Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 24, 2022
On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner
- Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on Face the Nation: There is a new urgency in getting weapons to Ukraine, as the Russians intensify their missile attacks in the south and east. And the diplomatic shuttling between Ukraine, the U.S. and Russia appears to be marking some new firsts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he's meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in person today inside the war-torn country. We will have the latest.
And in a Sunday exclusive, we spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the end of his trip to Washington.
Then: confusion and chaos over mask mandates on planes and public transportation being lifted by a federal judge. Plus, what's taking so long getting vaccines for the very youngest? We will check in with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
With inflation sky-high, interest rates creeping up, and the stock market showing some stress, are we looking at more economic turbulence ahead because of the war in Ukraine? We will talk to the head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren says her party is running out of time to get their act together. We will ask her what she thinks could save the party's majority on Capitol Hill.
Plus: Republicans face more internal turmoil, after the House minority leader criticizes former President Trump in a leaked audiotape.
It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning. Welcome to Face the Nation.
We have been told repeatedly that the next few weeks in Ukraine will be crucial. So, the urgency for more support for the country is no surprise. But the official announcement of a top-secret trip on the part of the Biden administration officials as we go on the air has not been confirmed by the U.S., but word is out.
CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata is in Ukraine -- Charlie.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: Good morning, Margaret.
It came as a surprise, to say the least, when President Zelenskyy dropped that the U.S. secretary of state and defense secretary would be arriving here today, saying it's no big secret.
It's no big secret what tops the agenda, more weapons, and fast.
CHARLIE D'AGATA (voice-over): In a marathon press conference held deep underground in a subway station, pausing at times for passing trains, President Zelenskyy struck a defiant, yet thankful tone.
(PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CHARLIE D'AGATA: "Let me stress," he said, "all the signals, steps terms and amounts regarding U.S. weapons, all of this has improved. And, for that, I am grateful."
It may be too late to save Mariupol. Ukrainian officials say Russia launched airstrikes today on the besieged steel mill sheltering soldiers and civilians. This video of families who've been hunkering down in sprawling bunkers for months was reportedly taken three days ago and released by the Azov Battalion. It cannot be independently verified.
President Zelenskyy warned Russia against the slaughter of remaining resistance fighters.
(PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CHARLIE D'AGATA: "If our men are killed in Mariupol," he said, "Ukraine will withdraw from any negotiation process."
To the west, at least six cruise missiles slammed into the Black Sea port city of Odessa. City officials say a strike on an apartment building killed eight people, including a mother and her 3-month-old baby.
Russia's Defense Ministry said missiles destroyed a facility storing weapons supplied by the U.S. and Europe. Russian howitzers opened fire in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine. Despite these forces making some territorial gains along a 300-mile front line, Ukrainian troops have repelled the worst of it, at a significant cost to the Kremlin, according to British military intelligence.
Russian television broadcast live pictures of President Putin attending an Easter Orthodox midnight mass, with the war he started raging on and the deaths of innocent civilians rising by the hour.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: President Zelenskyy said he is open to a direct meeting with President Putin in order to end the war.
In his Easter address, he said: "Our souls are filled with fierce hatred for the invaders and all they have done. Don't let that rage destroy us from within" -- Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you, Charlie.
We turn now to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.
Good morning. Good to have you here, David.
President Zelenskyy in that press conference said weapons transfers have picked up in their pace from the United States. But he also said he expects Secretaries Austin and Blinken to arrive with something more for him. Do you know what that is?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, weapons are going into Ukraine today.
I asked and was told that there are no weapons on the particular train taking Austin and Blinken into Ukraine. But there's clearly this race on to arm the Ukrainians in time for this coming battle. And the U.S. is shipping 90 of these 155-millimeter howitzers into Ukraine, but that's only half of what the Ukrainians need.
The Ukrainians have their own artillery, but it's a smaller caliber. So, the Russians -- excuse me -- the U.S. are -- is asking all sorts of countries who have that smaller caliber to provide it to the Ukrainians. But these countries are not like the U.S., with these vast arsenals.
When you ask them to give up their artillery, that's a big ask. But the race to arm the Ukrainians with heavy artillery is probably going to decide the outcome of this coming battle in the east. And, of course, it looks like the coming battle in the east is going to decide the outcome of the war, so high stakes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And time seems to be of the essence there.
When it comes to what the United States has admitted it is transferring to the Ukrainians, the types of weapons continue to change. Are they still parsing what will provoke Putin? Are they still sort of saying, there are things we cannot do?
DAVID MARTIN: They certainly give every weapon system a clear scrub for, will this cross his red line?
The problem is, nobody knows...
MARGARET BRENNAN: What that is.
DAVID MARTIN: ... what his red line is.
The Russians sent this diplomatic note warning, don't send -- quote, unquote -- "sensitive weapons," because they will produce unpredictable consequences.
Who knows what they consider a sensitive weapon, probably not an artillery piece. But on that list of weapons provided last week, there was something called the Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aerial systems. And I'm reading an awful list here, because last week was the first time I'd ever heard of this thing.
It's a classified program. We can't show a picture of it because there is no picture. But this is a kamikaze drone which flies out, looks around for a target, finds one and dives on the target to kill it. Now, the U.S. has already given the Ukrainians about 700 smaller Switchblade kamikaze drones.
These have a bigger warhead. These have a longer range. Will these be the weapons that cross Putin's red line? Who knows. But there is a dangerous dynamic going on here, which is, the worse Putin does, the more dangerous he gets.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And if he gets backed into a corner, as you have said, the question is, what does he then do?
The U.K. has said that the Russians haven't really fully reorganized and resupplied. Do Ukrainians have an advantage at this moment?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, they certainly have a fighting chance.
Just the battlefield rule of thumb is, the attacker needs a 3-1 advantage over the defender. And Russia tries for a 7-1 advantage. And they just don't have those kinds of numbers.
Beyond that, we have been talking for weeks about all the shortcomings of the Russian military, poor morale, poor command-and-control, poor logistics. Those are not the kind of problems you solve in a few weeks.
An American defense secretary once said, you go to war with the army you have.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DAVID MARTIN: And the war that Russia is going to go with in Eastern Ukraine is essentially the army that went to war in Northern Ukraine and which failed to take Kyiv.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DAVID MARTIN: Just to give you one example, they're trying to encircle the Ukrainian army.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DAVID MARTIN: To do that, some units have to travel 100 miles in order to get...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
DAVID MARTIN: ... in the rear of the Ukrainian army.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, they're...
DAVID MARTIN: In the offensive against Kyiv, they overran their supply lines at 60 miles.
MARGARET BRENNAN: David Martin, great analysis. Thank you.
DAVID MARTIN: Sure thing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden met with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal here in Washington.
We sat down with the prime minister just before he returned to Ukraine, and began our conversation with the situation in Mariupol.
DENYS SHMYHAL (Prime Minister of Ukraine): Mariupol now is surrounded by Russians' army.
Some thousands of our soldiers, some thousands of civilians together with them, it's mostly women and children, are hiding in the basements of these enterprises. Soldiers are protecting the civilians, but quantity of Russian soldiers, quantity of Russian techniques is times -- times more than our soldiers.
But now we have heard that Russians begin to bomb, bombarding this enterprise, these shelters where our soldiers and civilians are saving from their bombs.
So there are terrible atrocities, terrible war crimes on the Mariupol territory.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There have been satellite images of mass graves around the city.
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your government has said Mariupol might be a red line and, because of the atrocities, diplomacy may not be possible.
Are we at that point? Has that line been crossed?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Mariupol is like symbol of brave Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who two months protect their city from Russian invasion, from Russian atrocities.
So this is like symbol for the world. And I think that it will be a red line for the all civilized world, not only for Ukrainian people. So we will protect our country. We will protect our cities. Mariupol will stay until the end because of our soldiers that say that: We will stay here and protect our city until the end.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I heard you say that it might be the worst catastrophe of the century.
So, do you believe, after doing something like that, that Russia can negotiate in good faith?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Russia done many atrocities and many war crimes in Ukraine.
But we understand that this terrible war could be finished only on the table of negotiations, with presence of -- presence of our partners, of world leaders, of civilized countries. But we should sign some papers about finish of this war.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden says he will go to Congress next week and ask for more money to provide weapons to Ukraine.
The last time that happened, it took three weeks for Congress to sign off on funds. Do you have three weeks to wait?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: We count every minute, every hour, not every day, not every week or month, because every minute and every hour, soldiers, civilians, children, women are dying.
Because of this, we need faster decisions. But the United States, European Union, civilized world make many faster decisions. And we are so much grateful for this. We need more support.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, specifically, is it medical supplies you need most? Is it heavy weapons? Is it just cash?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: We need weapon, medical support. But many countries support us because they take our injured soldiers.
The cash, in sense of our budget, is very important for social and humanitarian responsibilities of our state to our people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's $4 billion to $5 billion a month Ukraine needs?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Yes. Yes, because...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you get pledges for that here in Washington?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Yes, we have many negotiations with G20 countries, with international financial organization IMF, World Bank. So all of them approve this amount.
But now, after liberation of some territories of Ukraine, we need also support by finances, by technologies for mine-cleaning activity, because more than 120,000 square miles are under mining and bombs.
Some of the families going back to their house, opening the washing machine or freezers, garages, basements, everything is mined by Russians. And many people, civilians, people are dying now on the liberated territories because of this mining of their houses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.N. secretary-general says he's flying to Moscow next week to meet with Vladimir Putin. Do you think this is any kind of diplomatic breakthrough?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: I'm not sure.
So many leaders of countries of civilized world, international organization try to have this negotiation, but the -- I think the Russian Federation and Putin are not interested in this negotiation. They are interested in other things. They are interested in genocide of Ukrainians. They are interested in creation of migration crisis in Europe and in the world.
They are interested in creation of food crisis, energy crises. I'm not sure are they capable to hold these negotiations in proper way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Here in Washington, did you receive promises of more military training for Ukrainian soldiers?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: We have support from our partners for military training right now. So we are training. We change standards. We study new technologies for our soldiers and our army. So, everything is on its way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Everything's on its way?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe the U.S. wants Ukraine to fight to a stalemate or to actually defeat Vladimir Putin, to actually win?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: I personally think that it's impossible to win the war with -- in the battle with a nuclear state.
We may protect democracy in Europe, on our continent, in the world, but I think that this war should be finished when we clean our territories from Russian occupants.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you saying that a full withdrawal of Russian troops is the only way to end the war?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: I think, yes, if Russians will leave territory of Ukraine, if we'll have guarantees of safety for our country, from our partners, if we will have possibility to recover our country and using Russians' frozen assets.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There's a proposal in Congress to seize some of those frozen Russian accounts and use them to repay damage, to pay for damage in Ukraine.
Did you get guarantees from the U.S. that they're looking at doing that?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: We have these negotiations with the United States, with all of our partners.
This is a very important international issue and task and goal to find a solution how to take these frozen assets and finance recovery of Ukraine in this case. And, for future, it should be, like, standard. If some country will make aggression against another democratic countries, it should pay for this, absolutely for everything.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the $600 billion you said it will take to rebuild Ukraine, you think that can come from the yachts of oligarchs and bank accounts that the U.S. froze?
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Absolutely, as a minimum.
For now, we count all of these damages which and destroying infrastructure, destroying residential building, houses of the people, or the energy infrastructure, enterprises infrastructure, losing of the GDP for our country for many years, because they destroy part of our economy.
So all of this should be paid by Russia, absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your time today.
PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: Thank to you so much. Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full interview can be seen on our Web site at FacetheNation.com.
We will be back in one minute to talk to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There was a lot of confusion last week over masks, mandates and vaccines for the very youngest.
Our Mark Strassmann has more from Atlanta.
PILOT: ... will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all U.S. airports and on board aircraft.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MARK STRASSMANN (voice-over): With that mid-flight announcement, the masks came off. Even passengers stuck in the middle seats applauded.
WOMAN: I would say, hallelujah.
MARK STRASSMANN: A Florida federal judge appointed by former President Trump had ruled the CDC'S mask mandate was unlawful.
The Biden administration, appalled, appealed. The BA.2 subvariant is still spreading. And despite new COVID cases and hospitalizations rising nationally, millions of Americans will celebrate going bare-faced again.
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-Florida): There should be no mandates, period, none.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MARK STRASSMANN: But there are still, and local guidelines prevail. Los Angeles County and New York City still require masks in an airport and for all mass transit.
MAN: I just wish we got a clear answer on what -- what we're going to do with this whole mask mandate. It just seems confusing.
MARK STRASSMANN: Confused and alarmed, immunocompromised Americans and the parents of young children, now surrounded by ever fewer people wearing masks.
No vaccine exists for 18 million American kids under 5. Colorado Governor Jared Polis pushed the Biden administration, criticizing the FDA's lack of action and urgency on a vaccine for young children that would give parents more peace of mind and help put the pandemic behind us.
MARK STRASSMANN: Pfizer is working on a three-dose vaccine for young kids. Moderna has a double-dose alternative that could seek FDA authorization in the next week.
And for frustrated parents, both options could become available sometime this summer -- Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
We go now to Former FDA Commissioner and Pfizer Board Member Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who joins us from Westport, Connecticut.
Good morning to you, Doctor.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB (Former FDA Commissioner): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to kids in a moment. I have got a lot I want to ask you about there. But let's start on the masks.
Put the legal argument aside. As a medical professional, when you get on a plane, are you still going to put a mask on?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I wear a mask when I get on a plane while I'm boarding and also while I'm getting off the plane. I think those are the two points where you're in a congregate setting where there's poor air circulation.
Those really are the risky venues. Those are the risky points in your journey. When you're up in the air, when you're at 10,000 feet, there's pretty good air filtration on a plane. So I don't feel at risk at that moment. So I take my mask off while we're flying. That's been my practice since this mandate got lifted. That's probably what I'm going to continue to do, so long as prevalence remains where it is right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, to be clear, when you say mask, you mean an N95?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, look, I wear a high-quality mask. I wear a KN95 mask.
I think, if you're wearing a poorer-quality mask, a cloth mask or a procedure mask that's not a level three procedure mask, you're probably deriving a lot less protection than what you perceive. Omicron is an airborne pathogen at this point. It's spreading through airborne transmission.
A cloth mask isn't providing a measurable degree of protection. So if you yourself want to protect yourself from this pathogen, you really need to wear a well-fitted higher-quality mask.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Big picture, according to HHS, we are still in a public health emergency.
Are we yet at an endemic -- endemic phase of this?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: No, I don't -- I think this year is really a transition year.
I think this is going to be the year when this becomes more -- more of an endemic illness. There's not going to be a defined point in time when that happens. But what's going to happen is, this is going to settle into more of a seasonal pattern. I do expect prevalence levels to start to decline. We may be peaking right now, if you look at the wastewater data.
Hopefully, over the summer, through the summer, we have pretty low prevalence of this infection. And then we're going to see it reemerge in the fall. The question is, what reemerges?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Is it a new strain of Omicron? And that's going to drive decisions around the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And fall makes kids vaccines even more timely.
So, stay with us. We're going to take this break and come back and finish our conversation with Dr. Gottlieb.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We note the passing of former Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who died yesterday at the age of 88.
He was a frequent guest on this program during his seven terms in the Senate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, more with Dr. Gottlieb, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
So, stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We continue our conversation now with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who's also on the board of Pfizer.
So, Dr. Gottlieb, when I heard the mask mandate being lifted on transportation, I thought of my one-year-old, who I don't want to put on a train and I don't want to put on a plane because I can't put a mask on him and he is not vaccinated.
What are parents of the youngest Americans supposed to do, not travel?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, this is a really difficult situation because we're affectively saying that people need to take matters into their own hands in terms of protecting themselves. We're no longer applying mandates on the entire population. But asking people to individually access their own risk, but not giving everyone the tools they need to do that, particularly young kids who now are going to be made vulnerable in these public settings, but there's no vaccine available for these kids. And I know a lot of parents have been waiting a very long time. There's kids with health conditions that can't get the benefit of a vaccine that could provide them some baseline immunity that could protect them from severe disease. And I think we need to try to make a vaccine available to those children very soon.
In terms of where this stands right now, you know, I'll take each application in turn. Pfizer, as you know, submitted about four months ago the data on their two-month vaccine. The FDA has had that data for about four months and has had the benefit of reviewing it. They deferred making a decision on that vaccine. They didn't feel it was -- it reached the level of efficacy that they had prescribed, which was a threshold of 50 percent effectiveness of preventing symptomatic disease. And so Pfizer is now testing a third dose to see if that will boost the effectiveness of the overall regimen. And the data from that should be available very soon.
Moderna released top line data on their vaccine, on March 23rd. Their two- dose vaccine. And the reports are -- the public reports are they're going to file this week.
My expectation is that FDA is going to hold an advisory committee in early June to discuss one or both of these applications. That gives the agency about six weeks to review the Moderna application, which is consistent with how long the agency has taken to review these applications. It took them five weeks to review Pfizer's 5 to 11 application. And I'm hoping that Pfizer will have all their data in, in time to also be considered at that advisory committee.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: But just in closing, you know, if the Moderna application is ready, and the Pfizer application is not, I think the FDA would and should consider it separately.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that's an important point to make because there was reporting, as you know, in "Politico" this week that there were conversations within the Biden administration worrying if you authorize one vaccine before the others that it will confuse parents. But we adults, one vaccine was authorized and made available before the other. So, is that flawed thinking? Do you know if there's any truth to that reporting?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I don't -- I don't agree with the thinking. But when I just look at the timeline that's laid out here, if you believe that they are going to hold an advisory committee in early June. That's been long rumored. That -- that meeting was supposed to be planned to consider the bivalent (ph) vaccine, the omicron-specific vaccine, and the consideration of the childhood vaccines is going to get latched on to that meeting.
If you -- if you consider that timeline, that gives them about six weeks to review the Moderna application. And I believe that Pfizer is going to have their data in a sufficient time to also meet that deadline.
Six weeks is about what the agency has been taking. They've been reviewing these applications in four -- four to five weeks. Have an adcom (ph) does add additional time. It's going to add an additional week or two.
The final point I would make is, the question of, why are they bringing it before the advisory committee? And that raises the broader question here of whether or not the agency is going to consider vaccines that don't reach their 50 percent threshold approvable. The reason they deferred -- at least in part the reason they deferred the Pfizer vaccine previously is it didn't meet that threshold.
So, this is going to be controversial before the advisory committee. That's why they're taking it before that adcom (ph). I hope there's a favorable outcome for one or both of these vaccines, but I do expect there to be some pushback among those members.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
When we spoke back in January about where Pfizer was with its submission, you did make the argument that it might be advisable to make just two doses available while they looked at a third because some protection is better than none. Is the FDA thinking that way? You -- you mentioned a 50 percent efficacy rate. If the data isn't meeting that benchmark, should these vaccines still be approved?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, the data won't reach that benchmark. The Moderna data is about 40 percent in the data that they released. The Pfizer data -- the previous data was about 40 percent as well. We'll see if the third dose provides additional protection on top of that. But we know these vaccines aren't working very well against omicron in preventing symptomatic disease.
I do believe, from a clinical standpoint, there is value in getting base line immunity into children. Even if you're not going to fully protect them against symptomatic illness, if you can protect them against severe disease and hospitalization, that provides a lot of value, especially children who are venerable, who have health conditions.
So, I think for FDA to authorize these vaccines, they're going to have to come to that view as well because these vaccines are not going to meet their pre-specified target of providing 50 percent efficacy. We know that right now. I mean it's possible that the third dose of the data -- the third doze of the Pfizer vaccine will reach that benchmark. I don't think that's going to be the case because I don't think there will be enough symptomatic cases in that data set to evaluate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
This is an important conversation. We're going to continue to have it and watch what the FDA does very carefully.
Thank you very much.
We turn now to politics.
The midterm elections. We are just over six months away from them. And the question is, will Democrats be able to hold both the House and the Senate.
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us now from Boston.
Good morning to you, Senator.
I know you have some strong thoughts on the matter. I read your op-ed this week. And you warn Democrats could face disaster because they've promised more than President Biden has delivered.
Why do you think Democrats may lose the majority?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Look, Democrats need -- Democrats win when Democrats are in touch with the American people and what's happening to them.
Today, we've got people who are in the checkout line for groceries and having to pick what they're going to send back because they can't afford to pay for it. We've got millions of people across this country who say they're not ready for their student loan payments to resume, that they simply can't manage those loan burdens. We've got millions of people across this country who can't fill up on a tank of gas so they'll be able to get to work this week.
As Democrats, we need to deliver. We need to hit costs head-on. And we have the power to do that. We've got less than 200 days left, though. And instead of looking backwards, let's look forward. Let's get done what we can get done for the American people who elected us, for the American people who are counting on us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Republicans would agree with you inflation is a big problem. It's one of their chief attack points on the president.
You just mentioned student debt. I know you believe the president can just erase it essentially through executive orders. But both the White House and Speaker Pelosi have said he may not have the authority, that Congress would have to act here.
Have you persuaded the White House otherwise?
ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, we know that the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt. And the best way we know that is because President Obama did it. President Trump did it. And President Biden has now done it repeatedly. The power is clearly there and the need --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Extending deadlines, you mean there?
ELIZABETH WARREN: No, no, they have canceled -- remember, they have canceled debt. They both canceled it for people in certain categories entirely, but they have also canceled the interest that is due on people's student loans. They haven't deferred it, they have canceled it, because the power of the -- of cancellation is already in the statute. President Obama, President Trump, President Biden have all done it.
And understand, on cancellation, this is something the American people want, and it's something that tens of millions of people need. Forty percent of the folks who are handling student loan debt don't have a college diploma. These are people who tried but life happened, pregnancy, they were working three jobs, their mom got sick, they had to move to another city.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ELIZABETH WARREN: And now they earn like a high school grad, but they are trying to manage college loan debt and it is crushing them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But at the time of --
ELIZABETH WARREN: In addition, it's a racial equity issue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I'm a --
ELIZABETH WARREN: Go ahead, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm aware with why this is a priority for you, but the concern is, at this moment, it could also be inflationary in an environment where there already is high inflation.
ELIZABETH WARREN: No, it is not inflationary. Not paying student loans has been baked in for three years now. But keep in mind, as President Biden himself says, the way we deal with inflation is not by making people poorer. The way we deal with inflation is we attack high prices head-on, price gouging, we straighten out the supply chains so goods can come into people. We attack it head-on, not by trying to make people poorer. Canceling student loan debt is something that would be good for people all across this country, and, more importantly, good for our economy overall.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You also, in your op-ed, talk about a number of Build Back Better agenda items, child care, universal pre-k, but all 50 Democratic senators do not support that. The president himself has acknowledged this problem. He talked this week just about being able to get to the number 48.
Are Senators Manchin and Sinema changing their minds here? Do you have any different math?
ELIZABETH WARREN: So, look, there are a lot of things on which we all agree. And there are things on which we need to continue the negotiations.
Let's just start actually with price gouging. You know, I think all the Democrats are on board that these giant companies should not be not only passing along costs and inflation, but actually adding an extra dollop so they can pad and expand their profits.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you think this can get done in the next few weeks, before people leave, Memorial Day?
ELIZABETH WARREN: Yes, I do. We've got -- look, we've got nearly 200 days before the next election. We need to be out there fighting. And what we need to fight for are the things that touch America's families directly. People are counting on us. And we can't just sit back and play politics. We need to be in the fight on behalf of the American people. And that means people who are struggling with student loan debt, people who are struggling with high prices, people who are worried about this pandemic. We deliver. Then that's what democracy is about. We can face that election in November with our heads held high.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A few weeks ago, Senator Angus King said, if you have a Franklin Roosevelt policy agenda, you need Franklin Roosevelt majorities. He just comes back to that premise of, we don't have 50 Democratic votes.
So, am I hearing you say, Democrats just need to get caught trying?
ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, what you're hearing me saying, first of all, is that not everything has to go through Congress. We pick the example of student loan debt. That would affect about 43 million people. That matters. It would affect them directly and affect their families.
It's also the case that there are many things that we agree on. We can attack corruption head-on. I've got a bipartisan plan that says members of Congress cannot trade in stocks, they can't own individual stocks. That's something we should be able to agree on and move forward and help restore just a little faith that when we take actions in Congress, it's not to pad our own pockets, it's actually on behalf of the American people.
And look at all the other pieces that the American public tells us they support.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ELIZABETH WARREN: For example, a minimum corporate tax for these giant corporations that pay nothing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: well --
ELIZABETH WARREN: We're all in agreement on that on the Democratic side.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Now, sharp difference with the Republicans, who want them to continue to do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will see --
ELIZABETH WARREN: But that's exactly what we should be pushing forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the president --
ELIZABETH WARREN: We need to be in the fight.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the -- and the president's out there talking about his accomplishments. We'll see if he takes up your advice.
Senator Warren, thank you for sharing it with us.
We'll be right back.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats aren't the only ones facing challenges within the ranks this week. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remains on the defensive, denying that he considered urging former President Trump to resign after the January 6th attack on the Capitol. But audiotapes reveal him talking about doing just that.
Our Robert Costa reports.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I've never asked the president to resign. I never thought he should resign.
ROBERT COSTA (voice over): The House Republican leader's second denial came Friday night after leaked recorded phone calls verified McCarthy telling colleagues, shortly after the Capitol attack, that Mr. Trump had acknowledged bearing some blame for it.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened.
ROBERT COSTA: The conversation were released by the authors of a new book "This Will Not Pass," who reported on the internal party discussions.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: I've had it with this guy.
ROBERT COSTA: McCarthy said he was considering asking Trump to resign, in light of potentially being impeached in the Senate.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: And the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign. I mean that would be my take, but I don't think he would take it.
ROBERT COSTA: McCarthy had called "The Times" reporting totally false and wrong, that is until the audio was released, catching McCarthy flat-footed. But Trump told "The Wall Street Journal" on Friday that McCarthy remains an ally.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we want to turn now to Robert Costa.
Bob, is there going to be any consequences for this?
ROBERT COSTA: Inside of the House Republican conference, his rivals are watching this episode very closely. But based on my reporting, McCarthy is in line to hold the speaker's gavel should Republicans win the majority. Democrats still believe they have a chance, though, of winning the majority and they're watching this all very closely. They would still like to see him speak to the House Select Committee investigating January 6th.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Any chance of that?
ROBERT COSTA: At this point, McCarthy has defied the committee at every turn. A very little chance of that. But the committee still probing other House Republicans as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Bob Costa, thank you very much for your reporting and analysis.
ROBERT COSTA: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We are joined now by Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, which sets monetary policy, including interest rates for the 19 countries that use the euro as a currency.
Madam Lagarde, welcome to the program.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: Thank you, so much, and good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. Good to have you back here in Washington.
We talk often about inflation in this country, but inflation is also at a record high in Europe. The Federal Reserve chair has talked about raising interest rates in this country next month by as much as half a percent to try to get control here.
Why do you think you can wait until the summer?
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: I believe that we share the same resolve, which is to tame inflation, which is to use all the tools that we have to do so. But we're facing a different beast. When I look at my core inflation, which is inflation taking out the most volatile elements, such as energy and food, my core inflation is at 2.9 percent.
Inflation in Europe is very high at the moment. Fifty percent of that is related to energy prices. Pre-Ukraine war, it was already climbing, but the Ukraine war has dramatically increased those prices.
So, we have to use the tools and the sequence, which is appropriate depending on the sources of inflation. If I raise interest rates today, it is not going to bring the price of energy down. So, we have embarked on that journey of gradually removing our commodative (ph) monetary policy. So we will be interrupting the purchases of assets in the course of the third quarter. High probability that we do so early in the third quarter. And then we will look at interest rates and how -- and by how much we hike them.
But we have to be data-dependent because of the sources of inflation that we have at the moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said energy -- high energy and lack of confidence could be persistent here.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that indicate a high degree of concern that we could be tipping into a recession, and can you raise rates without that risk?
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: It -- it's the tradeoff that central bank governors face at the moment. We have to be guided by our mandate, by our objective, which is to restore price stability, which we have all defined as roughly 2 percent. So that -- that's -- that's the mandate.
But, at the same time, we have to do so in a sufficiently well-sequenced, well-calibrated for us in Europe gradual way so that we don't induce recession. We currently are facing, you know, winds that reduce growth and increase inflation. So, we have to navigate between the two, guided by the mandate of price stability and bringing inflation down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've referenced the war with Russia a few times here.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we've all been learning just how dependent Europe is on Russia for its supply of fossil fuels. Germany warned an embargo of Russian gas could cause economic output to drop 5 percent, and yet there are calls for total embargos on Russian gasoline.
I mean is this practical, and how much is the politics impacting this?
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: You know, I think we have to be guided by the purpose that we have. And the purpose we have is to reduce and possibly cancel the financing that is provided to Russia to finance the war, the unjustifiable, illegitimate war of Russia against Ukraine. So we have to adjust the policies, whether it is sanctions, whether it is de-swifting the banks, whether it is cutting out the oligarchs from their assets and their sources of financing, whether it is reducing and eventually cutting out supplies from Russia in such a way that we actually reach the goal we have, which is to reduce financing.
If we were to take abrupt measures that would induce an increase of the price of oil or gas around the world, from which the Russians would eventually benefit, then that would not be the right policy move. So, we have to do it in sufficiently smart and subtle a way so that we actually achieve the goal that we have, which is to reduce the financing.
And I think that's what the Europeans together are looking at, the plan to completely boycott coal has been adopted. There's a lot of work going on concerning oil, concerning gas, and, you know, there will be more stories to tell a bit later on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, in this country there's a lot of debate around how much the government is to blame versus the central bankers for the inflation that we're experiencing. The U.S. spent $6 trillion on Covid relief, $2 trillion on it on President Biden's watch last spring when the economy was already recovering.
Do you think some of this spending in the U.S. exacerbated inflation, because Europe didn't spend like this?
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: We spent -- we, in Europe, spent less in stimulus and I think we spent differently. We spent pretty much half as much as what the U.S. government spent on stimulus and heating up the economy. But we also spent it differently because I think the focus was predominantly on keeping the jobs, not necessarily sending the checks. And as a result of that, people who managed to keep their jobs alive, while not necessarily, you know, going to work because Covid stopped everybody from going to work at some point in time, they had their job. So, when Covid was over, they went back to their jobs.
So, I think that the -- the labor market that you have currently in this country in the U.S., which is incredibly tense, where you have, you know, a lot of jobs that are not filled, where you have plenty of vacancies, we don't have that in Europe at the moment. And the current situation you have on the labor market here in the U.S. is clearly contributing to possible strong inflation and second-round effect, where prices go up, wages go up, short supply of labor, wages continue to go up, and that feeds back into prices. That's one of the differences between our two economies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been in key positions throughout a number of economic crises. How dangerous is this moment that we are in right now?
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: It is a difficult moment, but it's one where a very interesting phenomena developed. If I look from my vintage point at Europe, the Russian aggression against Ukraine has produced three key results. It has resurrected NATO. This is Easter Day, so I'm not -- I'm not, you know, fantasizing here, but it has resurrected NATO. It has united the Europeans more than ever. And it has strengthened a nation, Ukraine. The price of that is terrible.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: The death, the destruction, the devastation, and we are all concerned and all want to help.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: But this is quite an interesting development. And we have to be united and resolved to actually address the situation together because there has to be solidarity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. I have -- I have to end it there because we're out of time.
We'll be back.
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