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Transcript: The 11th Hour, 1/5/22

Guests: Yamiche Alcindor, Jonathan Karl, Katie Benner, Eugene Robinson, Bill Kristol, Celine Gounder


President Biden and Vice President Harris address the nation Thursday as we look back on the attack of the U.S. Capitol. It comes as two of the most conservative members of Congress plan a "Republican response" after former President Trump canceled his scheduled event. Plus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemns Democrats for tying the Jan. 6th anniversary to voting rights. And the CDC signs off on Pfizer Covid vaccine boosters for adolescents.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak at the Capitol exactly one year after Donald Trump`s supporters attacked and invaded the Capitol in an insurrection, hoping to hold the presidency illegally for Donald Trump. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR starts now.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Ali Velshi. Day 351 of the Biden administration. Just under an hour from now, it will be exactly one year from the day we all watched in real time as a mob marched to the Capitol launched a siege on the building, and then tried to stop the duly elected president from being formally declared the winner of the election. It was a scene most of us could never imagine happening in America.

Earlier today, one of the Capitol police officers who took the brunt of the attacks from supporters of Donald Trump summed up where things stand a year later.


HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: It`s hard to believe that it`s been a year. But here we are still trying to figure out exactly what happened.


VELSHI: Both President Biden and Vice President Harris will speak to the nation tomorrow. This afternoon, the White House gave us a preview of Biden`s remarks.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would expect the President Biden will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw and he will forcibly push back on the lie spread by the former president and attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters, as well as distract from his role and what happened.


VELSHI: Democratic members of Congress will also mark the anniversary of the insurrection with several events on Capitol Hill. Republican leaders are not expected to take part. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and a bipartisan group of senators made up mostly of Republicans plan to travel to Atlanta to attend the funeral of the late Senator Johnny Isakson, Senate Minority Leader of course.

Trump loyalists and House members Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz will weigh in with their own views of January 6 with what they`re calling a, quote, Republican response.

Meanwhile, demands for accountability with regard to the Capitol riot are growing louder and they`re being increasingly directed to the Biden Justice Department. As the New York Times asks, quote, will the Justice Department move beyond charging the rioters themselves?

Today the Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to respond to the mounting pressure on his department. During a speech, Garland gave something of an update on the ongoing criminal investigation into the riot, and noted that more than 700 people have been arrested and charged. He then vowed to pursue everyone who might have been involved in the insurrection.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day, or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead, as long as it takes. And whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law. I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for. But we will and we must speak through our work.


VELSHI: That one member of the January 6 Select Committee says he`s concerned about what Attorney General Garland didn`t say.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What was left unsaid Anderson, though is what about the role of those involved, not just on the 6th, but in the days leading up to the 6th and the aftermath of the 6th who may have broken the law. What comes to mind to me is the efforts of the former president to get the Secretary of State of Georgia to essentially find 11,780 votes that don`t exist. There was no indication from the attorney general that that issues like that were under investigation. And I don`t believe that can be left to a local district attorney`s office.


VELSHI: Meanwhile, a new report from Axios says people associated with former President -- former Vice President Mike Pence are helping the January 6 committee. The piece says they have quote been particularly cooperative as the January 6 Select Committee focuses on what former President Trump was doing during more than the three hours that the Capitol was under attack.

Earlier today the panel did meet with former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, she served as Melania Trump`s press secretary at the time of the right. Grisham says she plans to continue cooperating with the committee.


One of the two Republican members on the January 6 committee says they`re also getting critical information from many former White House aides without having to resort to subpoenas.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Let`s say we never talked to President Trump or we never talked to, you know, any high profile individual, we`re going to have people all that have a piece of that story, a slice of different moments in time that we can put together into the bigger picture. And as we know how investigations go, you know, you put those pieces together and then you move up the ladder. That`s what we`re doing. And I think you`re going to have continued cooperation by a significant number of people.


VELSHI: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night. Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and the moderator of Washington Week also on PBS. Jonathan Karl is the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. He`s the author of The New York Times best seller Betrayal, "The Final Act of the Trump Show," and Katie Benner is the Justice Department reporter for the New York Times. Welcome to all of you. Good to have you here.

Yamiche, let`s start with you. We`re going to hear from the President tomorrow, the White House has given us a bit of a preview. They say that he is going to lay the blame for January 6 squarely at Donald Trump`s feet. But this is a tough line for the president who got elected, he ran and got elected on the idea that he was going to be a unifier of sorts.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Ali. But when it comes to January 6, President Biden has always been crystal clear that he saw the attack on the capitol as a stain on our democracy. He sees it as a real threat to American democracy. And he`s always said that the people who were responsible should be held accountable. He`s been very clear that he wants to be independent of the Department of Justice`s investigation.

But we can expect that that tomorrow on the anniversary of this terrible day where we saw a white supremacist and all sorts of hate groups and all sorts of people who are fueled by the lie fed to them by the former President Trump, that he is going to President Biden is going to be very forceful in his words, and he`s going to be very much marking in the moment and marking the solidness of this moment in our history.

This is a moment where American democracy was almost brought to its knees. And this is a White House, that has been very clear not only in words, but in actions that those people need to be held accountable. We, of course, know that President Biden has waived executive privilege for much of the documents being sought by the January 6 investigation and committee. And that`s going to be something that I think he`s going to absolutely be clear eyed about tomorrow.

So tomorrow is going to be an emotional speech, I`m told but he`s also going to be a speech where he is marking the day and reminding people that this is not sort of a tourist visit, that this was not sort of just a sort of protest gone wrong. This was one of the darkest days in American history. And we expect the President to say just bad.

VELSHI: Not a tourist visit indeed. Katie Benner, you and I`ve had this conversation a number of times and the Attorney General said it today. He said we will pursue this investigation wherever it goes for as long as it takes and there are a lot of people very frustrated with the as long as it takes part. You pointed out that proper investigations, legal investigations do take time the last four years of the Trump administration gave us a sense that everything doesn`t work through the normal process. But what Merrick Garland said today is still going to be unsatisfying to a lot of people.

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: It`s going to be unsatisfying, but he was really trying to create realistic expectations. First of all investigations, they take a long time. This is not something that`s going to happen quickly, even if in the court of public opinion, Donald Trump has already been condemned and convicted.

Second of all, the reality is that the Justice Department if it is to bring any case against the former president, or anybody who worked in the White House, any former official, they need to be iron clad, they need to have very, very, very strong evidence, not just because it has to get through a district court and a jury, but also the appeals court in Washington DC, and the Supreme Court.

Nobody knows the players in both the appeals court and Washington or the Supreme Court better than Merrick Garland, and he knows that this is not a place to bring novel legal theories. It`s not a place to take risk, because judges will reject it.

Keep in mind, it is the courts that have already expanded the power of the presidency. It is the courts that have expanded the power of the executive branch. So any robust investigation will start to chip away at the privileges the courts have already brought, and then have to convince juries and courts that this is a prosecution that`s winnable.

This is an extremely high bar, much higher bar than we saw in either of Donald Trump`s impeachment, which keep in mind while the president was impeached, he was not ultimately convicted and removed. And this is a much higher bar than that.

So even though Garland said in his speech today, we are not for closing investigations of the president. We`re not for closing investigations into his allies. We still have to meet evidentiary standards, which take a long time to meet in order to bring a case.

VELSHI: Jonathan Karl, good to see you, my friend. Is -- this -- you write in your book about the last days of the trumpet administration and you`ve written in a commentary this week about what would have happened if just little things were different by a matter of degrees on January 6 last year, including if the Vice President of the United States at the time Mike Pence had decided to go with what Donald Trump and his cronies were planning had decided to simply announce, while he was in Congress, that he was not certifying the election in favor of Joe Biden.


JONATHAN KARL, "BETRAYAL" AUTHOR: In Mike Pence is somebody who had been supremely loyal to Donald Trump. I mean, he stood by him after Charlottesville, even during the 2016 campaign, he didn`t utter a peep of criticism after the Access Hollywood tape came out. He had never stood up to Donald Trump. He had never challenged him once in public, and there`s little evidence that he had done so in private either.

But on this moment, he was disloyal at precisely the right time. And what I wrote about today is, although the record is pretty clear, he talked to constitutional scholars from the left to the right, basically, anybody who wasn`t immediately around Donald Trump in the days before January 6th, they will say that Pence did not have the authority to single handedly throw out Joe Biden`s election victory. He didn`t have the authority to throw out those electoral votes.

I mean, it`s kind of insane to think he did, that one person could effectively choose the president United States. But here`s the question that I explored today. And I talked to Michael Luttig, who is one of the most prominent and well respected conservative jurists, former appellate judge, former direct former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department, under the first George Bush. He said that, look, while it`s clear, and he advised Pence, he said he advised Pence not to do it, that he had no choice but to simply count the votes as they were opened.

He said, while Pence had no authority to do otherwise, it`s unclear who would have had the authority to stop him if he had done it. And Luttig argues that we would have been in a state of maximum chaos, that it`s not even clear the Supreme Court had the authority to take up that question. And it could have been the moment that we wouldn`t have known who the President was.

VELSHI: Right. That was a question that was swirling around everybody`s minds around all sorts of issues, including what happens if Donald Trump doesn`t leave the White House? People knew that he had to but the question is who actually refuse or removes him? What does the military do. Luttig made an interesting point that this probably would have gotten worked out over time. But in that time, we would have been in an actual constitutional crisis, an important thing for people to remember me.

Yamiche, a year ago, in the days following January 6, Republicans and Democrats seem to generally speaking, agree that what happened was really bad and should never happen again. Many of them were prepared to blame Donald Trump for it. Tomorrow, Republicans will not be participating in any of the formal remembrance exercises of what happened last year.

ALCINDOR: Ali, it`s one of the starkest things that happened after January 6. At the beginning of January 6, when we when the Capitol had been broken into, when I was hearing from sources that everyone from House Speaker, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had been calling the president telling him that he needed to say something telling him that this was wrong. When I was chronicling the resignations of so many White House officials before January 6 had stopped by the President, through all sorts of mayhem, there was a sense that the Republican Party was going to move away from Trump.

And what we saw, of course, was in fact, former President Trump really strengthen his grip on the party. And by doing that, he was able to sort of metastasize this lie and spread it throughout the GOP. And really now it`s become this sort of litmus test of whether or not you`re a true conservative whether or not you believe the election lie in some states. Now, across the country. That`s how you`re going to get elected and local officials. That`s how you`re going to get elected to different positions in this country.

So what we`ve seen here is a complete 180 Republicans, even establishment Republicans, people who talked about the Constitution before January 6, who talked about the wrongness of former President Trump after January 6. They have all sort of fallen in line because they all want to keep hold of power based on the sources that I talked to. And they`re all focused on trying to make sure they stay in the former president`s good graces.

And this to me, when I talk to experts is how frankly democracies die when you have someone like former President Trump, who has decided that he is sort of the -- the end all be all leader of a party, and that he is spreading misinformation and lies, and there are people willing to be violent for him. And then the people that are supposed to be the sort of checks and balances, those sort of establishment figures who have been elected, that they don`t stand up to that person. That`s when things really, really get dicey.

So we`ve seen of course over the last year, dozens of laws be passed by GOP legislatures restricting the right to vote all based on this lie.


And it really is, I think a scary time when you talk to immigrants who have immigrated to America, because they wanted a stable American democracy fleeing places like Haiti and Venezuela and Belarus. They say that this is this is sort of what they`ve seen in their own countries and how things have gotten really, really scary and gotten unstable. So, this is absolutely the thing we should be talking about and continue to talk about, because it`s now sort of slow January six happening in different states.

VELSHI: Katie, we heard from the chief of the U.S. Capitol police about the increase in threats against Congress. We`ve heard about increase in threats to members of Congress. We`ve heard tonight about sort of rumblings, though nothing specific about threats about things that could happen tomorrow. What`s the federal government in the Justice Department and the FBI stance now on dealing with threats like this? And how do they think about them differently than they did prior to January 6?

BENNER: Sure. So internally, the Justice Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the agencies are taking very seriously threats against the Capitol leading up to January 6, and tomorrow, they`re also taking very seriously threats against lawmakers. And I want to emphasize that it`s not that those threats were not taken seriously during the Trump administration.

But I`ve spoken with people inside of the FBI, inside of DHS researchers, law enforcement officials who said every time the former president spoke about somebody he did not like whether that was former Justice Department officials like Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions, the former Attorney General, whether that was opponents in Congress, anytime he named somebody he did not like the increase the spike in threats against them was huge.

So it`s not that they weren`t taking threat seriously. It was almost like they were under a wash of threat. So constant, there was really hard to keep up with the flow. Obviously, we are at a different political time right now. So again, threats are taken seriously. It`s just a very different tone and tambor -- tenor of threat. So that is what`s happening.

Second of all, we are definitely seeing the Justice Department tried to address the idea of threats. We saw that in the Attorney General speech today. Merrick Garland said very clearly, it despite the fact that we`ve seen startling polling that many Americans, not the majority, but still many believe that violence is an answer to political conflict. Attorney General Garland said that is actually not the answer. We cannot think that way that as we, as a democracy like the United States to Yamiche`s point and begins to unravel. We have to have a hard bright line against political violence.

VELSHI: Jonathan Karl, the January 6 Committee is looking at people in Trump`s inner circle and trying to get information from them about basically what happened right from the election all the way to January 6. How does that materialize in your opinion? Are there going to be -- these people who come and participate in public hearings? What will it end up? What effect will it end up having?

KARL: Well, I think the case that they`re trying to make is the January 6, it`s called the January 6 Committee, but January 6 was about more than the riot that day, it was more than the attacks on the building, on the police officers. All of the mayhem that we saw, it was about the effort to overturn the election. And that`s began immediately after the election. It began on election night when Donald Trump went out into the East Room and said that he had won an election that he had actually lost.

So they are going to be going through and they want to establish first and foremost that what he was saying about the election was a lie. And, you know, we all know that. We`ve read it. We`ve seen the audits that were done. In Georgia, we saw the Senate Republicans, in Michigan to their investigation, we saw even the cyber ninjas come up with no evidence in Arizona.

But I think what you will see is high profile members of the President`s inner circle thought what he was saying was flatly wrong. I say it in public. I think one of the people that they would like to see testify in public, in primetime would be former Attorney General Bill Barr, who told me in the interview for betrayal, that it was all BS that Trumps there was nothing to it. There was nothing to what Trump was saying. And he actually went and investigated these allegations and all of those contested states and came back and told the president directly there was nothing to it. And Trump went on and and continued to try to overturn the election.

VELSHI: He was he was not dissuaded. Thanks to all three of you for helping us out tonight. Yamiche Alcindor, Jonathan, Karl and Katie Benner, who herself is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Coming up, they told the truth then why can`t they say it now. Some key Republicans called it like we saw it in the days after January 6, but now not so much. Our friends Eugene Robinson and Bill Kristol are here to compare and contrast.

And later, you might think you`re fully vaccinated, but given recent guidance on boosters, you might be unclear as to what fully vaccinated actually means. One of our top doctors is here to discuss the 11th Hour just getting under way on a Wednesday night.




REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The President bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: President Trump is responsible for provoking the events of the day.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): President`s language and rhetoric crossed a line and it was reckless.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The president needs to understand that his actions are the problem, not the solution.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): This is the cost of telling thousands of people that there is a legitimate shot of overturning the election.


VELSHI: In the year since the attack on the Capitol, the vast majority of Republicans have refused to condemn the former president or the actions that led to the uprising. The New York Times with this headline tonight, Trump`s hold on the GOP is unrivalled. Quote, his rehabilitation to the extent one was even needed among Republicans is the latest example of an enduring lesson of his tumultuous time in politics, that Mr. Trump can outlast almost any outrage cycle, no matter how intensely it burns. The spotlight shifts. The furor fades. Then, he rewrites history, end quote.

With us tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker and Politico. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush Administration`s. And the editor-at- large at The Bulwark and you were also involved in with the group that put this ad together. It`s running on conservative networks. In fact, the target of those ads or that ad is not Democrats, it`s Republicans. It`s people who might be reminded what right looks like.

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, that`s right. I`m proud to be part of the group that did this add Barry Rubin or video genius put it together I think is very compact and crisp and makes the point and the point is before they could look at the polls, before they could get intimidated by the idea of primaries challengers, before they can get intimidated by Donald Trump, once again people`s reacted in real time to what happened.


You know how it is, you know, something happens, you have that first reaction before you think, which is the honest reaction. And then you spend weeks, months, you know, years sort of papering that over, or looking party spent a year papering it over and distorting it. But it`s important to help some people at least I don`t think most Republicans will see that there might be some 5, 10, 20 percent and not an unimportant number for as we go forward who say even less, right, that really was terrible.

And why is that? And then secondly, why is the party denying it out? Well, the reason they`re denying it now is because they`re terrified of Trump. It`s Trump`s party. And they`re by denying it now. They`re emboldening efforts to steal elections and distort elections and foster this big lie which weakens our democracy going forward.

So, I hope this ad could be a tiny part, obviously, a much bigger efforts, the biggest of which are they right now? Honestly, this is the January 6 Committee to really bring home the truth of what happened and not let it just get memory hold.

VELSHI: Eugene, there are a lot of Republicans or some Republicans who will say, all right, it happened it was bad. Yes, it was Trump`s fault. But let`s just put this behind us and move on. You wrote this weekend in a column, that in order to save our democracy, there needs to be a reckoning about January 6. What do you mean by that? What does a real reckoning look like?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, means finding out exactly what happened, how it was planned, how it was organized, how it was funded, and how it was directed and how it happened. And so, all the work that the January 6 Committee is doing has to be done.

At the same time, the Justice Department has to continue with prosecutions of the insurrectionists, who committed these violent acts at the Capitol assaulted police officers and defiled the Capitol, breaking tons of laws in the process, and has to go beyond that.

As Attorney General Garland said today he is certainly not shy of doing look at the plotters and the planners and the inspirers to see if there is -- if there are criminal charges that need to be filed on some of the higher ups. And then we are -- there also has to be a reckoning in terms of what almost happened, this idea that Mike Pence could, you know, peripherally just change the electoral vote, if he chose to do so.

So, when I think relatively quick and easy and important thing to do would be to reform the Electoral Account Act, which is kind of a mess, kind of ambiguous and unclear, and make it clear that the Vice President does not have that power. So there`s no question going forward.

VELSHI: Bill, let me ask you about Donald Trump has decided not to do his press conference, or whatever it was he was going to do tomorrow, but Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are going to present something that they call a Republican response. I`m not clear on who allows them to do that, or what who these Republicans are, who think that`s a good idea.

KRISTOL: Those to do and they were members of Congress, as you know, they can get a room or stand outside and have a press conference and make claims if they want. But yes, I think it`s interesting to Trump back off. And of course, it is about Donald Trump going forward In large part. That`s just I add, that to Eugene list of why we have to configure this. Donald Trump right now is leading in polls to meet the Republican nominee for president. There`s some chance 30 percent, 50 percent 60 percent that they`re about because when the next presidential election, they win, some of them they have advantages in the Electoral College. We could hit a recession, God knows what anyway, there`s a chance to Republicans could win, Trump likely to be the nominee.

Very important for people to come to grips with the serious question, should this man be president again? What are the risks of that? Liz Cheney has put that very powerfully. And this is Liz Cheney is someone who went along with Trump for in 2016 and 2020. She wasn`t crazy about it. So at least I don`t know how she voted in the privacy of the booth, but she supported the Republican Party.

But is this man that people need? Republicans can`t take that attitude of oh, well, you know, if he wins the nomination, I`m Republican, I guess I just have to support him. I think one thing that really is important here is to make people come to grips with what Trump did. And that`s why it`s so important to establish his responsibility, which I think is clear for inciting the thing for trying to use the instrumentalities, the federal government for trying to pressure state officials to overturn the election.

And then the lying about it afterwards, of course, as well and the dereliction of duty that afternoon, 187 minutes, which I think the committee is very interested in, where he knew what was happening and refused to stop it. Because he wanted the violence. He wanted the intimidation. He wanted the chaos.

VELSHI: And we`re learning more and more about who told him what in those 187 minutes.


These two gentlemen are staying with us. Coming up, the Attorney General put it simply today it`s now up to Congress to help ensure that every eligible voter can cast a vote that counts. What are the chances of that happening when the 11th Hour continues.


VELSHI: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems increasingly concerned that Democrats might actually get something done on voting rights. In a floor speech today, McConnell called efforts to connect the January 6 insurrection to attacks on democracy through voter suppression distasteful. And just yesterday, he falsely claimed that Republican state legislatures were not making it harder to vote calling that the Democrats big lie.

Still with us, Eugene Robinson and Bill Kristol. Bill, the Minority Leader has talked about perhaps amending the 1887 Electoral Vote Count Act, the Electoral Count Act, which many people didn`t know existed, but it was the thing that happens that governs what happens on January 6. You tweeted today that maybe he will maybe he won`t, but that`s not really where our attention should be focused.

KRISTOL: And I`m strongly for reforming it. And I personally, if I had been in charge of democratic strategy, I would have introduced that bill as well as the other two bills and maybe move the ball because I think in a way, it`s the easiest to explain to people. We had this chaos between November 3rd and January 6th, and needing to have chosen state legislatures, in terms of the House of Representatives on January 6 itself, the vice presidents roll and so forth.


Having said that, that bill has not been introduced yet. There are two other bills which are good bills. If Republicans want to strike parts of them, they should let them be debated on the floor and suggest amendments. And it may well be that they`ll get some votes to take out the parts. They just dislike the most. They`ve refused to let them even be debated. And that situation we`d have we now faced with the John Lewis Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act.

VELSHI: Eugene Robinson, we`re interested in hearing what the President, the Vice President have to say tomorrow, about January 6. And of course, you know, there`s been some pressure on them both to lean into the voting rights aspect of things a little bit more, and it`s something they`ve been somewhat resistant to do, or depending on your perspective. There are some critics who say they`ve been too resistant about it. What do you expect to happen? And what do you think can happen if the president decides that he`s going all in on voting rights?

ROBINSON: Well, look, the President decides this is number one issue and number one initiative, then that t has a big impact in Washington. And so that`s one thing you can do. I hope he and Vice President Harris, do lean into the voting rights question tomorrow, and they give remarks. Because, you know, we are talking about the survival of our democracy. We are talking about the basic right to vote. We are talking about these attempts across the country, to restrict that right to vote in ways that favor the Republican Party. And we simply can`t allow that to happen. So, you know, President does have a bully pulpit. And he should he should put whatever pressure on. He can apply.

VELSHI: Bill, you and your group have taken out an ad on conservative television tonight. The difference with the president is if he has this bully pulpit, and he goes all in, he`s still got Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin, how does he solve that problem?

KRISTOL: Well, I Manchin and Sinema support the bill, the question is, and they voted for it. The question is whether they`ll support changing the filibuster in certain ways to make it possible to pass it. I think he needs to try to persuade them of that. Maybe they need to do another vote, maybe they need to pull out individual parts of the bill, no intimidation of election officials, no partisan overruling of nonpartisan decisions by election commission, but just put that on the floor.

Are Republicans really going to oppose that? I mean, so I think there might be ways to begin to make it harder for Republicans to oppose this and also convince Manchin and Sinema because the Republicans keep on opposing, they`ve got to support reforms in the filibuster. They`ve opened that door Manchin as at least to some, but what those reforms will be is not so clear right now.

VELSHI: Gentlemen, thank you for your time tonight, Eugene Robinson and Bill Kristol. Coming up, pivoting to a new normal, which might mean learning to live with the risk of COVID when the 11th Hour continues.




DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Multiple sources of now preliminary data indicate a decrease severity with Omicron. However, we really do need more definitive assessment of severity with longer term follow up here and in different countries. But the big caveat is we should not be complacent.


VELSHI: Public health leaders once again urging Americans to stay vigilant as the Omicron variant feels a surge in cases. The CDC says it will not change the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated. But the agency released new guidance today now recommending that all people, all eligible people stay quote, up to date with COVID vaccine booster shots.

Back with us tonight, Dr. Celine Gounder, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital. She was part of a panel that advise the Biden transition team on COVID-19. She hosts a weekly podcast on the impact of the Coronavirus, called Epidemic.

Dr. Gounder, it is good to see you again. I want to get your sense of this because you and I have been talking throughout the entire pandemic about the pattern of it. And when we saw Omicron start in South Africa, we saw a steep ramp up and then we saw a steep drop off and we saw that elsewhere. America is bigger, the geographies larger, it`s more complicated. How do you process where we are in this continuum and how we should be responding?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Ali, I do think we`re going to see a similar spike up and spike back down here in the United States with respect to Omicron transmission. But there are as you pointed out some very important differences in terms of the demographics of countries like South Africa, a much younger country, many of their immunocompromised patients have HIV/AIDS. In this country, we have many older people. And not only do we have people with HIV and AIDS, but also patients who are highly immunosuppressed from conditions associated with cancer, rheumatologic disease, all the different medications they may be taking. And so we have a slightly different context in which the Omicron variant is playing out here.

VELSHI: What`s your sense of people who are saying that this new variant is so contagious, and so many people are getting it that it gets us to herd immunity, which is, you know, causing some people to think Hey, maybe I should just get it, we can get this over with.

GOUNDER: I really think that is a misunderstanding of what is herd immunity. I think that we have to be very careful about advocating something like that, something like chicken pox parties or say -- saying that we should just allow the virus to spread without stop trying to stop it. And I think there`s a few reasons for that.

One, as Dr. Fauci notes, we do not know what all of the characteristics of this new virus are, or this new variant are. We know that it appears to be milder in younger people. One of the reasons is it seems to favor the upper airway over the lower airway, more in the nose and throat than in the lungs, and so is causing less severe disease, but we don`t know as well, how it`s going to play out in older people and highly immunocompromised people, particularly those who may not have been vaccinated yet. And we don`t know what it means in terms of long COVID.

So right now, it does seem like it`s a more benign variant, but I think it`s too early to say this is just the common cold.

VELSHI: You are a public health professional. What`s your sense of the warnings we`ve been getting from doctors about hospitals filling up in terms of ICU beds, staff getting sick staff shortages in the in the healthcare field? How serious is this matter?

GOUNDER: I`m seeing it firsthand at Bellevue Hospital where I work. Many of our staff are out sick right now. We`re really under staffed and that is creating tremendous stress on the system.


We`re really trying to avoid any kind of elective procedures. We`re trying to get everyone out that we can possibly get out and attend to their needs on an outpatient basis. We`re pulling doctors from other parts of the hospital from outpatient clinics, people who were supposed to be on holiday, are pulling them back in to help staff the hospital right now.

So we`re definitely seeing the impact. And I think it`s important to remember just because of viruses more benign, relatively speaking, let`s say it`s half as deadly. If you have twice as many cases, that actually gets you to exactly the same number of deaths. So this is still a very dangerous variant that we`re dealing with here.

VELSHI: That`s a very good way to put it because I think a lot of people have been struggling with explaining to people that it may be maybe not as fatal, but there`s a lot more of it around. What`s your sense of the CDC guidance about staying fully vaccinated without describing what fully vaccinated means, meaning whether it involves a booster?

GOUNDER: I think that`s an appropriate recommendation. I think, on the one hand, with respect to preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death, and so the bulk of what is truly disrupting to society. The first two doses in the Pfizer and Moderna series are very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. And where we occasionally see breakthrough infections, turning bad is really the elderly, the highly immunocompromised, and people living in nursing homes.

If you want to further reduce risks, reduce risk of infection, transmission, and so on, the additional doses become especially important. As you see new variants emerge there`s a role potentially for additional doses of vaccine. But I think, especially when you consider -- when you when you talk about mandates and requirements, I think you`d have a higher bar to cross so to speak in terms of why you are recommending a dose of vaccine and is it in the public`s general interest or not.

VELSHI: Celine, good to see you. As always, thank you for your analysis and your advice, Dr. Celine Gounder. Coming up, we`re going to bring you an inside look into the FBI`s January 6th investigation and their efforts to identify those who stormed the Capitol when the 11th Hour continues.



VELSHI: As we mentioned hundreds of rioters have already been charged for their actions on January 6th, but one of the largest and most complex investigations that FBI history is ongoing as investigators work to identify people who stormed the Capitol. NBC News correspondent Pete Williams has an inside look at the FBI`s work.


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year after the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol since the British torched it 200 years ago, the FBI hasn`t stopped working to identify rioters. This exclusive look shows agents and analysts still combing through tens and thousands of photos and videos. Investigators also use facial recognition software and cell phone records that allow them to plot the movement of individual people inside the Capitol the largest use ever of that technique.

STEVEN D`ANTUONO, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: The attacks happen all over the Capitol grounds.

WILLIAMS: Steven D`Antuono, the man in charge of the FBI`s Washington Field Office says a priority now is identifying the rioters who attack police like this man using a long probe to administer shocks.

(on camera): It`s giving them an electrical jolt.

D`ANTUONO: Correct. Yes.

WILLIAMS: So that must -- that must be painful.

D`ANTUONO: I would imagine it would be. It`d be like any taser.

WILLIAMS (voice-over): Or this video of a man beating a police officer with a long pole.

D`ANTUONO: That officer in particular, right they just hit him in the head.

WILLIAMS: Or this one showing one of the rioters spraying a chemical at officers.

D`ANTUONO: He gets rid of it, throws the cannon, grabs a riot shield and says beating the officers.

WILLIAMS: People have said in hundreds of thousands of tips reacting to photos and videos like these posted on the FBI website. Tips have even come from rideshare drivers and waiters.

D`ANTUONO: We`ve had restaurant workers turns -- turn somebody in because they`ve overheard them talking about it.

WILLIAMS: Federal criminal charges have now been filed against more than 700 people and about 1/4 of them have pleaded guilty. But a big question remains unanswered. Was there actually a plan well in advance to storm the capital? Or was it a case of seizing the moment?

SEAMUS HUGHES, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY EXTREMISM PROGRAM DEPUTY DIRECTOR: It does matter in terms of record history to get a sense of what this event was all about. Was it a perfect storm of failure of security, extremists kind of all coalescing around the Capitol? Or was this something greater?

WILLIAMS: Members of the far right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy but court documents say they were preparing for violence in the streets. And the FBI has yet to figure out who planted two pipe bombs last January 5 at Republican and Democratic national headquarters. No breakthrough so far, despite releasing surveillance video showing the suspected bomber that night on Capitol Hill.

(on camera): Why don`t you know yet who placed these bombs the night before the riot?

D`ANTUONO: They`re covered from head to toe. Right? They have a hoodie on, glasses, a mask, gloves, you know, fully, fully clothed.

WILLIAMS (voice-over): The FBI has even compiled this map showing the bombing suspects movements that night.

(on camera): What do you see in the video of that person? What are they doing?

D`ANTUONO: You know, the person is walking down this road here.

WILLIAMS (on camera): One bomb was placed just outside the democratic office entrance. Pretty close to that corner.

D`ANTUONO: Yes, pretty close to that area right around there.


VELSHI: Thanks to Pete Williams for that report. Coming up, the powerful message about how we deal with emotional trauma, whether it`s personal or shared when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight is about trauma. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin and his family experienced profound trauma a little over a year ago when their 25-year-old son Tommy died by suicide on New Year`s Eve. In his new book, unthinkable, Raskin is very open about losing his son on "DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE" today he explained to Nicolle Wallace why he believes it`s important to be so public about his family`s experience.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): If you turn on some of the news, and you look on the internet, you would think that America is just all about violent, polarization and mutual hatreds and so on. And that`s not been our family`s experience. We`ve had wonderful messages thousands and thousands of messages from people all over the country, all over the political spectrum, reaching out to us. We`ve had veterans who have battled mental illness of veterans, families who`ve lost people to suicide. We`ve had other families whose kids are going through depression, or who have lost kids reach out to us.

I mean, there`s a lot of pain out there. 800,000 families lost somebody in COVID. We`ve lost tens and tens of thousands of people recently to gun violence in the country. The mental and emotional health crisis is out of control the opioid crisis.

So this is a country that is in pain. This is a country that`s wounded. And the way to deal with trauma is to speak of trauma for people to be able to express their truths, and to use the trauma as a bonding mechanism. So we can connect with other people`s pain and other people`s loss and then move forward.

And I think that`s what`s going to get us out of it. Otherwise, we`re going to get into cycles of pain and cycles of violence and depression. And we don`t want that.

So for me, I know when my wife Sarah makes fun of me because I don`t distinguish between public life and private life. And that`s kind of what you were touching on to for me, it`s just life. I want life to get better for every American. We can do so much better than we`ve done over the last few years. All of us can.


VELSHI: Well, tomorrow we will all speak of the trauma that Raskin and this nation experienced on January 6, 2021, all in hopes that we can recognize that we are all in this together and must do better in the days ahead.


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