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Vice President Pence defended the White House's decision to hold a large event in the Rose Garden to introduce Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at Wednesday's vice presidential debate, noting that it was outdoors and "many people" were tested for the coronavirus beforehand.

Why it matters: Multiple people who attended the event later tested positive for the virus, including President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, multiple aides to the president and two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Though it was an outdoor event, members of the audience sat cramped together and many did not wear masks.
  • The White House also hosted indoor receptions before and after the ceremony in which guests did not wear masks.

What they're saying: "My wife Karen and I were there, and honored to be there," Pence said. "Many of the people who were at that event actually were tested for coronavirus, and it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise."

The big picture: Pence was asked how the administration expects the American people to follow health guidelines when the White House does not follow its own safety guidelines.

  • Pence did not comment on the White House's observation of health guidelines, but praised Americans for putting "the health of their families and their neighbors and people they don't even know first."

Go deeper

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated Jan 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House voted 232-197 to impeach President Trump for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol last week while Congress met to count the Electoral College vote.

Why it matters: Trump is now the only president in history to have been impeached twice — his first impeachment happened just over a year ago in December of 2019. He has just one week left in his term before President-elect Biden is sworn-in on Jan. 20.

Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anita Dunn to join Biden White House as senior adviser

Anita Dunn speak onstage at 'Women Rule: The L.A. Summit' at NeueHouse Hollywood on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Veteran communications and campaign strategist Anita Dunn will join Joe Biden's White House on a temporary basis, helping him to advance his opening agenda from inside the West Wing, people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

The big picture: Dunn, a former communications director to President Barack Obama, took on an expanded role in Biden's campaign when it faltered last winter, helping guide it through a party nomination and general election victory.