President Joe Biden rolls back Trump immigration policies. Biden signs executive order advancing racial equity. Senator Rand Paul forces vote to dismiss Trump trial. Biden has first call with Putin. Biden raises issue of Russian opposition leader with Putin. Biden administration orders 200 million more COVID vaccines. U.S. urged to take lead in global vaccine effort. Forty-five Republican senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional, signaling they`re likely to vote against conviction.
CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" OP-ED COLUMNIST: They gave him the
shorter Senate, the shorter term to the black guy, but they did sit in the
black guy to the Senate. That`s what powerless like. If you want your
legislative agenda to be passed, you have to have state power.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Charles, we`re going to have to leave it
there. As you can see the clock is ordering us to wrap it up. Charles
Blow`s new book is called, The Devil You Know, his first book you should
get too, it`s called Fire Shut Up in My Bones. And that first book is a
work of art. Charles Blow gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with
Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day seven of
the Biden administration. This was the day they went big on vaccines.
Today, the president ordered 200 million more doses, a surge in vaccines, a
surge to the states, all part of what he described as a wartime
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: We will increase overall weekly vaccination
distributions of states, tribes, and territories from 8.6 million doses to
a minimum of 10 million doses. Starting next week, that`s an increase of
1.4 million doses per week. This can allow millions of more Americans to
get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President also had a few things to say about the Trump
administration`s vaccine distribution program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We have recently discovered in the final days of the transition, and
it was until the final days we got the kind of cooperation we needed, that
once we arrived, the vaccine program is in worse shape than we anticipated
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Again, the headline is this, the President says he`s directed his
team to buy an additional 200 million doses. That would be enough to
vaccinate most Americans by the end of this coming summer. There`s much
more on the vaccine effort just ahead in this broadcast.
As Biden tries to get a handle on the uncontrolled pandemic, he is also
moving forward with erasing more signs of the Trump era because elections
NBC News reporting the Trump zero tolerance policy at the border which led
to the separation of over 3000 migrant families has been rescinded.
Earlier today the President signed for executive actions aimed at
increasing racial equity across our country with a goal toward addressing
On Capitol Hill senators were sworn in today for Donald Trump`s second
impeachment trials slated to begin the week of February 8. Not long after
that Kentucky Republican Rand Paul forced a vote on whether the trial
itself is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: This proceeding, which would try a private
citizen and not a president, a vice president or civil officer violates the
constitution and is not an order.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: The history and precedent
is clear, the Senate has the power to try former officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We have a distinguished law professor standing by to talk about
this but many legal experts indeed we should point out say the trial is
completely constitutional. In fact, the Senate has tried former office
holders before in its history, 17 Republicans would have to cross over and
join with all 50 Democrats in the Senate to convict the former president.
This afternoon, 55 senators agree that trial does not violate the
constitution. Only five Republican senators Murkowski, Romney, Sasse,
Toomey, Collins agreed, that means 45 elected Republicans, including
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in essence voted against trying Donald
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND: The vote we took today is essentially a mirror of the vote we will
take at the very end, 45 republicans don`t even think that procedure, don`t
even think that the trial is constitutional. And so that shows you they are
not going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that`s Rand Paul. Tonight, Axios is reporting senators Tim
Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on their
own bipartisan resolution to censure the former president.
Democrats also had a scare this evening when Pat Leahy, Senator of Vermont,
who will preside over the trial was briefly hospitalized after feeling ill
when he got back to his office from the Senate chamber.
Leahy is 80 years old, third in line to the presidency as President Pro Tem
of the Senate. His spokesperson says he`s now home, look forward to getting
back to work as early as tomorrow.
As for the criminal investigation and the capital riot that started all,
the FBI has said it has now open 400 cases. So far 150 people have been
charged at a closed door briefing with House members today the acting head
of the Capitol Hill police apologized for security failures. And in her
prepared remarks, she said this, "We knew that militia groups and white
supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of
these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons. We
knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was
Today the Washington Post broke the news that, "The commander of the D.C.
National Guard said the Pentagon restricted his authority ahead of the riot
requiring higher level sign off to respond that cost time as the events
that day spiraled out of control."
There are other headlines out of Washington tonight, the Senate today
confirmed Tony Blinken, Secretary of State, they`ll have the task of
carrying out Biden`s commitment to reverse the Trump America first
Also today, Joe Biden had his first phone call as president was Vladimir
Putin. White House says Biden press the Russian leader on several issues
including the recent sweeping computer hack, arms control, reports of those
Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Biden also raised concerns about the poisoning and arrest of that
opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the treatment of supporters
who have been detained for protesting his incarceration. In short, it was
the kind of phone call Putin hasn`t had with an American president in over
four years now.
This afternoon, a fox news reporter tried to get Biden to reveal more
details about the call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what did you talk to Vladimir Putin
BIDEN: You. He sends his best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: 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, Professor Melissa Murray, NYU Law
Professor who clerked for Sonia Sotomayor, when she sat on the U.S. Court
of Appeals, and Michael McFaul, our former U.S. Ambassador to Russia dating
back to the last time things were normal. His book is titled, From Cold War
to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin`s Russia.
Well, good evening, and welcome to you all. Phil, I`d like to start on your
beat, 45 Republicans voted to make it go away today. What do you think
we`re really looking at? Are there off ramps? Will censure work? Will a
straight up and down vote preventing the former president from holding
office in the future work? Is there a chance at a plea deal in other words,
is there kind of an ugly, common ground that both parties would accept?
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: You know,
Brian, I think any and all of those options may be on the table and perhaps
more Republicans would be willing to support the center vote. But what was
clear today is that this remains Donald Trump`s Republican Party, he may be
canceled on social media, silenced on Twitter, effectively in exile down in
Palm Beach at Mar-a-Lago, but he still controls the elected republicans in
the Congress, most of them as if he were their peppa tear. And I think
that`s why you saw 45 of those senators who, just less than three weeks ago
in dirt and insurrection on their own place of work. They were under attack
from us insurrectionist at the Capitol, and yet they do not fault the
president for it. They`re trying to give him a pass and they`re opposing
this impeachment trial even as it is going to be proceeding with the trial
commencing here in the next couple of weeks and the ultimate vote on the
WILLIAMS: Hey, Professor, at the end of the broadcast tonight, we`re going
to get to the crowd of mostly Republicans who know better by dint of brains
or education or life experience, they know better than the way they`re
voting of those 45 Republicans who voted today to kind of let this go and
affect so many of them no better. And I know I`ve asked you this on this
broadcast before but for all the people who heard about the vote today,
heard about Rand Paul`s point, is it or is it not constitutional to try for
impeachment in the Senate, a person who is no longer in office?
MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, again, to be clear, this is not a
substantive disagreement with the underlying charge and the article of
impeachment. It`s a procedural disagreement, and basically, the procedural
disagreement is that you cannot impeach someone who is no longer president.
As I`ve said before on the show, and many other constitutional law scholars
agree, it seems as a matter of constitutional design that the framers who
were so intent on securing the country from the threat of tyranny from a
president or Congress, they would never have allowed impeachment to be
avoided or any accountability to be avoided simply because the president
had completed his term of office, it would make the president entirely
above the law. So for most constitutional scholars, this just doesn`t make
much sense at all.
WILLIAMS: As a practical matter, Professor, future presidents would know to
leave all the dirty and bad stuff until the last week or two of their
presidency, because there would be no consequences, correct?
MURRAY: That`s exactly the point. And more to the point, he would make the
impeachment clause to be basically superfluous, the impeachment clause not
only provides for removing a precedent upon conviction, it also allows for
the disqualification of a president from holding future office or any
public officer for that matter. So to say that you could not impeach a
former president or any former public officer means that that
disqualification provision is absolutely surplus edge, which again, doesn`t
make sense, either.
WILLIAMS: Ambassador McFaul Joe Biden is the fifth American president that
Vladimir Putin has dealt with. Here now, you`ll indulge us just a
remembrance of what the fourth American president was like?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think I`d get along very well
with Putin. I got to know him very well, because we were both on 60
minutes. We were stablemates.
Putin did call me a genius. And he said, I`m the future of the Republican
If he says great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him.
If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that`s a good
I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.
He just said it`s not Russia. I will say this, I don`t see any reason why
it would be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the
election? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Yes, I do.
TRUMP: So be great to get along with Russia. And we will get along with
Russia. We get along, I like Putin, he likes me. We can get along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Ambassador, what`s it going to be like for Vladimir Putin to
get renormalized without a supplicant American president to deal with?
AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, it`s going to
be very different. President Biden is not going to try to befriend
President Putin. But he`s also going to get things probably more things
done with President Putin and President Trump did including extending the
New START Treaty, which they agreed to do for five years. Trump was in
power for four years and never got anything done, as far as I can remember
that were in America`s national interest.
But you also saw in the readout today, Brian, by the way, a brilliant read
out having written some of them and helped to write some of them. And by
the way, that`s kind of new, in and of itself, it`s new. We didn`t use to
get this for the last four years. But in one paragraph, it captured what
Biden wants to do with Russia, which is to engage when it`s in America`s
interest. That`s the New START Treaty to contain his belligerent behavior.
As you reported earlier, the words like solar winds and Ukraine and
meddling never occurred in these phone calls, and to talk about human
rights as he did with Alexei Navalny. That in a nutshell, is the new Biden
strategy vis-a-vis Russia.
WILLIAMS: Just for members of our audience who may not know what a readout
is, and you experienced this in your job, and working in the White House,
when these two leaders talk on both sides, there are note takers, there are
people listening on a dead key. There are real time interpreters on both
ends of the conversation. And traditionally, a document is produced because
so much is at stake between two superpowers, telling the media what
Trump famously took the notes from a note taker. We famously don`t know
what was discussed between both of these guys during most of their face to
face conversations. And as you point out, so correctly, Donald Trump was
completely different character, Joe Biden doesn`t want to be Putin`s
friend. There`s no swooning there.
MCFAUL: Right. Well, two things. First of all, on the job, my first moment
of work at the White House, was President Obama`s first call the President
medanta, back in 2009. And what you just described is exactly right. You`re
in the room, you`re listening, and then you do a readout of the call.
Now, let`s be honest, we don`t know exactly what they talked about. We know
what the White House wants us to think that they talked about. But that`s
the purpose of the readout to, is to define your policy, and that`s why I
thought it was such a great statement of the policy implementing it. By the
way, Brian`s going to be a lot harder. We`ll get to that in the future, but
it`s a start. That`s the right thing.
But the second piece is right Really, vitally important. President Biden
has no expectations whatsoever of being President Putin`s friend. Whereas
the last president, President Trump, defined as his only objective, and us
Russian relations is trying to be Putin`s friend. I don`t even think he
succeeded at that small tasks, by the way, but most certainly, he got the
means and the objectives mixed up. President Biden understands the
difference between objectives and the means.
WILLIAMS: And Phil Rucker, this is how this circles, back to you, it`s
unfair, even given your new title they ask you after seven days about the
governing style of the new president, but I just did anyway.
RUCKER: Yeah, Brian. You know, Ambassador McFaul described it well, and
just a different way they handle these phone calls. There`s a real normal
seat here with the Biden administration, and it`s a little bit jarring,
frankly to watch have been chronicled for years of the Trump administration
where decisions are made by impulse and policies are announced on the fly.
And there`s been just a methodical and deliberate day by day rollout of
policy, agenda items in this administration today was all about the
coronavirus vaccine and getting those additional doses out there and trying
to instill confidence in the American people that more vaccines will be
available in more places and more communities to more people in the
weekdays and weeks to come. But there have been other things too, a whole
series of economic executive orders, some climate issues that are going to
be coming up. And it`s a very, it might seem boring to people who are
looking for entertainment from their government, but it`s entirely normal.
And it`s all built on trying to instill confidence in the American people
that these folks know what they`re doing, and that they have a plan and
that they`re taking charge from day one.
WILLIAMS: I know a whole lot of people who are on board for boring.
Professor, I`d like to give you the last word. I am guessing, you thought
it was a good start to hear an American president today talk the way humans
talk about the death of George Floyd, I am guessing you believe today`s
executive actions, the mere mention of combating systemic racism was a good
start. I`m also wondering what the administration should do next, in your
view on that front?
MURRAY: Well, it was a good start, especially after the last four years
where we`ve seen very little progress on many of these issues. One of the
things that was mentioned throughout the day, though, was in that executive
order prohibiting the use of private prisons. There wasn`t much mention of
immigration detention centers, which has been a huge area of growth for
private prison management. And that is something the administration will
have to take on. But it`s also worth remembering that President Biden and
his executive orders are not the only actors here. Just this morning, we
had a court in the Southern District of Texas, enjoying one of these
executive orders that issued 100 day stay on immigration deportation. So
there are other actors here and other ways that other branches can prevent
this administration from advancing its domestic agenda.
WILLIAMS: Three terrific guests to start us off on a Tuesday night, Phil
Rucker, Professor Melissa Murray, Ambassador Mike McFaul, our sincere
thanks for coming on and helping us out.
Coming up for us, the tricky logistics getting shots in arms of all
Americans by mid to late summer, perhaps. And are these new virus strains
going to outsmart the shots?
And later, 20 days ago an insurrection threaten their lives? Today most
Republican senators seem to be saying yep, no big. We`ll get reaction from
Steve Schmidt. And Jason Johnson as THE 11TH HOUR Tuesday edition is just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We didn`t get into this mess overnight. It`s going to take months
for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear, we`re going to
get through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President says, States will now be getting up to a three week
heads up on designated vaccine supplies. They`ve been flying blind the
entire way thus far, way more vaccine doses are on the way but the numbers
are numbing. One in 13 Americans have contracted the virus, roughly 1% of
the U.S. population has been vaccinated. And now just as more contagious
mutations are spreading word arrived today, the number of confirmed cases
worldwide has now topped 100 million roll that around for a minute. And in
this country, January has already become the deadliest month of this
pandemic. We thought that distinction might go to last March.
With us tonight, once again, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Professor, Director of
the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of
Minnesota also happens to be a Member of the President`s COVID-19 Advisory
Doc, let me see if I have this right, I am guessing that you are so very
happy at the return of competence, and diligence and rigor and expertise at
this pursuit. On the other hand, I need you to tell our viewers what we`re
heading into. And I need you to reassure us that these new strains aren`t
going to be smart enough to render our existing vaccine formulas inert.
DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, MEMBER OF BIDEN CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Well, first
of all, thank you, Brian, for having me tonight. And let me just say it`s
the difference between night and day, we now have planning going on, we
have a plan, we have transparency, people can understand what`s happening.
And you`re going to see the vaccine situation only get better over time. I
want to remind people that it doesn`t mean that it`s going to be taken care
of overnight. It still is going to take us months to make all the vaccine
that we need.
But in regard to the other issue that you raised about these variants,
these mutated viruses. What that means? There really are two areas that we
are concerned about. One is do they transmit more cause more serious
illness? And the second area, could they somehow defeat the immune response
that we have to vaccine or to natural disease?
In the first category, I`m very concerned about that. You know, I`ve called
balls and strikes with you for the last year on this issue. And I`m telling
you the worst months of the pandemic could easily be ahead of us. You know,
we`re down to 150,000 cases a day, I say down. Remember when 70,000 cases
were a lot and if these new variants take off here in the United States
like they have in Europe, we are going to see by far the worst days over
the course of the next six to 14 weeks. Vaccine will help but even during
that time, we can`t vaccinate more than 12% of our nation`s population.
As far as concern about the vaccines and the variants, I`m not nearly as
concerned about that. There is some hint that there may be some reduced
activity with our immune response. But I think at this point is too early
to say that. I think the vaccines are still going to work. The problem
we`re going to have is, the virus, this new variant is going to cause so
much illness in the short term.
WILLIAMS: President Biden today held up his mask and said in the short
term, it`s masks and not vaccines that are going to save us. It`s masks and
not vaccines that are going to be the most direct way to save lives, the
projection is we can save 50,000 souls, if we just wear a mask between now
and the end of the month of February, do you concur?
OSTERHOLM: I do in the sense that, you know, it depends on what kind of
mask you`re wearing. You know, we know that we need this higher level of
protection. You know, the ideal is these N95 respirators, we know that
medical masks can play some role. Face cloth coverings can play some role
also. But one of the challenges we have with these new viruses is they`re
much more highly infectious. So when you walk into a store today, a grocery
store or a hardware store, where you`ve walked in a number of times in the
past month, with your mask on today, that virus level because somebody`s
standing in there putting out much more virus may actually cause you to get
infected today when it didn`t infect you a month ago or four months ago.
So we have to remind people that distancing is still by far the very best
thing. That`s what will save the most lives. But again, wear your mask and
get vaccinated when you can. And not only will it save your life,
potentially but the life of those you love.
WILLIAMS: Chilling to hear especially from such an expert, but we need to
hear it it`s terrific to have you on thank you for always being so creative
with your time and taking our questions, Michael Osterholm from the Twin
Just ahead for us, one of our next guests calls the upcoming impeachment
trial a question of accountability and justice. Remember the kinds of
things Republicans used to talk about in the well of the Senate, that when
we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: They don`t have the votes to convict. We had 45 people, 45 Republican
senators say that the whole charade is unconstitutional. So what does that
mean? It means that impeachment the trial is dead on arrival. There will be
a show, there will be a parade of partisanship. But the Democrats really
will not be able to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Ladies and gentlemen, Rand Paul with 45 Senate Republicans voting
to dismiss Donald Trump`s impeachment trial. The New York Times reports it
this way tonight and we quote, the overwhelming level of Republican support
exceeded what almost anyone was expecting.
Well, back with us again this evening is Jason Johnson, campaign veteran
journalist contributor to The Grio, professor of politics at Morgan State
University and Steve Schmidt, longtime political strategist who led John
McCain`s campaign has since left the parties, among the founders of the
Lincoln project, which set out to defeat Trump and Trumpism.
And Steve, you are aware I am going to start. Donald Trump has vanished.
He`s vanished from sight. He has vanished from Twitter, out of sight, out
of mind in all but MAGA nation. Why then does he only seem to live on in
the minds and hearts of the sniveling cowards?
STEVE SCHMIDT, FMR. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, good evening, Brian. Look,
let me just start with Rand Paul`s comments. And this is somebody who ran
talking about his fidelity to the Constitution. His comments are a travesty
Even in the height of Jim Crow in the south when there was violence done
against black American. Occasionally the perpetrators, white people would
be brought before a jury and a trial would take place. More often than not,
most instances, that trial acquitted those white people regardless of the
preponderance of their guilt.
It didn`t mean just because you knew in advance that they would be
acquitted that there shouldn`t be a trial, because one day there was
accountability. There was justice. It`s not about winning. It`s about
justice. It`s a trial. We all saw the President of the United States and
cite a mob of white supremacists, white nationalists, extremist, militia,
fascist Proud Boys, inciting them to violence, they attacked the Capitol,
the Capitol fell, the American flag was torn down. The MAGA flag was raised
in its place. The floor the United States Senate, the floor of the House of
Representatives were desecrated. This mob was there to kill, kill the Vice
President, the Speaker of the House, they didn`t succeed but they killed
five people, including bludgeoning a police officer to death. There must be
accountability for an attack against the people of the United States, an
attack against the people`s government, the government of the people, by
the people, for the people.
And so it doesn`t matter. We`ll see the complicity the cowardice, we`ll see
the subordination of their oath of office to the Constitution, as they once
again assert their loyalty to Donald Trump, and the American people will
once again get to take their measure.
It is a good thing that Donald Trump has been removed from power, but he
leaves behind a real deal autocratic movement in this country. And that
movement is sustained in part by the cynicism of the elected elites of the
Republican Party men like Kevin McCarthy and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and
man like Rand Paul, and this is why you`re seeing an action by corporate
America that saying the 147 members of Congress that rose in inaction that
would have disenfranchised, nullified, eradicated the voice of millions of
Americans on the basis of their skin color.
That vote after the violent insurrection was a crossing of the Rubicon. And
those companies are saying no more donations. And I think in the end,
you`ll see 100 million to $200 million come out of the political committees
that support these members. We`re at a time of great turbulence in the
politics of the country. The President tries to deal with this crisis,
there must be accountability. There must be justice, not just for the
insighted (ph), who stormed the Capitol and did the violence but for the
insighters (ph) starting with the President of the United States, but also
senators Hawley, Senator Cruz and Majority Leader, former Majority Leader
now Minority Leader McCarthy in the House of Representatives.
WILLIAMS: Professor Johnson, even though we are friends, I`m going to ask
you since his name was invoked to watch this with us, as you do remember,
this is a product of Princeton and Harvard Law School. Here is Ted Cruz
tonight on Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This is driven really by the partisan rage and
the partisan anger the Democrats feel they hate Donald J. Trump, and
they`re engaging in an act that I think is petty, I think it is
retribution. I think it is vindictive, and I think it`s a waste of time.
And so to coin a phrase, I think it`s time to move on. It`s time to move on
and focus on helping people get back to work, helping people beat this
global pandemic, bringing America back to where we should be, not these
partisan games that Democrats are playing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Jason, that`s how a guy whose desk was looted, talks about
this. It`s the anger somehow of the Democrats, it`s petty. My question to
you is, what is the chance that it`s something less than an impeachment
trial that there is some kind of off ramp plea bargain? Where is this thing
JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: It`s going nowhere,
Brian. And the reason is because of disingenuous pablum from people like
Ted Cruz, who`s a coward who still has this sort of ridiculous fantasy that
one day he`s going to catch all the magic rings of the MAGA universe and
put them on his fingers and somehow become President 2024. That`s what all
of this is about.
They don`t want to work with the Democrats. They don`t want to hold Donald
Trump accountable because they somehow think that those benefits will
accrue to them one day. And this is part of why I in particular, I think
what Ted Cruz did is so disgusting. Not only was he one of the instigators
of this violence, not only is he somebody intelligent enough to know that
this is actually constitutional.
But Ted Cruz was one of the people who couldn`t let Benghazi don`t like a
rabid dog. He knocked on that bone for years screaming and yelling about
Benghazi. And yet when it comes to an insurrection that killed five people
and insurrection, that we`re still investigating and finding out more and
more that it`s very likely that members of his own party help provide
information and facilitate this attack, suddenly, two weeks is enough time
to move past it. That`s what`s so disturbing about this.
So the idea that you`ve got Collins and Tim Kaine say, oh, maybe we`ll do
censure or the idea that, hey, maybe we can just have a vote on whether or
not Donald Trump can ever run again, none of the Republicans are going to
engage in that behavior. Because at their core, they still want this
revolution to occur. And those who don`t want that occur, somehow think
that they`re going to be able to run for president in 2024 off the face of
five dead people and undermining this entire country.
WILLIAMS: We`ve agreed to a pause on the revolution. Both of these
gentlemen have agreed to stay with us so I can fit in a break. When we come
back, so many Republican senators without the conviction to convict.
WILLIAMS: Back with us to join our conversation, Jason Johnson, Steve
Schmidt. Jason, I have one for you. This is a tweet by our friend Andrew
Desiderio over at Politico. He says this flew under the radar today, but
McConnell said he hasn`t spoken with Trump since December 15. The day after
the Electoral College certified the election results and the day McConnell
began calling Biden the president elect.
Jason, notwithstanding McConnell`s, let`s call it a test vote today. What
is the chance the old campaigner, the editor-in-chief of American nihilist
magazine, Mitch McConnell would vote to convict at this point.
JOHNSON: It`s next to nil and I don`t know -- I don`t know why anyone who
observed Mitch McConnell would be surprised that he and Donald Trump didn`t
talk. They were a very Brady-Belichick relationship. Look, we`re here just
to win wings. We`re here just to get judges. We`re actually not friends,
right? And now they`re going to go off and try and do whatever their
separate careers are going to be.
Mitch McConnell will say all the nice things he`ll say the Donald Trump
provoke things but didn`t incite things. But under no circumstances, is he
even remotely interested in trying to hold President Trump accountable that
is not in his ideology. And that`s not what he`s going to ask anybody in
his caucus to do.
But what I think is important, also to remember is by not having any
communication with the president, it also indicates something that I think
everybody needs to understand about the Republican Party. They weren`t
behaving this way just because of Donald Trump. It`s like the, you know,
Dumbo and the feather, right? The feather wasn`t making Dumbo fly. It was
always within him. The Republicans were always a white nationalist party.
That`s what they decided that they were going to sell out to. So Donald
Trump being gone or not communicating with McConnell doesn`t mean they`re
not going to keep the same agenda. It just means they`re not going to have
somebody tweeting to a million bots every week to justify what they`re
WILLIAMS: I see your Brady mentioned and I`ll raise you one Patrick
Mahomes. Hey, Steve, this would have been the morning. Rob Portman newly
fortified with the truth serum of retirement conjured up the courage but
no, he maintains his 90 percent voting record. He voted on Trump`s side
Do you think we in the news media and chattering class we`re giving members
of the Senate too much credit for how quickly they might migrate away from
Donald Trump because this is a whole new kind of criminal cognitive
dissonance. Steve, some of these guys are going to sit here at this trial
at desks that were looted and defiled, obviously in a chamber that was
taken over and to get to the chamber, they will walk past damage.
SCHMIDT: We have a crisis of cowardice in this country. But let`s look at
the two elements in the United States Senate because there are two of the
elements that always surrounded make possible any autocratic movement. We
have two types of people in there. We have the accomplices. We have the
cynical elites, Halwey, Cruz, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, professorships at
Oxford, a clerkship to the Chief Justice of the United States.
They know that the election was free, fair and legitimate. They know that
this is all a lie, but they are cynical and arrogant enough to believe that
they can ride the tiger, that they can advantage themselves by going into
business with the people that they have contempt for the people outside who
stormed the Capitol.
And then there`s the sheep, the people who just go along to get along, the
accommodationist, that`s what Rob Portman is, one foot in front of the
other, he would be a lovely person to live next door to. He`d be a great
guy for your kids to wave to. He`d be great to have an eye on the
neighborhood. But he`s a terrible United States Senator.
Because he doesn`t understand that sometimes his job requires conflict. And
the conflict that it requires is to stand up and to assert his faithfulness
and fidelity to the Constitution of the United States, which was attacked,
was attacked by that mob that was incited by Hawley and Cruz, there is no
moving on from this.
The People`s Government was attacked. That night, 147 of them rose. If they
succeeded, if that vote had passed, what would have happened, the 244-year-
old American Republic would have fallen. If they had succeeded. even at the
height of Jim Crow, there was never a federal action to take away black
votes to nullify them from states that had certified a result. We`re in new
territory with all of this.
And so there will be accountability. By the end of the month thousand
people will have been arrested by federal law enforcement authorities. And
there will ultimately is the fact become clear be accountability for the
political leadership of the country that also incited this, some of them
are US senators, some of them are House members. But for sure we`re not
moving on as a country until there`s accountability for one of the worst
crimes in the history of the country.
WILLIAMS: Steve Schmidt, Jason Johnson, our thanks to two longtime friends
of our broadcast. Thanks, gentlemen. Coming up for us what`s being called
America`s obligation in the costly mission. Nothing short of saving the
world from this pandemic when we come back. Interesting story.
WILLIAMS: We`re back with that story. We wanted you to see as we`ve
mentioned the administration trying to aggressively expand the vaccination
program announcing just today. They`re working to buy 200 million more
doses. But the scope and scale of the vaccine shortage reaches far beyond
our shores and experts say it`s on us to do more outside our borders. Our
report on this tonight from NBC News correspondent Cynthia McFadden.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world has missed
the United States during the pandemic, says Dr. Larry Brilliant leading
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, CEO OF PANDEFENSE ADVISORY: We are the
indispensable country when it comes to global health and the absence of our
leadership has been felt at every state. And in every country.
MCFADDEN: Doctor brilliant helped eradicate smallpox.
BRILLIANT: Every major pandemic in the world in our lifetime. It was CDC
that led America out of it and the rest of the world. We`re on the right
track to dig ourselves out of a hole that we have right now.
MCFADDEN: Now he says the United States has a critical role to play in
helping the world access the vaccine.
BRILLIIANT: Until everybody in the world is safe. No one is safe. This is a
pandemic. If one country is left unvaccinated, this disease will bounce
back and forth and all of us will be constantly besieged by it.
MCFADDEN: Why should the U.S. make this a top priority when we can`t solve
vaccine distribution here in the US?
TOM BOLLYKY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, GLOBAL HEALH PROGRAM DIRECTOR:
The price of not solving the vaccine distribution problem internationally,
we`ll be measured in lives.
MCFADDEN (on camera): Not just international lives, but American lives.
BOLLYKY: That`s right, the economic damage will be as well.
MCFADDEN (voice-over): The numbers are stunning. Canada has already pre-
ordered enough vaccine to inoculate every citizen nearly six times and the
US has enough purchase options to vaccinate everyone nearly five times
leaving much of the world scrambling.
BOLLYKY: Australia, Canada and Japan have less than 1 percent of the
coronavirus cases, but they have more doses than all of Latin America and
the Caribbean which have close to 20 percent.
MCFADDEN: That`s where COVAX comes in, a coalition of global health players
including the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The starting goal buy
$2 billion of a vaccine to inoculate 20 percent of the population in the
world 100 or so poorest countries considered the greatest logistical
undertaking in history.
(on camera): A billion syringes?
GIAN GANDHI, COVAX COORDINATOR: That`s right. Yeah, it is mind boggling
MCFADDEN (voice-over): Jiang Gandhi says it`s securing the vaccine that is
the most challenging, although COVAX does have contracts for nearly 2
(on camera): You don`t have your hands on them yet?
GANDHI: We don`t have them yet.
MCFADDEN (voice-over): COVAX is also short on funding.
(on camera): The COVAX initiative right now has how much money in hand?
GANDHI: Around $2 billion in hand.
MCFADDEN: And how much do you need to make it all happen?
GANDHI: Around $17 billion for everything.
MCFADDEN (voice-over): Historically, the U.S. has been the biggest funder
of the World Health Organization, contributing hundreds of millions of
(on camera): There are a lot of people who say this is just way too
BRILLIANT: This is way too expensive for American not to get involved. How
can we not afford the billions of dollars that will save the trillions of
MCFADDEN (voice-over): And expensive reality he says America must face.
Cynthia McFadden, NBC News, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WILLIAMS: And important story. Coming up, when a politician says I`m just
one of you. Check their resume. It usually means they`re not.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, it`s difficult to remember this
much vitriol aimed at a single United States Senator, but it`s a bad time
to be Josh Hawley. The men and women of the Lincoln project for one will
not rest until Josh Hawley is held to account for what he did.
And as scheming, calculating packaged politicians go, Hawley`s close to the
top certainly first ballot Hall of Fame. This Pitchfork populist he have
the fascistic fist in the air that he must have thought in the moment looks
so cool and Missouri Mussolinian.
Hawley is as we`ve mentioned, a product of prep school, Stanford
University, Yale Law School nothing wrong with a first class education like
Ted Cruz, as we mentioned, Princeton, Harvard Law. What that does mean is
in most cases, these guys know better.
Hawley`s complaining for instance, that he is being censored and silenced.
He is making those complaints in nearly hourly Fox News national
interviews. He knows better. Hawley loves being on television. But he won`t
love this, the latest project from the Lincoln project.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Josh Hawley will be one of the greatest
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you trying to say that as of January 20th, that
President Trump will be president?
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R), MISSOURI: Well, that depends on what happens on
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Kansas City Star writes plainly that he has
quote blood on his hands.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP`S LAWYER: Let`s have trial by come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack Danforth, called Polly`s objector movement is a
highly disruptive attack on our constitutional government. It`s the
opposite of conservative. It`s radical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And there you have it the Lincoln project to take us off the air
this evening. That is our broadcast for this Tuesday night with our thanks
for being here with us. On behalf of all the men and women at the networks
of NBC News, good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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