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Transcript: The 11th Hour, 1/20/22

Guests: Neal Katyal, Geoff Bennett, Shannon Pettypiece, Jeremy Bash, Al Franken, Bill Kristol


Jan. 6 committee seeks testimony from Ivanka Trump. 1/6 committee reveals new texts between Hannity and McEnany. Atlanta D.A. requests special grand jury in Trump election investigation. White House facing growing tensions with Russia over Ukraine. Biden, Dems eye new strategy to get policies enacted.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Kevin McCarthy, who is now refusing to testify to the January 6 Committee once again gets tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR starts now.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I`m Ali Velshi. Day 366 of the Biden administration. Today, we learned that the January 6 committee is asking Ivanka Trump to voluntarily cooperate with its investigation, its first attempt to seek information directly from a member of the former president`s family. Today, House investigators sent her an eight-page letter full of never-before-seen details revealing the evidence that`s been collected and the focus of their inquiry.

The letter asks the former first daughter about her contact with her father during key moments when they were both in the White House as the Capitol was under siege. It cites one of those moments saying, "As January 6 approached, President Trump attempted on multiple occasions to persuade Vice President Pence to participate in his plan. One of the President`s discussions with the Vice President occurred by phone on the morning of January 6. You were present in the Oval Office and observed at least one side of that telephone conversation."

Ivanka Trump`s efforts to get the former president to call off the attack on the Capitol are also under scrutiny. Testimony from Mike Pence is then National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg is also included in the letter.

Here`s one exchange, the Committee asked him, "Do you think that Ivanka Trump could help get President Trump to a place where he would make a statement to try and stop this? Kellogg answered, yes. The committee also asked, so you thought that Ivanka get her father to do something about it. Kellogg replied, to take a course of action.

Kellogg then went on to describe several attempts by Ivanka Trump to appeal to her father. The Committee asked Kellogg, and so presumably the first time Ivanka Trump went in, it wasn`t sufficient. Or she wouldn`t have had to go back at least one more time, I assume. Is that correct? Kellogg responded, well, yes, ma`am. I think she went back in there because Ivanka could be pretty tenacious. The January 6 committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney gave something of a preview of this testimony earlier this month.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R) WYOMING VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: We know as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television to tell people to stop. We know members of his family. We know his daughter. We have first- hand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice, to ask him to please stop this violence.


VELSHI: The letter to Ivanka Trump also mentions the National Guard`s eventual response to the violence on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers want to ask her whether her father gave any orders to deploy the guard. The Committee said it`s found no evidence that he did.

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump released a statement that read in part, "As the committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally as she publicly stated that day at 3:15 p.m. Any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful."

We should note that the Committee`s letter does not say she was at the rally. The same letter also revealed a previously unknown text from Fox News host Sean Hannity to Trump and the White House -- to Trump`s White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the day after the riot.

Hannity wrote one, no more stolen election talk. Two, yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real and many people will quit. In response Ms. McEnany replied, love that. Thank you, that is the playbook. I will help reinforce.

The former President Trump is now facing an escalating legal threat from the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia. The DA Fani Willis requested a special grand jury on Thursday to aid her investigation into possible 2020 election interference by President Donald Trump. You might remember this infamous call the Trump made to Brad Raffensperger who`s Georgia Secretary of State in early 2021.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have. Because we won the state and flipping the State is a great testament to our country.


VELSHI: Trump, of course, did not win the election in Georgia. Today, the former President responded to the DA`s request with this statement that read in part, "My phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia was perfect, perhaps even more so than my call with the Ukrainian president, if that`s possible."


Well, there`s also new reporting today about Rudy Giuliani`s involvement in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. The Washington Post reports he oversaw a Trump campaign plan to put forward fake electors in at least five states that Biden won. According to the post, Giuliani worked to replace electors who were unwilling to go along with the plan.

We`re also following the latest tonight on the 10th situation on Ukraine`s border with Russia, and what the Biden administration is saying about it. We`re going to have much more on that in just a moment.

But let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Thursday night. Shannon Pettypiece is a Veteran Journalist and our Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital. Geoff Bennett is the Chief Washington Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, and an MSNBC Political Contributor and Neal Katyal is the Department of Justice Veteran and former Acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration. He`s argued dozens of cases before the United States Supreme Court.

Friends, it`s good to see you all tonight. Thank you for being with us. Neal, let`s start with you. These letters that the committee sends out are good reading. They`re not simply an invitation to participate or submit something but they tend to lay out something of the narrative. This is an eight-page letter to Ivanka Trump, what did you find in there that was new to you?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: So much. So, first of all, Ali, that Trump said that this point, have attracted more legal adverse legal actions in the last 24 hours, then, I don`t know they`ve attracted Russians, and that`s really saying something. So, it`s the things you mentioned, the Fulton County Georgia investigation, a grand jury being convened. It`s Ivanka being fast to testify in Congress, but it`s also a remarkable eight to one loss in the Supreme Court on executive privilege. All of this stuff is happening together. And I haven`t even mentioned Rudy yet. So, with respect to this letter, I think it`s a remarkable letter that Congress sent to Ivanka Trump. I put the entire thing on my Twitter because it`s worth, it`s many pages long, and reveals all sorts of information like that General Kellogg said that Ivanka was present when Donald Trump tried to pressure Mike Pence to throw out the count on January 6, and then foreshadowing the Liz Cheney stuff that she tried to go in at least that Ivanka Trump tried to go in at least twice to stop President Trump from doing what he was doing.

So, what the Committee is looking for, and what the letter reveals is they want to know at least four things. One, what did Ivanka Trump know about Donald Trump`s plan for January 6? Second, how did he react as the events unfolded? Third, what did she do to try and stop it? And the fourth, what was his reaction? What did he do and not do? I we know he sat on his hands at a minimum for over three hours, something that`s inexcusable, you know, you or I, or any decent person would have done something in that time. We know he didn`t. So, what was he doing at the time?

And the last thing I`d say about this letter is it was remarkably smart, because what they did is they focused on Ivanka Trump on January 6 and January 6 only. And the reason for that is the Supreme Court decision that Trump lost yesterday, its facts were about the day of January 6, and so they tailor that letter to it, the decision is going to have much bigger implications than January 6, but this is a smart targeted surgical letter.

VELSHI: Geoff Bennett, good to see you back on our air. By the way, my friend. Let`s talk a little about what the Committee knows, again, these invitations, these letters of invitation, do give you some of the story. So, between the fact that we know that the National Archives has started passing material to the January 6 committee, we don`t know what that material is and what they have so far, but the information that the January 6 committee already has, where do you think this puts us in its work?

GEOFF BENNETT, PBS NEWSHOUR CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I`ll tell you this. I mean, just looking at, reading through that letter, we certainly know that Ivanka Trump figures fairly prominently in other people`s testimony before this panel. We also know that as Neal speaks to the fact that President Trump`s sat in the dining room, really doing nothing except apparently watching it unfold on television. We know that from Stephanie Grisham, some public remarks from Stephanie Grisham, the former White House Press Secretary who said the President Trump set before that big flat screen with a TiVo attached in the White House dining room, gleefully rewinding parts of live TV coverage.

I was particularly struck too, Ali, by Ivanka Trump`s statement, as you mentioned, the letter from the Committee makes no mention of the rally that happened on the ellipse, before Donald Trump`s supporters laid siege to the Capitol. But her statement, she makes clear that she wasn`t a part of it. That raises the question in my mind, why is she trying to distance herself from that rally? Is it because of what President Trump, former President Trump said you know that we`re going to go and give them hell, and that you, we will not relent because this election was stolen from us all of the language that he used that effectively incited the riots that unfolded later and so yes you can certainly see how this committee is painting a full picture of what was happening in the White House at the time that President Trump was caught, was implored really, from White House staffers to do something.


Ivanka Trump went in twice. And it wasn`t until 4:17 hours after the insurrection effectively ended, the President Trump made that video statement on Twitter.

VELSHI: You both brought up an interesting point, Geoff and Neal and that is that the letter in eight-page, it does not allege that she was at the rally. So, the idea that her statement to the public that she wasn`t at the rally, it`s an interesting choice.

Shannon, it`s year two of the Biden administration. There have been some major legislative successes and recently some major legislative failures. There`s an economy that`s actually performing quite well. But polling indicates that people think it`s not. And the President`s polling is underwater, the White House is looking at a reset. They don`t love this whole January 6, committee stuff. It`s not what they`re focused on. So where are they now? What`s the thinking at the White House?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, you know, I will say, the White House, certainly they`re not focused on January 6, but Democrats, a Democratic strategist have said, you know, obviously, there`s a lot that can be accomplished this January 6 committee, you know, getting to the facts, the truth of what happened that day. But it also they have said is a good reminder to people of the way things were under the previous Trump administration. And potentially, as people go to the polls in November, if there was something like this out there, reminding them of the chaos of those days and the lies of that time period. That is certainly something that could help Democrats.

But in the White House, what they`re focused on is they seem to think they have a messaging problem here. And that if they can get the messaging, right, if they can get the President out there, as we heard him indicate in his press conference, he is going to do more of traveling across the country, helping out in the midterms, bringing in outside voices, trying to get outside of that White House bubble. They feel like if they can get that messaging, right, they can address these sagging poll numbers. Because as you mentioned, Ali, there are a lot of bright spots in the economy of White House advisors feel like they have not been emphasizing those much. There are some bright spots in the pandemic, the fact that 200 million plus people are fully vaccinated. And that, you know, largely people who are vaccinated aren`t ended up in the hospital or the ICU, in the same numbers as those who are unvaccinated.

So those are some of that, they`re trying to shift the message in the focusing to the positives of this, and they`re trying to sell what they`ve got. They can`t count on having this Build Back Better, $1.7 billion infrastructure or social spending bill, they`ve got the infrastructure bill, so they`re focused on selling that. And we`ve seen that this week, number of infrastructure events, when the President goes out on the road, when his servants go out on the road, they`re going to be talking about the infrastructure bill, because that`s what they have to sell.

Now, do they wish they had more to sell? Certainly, and do roads and bridges, get people to show up at polls? We`ll see. But they got to go with what they`ve got at this point. And that looks what like what they`ve got, and so look for them to try and coalesce a message around those type of talking points.

VELSHI: Neal Katyal, Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democratic Congressman who is on the -- who`s on the January 6 Committee posted this to Twitter this evening about Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump. He said, if the former president has no executive privilege to hide evidence of an attempted coup or insurrection, neither do his family or friends. If Ivanka Trump was with Donald Trump, as the attack unfolded, she is a material fact witness. I look forward to her testimony. What does he mean by that?

KATYAL: He`s 100%, right? So, what the Supreme Court did yesterday in this eight to one decision, Ali, is it said that Trump couldn`t hide from the American people documents about what he was doing on January 6. And if you can`t hide the documents, and this is Congress Raskin -- Congressman Raskin`s point, he also can`t hide the witnesses from testifying. And that includes Ivanka, includes, you know, a whole cast of characters, and that whole team insurrection banked on the fact they thought they had the Supreme Court so they could make these absurd privilege claims, and the Supreme Court would bail them out. And not only did the Supreme Court wound their defense fatally, it did sell on an expedited schedule. And so, their unified front turned out to be much more like a line of dominance or something like that.

And so, what that means is all these folks who refuse to testify, some of them have been held in contempt and are facing criminal charges for trying to avoid Congress like Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff is well on his way to a similar fate. All those folks can`t use what they`ve been using right now, which is executive privilege. They`ve got to come in and tell the truth. I`m sure they`ll try bogus legal arguments, but they`re going nowhere.

The most important thing about this whole judicial episode His was all accomplished, Ali, in three months the first lawsuit to try and get this these documents was filed on October 18. The trial court rejected it really quickly.


The Court of Appeals, our nation`s second highest court rejected it quickly, and so did the Supreme Court. And so basically, I think the courts have caught on to the Donald Trump delay idea and are saying, oh, at this point, the truth has got to come out.

VELSHI: Geoff Bennett, on this show, we talk a good amount about the sausage being made, the process through which things get done in Congress. But I think this week might have been overload for some Americans watching votes come to the United States Senate that were destined to fail that did fail. And we end up with what some people think is a big fat zero at the end of it. That`s not everybody`s view. There are a lot of people who think that what happened in the Senate with respect to voting rights, does establish a basis for moving forward and using new methods to try and get voters protections enacted. What`s your sense of it?

BENNETT: Yeah. And look, I think it was clarifying for the American people to see where their elected officials stand on this issue of voting rights. And that was, that was the risk that President Biden and that the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took with this show vote knowing that it would fail, knowing that the risk was that it would shine a light on democratic divisions. But big picture now, it`s clarifying in the sense that Democrats in the White House are trying to really try to coalesce around a path forward, maybe it`s looking at the electoral Count Act, really firming up the process that President Trump tried to take advantage of and insert his vice president to nullify the slate of Biden electors to make clear in that law, that the Vice President`s role is really ceremonial at best.

And there might be an effort beyond that to sort of insert into a rewriting of that law, some of the protections that were included in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and some other protections to make clear that it`s illegal to threaten or even attack, an election official given that, given that, you know, where we are right now is the country at this point.

And so, yeah, I think that`s what you hear from White House officials in particular, who when they get the question of why move forward with this process, when it was basically a fait accompli. The point is that it was important to have the vote, to know where the senators stood on this important, and it`s a pro President Biden, existential issue.

VELSHI: Shannon Pettypiece, Joe Biden knows a lot about foreign policy, both from his experience as vice president and his experience as a senator, he built a pretty strong foreign policy team, and then Afghanistan happened. And that was a bit of a black guy for this administration. Now, we`ve got Russia, possibly, according to the president getting ready to invade Ukraine. What`s your sense of where the administration is, with this, they had a little bit of cleanup to do yesterday after the President made try to make some reference to a small invasion versus a big invasion. But where do you think the White House is on this to make sure that we don`t end up with a repeat of the Afghanistan situation?

PETTYPIECE: Well, I mean, if you look at the way they`ve been increasingly signaling that they expect an invasion to happen, that at any moment was one of the phrases they use to that is imminent, they have been very strong in signaling this week that they think something is going to happen. They don`t see a path right now for Putin to back down. That`s a big change from two weeks ago, when there was still talks going on.

So, there does seem to be resignation within the administration, when you look to what they`re saying publicly that they think this is inevitable that we are going to see some form of invasion. And the President, you alluded to sort of had to make a cleanup between a minor invasion or major invasion that essentially, he came out today and said, any Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine is an invasion and will be met with severe consequences.

And we have also heard the President sort of ratcheting up his -- I wouldn`t say threats, but the seriousness with the sanctions that the administration plans to impose and talking about how he thinks Putin will regret any action he takes in Ukraine, once he feels the response that comes from the U.S. and the allies. So, it is a situation the White House is certainly taking very seriously. You could kind of see in the President`s remarks yesterday that he didn`t really know what move Putin was going to make. But that`s certainly there`s no indications of Putin backing down at this point. And what has been taking place or talks has not resulted in any sort of de-escalation. And it doesn`t seem there`s many more cards left the administration has to play, and they`re now waiting to let it play out and the ball is in Putin`s court as to what he`s going to do next.

VELSHI: Shannon, you`ve set us up well for our next segment, or we`re going to get into this a little more deeply. Thank you for that, Shannon Pettypiece, Geoff Bennett and Neal Katyal, we appreciate your time tonight.


Coming up, Joe Biden has given Vladimir Putin a clear warning now. Our next guest who served as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Defense says Putin is about to make a huge strategic mistake in Ukraine.

Later, the duo over for the Biden administration. The Speaker of the House wants a major bill to get the President`s agenda back on track. Former Senator Al Franken and Bill Kristol weigh in on whether that`s even possible. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Thursday night.



JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Any, any assembled Russian units move across Ukrainian border, that is an invasion. But it will be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I`ve discussed in detail with our allies as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin. But there is no doubt but we no doubt at all that Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price. Ukrainian Foreign Minister said this morning that he`s confident of our support and resolve and he has a right to be.


VELSHI: President Biden clarifying his position today after suggesting on Wednesday that a minor incursion from Russia into Ukraine could draw a more muted response compared to a large-scale invasion. Here`s what Ukraine`s president had to say before the clarification. "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations."

The Wall Street Journal sums up the concern this way, "Ukrainian officials are touchy in part because their analysis is that a large-scale attack isn`t Russia`s probable course." Instead, the Kremlin would probably deploy more covert measures to destabilize its neighbor and rude move its leadership top Ukrainian officials say. As a result, Ukrainian officials want Western leaders not to play down apparently less legal aggression by Moscow.


We Welcome back Jeremy Bash. He`s the former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon. Jeremy, good to talk to you again. This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, particularly after the clarifications, but it sent shockwaves through Ukraine because Russia has done both sorts of things along its border, both with Ukraine and other countries, actual invasions and things that aren`t really invasions. But, you know, they impose on a country`s sovereignty.

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yeah, that`s right, Ali, Russia practices, what`s known as hybrid warfare or grey zone, warfare. And this can include cyber-attack, it can include propaganda, it can include Little Green Men, it can include drones and other small munitions, things that are well short of an actual invasion. So, I think the President was exactly right in the White House was spot on, in clarifying that any incursion into the sovereignty of Ukraine, whether small, with a large whether the major, whether minor, whether kinetic, or cyber or covert, that`s going to be met with a swift and decisive response by the United States in our 29 NATO allies.

VELSHI: So, here`s the problem. If Ukraine were a NATO country, that decision would be simpler, because there`s an article five of NATO that says in a NATO country is attacked, it is as if they are all attacked. Ukraine is not there. It`s not a NATO country. It`s a Western facing Eastern European country that used to be an Eastern facing Eastern European country. The Washington Post says what you said they they`ve echoed that in an editorial today in which it says unwise as it was, Mr. Biden`s original remark was reality based, even as Russian President Vladimir Putin masses, troops on Ukraine`s borders and threatens to invade European governments remain divided over how to respond if he does, crucially, there`s no consensus on how much aggression by Russia would or should trigger the massive sanctions the West has threatened as Mr. Biden essentially admitted, the allies are not even on the same page as to deterrence itself. What do you make of that?

BASH: Well, I think there`s something to the fact that you`re right that Ukraine`s not part of NATO. We don`t have a treaty requirement. But look Ukraine`s on the doorstep of NATO. And there`s been a lot of talk about NATO expansion. In fact, that`s been America`s policy over the last 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, which is to keep the door to NATO open to any country that wants to come in, to the alliance. And so, a country like Ukraine, which is trying to be a democracy, which is trying to align with the West, even though they obviously have some significant historical ties to the Russian Federation. I think it`s important that the United States, the West European powers, defend Ukraine, defend territorial sovereignty, and make clear that no country like the Kremlin, Kremlin`s efforts here can be forced to decide who to be an ally with, by under the threat of 100,000 troops on their border. That`s not the way we do things in the modern era, and Russia shouldn`t be allowed to get away with it.

VELSHI: You know, one of the things you will know about from your days at the defense in the CIA is that there are lots and lots of types of sanctions. We`ve tried some with Russia, including after the first invasion of Crimea. But now, Biden hinted yesterday, they`re not going to be able to do business in dollars, their banks are not going to be able to get dollars. We haven`t seen any of those sanctions there. But people we`ve spoken to have said that actually could be crippling to Russia.

BASH: Yeah, no doubt, Ali. First, Russia is a declining power. Its economy is fairly brittle and fragile. And so, when you cut off the ability of Russian financial institutions to work in dollars, that could have a very significant and crippling effect. And I don`t think Putin has a huge margin of error here. You know, what he`s pursuing here is an attempt, I guess, to shore up his own popularity within Russia. But if he engages in this cross- border attack, and he result is a crippling set of sanctions by Europeans and by the United States, I think this is going to redound to Putin`s detriment big time.

VELSHI: Jeremy, it`s good to see you as always. Thank you for joining us tonight. Jeremy Bash --

BASH: Thanks Ali.

VELSHI: -- is a former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon.

Coming up, a look at what Democrats think they might be able to get done this year as the midterms loop when the 11th Hour continues.




REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: If we care about preserving the planet for future generations and clean air for them to breathe today and water to drink, we need to pass the Reconciliation Bill. So, I would hope that that would be a major part. So, what the President calls chunks I would hope would be a major bill going forward.


VELSHI: Democrats are plotting a path forward to try to at least get pieces of the President`s agenda passed and the climate change portion of Build Back Better may be their first target. But the New York Times warns, "That could mean jettisoning many of the childcare, health care and tax-overhaul provisions that are priorities for different segments of the Democratic coalition."

Back with us tonight, former Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken who hosts a podcast bearing his name, and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker and Politico. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush Administrations and the editor at large at the Bulwark.

Gentlemen, good to see you both. Thanks for being with us. Al, your thoughts? You have spent a lot of time in that United States Senate, you have some sense of what works and doesn`t work. Is this idea of -- and Bill is suggested in the past, taking the big bills and making them smaller bills, a strategy that could work for Democrats?

AL FRANKEN, (D) MINNESOTA FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think that`s kind of exactly the right idea. I think that we should put -- the elements of the bill are extremely popular. And what we should do is just put them out one by one, and have, you know, have Americans see for themselves what the elements are. So, you know, you want to die because Republicans won`t vote to put a cap on the price of insulin? Well, then vote Republicans. You know, don`t want to be able to afford childcare, vote Republican.

You know, want to pay more for your health care, vote Republican. They want to leave your grandchildren and kids and you know, unlivable planet, vote Republic. You know, Biden said that, the thing is, they`re not for anything. You know, it takes nothing to be for nothing, it takes, you know, you can be just brain dead before nothing.


But I just, you know, it`s different to stop things that people want. And that`s what they`re going to have to do if we put these out one by one, and then put them in a package at the end. I think it`s a great plan bill.

VELSHI: And yeah, Bill, must been three weeks ago, four weeks ago, when you talked about this, now that it looks like this might be a likely path forward than those who thought that something different could happen in the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday, are now have now learned that that won`t be the case. How do you actually see it unfolding? Do you see a situation in which any Republicans are in a position to get behind some parts of these bills? Or are we going to see the same intransigence, with every one of these bills put forward by the Democrats?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, again, I think if you put things on the floor and make them debate the one by one, it`s harder for the Republican simply to maintain that, you know, unity of 50 whereas if it`s an 800-page bill, no one knows what`s in it, you pick the worst thing in it. Mitch McConnell emphasizes the one thing that they`re happy to be against. And the rest of it is all just sort of disappears. And it`s, oh, it`s trillions of dollars, we have inflation, just typical Democrats, just want to throw money at everything, we`re going to stop this.

Whereas as Al says, if you`re stopping childcare, if you`re stopping, capping the price of insulin, it`s much tougher, the same voting rights, incidentally, if you`re stopping a provision to stop the political intimidation of neutral election observers, if you`re stopping provisions that are much more, you know, easy, that easy to explain, and that obviously address things that are happening in the states right now, in real time, I think those are a lot easier, one by one, a lot harder for the Republicans to oppose, doesn`t mean they couldn`t oppose them. But then you got to run on that in November. But they haven`t made the Republicans life difficult.

When I talked to some of my few remaining Republican friends, what I`m struck by is they feel no pressure, they are paying no price for opposing. A lot of important voting rights legislation for proposing a lot of some goods, some maybe not so great, but some good and useful. Social Welfare legislation, child care legislation, they`re feeling no pressure from the swing voters who don`t realize that they`ll just think it`s a big fight of the two parties. And they say read about some vote for one day, and it`s 50/50. And the thing doesn`t pass and then it goes away. And then the coverage is on to another topic. So, the Democrats politically have not I think, handled this ideally, they have time, they have time though.

VELSHI: Al, once you start breaking these things up, there are some people for whom it is 100% clear that climates the biggest priority, there`s some people for whom health care is the biggest priority or childcare it is the biggest priority. How do -- how did the Democrats manage constituencies on the left who have wanted to some degree a bit of an all or nothing strategy?

FRANKEN: Well, they`re not going to get an all or nothing strategy, but you put them out one by one, and you see what goes down in flames. You know, you put foot out there, and you see what will make Republicans really uncomfortable to vote against. And then you`ve got an issue for the campaign, and they vote against it. But, you know, we don`t -- we still don`t know exactly what Joe Manchin is for or against. Maybe he`ll find out when we put him out there one by one.

VELSHI: I`m going to continue our conversation with our two friends right after this.

Coming up, Joe Biden sharpens his attack on Republicans who he says refuse to get in the game, the risks of going on the offensive when the 11th Hour continues.




JAMIE HARRISON, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: This is a party that we are fighting back against who didn`t pass a platform in 2020. McConnell McCarthy have already said they don`t have a policy platform for 2022. So, they don`t stand for anything. They don`t believe in anything other than fear, fraud and fascist.


VELSHI: Support that Al Franken was just making Democratic National Committee Chair Jamie Harrison picked up the President`s midterm strategy earlier today. Don`t pull any punches when it comes to Republican obstructionism. But with about nine months to go NBC`s Jonathan Allen wonders if it`s going to be enough writing, "The question for Biden is whether voters will reward Democrats for not being Republicans or grow more frustrated with what he hasn`t been able to achieve."

Still with us, Al Franken and Bill Kristol. Bill, you heard what Jamie Harrison had to say about this. Earlier this week, you tweeted the six main strands of the Trump coup attempt, in which you said the conspiracy theories, the lawsuits, the fake federal investigations, stop the steal whips up the base, fake electors and objectors and pressure on state and local officials.

Now, in fairness, you write this as the main strands of the Trump coup attempt, which would be very simple for Republicans to say, that`s not us. We don`t stand for that stuff. That`s garbage. We have something else. But Joe Biden did make the point again today, as Jamie Harrison did as Al Franken did, we don`t have a real Republican platform that they have presented.

KRISTOL: It was actually Amanda Carpenter`s excellent piece of summarizing just to give credit where credit`s due, thank you for --

VELSHI: Thank you.

KRISTOL: Get, Ali. But no, look, you got to do that. Look, if the Democrats just say, yeah, we did a good job where people don`t quite see how good a job we did. And those Republicans, they don`t really say anything, they will not do well, they will not to the normal thing that happens in an off- year election as voters, they have grievances. They`re disappointed in some ways, not quite as great as they thought it would be in November two years ago. And so, they vote somewhat against the incumbent party against the party that has the White House.

The Democrats have to create a choice. They can`t let it just be a referendum on the Biden administration. And they`ve got to make the choice Stark and the choice can`t just be the Republicans don`t have a platform. It has to be that the Republicans are crazy that the Republicans are pro insurrection, that the problem, Republicans are anti-vaccination, and they`ve got to find examples of that trumping the main one. But, you know, Ali, least not so easy for the Republicans to say, well, we don`t care about all that stuff, Trump is saying they don`t have the nerve to say that. In Minnesota, a moderate status, somewhat swing state, our state. There was a Republican governors debate, he wasn`t there, was a week ago or something like that. And they each competed to be more loyal to Trump than the last, that has to be wrapped around their necks, that has to be made to stick in the voter`s minds. This, you have a choice of two parties, one of them disappoints you a little bit there`s sort of, that makes mistakes. And the other one is as anti-democracy totally irresponsible at the whim of Donald Trump has people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, et cetera, et cetera. They`ve got to make that a contrast and make a choice.

VELSHI: Al, you tweeted out your comedic background came out in a tweet that you posted on January 10, in which you said Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis must be thrilled to finally to present the January 6 committee with the proof that the election was stolen. I mean, Giuliani and Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis did nothing but take every opportunity they could including at that landscaping place in Philadelphia to tell everyone who would listen about the fraud in this election. And now they are being invited by a committee of the United States Congress to do so.


FRANKEN: Yeah, they said they were just stopped because of -- by procedural decisions. They said that well, OK, great. Now, you got all the chancellor world that publicly tell us all, where are the -- all the evidence is. And, of course, they won`t show up because there is none. And yeah, we got to show them for the nutcases they are, you know, the Oath Keepers were charged with seditious conspiracy, that ought to be really hard to prove, because their oath is, I pledged to overthrow the United States government. They`re nuts. But we also have to give, show what we`re for. And I feel like Joe`s got -- Joe Biden`s got to be Harry Truman, he`s got to go. And he said something about doing that. And go around the country. And we`ll introduce this legislation and say what we`re for. And that`ll be a great contrast to -- so they have nothing, they are for nothing except for this craziness. That`s their party.

VELSHI: Bill Kristol, look into your crystal ball a little bit about what the Republican Party looks like in 2024 with each -- I know, that was pretty good, right? You see what I did there.

Donald Trump in Arizona looks very much like a guy who`s running for president. What does the Republican Party look like in 2024? Because there aren`t people like you. And we talked to a number of people like you who I suspect will remain conservative after this whole debacle is done, but you won`t have a very comfortable home. What do you do to build one? Is there a home for conservatives who aren`t crazy in this country?

KRISTOL: I mean, the home right now is probably tried either being a great fan of Liz Cheney with their -- Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are in the House were willing to tell the truth. Think about that, the 211, 212 House Republicans said lots of them aren`t crazy about Trump, some of them quietly distanced themselves or they don`t go along cheerleading for the craziness, like Lauren Boebert or Marjorie Taylor Greene. How many are actually willing to stand up against it? How many willing to say it was unacceptable? It was terrible. Donald Trump could not be our nominee. Again, Donald Trump cannot be President, again.

Two, two out of 211. That`s a fair trade, which is bad for the country. It`s bad for the country. It`s an opportunity. Honestly, for the Democrats. They`ve done a terrible job. I think they`ve let the Republicans get away with just kind of being, well, we`re not really quite as crazy as Trump. We`re not going to say anything against Trump or against insurrections or anything like or against. We`re going to like governors discourage vaccinations and mask, but you know, they do it kind of a little bit quietly, or they don`t, you know, they`re not totally nuts about it. We`re not going to make a big deal of it. I think the Democrats just again, need to draw that contrast, honestly.

VELSHI: Al, let`s talk about that.


VELSHI: Go ahead.

FRANKEN: I was going to say on the Senate floor, just every one of those Republican senators say, OK, I have a question for Senator from blank. Do you believe the election was stolen? And can you tell me exactly how that happened? Tell me about it. Whichever day you take as much time as you got, tell me how the election was stolen. I`m waiting.

VELSHI: To Bill`s points, about how you pin this on Republicans? Why haven`t Democrats been able to do a more effective job of doing exactly what Bill says that there are some Republicans out there who can say I`m not crazy, I`m not with him. This is what I actually believe in --

FRANKEN: You know what, they secretly say - this is what they secretly say, well, if I say that the election wasn`t stolen, then I`ll be primary by someone who`s even crazier. And so, you don`t want that guy. You want me and I`m in a safe state. So, I`m not going to publicly do that. And I`m doing this all service. Because believe me, there are people a lot nuttier than me. That`s what they sort of that`s what you hear from them, that`s what I hear from my former colleagues. It`s sad.

VELSHI: That`s wild when that`s what your ticket is. All right guys, thanks very much. Good to see you both.


VELSHI: Al Franken and Bill Kristol, we appreciate your time tonight.

All right, something to think about before you decide to use one of the many COVID testing sites popping up around the country. We`ll explain when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: Access to testing has been a struggle for many during the Omicron surge and now there are allegations that accompany with testing sites in several states may have been giving people inaccurate results. NBC News Correspondent Anne Thompson has more tonight.


ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pop-up testing operation center for COVID control, a familiar sight in 29 states tonight facing a pileup of legal troubles. Colorado now joining Illinois and Oregon in investigating the business.

PHIL WEISER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: They`re misleading people, they`re endangering people and they`re undermining our response to the pandemic.

THOMPSON: Minnesota is suing the center and its lab doctors clinical laboratory, accusing them of giving test results with inaccurate and false information.

KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: The problem is fraught. The problem is misinformation. The problem is no information.

THOMPSON: Sheila Berry (ph)was so suspicious of the Philadelphia site she went to, she took pictures.

(On camera): So, did you administer the test yourself?


THOMPSON: And then once you get the test, did they write your name down on the test too?


THOMPSON (voice-over): In a scathing report, federal inspectors found a laundry list of problems with the Illinois based operation, including test read too late and test with no patient names. Still, the center`s lab billed the federal government for more than $122 million and in November, the center CEO bought this $1.3 million house.

The company which temporarily paused its operations last week says we are working closely with authorities to provide information and shed light on the operational challenges CCC experienced at the height of the Omicron surge. Challenges that consumers say left them without the results needed to protect themselves. Anne Thompson, NBC News.


VELSHI: Well, coming up despite some serious setbacks, we have the story of a major accomplishment from a 19-year-old pilot who flew over 32,000 miles across five continents in a very small aircraft when the 11th Hour continues.




ZARA RUTHERFORD: Hello, everyone. So, I`m currently flying to Vladivostok. So, I came from Kortrijk and I`m going to (inaudible). Beautiful day. Blue skies all around. And yeah, it`s amazing. I`m loving it.


VELSHI: Last thing before we go tonight is a celebration of aviation history while the United States airline industry worries about grounding flights over the arrival of 5G, a British-Belgian teenager and her tiny 22- foot-long two-seater plane have soared into the record books. When 19-year- old Zara Rutherford landed back home in Belgium today, she became the youngest woman to fly solo around the globe and the first woman to circle the planet in a micro light plane. Her 155-day 32,000-mile journey began back in August and was of course, not without its challenges. The New York Times explains that Zara "dodged giant clouds in Colombia lightning flashes in Mexico. In Alaska. her tiny plane plane was grounded for weeks by bad weather and a visa delay." That was all before the British and Belgian aviator crossed a frozen, desolate patch of Siberia. Before China barred her from its airspace and before smug, scrambled her route across India.

At a news conference today, Zara talked about that flight over Siberia and about the flight she almost took over North Korea.


RUTHERFORD: In Siberia, it was tough because thankfully nothing happens. But it`s something did happen, and the entry was stopped for any reason. Then suddenly out dark in minus five degrees Celsius at least three hours away from rescue, flying from Russia to South Korea was really tough because I had to avoid North Korea. And that meant to doing a huge detour. And at one point, the one sort of worsening as well, so I briefly considered cutting across into North Korean airspace to avoid the weather. Thankfully that wasn`t needed.


VELSHI: Zara said she hopes she inspired other young women to take up flying and that`s for her, she says one day she hopes to be an astronaut.

That is our broadcast for this Thursday night with our thanks for being with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.