February 25, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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February 25, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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02/25/2022 | 56m 45s | Video has closed captioning.
February 25, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: war in Europe.
Russian forces close in on Kyiv, as Ukrainians struggle to repel the invasion.
We speak to the head of NATO about the West's response.
Then: the nominee.
President Biden chooses federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill the coming Supreme Court vacancy, the first Black woman ever nominated.
Plus: the mask question.
New CDC guidelines recommend Americans in most parts of the country can safely stop wearing face coverings indoors.
And it's Friday.
David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the president's Supreme Court pick and the American response to the war in Ukraine.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: We have two major stories tonight.
President Biden has chosen Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
We will delve into that news later in the program.
But first to the war in Ukraine.
The battle for the capital city of Kyiv appears to be under way, with Russian missile and airstrikes on the city and reports of pitched fighting on its outskirts.
Ukrainian President Zelensky spoke tonight and told the people of Kyiv to prepare for the storming of the city by Russian forces, this as fighting continues in the central, southern, and eastern reaches of Ukraine.
And this evening, President Biden requested that Congress fund $6.4 billion in humanitarian aid and defense aid for Ukraine.
Again tonight, Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It has been 81 years since the world witnessed this, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million, under large-scale attack for the first time since it was sacked by Nazi Germany, this apartment complex hit not by a Russian missile, but by the remains of a Russian plane shot down by Ukrainian defenses.
And as sirens blare above, exhausted families filled metro stations that double as bomb shelters.
They fled their homes with only what they could carry, including furry friends and the prized possessions that help a people under siege maintain their spirits, as is Ukraine's military.
It shot down this Russian aircraft, and a senior U.S. defense official says Russia is - - quote -- "not advancing as far or as fast as they believed they would be."
Ukrainian military command-and-control remains intact.
And President Volodymyr Zelensky hit the streets and social media to urge defiance.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President (through translator): We defend our independence.
That's how it'll go.
Glory to our defenders, both male and female.
Glory to Ukraine.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But all is not well on the southern front.
Russian troops leaving occupied Crimea are pouring in, captured on a CCTV camera, before a soldier climbed a pole to point the camera down.
A senior U.S. defense official says Russian troops in the south are advancing past Kherson, and splitting off, and heading toward Mariupol.
In Kakhovka, Russian forces are battling for a dam and power plant.
On the Sea of Azov, thousands of Russian troops are coming ashore, and Russia continues its assaults toward Kyiv and in the east on Kharkiv, where journalists took cover in drainage pipes, and military vehicles were left smoldering.
For many Ukrainians, it's all gotten too much.
Soldiers had to fire warning shots at Kyiv's train station.
Thousands are trying to flee.
Families who make it to Romania's border have to split up.
Ukraine blocked 18-to-60-year-old men from leaving.
Juliana (ph) is from Western Ukraine.
WOMAN: We don't believe Putin, and we have our daughter.
So, we are afraid.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Alona (ph) from Kyiv: WOMAN: There are lots of fights, so that's awful.
There is nothing good there, just blood, ruins, and all the worst that war can bring with it.
NICK SCHIFRIN: War has also brought Russia economic punishment.
Today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the U.S. is sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
JEN PSAKI, White House Press Secretary: What we are hoping the world takes away from this is the unity through which the United States, President Biden is working with our European partners and allies.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The European Union and United Kingdom today did the same.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: ANNALENA BAERBOCK, German Foreign Minister (through translator): Today, we answer with an absolutely clear message: This will drive Russia to ruin.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: There's a full-fledged invasion of a partner country that borders several NATO-allied countries.
NICK SCHIFRIN: For the first time today, NATO activated its Response Force, which allows up to 40,000 additional NATO troops, to bolster the eastern flank.
NATO allies worry any conflict in Ukraine could spread to the rest of Europe.
Today, American F-35s landed in Romania.
And the first of more than 300 American soldiers arrived yesterday in Latvia.
Despite it all, today, Zelensky, speaking in Russian, offered diplomacy.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President (through translator): I'd like to address the Russian president again.
Fighting is going on in the entire territory of Ukraine.
Let's sit down for talks to put a stop to people dying.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Russian officials responded with mixed messages, but Foreign Minister Lavrov said Russia's goals remained maximalist.
SERGEY LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister (through translator): Russia will provide the demilitarization of Ukraine.
Russia will provide the denazification of Ukraine.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But these Russians want nothing of the sort.
For the second straight day, thousands protested.
And for the second straight day, police shut it down.
Independent researchers say authorities detained hundreds in more than two dozen cities.
In Washington today, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova urged the West to impose stronger sanctions and send more weapons.
OKSANA MARKAROVA, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States: We would like, together with friends, allies, and partners, and definitely together with all of our armed forces, to get there faster, so we are not losing the bravest and the best we have.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But some of Ukraine's bravest have already fallen.
This soldier livestreamed an attack.
He and 12 fellow soldiers died guarding Snake Island off Ukraine's coast.
Back in the capital, at the epicenter of today's destruction, Kyiv residents cleaned up.
This is only day two, and they fear what's to come.
But, for now, they sing Ukraine's national anthem, ending with "Long live Ukraine."
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
He was at NATO headquarters in Brussels when I spoke with him this afternoon.
Mr. Stoltenberg, thank you very much for joining us.
You have just completed a virtual summit with members of NATO, their leaders.
My question is, is there a consensus from NATO now on whether there's any way to stop the Russians from overtaking Ukraine, overtaking its capital, Kyiv, and overtaking the government?
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: All NATO allies expressed their strong support to Ukraine, and they called on Russia to cease the attacks on an independent, sovereign nation, Ukraine.
What NATO does is that we impose severe costs on Russia, the economic sanctions.
And the U.S. is leading by imposing severe sanctions on Ukraine.
And then we also, NATO allies, provide, continues to provide support to Ukraine, military, civilian, financial support, to help them in an extremely dangerous and difficult situation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But does that mean there's no way to stop the Russians from doing what they say they're going to do?
JENS STOLTENBERG: We provide them support, because Ukraine is a highly valued partner, and we worked with them for many, many years.
And the Ukrainian army is much better trained, much better equipped, much, much bigger now than in 2014, not least because of the significant support from the United States and other NATO allies.
But we have made it clear that we are not going to send in NATO troops to fight on the ground.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there anything more that NATO and its members can do to help the Ukrainian people?
We know Ukraine is not a member.
But you yourself have said the whole European security order is threatened.
JENS STOLTENBERG: NATO allies provide support and continue to support Ukraine in many different ways.
And NATO allies, the United States and other allies, and also the European Union, have just announced unprecedented economic sanctions to make sure that there are real costs to be paid by Russia for its reckless behavior.
But I think, if NATO went into Ukraine, we'd have reached something which is even worse than what we see today, and that is a big conflict involving many countries in Europe.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you announced today the NATO Response Force, at least part of it, is being deployed.
But, in the near-term, is that going to be enough to make a difference?
JENS STOLTENBERG: That makes a huge difference, because we are sending a very clear message to Russia that an attack on one ally will trigger a response from the whole alliance.
And to demonstrate the credibility of that, we are increasing the presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the alliance, on land, at sea, and in the air.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How concerned are you, Mr. Stoltenberg, though, that once -- if Russia is able to take hold in Ukraine, that the next stop may be Poland, may be the Baltics, that this is what Russia has in mind?
What happens then?
JENS STOLTENBERG: Well, if there is any attack on any NATO allied country, like Poland or the Baltic countries, then the whole alliance will be there.
That's the purpose of NATO, one for all, all for one.
And, in a way, to make sure that there is no room for miscalculation in the Kremlin, in Moscow, about that, we have increased the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the alliance.
So, NATO will be there from day one with significant capabilities.
But what has happened in Ukraine has already created a new normal for European security.
This is changing the way we can think about engaging with Russia and will have some long-term consequences, both when it comes to our deterrence posture, the need for forces, troops throughout the alliance, but also how to engage with Russia in the future, because Russia has proven that they are willing to use force to get their will.
And that is undermining core principles for European security, which has been of great importance for many decades.
JUDY WOODRUFF: If NATO's not able to stop Russia and Ukraine, is it definitely going to be able to stop Russia if it were to move on another NATO country -- on a NATO country?
JENS STOLTENBERG: Absolutely.
Make no mistake, NATO is the strongest military alliance in history, and we will defend every ally against any threat, and we will defend every inch of NATO territory.
But we are not deploying NATO troops to Ukraine.
I understand the frustration.
I understand the suffering they are -- they are seeing in Ukraine.
But I think we need to understand also that NATO has some core responsibilities.
We're living up to them.
And then NATO allies are actually those countries in the world that has helped Ukraine the most.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You have stressed, Mr. Stoltenberg, the unity of NATO members of Europe.
And yet, when we look at economic sanctions right now, several European countries are opposed, at least according to President Biden, opposed to moving ahead with putting restrictions on Russia's access to this SWIFT system, the global banking system.
Is that a mistake on the part of Europe right now and the United States, that they're not able to move together to impose this sanction on Russia?
JENS STOLTENBERG: But European allies, the European Union and the other NATO allies, as the United States, Canada, Norway, also the European Union, they have been very closely coordinated.
They are now imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia, including their banking sector, which has very much the same consequences.
It has consequences for the way they can conduct, for instance, payments or finance Russian debt, which has severe consequences for the whole economy.
And we have seen that demonstrated in the Russian stock market and the value of the Russian ruble today.
So, this is -- this has severe consequences for the Russian economy.
It will have long-term consequences.
And it will take some time before we see the full consequences.
But what is clear is that Russia has to pay a high price when they violate international law and invade another country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There have been unconfirmed reports that President Zelensky may be prepared to talk to President Putin about having a non-aligned relationship, in other words, saying that Ukraine would never -- pledging never to join NATO.
Again, they are unconfirmed, but do you have a position on whether that's a good idea?
JENS STOLTENBERG: My main position is that it is for Ukraine to decide its own future, to choose its own path.
And we should respect that decision.
And that's the case for all countries, that they should decide themselves whether they want to belong to an alliance as NATO or not belong to it.
What we see now is that we have a full-fledged invasion.
We have people killed.
We have the use of the Russian armed forces to try to force their will on Ukraine.
And that's the opposite of respecting the free, independent choice of a democratic country, Ukraine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question, Mr. Stoltenberg.
Do you have a message today for the people of Ukraine and for President Putin?
JENS STOLTENBERG: To President Putin, the message is that Russia should cease its aggression against Ukraine immediately and withdraw all its forces and respect Ukraine as an independent, sovereign nation.
To the people to the people of Ukraine, my message is that we stand in solidarity with them, we continue to provide support.
And I would like to also pay my respect to the people of Ukraine and the courage of the Ukrainian armed forces.
JUDY WOODRUFF: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, thank you very much for talking with us.
We appreciate it.
JENS STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, President Biden delivered on his promise to nominate the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
After a month-long search to fill the seat of retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, Biden selected a former Breyer court clerk and sitting federal judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Biden and Jackson celebrated this highly anticipated and historic announcement at the White House.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Today, I'm pleased to nominate Judge Jackson, who will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous judicial record to the court.
Judge Jackson deserves to be confirmed as the next justice of the Supreme Court.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, Supreme Court Nominee: If I'm fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden called Judge Jackson last night to extend the offer, a nomination that's been decades in the making for the federal appellate judge.
Geoff Bennett reports on how she got to this place.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I'm even-handedly applying the law in every case.
GEOFF BENNETT: Ketanji Brown Jackson has a resume seemingly tailor-fit for the moment, Harvard grad, Supreme Court clerk, and a federal judge with a deep history in public service.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: There is a direct line from my defender service to what I do on the bench.
GEOFF BENNETT: D.C.-born and Miami-raised, Jackson stood out early, excelling in high school as class president and on the debate team.
Even then, her goal was clear.
She's quoted in her senior yearbook, saying: "I want to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment."
Her teenage years were key to achieving that, as she put it in 2017: JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: It was my high school experience as a competitive speaker that taught me how to lean in, despite the obstacles.
GEOFF BENNETT: With honors degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law, Jackson scored three federal clerkships, including one under the justice she may now replace.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Justice Breyer plucked me from obscurity and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.
NEAL KATYAL, Former Acting U.S.
Solicitor General: And I will say, she is adored among the Breyer clerk family.
GEOFF BENNETT: She made a lasting impression, said fellow Breyer clerk and former acting U.S. solicitor General Neal Katyal.
NEAL KATYAL: She is fearless, and, also, she's a real person.
And, sometimes, that's not always true with Supreme Court justices, who live in an elite, rarefied atmosphere.
But she's a judge who's never forgotten the human side of judging.
GEOFF BENNETT: She'd seen that human side up close, with family on both sides of the justice system, her brother working for the Baltimore police, and her uncle serving life for a cocaine conviction.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Justice demands this result.
GEOFF BENNETT: She worked to understand and improve the system as a public defender and as vice chair of the U.S.
MARGARET RUSSELL, Santa Clara University School of Law: That is an unusual addition, and I think a valuable perspective.
GEOFF BENNETT: Margaret Russell is a constitutional law professor who says Jackson's criminal defense background sets her apart.
MARGARET RUSSELL: There are many former prosecutors who are already on the bench.
But what's interesting about a public defender, and really quite rare on the court -- it's been a couple of decades -- is that focus on the indigent defendant, someone who is really lacking an opportunity, often despised, often overlooked.
GEOFF BENNETT: On the Sentencing Commission, Jackson continued that work, fighting for more equitable drug penalties.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: There is no federal sentencing provision that is more closely identified with unwarranted disparity and perceived systemic unfairness than the 100-1 crack-powder penalty distinction.
GEOFF BENNETT: That was the first of three Senate confirmations for Jackson.
In 2012, she was nominated to the federal bench in Washington, D.C., introduced by then-Congressman Paul Ryan, who's related to Jackson by marriage.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): My praise for Ketanji's intellect, for her character, for her integrity it's unequivocal.
She's an amazing person.
GEOFF BENNETT: She earned a reputation on the district court for being thorough and methodical.
SANCHI KHARE, Former Clerk For Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: You can tell she has that speech and debate background, because she likes to engage with the parties.
GEOFF BENNETT: Sanchi Khare and Neha Sabharwal clerked for Jackson, and say they were struck by her work ethic.
NEHA SABHARWAL, Former Clerk For Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: One thing that she would tell us when I was working for her is that you can't always expect to be the smartest person in the room, but you can promise to be the hardest working.
And she truly lives by that philosophy.
GEOFF BENNETT: And by the warm welcome she extended.
SANCHI KHARE: And she came out of her office, huge smile, gave me a huge hug, and told me how excited she was that I would be working for her.
And that sort of set the tone for the rest of my clerkship experience.
NEHA SABHARWAL: A memory that I had, that I still have of her is this relay race in which several D.C.
Circuit and DDC chambers participated.
And at the judge's suggestion, we made matching T-shirts and set up a training schedule and lined up everyone in chambers to participate, because she just has so much spirit for everything that she does, and her diligence is really contagious.
GEOFF BENNETT: It was there on the district court that Jackson sentenced more than 100 people and penned some of her best-known opinions.
In 2017, she presided over the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy case, delivering a four-year prison sentence for a man who fired his gun in a D.C. pizza shop, wrongly believing it was home to a child sex ring.
And, in 2019 she ordered that former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn comply with a congressional subpoena during the Russia investigation.
Siding against the Trump administration, she plainly wrote: "Presidents are not kings."
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): One thing is clear.
The 120-page ruling had a purpose.
GEOFF BENNETT: It came up at her third Senate appearance, this one for the D.C. Court of Appeals, seen as a tryout for a Supreme Court hearing.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I am both humbled and very grateful to be here once again.
GEOFF BENNETT: Republicans took aim at Jackson's public defender clients.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Have you ever represented a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay?
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: About 16 years ago, when I was a federal public defender.
GEOFF BENNETT: And her identity.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge that you have been and the kind of judge that you will be?
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I don't think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be.
GEOFF BENNETT: Behind her at those hearings her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, and one of their two daughters.
The pair met in college and were, as she says, an unlikely match at first.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: He and his twin brother are, in fact, sixth-generation Harvard.
By contrast, I am only the second generation in my family to go to any college.
And I'm fairly certain that if, you traced my ancestry back past my grandparents, who were raised in Georgia, by the way, you would find that my ancestors were slaves on both sides.
MAN: The yeas are 53.
The nays are 44.
The nomination is confirmed.
GEOFF BENNETT: She was ultimately confirmed with 53 votes, all 50 Democrats, plus Republican Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham.
That put Jackson, now 51 years old, in the seat formerly held by another Supreme Court hopeful.
BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United States: Today, I am nominating Chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland to join the Supreme Court.
GEOFF BENNETT: Before then-President Obama made that decision in 2016, Jackson's 11-year-old daughter wrote in with her own suggestion.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: "Dear Mr. President, while you are considering judges to fill Justice Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court, I would like to add my mother, Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the District Court to the list.
GEOFF BENNETT: Six years later, it's President Biden honoring that request.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Geoff Bennett.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a landmark moment for Black women across the legal field, who, throughout American history, have made up less than 2 percent of the federal bench.
Lisa Desjardins has more on the historical significance and how Judge Jackson could reshape the nation's highest court.
LISA DESJARDINS: Joining me now to discuss this nomination is Professor Margaret Russell of Santa Clara University's School of Law and longtime friend of the "NewsHour" Marcia Coyle of "The National Law Journal."
Marcia, let me start with you.
What do you think this means?
How would Judge Jackson fit in with or maybe change this current court?
MARCIA COYLE, "The National Law Journal": Well, I think, Lisa, first, we have to realize that she will not change the ideological divide on the court.
It will still be a 6-3 conservative majority.
But that doesn't mean she can't be influential in several ways.
First of all, she is the only one on the court who has been a federal public defender.
She has seen a side of the criminal justice system that none of the other justices have experienced.
So, when they go into their private conferences, she can bring that to the table if the case before them is relevant.
It not only is her experience, but she can share that experience with the others and perhaps influence what they decide in some way.
The other way she can have influence is, she is only the second justice on the current court to have been a trial judge.
Justice Sotomayor is the only other one.
And, believe me, they bring a unique perspective as well to the court.
They know how trials operate.
They though what lawyers do in those trials.
And the court often has cases about trial practices and what lawyers do or don't do during those trials.
And, finally, I think her dissents.
Dissents can become majority opinions.
And, also, they can be influential in lower courts, as they try to get -- decide cases and perhaps move cases up to the Supreme Court.
So I think she brings all of those qualities and life experiences to bear when she sits on the Supreme Court, if she is confirmed.
LISA DESJARDINS: Margaret Russell, this is a historic nomination, as the president and others, everyone points out.
What does this mean to you?
But, also, what do you think this means for the Supreme Court?
MARGARET RUSSELL: This is a tremendously historic and significant day, not just for me, but I see it as in the history of this nation, in the history of the Supreme Court.
For African American women in the legal profession, it has been a long uphill battle.
That is also true of other groups.
But the significance of Judge Jackson's ascendancy to a court that, when it first sat in 1790, had all white men, of course, six white men, and did not have a Black member of the court until the 1960s and a female member of the court until the 1980s, should really be cause for reflection, not just sort of a recitative regurgitation of facts.
But what it means is that there is a history of exclusion in the legal profession and a history of exclusion among people who actually decide the fate of millions and millions of Americans, including African Americans.
So, I think it's extremely significant.
LISA DESJARDINS: Of course, even before we knew who the nominee was to be, Republicans criticized how the president went about this.
They criticized that he was pledging to nominate a Black woman, as something that they said was not substantive and smacked of a quota system.
I wonder what you make of that?
MARGARET RUSSELL: Well, I would say that, in talking about it, it's important to remember that there were no Black members of the court until the late 1960s, with Thurgood Marshall, and there were no female members.
So, criticizing Biden for making a point about race doesn't mean that all of those other decisions did not involve racial identity.
They did, racial identity and gender identity.
I hope that it's seen as a step forward for the nation, not just based on political party, because what it means is that President Biden, who had previously been chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a lawyer himself, knows his facts,.
It meant that, when he made that promise, he knew that there was already a pool of talent that could yield exceptionally well-qualified people to be on the United States Supreme Court.
Second, when he became president, he made sure that there were -- was an ample pool on the federal bench, and beginning with the district court and then with the court of appeals, so that no one could say that it - - that it was nonsubstantive.
It is a substantive decision to recognize that African American women in the legal profession have grown enormously.
LISA DESJARDINS: Marcia, now that we know Judge Jackson is the nominee, we also are getting an idea of maybe some Republican criticism ahead, this from Senator McConnell today, the Republican leader of the Senate.
He said: "Jackson is the choice of far left dark money groups."
Now, that's political, of course, not substantive.
We're talking about what's substantive, what's not.
Marcia, this comes after two very tense and political Supreme Court nomination fights.
Just to wrap up this, can you help us with what you think is ahead in this process?
What dynamics do you see?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, it's on the flip side of what we saw with the last couple of Republican nominations.
Certainly, Democrats accused Republican nominees of being supported by dark money groups.
But trying to stay focused on Judge Jackson and what may be ahead, she was confirmed in June by the U.S. Senate.
And she had three Republican supports.
And it's true that a confirmation to a federal appellate court is different than a confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But there really wasn't a whole lot to try to block her with when she went before the Senate in June.
And she has been confirmed three times by the U.S. Senate, Sentencing Commission, federal district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
And, so far, there has been nothing major to stop her from moving forward.
So, I guess what I'm saying is, we're just going to have to wait and see how this -- I think it was Senator Arlen Specter who called it a Kabuki dance actually plays out in the next couple of weeks.
LISA DESJARDINS: That's right, next few weeks, Democrats hoping to get this nomination through by the first weeks of April.
Marcia Coyle and Margaret Russell, thank you both very much.
MARCIA COYLE: Always a pleasure Lisa.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: The CDC loosened its COVID-19 guidance on wearing masks in indoor public settings.
The new standard says that people don't have to mask up if case counts and hospitalizations are not especially high where they live.
About 70 percent of the U.S. population would now qualify.
We will get details after the news summary.
Johnson & Johnson and three major U.S. drug distributors, say they will pay $26 billion to settle opioid addition claims.
They stem from some 3,000 lawsuits involving nearly every state and city.
Most of the money in today's announcement goes to health care and drug treatment.
The latest winter blast reached the Northeast and New England today with up to a foot of snow.
The storm forced cancellation of hundreds more flights and disrupted commuter rail.
On the roads, plows struggled to keep up.
State officials reduced speed limits and urged people to stay home, but there were multiple accidents.
Longtime Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe has announced he will retire in January, four years before his term ends.
He is now 87, and says that he needs to spend more time with his wife.
Inhofe has served since 1994, and is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
On Wall Street today, stocks rallied on hopes that Russia and Ukraine will hold peace talks.
Key indexes rose 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 835 points to close at 34058.
The Nasdaq rose 221 points.
The S&P 500 added 95.
And actor Sally Kellerman has passed away in Los Angeles, after a TV and film career of 60 years.
The highlight was an Oscar nomination for her role as Army nurse Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the 1970 film "MASH."
A key moment came when rowdy doctors yanked away her shower tent, and she stormed into the commander's quarters.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) SALLY KELLERMAN, Actress: This isn't a hospital!
It's an insane asylum!
And it's your fault!
JUDY WOODRUFF: Unforgettable scene.
Kellerman also appeared in the original TV pilot for "Star Trek."
And she worked into her 80s, earning a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2014.
Sally Kellerman was 84 years old.
Stay with us.
Coming up on the "NewsHour": analysis from David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart on President Biden's Supreme Court pick and the American response to the war in Ukraine.
As we reported, the CDC has now changed its recommendations about when and where Americans should be wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus.
William Brangham looks into the details.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy, instead of using just case counts, the CDC's mask guidance will now be based on local cases, hospital capacity, and rates of severe disease.
Based on those metrics, communities will be rated low, medium, or high risk.
Universal masking, including in schools, will be recommended only in high-risk counties.
The CDC emphasized that anyone with symptoms or known COVID exposures should still wear a mask, and especially the immunocompromised and medically vulnerable.
I'm joined now by epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Jennifer Nuzzo, great to have you back on the "NewsHour."
I want to ask you about the CDC guidance.
The CDC is now saying that 70 percent of Americans live in counties where the risk is so low that they don't need to wear a mask indoors.
What do you make of that?
DR. JENNIFER NUZZO, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Well, I think what we are hearing from the CDC is not that they have loosened their recommendations, but they have actually changed how they calculate who is at risk.
They are using new data.
And that's reflective, I think, of a few important changes.
One, the virus is not the same.
We had a huge surge of cases.
And that was incredibly challenging.
But, fortunately, the percentage of those cases that went to the hospital was much lower, so it is a different virus than we have had to deal with at earlier points in the pandemic.
The other change that changed is that the data we use to track the virus have changed.
And with the increasing use of home test, metrics like case numbers and test positivity was what the CDC exclusively used to rely on to make those risk maps, are no longer as reliable or as meaningful.
So what they have done now is brought in other data sets to construct those risk maps.
And I, frankly, think it is a more of an accurate reflection of what is going on, on the community level.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know there are a lot of places that really do rely on the CDC's guidance on how to make decisions about their own places.
But do you think, in the end, that this will, two years -- plus years into this pandemic, that this will meaningfully change people's behavior?
DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Yes, I think the place that it's probably likely to have the most impact is probably for employers, who look to official guidance to set company workplace policies, and also likely schools that very much want sort of an official metric to use in order to make decisions about what mitigation measures they should use.
But, for the average person, I personally have never met somebody who has looked at the CDC map to decide whether or not a mask is required.
Certainly, I think they go by what their local governments tell them to do, and then just what their personal risk tolerance is, above all.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In this discussion about the changing guidance, you have referenced two particular examples, Texas, which dropped its mask mandates and did not see a huge surge, and Hong Kong, which has very high levels of masking and is still experiencing a very severe Omicron surge.
Put those two examples into context for us.
DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Yes, I mean, the takeaway from those two examples is that what impact changing mask policies will have is really complicated, and we shouldn't automatically assume one way or the other is going to happen, that we will have a huge surge of cases or that we won't.
I don't want anybody to take from those two examples that lifting mask mandates spared Texas and that having masks condemned Hong Kong to having a surge, just to say that, sometimes, when you lift a mask mandate or mask guidance, people may continue to wear masks regardless.
So, we don't really know what the impact of this changing guidance is going to be.
Obviously, it's something we have to look for.
And if we see that it has done harm, that there is a rise in cases again, then, of course, we have to change our approach.
And I think that's something that the CDC director said today quite clearly, is that this is very much a dynamic situation.
We're going to continue to look at the data.
We're going to continue to assess.
I think some people have argued that changing masking guidance right now may make it harder to put masking back into place when it's needed.
I'm not sure I agree with that.
I think people tend to look around at what's happening, and if they don't see real risks in their communities, they're going to adjust their behavior regardless.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What do you make of the criticism that's been leveled about this, that this puts immunocompromised people and kids who have not yet been able to receive a vaccine at real risk, and that this is more about politics, rather than public health?
DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Well, I don't think it's about politics.
I do think it is about public health and recognizing the limitations of our previous approaches and trying to update them with changes in the data that we have.
But what I do think is that we, as individual humans, have to continue to care for our neighbors and classmates and co-workers.
And, certainly, decisions about wearing masks aren't just about individual protections, but also thinking about what it may do to others.
So I just encourage people to inquire if people that you're around are comfortable without your wearing a mask, or if they would prefer that you wear one.
That's one of the reasons why I choose to continue to wear a mask when I go into indoor environments, despite the fact that I live in an area where masking isn't required, because I don't know who's around me.
And I want to be mindful of the fact that I could be potentially exposing somebody.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Jennifer Nuzzo of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, thank you very much for being here.
DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Thanks so much for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With the world's eyes on Ukraine, and President Biden moving forward on his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.
That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.
Very good to see both of you.
Thank you for being here on this Friday night.
We're going to talk about Ukraine in just a minute.
But, David, I want to start with President Biden's choice of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the court.
What did you make of his choice of her?
DAVID BROOKS: She seems great.
What you want on the court is someone with a lot of intellectual firepower, but without intellectual arrogance.
And she seems to have that.
As Marcia and others mentioned before, she has the defender.
She was a regular old judge on -- with real trials, not just a fancy appellate judge.
So, she has been in the trenches.
She seems like just a wonderful person.
I read a very good story in The 19th about four friends -- or three friends she had starting at freshman year in Harvard.
These were four Black women who entered Harvard together.
They roomed together.
They were sisters together.
All four of them went to Harvard Law together.
And, since then, they have been in each other's weddings, they have been at each other's childbirths.
And what they describe, her three friends describe about her, is someone who's the social organizer, someone who early on said, I'm going to take up a lot of space.
I'm going to make my point of view known.
And I think one of them early in college said, you know, you're going to be on the Supreme Court one day.
So, if she could see it that early, maybe she's fit to be there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jonathan, what's your take on her?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, she's definitely fit to be there.
I didn't read the story you read David, in The 19th.
I read this big profile of her online in The Washington Post.
And what came -- the four women were also featured in that profile.
But what I got from that was a woman and a lawyer and now a judge who is and has been pragmatic on the bench.
Sure, she follows the law and she's grounded in her belief in the law and belief that the law should be meted out equally.
And throughout her career at Harvard, both undergrad and law school, when she -- there were moments when other Black students were looking to protest X, Y, or Z, sometimes, she participated.
Other times, she didn't.
And the reason why she didn't was because she thought it was more important that she be in class and prove folks wrong.
And I'm thinking about a situation where, at Harvard, someone in her dorm unfurled a Confederate Battle Flag out the window.
And, initially, she did protest, but she told her friends, look, one of the things they want us to do is to not focus on our classes.
And if we don't focus on our classes, we flunk out, thereby proving to them, at least, that we don't belong here.
So, I think what President Biden has done was nominate someone who is coming to the bench, as David said, with intellectual firepower, but also someone who's going to be somebody who tries to bring the liberal and the overwhelming conservative majority together on some of the key issues that are coming up before the court even after she's confirmed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, how do you see her potential effect on the court?
We're starting to hear some Republicans raise objections, questions about her.
Mitch McConnell is one of them.
But what do you think lies ahead, if she's confirmed?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, she's -- there are nine personalities on the court.
And so each personality adds something to the little family drama there, they have there.
My impression of the court has always been, they find ways to get along.
And -- but bringing in a new personality will widen the perspective of the court, will bring a new set of perspectives, a new lived set of experiences.
It can't help but have a humanizing aspect.
Ideologically, there are all these rating systems that rate judges on how liberal or how conservative they are.
She's pretty much in the mainstream of Democratic nominees.
One of the rating systems I saw put her slightly to the right of Elena Kagan.
Another put her a bit to the left.
But she's very much in the mainstream of a Democratic nominee.
And she's obviously replacing a Democratic nominee, so, as Marcia Clark said earlier today, that it's probably not going to alter the ideological balance, but it'll widen the human aperture.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jonathan, how do you see her fitting in?
And how do you read the coming Republican opposition?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I think she will fit in just fine, considering she's been on the bench for a few years now, and folks love her.
When it comes to the Republican opposition, the idea -- I can't remember which Republican member of Congress said this -- that she's some left-wing radical, it's just sort of - - that would have been branded on to any - - whoever the president named.
It just now happens to be Judge Jackson.
I think that, if Republicans stick to substantive criticisms of Judge Jackson, either her record or rulings or cases, they will be fine.
But the moment they stray into the territory that Senator Kennedy of Louisiana did by saying he hoped the president would choose someone who could tell the difference between a J.
Crew catalogue and a law book, or another member of Congress who said before even a person was named that, no matter what, that the president was making an affirmative action hire, if they go down that route, they should be prepared for withering criticism.
And, also, Republican leaders, those who say that they're Republican leaders, should be prepared to condemn those folks, because there is no question that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is qualified to be on the court, should be on the court, and is not some radical, but, as David said, is in the mainstream of American political thought and life.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, now we turn to the thing that we have all been, I guess, fixated on for the last several days.
The last time I talked to the two of you, last Friday, the Russians hadn't begun their attack, their assault on Ukraine.
But, David, now they have.
This, I think, is the first time in modern memory that we have been able to watch a war unfold, one country attacking another in real time on television and social media and the rest of it.
But what do you make of what Russia has done and is doing so far?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I'm just impressed by the Ukrainian people.
I'm impressed by the Russian people who are on the streets protesting.
But the Ukrainian people are facing very long odds.
And they seem to be facing them with resolve and sometimes heroic self-sacrifice.
And I'm just -- my hat is off, and my eyes of admiration are for them.
I think we're entering another era.
We were blessed to live for many years, probably all of our lives so far, in this era of rules.
We may be ending that era and reentering an era of great power rivalries, such as we saw in the 17th century and the 18th century and the 16th century and the 15th century.
And it's just not pleasant to live in those eras, because nobody is secure.
Vladimir Putin only thrives in areas where nobody is secure.
And so we may be, with Russia, with China, defending Taiwan, we may be one great power forever after, or least for a long time after, engaged in constant struggles to head off authoritarian tyranny.
And that will involve different defense budgets.
It will involve electing different sorts of people to be our leaders.
It will involve a much more bloody and much less pleasant way to live in a set of mutual democracies.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It's hard to watch, isn't it, Jonathan?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: It is, again, the first major land war on the European continent in more than 70 years.
As David said, this is now -- this is a battle of ideas.
But, as Hillary Clinton and Dan Schwerin write in "The Atlantic" today, this is -- what's happening now in Ukraine is much bigger than that.
They write: "Ukraine is one flash point in a larger global struggle between democracy and autocracy."
And they point out that the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Beijing, which was February 4, on Friday, was the same day that the Republicans said that the January 6 insurrection was -- quote - - "legitimate political discourse."
The battle between autocracy and democracy is -- has -- was a factor in President Biden's presidential campaign, but there on the streets in Ukraine, in the air, where -- in terms of the war that Russia is waging on Ukraine, we are seeing right there the battle between democracy and autocracy.
And the fact that the United States and President Biden is leading the alliance to, at a minimum, defend the NATO alliance, but also help the Ukrainian people, shows that everyone takes this seriously.
There was a lot of talk about whether the NATO alliance was going to wither on the vine, whether it could be -- could hold together.
And in the face of this war, before the impending war with Vladimir Putin, they have rallied, and they're stronger.
But that battle between democracy and autocracy and having democracy win is not assured, especially because democracy here in the United States is the weakest it's been in memory.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, a lot of people watching President Biden very closely because of what happened in Afghanistan.
But what's your assessment of how he has managed this, handled this so far?
DAVID BROOKS: I think quite well.
He's organized the alliance.
For once, we won the information war.
He really leaked all the intelligence.
And it was all vindicated.
Our intelligence community was excellent in predicting what the Russians were going to do.
And they went ahead and did it.
So he did that part well.
He is playing with an extremely weak hand.
Putin is willing to commit troops.
We, wisely, are not -- unwilling to commit troops.
That's one disadvantage.
Second, we're unwilling and our European allies are unwilling to impose sanctions that would impose any costs on Putin.
To do this right, we have to go after the Russian economy, which is essentially going after the energy sector.
We're not going to do that because European and American economies don't want to impose any costs on themselves.
So, I think the sanctions are weak.
I think the alliance between Russia and China, which seems to be reasonably strong, is extremely troubling.
The hope I have, and I think the place to focus our efforts and our attention, is on the Ukrainian resistance.
If the Ukrainian resistance, with the help of the west, can make the occupation of Ukraine very costly, then this whole thing does backfire on Putin.
But I would focus on that, rather than, say, the sanctions, which have been symbolic and not nothing, but clearly not strong enough to impose any real costs on the Russians.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jonathan, how do you size up the reaction here and in Europe?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I would say that, late this afternoon, the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union announced sanctions on Putin and his foreign minister, Lavrov, personally.
So that is a ratcheting up of the pressure on Putin, on Russia.
This is the -- I think the third -- second round of sanctions.
And there are plenty more things that the United States can do.
I think one thing that everyone should do is to sort of remind -- we should remind ourselves that, in a culture that we have, where everything is instantaneous, you order something online, it can be -- depending on which service you use, could be at your house in a few hours, but definitely by the next day.
We are talking about war.
And we're talking about responding to war.
And some of the things that have to be done and should be done, the impacts that they have don't -- the impacts don't reveal themselves in an hour, in 10 hours, in a day.
They take time.
And I think the more people sort of reorient themselves and realize that some of the things that the United States and the West are doing to put pressure on Putin, to bring this war to a close whenever that can happen, that this takes time, the better off we will be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one thing is for sure.
We're going to have a lot of -- we're going to be watching a lot of painful scenes in Ukraine, as we watch the Ukrainian people deal with this in the hours and the days to come.
Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, thank you both.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy.
DAVID BROOKS: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as we thank them, we want to remind you, don't get to watch "Washington Week" tonight.
Moderator Yamiche Alcindor and her panel will have more on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and on President Biden's historic Supreme Court pick.
That's tonight on PBS.
And tune into "PBS NewsHour Weekend" for the latest from Ukraine and the international response to Russia's invasion.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here on Monday evening.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and have a good weekend.