Axios (2018) s04e06 Episode Script

Season 4, Episode 6

Washington, D.
All right.
The elephant in the room / Sen.
Lindsey Graham, R-SC Four years ago, the Republican Party had the House, the Senate, and the White House.
And now, you've lost all three.
Why do you think that happened? Well, we lost more seats than we had before and we didn't get enough votes.
But the way I look at the 2020 election cycle is fairly optimistic.
We picked up seats in the House.
We held our own in the Senate.
Probably shoulda won Georgia but we didn't.
And 44,000 votes would have made Trump president in the right states.
To what extent do you think that result was because of Trump, losing all of those? I think most likely the reason we fell short in Arizona and Georgia when other Republicans did pretty well is because suburban women left the Trump team.
That's what I think.
Probably tone more than policy.
You are encouraging Trump himself to run again in 2024.
And I just don't understand how You don't really believe that, do you? You're just BS-ing him, so he doesn't go off and form a third party.
- A third party would be a disaster.
- I know.
You're stroking his ego.
He should keep his options open.
You don't really want him to be the candidate in 2024.
Well, all I can say is that I want our most electable person running.
What about climate change? You talked about it a lot previously.
- Not so much in the Trump era.
- It's real.
How high a priority should it be in terms of the federal government? Somewhere between, "The world's gonna end in ten years," and doing nothing.
- You could say Trump did nothing.
- I can say that Trump has - He didn't believe in it.
- I don't know.
He's told me.
Come on.
Don't give me the shit.
Okay, so he signs an op-ed piece.
Go find the op-ed piece.
- Oh, give me a break, op-ed piece! - In 2012, he signs an op-ed piece.
He signs an op-ed piece saying climate change is an existential threat to mankind.
- But you need to talk to him, not me.
- I have.
I know he doesn't.
He thinks it's all nonsense.
And he showed that with his actions.
So here's what I would say about climate change.
It's real.
I think it's a threat to the planet.
And how do you solve it? The future is going to be the electrification of the vehicle fleet.
Why don't we accelerate the future? I remember you condemned Trump when he pulled out of Paris.
You said it was a signal the Republican Party believed climate was a hoax.
I wanted a better deal.
And you said that it was a bad move.
And then you say in January that if Biden gets in, it would be terrible for the economy It needs to be a better deal.
I told him I said, "You're right to want a better deal.
I think it's wrong to get out.
" So then if it's wrong to get out, how could it be so bad to get back in? I think you want to get back in on more favorable terms for the United States.
But you don't really think it's gonna wreck the economy.
- I think the deal was bullshit.
- Right.
It's voluntary.
- It's a buncha bullshit.
- But it doesn't wreck the economy.
I'm not sayin' it wrecks the economy.
It doesn't save the world either.
So here's what will wreck the economy: if you have a transition period that the economy can't absorb.
I just want to know.
In January, you told Fox News, direct quote, "If Biden," quote, "does go back into the Paris Climate Accords, that's a disaster for the U.
" What you're doing is if you're gonna meet the standards of Paris, that costs money, doesn't it? You advocated for staying.
You couldn't have advocated for a disaster.
I'm advocating to make the deal for the U.
economy comprehensive in the sense that you deal with carbon emitters.
Our economy is going to more of a carbon-neutral footprint than the Chinese, the Indians, or the Russians, or anybody else.
Why don't you try to push them, too? Are you gonna try and work with Biden on climate? So here's what I told I talked to Kerry.
"Let's start" You already talked to John Kerry since Biden's been president? Yeah.
So let's start with the Highway Trust Fund.
We have to reauthorize it.
So why don't we redesign the trust fund so that it can capture revenue from an increasing electric fleet? Carbon tax? You previously advocated for that.
Wwhen you put a price on carbon, everything else works.
Do you think you can get ten Republicans to support it? I don't know.
This is the game to play.
The way for me to get Republicans is to get business.
- Right.
- And John Kerry gets this.
To his credit, Sheldon Whitehouse, to their credit, they understand.
- Is this the new Three Amigos? - No.
But to their credit, they understand that coalitions matter.
Who are the other Republicans senators at least in the sort of space of being willing to have that conversation? I don't want to rat anybody out.
But it's more than you would think if you can make it business friendly.
"Rat them out" for, like, being willing to even think about.
Well, this is a tough issue on our side, you know? But there are some issues I can name that are tough on the other side.
You got car companies that are willing to make a major transition in their fleet.
Next thing you know, you can make a lot of money moving toward a lower-carbon economy.
So what am I tryin' to do? Tryin' to take the people who are driven by the environment and people see a chance to make a buck come together.
I want to talk to you about the Capitol riot.
On January 7th, you gave that press conference and you said that Trump was the problem, not the solution, his actions.
I really want to understand you on this.
They attacked the Capitol.
He revved them up.
These guys, Trump flags, crashed into the Capitol.
Five people died.
You said he tried to get Pence to do something illegal unconstitutional.
I just don't get how after all of that you go down to Mar-a-Lago and you're best pals with him again.
Well, because he is a dominant force in the Republican Party.
- Five people died.
It was pretty bad.
- People had heart attacks.
So But do I think he's legally responsible? No, no.
I'm not talking about legally.
I'm talking about morally.
It's up to the American people to determine if they want the Trump movement to continue.
I'm just asking about you and him.
You're someone who lives like, you're a military guy.
You live by a code.
So, Donald Trump was my friend before the riot.
And I'm trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot.
I still consider him a friend.
What happened was a dark day in American history, and we're gonna move forward.
So here's what you need to know about me.
I want this to continue.
I want us to continue the policies that I think will make America strong.
I believe the best way for the Republican Party to do that is with Trump, not without Trump.
Not only does he show no remorse.
He's still telling everyone he won in a landslide.
And I tell him every day that he wants to listen that I think the main reason he probably lost in Arizona is beatin' on the dead guy called John McCain.
Do you think you could have won reelection without being an ardent supporter of President Trump? - Here's the thing.
My election's over.
- Yeah.
I could throw him over tomorrow.
Why aren't I? Yeah.
That's what I really don't understand.
Well, then you don't understand me very much.
I don't.
That's why I'm asking you.
I could say, you know, "That's it.
It's over.
It's done.
" That's just too easy.
What's hard is to take a movement that I think is good for the country try to get the leader of the movement, who has got lots of problems facing him and the party, and see if we can make a go of it.
Mitt Romney didn't do it.
John McCain didn't do it.
There's something about Trump.
There's a dark side and there's some magic there.
What I'm tryin' to do is just harness the magic.
To me, Donald Trump is a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, and P.
It's just this bigger-than-life deal.
He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know can make it.
He can make it bigger.
He can make it stronger.
He can make it more diverse.
And he also could destroy it.
Shot in the arm / Pfizer CEO Dr.
Albert Bourla - Hi, Dr.
- Oh, hello, hello.
- Thanks for havin' us.
- Oh, thank you for coming.
Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, developed the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
It was the first vaccine to use mRNA, a technology that offers great promise in fighting many diseases and some types of cancer.
Albert Bourla became CEO of Pfizer in 2019.
A year into this pandemic, we have not just a vaccine but one that's using mRNA technology.
What made you want to take a chance on a technology that hadn't yet been across the finish line? My scientists, they told me that you can do in weeks things that you need months to do with other vaccines.
So that would allow us to move very fast.
Not only have you brought a vaccine to market in record speed.
It's also among the most effective vaccines on the market, period.
Why is it so much more effective than, say, the flu vaccine, which is 40-60% efficacy? Very different conditions, very different virus, different technologies that are used.
Everything creates a unique situation.
And I believe it is the technology which is cutting edge.
And I believe we are in the beginning of a new generation of vaccines that in general are going to be much more effective.
Should we go back and retool these vaccines, maybe using mRNA, now that we know 50% efficacy is kind of settling? This was the real reason why we started working on the mRNA technology, because we believed we can give a solution to thi s mediocre situation that exists right now with flu vaccines.
We learned a lot about the RNA technology during this vaccine process.
We concentrated five, six years of infrastructure investments into 18 months.
We are ready for a flu vaccine based on the infrastructure what we have built, based on the scientific expertise.
Of course, we need to develop it, to go through clinical studies.
But that will be our high priority.
So when we're talking about effectiveness of the vaccine, how afraid of COVID variants do you think we should be? I don't think we should be afraid.
I think we should be prepared.
If we see in the event that a variant is requiring an adaptation of the vaccine, to be able to do it very, very quickly.
Within a hundred days to have a new vaccine.
Do you have that capability right now? To be accurate, our scientists are telling me we are 116 days.
And I tell them, "Less than a hundred.
" I know them.
They will do it.
But you can't distribute a new vaccine to the entire U.
population, let alone the entire world, every 116 days.
How will you make sure people get the right vaccine at the right time? We should only bring a new vaccine if we need a new vaccine.
For example, we are trying right now a study that already started in the U.
what the booster of a third dose of the same vaccine six months later of the second dose can do to protect individuals even from the most aggressive variants like the South African one.
The third booster in our case, in our vaccines, is expecting to rise antibodies maybe tenfold.
And if your antibodies are so high, it's very likely that you will be protected against all these variants.
We will also check and compare how a new booster six months later of a new, adapted vaccine, a little bit modified could work.
I believe we will end up in a situation at least for the next decade if not for life, that we will have annual re-vaccination.
Is it justifiable to give Americans a third shot before people in other countries have received one shot? There are a lot of ethical considerations in that.
And what we as a health care company must do is to have equitable distribution of the vaccines to all.
And the best way to do that is not by choosing who is getting it.
It is by increasing your production so that everyone can get it.
Right now, the U.
government is purchasing the Pfizer doses directly from Pfizer, paying about $20 a dose.
Is that sustainable in the long term? It's true that the price of $20 is a price for pandemic negotiated with the government, they will give it for free to the people.
And that's why we're giving them so low price.
We will see if we go to the open market, maybe.
That we see vaccine prices much more closer to the current vaccines for flu or for other diseases with these high-end technologies.
These vaccines are always gonna be necessary in that case If price becomes an obstacle, that would be bad for society.
It will be terrible for society if price becomes an obstacle.
We should never have a situation like that, particularly for a vaccine.
Last time I think you got asked this, the answer was no, but have you yet received a vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine? - I did.
- You did? - When did you get it? - I got it almost three weeks ago.
- So I'm about to get the second dose.
- And how was it? If I can use one word, "liberated.
" 3.
Manchin in the middle / Sen.
Joe Manchin, D-WV Centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the pivotal vote in the evenly divided Senate as it narrowly passed President Biden's COVID-19 stimulus package through a reconciliation bill.
According to Senate rules, a reconciliation bill only needs a simple majority to pass - instead of a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
Chairman, we're in your lair.
You're Chairman Manchin.
These are the Energy Committee chambers.
But you hate being called the second most powerful man in Washington, but we have a 50/50 Senate.
You're a Democrat from a state that President Trump won easily.
You're willing to stand up to a Democratic president.
You are America's deciding vote.
Let me just say I truly believe in my heart of hearts that Joe Biden is the right person at the right time and in the right place.
But you're willing to stand up to him, and not every Democrat is.
No, I never And he respects he understands it.
He's the first president we've had that really, really understood the workings of the Senate since LBJ.
Well, you talk LBJ.
So why don't you lean in? I've seen people who had power and abused it.
I've seen people who sought power for the sake of power and destroyed themselves.
And I have seen people that seized the moment, the moment in time to make a difference and to change things.
There's a lot of your Democratic colleagues though that want to do that.
They say "We've got power.
Use it.
We're gonna use every tool on the table.
" I would say this to my friends.
You've got power and you want to use it? Don't abuse it.
And that's exactly what you'll be doing if you throw the filibuster out.
What's the most aggressive progressive liberal policy that you agree with, will support, will work for? Everybody thinks Joe Manchin's not Democrat enough.
And climate's now your bailiwick as chairman of the Energy Committee.
That's right.
And climate is real.
Climate change is real, and humans have made a tremendous impact on our climate.
And we have a tremendous responsibility to fix it.
And we can do that.
Some of your Republican colleagues won't say that.
- Well, I think they know it.
- But they won't say it.
Well, they need to.
I'm gonna work on that, too.
That's another job for me.
We're taking on debt like never before.
Are we nearing a point where we will be too big not to fail? First thing I get every morning, I wake up, one of my staff sends me the national debt every day.
We just went over $28 trillion two days ago.
- Literally top of mind for you.
- Top of my mind every time, okay? My good friend Mitt Romney, we talk about it all the time.
How do we save Social Security? How do we save Medicare? These are things that we have to confront and do.
Since that point of view is pretty out of fashion, are you worried the debt is getting too big not to fail? I'm worried about a tremendous deep recession that could lead into a depression if we're not careful.
All we do is print more money.
The House has passed President Biden's $1.
9 trillion COVID relief plan that's now in the Senate.
Do you think a single Republican will vote for it? I really do, if we'd worked harder in a bipartisan way, trying - But now it's too late.
- But now it's too late.
Reconciliation is not a team sport, and it's not a healthy situation.
And it's something we should not repeat.
After you swallow the COVID relief plan President Biden is gonna have a second package.
You're laughing, but a second package maybe even bigger probably, focused on infrastructure and energy, climate.
That's all good.
But I'm not gonna do it through reconciliation.
If my my fellow Democrats have bought on that you have no Republican friends that'll work in a reasonable matter, I don't subscribe to that.
And I am not gonna get on a bill that cuts them out completely before So you're gonna insist on 60 votes? To get on to reconciliation, you have to vote to proceed.
I have told them I will not vote to proceed until we try.
Now, here's the thing though.
Maybe they're right.
Maybe I'm wrong.
But if we try to work and sit down through this committee, and they have their input to the bill, we have amendments to the bill, we work on a piece, infrastructure.
So you believe that you can get ten Republicans on an infrastructure bill? - I sure do.
If we do it right.
- So you're optimistic? I'm saying 50/50 gives you an absolute opportunity to make the place work.
Would you support any kind of filibuster reform? The only thing that I have even considered or thought of is basically some through the history how it used to be.
- Making them talk.
- There should be pain to a filibuster.
- Maybe the talking basically.
- You gotta read the phone book.
That's it.
Do whatever.
But make sure there's a little bit of pain.
Just don't say, "We don't not gonna vote.
I'm not gonna vote for that.
" What other pain? Well, you have the pain, the filibuster talking filibuster.
They've talked before some of the rules could be changed a little bit.
But not to the point where just a simple majority rules.
That's all.
How often do you talk to President Biden? As much as needed.
I'm not gonna bother him.
And he'll call me sometimes and we have a talk.
We have a great relationship.
I have all the admiration and respect for this man.
I really do.
- He calls your cell phone? Or? - Yeah, they call me.
They can find me.
The president of the United States does not have trouble of finding any But you talk to him once a week? Or once a month? Sometimes twice a week, sometimes maybe once every month or every other.
How often do you talk to moderate Republican colleagues, the difference makers who could support pieces of the Biden agenda? Daily, hourly.
All the time.
Is President Biden being as bipartisan as he said he would be? He wants to be.
Truly in his heart of hearts, he wants to be.
- What's stopping him? - He has to get some things done.
So he's gotta hit the run ground running.
I understood that.
Chairman Manchin, as we say goodbye, when you're in D.
, you live on a houseboat.
I promise not to do my John Denver, but it's called? - Almost Heaven.
- West Virginia.
Mountain Momma.
And you have your colleagues out as guests.
What's the difference between a Republican guest and a Democratic one? Not at all.
- That's kinda the point, right? - Lee Greenwood.
I met Lee and became friends with Lee.
And I was talking to him one time.
I said, "Lee, I want to say one thing.
You know at the end of the night I bring people out to the boat.
We talk, we get to talking back and forth.
We eat, have a drink or two.
And then at the end, before we all leave, we put your song on, Lee.
We put your song, Lee Greenwood's Proud to Be an American, we put that song on.
We all grab arms and hug.
" Why do you live on a boat? I look forward to that day, floatin' away.
There'll be a time for me to pick up the anchor, take the lines off the dock, and move on.
All that glitters isn't gold / cryptocurrency company Ripple Cryptocurrencies were valued at $1.
7 trillion this year.
Ripple created one of the world's largest cryptocurrencies, XRP, which recently lost 40% of its value after Ripple was sued by the U.
Securities and Exchange Commission.
Axios headquarters ARLINGTON, VA - Hey Dan.
How are you doin'? - Good, Jim.
Good to see you.
So let's talk about cryptocurrency.
It's more real than people think.
It is.
There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of cryptocurrencies.
And most of them are basically worthless.
But, again, they're only worthless because people have decided that they're worthless.
Bitcoin only has more value than ether, which is the number two cryptocurrency, because more people have decided to buy it and sell it.
What is Ripple, why does it matter and where do they fit in? They are essentially a payments or cross-border payments company.
They're trying to make it cheaper for us to send money across borders.
But they created a cryptocurrency called XRP.
And the reason why it matters, first, is because it is one of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world; and, secondly, because the SEC recently sued Ripple for a lot of money, saying, "XRP isn't like gold.
It's like a security.
It's like a stock.
And when you guys started selling it, you didn't register it with us and we want it shut down.
" Ripple headquarters SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Brad.
- Dan, how are you? - Not bad.
How you doin'? - Really good to see you.
Been a while.
Lots of people over the last several weeks, last several months have been watching cryptocurrency prices, particularly bitcoin, although sometimes it has a big rise, and then falls suddenly, everyone freaks out, and then it goes back up again.
How should ordinary people think about this volatility? No, look, I agree with that.
It's one of the limiting factors for it to be an accepted currency, an accepted means of payment broadly.
Right now you have a lot of volatility.
As it gains more acceptance, I think you will continue to see, as you have already seen, volatility actually decrease.
Is it fair to say right now a lot of crypto prices are just speculation? It's all speculative until you're actually using it to solve a problem.
What was the problem that XRP was developed to solve? Bitcoin uses something called "mining," the idea of proof of work to validate a transaction.
Mining means it consumes a lot of energy.
It is very pollutive in terms of carbon.
And the original architects of the XRP ledger realized that as bitcoin became more prevalent, as it became more used, as the price went up, there's a scalability challenge: the speed of a transaction and the cost per transaction.
You have seen times where it can take hours for a bitcoin transaction to be confirmed.
The XRP ledger is extremely efficient in terms of cost and in terms of speed.
Is it fair to say that even within the cryptocurrency community that XRP is controversial, more than other large cryptocurrencies? I think part of that is we used XRP to partner with the exact institutions that some in the crypto community have sought to disrupt: governments, banks.
We have decided, "Let's work with governments.
Let's work with banks.
" The cost of remittances cross-border is profound.
It's expensive, and it's slow.
At the core, Ripple seeks to make that massively more efficient, with real-time transactions cross-border at a very low cost.
The sad thing for me is the communities that can least afford this are those that are most taxed with those fees.
All right.
So in December, the SEC sues Ripple.
And the gist of it is they say, "You guys by selling XRP," or releasing it into the community, as you'd say, "it was a security, not an asset, not gold.
It's more like a stock.
And you didn't register it.
What you did was illegal.
" That lawsuit I think is misguided.
I think the idea that XRP is a security, it traded out there for eight years.
If it was a security, I guess we should have known that a long time ago.
So is your basic defense, "You let us trade it for years, and thus no givsies-backsies"? Is that basically your response? No.
If you own a security, it gives you ownership of a company.
If Ripple goes away, XRP's gonna keep trading.
Many countries around the world, the U.
, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore they all have clarity and certainty that XRP is not a security.
In fact, the United States is the only country on the planet that has suggested that XRP is a security.
This isn't just bad for Ripple.
It'sbad for crypto broadly in the U.
, and it's driving that entrepreneurial activity outside the United States.
I think that definitely bodes poorly for the U.
crypto industry at large.
If you believe these are the future infrastructures for payment networks, we should care about what countries have control over those technologies.
What do you believe that whether it be the SEC or the Treasury Department, needs to do in terms of crypto regulation to make the market work better? We need clarity and we need certainty.
That answer is not just about XRP.
That answer is not just about Ripple.
The crypto industry at large has lacked clarity and certainty.
The U.
, where we were way ahead in the development of the internet, we passed laws and had that regulatory clarity very early.
And that allowed investors to come in.
It allowed entrepreneurs to build.
We have not done that with blockchain technologies, with digital assets.
Why should an average or a normal American care whether we lead in crypto or don't? These are core infrastructure technologies to the future.
I think our lack of leadership around a next-generation technology like blockchain is not good for the United States.
1955, a year of anxiety and triumphs.
A major medical hurdle was crossed with the discovery by Dr.
Jonas Salk of the anti-polio vaccine, which was to spread a mantle of protection over millions of children.
And the scientist entered the ranks of the medical immortals.
Leading drug firms shifted into high gear to meet a national demand, which spread to every crossroads despite early controversy.
Each hastily set up center became a mecca for anxious parents shepherding little Johnny and little Jill to their inoculations.
They're protected, and it didn't hurt a bit.

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