In his interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” President Joe Biden was asked about a number of issues he’s facing, including the surge of migrants at the border, COVID-19 vaccinations, Russia’s election meddling, the fate of the Senate filibuster and more.
What You Need To Know
- In his interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” President Joe Biden was asked about a number of issues he’s facing
- Biden urged migrants not to come to the border now and said the government is working on a system that will allow people to apply for asylum from their home countries
- Biden said Russian president Vladimir Putin "will pay" after the U.S. declassified an intelligence report Tuesday that said Putin likely directed a campaign aimed at denigrating Biden in last year’s election
- The president suggested the U.S. might not meet the May 1 deadline the Trump administration promised the Taliban for withdrawing the remaining American troops from Afghanistan
Here’s a look at seven of the more interesting topics that were covered.
A day after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. is on pace to encounter the most migrants at the southwest border in 20 years, Biden reiterated to potential asylum seekers that they should not head for the United States right now.
“Yes, I can say quite clearly 'don't come,’” he told “Good Morning America” co-host George Stephanopoulos.
“What we're in a process of getting set up — and it's not going to take a whole long time — is to be able to apply for asylum in place,” he said. “So don't leave your town or city or community.”
Biden also sought to dispel rumors that his administration is allowing migrants to cross the border in droves. He said adults are being turned away but that unaccompanied minors are being placed in custody while the government tries to match them with a sponsor in the U.S., generally a family member.
Biden said he’s perplexed by some people’s refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
“I just don't understand this sort of macho thing about 'I'm not going to get the vaccine, I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it,’” Biden said. “Well, why don't you be a patriot, protect other people?”
During his national address last week, Biden said he hoped Americans could return to hosting small backyard cookouts by the Fourth of July. But he reiterated in the "GMA" interview that Americans must do their part in the meantime to combat the pandemic.
“I won't even be able to meet to July Fourth deadline unless people listened, wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance because not everyone by July Fourth will have been vaccinated,” he said.
Russian Election Meddling
After the U.S. declassified an intelligence report Tuesday that said Russian President Vladimir Putin likely directed a campaign aimed at denigrating Biden in last year’s presidential election, Biden said Putin “will pay a price.”
“We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well,” Biden said of Putin. “And the conversation started off — I said, 'I know you, and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.'”
Biden said “you’ll see shortly” how the U.S. plans to punish Russia.
Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he thinks Putin is a “killer,” and the president answered: “I do.”
Biden also was asked about a story he’s told before about how he once told Putin he had “no soul.”
“I wasn't being a wise guy,” he said. “I was alone with him in his office. That's how it came about. It was when President [George W.] Bush had said, 'I've looked in his eyes and saw his soul.' I said, I looked in your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.' And [he] looked back at me said, 'We understand each other.'”
Troops in Afghanistan
Biden suggested the U.S. might not meet the May 1 deadline the Trump administration promised the Taliban for withdrawing the remaining American troops from Afghanistan.
“I'm in the process of making that decision now as to when they'll leave,” the president said. “The fact is that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the former president worked out. And so we're in consultation with our allies, as well as the government.”
Biden didn’t rule out that a May 1 pullout could still happen, but added “it is tough.” He blamed the lack of cooperation from the Trump administration and his transition team for the uncertainty.
“The failure to have an orderly transition from the Trump presidency to my presidency, which usually takes place from Election Day to the time being sworn in, has cost me time and consequences,” he said.
As of January, there were 2,500 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
Biden said he’d support changing Senate rules to allow for a “talking filibuster” rather than the 60-foot hurdle that currently needs to be cleared to advance most legislation.
Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he’d have to choose between his agenda and the filibuster.
“I don't think you have to eliminate the filibuster,” the president said. “You have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate, and that is that [with] a filibuster you had to stand up and command the floor. Once you stopped talking, you lost that and someone could move in and say, 'I move the question of.' So you’ve got to work for the filibuster.”
Biden said, with the current filibuster rules, “it almost is getting to the point where democracy's having a hard time functioning.”
Biden said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should resign if an investigation confirms the allegations of sexual harassment against him. The president added “he'd probably end up being prosecuted, too.”
“A woman should be presumed to be telling the truth and should not be scapegoated and become victimized by her coming forward,” Biden said. “ … But there should be an investigation to determine whether what she says is true. That is going on.
Major the Dog
Biden’s dogs made news last week after his 3-year-old German shepherd, Major, was involved in a biting incident at the White House. The dogs were sent to Delaware shortly after, but Biden said that trip had already been planned because he and first lady Jill Biden were scheduled to be away from the White House and that the dogs will return to Washington.
Biden said Major’s bite — reportedly to a member of the White House security team — did not penetrate the skin and that the rescue dog was simply being protective around an unfamiliar person.
The president added that Major is a “sweet dog” and that “85% of the people there love him. All he does is lick them and wag his tail.”
Biden also has a 12-year-old German shepherd named Champ.