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Transcript: The 11th Hour, 12/28/21

Guests: Irwin Redlener, Philip Rucker, Joyce Vance, Neal Katyal, Susan Del Percio, Juanita Tolliver

Summary

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dies at 82. U.S. hits new record for average daily COVID cases. Growing concerns about CDC COVID guidelines. Jan. 6 committee backs off request for some Trump records.

Transcript

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: That`s tonight`s "LAST WORD." Thanks for watching. THE 11TH HOUR starts now.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC Host: Good evening, once again, I`m Chris Jansing. Day 342 of the Biden administration.

Tonight, the nation has lost a unique figure in American politics. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Democrat from Nevada and a Force on Capitol Hill during the Bush 43 and Obama administrations has died at age 82. He was the consummate behind the scenes player, often exercising his considerable political and legislative skills far from the spotlight. During his time in the Senate, he pushed through the passage of Obamacare as well as the sweeping economic stimulus after the Great Recession and new rules governing Wall Street, a one-time amateur boxer he could bob and weave on the political stage as well.

And tonight, the current Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote this. "Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I`ve ever met. He never forgot where he came from and use those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who are hurting the poor and the middle class." Schumer has ordered flags at the Capitol lower to have staff. We`ll have more on Harry Reid`s legacy just ahead.

Our other big story tonight continues to be Omicron. This latest variant converging with the Delta strain to Dr. COVID infections to a new record in this country today. The latest CDC data showing the seven-day average of new cases topping 250,000 per day as of this afternoon, shattering the previous high of some 248,000 cases nearly a year ago. This ongoing surge is hitting as we are near the end of year two of an exhausting battle with COVID. The virus now everywhere, and that is challenging officials from the White House all the way down to the local level. Yet as of tonight, slightly less than 62% of all Americans are fully vaccinated, and fewer than 38% of those fully vaccinated are boosted.

Today, the CDC said Omicron represents roughly 59% of all COVID cases in the United States. That is a very big change from last week when the agency had the number at 73%. There`s also growing pushback tonight to the CDC latest guidance reducing the isolation period for people who test positive but show no symptoms to five days, down from 10. Critics say this evolving message isn`t just confusing, it`s dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: The CDC should be loud and clear about implementation here because no worker should be forced to come to work when they`re still sick. And that is, I believe what we are going to see here. We`re very concerned about.

JEAN ROSS, REGISTERED NURSE: It`s only going to lead to more illness, more cases. This is when you should be tightening your controls, not lessening them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Well, tonight Dr. Fauci was back on TV defending the CDC`s decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: What happens is that you`re isolated for five days. And then if you`re still a symptomatic, at the end of that five days, you can go out and do your job and reenter society, hopefully getting functions of society normal, but you have to wear a mask. Early on in infection, for the first several days, you have more of a likelihood to have a high level of virus and to be capable of spreading it. As you get into the second half of that 10-day period, we know that the virus in general, not for every single 100% of the people, but for most of the time, for most of the people, that level of virus diminishes to the point where the CDC feels and I don`t disagree with them at all, that wearing a mask is ample protection during that second half of a 10-day period. When you balance that against the importance of trying to get people back functioning in society, because the alternative is something that no one wants, and that`s to shut down completely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Now, when it comes to saving lives, hospitals on the frontlines are bracing for an expected surge of COVID patients in the weeks to come. Many are already seeing a steady rise in COVID ambitions. The administration is preparing to deploy 1000 U.S. service members to help medical staff at hospitals nationwide. Hospitals are also facing a rapid increase in the number of children admitted for COVID.

NBC News reports that in the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with COVID is up 52% Five states, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio are reporting the most admissions.

[23:05:09]

Also tonight, the House Select Committee investigating the January six capitol riot has now struck a deal with the White House to stand down on some of the documents requested from the Trump administration.

The New York Times notes the agreement, "does not represent a major policy shift for the administration. President Biden`s still rejects former President Donald J. Trump`s claim that all internal White House documents pertaining to the riot be withheld on the grounds of executive privilege. The Times adds, the Trump records involved in the agreement were ones the Biden White House deemed as sensitive or unrelated to the investigation.

There is also news about the criminal investigation into the pro-Trump mob that carried up the siege on the Capitol. Today a federal judge, a judge, by the way appointed by Donald Trump refused to dismiss an indictment charging for alleged leaders of the far-right Proud Boys with conspiring to attack the Capitol. Judge Timothy Kelly rejected the defense attorneys arguments that the four are charged with conduct that`s protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night. Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Senior Washington Correspondent for The Washington Post, Co-author with Carol Leonnig of The New York Times Bestseller, I Alone Can Fix It. Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, who advises us on public health. He`s also a Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. She hosts the podcast Sisters in Law, along with Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Jill Wine-Banks, and Barb McQuade. Good to see all of you.

So, Irwin, we again seem to be at the receiving end of some confusing messaging from the CDC and the Biden administration as they try to combat this Omicron variant. What do you think`s going on here? Could we be doing better?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, we could be doing better, Chris. And the problem is that this continued amount of confusion because the science or the data that`s coming in, is causing there to be changes in how we`re managing people who are positive. But the messaging is very confusing, a need to get their act together, I understand the science. And it`s basically exactly what Dr. Fauci said, which is that at the point that you get infected yourself, and would be positive, you`ve been able to carry that infection a few days before and a few days after. But once you`ve been positive, and you waited five days, you are now OK to go out and about without getting another test, as long as you continue to wear face masks, especially indoors. And that`s more or less the some substance of what we`re dealing with.

JANSING: So, is what you`re saying that you`re confident that the science is leading this, you know, I`m thinking again, as I`m coming into work tonight, and I`m seeing their Broadway shows that are shut down. Hugh Jackman tested positive for COVID. He`s on Broadway now that it is about the science and not too much about the economy, even though we heard the acknowledgement from Dr. Fauci that that`s part of it, too?

REDLENER: Right, Chris. So, you know, the question isn`t entirely 100% Public Health Science? No, and it never can be, there is a bit of the economy concern in there. And there`s also a bit of the politics inserted in there. But the problem is that we do have to get it all straightened out. So, you and I, and everyone watching it, everyone in the public can understand what are the rules we have to follow now.

And the other thing, Chris, is that the CDC must do a better job in explaining and giving the caveat. It`s like we`re making a policy change. But folks, we`re getting more information and maybe next week, we`ll have to change it. Right now, here`s what we`re recommending. People are not comfortable with uncertainty. I`m not and I`m sure most people aren`t in this situation. But we`re going to have to get used to it. Unfortunately, Chris.

JANSING: Well, Phil, we heard this earlier from the Republican Governor of Arkansas, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) ARKANSAS: It`s not a time for shutdowns. It`s not a time for repressive measures. Let`s work our way through it, and all survived together to keep our economy going at the same time, addressing the urgent need of our workforce and our increase vaccinations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: It feels to a lot of people like, Philip, that it`s the shift, the feeling that COVID is with us. It`s here to stay. And we have to maneuver, figure out how to live with it and not ruin the economy. Is that the White House strategy here? What are you hearing?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Chris, the political strategist inside the White House are well aware of the peril here for President Biden and for the Democratic Party because there simply is not an appetite among the American people for a return to what everyone experienced in those early months of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. The lockdowns, the shutdowns, the continuing work from home, the restaurants being closed.

[23:10:18]

You know, now that the economy has largely reopened, and we`ve survived sort of the Delta variant and trying to move our way through the Omicron variant, there`s a real desire around the country, especially when you get out of the major cities like New York and Washington, to push through, to try to safeguard against people getting sick and hospitalized, and Ill, of course, but to not shut things down. And that could eventually come into conflict with some of the scientific findings.

And one of the dangers I think, for the Biden White House, in the administration right now is make -- is convincing the American people that all of these decisions that are being made are based purely on the science, which is, of course, what Biden campaigned on. He said he would be governed by the science in the COVID strategy, and that these are not political, or economic motivated decisions.

JANSING: And has said that many times since.

Dr. Redlener, I`m very curious how concerned you are about what seems to be a pretty dramatic increase in children hospitalized with COVID. We mentioned five states in particular. I mean, for example, you`ve got a lot of school system, including here in New York City, the nation`s largest, opening back up within days?

REDLENER: Well, Chris, you know, we spent a long time in the early months and middle months of this pandemic, thinking that children were relatively free from the major complications and impact of COVID-19. What we`re seeing now, though, with very dramatic increases in the number of children who get sick and the number of children who are testing positive and being hospitalized we have to kind of keep reassessing where we are in the state of -- with respect to the state of the safety of children. I think we`ll probably be OK. But what -- it`s way too early, to make a definitive and get a definitive understanding about, will children continue to remain relatively safe. I worry about it. I don`t know where we`re going yet.

JANSING: All right, much more that we can talk about. But Joyce, I do want to talk about this agreement between the Biden administration and the January 6 committee over former President Trump`s White House records. And I wonder how you see this fitting into the big picture? Is this in any way a setback? Do you think for the Committee`s investigation? Does it mean anything concerning Trump`s appeal to the Supreme Court to shield his records? What do you make of it?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, it sounds pretty alarming when you hear that the Biden White House has reached out to the Committee and asked them to relinquish their request for some of these documents. But ultimately, this is not really a problem of any type. And it`s not significant, won`t have impact, for instance, on the Supreme Court case.

What happened here is fairly typical. When you as a lawyer, an investigator, a prosecutor writes a request for documents, you write it pretty broadly. And that`s what the committee did here. So apparently, some of their requests were drafted broadly enough, that they reached beyond documents that would have reflected events on January 6, in connection with the insurrection in the overrunning of the Capitol building. And some of these documents stumbled into national security territory. And, Chris, you can imagine this pretty readily when you request documents, for instance, from the Pentagon, on January 6, there were other events besides the insurrection occurring, some of them could have involved the intelligence community, the military, and national security events. So now the Biden White House is simply saying, your requests are a little bit overbroad, let`s not dip into national security.

JANSING: OK, we`re also getting more detailed information about the progress of the January 6 committee, more than 300 witnesses have been interviewed, 35,000 pages of records that they`ve gotten so far. They say they have about 250 plus substantive tips, two and a half criminal referrals, 52 subpoenas sent, and they`ve spent so far about $418,000, that`s through the end of September. I looked at these numbers, they seem big, it seemed impressive, but I`ve never run an investigation. So, from your perspective, what do these numbers represent to you?

VANCE: Well, it is pretty impressive. I like the tune and a half criminal referrals, of course, that reflects the fact that they voted out of committee but not taken to the floor. One of the referrals for a DOJ witness who I apparently, they`re still trying to work to deal with. These numbers themselves are impressive. The numbers of witnesses and what the committee has reviewed in a relatively short period of time as it ramped up really does give you a sense that they`re looking very broadly at the issues. Likely what`s more important is what we`re not seeing. What`s being done with all of this information. The way evidence is being put together to understand what happened on January 6. We hear that the committee is following the money. And there`s a lot of indication here that there`s some work being done, for instance, with forensic accountants.

[23:15:14]

So, we`ll have to wait until the committee holds its public hearings next year. But I think this will rival the work of the 9/11 Commission, in terms of telling the American public the true story, the facts about what happened on January 6.

JANSING: And Phil, we have to talk about Harry Reid. And I want to read what President Obama said tonight about him. "Here`s what I want you to know. You are a great leader in the Senate and early on, you are more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn`t have been president, had it not been for your encouragement and support. And I wouldn`t have gotten most of what I got done without your skill and determination. Most of all, you`ve been a good friend, as different as we are. I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other, a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And, you know, what we made for a pretty good team."

I think, you know, you and I both covered the Obama administration. I think when historians talk about Obama`s successes, they will include how Harry Reid was instrumental in so many ways. What do you see as his legacy?

RUCKER: You know, Chris, he`s an American original, right? He grew up from really humble origins and tiny Searchlight, Nevada and made his way to Washington. He had to fight for everything he got. He made its way through law school at George Washington University here by working as a U.S. Capitol police officer, and then of course, climbed the ranks in the Senate, but it was dovetailed with the Obama rise. You know, Reid became Majority Leader as Obama had arrived in the Senate and then quietly encouraged Obama to run for the Democratic nomination for president at a time when most democratic leaders were rallying behind Hillary Clinton because he saw potential in Obama.

You know, Reid was a fierce partisan. He fought for the Democratic Party. He loved nothing more than getting in Mitch McConnell`s way and blocking Republicans. But he did so not purely to amass power, he did so to try to enact transformational change. And historians I think, are going to remember the work that he did in those first two years of the Obama presidency, as indeed transformational, the Affordable Care Act, the economic stimulus, the Dodd-Frank reforms on Wall Street, Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell being revoked as policy at the military. And we could go on. It was quite a record of achievement. And a lot of his former colleagues in the Senate are missing him tonight.

JANSING: They are and there are -- they`re still I guess, you could say unfinished business. He was on this network. He was very ill in the end, but he was on this network in the fall in October, and I want to play for you what he had to say about the filibuster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. HARRY REID (D) NEVADA: Get rid of the filibuster, is nothing that as Brock Obama said, at John Lewis` funeral, it`s part of the leftovers from the days of the slave owners. You got to get rid of it. It`s very, very bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: But tell us what you really think, Harry Reid, I mean, you know, Phil, just about an hour ago on his network, Chuck Schumer said he hopes to move ahead with trying to change the rules of the Senate. I mean, Harry Reid, again, still being felt years after he left.

RUCKER: I think that`s right. And I think Senator Reid knows what`s at stake here in this country. He knows that this, you could argue is a national emergency moment for American democracy. It`s fragile, its institutions were tested. Reid spoke out about that, during the Trump presidency. And I think he`s thinking ahead to what the next few years could be like, if voting rights is not enacted. That`s a view shared, by the way by a lot of activists in the Democratic Party. But you don`t hear that urgency in the message from Democratic leaders elected in Washington and I think Reid as you just played in that clip there is trying to change or create momentum by the way to try to fortify those institutions here.

JANSING: Rest in peace, Harry Reid, his wife put out a beautiful statement which you all can read, but our thoughts are with his family tonight. Phil Rucker, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Joyce Vance, good to see all of you. Thank you.

And coming up, the Supreme Court is about to weigh in on a couple of crucial cases, including one concerning vaccine mandates. Neal Katyal has made plenty of arguments before the court, and he`s standing by for us. Later, a closer look at the struggle between public health and politics and the confusion that comes with mixed messaging. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on the last Tuesday night of 2021.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:23:23]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We`re not going to drop this vaccine requirement. We`re going to argue the case before the Supreme Court on the seventh of January and certainly hope the court will agree that the requirement imposed is a lawful requirement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Mark that date on your calendar. The Biden administration has no intention of backing off its federal vaccine mandate. And the Supreme Court has scheduled a special session to hear arguments over the federal vaccine or test mandate for private employers who have 100 or more workers.

With us for more, Neal Katyal, Department of Justice Veteran and former Acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration, who has argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Always great to see you, Neal. So, the administration sees this as critical. They predict that the mandate would push 22 million people to get vaccinated, could prevent a quarter of a million hospitalizations. The Court has repeatedly upheld state vaccine mandates, is this different?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: It`s not and so Ron Klain, the White House Chief of Staff is absolutely right in saying that the administration shouldn`t back down in the face of this Supreme Court hearing next week, absolutely.

I mean, this is, after all, a Supreme Court, the John Roberts Court that traditionally defers to the President, when national security or public safety is being invoked. And most pointedly for me, I challenged President Trump`s banning of Muslims that so called Muslim ban and the Supreme Court five to four disagreed saying they had to defer to the president because the President said public safety required this ban. And look if you can ban Muslims in the name of National Security undoubtedly you can insist on vaccine mandates, so I think it puts the Supreme Court in its traditional role of deferring to the President when the President says, look, we need this for public safety.

[23:25:11]

JANSING: Is there something you might be watching for from the court six justice conservative majority that would say to you, maybe they`re going to do something different this time? What worries you if anything about the argument that the folks on the other side are making?

KATYAL: Well, oral argument is kind of a sport. It`s a half hour per side. And they`re two different cases. And so, there`ll be tough questions as to both sides. That`s the job of the justices. I think we will be watching for those so-called swing justices. That`s the Chief Justice, Chief Justice, John Roberts, as well as Brett Kavanaugh to see where they are going to land on this issue.

I think that, you know, there have been some hostility towards some of the vaccine mandates at the state level by justices, Gorsuch, Barrett, and others. But those have been about religious exemptions and people saying, look, there`s not enough of a religious exemption. But the way that the White House crafted these vaccine mandates is really different. There`s a broad exemption for religious accommodations and the like. So, it makes it really hard for those justices to attack these Biden initiatives that are before the Supreme Court now.

And so, I think, you know, we`ll hear a lot of tough questions. But at the end of the day, I think this is a matter in which there`s just massively, you know, this is kind of what the presidency is about, protecting the American public. And Congress has said that the OSHA, the Office of for safety and workplace safety, they have the ability to enact emergency legislation or emergency rules when there`s a grave danger from exposure to substances or agents. That`s the language Congress has used. And I think when Congress used the words grave danger, they weren`t talking about undertakers or something like that, they were talking about exactly this. Many Americans right now are afraid to go to work because they`re going to be exposed to the virus. That`s what OSHA is designed to stand for. And that`s why I think it`s not a hard case next week.

JANSING: Yeah, that`s even stepped up since this was first filed. So again, that date is on the seventh of January.

I also want to ask you about Harry Reid, because I know that you had some working relationship with him when you were part of the Obama administration, you worked on the Affordable Care Act. What do you remember about Harry Reid?

KATYAL: Yeah, something really pointedly after the White House put me in charge of defending the Affordable Care Act in court. I did receive a call from Senator Reid, before my first court appearance. And he basically said, you better win this thing. And, you know, he fought for the act, he cared a lot about it. But to me, the thing that I remember, is him calling me in that call and saying, look, you know, here`s why this is important to me. I grew up in rural Nevada, my brother, I think he had broken his leg or something. I can`t remember the story precisely. But I think it was that he broken his leg when he was a boy, couldn`t get any medical care whatsoever for that. That`s the way they lived. And he said to me, that`s the way a lot of Americans are living right now. Your job is to go and tell the court that what that story is about and why this legislation is so important.

And in a way, it`s not that different than the conversation we were just having about the vaccine mandates a moment ago. It`s, there`s a lot of people suffering, a lot of people afraid to go to work. A lot of people who -- whose voices aren`t heard in here, we finally have a White House that`s going and standing up and protecting these people. And now it`s being challenged in court. Absolutely, it`s the right of the people to challenge that, you know, in plaintiffs. But at the end of the day, it`s the job of the court to stand for public safety.

JANSING: It is indeed. Neal Katyal, well said, always good to see you. Thank you. And coming up, as people line up for COVID testing in the nation`s capitol, we`ll get into the frustrating struggle between politics and public safety when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:32:29]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUTCHINSON: I applaud the president while we disagree on some strategy issues, I do appreciate him deep politicizing this effort. We`re all in this together and it doesn`t make any difference of your partisan stripe. Let`s get the vaccinations out and there`s a greater cohesiveness about the importance of vaccinations now than ever before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: That`s the Republican governor of Arkansas praising the President`s deep politicization of COVID efforts, again this afternoon. Yet his reference to a greater cohesiveness around vaccinations doesn`t really hold up. Another Republican, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, was back spreading damaging vaccine misinformation just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN SENATOR: We all hoped and prayed the vaccines would be 100% effective, 100% safe, but they`re not. We now know that fully vaccinated individuals can catch COVID. They can transmit COVID. So, what`s the point?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: We welcome back Juanita Tolliver, a Veteran Political Strategist to progressive candidates and causes and Susan Del Percio, MSNBC Political Analyst and a Veteran Political Strategist.

Well, I think a lot to be said about what the point is. But despite Governor Hutchinson`s optimism, political affiliation remains one of the best predictors of vaccination status. Take a look, a recent economist poll found that among unvaccinated Americans, Republicans are nearly three times as likely as Democrats to say they`ll never get any shots of the COVID vaccine. Susan, where do we go from here?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No one knows at this point, because if you can -- if you`re -- at this point, people know the facts if they choose to look them up and speak to their doctor, when there are individuals that say I don`t want the vaccination because of whatever reason, you`re not going to change their minds. And frankly, we have to figure out a way to move beyond them. Yes, it should always be available. But these people are causing a clear and present danger to a lot of people who may end up in the hospital, who need surgeries that are going to get postponed because hospitalizations are up around the country. And I just -- when you look at Donald Trump getting booed for talking about vaccinations, I think these people are unreachable.

JANSING: I mean, Juanita, there`s a New York Times study, well, they looked at counties around the country, and the data shows that in about one in every 10 counties death rates have more than doubled since vaccination started but many of those are in heavily Republican areas but, you know, is there really any political fallout for saying the kinds of things that Ron Johnson is saying or is there, in fact, political gain?

[23:35:15]

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Definitely no fall out among Republicans. And I appreciate Susan mentioning Trump`s statement, because while he was booed at that crowd, keep in mind that it was him who started the lies and misinformation from the White House as soon as the pandemic started. And so that just shows how heavy an impact those lies, and misinformation have on voters.

I think that there is no blowback for people like Senator Johnson. And sadly, Governor Hutchinson might face more blowback. But the reality is fully tracking with what research even showed months ago when the vaccine was what, became widely available as Republicans dug their heels in and stood behind beside that misinformation. And back then the assumption was, OK, maybe if their lives are impacted by COVID, maybe if their family members are impacted by COVID. They`ll change their minds. But as we headed 800,000 people in this country dead from this, from this virus, we`re still seeing this research. I think the economist poll said that 30% of Republicans are worried about Omicron 30% of Republicans are worried about or know someone who has died or lost their life in this pandemic, but still, they won`t get vaccinated. So, I think the White House has a massively uphill battle to combat and counteract this misinformation. I do think, yes, keep the vaccines widely available. But in addition to the public service information that they`re releasing, you have to combat the misinformation actively and consistently.

JANSING: Susan, the ongoing criticism about confusion, most recently caused by what many see as the latest poor messaging from the CDC, or, you know, changing their tune about how much of the infection -- how many of the infections are actually attributable to Omicron? Is it fair? Is it political, we`re changing guidance and messaging inevitable with an unpredictable pandemic?

DEL PERCIO: It`s OK to say, based on the science we know today, and things may change, but you tell me the difference or how the average person supposed to know the difference between quarantine and isolation, five days testing, if you have symptoms, what your symptoms are, there needs to be clear cut lines when you`re talking about science. We had been told all along, follow the science. And now we`re hearing, well, follow the science but, that really doesn`t work.

And then when you top that, with the lack of testing that we have, and that this administration really should have been geared up on testing like most other countries are in the world have put an emphasis on testing and this we have not, those two things in one week, it`s a real one, two shot two people and trusting government right now.

JANSING: Juanita and Susan are staying with us, because just ahead, the political stakes are high as the investigation into the January 6 committee. January 6 becomes too, it`s more public phase. We`ll explain when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:18]

JANSING: Congress may be on winter recess, but the January 6 committee reportedly plans to ring in the New Year with a more public approach to its investigation. As the Washington Post reports, the rough timeline being discussed among senior committee staffers includes public hearings starting this winter and stretching into spring, followed by an interim report in the summer and a final report ahead of November`s elections.

And that approach may prove popular with the American people. The Bulwark pulled together a focus group of Trump to Biden voters from swing states. As one Wisconsin voters surveyed put it, people need to be held accountable. That was a terrible day in our history.

Still with us, Juanita Tolliver and Susan Del Percio. You know that Bulwark focus group also found the antics of anti-January 6 committee Republicans don`t seem to be gaining a lot of support. Susan, do you think that folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, think actually that they can attract new voters? Or are they just playing to their base?

DEL PERCIO: Oh, they`re just playing to their base? I don`t think they are -- or in any position to attract voters, as a matter of fact, I think Kevin McCarthy is worried about them turning off voters, because they are not the voice of most Republicans right now within the GOP, they are the extreme extremists. Yes, there are still a lot of extremes. I`m not going to play that, you know, down, but they`re really the Looney Tunes of the bunch. So, they are the worst messengers for 2022. That being said, I think that the Select Committee needs to be a little careful on releasing timelines, and promising things to the public. Because we know they`re not very good when it comes to self-imposed deadlines. So, I think they need to be careful there.

JANSING: So, Juanita, I mean, let`s assume these public hearings are going to go forward. And I think there`s a general feeling that they`ve got a lot of information there to sort of put out the narrative of exactly what happened based on information in real time. We have checks, you know, we have phone calls, et cetera. But is it likely to change any minds? And maybe does that matter, is the important thing to put it on the record?

TOLLIVER: Well, as we saw from that focus group, it absolutely will have an impact on those swing voters, because this public hearing, these open opportunities to reach the public is the opportunity for the Select Committee to bring the drama, to bring the theatre, to bring it to the public, because we know that people are not watching their work, day in and day out as closely as we are. And so, getting to the heart of the American public and making sure that they can have a clearer picture of who texted whom, who called whom, what was said and when, and said by home is critical, because that`s what they want to be in the front of voters is mine. That`s what they want to be in the front of people`s minds. Because I also point out that the other big deliverable from that focus group was, we want accountability. And we want to make sure this never happens again. And so, they`re looking for that tangible referral, whether it`s for criminal charges to the DOJ or otherwise, and what would be more tangible and concrete, then referring the former president and Trump to the DOJ for some criminal prosecution. That`s what people want to see happen because they recognize if nothing happens, if no one is held accountable, this absolutely could happen again, and we will likely not be able to survive it as a democracy.

JANSING: Susan, Robert Reich published a column today on the true meaning of January 6, and this is part of what he wrote. The Republican Party is close to becoming a cult, whose central animating idea is that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Is he right or is it a case of, are you kidding, we`re already there?

[23:45:04]

DEL PERCIO: Oh, we`re already there and what`s worse is I think this cult has moved even beyond Donald Trump. I don`t think he controls it. I don`t think they`re worshipping him. They found a place for frankly, their hatred. And they`re getting together in spite of Donald Trump now, because he doesn`t have the voice that he once had. But they are active, they are planning, and they are extreme and putting up the most extreme candidates possible for 2022.

JANSING: And before I let you go, Juanita, I want to ask you a little about Harry Reid, I don`t know if you had a chance to hear what Neal Katyal had to say. And it`s very similar to what we`re seeing in a lot of statements. It`s, yes, how much he accomplished, for the progressive causes, for so many things that he was able to help presidents get done. And yet it`s his uniquely American story, and in some ways even more compelling when you when you realize this is somebody who grew up in the -- in not just in poverty, but in the Nevada desert without any indoor plumbing. And, Neal Katyal, was talking about how he said his brother broke his leg. And, you know, it was impossible for them to have health care. What`s your thoughts tonight on Harry Reid?

TOLLIVER: Look, Senator Reid was a legend. He is a legend. And I keep coming back to his parting words when he left the Senate and left Congress. And he said, be proud of who you are, because you cannot escape who you are. And he truly overcame so much. But he didn`t abandon it. He used it as a motivator and a driving force for his leadership style, and his fervent desire to deliver for the people. We saw that come through landmark legislation time after time, and he stayed true to himself. And I really appreciate President Barack Obama`s statement when he said, not bad for a poor skinny kid, right? Like I think that gets to the heart of who Senator Reid was and what will be at the core of his legacy.

JANSING: Yeah, and certainly, Susan, Republicans learn just how formidable he could be that former boxer?

DEL PERCIO: Yes, they did. And, you know, it reminds me of what -- a lot of what we heard about when Senator Dole passed away. These were fierce political competitors, but also had heart and also knew that they had to work for the public good. And we just don`t see enough of that now.

JANSING: Yeah, and we also saw the other side giving credit where credit was due a lot more than we ever do now. Our thanks to Juanita Tolliver and Susan Del Percio for being with us tonight.

Coming up, we`ll update the challenges for getting from here to there during the holidays, when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:46]

JANSING: Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the travel nightmare continues. First, it was getting to Grandma`s house for Christmas. Now spiking COVID-19 cases continue to force airlines to cancel 1000s of flights just as many of those travelers are trying to get home and winter weather continues grounding hundreds if not 1000s more. NBC News Correspondent Steve Patterson has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a travel nightmare forecasted for 1000s of Americans making the long journey home, more than 1000 flights cancelled just today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve been in an airport since about 7:30 this morning.

PATTERSON: In Seattle, snow in frigid temperatures putting the airport at the top of an unenviable list. The most cancellations in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re actually on the plane for two and a half hours.

PATTERSON: In Northern California, A 51-year December Cirrus snowfall record shattered. 1000s left without power, major highways still shut down causing massive traffic jams. As officials scramble to clear the roads, residents trying their best to shovel out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s rough because when you come home to this many feet of snow it`s days and days of taking out.

PATTERSON: Authorities they`re on a desperate search for 43-year-old skier Rory Angelotta missing since Christmas. His family praying.

KELSEY ANGELOTTA, SISTER OF RORY ANGELOTTA: I do have hope but it`s definitely going to be a miracle.

PATTERSON: Meanwhile, the South is seeing soaring temperatures, forecasters say at least 70 daily record highs could be set by the end of the week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like a gift from the heavens after the freeze last year.

PATTERSON: And this week, officials worried about even more damage, heavy rain and thunderstorms predicted to hit the same region. We`re just three weeks ago, a historic tornado outbreak took more than 90 lives.

(On camera) Extreme weather in all corners of the country and it is not done with the West Coast. Another system is moving in expected to dump another two feet of snow on the region. Back to you.

JANSING: Steve Patterson, thanks so much for that report.

Coming up, remembering a true multi-generational legend when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:56:50]

JANSING: The last thing Before We Go Tonight, the passing of NFL coaching and broadcasting legend John Madden at 85. His success as a coach included a record setting win loss record and a Super Bowl victory. But after that in the broadcast booth, he was a singular sensation. When he got excited, we got excited, and he got excited a lot. And as if winning 16 Emmys wasn`t enough for many of a certain generation. He may be best known for the Madden video game that became a cultural phenomenon. In a 2013 interview Madden`s former broadcast partner Al Michaels was quoted as saying, "John Madden is as important as anybody in the history of football."

A Fox Sports documentary about Madden`s many achievements was just recently released. Here`s some of what it`s included.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MADDEN: Football is my life. It`s something I say proudly. But it`s complicated.

HOWIE LONG, FORMER RAIDERS DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: You can`t write the history of professional football without John Madden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, he jumps on, yelling and screaming a guy. He`s a coaching genius. You know, full speed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And while he can`t win them all, I say why the hell can you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Head coach, you live and die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you don`t stay on top forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Retirement signals the end of an era and perhaps the end of a dynasty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn`t know what he was going to do.

MADDEN: I wasn`t a guy when I was coaching to say, I want to go, and I want to be a broadcaster. But I knew after I did the first couple of games, that that`s what I wanted to do. This is it. I embraced it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John does a rehearsal game with another young aspiring broadcaster by the name of Bob Costas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How high is the shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you look like a 12-year-old kid. I don`t know what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull to the right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there in the alley, boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John had this energy that came to light, CBS to saw something that they hadn`t seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Madden made me a better player. I was pretty good. He just made me better. Simple as that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the audience perceives what`s genuine. That`s who he is. The same guy who just happens to have extraordinary football knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He made everyone want to watch football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you just heard his voice in the distance. That was a TV ad to run to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he coached with a passion and love for the game. He went into broadcasting, change the way football was broadcast, if not greater sports. He changed the way America celebrates Thanksgiving for crying out loud.

MADDEN: Now this is what the game of football is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: His love of the game was indeed contagious. That is our broadcast for this Tuesday night, with our thanks for being with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.