Feb 14, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Vice President Harris to "Axios on HBO": Trump left no COVID plan


Vice President Harris told me in a backstage conversation for "Axios on HBO" that the Trump administration had "no stockpile" of vaccines upon leaving office.

The big picture: "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations, we were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out," Harris told me at the White House after leading a virtual COVID event with African-American mayors.

  • "In many ways, we are starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year."

Harris said she constantly pushes her team on the question: "Can we do more? Where is there capacity to do more?"

  • "The suffering," she said, "is so immense in terms of both the public health crisis, the number of people who have died, the number of people who've contracted it, and the economic crisis."
  • "So we are in the midst of a hurricane that is still raging, which requires us — each one of us who's in a position of leadership — to ask constantly, 'Are we doing enough?'"
  • "We've got to figure out a way — that has to be our standard. Our standard has to be: 'Everything is possible, but we're going to have to work like heck to get it done.' Which means ... no patience for delay, no patience for, 'It can't be done.' You know, that's how I feel about it."

Asked what her signature issue will be, Harris said with laughter: "Making sure Joe Biden is a success."

  • I asked her the trademark question of the late New York Mayor Ed Koch: "How'm I doing? "
  • "It's three weeks in," Harris replied with a laugh. "Give me a break!"

As Harris left, I asked her if her predecessor, Vice President Mike Pence, had left her a note.

  • She said he had, but left the details as a cliffhanger.
  • I'm told that Pence left the note in the Vice President’s West Wing office. It was Midwestern friendly: He said it had been the honor of a lifetime to serve in the job — and wished Harris the best for her own success.
Go deeper