency. get out now while you can control your exit. joining me now from ukraine is chief foreign correspondent richard ingle. and she's now a senior fellow at the brookings institute. richard, just on the ground there, we noted that the increase in urgency of the warning, and i'm still sort of reacting to what you said a couple days ago about how kyiv doesn't look like it's about to
be attacked. >> even where i am in the east, it doesn't feel like it's brace fog an imminent attack. clearly the u.s. is warning that if american citizens want to leave, better now than later. if there were to be some sort of invasion, even a massive cyberattack, it could knock off-line commercial travel, divert aircraft. we all saw in afghanistan, how difficult it is to evacuate citizens once airports are compromised, once there aren't flights, once there's a combat situation. i think one of the reasons that you're not seeing many from zelensky, the president of this country, he doesn't want to see distraction, or see people take capital out of the country. he still says he's hoping for a diplomatic solution. there's some diplomacy underway.
france is taking the lead for now, or taking the bull by the horns, taking it to the next step. he's still hoping there can be some diplomacy while not trying to panic the public. but on the battlefield, i know you have more people -- i've been told that the russian buildup is not decreasing, that russia has about 112 to 120,000 troops on the border right now and more potentially many more are on their way. >> what's your sense, richard of zelensky's interpret -- that sees his objective, and exerting more control over not just
eastern ukraine, but all of ukraine in general. remember, before the 2014 revolution, this had a pro-russian -- this country had a pro-russian puppet in charge. and vladimir putin is furious that the former president, instead of facing down the rebellion fled the country. i think he hope zelensky would be more pliant, but thus far he's not, and seems to be willing to engage in closer relations with the west, with nato. i was told by western intelligence official that one of the main objectives that putin has right now is to get rid of zelensky and remove him from office. we have seen warnings from the white house, from the british government that there are attempt or have been attempt to infiltrate sob tours sab -- if
goal is to remove zelensky, get a more compliant government in place, the question is what tools does he need to get that goal. will a covered action gem him there? will an occupation part of this country while threatening to take over more get him there? or does he need to move in in force, and potentially occupy the whole country temporarily or not? i'm going to move to somebody who i don't know if she wants this title or not, our kremlin-ologist, and if you don't like that term, don't be shy. it feels like putin is the one calling all the shots right now. you seem to imply that in your op-ed. how do we change that? >> look, i think we have to acknowledge, first of all, that
putin has a whole hierarchy of different approaches he can take. president zelensky is very much in the cross hairs as well, but he also has a bigger game, which goes beyond ukraine and think about how he can shift the united states onto the back foot in europe and change the whole positioning of nato forces, membership, looking forward as well as backwards. in many respects he wants a redo of the dissolution, on a path to independence. what we have to do as well is reframe this. putin has done a good job of making us look like the aggressor, putting people on edge, and basically being the one who is choosing from an al acart options of what he can take. i think we need to take it to a -- what will happen in ukraine, no matter how putin approaches this, if that's the
ultimate goal there, is going to set a precedent for countries around the world. this is a real challenge as president biden and others have said, to the entire international system. >> you really believe that how we handle there, what will impact how china deals with taiwan? for instance? >> yeah, think of all the other countries. in 1990, iraq invaded -- that was the one reaction that we had in the u.s., in our intervention that was done in the form of an international coalition. i worried a lot when i was listening to your discussion with ben cardin, for example, that all the things we're talking about is the u.s. taking all the initiative, hoping some of the allies will come along. if in fact russia was put on know that further aggression, further annexation was impermissible on a global sense, of course that wouldn't necessarily change mr. putin's mind, but may change his
calculation on how he ace approaches things and an opportunity for us to push back along with others. >> think about the timing, the berlin wall just fell a couple years before that, there was this sense that democracy was winning, and so, yeah, we should really get in the way of this. boy, we are in a different pertain globally. it distill feel like every country is -- we talk about america first, it feels like every country themselves is first now. >> no other country wants to be invade. you mentioned china and taiwan. we still think nominally is under chinese sovereignty, even though de facto, but it's not a member of the united states. there are plenty other countries who feel pressure from china. they have territory that china disputes, and the south china seas, you know, japan, vietnam, south korea, there's a lot of
anxiety there. india has a disputed border, and they had a firefight. if you start to push it out around the world, you start to see other countries can be found very nervous. if you let it fall under the that will -- under the invasion of vladimir putin, it's done as a kind of negotiation bilaterally between the united states and russia, that's sort of setting a precedent for any other great power that wants to take a piece out of their neighbor. >> i don't mean to sound naive about this, but how would you suggest we go about this? the u.n. isn't a place to do it, considering russia's votes ooh, but there's a general assembly, it's not just taking it to the security council, or the national security council, for example, there's a thing about this, there's all kinds of people that are out there, who know how to structure something, because we're trying to get the rest of the members of the
general assembly, not just china and russia focused on this. then the question on this is whether you can put pressure on russia to in fact focus on diplomacy. right now russia is saying ukraine is aggressing against us. the united states and nato are pushing all of this. everybody believes this in public opinion polling, a lot of our allies feel the u.s. is overreacting, so it's a narrow framing, and really this is a much bigger issue and we need others putting pressure. shouldn't this be zelensky making the ask? >> absolutely. russia has expanded the men analysis. they keep threatening they're going to do somebody with cuba, venezuela, nicaragua. they're questioning on a global stake, making it about us and them. other countries can step
forward, too. as you had running, we're in a precarious situation. respond to go what they said about zelensky not wanting to project weakness. he could appeal to the rest of the international community. there's a whole series of independent with other countries. why not call in those as well? >> richard engel and fiona hill, thank you both. good leadup to my next guest press secretary at the pentagon, john kirby. i appreciate you taking a few minutes here. >> you bet. >> let's start with the announcement made from your purview a couple days ago what does it mean in layman's terms? we have troops ready to deploy but not yet deployed. what does that mean? >> this is not uncommon. chuck, you think there's a possibility you might have to send troops for some mission overseas, you want to give them time to get ready, put them on a
shorter tether so the logistics, sustainment and equipment and army ammunition and arms that they have it ready to go. some of the units with he talked about, these would be deployed in support of a nato response force, so it would be in a nato mission, some of them are already on what we would call a short tether, maybe as short as ten days. what the secretary did was shorten that tether to five days for a lot of them and in some cases these aren't units that are normally on a heightened alert posture and he wanted to get them there. what we're doing is just giving them a heads up and a warning. be ready to go just in case you might have to go shorter time line than what you thought you might have to. >> walk me through the order of who asks. would this be a nato ask of the u.s. of nato, we need more forces in estonia, something like that. is that the ask through nato and the united states decides whether to do this? >> yes, basically that's right, chuck. for the nato response force,
that is a nato response force so it would have to be an alliance decision to activate it and there are multiple countries that form all the allies actually contribute to that nato response force. we have a piece of it so what we're doing is just getting our piece of it more ready. it hasn't been activated. there's been no deployment orders but the other thing, chuck, and you kind of touched on this is we're having bilateral discussions with our nato allies even as we speak. the secretary talked to his polish counterpart this morning. so we're talking bilaterally with allies and seeing if there's anything else they might need that the united states could provide on their soil in allied territory. again no decisions made. nothing's been sent, but we are having those active discussions with our allies right now. >> what about with ukraine's military. how much military to military contact is there between the pentagon and ukrainian military officials? >> quite frankly, chuck, almost daily. we've got trainers inside the florida national guard, this is a rotating mission so a couple
hundred of those on the ground right now working directly with ukrainian armed forces and helping advise and assist them, not to mention the fact we shipped over three shipments of additional security assistance to ukraine and there's more coming, and some of this is lethal assistance in the form of javelin anti tank missiles, for instance. >> what should we expect either secretary austin or general milley to tour, to sort go of visit our troops that are deployed via nato and before anything happens? >> i don't have any travel to speak to right now, chuck. obviously we're watching this very, very closely. it's very tense over there. if and when it's appropriate for either to go to the region and visit with our troops and allies, we'll think about that. right now our focus is on making sure that our troops are ready in case they need to be called up. >> i guess that brings me -- we're not going to militarily get involved in any action in
ukraine, but here we are, what is the reason for our troops to be in these nato countries if that's the case? >> in one phrase, article five. we have a serious commitment to the nato alliance. attack on one is an attack on all. they are getting the attention of our european and nato allies and partners. it is of concern and we want to make sure that the alliance stays united and that the alliance is able to defend itself particularly on the eastern flank. so what this is, if we did send troops over, they would only be going into allied territory. the president made it clear we're not going to deploy combat troops in the ukraine but we have an obligation under article five to defend our nato allies and that's what this is really about. >> the question, you could easily duck this and say you're the spokesperson, you don't make policy but a real question of why aren't we there yet?
why aren't we already there already and our allies shoring that up almost as a bit of a, you know, a bit of a warning to putin that you don't think we'll do this? look, we're already here. >> hey, there's no ducking. i don't have to duck on that one, chuck. we are already there. there's tens of thousands of american troops forward deployed in europe right now. some of them are on rotational deployments, some of them are home-based there. and general walters, the head of european command, he can move some of those forces around if he wants in consultation with our allies and our partners. what we're talking about, chuck, is just if there's additional capabilities that allies might feel better having. >> okay. germany. how would you describe germany's caution when it comes to getting involved with some of the military decisions nato is asking countries to do, military equipment or troops? >> well, look, we're in constant consultation as well with germany. it's a sovereign nation. i won't speak for their foreign
policy decisions. i can tell you that in our conversations with the germans, they well understand what's going on, on the ground. they, too, have concerns with what russia is doing. i'll let them speak for their decisions, but i think our consultations and conversations with the germans have been nothing but frank and honest and candid, and we're going to continue to talk to them and by the way, as we talked about it in the last question, we have a sizeable u.s. force presence in germany as well. they're terrific hosts for our troops. >> john kirby, press secretary spokesperson at the pentagon, always appreciate you coming on, sharing the perspective there for us. appreciate it. >> you bet. >> that does it for us this hour. we'll be back tomorrow with more "meet the press daily." msnbc coverage continues after this break. msnbc coverage continues after msnbc coverage continues after this break [limu emu squawks]
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good to be with you. i'm katie tur. the supreme court is about to have a vacancy, handing president biden the most powerful tool to help shape the future of this country. justice stephen breyer will retire at the end of the current term, after 27 years on the court. breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices. now it is up to president biden to appointsuccessor. on the campaign trail he vowed any nominee would be a black woman and mike memoli reports the white house has a
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