IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour, 1/17/22

Guests: Alexi McCammond, Jonathan Greenblatt, Joyce Vance, Symone Sanders, Tim Miller, Murtaza Akhter


Despite an almost certain defeat, Senators will debate two voting rights bills on Tuesday. It comes as Martin Luther King`s family pleads to the White House and lawmakers to pass the voting legislation. The Jan. 6th committee weighs whether to pursue subpoenas to get the crucial information they need from Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Former President Trump`s rally in Arizona gave the GOP a glimpse of how he`s building his political army ahead of the midterms.



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight`s "LAST WORD" went into overtime so THE 11TH HOUR starts right now.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Ali Velshi. Day 363 of the Biden administration. On this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, the Senate is on the eve of a showdown over voting rights.

Democrats are planning an all-out effort to push the legislation through Congress. Tomorrow, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to have or to begin debating two bills already passed by the House the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Schumer is moving ahead despite almost certain defeat amid Republican opposition. And while Democratic senators Manchin and Sinema support the bills, neither of them back a change to the filibuster to make those bills law.

This morning in Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.`s family led a march for voting rights afterward. Dr. King`s eldest son called on the Senate and the White House to act.


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: As a democracy stands on the brink of serious trouble, history will be watching what happens tomorrow. Black and brown Americans will be watching what happens tomorrow. In 50 years, students will read about what happens tomorrow and know whether our leaders had the integrity to do the right thing.


VELSHI: Earlier today, President Biden also renewed his call for senators to pass voting rights legislation.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It`s no longer just about who gets to vote. It`s about who gets to count the vote. And whether your vote counts at all. It`s about two insidious things, voter suppression and election subversion.

This time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand. It`s time for every American to stand up, speak out be heard. Where do you stand? Whose side are you on?


VELSHI: The White House has indicated that Joe Biden isn`t ready to give up if the voting bills don`t make it out of the Senate. Earlier this evening, one Democratic member of Congress indicated what Joe Biden may do next.


REP. RO KHANNA (D) PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS DEPUTY WHIP: He will sit down with the leadership and the senators who voted against this to see what can we protect? Can we at least make sure that people can`t be kicked off the rolls? Can we at least make sure everyone has ballot boxes and access to that.


VELSHI: The New York Times reports that the failure of Federal Voting legislation means that Democrats will need to focus much of their time and money on voter registration and mobilization during this midterm election year.

Meanwhile, over in the House, all eyes are on the January 6 committee`s efforts to hear from witnesses who members say are crucial to the investigation.

The Washington Post reports the panel is divided over whether to pursue subpoenas targeting former Vice President Mike Pence, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Congressman`s -- Congressman Jim Jordan and Scott Perry.

According to The Washington Post, quote, some members of the committee including the Vice Chair Liz Cheney have signaled an aggressive posture while others, including the chairman Bennie G. Thompson, have sounded notes of skepticism that such subpoenas could be enforced, end quote.

Also tonight, we`re following the latest on an act of terror that took place over the weekend targeting a synagogue in suburban Fort Worth Texas. On Saturday, a gunman took the rabbi and others hostage at a Congregation Beth Israel during live stream services.

The FBI says the gunman was a British national named Malik Akram. The captives were held for some 10 hours during a tense standoff with law enforcement that ended when the hostages escaped. A senior law enforcement official told NBC News the gunman was shot and killed by authorities. Earlier today, some captive described their ordeal.


CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, CONGRESSIONAL BETH ISRAEL RABBI: It was during prayer. While we were praying, and my back was turned, I heard a click. Then it could have been anything. And it turned out that it was his gun.

The last hour or so the standoff, he wasn`t getting what he wanted. He was getting -- it didn`t look good. It didn`t sound good. We were very -- we were terrified. And when I saw an opportunity where he wasn`t in a good position, I asked -- made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me that they were -- that they were ready to go the exit wasn`t too far away.


I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.

JEFFREY COHEN, HOSTAGE AT COLLEYVILLE SYNOGOGUE: He said point blank he chose us about because Jews control the world, Jews control the media, Jews control the banks. I want to talk to the chief rabbi of the United States. He came to us. He terrorized us, because he believed these tropes, these anti-semitic tropes. He even said at one point, that I`m coming to you because I know President Biden will do things for the Jews. I know President Trump will do things for the Jews.


VELSHI: The FBI on Sunday issued a statement that read quote, this is a terrorism related matter in which the Jewish community was targeted, and has been investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Now that statement follows remarks Saturday from the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI`s Dallas office that the government`s actions were quote, not specifically related to the Jewish community.

During the standoff, the gunman demanded the release of a federal prisoner now being held in North Texas after being convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Well, with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Monday night Alexi McCammond, political reporter for Axios, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, his new book is titled "It Could Happen Here: Why America is Tipping From Hate to the Unthinkable and How We Can Stop It." Also joining us former United States Attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. She`s a co-host of the podcast, Sisters in Law. Welcome to all three of you. Thank you for being with us.

Alexi, let me start with you. Let`s talk about what progressives, Democrats in general, but progressives, as we heard that Representative Ro Khanna in the introduction, think that Joe Biden can get done on voting rights and what they want him to do.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, thanks for having me. It`s good to see all of you. What we know for sure is that progressives want both of you pass it`s not going to happen. From Congressman Ro Khanna, you`re hearing how progressives are still hopeful that President Biden will be able to come to the Hill even after this fails on Tuesday, and work with these leaders to find out what if anything is possible to help in the way of stopping these Republican restrictive measures that have been implemented across the country.

Progressives have been working hand in glove with Biden and Kamala Harris, since Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential election in 2020, on issues around voting rights, and everything else is you know, and they really want to see something get done, but it`s coming down to the state at this point. And that`s why you`re seeing a number of governors, Democratic governors in particular, proposing their own voting rights plans to try to get around the fact that Congress and the President are unable to deliver so far.

VELSHI: Joyce, Alexi says it`s coming down to the States. In fact, we understand from the Brennan Center for Justice that 19 states have so far enacted laws that restrict voting access.

Talk to me about what the Justice Department can do about this. In theory, the Justice Department can enforce laws that actually exist. But part of the complaint among some Democrats is that some of these laws have been gutted.

JOYCE VANCE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: And that`s exactly right. The problem that DOJ faces and DOJ has been aggressive, by the way, despite the legal limitations that have been placed on them with lawsuits most recently in Texas, and in Georgia, challenging restrictive acts that are designed to suppress the vote.

But here`s the reality, the Supreme Court first gutted preclearance the requirement under the voting act that said before a lock, a new law or a new practice could go into place in a jurisdiction with a history of voting discrimination, someone at DOJ or someone in the judiciary had to look it over and decide that it was OK. That was what happened in the Shelby County versus Holder case.

And so that gutted Section 5 of that preclearance. Then more recently, the Supreme Court looked at what was remaining for DOJ, Section 2 and said, you know, DOJ, you can still sue over these laws. But you can only win if you prove the state legislature enacted one of these laws with an intent to discriminate.

And absent proof that intent was the reason for this new restriction or this new rule about voting to go into place, you`re not entitled to keep it from going into effect. So very slim pickings for DOJ. That`s why it`s so important that these two pending measures clear the Senate to restore protections on voting.

VELSHI: Joyce, so as a former prosecutor, obviously, proving intent is an important part of all prosecutions. But how do you do that with a legislature if it`s not written into the law or in the debates that we intend to keep certain elements or parts of the population from voting or make it harder for them to vote? How does one prove that?


VANCE: Well, it`s difficult and these are civil matters, not criminal matters. So in some sense, it should be easier because the burden of proof is lesser, you have to prove that it`s more likely than not.

But the burden here is a heavy one requiring a showing that it`s this intent to interfere with voting. And that there`s racial animus is typically the path forward in the Section 2 cases. And that can be a very difficult path, for instance, in a setting like the one we`re currently seeing in the state legislatures, where they`re claiming that there`s pervasive fraud, and then DOJ has the job of going back and establishing that they didn`t really believe that.

So in other words, instead of having strong protections, for our most important, right, what we have are watered down procedures that require years of litigation, and no longer give DOJ the opportunity to protect citizens rights to vote.

VELSHI: Jonathan Greenblatt, you and I spoke about 38 hours ago, in just a few hours after that terrible situation in Colleyville, Texas, had ended. And you were surprised at the time that the FBI had said that the intent of this, this hostage shaker wasn`t to target the Jewish community or some such.

I don`t think you had the impression that that FBI agent meant anything -- meant to undermine the fears and the dangers that Jews face in America. But it did speak to this insidious difficulty that is always faced when trying to prove that anti-semitism does create dangerous for all of us.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFEMATION LEAGUE CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR: There`s no question. I mean, I think that the FBI works so heroically over the weekend, to ensure the safe release of those for people. And I think we owe them a debt of gratitude. And yet the Special Agent charge got it wrong when he said Judaism or anti-semitism was an issue.

Ali, let me just be clear, anti-semitism was exactly the issue. The idea that someone believes that the Jews control the government, the Jews control the media, these are some of the oldest canards around. They`ve been used over hundreds and thousands of years to persecute, to justify rationalize the persecution and ultimate slaughter or expulsion of the Jewish people.

And I mean, you know, I send my kids to Hebrew school to learn torah, not tactical maneuvers, and so I find it really aggravating when I`ve heard some people say over the last few days, you know, he was deranged, he was mentally ill. No, he was evil going into a synagogue. But the idea that you`re going to take people hostage is a sick and sinister thing to do.

And, you know, I think it really starts with words, Ali, you know, I mean, whether we have people on the far right make crazy conspiratorial claims about George Soros, or again, the Jews have been controlling this or people on the far left talking about polite Zionist as their enemies making wild claims about the Jewish state.

We need people across the board, no matter what your politics, your partisan leanings to say no, no, no, stop, like anti-semitism isn`t just ignorance. It`s explosive, and it kills people. We`re just really lucky that tonight that no one died in Texas, you know, this past week.

VELSHI: Yes, we are. Alexi, you`ve been covering Democratic candidates at the state level. I was just asking Joyce, what the Department of Justice can do in the effort to sustain voting rights. What are some state candidate -- state level candidates doing?

MCCAMMOND: Yes, they just mentioned as we look across the country, not just fitting Democratic governors, but Democratic candidates for governor across the country are starting to unveil their own plans for voting rights, their own plans for democracy. Ali, I know you know this, that`s not typical in election years. You don`t usually see candidates unveiling plans around voting and democracy, health care, the economy, immigration, sure, not something like this. And that`s speaking to the moment that we`re in.

It`s folks in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Mexico, really across the country saying that they believe Democratic governors, in particular, the last line of defense for democracy, given the way the Republicans across the country (ph) implementing and introducing these restrictive voting measures, and again, the way that Congress is failing to pass anything on the federal level.

So I don`t think this is something you`re actually going to see slow down. I think we`re going to see a number of Democratic candidates, not just gubernatorial candidates, but other statewide candidates starting to get into this lane and really propose their own state level issues because of what`s happening or not happening on the hill.

VELSHI: It`s been decades since the average American thinks of themselves as a foot soldier for democracy and thinks about their vote is actually being about preserving democracy Alexei.

Joyce, I was talking to the Congressman Jamie Raskin, who`s a part of the January 6 Committee yesterday about the powers of that committee what it can or can`t do in terms of subpoenas and other members of Congress. Here`s what he told me.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Look, we`ve got the power under Article One of the Constitution to set the rules of our own houses. We have the right to discipline members all the way up to the point of expulsion. And the Speech and Debate Clause says the members of Congress cannot be questioned for their legislative activity outside of Congress, which clearly implies that within Congress we have the authority to do that.


VELSHI: I always enjoy talking to Jamie Raskin, but he`s a super smart guy and lawyer, and I need you to help us make sense of what he was saying.

VANCE: Well, I think his constitutional scholarship is just dead on point here, it seems very likely to me that the committee can in fact subpoena members that it has that power. The problem that they`re going to face is what are they going to do about it when some of those members refused to show up and testify? So that`s the real problem that they have to sort out in advance of deciding what to do. Will they go to the Justice Department and ask the Justice Department to engage in criminal prosecutions? You know, that`s fraught, and we`re still waiting on a decision by DOJ about whether it will enforce the subpoena against the White House Chief of Staff by prosecuting him like they`ve already begun to prosecute Steve Bannon.

And then alternatively, Congress might decide to go to civil court to try to enforce these subpoenas. But that too, is fraught, there`s the question of whether the courts would get in the middle of a dispute between the members. And as we all know, civil litigation takes time.

So, this is a complicated and difficult decision. It`s interesting to note that Liz Cheney appears to be the assertive member on this panel insisting that these subpoenas should issue.

VELSHI: Right, that might sort of that might be something that our viewers think is unusual that one of the two Republicans on the committee`s -- committee wants to take a more aggressive stance on this than perhaps even the Democrats do. But Jamie Raskin seems to be behind that as well.

Jonathan, let`s talk about another topic you and I were discussing yesterday, and that is extremism in general and the threat that it poses to democracy, it`s part of this larger conversation we`re having. What we saw in Colleyville yesterday was one small thing. And it didn`t end up being -- it didn`t end up having the worst result. But we are in an environment where extremism thrives in America.

GREENBLATT: There`s no doubt. I mean, I think we kid ourselves when we believe there`s some natural law that dictates that democracy will persist forever, unless we fight for it. We`ve got to work to protect and preserve the liberties that are enshrined in the Constitution, when we have an environment where people think it`s normal for an armed militia, to literally overtake the Capitol, to assault police officers.

And keep in mind that what happened on January the sixth wasn`t a surprise to us at ADL, we track extremists. And we`d seen for example, their efforts to take the capitol in Lansing, Michigan, their efforts to attack the Capitol Building in Oregon. And we hear what they`re saying.

And so I think, look, extremism is a dangerous chemical that can combust and destroy our democracy. So it`s incumbent upon all of us who care about this to recognize there`s no silver bullet, right? There`s no magic wand we can wave. It`s going to require all segments of society, Republicans and Democrats, it`s going to require businesses and civil society organizations like the ADL to come together and push back and kind of reclaim our democracy, whether you are conservative or liberal. We all have a stake in liberal democracy being preserved and continuing to flourish.

VELSHI: Jonathan, thanks again for the work that you do. Alexei McCammond, Jonathan Greenblatt and Joyce Vance, we appreciate you kicking things off for us tonight. There is some good economic news, by the way for the President as much of his agenda remains stalled in Congress. So why aren`t more people talking about it? I`ll discuss that with Symone Sanders and Tim Miller.

And later, he`s made the big lie a litmus test for Republicans in the next election. That can`t be good for democracy. We`ll get into it. The 11th Hour just getting underway on a Monday night.




KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: It is time for the United States Senate to do its job. A landmark bill, as we all know, sits before the United States Senate the Freedom to Vote John Lewis Act. This bill represents the first real opportunity to secure the freedom to vote since the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act nearly a decade ago, and the Senate must pass this bill now.


VELSHI: The Biden administration had hoped to have a Senate vote on voting rights in time for today`s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. From the sounds of it, they`re not ready to give up despite all signs pointing to failure. We want to welcome tonight Symone Sanders, former chief spokesperson for vice president Harris. She`ll be hosting an upcoming show here on MSNBC and on our streaming channel, the Choice on Peacock, and Tim Miller, a contributor to The Bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush. Welcome to both of you. Good evening.

Symone, welcome to the NBC family. It`s going to be fun to be with you on a regular basis. Listen, Symone, I think it`s fair to say that this may be the most meaningful MLK Jr. holiday since the holiday has existed because it`s the first time since this holiday has existed, that we are in an active and current fight for voting rights, the very stuff that Martin Luther King was fighting for while he was alive.

SYMONE SANDERS, FMR. SENIOR ADVISOR AND CHIEF SPOKESPERSON FOR VP HARRIS: Thank you for having me tonight, Ali, and I`m so excited to be here with you and with Tim. I loved Tim. I`m a fan. I can`t wait to hear what he has to say. Look, I think you are you are right. This is one of the more consequential MLK days in our recent history. I would argue that and I think, you know, Reverend Sharpton has been on throughout the network throughout the day that has talked about this history over the last couple of years, as someone who studied under Dr. King as a student in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Look, I think the fact is this and it`s important for people at home to understand, as you just want to say that tomorrow`s vote, or they may not vote until Wednesday. Now I`m hearing from folks on the Hill that the Senate caucus will decide what`s going to happen at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.

But whenever the vote goes down, it is likely to fail. What you heard from the Vice President today, though, what you`ve heard from the President and Vice President over the last couple of weeks is extremely important. There are a number of levers that a president vice president have at their disposal. When it comes to this conversation about voting rights the things that the president and vice president can do they have done, right. The President directed the entirety of the federal government at the beginning of the year to mobilize their resources, to make sure the federal government is doing everything they can to make sure any American who would like to vote could be able to vote.


They are putting pressure on using the bully pulpit to raise the stakes in the conversation so what is in their power that can do. Now the question becomes what happens after Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever this vote happens? Does the White House explore an executive order that can stand at the constitutional muster? Those are the kind of conversations that will happen going forward.

VELSHI: Tim Miller, you know, one of the people who made the argument for hey, look, keep your filibuster. But do what you`ve already done in the past, let it go for certain things that are of greater importance. This is what Representative Jim Clyburn said on MSNBC today.


REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I will say to all my friends, that they`re in the Senate, that nobody is asking you to give up the filibuster, that I wish they would stop saying that. We asked you to do for voting rights and constitution right the same thing that you`ve done for the budget. We hear ask, respectfully, that you allow the same kind of reconciliation of constitutional rights that you allow for budgetary issue. That`s all.


VELSHI: Tim, that argument has not worked on any Republicans in the Senate. It`s not worked on Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin at least so far, what do you think of it?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sure. And first, Symone, welcome to the other side, the water is warm, I`ve made the transition. It`s not too bad over here to give me your takes. Look, far be it for me to push back on Representative Clyburn. I think on the merits of his argument, he`s correct. I think that there`s some practical concerns with it.

Number one to how you just laid in there Ali, there are no Republicans who are interested in giving an inch on this. They do not want to give the Democrats any wins. I think that there potentially could be Republicans that would be willing to come to the table on a smaller bill. And, you know, reformed Electoral Count Act, you know, I`m just throwing this out there make Election Day holiday, you know, some sorts of things. It is certainly not up to what activists are looking for on voting rights. But I think you could maybe bring in some Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski types for, you know, a more tailored voting rights bill.

So, Republicans are standing in the way of what the Clyburn wants, and then, you know, Manchin and Sinema are standing in the way of this. And one thing that`s frustrated me as an outsider, you know, sort of watching, you know, the Democrats over the past year, is, you know, they seem to have one card to play, which is, you know, pressure Manchin and Sinema, complain about the fact that Manchin, Sinema won`t and the filibuster, and they keep coming back with the same answers, you know.

And so, you know, there`s a little bit of the, you know, line about insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You know, I think that there are certainly some merits to some of the Sinema`s points about not wanting to give Mitch McConnell`s filibuster was Congress. There`s obviously merits to Clyburn`s points about how, you know, you can make a carve out for this in the same way you can have the budget.

But the reality check here is that that argument hasn`t convinced Sinema. And so how can you come to -- come at it a different way, and try to figure out, you know, what are some things we could pass? How can we put pressure on Republicans by breaking these bills down and taking out the popular parts and making them vote for him? I`d like to see a little bit more creative thinking than just, you know, hoping that that yelling Senator Sinema more is going to change the result.

VELSHI: Well, Symone, you were -- you`re on the inside here. Tell me about that. Because on one hand, there are people who say, this is existential. This is actually an attack on democracy as we know it. On the other hand, there are people say, maybe we can get some percentage of what`s in these two Senate bills through on an individual basis. And, you know, some argue that if you take these thin slices, and you put it on the floor of the Senate and Republicans vote against it, you can then talk about the specific things that they voted against. What`s the thinking on how to approach this differently?

SANDERS: So there`s two things, Ali. First, all of the Republicans in the United States Senate outside of Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska have refused to even debate the issue of either one of the voting rights bills that are currently being discussed, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Advancement Act that every that at least 16, I believe, maybe 13 United States senators Republicans who served in 2006 within Senator Biden voted for at that time, and then the Freedom to Vote Act, which is would make a net floor, so Election Day a national holiday. It would things like you lines can be longer than 30 minutes. You can get food to water, food and water to people standing in line. Those are the kinds of things that the freedom to vote access.

The thinking from the White House has been that look, we have to At least get to a place where we as the executive branch as the legislative branch can debate these issues they have been unable to do that.


Again, Lisa Murkowski is the only Republican that has come to the table willing to say, Hey, I`m going to vote for this to start debate. And so it`s not as though these bills have been voted on before. And, you know, where members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats stand they have not come to the floor.

So right now the White House since thinking along with Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi, because this is not a unilateral act of the White House. This is a cohesive effort with leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi is that you have to get people on the record., call the question, force to vote. There is a mechanism in the United States Senate.

The Senator Schumer, in a is detailed in the New York Times story last week is going to use to bring these bills to the floor to bypass the issue of the blocking of the debate. So there will at least be a debate.

The question again is on the table becomes when that debate after the debate fails. What happens when it comes to changing the Senate rules? It is not just Manchin and Sinema, though, the White House is very well aware that there are other United States senators, it is reported Senator Tester, at one point Senator Coons who I don`t think if you`d asked him today, I think he would be willing to vote to do away with a carve out for the filibuster for voting rights, ask him though I don`t speak for Senator Coons, would be those are some folks who have signaled some trepidation.

So I think that the conversation is not as black as white, black and white as people would like it to be. Again, the President has to exert and show the base that he is doing something here. The levers and the tools that he has in his valuate that he is using. That is what you have seen over the last couple of weeks. And over the last couple of months privately, the Vice President has traveled, convening people, what happens after Tuesday, Wednesday, when the vote, pardon me, when the vote comes? Is there going to be an executive order from the White House? The President isn`t it has already signaled that he`s willing to potentially do something like that on police reform, is he willing to do something like that that can pass constitutional muster for voting rights?

VELSHI: Symone Sanders and Tim Miller have agreed to stay with us. We have much more to talk about. Coming up, we`re going to look at the political army that Donald Trump is building as we head into the midterms. What his strategy means for Republicans when the 11th Hour continues.




DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: This is maybe the most important election we`ve ever had. But I do believe that 2024 will be even more important. This is the year we are going to take back the House. We are going to take back the Senate and we are going to take back America. This is so important. And in 2024, we are going to take back the White House.


VELSHI: Former President Donald Trump held a huge election style rally in Florence, Arizona on Saturday, where he repeated his election lies and embraced some of the most radical Republicans in the state in the country. In fact, the Atlantic called it a soft launch of his 2024 presidential campaign in which he made his strategy for the upcoming midterms clear quote, this is the former president`s new litmus test. You endorse the lie, he endorses you.

Still with us, Symone Sanders and Tim Miller. Tim, Donald Trump really likes his rallies. But there are some Republicans according to The New York Times who are quite concerned with the strategy that he is embracing right now. I want to read you from the article, Republicans who are concerned about Mr. Trump`s influence on candidates they believe are unelectable. The basic math of such crowded primaries is difficult to stomach. A winner could prevail with just a third of the total vote, which makes it more than likely that a far right candidate who is unpalatable to the broader electorate can win the nomination largely on Mr. Trump`s endorsement.

A little bit of math involved in that but the bottom line is you`ve got a lot of people running for certain positions, like the governor of -- governorship of Arizona, for instance, Donald Trump gets behind one of them and his army comes out what do you make of it?

MILLER: Well, a couple of things, Ali. Number one, I just always get a good chuckle out of these anonymous Republicans are so concerned about Donald Trump`s influence. They`ve been concerned for like six years now. He think that they would do something. You know, there was a chance to convict him in the Senate just a couple months ago. You could have been read of him once and for all. Oh, well.

As far as the crazy candidates, he`s helping Arizona. I take your point. You know, some of the most extreme candidates were there at that rally, including the leading candidate for Secretary of State who`s essentially running on a campaign to promise that he would not go back to decertify the 2020 results in Arizona, taking away people`s legal votes, speaking of our voting rights topic, and then presumably in 2024, only certified the election in the state of Donald Trump won, extremely radical platform, unprecedented really in modern American history. You`d have candidates running for jobs like this with an explicit promise that they would only certify elections if they`re if they`re candidate won.

But here`s the thing that these Republicans should be more concerned about that I`m more concerned about, frankly, every major candidate in Arizona attended that rally. There were multiple sitting members of Congress that were there, leading Senate candidate Blake Masters, who`s, you know, presumably more of a mainstream ish type Republican to accept that exists right now running kind of in a JD Vance mould, Peter Thiel candidate, the favorite, the front runner, a former TV anchor, Carrie Lake spoke at that rally. She`s the front runner for the governor`s race. She`s also all in for the big lie.

You know, that Arizona rally was a unity rally. And the former governor Doug Ducey wasn`t there, but he currently doesn`t have a job. And that was a unity rally between everyone in the party and they were all singing from the same hymn book, the 2020 election was a fraud. Obviously, that`s false. And it needs to be, you know, just to be recompense to it in 2024. That is extremely radical. And it`s across the party. And I just I think that that event in Arizona was alarming and should be getting more attention than it is.

VELSHI: Symone, you were involved with the Biden campaign in the Biden White House, I want to read something that Ezra Klein wrote in the New York Times today it`s entitled, This Presidency Isn`t Turning Out as Planned. He wrote that they have largely succeeded feels like the best kept secret in Washington. A year ago, forecasters expected unemployment to be nearly 60 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 instead it fell to 3.9 percent in December driven by the largest one year drop in unemployment in American history.


Wages are high, new businesses are forming at record rates and poverty has fallen below its pre-pandemic levels. Since March 2020, Americans have saved at least $2 trillion more than expected. And that`s not just a function of the rich getting richer, a JPMorgan Chase analysis found the median household checking account balance was 50 percent higher in July of 2021, than in the month before the pandemic.

Symone, why is this not resonating with more Americans? Why are we seeing low approval levels for Joe Biden despite all of this?

SANDERS: Well, I think it is twofold really, Ali. One in which that I think two folks have a role to play here, if you will, the administration, and also, frankly, the news media. Look, I don`t think that the news media should be carrying the water for the Biden, Harris administration or any administration. But I do think that we have a responsibility to report the facts.

And the fact is that everything as recline wrote in July, it was true that households had more money in their pockets, partly due to the child monthly child -- Child Tax Credit, which was implemented via the Biden-Harris administration, championed by then Senator Harris, along with Senator Booker and Bennett in the Senate prior to her becoming vice president.

But that same summer, there were headlines saying this is the worst ever. The Biden administration is in deep trouble, that Biden is having the worst summer ever. I think folks have to report the facts. You have to report again, during that time, I think that was in the lead up to or right before what was happening in Afghanistan. There a number of things happening, but you have to report the facts. And the facts are that there are great things happening with the economy.

Concurrently, though, the administration has to do his due diligence and telling that story. So you`ve seen cabinet officials from Secretary Buttigieg to Secretary Granholm, to Secretary Cardona going out and touting the Administration`s efforts, the President and Vice President have all been out.

I do think there is a need to turn up the dial. You have to -- we on -- during the campaign folks used to talk about meeting people in the beauty shops, the barber shops in the Bible studies. And that is frankly what you have to do now. COVID has made that much more difficult. And it`s forced this White House to get more creative.

And so I think you are going to hear more. You heard from the President on Friday touting his infrastructure bill, Building a Better America, I believe is what they`re calling it now. Build infrastructure law. And I think you`re going to see more of that from the President and Vice President going forward COVID allowing but, you know, everybody has to do their part here. And the administration definitely has to do theirs.

VELSHI: Welcome again, Symone. It`s good to have you with us. Symone Sanders and Tim Miller, always good to see both of you. Thank you for being with us tonight.

Coming up. While some areas of the country are showing a decrease in COVID cases, there`s a new warning from the Surgeon General about what could be next, when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: The Omicron wave is showing some signs of waning in certain parts of the country. The Wall Street Journal reports quote, there are signs of the pandemic could be losing momentum after new infections began to slow in some of the first U.S .hotspots, including New York firming up a trend already established in places such as South Africa and the United Kingdom, which were also hit early on with Omicron. But the United States Surgeon General warns there`s still a rough road ahead.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is a very difficult time. During this surge, we are seeing high case numbers and hospitalization rates. The good news is that there are parts of the country, New York in particular, and other parts of the Northeast where we are starting to see a plateau and in some cases in early declining cases. The challenge is that nothing the entire country is moving at the same pace. The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country, so we shouldn`t expect a national peak in the next coming days. Next few weeks will be tough.


VELSHI: Back with us, Dr. Murtaza Akhter, he`s an emergency physician at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix. He also works in emergency rooms in Pennsylvania, as well as in Florida. Dr. Akhter, welcome to the show. Thanks for being with us.

In Florida, where you are, we have seen like we`ve seen all across the East Coast. We`ve still got more cases, but they`re increasing at a slower rate. What`s your sense, given the evidence that you`ve seen the trends that you`ve seen about where we are with Omicron?

MURTAZA AKHTER, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, I`ll be that`s what it feels like on the ground to the Christmas and New Year`s I worked were the worst Christmas and New Year`s I`ve ever worked. It didn`t feel like a holiday at all quite the opposite.

As a matter of fact that your hours in that day was busier than it`s been the whole time I`ve been here on Christmas Day, which is unusual, people avoid the ER. You couldn`t even get in the waiting room. Forget the actual ER, that`s how many people were coming in.

Relative to that it has gotten easier. I mean, I just had a shift today and that same ER, and it felt significantly better. But that`s not to say that we don`t see a lot of COVID cases, obviously hospitalizations have gone up. As you know, hospitalizations happen, you know, a week, 10 days, two weeks after the cases surge. So we`re now in that phase where the inpatient side is backing up. But the ER itself doesn`t go getting fewer patients and the curves seem to suggest that as well.

VELSHI: One head we heard the Surgeon General saying don`t expect a peak in the coming days. And I suppose to be the Surgeon General in the United States. I mean, for the first year of this virus, we got BS out of the administration about how this wasn`t all that serious. Now, I think that they`re skewing on the other side. But there are people who just want to know when can I get back to eating inside a restaurant in winter? When can I get back to the gym? What`s your sense of that?

AKHTER: Well, I think it`s that official answer would be it`s going to be case by case and county by county and city by city. Depending on how many cases per 100,000 there is. The easier answer is for me, I have avoided indoor dining for the whole time. Until there`s significantly controlled now be quite a while I wouldn`t want to do indoor dining or indoor activities maskless.

Now I have the perk of whether I`m in Arizona and Florida of having weather that I can eat outdoors almost a year round. Obviously, people the Northeast don`t have that. Even the Northeast also have fewer cases. Definitely now is not the time to be doing indoor dining or gyms, et cetera.

There`s a lot of transmission happening. And everybody I feel like is getting sick. I got sick. And you know tests are hard to come by. And I think despite the fact that you are vaccinated boosted, remember you can still carry the disease and having the mild form of the disease still sucks just because it`s mild. It doesn`t mean that I`m still staying. So now is not the time.

VELSHI: Dr. Akhter, good to see you. Thank you for being with us. Thank Dr. Murtaza Akhter. Coming up. New York -- new reporting by the way on yet another factor that could lead to even more delays and cancellations at the airport when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: After weeks of flight delays and cancellations from COVID and weather, there`s another reason you may spend more time waiting at the airport. Major airlines warned that the telecom industries plan to turn on new 5g wireless technology could interfere with airplanes. Our report tonight from NBC correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just 36 hours before Verizon and AT&T switch on their new faster 5g cell systems. The nation`s airlines today issued a stark warning an urgent request assigned by every major U.S. airline and cargo CEO for the government to keep the 5g ground stations turned off if they`re within two miles of major airports.

The CEOs right immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies.

The concern those 5G ground stations could disrupt a planes radio altimeter, which provides precise altitude readings when pilots land and poor visibility. As 5G goes live Wednesday, the FAA will prohibit pilots from using altimeters during landing at more than 80 airports near 5G sites, including large airport hubs in Dallas, New York, Chicago and Seattle.

Today, the airline`s CEOs warned the vast majority of the travelling and shipping public will essentially be grounded facing cancellations diversions or delays.

GARY KELLY, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CEO: The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive that would significantly impact our operations.

COSTELLO: The cellphone industry insists the technology has proven to be safe in Europe. It`s already delayed rollout twice and says it`ll turn down the power at ground stations near some airports.


PETER BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Look, the wireless carriers are the positive impact on our economy. But on the aviation side, we`ve also got to make sure that it`s safe.

COSTELLO: Tonight the airlines are warning they may have to ground planes and mass cancellations could start Wednesday.


VELSHI: Thanks to Tom Costello for that report. Coming up, poignant words about what the United States Senate will face tomorrow in what has become a pitched battle for the preservation of democracy. The words you`ll hear, when we return, were delivered nearly 60 years ago but they could have been written tonight, when the 11th Hour continues.


VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight, In a July 1963 television interview the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was asked if the civil rights bill that President Kennedy was working on should be put to a nationwide vote. You`ll notice in his response, he voiced his frustrations with the U.S. Senate that we still face today.


DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., LED THE U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FROM THE MID-1950s: Well, this certainly be alright with me because I`m in the vast majority of people in the United States would vote favorably for such a bill. I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting, they won`t let the majority senators vote. And suddenly they wouldn`t want the majority of people to vote because they know they do not represent the majority of the American people. In fact, they represent in their own states, a very small minority.


VELSHI: Insightful words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end our broadcast for this Monday night with our thanks for being with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.