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White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on MSNBC on Tuesday that he wasn't sure whether the U.S. would ever recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

Driving the news: MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan asked Klain whether the U.S. would be recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan any time soon.

What he's saying: "I don't think any time soon. I don't know if we will ever recognize their government," Klain replied.

  • "What we know is that the Taliban says they're going to form a government," Klain continued. "We'll see what that looks like. We'll see what kind of credentials they present.
  • "More importantly, we'll see what their conduct is. ... I think the question of recognizing a new government of Afghanistan is down the road here."

The big picture: Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted during remarks on Monday that the Biden administration had engaged with the Taliban in recent weeks to enable evacuation operations. 

  • "Going forward, any engagement with a Taliban-led government in Kabul will be driven by one thing only: our vital national interests," he said.
  • "If we can work with a new Afghan government in a way that helps secure those interests ... and in a way that brings greater stability to the country and region and protects the gains of the past two decades, we will do it. 
  • "But we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith. Every step we take will be based not on what a Taliban-led government says, but what it does to live up to its commitments."

Go deeper: Biden defends ending mission in Afghanistan

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Blinken's comments.

Go deeper

White House confronts messaging problem

Screenshot: NBC News

Ron Klain's appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday underscored the messaging problem confronting the White House despite a week with good jobs numbers and a historic infrastructure agreement.

Why it matters: The election results from Tuesday show voters still see a lot of negativity: relentless inflation, Democratic infighting, an uncertain price tag for the party's big-spending social plans and political disconnect from parents still reeling with school issues.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker