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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  January 27, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PST

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retirement. after nearly 28 years on the court, breyer will retire in june, allowing president biden to name his replacement and fire up his shrinking support among black voters ahead of the midterms. while democrats still control the senate. this would pea the first conformation in the supreme court justice in the history in a 50/50 equally divided senate. at the south carolina presidential debate, under pressure from congressman clyburn, biden promised to nominate a black woman to the court. >> i'm looking forwardo making sure there's a black woman on the supreme court. that we in fact get every representation. >> also this hour a massive escalation in russia's front line mobilization. war ships in the black sea, tanks rolling across the frozen tundra. multi-front threat sending shock waves through the european
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capitols. ers and in a letter to the russians proposals for a diplomatic off ramp but a flat rejection of vladimir putin's call of sweeping reversal 06 nato's expansion. and economy rebounded, fuelling more concerns about inflation and a promised fed tightening. i'll talk to someone who's been warning about that since last spring, larry summers and former economic advisor to president obama. and we start with stephen breyer. and we're joined by a former law clerk of justice breyer and at the university of law and sotomayor when she was a district court judge. susan, we've been through conformations but this is going to be historic. so, let's talk about the politics of this nomination. a 50/50 senate.
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vice president harris is there, of course, to break any tie that does not require 50 votes thanks to mcconnell making the change to filibuster rule to the dismay of democrats but this time it could work to their advantage. potential nominees perhaps led by jackson, who just last june was nominated and confirmed for the appeals court, the d.c. appeals court just below supreme court with republican saying she's qualified for the circuit court. that was lindsey graham and he added elections have consequences. that's what he said yesterday. which means the democrats, technically, if they hold their own, they would hope have even a couple of republicans. including lindsey graham and lisa murkowski, who voted for her just this past june for the
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circuit court. and two other potential nominees among 19 other black women who have been confirmed by the federal bench by this president. what's at stake with mitchell mcconnell's rule changes and the anger among democrats that a merrick garland never even got a hearing? >> what a big opportunity for president biden. it comes at just the right moment. last week we were talking about how many problems after finishing his first year in office. now he has a chance to make a big statement, a historic step by nominating a black woman for the supreme court. he can unite senate democrats that have been so divided on build back better and other proposals. he can energize the democratic base and do this by fulfilling a campaign promise. sometimes presidents regret promises they made in a debate during the democratic primaries. not in this case. the fact he made this promise
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and the white house has affirmed he's going to live up to it has smoothed a path ahead for what many hope will be a change in the conversation and reset, perhaps, his presidency. >> we wanted to talk to you, of course, because you clerked for justice breyer. many knew him so well. many are calling him a consensus builder. he's a man of great passion on some issues. he did build consensus. what do you think went into his thinking in retiring now? my own sense would be not political pressure because that would stiffen his spine. >> i definitely agree with you about the political pressure. the word that comes to me about justice breyer and his court is he's a statesman and a real campian and protector of the
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court. he is so concerned that the court only has the power of the legitimacy, only the trust of the people when it speaks with authority and not in a political register. and i think he takes that really seriously. i really don't think that was likely a big factor in his deliberations. i think there are more personal reasons. he is, as you say, an engaged person with the world and expect he'll continue to be with the law in many different ways in the future as well. >> we know very well that he's an author; i think his scalia lecture at harvard. i would expect the trajectory of the court, in the last year or so. certainly startd before then but certainly in the last year with a 6-3 minority for the more
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liberal members but also with less ability to move across the lines. there were a number of 5-4 decisions recent that took place because of people like justice kennedy and the chief on obamacare on same-sex marriage. so, he was able and ruth bader ginsburg, they were able to craft these consensus decisions. and they were not as isolated as the three members now are. >> you know, i think it's important to remember justice breyer's been on court for 27 years and been in the minority more often in political terms in all of that time. he joined the rank court, was the junior member for 11 years. longer than anyone but one person in the history of the country. and he's had a real impact because of his willingness to find common ground and consensus building.
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he is an optimist. he really believes that if we talk to one another, if we have deliberations -- not just talk through the oral argument or through memos but walk down the hall and talk to people. which is something he regularly has done at the court. he thinks that's how you find common ground and persuade and that's how you listen. i think for my expectation is that is still the case today and perhaps there are fewer opportunities for that. one of the things that was so interesting about the rinks court is there were many different coalitions built. i think he was a key partner in many of those. the court is always evolving and each new person who comes and goes really effects the dynamic. his leaving, i think, will leave a hole in that kind of deliberation and dialogue. >> and a huge opportunity for the president, politically, a black woman.
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potential nominees are u.s. circuit court judge, ketanji brown jackson. we talked about she was just confirmed to the judge under the supreme court. she got three republican votes at the time and a former clerk to justice breyer. also u.s. california supreme court justice leondra kruger and michelle childs, who has a backing of jim clyburn, who spoke about her earlier to the "the washington post" >> i have been discussing michelle childs with the president and his people now for, i guess, at least 13 months. she has, what i call, the kind of background and experiences that we ought to have. i am very, very concerned that we pick on this elitest kind of
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atmosphere when we pretend the only way you can demonstrate qualifications is to go to certain schools. well, i don't think that's right. >> melissa, he's advocating for a south carolina federal judge. do you think that's dispositive with this white house? >> i don't know if it's dispositive. i would like to push back on representative clyburn's view that own lee the quality of one's school projects a diversity at the court. in fact, all three of these perspective nominees have very diverse work experiences. judge jackson was a public defender before becoming a judge. justice kruger would be the first justice to have state court experience since david suitor and sandra day o'connor. i want to say the fact of going to a public school will be a great asset. we saw that with amy coney barrett who attended schools outside of the ivy league. that's not the only diversity
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the court should look to. what's important for this pick is we'll have a liberal wing of just three justices and all three of those justices will be women and two of them will be women of color. that will change the intellectual energy and dynamic of the court going forward. >> thanks so much to all of you for starting us off and joining us now, democratic senator, a long-time chair of judiciary and senator a member of the judiciary committee. let's talk about the president's upgzs here. i know senator durbin succeeded you is going to have a zoom meeting with all of you some time today to talk about the calendar. >> i think the calendar has moved rapidly. i know he's had a list he's thought about. the interesting thing here is
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both president biden and i, as young lawyers on the -- young senators on the judiciary committee, worked with our counsel, stephen breyer. so, we've known him all these years. he and his wife are good friends of my wife and i. this decision of his was not unanticipated. and i know that president biden understands the system as well as anybody. who will move fairly quickly with a nominee. >> senator, you've got one nominee in particular who got three republican votes just this past summer. but do you think there will be a united republican opposition to this and that you're going to have to get the 50 votes in the senate, which you've not been
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able to garner for some of the domestic priorities? >> significant decision by the president to nominate a black woman. as i said significant. it certainly adds to the diversity of the court to match the diversity in our country. i expect the president to be talking with a number of highly qualified women. there's an abundance of riches. because believe me there are highly qualified black women who can serve on the supreme court. so, that is going to be happening. by the way, andrea, every single one of president biden's judicial nominees have been positively supported by all 50 democrats in the senate. i expect that to continue, particularly for a supreme court nominee. >> senator lehigh, do you think it would be preferable to have a
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judge, that it would take one weapon away from republican critics? and i want to ask about the typical response on some of the toughest issues, which is precedent rules. but how does a democratic nominee refer to president when that is already clearly in the hands of roe v wade, about to be overturned by a republican majority. >> that's a good question and it will be a difficult way of answering because whoever the nominee is, i'm sure, will say they're committed to [ inaudible ] if the supreme court were suddenly to rule against roe before that seat is filled, well, then the decisive will be that roe is gone. i think that may seem like a big question but it's not going to
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effect the decision of the senate judiciary committee. i worry, when it becomes just a one-party kind of vote, i think think it's hearding the credibility of the supreme court when such nominees are put in there. i wish we could come back to the time when we come together. i remember mitch mcconnell saying we never do a nominee during a presidential election year. well, of course we do. the democrats were in control, ronald reagan, it was his final year, he nominated anthony kennedy. we all came together and he got 95 votes. we've got to go back for that time because the supreme court has had the respect of the american people. that respect is going away because they're seeing it as a political polarized body. i want to see it come back to where people look at it and say
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yes, that's the supreme court that it appeal to all of us. >> and in fact, it was that politization that justice breyer wrote against and really rued the way the court was getting, as an institution, was becoming politicized. when we talk about going forward and trying to get these votes together, mitch mcconnell, having said we don't do nominations in an election year, when it was a case of giving merrick garland even a hearing, they confirmed amy coney barrett eight days before an election when 65 million americans had already voted. >> yes. well, the fact that mitch mcconnell is a good hypocrite is not news to any of us. in the meantime, when you talk about starry decis, which is precedent, we have a 6-3 court that is certainly willing to set
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back decade's long precedents, such as roe v wade. that is not good for the court. that does not legitimize the court. the good decisions based basically on ideological grounds really questions, in my view, the legitimacy of the court, which is why amy coney barrett had to come out and say, i'm paraphrasing, the court is not a bunch of political hacks. you hardly expect that to come out of the mouth of a supreme court justice. we're going to see more of the 63 decisions. that is why you are seeing all of these challenges that will end up to the supreme court and i expect that same-sex marriage will be on the docket at some point and there will be other cases like this that will be decided, basically, on ideological grounds. what i'm looking for is a justice who is fair and impartial. and that's not what we got with, in my view, with the three trump nominees for the supreme court.
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>> you know steve breyer so well from your years working together, as you point out on the committee as well. and one fact of history is that he got to the federal bench because jimmy carter had an opening, a nominee, and didn't want to go along with ted kennedy, a fellow member of the committee. his initial preference for arch bald cox and came back with the recommendation for the general counsel, steve breyer, supported by straum thurman and at the behest of allen simpson. do i have that history correct? >> that's basically correct. he got strong support. there had been some delay by one senator, who, a democrat, who had been discouraged by the fact that steve breyer had opposedthem review of posing his nominee to a federal court. in fact, i agreed with steve
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breyer and i helped lead the investigation. but the vast majority of republicans and democrats came together on stephen breyer became judge breyer and later became justice breyer because as senator said, he has the ability to bring people together. he is one of the most remarkable justices i've known and i voted on every single justice since john paul stevens. and he is a remarkable, remarkable juris. >> and a true man of the enlightenment in an age -- linda greenhouse wrote today, which is not an enlightenment age. >> my wife and i like speaking french with him. >> he's such a frank-o-file. i know. taught himself french during lecture breaks in france.
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always great to have the amaritous chair of judiciary and one of the current newer vibrant members, what a combination. thank you both so very much coming together today. when the president and justice breyer appear at the white house, we'll bring you all their remarks live. and on alert. president biden set to speak directly to the ukrainian president biden set to speak directly to th president as we see a massive escalation in troop deployments. this is msnbc. e escalationn itroop deployments. this is msnbc. i don't know. i think they look good, man. mm, smooth. uh, they are 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. what happens when we welcome change?
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president biden will speak with ukraine's president zelensky. they tell nbc news there are 62 russian battalion groups in place and more on the way. lavrov rebuking the u.s. written response to vladimir putin's
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demands. it fail discuss nato troops in the region. that's been a nonstarter. they did offer a diplomatic path out of the crisis. and here in the eastern ukraine on the front lines. >> reporter: we are back in the trenches in far eastern ukraine. and you could see in some places they are very narrow but they extend for miles. ukrainian. troops are bracing for the worst. the soldiers say they're ready for anything as the prospect of a russian invasion appears to be increasing. russia's military build up is accelerating. disguised, u.s. officials say, by military exercises in the black sea. these firing drills in the baltic sea and along three sides of the ukrainian border, including these forces in new satellite images. >> and joining me now the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine, peter baker the "the new york
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times" chief white house correspondent and a staff writer at the atlantic and prolific author on the subject of democracy. ambassador taylor, putin's military announced in ukraine on three sides, war ships. multiple pathways to attack. talk about what you're looking at it you're in kyiv. >> if i were in kyiv, i would look to the north and see a formidable force and to the east and to the south. and i would be asking myselfful president zelensky and president biden are going to stand up to these forces. this is a major show of force. so far president zelensky and biden have held firm. have not blink said. have not offered compromise or appeasement.
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they have held strong and if i were in kyiv, i would hope they would continue to do that. >> peter baker, what do you expect the president to say to president zelensky? i have your back. we're threatening sanctions. zelensky's been trying to reassure his populous. he's been saying don't worried and annoyed with the u.s., frankly, for drawing down of the embassy, telling civilians to get out now. there's no military evacuation,allau afghanistan, per se. >> there's a feeling in the region that the americans and the west have, in some ways, over hyped what's going on and forced this into a bigger crisis than it has to be. that may be something they're saying to keep people calm. one of the things president biden wants to do is reassure president zelensky that he's not going to negotiate away without ukrainians in the room.
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the conversation hasn't involved the ukrainians in the room. that has a long history in europe and not a good one. that's one of the things that president biden wants to assure him is that the ukrainian interest is what he has at art and it's not going to be traded away in a secret deal. i think he wants to make sure that ukrainians understand what the americans are willing to do and not in terms of sanctions and providing weapons. diplomatic show of force and at the same time he's made it very clear they're not going to fight ukraine. i think he's trying to find a common cause with president zelensky so both sides don't misunderstand where the other is at this point. >> and there's been a lot of questions about the germans not permitting arms with components to go from astonia to ukraine. a lot of suspicion about why the ukraine had to fly around
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germany, which is not the direct route, as well as the germans said they're sending 5,000 protective helmets. how is that viewed in kyiv and what's going on with the new government replacing angela merkel? >> she is a wonderful person and she did many great things. one very bad mistake she made was to shut down germany's nuclear power plants and that's made germany unusually reliant on russian gas and everybody knows that. the americans know it. there's [ inaudible ] cut or help the supply russian gas to europe in case the russians cut it off. i do think that some of the questions -- there is a division in europe, as you pointed out, as peter pointed out about what's really happening. there are people who still believe this is a bluff. that putin is playing a game.
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i think if there were actually troops marching into ukraine, if this was an invasion and tanks on the ground, i think views would shift, including in germany. you can see a little already. this government decision to send helmets or token equipment to ukraine has created a lot of derision in germany. people mocking it, others criticizing it. i think the -- i think there is a mood shift beginning. there is an irony here, which is if you want peace in europe, if you want peace in ukraine and many germans to, then the way to insure there is peace is to raise the price for russia, to make the invasion more difficult. to deter russia. and that is a paradoxical policy but the one that i'm hoping the germans will eventually come around to. >> and ambassador taylor, in
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terms of sanctions either before, during or after an invasion, given the forces he's assembled potentially, how do you sanction vladimir putin? we don't normally sanction heads of state? we've sanctioned the oligarchs around him and banks and other industrial segments. how do you sanction him when hitds billions are supposedly locked up in switzerland or someplace else? through all kinds of blind trusts? >> i'm sure that's right, andrea. i'm sure it would be very difficult to track down all his billions. but the message is really that united states and europe are very serious about deterrent. they're very serious about raising the cost of an invasion and by focusing on president
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putin, the united states and europe are focusing on the person who's going to make the decision. we saw today with the rejection of the absurd demands that the russians have put down, we just bluntly rejected the parts that would infringe on ukrainian sovereignty for example. and the foreign minister says well, we're disappointed but we're going to continue to talk. and others continue -- there's going to be more discussions in berlin among the normandy format. clearly there is opportunity. the door is still open for diplomacy and the one who's going to make the decision is president putin. so, he has to know there will be sanctions on him as well as on russia. >> thanks so much to all of you. and we're going to go to the white house now because we're expecting any moment, potentially, that in the roosevelt room you're going to see coming through one of those doors, justice stephen breyer.
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this is a very unusual event, which is the white house announcement of the resignation or retirement, potential retirement of a supreme court justice prior to the nomination of a successor. with me now is nbc news presidential historian and the host of fireside history. which you can stream now on peacock. i want to share some new exclusive reporting from our friend, pete williams, who else, who reports everything before anybody else. the letter being sent clears up when this would take place. he not only says at the end of the court term, usually june or july, but assuming my successor has been nominated and confirmed. so, he's not going to leave that chair empty. we're not going to have an eight-member court barring anything we don't anticipate until someone is confirmed and confirmed with given the current
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makeup of the senate, would be a democratic senate. democratic president. michael. >> that's right. and as a president for that, as you know, andrea, 1968, when earl warren, another lion of the supreme court, just like stephen breyer, sent his letter to president johnson to say he was going to leave the court. he made exactly the same condition. this only becomes effective once my successor is nominated and confirmed. and as you know, as it turned out, johnson appointed a justice to become chief justice. that became that conformation that was clouded and finally ports pulled that out and it had a lot of res innocence because finally earl warren served almost a year before earl warren burger was appointed by president nixon. >> we're seeing right now, with
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a two-minute warning from the white house that the president and perhaps justice breyer's remarks are being put on the podium. this is across from the cabinet room, the room where there are so many important meetings, staff meetings as well. want to draw your attention, michael also, to a really resinant lead editorial by former correspondent. now at yale, i believe. and she writes with the headline -- the right justice for the wrong age. her point is his belief in facts and evidence and expertise were out of step in a post-factual age. an enlightenment man not in an enlightenment age. i covered stephen breyer since he was first nominate in 1994. you've studied him for decades, you know him well. talk about the man, stephen breyer.
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and no matter who replaces him and it's going to be historic, a black woman and a different generation. but what is being lost on the bench by the retirement of this 83-year-old man? >> stephen breyer has read deeply of history, as you know and participated in a lot of it. when he was nominated to be a judge by president carter, who's just leaving office, that was the recommendation, as you know, of ted kennedy, senator from missesmous. massachusetts, carter's bitter rival. carter even blamed kennedy for having cost him a second term as president. right or not. nonetheless, he caused such stater that he caused kennedy and carter to get together on the appointment. i always thought that was a harbinger of stephen breyer on the supreme court. because for almost three decades has had very strong believes.
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but at the same time the talent to reach across to justices who did not share a lot of his values, like a scalia, for instance. or other appointed by democratic presidents who might not entirely have the same view as he had. and he's really the incar incarination of what the founders want. they didn't want robust to go on the court and operate in terms of what party was the president who appointed them. the founders wanted people who would use their judgment, would talk to their colleagues, who would be open to new ideas and persuasion. so, stephen breyer is not only a brilliant justice of the supreme court, one of the best in history, but someone who is enormously persuasive and a human being who is able to make those relationships that made the court work. i hope we'll have that. >> and a footnote is he had the
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support of not only ted kennedy, his home state senator but straum thurman, with republican chairman of judiciary back in the day. it was a different day and time. trrls the institution he hashig politicized. the president is at the podium and justice breyer is with him. >> i'll begin by recognizing both dr. breyer, and dr. biden. and being here and i can't tell you. this is sort of a bitter sweet day for me. justishs -- justs -- justice breyer and i go back a long way, all the way back the '70s. i'm here to discuss the nation's
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gratitude for justice stephen brieer for his remarkable public service and his clear eyed commitment to making the country's laws work for its people. and our gratitude extends to justice breyer's family, for being partners in his decades of public service. particularly i want to thank his wife, dr. joan breyer who is here today and stood by him for nearly six decade. with her fierce intellect, good humor and enormous heart. i thank you. the country owes you as well. and stephen breyer's public service started early. he served in the united states army as a teenager. and in all three branchs of the federal government before he turned 40. >> the good old days, weren't they. >> and he was a law clerk of supreme court justice goldbering. a member of the watergate prosecution team. i first met stephen breyer as a senator on the judiciary
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committee. he started taking care of one of the subcommittees for teddy and became chief counsel during his tenure as ted's chairmanship of the judiciary committee. beyond his intellect and hard work and legal insight, he was famous for biking across washington virtually every day for face-to-face meeting with republican chief counsel, the ranking republican counsel and over broke fs they'd discuss what would they do for the country together? in those days we try to do things together. that spirit stuck with me when i took over the judiciary committee as chair after senator kennedy's tenure. and it was my honor to vote to confirm justice breyer to serve in the court of appeals first in 1980. and then 14 years later, in 1994, i got to preside as chairman of the senate judiciary committee over a supreme court conformation hearings.
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we were joking with one another when he walked in did we ever think he would have served decades on the court and i'd be president of the united states on the day he came to retire? and anyway, i won't tell you what he said joking. but i was proud and grateful to be at the start of the distinguished career on the supreme court and i'm very prude to be here today on the announcement of his retirement. during his conformation hearings in 1994, nominee stephen breyer said quote the law must work for the people. he explained the faith that our complex legal system has a single purpose. tell people who makeup our country. it was a different time, of course but his brilliance, values and scholarship are why judge breyer became justice breyer by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the time. today he announces his intention
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to step down from active service after four decades and 28 years on the united states supreme court. he is a leading scholar and juris in administrative law. bringing his brilliance to bear to make government run more effectively and efegsantly. a beacon on our wiz wisdom of the constitution and he's worked tirelessly to give faith notion that the law exists to help the people. everybody knows he's been an exemplary justice, fair to the parties before him. courteous to his colleagues, careful in his reasoning. he's written landmark opinions from health care to voting rights to patten law to laws protecting our environment and religious practices. his opinions are practical, sensible and nuanced. reflects his belief that a job of a judge is not to lay down a
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rule but to get it right. get right. his law clerks and colleagues, as many of the press know, describe him and his work ethic, his desire to know more and kindness to those around him and the optimism for the promise of our country. and he's patiently saw common ground, seeking to bring the court together. i think he's a model public servient in a time of great division in this country. he's been everything his country could have asked of him and he's appeared -- when he appeared before the judiciary committee almost three decades ago we had high hope of the mark he would leave on the history and constitution and he's exceeded those marks in every possible day. today is his day, our day to commend his life of service and his life on the court. but let me say a few words about a critically important work of is selecting his successor.
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choosing someone to sit on the supreme court, i believe, is one of the most serious constitutional responsibility a president has. i will select a nominee worthy of justice breyer's legacy of excellence and decency. while i'm studying candidates background and writings, i've made no decision except one. the person i will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character and experience and integrity and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to a supreme court. it's long over due in my opinion. i made that commitment during a campaign for president and i will keep that commitment. i will fully do what i said i'd do. i will fulfill my duty to select the justish, not only with the senate's consent but with his advice. you heard me say the
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constitution says seek advice and consent. but advice as well of the senate. i'm going to invite senators from both parties to offer their ideas and points of view. i'll consult with leading scholars and lawyers. and i'm fortunate to have advising me in the selection process, vice president kamala harris. she's an exceptional lawyer and former attorney of the state of california and former member of the judiciary committee. i'll listen carefully to alled a vice i'm given and the former records carefully. i'll meet with the former nominees and it's my intention to announce my decision before the end of february. i have made no choice at this point. once i select a nominee, i'll ask the senate to move promptly on my choice. in the end, i'll nominate someone worthy of justice breyer's legacy and someone, who like justice breyer, will provide incredible service on the united states supreme court.
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justice breyer, on behalf of all the american people, i want to thank you and your family and your family for our tremendous service to our nation. i'm going to yield the floor to you, mr. justice. >> thank you, mr. president. that is terribly nice. and believe me, i old it right here. it's wonderful. and i thought about what i might say to you and something i enjoy is talking to high school students. grammar school students, college students. even law school students. they'll come around and ask what is the what is it you find particularly meaningful about your job? what gives you a thrill? and that's not such a tough question for me to answer. it's the same thing. day one almost, up to today i don't know how many. but what i say to them is look,
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i sit there on the bench and after we hear lots of cases, and after a while, the impression -- it takes a while, i have to admit. but the impression you get, as you well know, is this is a complicated country with more than 330 million people and my mother used to say it's every race, every religion and she would emphasize this and it's every point of view possible. and it's kind of miracle, when you sit there and see all those people in front of you. people that are so different in what they think and yet they've decided to help solve their major differences under law. and when the students get too cynical i i say look what happens in countries they don't do that. people have come to accept this constitution and they've come to
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accept the importance of a rule of law. and i want to make another point to them. i want to say look, of course people don't agree but we have a country that is based on human rights, democracy and so forth. i'll tell you what lincoln and washington thought and what people today still think. it's an experiment. it's an experiment. that's what they said. and granted each of our grandchildren a certain amount of money to memorize the gettysburg address. and the reason, what we want them to pick up and what i want to the students to pick up, if i can remember the firts two lines is four scores and seven years ago our grandfathers created a new country, a country dedicated to liberty and the prop zigsz that all men are created equal. conceived in liberty. those are his words, and
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dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. and we are now engaged in great civil war to determine whether that nation or any nation so conceived and dedicated can long endure. those are the words i want. to see. an experiment. and that's what he thought. it's an experiment. and i found some letters that george washington wrote where he said the same thing. for it's an experiment. that experiment existed then because even the liberals in europe, they're saying it's a good idea in principal but it will never work. but we'll show them it does. that's what washington thought. and that's what lincoln thought and that what people still think today. and i say all i want you, and i'm talking to the students now, i say i want you to pick justice
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up. for it's an experiment that's still going on. and i'll tell you something. you know who will see whether that experiment works? it's you, my friend. it's now, mr. high school student, you mr. college student, mr. law school students. it's us but it's you. it's the next generation and the one after that. my grandchildren and their children, they'll determine whether the experiment still works and of course, i'm an optimist and i'm pretty sure it will. does it surprise you that that's the thought that comes into my mind today? but thank you. >> doctor, i don't know that you've ever been to the white house in the lincoln bedroom but i invite both of you to come and stay. the lincoln bedroom has against the wall, between the windows, looking out, a hand written copy
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of the gettysburg address written by lincoln in that bedroom. in the sitting room. and so i you got to come and see it and even if you can't come and stay, bring your grandchildren so they can see it as well. thank you for being here and i'm not going to take any questions because i think it's inappropriate to take questions with the justice here. he's still sitting on the bench and i'm giving you your mask back. but you'll have have plenty of opportunities to get me later today and for the rest of the week, next week too. so, thank you very much. thank you. thank you. >> a really notable moment. michael is still with me. michael, that was classic steve breyer. he always carries that copy of the constitution. it should make your historian
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heart beat strongly. mine as well, as a journalist. truly, quoting from the constitution, quoting from lincoln's gettysburg address, that his wife joana makes all of the grandchildren learn by memory. grandchildren learn memory, saying that he speaks this way to students, to law school students, who high school students, to the next generation. but there is a signal there when we worry about the constitution and about civil war and about the nation holding. he certainly implicitly is talking about the current climate and the backdrop against which he's retiring. >> absolutely. justice breyer could have chosen almost any quote from american history. what is the quote he chose to resite? lincoln at gettysburg. now we are engaged in a great civil war. you and i know stephen breyer and his background enough to know he did not choose that quote accidentally.
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he only had a couple minutes. throughout his time on the court he's seen part of his role as a great teacher, just as you've been saying. not every justice does that. so why did he choose to recite that quote about the danger of the civil war and america being an experiment that cannot be taken for granted? here on the day of his resignation, he's sending a message to the people of the united states. >> michael, he leaves such a great legacy when we talk about also the cases he'll be ruling on. they are in the minority, and we kind of know which way that's going from oral arguments if that holds, but abortion, gun rights, his death penalty decision, which was really noted, one of his opinions on the death penalty, rather, saying he believes we're now approaching the fact that it is so random it is no longer constitutional.
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ools the coalitions he helped create with ruth bader ginsburg where they got five important decision on key aspects of obamacare and same-sex marriage. >> it reminds me of what lyndon johnson used to say, which is you never know what it is like to be a father until you become a father, he told males on his staff. he said in the context among other things the fact that until you put someone on the supreme court you never know how it's going to work out. dwight eisenhower, who was right of most things, one of the great fire brands who changed american history, william brennan, both more liberal than eisenhower wanted or expected. john kennedy appointed byron light, who was someone who he had known for decades and surprised kennedy and surprised others by being a lot more conservative than he had been
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expected. so these choices making a big difference. one example of this is the always surprising woodrow wilson, president of the united states in the teens, who has the distinction of appointing not only the first jewish justice, justice brandeis, but also one of the worst anti-semites in history, justice mcreynolds, who shunned both brandeis and another jewish justice, cardozo, for all the time he was on the supreme court. you never know what's going to happen. decisions have consequences. joe biden knows that. >> michael beschloss, thanks for your perspective, personal as well as historic. really appreciate it. and the u.s. economy growing by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2022 following a 2021 rebound, marking the strongest calendar year-to-year growth since 1984. the fed chairman has signaled interest rate reichs could come
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as soon as march and leaving hope more rate hikes throughout the year. joining us former clinton treasury secretary, larry summers, and the president emeritus of harvard university. thank you, larry, so much for waiting while that ceremony unscheduled previously, waiting, but, you know, from your boston roots you know steve breyer so well, from government, from washington and boston. so you know the importance of this -- >> steve is a great man, and he was true to himself in the way he emphasized teaching and lecturing and engaging with people and engaging with people younger than i. i know that as a former member of the harvard faculty, he was an inspiration to a large number of our students. some of the things he emphasized at the very early part of his career, progressive deregulation, for example, of
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airlines are really very relevant to our current policy challenges in my view. >> interesting point. i was covering that airplane deregulation debate as a young correspondent as well. so you've been warning about inflation, too much stimulus in the economy left over from covid relief, perhaps. a lot of your warnings have come to pass. people were a little behind the curve, maybe, in thinking it was transitory, but nobody really defined what is transitory about inflation. >> i think we're way behind the curve and stayed way behind the curve even as the inflation figures came in strong in the fall. and in all honesty, while i welcome the fed's significant adjustments, i think they are still behind the curve. after all, i don't know what it is in economic history that
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would support the idea that we can have a record level of vacancies to unemployment, record labor shortages, record low real interest rates, record very rapid growth in potential and have inflation come down substantial. so i think we've got a very difficult challenge at this point in terms of balancing this economy. i think for too long we have in the last couple of years, we have been confused. we have assumed that somehow we have to make a tradeoff and if we're just prepared to live with a little more inflation we can have much stronger -- a much stronger economy and much lower unemployment. but that's not really the way it works. the way it works is much closer to saying that that temporary
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increase in activity comes at the price of a permanently higher rate of inflation unless we're going to have some kind of subsequent downturn. and that's why i think we've got very difficult policy challenges ahead of us right now. >> it's a midterm year on top of all of that. do they have to go more than a half point in the future? do they have to move faster to try to take some of the covid relief or some of the excess out of economy? >> andrea, i think it's roughly madness that we are still buying mortgages at a time when we've got a record housing boom. i don't find it easy at all to understand why we're buying government bonds at all. and i don't know why people believe that an increase in interest rates to below 2% is going to be out of the system of
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once in 40-year inflation. so my own instincts are to be quite cautious about the economic prospect going forward. i think we're likely to require higher interest rates than the fed now foresees more than the market now foresees, and i think the risks of some form of economic disruption are quite material. >> you know better than anyone what the political impact of that is in a midterm. >> i think it's going to be a difficult time. look, i think there's a basic truth, which is when there's inflation, 100% of the people see higher prices. when there's unemployment, only a small percentage of the people are actually incrementally unemployed. and i can explain and other economists can explain that wage increases and price increases at their balance don't really change things.
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but the popular perception is that people are earning their way to increases and then inflation is taking it away from them. and i think prudent policymaking has to recognize that and at a time when trust in our society is really extremely important. i think we need to think very hard about making sure we're moving aggressively to contain inflation. but i was glad to see the movements in what the fed did yesterday. i look forward to what they're going to do in march. and, look, you can't change the past. i do think there were substantial mistakes made in the past. but we just need to do our best going forward. and that is likely to mean a period of somewhat increased turbulence. >> larry summers, a dire forecast indeed, political and economic. larry summers, thank you very
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much. we're out of time for today. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports," and chuck todd and "mtv daily" start right now. right now. welcome to "meet the press daily." i'm chuck todd. moments ago president biden and stephen breyer spoke at the white house officially announcing his retirement once his successor named an confirmed. president biden said he'll select a nominee worthy of breyer's legacy and aims to do it before the end of next month. >> i will select a nominee worthy of justice breyer's legacy of excellence and decency. while i've been studying