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Transcript: The 11th Hour, 1/13/22

Guests: Barbara McQuade, Courtney Subramanian, Donna Edwards, Bill Kristol, Kavita Patel


More than a year after the January 6 insurrection, prosecutors have arrested Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, and 10 others for seditious conspiracy in connection to the attack. It comes as the Jan. 6 committee subpoenas social media giants Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Google. Senator Lindsey Graham says he won`t back Senator Mitch McConnell for GOP leader unless he has a "working relationship" with Trump. President Biden expressed doubt about passing the voting rights bills hours after Senator Kyrsten Sinema made clear she won`t vote to gut the filibuster rule.



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) MINORITY LEADER: The President bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of the day.


O`DONNELL: The Republican leaders of the House and Senate once again, get tonight`s last words. The 11th Hour starts now.


ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, I`m Alicia Menendez. Day 359 of the Biden administration. Exactly one year and one week after the January 6 insurrection, the Justice Department is taking an unprecedented step in its sprawling criminal investigation.

The department is charged Stewart Rhodes, founder of the extremist group, the Oath Keepers and 10 other members with seditious conspiracy in connection to the violent attack on the Capitol.

This is the first time Prosecutors have filed sedition charges against any of the more than 700 people accused so far in the siege.

The indictment paints a detailed picture of the members alleged actions on January six. Prosecutors describe the group`s stack formation as they marched up the East steps of the Capitol and then enter the Capitol building with the mob.

They also detail how the accused allegedly procured weapons, organized and trained for that day. The indictment also says the Oath Keepers began plotting just after Election Day 2020 and continued to do so after January 6.

The FBI arrested roads in Texas earlier today is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. His attorney tells NBC News quote, I don`t think the facts alleged support the charge of seditious conspiracy. Rhodes has also attracted the attention of the January 6 Committee, which subpoenaed him back in November.

Today, a panel also issued a subpoena to the parent companies of Google, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. The committee says it wants to know how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism on their platforms may have contributed to the capital riot.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): My sense, frankly, from the document production of these companies is they`re sharing with us what they think we already have or what they think we already know. But we know there`s other material out there. And we`ve lost patience, and we`re now going to require them to provide it.


MENENDEZ: Tonight Alphabet, which owns Google says it has been actively cooperating with the panel, and that enforced policies against content inciting violence ahead of the riot.

Meanwhile, the 1/6 committee now on a standoff with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, he`s refusing to cooperate with the committee`s request for a voluntary interview his conversations with Trump on January six. Today, McCarthy was asked about that, and about those comments he made about Trump shortly after the insurrection.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said that he should have immediately denounced the mob. And you also said that there was no evidence that what happened was started by Antifa. Wondering if you st ill stand by those comments?

MCCARTHY: My criticism went to everyone on that day. Why was the Capitol so ill prepared that day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn`t the American public have a right to know what the President of the United States was thinking and doing while the U.S. Capitol was under attack?

MCCARTHY: You know, that`s a great question. You know, the great thing about that, I didn`t wait a year later, on January 6, I spoke to the American public, not by one network, but by many networks. My conversation was very short. Advising the president of what was happening here. There is nothing that I can provide the January 6 committee for legislation of their moving forward. There is nothing in that realm. It is pure politics of what they`re playing.


MENENDEZ: January 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson says a possible subpoena to McCarthy is still under discussion. He says he`s disappointed the House Republican leader is refusing to cooperate.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS) JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE CHARIMAN: And he made public statements that President Trump was not responsibility for what occurred. We have information that he made calls to the White House telling him to call the people and for whatever reason, he decided not to come to the committee and say what many things he said in public.


MENENDEZ: As the Select Committee tries to get to the bottom of the effort to deny Joe Biden the presidency, he`s stepping up his efforts to get voting rights legislation passed in the Senate.


Tonight he met with Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House for more than an hour. The two Democrats have been firmly opposed weakening or eliminating the filibuster to pass those voting bills.

Earlier today, Biden was on the Hill, making an appeal to the full Senate Democratic Caucus during a closed door lunch, Biden emerged sounding less than confident about the legislations fate.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I hope we can get this done. But I`m not sure but one thing for certain, one thing for certain, like every other major civil rights bill came along. If we missed the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. The state legislative bodies continue to change the law, not as to who can vote, but who gets to count the vote. Count the vote, count the vote. It`s about election of subversion. Not just whether or not people get to vote, who counts the vote. That`s a disavow. That`s what makes this so different than anything else we`ve ever done.

I don`t know that we get it done. But I know one thing, as long as I have a breath in me, as long as I`m in the White House, as long as I`m engaged at all, I`m going to be fighting to change the way these legislatures have moving.


MENENDEZ: Biden had been somewhat upstage just a couple hours before that lunch. But what this evenings white house guests, Arizona senator Sinema took to the floor and made it clear she has no intention of tinkering with the filibuster.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease. But they do not fully address the disease itself. And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that were sent the underlying disease of division infecting our country. Eliminating the 60 vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy from threats in the years to come.


MENENDEZ: The House has already passed the voting bills. It`s now up to the Senate. And tonight Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said well he had hoped to hold a vote by Monday with Hawaii Senator Brian Shots now positive for COVID and unexpected winter storm. All votes will be postponed until Tuesday.

The President meanwhile, is reviving another part of his agenda that already failed to get through the Senate. NBC News reports he`s planning to sign executive actions on police reform as early as this month. This was also the day the Supreme Court blocked Biden`s COVID vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. It`s a major blow to the administration`s plan to end the pandemic.

The court did uphold a more modest mandate that requires health care workers at federally funded facilities to be vaccinated. Biden says he`ll continue to urge private companies to create their own versions of vaccine requirements.

With that let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Thursday night. Courtney Subramanian, White House correspondent for USA Today, Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for counterintelligence. He`s the author of the book, "the FBI Way" and the host of the podcast The Bureau, and Barbara McQuade, a veteran federal prosecutor and former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She worked with the DOJ during the Biden transition and as a professor at University of Michigan`s law school, she co-hosts the podcast Sisters in Law.

Barbara, I want to read a section of this indictment of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and 10 others quote, they coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington DC, equip themselves with a variety of weapons donned combat and tactical gear and were prepared to answer Rhodes call to take up arms at Rhodes direction.

Some coconspirators also amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington DC, distributed them among Quick Reaction Force teams and planned to use the firearms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. Barbara, how big of a deal is this indictment?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s a very big deal, Alicia. Whenever the Justice Department charges seditious conspiracy, it`s number one very rare. And number two, it is reviewed at the highest levels of the Justice Department, because it brings with it not just an allegation of conspiracy to commit a crime, but to do so one that is really disloyal to our country by attacking the authority of the United States.

So one of the other significant factors about this particular indictment is the detailed allegations is 48 pages. It quotes verbatim from text messages that were believed to have been encrypted, communicating back and forth to each other. And it demonstrates that this was not an organic attack, where some people got carried away with a rally and ended up going inside the Capitol. This was planned for many months, people came from all over the country. They amassed weapons and this was a design plot to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.


MENENDEZ: Barb, even with all that information, even with all that evidence, what challenges are federal prosecutors up against now?

MCQUADE: Well, in a case like this, it is challenging because as I said, I`ve charged this offense before in a case that ultimately failed. I think that people are naturally skeptical of something that charges sedition, it suggests an overthrow of the government, it suggests a coup.

But if you look at the elements of the statute itself, what it actually says is using force to oppose the authority of the United States. And so by trying to prevent that vote from going forward, that`s sufficient here. So I think it`s going to be a strong case.

MENENDEZ: Frank, two questions for you. One, what strikes you most about these charges? And two, do you think we could see other militia groups charged?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: So first, as we`re all talking about today, this is historically significant that hits you square in the face. You have to look back to the mid-1990s for the last successful charge of seditious conspiracy, and that was used against international terrorists, including Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.

So yes, I do think what`s going to happen here is because the government seems to be inside encrypted communications, because we have 11 people today now facing up to 20 years in federal prison. There`s going to be some breakage here, someone`s going to talk and even if they don`t, the government clearly is into their encrypted comms. It looks like there`s either sources or electronic breakthroughs here.

And so don`t be surprised if we see the early reporting that`s already occurred that hey, there looks like there`s communication between Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters. Don`t be surprised that this now spreads across those three groups. And we see future charges of seditious conspiracy involving these groups.

And then look, as you read through this indictment, one of the things that pops out to me is who is funding these people, you have tens of thousands of dollars in weaponry, night vision goggles, top of the line, scopes on rifles, radios, body armor, bullet resistant plates for your vest, very expensive stuff. Where`s that money coming from? Rest assured the bureau is going to continue to look at that.

MENENDEZ: Courtney, last week, the Attorney General gave a speech defending his handling of the January 6 criminal cases. So some who have been urging him to move faster to move more aggressively may see this as vindication for him. Are there political risks for DOJ and for the White House here?

COURTNEY SUBRAMANIAN, USA TODAY WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Of course, there`s political risks. You know, I think the White House has been very careful to separate itself from the DOJ and its pursuit of criminal charges for, you know, the January 6 investigation. And that`s because we saw in the last administration, the DOJ heavily politicized, and used for, you know, former President Trump`s personal indications, personal, you know, decisions, political reasons. So we, you know, we certainly have seen the White House really try to separate itself from the AG and his pursuit of charges.

MENENDEZ: Frank, you were talking about the gear. We also know, they had strategies, they had tactics, they had a game plan. What are we learning about these militia groups and who it is that`s joining them?

FIGLIUZZI: Well, what`s most disturbing and sobering, perhaps about the Oath keepers, in particular, Alicia, is the fact that they -- they`re coming largely from the ranks of former military, former police even some active duty. We already know that one out of 10 of the defendants arrested for the violence on January 6 has some military affiliation.

So we know that that`s what Oath Keepers is about. But they`re about so much more. Because really, they count -- they came into being immediately following the election of Barack Obama, they seem to be spurred on by the fact that we now had our first black U.S. president. They thought the world was crashing down on them. They kind of planted the flag in a ceremony in Lexington, Massachusetts, very symbolically, that`s where they`re from, but it`s really a lot of hate based kind of a white supremacy crossover, let`s save Western civilization, which really means white culture.

There`s a crossover here on the belief systems. And Rhodes himself, former U.S. Army paratrooper lost his bar license had gone to Yale Law School. And he`s -- he sees himself is signed -- some kind of historical figure here. He -- he`s going to be hard to break, but I predict those other folks arrested with him will eventually start talking.

MENENDEZ: Barb, I want to talk about roads, because not only as Frank says, might he be hard to break, but this is someone who ostensibly has an understanding of the law and has argued that he has always been on the right side of it. To what extent does his own legal background and legal training now become an asset or liability?


MCQUADE: Well, it could be a liability anytime you`re charged with a crime, you know, sometimes people will claim ignorance of the law not knowing something. And so it`s much harder for someone who has a law degree. But oftentimes, you know, as in a case like this, it isn`t necessary that you know, the law, it just is necessary that you know, what you`re doing. And attacking the U.S. Capitol is a crime, whether you have a law degree or not.

So I don`t know that it`s going to much matter here. But I do think that whether it`s he who cooperates or others, there is a lot of information that is potentially to be tapped there. I would think, as Frank said, Who funded all of this, we also know that Oath Keepers had ties to Roger Stone and were with him on January 5, were they connected in any way to the War Room at the Willard Hotel and part of the overall strategy to prevent the transfer of power to Joe Biden? I think that`s the question I want to I want to know is, can these folks be leveraged to get to people even higher in the chain?

MENENDEZ: Barb, I also want to ask you about the January 6 committee because the chairman says they`re weighing a subpoena for Kevin McCarthy, what do they have to consider now?

MCQUADE: Really, the only thing you have to consider is whether they want a subpoena one of their own, suppose that is unprecedented, and it could come back to bite them down the road when the powers have changed. But I think in a case like this, where they`ve done a very good job in the letters they have made public, explaining why they are seeking information from people. And Kevin McCarthy wants to minimize this and says, I`ve already told you what I said. It isn`t what he said. It`s what Trump said back to him, that people care about what is the mindset of Donald Trump as he`s sitting there for 197 minutes, and not stopping something that caused the death of five people.

And so, that information is absolutely pertinent. And so I think they will be well within the rights to subpoena him. I do not see any valid privileges he would have other than the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But he may do what others have done and try to run out the clock in hopes that the midterm elections, allow them to disband this committee.

MENENDEZ: Courtney, with this indictment, with this news about McCarthy, it would have been a busy news day already you layer on top of that the fact that the voting rights bills are in trouble tonight. Biden was on the Hill today, he invited Manchin and Sinema over tonight for a chat. The White House says they had a quote, candid and respectful exchange of views about voting rights. What else are you hearing from the White House about where they go from here?

SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, well, I think it was on full display, you know, Manchin and Sinema going to the White House. I`m not really sure how that moves the needle, given that Sinema articulated that, you know, as you mentioned at the top while she supports election reform bills, she simply will not support weakening the filibuster, and which are the rules which are going to pass voting rights legislation.

I think Biden`s response today after the meeting on Capitol Hill was a pretty sobering read about where things stand. You know, he said, we missed it this time speaking about voting rights in past tense. And at one point saying the honest to God answers, I don`t know whether we can get this done.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about what the plan B is today. And we`ve also asked White House officials, what is this plan B now that the filibuster, you know, changing the filibuster rules appears to be doomed as a strategy. And she said, you know, they`re going to keep at it. That difficult legislation comes with its ups and downs. That doesn`t mean you give up, that means sometimes you don`t know where you go from here and what comes next, but that he would continue to work the phones and engage colleagues. And that`s what we saw him do tonight.

I think what this underscores though, is, you know, the President has certainly decided to start the new year by taking a tough new stance on Republicans. And today was a painful reminder that he`s still fighting members of his own party. And this, these democratic divisions continue to do his agenda. You know, this is the second time in a month, that alone senator has sunk his legislative plan. And that`s the political reality of his margins in Congress right now. And what he has to deal with in order to get things done.

The question is, is he setting the expectations too high? Especially as it`s frustrating, a lot of Democrats particularly on an issue, like voting rights that they see so critical ahead of November.

MENENDEZ: We`ll talk about that issue a little bit later in the show. But before we go, Barbara, I want to ask you, six Supreme Court justices have blocked the White House`s vaccine or test rules. Can you walk us through their reasoning for this in the middle of an ongoing pandemic?

MCQUADE: Well, what the majority says is that OSHA has overplayed its hand in terms of the rules it gets to implement. So Congress delegates some power to OSHA. OSHA has the power to implement rules to protect workers from hazards in the workplace.

And what the majority says is COVID is not a hazard of the workplace. It`s a hazard everywhere.


And so you can`t look at things that are hazards anywhere, you have to look that hazards are specifically in the workplace. And for that reason, OSHA has overstepped its limits. And we`re going to block the implementation of this law. The lawsuit does continue. And on the merits, we may see a different result. But for now, it`s blocked.

I thought that dissenting opinion made some very persuasive points when it pointed out other regulations that OSHA has done in the past that are general provisions as well, like safe drinking water, and other kinds of things that apply not only in the workplace, but elsewhere. They criticize the majority for reading into the rules, language that`s not there for textual lists. They are creating an additional layer of requirement that this hazard has to be unique to the workplace.

And so, but that is the majority, those are the votes we have and by six- three majority today, that workplace roll was blocked for being implemented. Better news from my perspective on the healthcare front, where the court did allow to stand a similar rule that applies to all healthcare workers in facilities that are funded by Medicaid or Medicare.

MENENDEZ: I appreciate your landing on the better news, Courtney Subramanian, Frank Figliuzzi, Barbara McQuade, thank you all.

Coming up, how those bombshell charges of sedition are causing shockwaves in Washington, and what that could mean for the already wildly balance of power.

And later, as one former Republican Congressman put it this afternoon, we`ve lost the war to contain COVID. I`m going to ask one of our top doctors what the government should do now. The 11th Hour just getting underway on a Thursday night.



MENENDEZ: President Biden tonight made his pitch for voting rights directly to the two Democrats, members of his own party responsible for holding up his agenda. Both Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema oppose changing the filibuster to pass the legislation. Whether he made any headway or not, we still don`t know.

With us tonight, Donna Edwards, a former Democratic member of Congress, and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker and Politico. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush Administration`s and editor-at-large at The Bulwark.

Donna, Biden putting a full court press on Manchin and Sinema. Any chance he can persuade them?

DONNA EDWARDS, FRM MARYLAND CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, it sounded like the nail in the coffin with the statement of Senator Sinema on the floor of the Senate today. And of course, hearing the comments of Manchin and Sinema, their latest statements. It does seem that these two senators are determined to stand in the way of the changes to the filibuster that would be required to move voting rights through. I think it`s actually rather shameful, and I think it`s going to harm Democrats, you know, down the line.

I mean, this is very dangerous. We`ve had, I think, 19 states that have passed something like 33 bills already curtailing voting rights. And so this is not something that could wait. But unfortunately, these two senators representing really just a smidgen of voters are going to stand in the way of the kind of reforms that are necessary, I believe, to protect voting rights.

MENENDEZ: Bill, even as we talk about Democrats here. I do want to remind our viewers that there are Republicans who could come to the table on this. Jonathan Chait writes this in New York Magazine about Mitt Romney`s forceful rebuke of Biden`s address in Atlanta. Romney speaks for an important faction of Republican elites may abhor Trump`s naked authoritarianism, either openly, like Romney or more often in private, but also believe fervently in their party`s policy of voter suppression. Romney`s position holds the pivot point in the U.S. Senate, anti-Trump, pro-voter-suppression Republicans like him are the key impediment to passing any voting-rights bill.

Bill, do you agree with that assessment? Where do the Romney`s of the Senate fall in this debate?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Unfortunately, from my point of view, they don`t fall in favor of this bill. And only one falls in favor of the John Lewis bill and Lisa Murkowski whether they might be rally to support some changes, at least in the Electoral Count Act. I think that`s possible. And the Democrats might have done more to push for that, I think, in the past year, but as Jonathan says, and as you`ve just read, there`s been no Republican support, so we shouldn`t lose sight of that, as everyone focuses on Manchin and Sinema. But it does sound like you asked whether the -- there was any real chance to progress, the White House statements tonight which was just put out, I think about 20-30 minutes ago, after the meetings of President Biden with senators Manchin and Sinema was pretty startling.

I mean, Donan and I, we`ve been around these kinds of meetings for a while, you know, many years decades, I guess. And you know, they usually it`s that will warm discussion and exchange of views and make progress. And there was none of that. It was reminded me of statements they put out after a very chilly meeting between, you know, President Biden and Vladimir Putin or something. There was a candid with, I came up with the SEC, there was a candid and honest exchange of views, something like that, candid and respectful exchange of views periods as I understand it.

There`s nothing in the White House statement about how much the president respects Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. So I think they`ve come to a dead end at this point.

MENENDEZ: Yes, Donna, if they have, in fact, come to a dead end. Where does that leave Democrats?

EDWARDS: Well, I think it puts Democrats in a very difficult position. I mean, remember these changes around the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or act or to deal with decisions that were handed down by the Supreme Court, particularly around preclearance in some of those states that have historically had problems with black voters and ensuring the right to vote.

And the other changes were things like ensuring, you know, mail-in ballots were valid, and, you know, requirements for drop boxes to be present and making the Election Day a holiday. I mean, really pretty simple things. And they couldn`t get it done. And I think it`s going to hurt them morally because it is the moral thing to do.

But I think it also hurts politically because a lot of voters with all of these laws coming down are going to be, I mean, their votes will be suppressed, their votes will be -- they`ll be barriers in front of them when it comes to voting in the midterm elections and certainly in the presidential election in `24.

MENENDEZ: Bill turning to the new charges in the January 6 investigation, Rick Stengel had this to say earlier. Take a listen.



RICHARD STENGEL, FMR. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: It`s a serious as a heart attack. I mean, seditious conspiracy is one step down from absolute treason. If you look at the statute is it is about the violent overthrow of the government, I believe it says it`s levying war against the government. There`s nothing more serious than that. So I applaud DOD for doing it.


MENENDEZ: Bill, what message does this charge that?

KRISTOL: I think your previous panel discussed as well. I mean, it`s a serious charge, obviously. And it just they have a lot of information in the Justice Department, and they may be ready to charge others. I was more struck today, I`ve got to say, though, by what we`ve been learning, and Rachel Maddow has been reporting on this network, about the electors, the fraudulent statements by electors or certifications, the forged certifications, electrodes sentence, the National Archives, the defeated Trump electors saying, OK, we`ve met and we are certifying that the Arizona votes or Michigan votes or whatever, should go to Donald Trump in a way it`s ridiculous.

But of course, if you have a pot in which the Vice President is going to sit there on January 6, so this was Trump`s intention, and Jeff Rosen in the Justice Department, Jeffrey Rosen, who was Trump`s guy there who they thought of moving up and making them acting Attorney General.

Remember, the plot was Pence sit there and say, well, we can`t know who won Arizona, but there are two competing sides of electors. So we have to discard the Arizona votes and either throw it that into the house or make it so confusing and center, we put off the certification of the election on January 6, that was the plot. This was part of the plot.

And these were identical storage documents in different states, there must have been coordination, it seems the White House do better, it seems to Jeffrey Rosen and the Justice revenue better. I think if they put they`re clearly going to pull this string now. And I think as the January 6 committee pulls the string or the Justice Department does, we get a serious plot with elected officials involves of fraudulent documents to allow for the ignoring of election returns and subversion of an election. I think that may end up being as worse significant than the Oath Keepers actually.

MENENDEZ: And we`ll continue to follow that. Donna and Bill are staying with me. Coming up. Another example of the holes the former president still has on the Republican Party on the 11th Hour continues.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Can Senator McConnell effectively work with the leader of the Republican Party Donald Trump? I`m not going to vote for anybody that can`t have a working relationship with President Trump to be a team to come up with an American first agenda.


MENENDEZ: Just some of what we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham last night, as he threatened to withhold his leadership vote for Mitch McConnell, if the minority leader doesn`t have a quote, working relationship with the former president. Earlier today, Graham was asked about his comments.


GRAHAM: Mitch McConnell has been one of the best leaders in my lifetime. He worked with Pres. Trump to get the court full of conservative judges PACs, passed the tax cuts, you know, pretty much by ourselves. But the elections are about the future, not the past and you got to have a working relationship with Pres. Trump. You don`t have to agree with him. You don`t have to kowtow to him.

But if you want to be a Senate leader or House leader, the most consequential Republican in the country is Donald Trump, no matter who you are, Mitch or anybody else. I think you got to show to us the rank and file but you were President Trump.


MENENDEZ: So with us, Donna Edwards and Bill Kristol. Donna, your reaction to those comments from Graham?

EDWARDS: Well, I think Mitch McConnell has done plenty to protect Donald Trump`s, protected him and to impeachment. He put forward the tax cut that Senator Graham talked about. He`s made sure to block the Independent Commission on January 6. I mean, I think Mitch McConnell has done a fair amount to protect Donald Trump and the Trump agenda. And unfortunately, for all of the rest of us, we have to suffer the consequences.

MENENDEZ: So Bill, of course, I`m sure you would like to opine on that relationship. I will give you the space and the time to do that. But I want to bring in another element of this conversation, which is you have the RNC threatening to bar its candidates from participating in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The Washington Post reports, quote, during the 2020 cycle, then-President Donald Trump complained vociferously about the commission, at one point tweeting that it was stacked with Trump haters and never Trumpers. Bill, what do you think could future debates be in trouble?

KRISTOL: Sure, this is Donald Trump`s party, that sends Lindsey Graham`s was true. It wasn`t just a wish of Lindsey Graham`s it was a true fact as of now. So Donald Trump thinks he`ll be the nominee in 2024. He doesn`t want to debate under the Presidential Commission`s debate rules and auspices and the laying the groundwork early it has shown suddenly, at the Trump people are not quite as haphazard. And they do a little more planning than people think. They`re laying the groundwork for getting out of the debates already here in 2022.

I think it`s from their point of view, it`s pretty intelligent. And what Lindsey Graham says, you know, if you told me a year ago, well, Liz Cheney is not going to be in the leadership of the House anymore, because she dared to say that we need to look into January 6 and criticize Donald Trump. I was like, come on, and she`s been elected by your peers that are just going to count that or Trump that by?

I think you have to take Lindsey Graham`s threat seriously, is it possible that if the Republican -- Senate Republicans have 52, or something like that, next year, that 27 of them will want to go for Lindsey Graham or someone who will have, quote, a better working relationship with Donald Trump and McConnell who has Donna says, it has been McConnell`s my view done the key things he needed, shouldn`t have done but did to protect Trump.

But he obviously doesn`t have any kind of warm personal relationship with Trump. And Trump wants a more compliant, more obedient leader than McConnell. And you might get him.

MENENDEZ: Donna, I take Bill`s point that perhaps there is more planning on the part of Trump world looking forward to another run and his lack of desire to participate in those debates. At the same time, if Republicans continue to sow doubt in our institutions, in our norms, is there a way to come back from that and where does that leave Democrats knowing I mean, they knew they`re going to be playing on an asymmetric playing field, but this just adds an element of asymmetry.

EDWARDS: Well, you know, when I listened to Senator Sinema today, one of the things that she talked about in defending the filibuster was that somehow the filibuster actually protected this comedy in unity and bipartisanship.


And in fact, there`s been a devolution of that. And this move now about withdrawing from the debate sponsored by the Debate Commission, I think is illustrative of that.

And so, you know, I think Democrats have to go in eyes wide open and ready to, you know, sort of fight for these elections across the country. I mean, the Trump party, as I mean, look at what they`re doing in terms of running people for a secretary of state of ensuring that elections boards comprise Trump`s sympathizers.

I mean, they are doing a lot strategically to invade the infrastructure to try to protect a vote for a potential Trump president of -- running for president. And so Democrats have a lot of work to do to play catch up to this to this game that they`re playing to take the election.

MENENDEZ: None of this is normal, unless you need the reminder. Donna Edwards, Bill Kristol, thank you both. Coming up, we`re going to talk to Dr. Kavita Patel about what else the government can do to fight the pandemic, after the Supreme Court blocked the administration`s vaccine mandate for businesses and the 11th Hour continues.



BIDEN: United Airlines was averaging one employee dying a week from COVID- 19. After implementing this requirement, it`s led to 99 percent of its employees being vaccinated. United had 3,600 employees test positive but zero hospitalizations, zero deaths in over eight weeks. But as long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we`re going to have full hospital and needless deaths.



MENENDEZ: The White House was dealt a serious blow today and its effort to get millions of Americans vaccinated. As we mentioned, the Supreme Court blocked the administration from enforcing a vaccine or test mandate for large businesses.

And its decision of course, conservative majority wrote quote, although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most, that kind of universal risk is no different from the day to day dangers that all faced from crime, air pollution or any number of communicable diseases. Although Congress is indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.

With us tonight, Dr. Kavita Patel, clinical physician and former senior policy aide during the Obama administration. She`s a nonresident Fellow at Brookings, and one of our public health experts. Doctor, always good to see you. The White House argued this vaccine or test mandate would save lives. Does today`s ruling mean more unnecessary deaths?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, CLINICAL PHYSICIAN: Unfortunately, Alicia, it does. But the administration does have some options. And I think you`ve heard the President committed to try and make sure that we can, you know, basically pull all levers possible to get people vaccinated. And I think it`s the right thing to do, especially when you think about the surge, and unfortunately, deaths that are continuing to occur in the next, you know, weeks to months, most likely.

MENENDEZ: Can you walk us through what those levers look like?

PATEL: Yes, so there are a handful of things that you can actually see as a victory in the other decision that the Supreme Court prevailed upon around mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers. And in that it stated the Secretary of Health and Human Services had clear authority for the regulation of the health of healthcare workers and kind of the environment.

So you could extend that and look at more narrow focus areas for discrete type of workers, think everything from meatpacking to other essential workers, and that could still be done through the Department of Labor. Another one could be something that`s been discussed before Dr. Fauci`s commented on a domestic travel vaccine mandate. A third one could even be looking at how insurance premiums could be discounted. This is something that`s been explored, tried in other areas, including incentives to reduce smoking and other behaviors.

So you can think about a number of different areas. And then finally, kind of taking a play out of protecting consumers, if you think of all of us as consumers inside of businesses, having some sort of transparency about the business you enter, and the level of vaccination or the level of protection that that business is providing customers and its employees.

So there`s still room, I think the question is, how to not get distracted to make sure that you focus on actually getting vaccines and arms. And not just all these court related controversies over who has to get authority.

MENENDEZ: Dr. Patel, some public health experts say there are signs that Omicron has peaked, at least in some areas. Do you agree?

PATEL: They do. I`m in the DC area, and we`re seeing cases declines. We look for sustained declines. We look for seven-day averages, and we haven`t quite gotten there. It`s certainly in our area, but it is promising New York in the Northeast. However, unfortunately, as cases decline, that still means we`re seeing hundreds of thousands of cases. So that`s not a good, that`s not good news, because that does have hospitalizations, and deaths that follow. So I don`t want people to take a peek as a sign that they can just become complacent.

MENENDEZ: The President announced the purchase of another 500 million at- home COVID tests, in addition to its 500 million that were ordered last month, is that going to solve the testing issue in this country?

PATEL: It`s not going to solve the testing issue that we have today, where we have people who were trying to scavenge websites and pharmacies for antigen test, but I want to remind people, you can`t test that a COVID. So the basic measures really apply.

The Biden administration guaranteed a billion tests are the right thing to do, because, Alicia, we`re going to need these tests that necessarily just today, but we`re going to have to kind of incorporate how these tests can help us moving forward to resume normal life.

MENENDEZ: When you talk about that, that I to the future. Is this the last variant that we need to be worried about? Is this the last serious variant? Are there others on the horizon?

PATEL: So I`m going to be very kind of blunt and say, No, this is not the last variant because that`s just not how viruses work. I`m hoping that this is the last area that causes such disruption to daily life, into economy, and that now that we have vaccines that prevent disease, we can focus in the future on preventing disease. That`s what we do for other disease areas.

But I do think this will not be our last variant and certainly I hope that we have gotten enough vaccines around the world so that we have as much defense as possible for the next variant which is why testing therapeutics and focusing on making sure people get first shot as well as any up to date shot, second, third, maybe fourth shot that we need them when we need them.

MENENDEZ: That bluntness as you say is why we rely on you.


You made reference to incentives to get people to get the vaccine. Quebec actually imposed a health tax on unvaccinated people resulting in a rush of new appointments this week, is that the type of policy that could work here?

PATEL: Well, something like that. We actually have taken significant caution and regulations over the last three decades, at least it to not impose any sort of penalties based on health status. We wouldn`t want to see that unintendedly use, for example, for women for reproductive rights. So this is something that I`m very careful to caution people to think that that`s a great policy.

But the complement to that, basically offering people significant discounts could be an incentive. But we`ve tried incentives in our country. You know, we remember the lotteries and free checks and all sorts of incentives hasn`t worked so far. So that`s why these mandates have come into the forefront as the possibility and they`re working. Healthcare workers are getting vaccinated because they are required to likely do other things.

MENENDEZ: Lotteries and free checks. You`re living in strange times. Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you. Coming up, he was born His Royal Highness by that is no longer the case. When the 11th Hour continues.


MENENDEZ: There`s usually not a lot of news about the Royals at the 11th Hour, but today the Queen stripped her own son Andrew of his military titles and royal duties. The dramatic move came after the princes lawyers were unable to get a lawsuit accusing Andrew of sexual assault dismissed. A report tonight from NBC News Senior International Correspondent Keir Simmons in London.


KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight humiliation for the Queen second son, royal sources confirming to NBC News he will no longer be called His Royal Highness, a title he was born with.

Buckingham Palace saying in a statement with the Queen`s approval and agreements the Duke of York`s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.


The statement ending, he is defending this case as a private citizen.

Virginia Giuffre is suing Prince Andrew for alleged sexual assault when she was 17 years old. She says she was trafficked by the prince`s friend, the late Jeffrey Epstein.

VIRGINIA GIUFFRE, PRINCE ANDREW ACCUSER: This really scary time in my life. I had just been abused by a member of a royal family.

SIMMONS: The allegations continued despite Prince Andrews years of denials, including saying he does not remember this photograph with Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last month on Federal sex trafficking charges.

PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady. None whatsoever.

SIMMONS: The dramatic Palace announcement comes a day after a U.S. judge rejected the prince is paid to have the case thrown out, potentially leaving him to face cross-examination in court.


SIMMONS: This was a day the Queen wanted to avoid but the pilots clearly believes the damage to the royal family is too much. A source close to Prince Andrew says he will continue to defend himself. But it looks like you will have to do so alone.

MENENDEZ: Keir Simmons in London, thank you. There`s more 11th Hour ahead right after this.



MENENDEZ: A look at the Empire State Building honoring the Today`s Show 70 years on the air. That is our broadcast for this Thursday night with our thanks to you for being with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.