President Joe Biden White House holds first COVID briefing as it ramps up response. Biden takes executive action on climate crisis. Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Susan Collins, hope that a censure resolution would allow the Senate to formally condemn the former president`s actions and draw significant Republican support. Majority of GOP Senators oppose trial. The struggling video game retailer GameStop is suddenly one of the hottest stocks thanks to a group of Reddit users looking to take on the financial elite.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: On this international Holocaust Remembrance Day, the brave and Honorable Tom Lantos gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day eight of the Biden administration, which is now in a race against a virus that`s not just spreading uncontrollably at this point, but it`s quickly mutating, developing new strains that experts fear may mutate themselves right past the current vaccine formulations. And a reminder that according to Johns Hopkins this month has already been the deadliest yet for this pandemic, in our country worse than the battle days of 2020 when we thought it was at its height. It`s under these conditions that that by the administration held its very first COVID briefing where the messages were blunt and grounded in reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is a national emergency 400,000 people have died. Everything is on the table and we will execute accordingly.
ANDY SLAVITT, SR. ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: It will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. At least stockpile that may have existed previously, no longer exists. Pfizer and Moderna are committed to delivering a total of 200 million doses. By the end of March, United States plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses for Moderna and Pfizer this year, which will be sufficient to vaccinate every American over the age of 16. And we expect those doses this summer.
DR. ROCEHLLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: There is money and the American Recovery Act to move this forward. And we really need to be-- have access to those resources.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dr. Walensky, the new CDC Director who you just heard, they`re projected that on the current trajectory, the U.S. could lose as many as 514,000 people by the 20th of February, that`s when we`re on track to break the half million mark.
The President was not part of today`s briefing a contrast with his predecessor, who found his own attendance at such briefings was essential. The current president was focused on another priority on his agenda today confronting the effects of climate change. He has signed a series of executive orders detailing extensive and fast plans to shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels, casting his policies as part of his economic recovery program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: In my view, we`ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can`t wait any longer. And we see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones. And it`s time to act.
When I think of climate change, I think of the answers to it, I think of jobs. A key plank of our build back better recovery plan is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good paying union jobs, not $7, $8, $10, $12 an hour but prevailing wage and benefits. You know, we can put millions of Americans to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: During his eight days in office thus far the President has issued over 40 executive actions. Tomorrow watch for orders on health care coverage for Americans. There remains the issue of a looming Senate impeachment trial for the former president. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia shopping around a bipartisan effort to censure that could bar Mr. Trump from holding office again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: The vote on the Paul motion yesterday was completely clarifying that we`re not going to get near 67 votes. So I think there`s maybe a little more interest in could this be an alternative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you mean instead of doing a trial?
KAINE: I think it might -- to do a trial knowing you`ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Washington Post has some new reporting tonight that says some Senate Democrats are not only weighing censure, but are, "Eyeing a rapid fire impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump as short as one week."
Yesterday, most Republican senators voted against moving ahead with the trial and narrow majority agreed to move forward but yesterday`s vote, as you heard the senator say put a Trump conviction very much in doubt.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remains publicly non-committal on conviction although he did vote to toss out the House impeachment case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: The trial hasn`t started yet. I intend to participate in that and listen to the evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Today the majority leader Senator Schumer had a message for those senators who seem to think a trial can be somehow avoided.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: I would simply say to all of my colleagues, make no mistake, there will be a trial. And the evidence against the former president will be presented in living color for the nation and every one of us to see once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, Senators consider their next move. NBC News has learned Trump may submit a written letter in his defense for the trial. He`s not expected to try to appear as his own witness. Instead, he`s hiring more lawyers including North Carolina attorney Joshua Howard, who spent years at the Justice Department worked on investigations into the Clinton White House.
In fact, his father Malcolm Howard represented one Richard Nixon during his impeachment hearing, so perhaps it`s part of the family DNA.
Tonight there are new warnings about the capital riot, the looting the desecration by the crazed out of control mob. And that might have been just the start.
Our Department of Homeland Security, waiting for its new secretary has issued its first ever national terrorism bulletin about violent domestic extremists. It warns they may be emboldened by the January 6 insurrection and that there could be an attack in coming weeks.
The DHS warns of extremists with, "objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances,` here`s the important part, `fueled by false narratives, who could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence. Motivations may include anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. Possible targets could include elected officials and government facilities, sobering at best."
With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times. He is among the co authors of the book, which so far becomes relevant about every two years and that`s called, Impeachment: An American History. Chuck Rosenberg, back with us former U.S. Attorney, former Senior FBI Official, also happens to be host of the MSNBC podcast, The Oath. And Katie Benner, Justice Department Reporter for The New York Times, fresh off her big exclusive on Trump`s efforts to leverage the Justice Department to somehow change the election results.
Good evening, and welcome to you all. Peter, I`d like to start with you and your beats. Here is a quote in the New York Times from Roy Blunt of Missouri, Republican senator who became a Trump voting 90% of the time with Donald Trump.
"Anybody surprised by that vote, the test vote in effect, wasn`t paying attention before yesterday." So in light of that, Peter, for this and other reasons, is what I call the plea deal, gaining traction where you`d censure the guy, you`d say run along. Take Congresswoman QAnon with you, go play golf, you can`t run again. We don`t want to see you again.
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, there`s a good question here as to whether a party line vote on conviction a second time will be meaningful, or actually just empower and embolden President Trump. Right now, if he ends up being acquitted for a second time, you will make the argument that he was in fact exonerated even if he wasn`t, that`s not really what an acquittal is exactly. The people voting against it made clear yesterday, they`re voting against it, at least in part on the idea that you shouldn`t be having a trial not on whether or not President Trump was guilty of the things he`s been charged with.
But the President, of course, it would take an acquittal, particularly a party line acquittal, mostly part of acquittal and use it to argue that he`s right and everybody who`s against him is wrong.
So I think that there`s a desire on the part of Democrats and a number of Republicans to find some way to have a statement that says, we disagree, we repudiate what he did without going as far as an impeachment conviction. That`s where you see Tim Kane`s censure resolution. That`s where you see people talking about the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment says people who have been involved in insurrection are not qualified to run for office, the Congress could in theory pass a resolution, a majority vote, not a two thirds vote in the Senate, but a majority vote in both houses saying that President Trump is disqualified from future runs for office under that 14th Amendment. It might be tested in court, I presume. Chuck would know better. But there are looking for alternatives. So that is not simply a way of just letting him off the hook and perception of the people who want to hold them accountable.
WILLIAMS: Katie Benner in the in the wake of your profound story that a DOJ official was in fact, willing to potentially help the president, potentially change the election results in Georgia, and that`s now being investigated by the Inspector General, as inspectors general are supposed to do.
I want to talk to you about the Justice Department as, you know it. It used to be an honor to work at the office of Professional Responsibility, OPR within the Justice Department, I don`t know what they`ve been left to do for the past four years, I presume, spend more time with their families because there has been markedly no professional responsibility. Do you have your arms around how large a task it will be now to right size and set up right again this massive department?
KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Sure. Well, OPR has been busy these last four years what they were doing, oftentimes with investigating employees at the Justice Department who may or may not have spoken to the press. So there has been a lot going on under the Trump administration, we think things will shift, hopefully, over the next four years, the investigation by the inspector general, I think is going to give us a pretty clear picture of exactly what`s going on between the White House and the Justice Department, especially in those last month, the last six weeks, last month and a half, as a president became increasingly desperate to hold on to the presidency. But we won`t get that for another, you know, one and a half to two years. So until then, they`ll take a lot of reporting to dig some of those out.
WILLIAMS: All right, Chuck, your name has already been invoked once, your old agency, we have these two concurrent things going on. The FBI is tracking down and rounding up the criminals from 16 as fast as they can, contrast that to Republicans in the U.S. Senate who are willing to take a dive for the instigator former president, how do you reconcile those two fighting but concurrent actions?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yeah, Brian, that disconnect is jarring. Look, domestic terrorism is not new. The most recent manifestation on January 6 was vile and disturbing and disgusting, but not new goes way back. And so, it`s hard for me to imagine that anybody would have breathed life into domestic terrorism and given sustenance to these people. But that`s precisely what President Trump did. It`s what he did in Charlottesville. It`s what he did in Washington, D.C., on the day that Congress was counting the electoral votes. And I am confident that`s what he will continue to do, because leopards do not change their spots.
And so, your point is a really good and important one. You wouldn`t think this was a political issue, you wouldn`t think that Republicans and Democrats or liberals and conservatives, are members of the House or members of the Senate would have different views on domestic terrorism. It`s a threat to our country. It`s a threat to our national security. And it`s hard for me to believe that we`re not on the same page.
WILLIAMS: Peter Baker history is being made incrementally every day. And it`s been just eight days. Today`s COVID briefing was remarkable for his frankness, and transparency and honesty. It`s remarkable that it happened at all. But even more remarkable for what was said there. Also, we have a new secretary of state who heralded a new era in U.S. foreign relations today, at his first briefing in the briefing room at the State Department. Here`s a bit of that. We`ll talk on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: What I`ve picked up from those conversations already, is a very, very strong desire for the United States to be back in the room back at the table, working with them on the many, many common challenges we face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Peter, Tony Blinken talking about the rounds of calls he`s made with his counterparts overseas and extending out, it`s apparent, a receptive message, as he announced in that room today, the United States is back.
Baker: Well, I think that`s right. Look, you know, a lot of our foreign allies and even some of our adversaries, I think, had grown wary of dealing with the last administration, they the last administration was, at times erratic, seemingly hostile even to our friends. The Secretary of State`s job was not easy in the last administration, because you never knew what the president United States would actually say. In this case, you`ve got a secretary of state who worked for a long time for this particular president, you believe and assume and trust that the two of them are going to be speaking on the same page, and there`s not going to be a tweet suddenly coming out a day later contradicting the thing you had just agreed to with America`s top diplomat. So there is a sense that this is a more conventional administration or administration that whether Republican or Democrat, our European allies, our friends in Asia and the Middle East all recognize more or less, they`re not going to agree with the Biden ministration on everything. There`s significant disagreements on issues like for instance, how to approach Iran, how to approach China and so forth.
But there is a sense that we recognize this administration is the kind of America that they have dealt with, again, through both parties going back now decades. And I think there is sort of a relief on the part at least the foreign officials that I`ve been in touch with.
WILLIAMS: Katie Benner, your colleagues at the Times right this about today`s bulletin from Homeland Security, an intelligence official involved in drafting Wednesday`s bulletins said the decision to issue the report was driven by the department`s conclusion that Mr. Biden`s peaceful inauguration last week, could create a false sense of security.
Katie, two things, number one, it was a week ago. And number two, what are you and your colleagues, gleaning from the wording of this straight up scary statement about domestic terrorism that may indicate what they know, what they`re hearing and what they`re worried about?
BENNER: Sure, I mean, I think that what we`re really seeing is that the intelligence community and national security is saying the president of United States or the former president, Donald Trump is going to continue to pose a national security threat, because he continues to perpetuate untrue things, including the idea that he won. And there are people willing not only to believe him, but to act in really violent ways in order to act in his best interest.
So you`re seeing a homegrown, violent extremist threat being created by these falsehoods, these lies are being perpetuated by the President. And what`s so striking about what we saw with figures like Tony Blinken speaking from the podium, and these COVID briefings is this sense of business as usual, and the government getting back to what we thought of as the government before the Trump years, sort of clashing with the reality on the ground. But it really is not that simple. It is why the Republicans and their handling of Donald Trump is so vital in the next couple of months, including during this impeachment time. How they deal with him both, as, you know, the leader of their party, which he still is. He had a lot of sway. How they deal with his ability to run for president again, how they deal with in his influence will directly impact on national security. Increasingly, law enforcement will be caught in the middle.
And if politicians abdicate their responsibility around what`s becoming a national security threat, you`re going to see law enforcement folks, including like Chuck`s former colleagues, becoming thrust again into the spotlight again to the fore because they will be responsible for keeping in check a person who you would think the political system should be responsible for addressing.
WILLIAMS: Chuck, coming off everything Katie just said, another former colleague of yours at the FBI, our friend, Frank Figliuzzi has written this new book called, The FBI Way. He`s been on the air on this network, and it`s a case I know you have made to saying the proper charges don`t exist for the notion of domestic terrorism. The charges we have to press against these individuals are weak, and don`t take the scope of the crime. And he compares it to picking up someone after a bank robbery, which is a federal crime, charging them with trespassing on bank property. And I`m guessing you join him in the need for tougher charges to press against these people that looted and desecrated the center of our government.
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: I do. In fact, Brian, my views on this have evolved over time. I wouldn`t say that there are weak charges. There are weak federal charges. There have always been sufficient state charges, right? Murder is illegal everywhere. And so even if there isn`t a federal crime of domestic terrorism, you can still charge people in the states. And that`s what we`ve done historically. But the reason my view has evolved, and the reason I agree with, Frank, is because I think you have to draw a moral equivalency between international terrorism, terrorism committed by foreigners, and domestic terrorism.
And so yes, we absolutely need stronger federal law that would complement state law. We ought to have as many arrows in our quiver as possible, meaning that we could charge someone either in state court or in federal court with murder or a crime of federal domestic terrorism. I don`t think the First Amendment concerns are an overwhelming problem, because we are charging conduct not fought, not speech, but conduct. And so yes, I agree my views have evolved. And I think we absolutely need stronger domestic federal terrorism charges to bring against the people who desecrated our capital.
WILLIAMS: We`re much obliged to our big three tonight. Peter Baker, Chuck Rosenberg, Katie Benner, thank you all so much for starting us off.
Coming up for us, there`s good news on the vaccine front. More is on the way. But as you know, it`s going to take a while. Two doctor standing by to walk us through it.
And later, maybe we shouldn`t be surprised that Republicans are having such a hard time saying goodbye to Donald Trump. We`ll talk about the warning today from a former insider who says they`re burning their party to the ground as THE 11TH HOUR is just now getting underway on this Wednesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: Short term we do have this disconnect between all these people told that they were eligible and we don`t have the supply and that`s not going to go away for weeks and weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It`s a warning coming from governors all across the country with limited supply of vaccine doses available. California just struck an agreement with insurance company Blue Shield of California to try to get vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.
We`re so happy to have back with us tonight, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness. We`re also welcoming back Dr. Tasha Dixon, she`s the lead Family Medical Physician at La County`s MLK Outpatient Center. That`s where I`d like to begin, Dr. Dixon, bring us up today, what`s it like right now tonight, two prongs in regard to the illness you`re seeing and the wait for vaccines?
DR. TASHA DIXON, MLK JR. OUTPATIENT CENTER LEAD FAMILY PHYSICIAN: So thank you for having me. So currently, we`re seeing about 500 new newly diagnosed cases hospitalized every day. And while it`s down from 800 a few weeks ago, it`s still double what we were seeing in the summer. You know, we really at this point, we can`t sustain this for much longer and so, you know, we really are encouraging everyone to still stay diligent to make sure that you are washing your hands, that you`re remaining distance and maintaining that physical distance. And that if you`re sick, you`re staying home, if you`re having symptoms, that you know your status, and if you can get the vaccine that you`ve already gotten the vaccine, or you`re getting scheduled to get it.
WILLIAMS: Irwin Redlener, California is rolling back restrictions. New York is fixing to roll back some restrictions. I`m not an expert on this, but it seems like bad timing, just listening to Dr. Dixon?
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, I think it is, Brian. And I think they have to be really cautious now. Particularly because there`s not enough evidence to justify rolling back restrictions, and in addition to that, we have these concerns now about a new strain or a new variant of the virus that is potentially going to be resistant to the vaccine, and certainly is going to be much more prolific and contagious than the original vaccine. So there`s quite a lot to be concerned about. And I would not be rushing to reopen things too soon right now, because we`re just going to find ourselves needing to roll back once again, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And Irwin, there`s been a slight uptick in case numbers in New York, is there a chance, and I asked this with reservations, that perhaps new strains are here only to be identified in the follow on days and weeks?
REDLENER: Yes, I think that`s exactly correct, Brian, you know, we`re way behind the rest of the world and most of the world in our ability to make this genomic diagnosis of specifically what strains we`re dealing with, it`s called genomic surveillance. And we have a lot of catching up to do here. And it`s one of the things that the new Biden team is going to have to really accelerate progress on making sure we have the capabilities of identifying the new strains that are arising. And I`m sure there are many of these that we haven`t even begun to identify yet. And we have to be cautious right now. And the faster, by the way, this proliferation of new strains, the more concerns who are about the long term impact.
WILLIAMS: Dr. Dixon, I read a troubling article yesterday, predictable but it`s about the socio-economic divide. It`s about the conditions you see on the job every day, the wealthy, mostly white Hollywood types, finagling, whatever system paying, whatever price they can to get the vaccine, when we know who needs the vaccine, just in LA County alone, how much of that disparity are you seeing at your job every day?
DIXON: I`m seeing a huge amount of disparity. I mean, I`m in meetings after meetings about, you know, our vaccine rates among those black and brown in our community. It`s something that we`re working on every day. I think first everyone needs to know that this vaccine that`s currently approved by the FDA is safe and effective. You know, it is, I beg everyone you need to know the science for yourself, going on a social media site, talking to your family about what you heard, is not going to cut it here. Please go to the CDC read and know what this vaccine, is for yourself?
Vaccines, along with continued preventative measures, like the good hand hygiene, the wearing the face mask, the covering, you know, the limiting your interactions with those outside of your household, those are going to end the vaccine. Those are going to be some of the things that are going to help to get us out of this. I already got my vaccine. My family is getting their vaccine, and I encourage everyone to get their vaccine we`ve already vaccinated over 13,000 of our frontline employees here in Los Angeles County. We recently started at MLK, vaccinating. We are now on day three and I`m so proud I was there at the moment when we vaccinated our first patient.
I can`t tell you these are exciting times to start to get the shot into the arms, but there is work to be done. If you have questions call your doctor, know the science. Call us if you need to discuss it.
WILLIAMS: That is exactly why Dr. Dixon has become one of the faces of public health on the West Coast during this dire time, our thanks to Dr. Tasha Dixon and Dr. Irwin Redlener as well for taking our questions tonight. Good luck to both of you in your day jobs.
Coming up for us, as he talks up unity and warns his colleagues to behave, the House GOP leader, Mr. McCarthy is off to Florida to meet with the former president, so much for the whole insurrection thing.
WILLIAMS: According to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is expected to meet with his old buddy Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago tomorrow. It comes as the vast majority of Republicans in Congress have decided to back their guy Trump as he faces an impeachment trial for inciting the Capitol riot.
This afternoon our own Nicolle Wallace weighed in on the current state of the Republican Party after today`s historic warning of domestic terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Nicolle Wallace, MSNBC ANCHOR: Republicans want to stand with Donald Trump and inciting an insurrection. Knock yourself out. You will make the job of burning the party to the ground faster and easier because here`s what was in this bulletin. Let me read this one more time. This is a description of the domestic terror threat today in our entire country, quote, ideologically motivated, violent extremists with objections to the exercise of government authority and the presidential transition.
It`s Donald Trump`s freaking mission statement for the last three months of his presidency. He is the clear and present danger. He is the symbol of everything we`re being warned about today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: back with us tonight, Tim Miller contributor over at the Bulwark, former communications director for Jeb Bush and Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of the state of Maryland now the host of the Michael Steele Podcast. Gentlemen, good evening.
Tim, I`d like to begin with you. It is clear Tim McCarthy can`t quit Trump. I mean, he could have said it with flowers. He could have done late night, pajama FaceTime, but he`s going down there. He`s going all in. This was the guy who once presented Trump with just the flavors of Starburst. That Trump light he threw out the others. Most of us don`t have a guy like that in our lives.
If you can find someone in life to look at you the way Tim McCarthy looks at Donald Trump, sign them up. Kevin McCarthy, sorry. sign him up. Keep them. Tim, not to be confused with Kevin, what do you make of this relationship? This was a quick turnaround.
TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: I`m in the market for a starburst me, myself, Brian. But look, here`s the deal. Here`s another deep cut for you. Kevin McCarthy sent in a in a private call with House members before the 2016 election said that he thought that Donald Trump was an asset of Vladimir Putin. And he was rooting for Donald Trump to lose but thought that they just had to go along with him for survival. That was five years ago now. That`s the kind of man Kevin McCarthy is. He thought the man he supported for president was an asset of an enemy government. And he went along with it. And then Donald Trump won and he became a Starbucks -- Starburst buddy.
And so why should we be surprised that he`s doing this? Why should we be surprised that Kevin McCarthy, three weeks after Donald Trump tried to end our democracy, I sometimes feel like I`m on crazy bills, and I`m listening to these Republicans talk about what happened and that talks about trying to move on.
We need to be explicit about this. Donald Trump tried to end our democracy and put in place a Donald Trump autocracy in instant. He wanted to get canceled the legally cast votes of the people that elected Donald or Joe Biden and put himself in and as a part of that effort, at least one and a couple of -- now a couple other cops have gotten killed.
And Kevin McCarthy is going up to suck up to that guy, the guy that wanted to end our democracy. Come on, come on, Brian. What hope is there? I mean, I just think that what Nicolle`s said at the beginning this is right on.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I agree. And Michael Steele, nation turns it`s lonely eyes to you. What else is new, the woman in your former job running the RNC says the party would rather remain neutral on Donald Trump. I`d like to know what they`re like when they like someone because Donald Trump left town, having handed the Democrats, the House, the Senate and the White House, twice impeached. So you take the next crack? Michael unmute us.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Yes, I thought you go OK. I`m sorry, my apologies. The idea that somehow that Donald Trump is going to just vanish and the party is going to be neutral. And all it`s going to be right with the world is it`s just not realistic. It`s not truthful. And it`s more rope a dope, you know, crazy that`s coming out of the party right now.
You`ve got two things to split screens. One, you`ve got the national chairwoman telling us that, well, yes, we`re going to remain neutral in the primary process. So that`s one. Oh, and by the way, Congresswoman Taylor Greene down from Georgia, the QAnon person. Well, QAnon is very dangerous. All right. So you`re telling me the Congresswoman is dangerous.
Meanwhile, on the other screen, Kevin McCarthy is going to pick himself up and travel on down, you know, shuffle off to Florida, to kiss the ring again, and to let Donald Trump, no, we got your back, whatever that may mean, over the next weeks or month, as we deal with the impeachment trial, they can`t let him go. They don`t want to let him go. And that`s where the party is right now.
So you`ve got QAnon on the one side, where yes, they`re dangerous, but a will embrace the ones that we`ve elected and put in our caucus. And on the other, you`ve got the former president who to Tim`s very excellent point, try to destroy the very thing that this country is a, you know, a free democratic republic, to replace it with a statue of Trump basically. And now, McCarthy is going to go down and say, well, all of that`s OK. All is forgiven. Don`t hate us. Don`t be mad at us.
WILLIAMS: Yes, to Tim`s point, we can either realize that in real time, what just almost happened, or wait for our fine historians to look back 10 years from now and we all say --
WILLIAMS: -- wow, that was a close call. Did we feel it in real time? Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. Coming up, the White House doesn`t want to touch the topic. We`ll see what our guests have to say about what could be the future of the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the White House have a comment on this social media profile that has emerged of Representative Marjorie Taylor green. And is their response to whether any disciplinary action should be taken against her given everything that`s come out?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don`t. And I`m not going to speak further about her I think in this briefing room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So pretty clear signal from the White House. It has no interest in pulling the pin out of that grenade the extremist claims made by the freshmen QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. She was rewarded by Kevin McCarthy just today with a seat on the House Education Committee, notable after she called mass school shootings false flags.
Still with us watching with amazement, Tim Miller, Michael Steele. Michael, you were the first to invoke her name before the break. Axios reported the following about Kevin profile encouraged McCarthy talking about Congresswoman QAnon, he says these comments are deeply disturbing. And Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the Congresswoman about them. He has not switched to speaking in third person that was a spokesperson. By the way that photo of her she wore that mask on the floor of the House says Trump won.
Here`s the question Chairman Steele, how did the party of Margaret Chase Smith allow itself to be at all associated with a woman who contends there is no evidence that a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 911.
STEELE: It`s, you know, they stopped caring about the things that mattered. They stopped caring about the very value set that define the party since 1854. That gave us, the giants of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and Eisenhower and Reagan.
And so the reality is, this is where we are. The only conversation Kevin McCarthy should be having with Congresswoman Taylor Greene is you have two choices. You can resign or we can unseat you. And that`s it. That`s the only conversation needs to have.
But after four years of Trump, why would we expect that conversation to take place? No. You go out and you threaten the life of sitting members of Congress? Yes, as a private citizen, but you are now in the United States Congress, because you were elected there. I don`t know how that happened. Yes, we do, because that`s what Republicans wanted.
But now that you`re there, and we know all of this, and there`s going to be more revelations, because you know, folks like that have a video trail. So I`ll just start digging it up. Right. You get rewarded with a seat in the United States Congress on the very committee, where you talked about, you know, oh, yes, the shootings in our schools are false flags. So we`ll put you on the Education Committee. Yes, that`s a good thing to do.
So here we are. This is the 21st century Republican Party. So Margaret Chase Smith is probably sitting there going, Damn, that`s messed up, as are a lot of Republicans and we`re trying to figure out a way forward. But with each day, it gets harder and harder by the actions and the words and the deeds of the men and women like McCarthy and Taylor Greene.
WILLIAMS: Tim, 60 seconds. Is this the modern day new low for the Republican Party?
MILLER: There are so many lows, Brian, but I really these last two weeks have shocked me, and I just don`t understand it. It shocked me. I mean, to think that there will only be five at the maximum numbers of the US Senate that think that the president should be held to account for that interaction that caused the deaths for trying to steal this election. You know, it is unconscionable. And I think that that woman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who harangued a victim of a school shooting, David Hogg, who`s classmates were assassinated weeks before, she shouted down on the street called him little Hitler.
You wouldn`t invite this woman into your own house, forget the House of Representatives. So I can`t believe and I can`t believe it. But it is very disheartening, but nobody in these last two weeks seems to have learned anything from the last five years.
WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, I can`t thank you enough. Two friends of this broadcast we`ll have you back and do this again. And I don`t know when but someday we`ll talk about something happy. Tim Miller, Michael Steele, our thanks. Coming up for us. Wall Street gets a taste of the power of the people, at least the people who are at home and logged into Reddit.
WILLIAMS: Millions of amateur traders are trying to be Wall Streeters at their own game. It turns out if you got time on your hands, a little disposable income and an internet connection, you can play in the big leagues. Prompted by an online message board on Reddit. Small investors have sent shares for certain companies like GameStop and Blackberry soaring. And we get the story tonight from NBC News correspondent Jo Ling Kent.
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JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, it`s Wall Street`s David versus Goliath, the struggling video game retailer GameStop suddenly one of the hottest stocks, skyrocketing about 8,000 percent over six months, driven by the whims of a group of armchair investors online.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, CNBC "SQUAWK BOX" CO-ANCHOR: This has become a game.
KENT (on camera): What are they trying to accomplish?
SORKIN: Well, it started as an idea that they were going to demonstrate that they had more power than Wall Street, they have more power than the hedge funds and it`s become who is going to hold the bag last.
KENT (voice-over): The plans took off and the Reddit forum Wall Street bets with more than 3 million subscribers. The goal is stick it to major investors and hedge funds looking to profit off GameStop going down in price. Instead, individual investors on Reddit started buying, driving the stock price up. Those betting against GameStop lost $14.3 billion dollars today alone.
Commenters on Reddit celebrating saying how`d you guys manage to win so big it made those old guys drown in their tears. Elon Musk egging on Reddit users tweeting GameStop.
SORKIN: What`s demonstrably scary in this moment is that a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money. It`s the folks who are playing this as a game as if it is some kind of casino.
KENT (on camera): Now this is probably not the end of this sort of online social media stock activism organizing. We know that folks on Reddit already have their sights set on other stocks like Blackberry, and AMC Theaters. This is all prompted Washington to take a closer look. The White House saying today that they are actively monitoring the situation, so as the Treasury Department.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren saying that it is well past time for the SEC and other financial regulators to wake up and do their jobs that has prompted the SEC to put out a statement saying look, we are assessing the situation as they go along. So a lot of activity going around here but certainly a major cultural moment, not just for Wall Street but for Main Street too. Brian.
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WILLIAMS: Appreciate it, Jo. Jo Ling Kent with our reports tonight and with our thanks and when we come back, we`ll show you an eight-year tradition that came to an end today in spectacular fashion.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, Rhode Island is a great state, oh it`s a small state you can fit three Rhode Island`s inside LA County. It`s so small you could fit to Rhode Island`s in one Delaware. On the upside you can drive across it in way under an hour. And if you`re from Rhode Island, it`s almost impossible to travel within Rhode Island and not see somebody you know. They also have Dells frozen lemonade reason enough to visit.
They have 384 miles of beautiful coastline. They are passionate about their slice of the Atlantic Ocean. And one prominent Rhode Islander has been sounding the alarm on climate change for years. In true Mr. Smith fashion, democratic Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse has been giving intentionally the same speech on the Senate floor pretty much once a week for eight plus years. That`s 279 speeches. The folks over at the recount brought this to our attention and indeed we went back and found this from his first such speech right before Earth Day 2012.
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SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Nature keeps sending us messages about what is happening out there. And in Washington we continue to ignore those messages. But they keep on coming.
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WILLIAMS: So then came this today Senator Whitehouse, the Lou Gehrig of climate change speeches, delivered his final one, thanks to the fact that the President has already launched urgent action on that front after we lost the last four years and withdrew from the climate fight, and the senator ended his streak in style.
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WHITEHOUSE: Instead of urging that it`s time to wake up, I close this long run by saying now, it`s time to get to work. White House time to wake up run. Farewell. White House at least on time to wake up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Mic drop. You heard the man, Sheldon Whitehouse to play us off the air this evening. That is our Wednesday night effort with our thanks for joining us for all our parts. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END