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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 11/17/21

Guests: Melissa Murray, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker, Mike Murphy, Eugene Robinson, Celine Gounder

Summary

Bannon files not guilty plea to contempt charges. "QAnon SHAMAN" sentenced to 3 plus years for 1/6 riot role. House censures GOP Rep. Gosar over violent video. Biden visits Detroit GM Plant, touts economic plan. Dems focus on selling Biden`s infrastructure bill. FDA considers expanding COVID booster for all adults.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again day 302 of the Biden administration and there is no doubt now about how Trump ally Steve Bannon`s response is going to go to those contempt of Congress charges. He`s already vowed to take on the Justice Department and the White House. Well, this afternoon he pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from his defiance of a subpoena from the 1/6 Committee. He was supposed to appear in court tomorrow to enter his play, but today he waived his right to an arraignment.

In an email to CNBC, his lawyer David Schoen, said this. He and we just felt there is no reason to make the court go through the formality of an arraignment that the move would help make the process more efficient. This was also the day the 1/6 riot are known as the QAnon SHAMAN whose real name is Jacob Chansley, was sentenced to almost three and a half years in prison. Images of a shirtless heavily inked head dress wearing Chewbacca channeling Chansley presiding over the U.S. Senate came to symbolize the assault and desecration of our Capitol in all the worst ways.

In court today, Chansley made a lengthy appeal to the judge. According to The New York Times, he quoted Jesus, Gandhi and Justice Clarence Thomas. He also apologized for his role in attacking the Capitol.

The memory of that assault was in evidence today as the House took the rare step of rebuking one of its own members. It`s been over a decade since the last House censure.

Today was Arizona Republican Congressman and active conspiracy theorist Paul Gosar, censured for posting an animated video that depicted him killing AOC and attacking the President. Before today`s vote members voiced their objections to Gosar`s video and to the push for censure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: Our work here matters, our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence, with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.

SEN. STENY HOYER, (D) MARYLAND MAJORITY LEADER: We know where the glorification and promotion of violence lead, we`ve seen it, we`ve seen it this year, previous year`s, piercing tweets become sharp knives, fiery words bring out deadly firearms and cartoon killing begets real life bloodshed.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO: What scares me most about all this is the attack that we have seen on the First Amendment over the last year from the left from the Democrat Party. They`re attacking moms for standing up and speaking at a school board meeting. And now here we go again, censoring speech, the most fundamental liberty we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The vote was 223/207. All the Democrats and just two Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both of whom of course serve on that 1/6 committee. Gosar also lost his seats on the Oversight and Natural Resources Committees. So, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, he now has an office and a vote and that`s it. About an hour after today`s censure vote Gosar reposted a message praising himself that included the offending video.

His own siblings have spoken out against their own brother for years. His siblings say the man is not fit for office. And just today, one of his brothers told Nicolle Wallace that Congress should go even further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM GOSAR, BROTHER OF REP. PAUL GOSAR: He is somebody that literally needs to be censured and expelled. And I can`t say that enough. Paul is one of Trump`s fascist foot soldiers. He has no business being in Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Thanksgiving ought to be interesting. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has come under fire from the Democrats for not taking any action against Gosar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA MAJORITY WHIP: What is he sound? I mean the man is threatening to kill another member of this body and threatening the President of the United States of America. If yours truly put out something like that, do you take one moment that my Democratic colleagues would not take action against me? They would do it and they should do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Man has a point there as all the drama unfolded back in Washington, the President was in Detroit promoting his infrastructure bill for a second day, visited the GM plant where they`re assembling the new all electric Hummer pickup pushing the benefits of his plan to it Spend the safety net, arguing the measure will help reduce inflation, he took a thrilling victory lap and the hummer.

[23:05:07]

The House is scheduled to begin debating on that Build Back Better bill tomorrow. Today, Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission to look at whether oil and gas companies might be involved in illegal practices aimed at keeping gasoline prices high.

And in Kenosha, Wisconsin tonight the jury and the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has been sent home after a second day of deliberations. No verdict yet. His defense lawyers today did make a second motion for a mistrial. This time over the quality of video evidence the jury was allowed to see. First motion concerned the prosecution`s questioning of Rittenhouse, judge has yet to rule on either matter.

With that we bring in our starting line this evening, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter also with the Post, his latest co-author with Bob Woodward is called Peril, that`s now in its seventh week on The New York Times bestseller list. Also, back with us tonight, Professor Melissa Murray NYU Law School. She notably was a law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the federal bench before her nomination to the Supreme Court. Good evening, and welcome to the three of you.

And Professor indeed, I would like to begin with you with this legal term of art we used at the top of the broadcast tonight. What is the -- how common is it to waive an arraignment and knowing Bannon as we do, what should we take away from this?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, it`s not common to waive an arraignment. Typically, the person who has been charged will hear the charges against him in open court for the arraignment on the fact that he chose not to do so in this case, and that his lawyer weighed in by email to say that it was merely to make this more efficient, suggests that perhaps he doesn`t quite take this as seriously as everyone else seems to be taking it. So, it is an unorthodox step, one that most defendants do not take. But again, there has been nothing that has been by the book about all of this to begin with.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, nothing orthodox about Mr. Bannon`s behavior throughout. So, Robert, what is the calculation exactly to those on the Trump team who say in the face of a subpoena from Congress? No, I`m good. I`m going to let this play out.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a waiting game for Steve Bannon and for others in Trump`s orbit. They`re waiting to see whether this gets to the Supreme Court. And there`s an expectation that ultimately, through appeals, this question of privilege and executive privilege will get to the High Court, and they will decide, and they`re going to hope that Justice Kavanaugh and other conservatives on the court rule in favor of protecting a former president`s privilege even when he`s talking to someone like Steve Bannon, who was out of the White House for years when he spoke to President Trump in December of 2020, January of 2021.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, watching the speeches in the run up to the censure vote today, in my view is going to make you feel sad for your country, whichever side of this you`re on, it certainly was a display. And it certainly only deepened the divisions in Congress, a Congress I know Joe Biden needs in all ways. So how is the White House watching all of this?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it also undercuts, in many ways President Biden`s one of his campaign arguments and promises that if he was just to simply get elected, he Joe Biden, a dealmaker, a creature of the Senate bipartisanship would return to the body. And that he could prove that Congress could work, Washington could work and could govern. Now, in some ways, of course, he has. He just signed into law, his, you know, $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on Monday, but when you look at a congress like that, where it wasn`t just the censure vote, and of course the video that prompted it. But the speeches were so politicized, so partisan, you just really see that there`s a very little room for Joe Biden, to work with a Congress like that.

And one final thing worth noting for all of the Republican reluctance to censure or even just criticize Congressman Gosar for that video, they are very willing and eager and trying to have a debate about punishing those 13 Republicans who voted for Joe Biden`s bipartisan infrastructure bill when former President Donald Trump was someone who was trying to get infrastructure done for all four years of his presidency.

[23:10:00]

WILLIAMS: Professor, as someone as familiar with the federal judiciary as you are and especially with the federal bench as our public backstop. How do you see the attempt to in so many ways normalize political violence in the United States?

MURRAY: Well, I think it`s something that the federal bench and indeed all branches of government should be concerned about is especially concerning when it happens in the halls of coordinate branch just across the street from the United States Supreme Court. But we`ve also seen violence being meted out in federal judges and in the judiciary. There was Judge Mads (ph) in Alabama many years ago who was killed by someone who opposed racial justice.

We saw just a few years ago, Esther Salas, a judge in New Jersey whose family members were gunned down by someone who felt that feminism had gone too far. We also remember that in that person`s files, were some files on Justice Sotomayor herself. So, this whole question of political violence not only reflects the coarsening of our political discourse, but of course in a in a way that will have real life consequences and very violent consequences on the ground.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, we`re going to put up a bit of writing from the Wall Street Journal, and it has to do with some of the threats that were made today, political threats on the floor of the House of Representatives. If we have that quote, let`s put it on the screen. Perhaps we do not -- there it is. Democrats` actions threatened to set off a new round of escalating partisan punishment any time the majority changes hands, that`s a direct poll quote from Congressman Cole, Republican of Oklahoma.

So, the question for you, Bob -- they go on I`m sorry, Cole backed sending the case to the Ethics Committee and said it should be his own party leadership that decides what should happen to Mr. Gosar. Though we certainly have seen the lack of reaction from Mr. McCarthy. How much is payback retribution, going to be the coin of the realm? If control of this House flips during the midterms?

COSTA: There is certainly concern among Democrats on Capitol Hill that there will be some kind of retribution in 2023 should Republicans win the House majority in 2022. But that being said, the one Democrat who really matters here in this discussion Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she said in declarative language today, that despite all of those concerns about what could be on the horizon, she frames this moment with Congressman Gosar as an emergency. She`s deeply alarmed about his rhetoric, his comments about the prospect of violence in Congress. He looked what has happened over the United Kingdom, violence is on the rise here in the U.S. and around the world toward elected officials. And so, Pelosi said, action had to be taken. And most Democrats even though there are -- they are calculating what this could mean down the road, they stayed with her on this because they believe they have to make a statement despite any kind of political consequence.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, Lyndon Johnson always thought it was great fun to take guests at his Texas ranch for a ride in his compact car and had at full speed into Lake LBJ. His guests unaware that it was an amphibious car. That is to say that presidents in the modern era have very few opportunities to have fun. Joe Biden, a self-described car guy had a little fun today behind the wheel of that new Hummer kind of SUV pickup truck that GM is producing. Zero to 60 in three seconds, I suppose is a lot like becoming president. It gets your attention, it slams you back into the seat. And, of course, you come to a stop and reality is waiting for you next to the vehicle. You were with him yesterday in snowy New Hampshire. How aware does the travelling White House seem of what Americans are paying for gas and goods or how many Christmas presents are going to be offshore in containerized shipping and not in stores or in American homes?

PARKER: The White House is deeply aware of this. They`re deeply aware of all of the challenges, the economic challenges, and frankly still the COVID challenges that Americans are facing. And they care about it for two reasons. Number one, because Joe Biden very clearly said these are the people he was elected to represent and help and lift up. And in number two, because it`s hurting him politically, because it`s hurting his poll numbers.

And one thing that`s fascinating is Joe Biden is not pulling particularly well right now, but his policies are actually doing quite well and are far more popular than he the man is and so that is why you are seeing this huge push to own the messaging. That`s why he was on that crumbling bridge in New Hampshire yesterday. And that`s why he was in Detroit today at the GM factory trying to talk about not just wasn`t enough to pass this bipartisan infrastructure bill. But now he has to sell it and he has to message it. And he has to tell those Americans how that will improve gas prices, how that will improve their lives, how that will improve their bank account. Messaging is something they`ve gotten wrong. But they are making a very concerted push.

[23:15:33]

And I have to say, going back to that Hummer that you open to us. He did a fine job in New Hampshire. I watched him today in Detroit. He was much more animated, much more enthusiastic, and it feels like he sort of took some of that energy from the car ride and brought it into his speech.

WILLIAMS: As long as there can be a car available at every presidential event. He`s good.

Professor, a final question about something I just saw in the news tonight. This also harkens back in a way to the LBJ era. Thurgood Marshall was once the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. And I know tonight that Sherrilyn Ifill is stepping down from that post. Talk about the awareness of in your view of modern era law students, how much do they know about how important a role that has had in American Jurisprudence over the years?

MURRAY: Well, I can say at NYU Law, they certainly know because Sherrilyn Ifill is one of our alumnae. And she has been a fantastic representative of the law school and a fantastic leader of the LDF.

I was an intern at the LDF when I was a law student and countless others have been, this has been one of the most storied organizations working for racial justice for voting rights across the country for many, many years, founded, as you say, by Thurgood Marshall, absolutely instrumental in Brown versus Board of Education, probably the most important pivotal decision from the Supreme Court in an entire generation, and it has been on the frontlines of countless others.

So, her work at LDF has brought this organization into the 21st century, it has been absolutely pivotal and kept fighting back against the Trump administration over the last four years, and really functioning as a private Department of Justice at a time when the Trump administration was not doing quite a lot on civil rights and civil rights enforcement. So, her legacy there is enormous, and we are incredibly proud of her at NYU. And we look forward to what`s to come from Janai Nelson who`s her successor at LDF.

WILLIAMS: I have never been so happy to ask a question off the top of my head and thank you for the answer. Our thanks, in fact to our starting line tonight, Ashley Parker, Robert Costa, Melissa Murray, friends of this broadcast all, with our thanks.

Coming up, the House punishes one member, but when only two Republicans cross the aisle to vote, to reprimand their fellow Republican, the indefensible Paul Gosar. You know, this isn`t about right and wrong. Our political experts tonight standing by to talk about what happened today.

And later, in this season of giving, how about COVID, tonight why more states are going rogue taking matters and booster shots into their own hands and arms while we`re at it. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway in view of the Washington Monument on this Wednesday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:21:57]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: The House will be in order. Well, Representative Gosar present himself in the well. By its adoption of House Resolution 789, the House has resolved that Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona be censured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Let`s just leave it it`s never good when you`re called to present yourself in the well of Congress, a powerful condemnation by Democrats today, for Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona. As we mentioned, he`s been unapologetic about that animated video depicting him killing AOC and attacking the President of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Disguising death threats against a member of Congress and the President of the United States in an animated video does not make those death threats, any less real or less serious.

And indeed, conveying them this way makes them potentially more dangerous by normalizing violence.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: What is so hard. What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about this day with our friends tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for the Washington Post and Mike Murphy, Veteran Republican Strategist, co-director of the Centre for the Political Future. He maintains there is one at the University of Southern California. He`s also co-host of the Hacks on Top podcast. Guys, welcome to you both. It`s great to have you.

Mike Murphy, we`re going to do multiple choice tonight. So, two Republicans crossover to vote for censure for a man so unapologetic and unremorseful that he goes ahead and retweets the offending video after the vote. Is that a, A, pathetic showing by the Republican Party or B, should it be celebrated as a profile and courage by two Republicans?

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I`m tempted to say, well, C, all of the above. I mean, I`m proud of the two people who voted to censure him. I mean, you know, I don`t know, I`ve had a little outrage fatigue myself, but he should have been censored. He`s got an IQ in the 30s. He`s a moron. He took a Japanese sword fighting cartoon and plastered some ads on it. So, you know, I don`t think there was a murder plot against any Democrats here. They were kind of really climbing the walls.

But the fundamental issue is it was violence. And we`re at a time in our politics where Democratic norms are under attack. So, you ought to have a hair trigger. The fact is, Gosar had a whole career of stupid things like this, including sketchy views on the January 6 insurrection. So yeah, I wish 100 Republicans voted to censure him, he richly deserved it. But I`d like to move on now, and not have the fundraising outright machine on both sides crank up and just treat this thing cynically with appropriate --

[23:25:05]

WILLIAMS: I would only add, let`s not paint with a broad brush and IQ of 30 has stood some of us very well in life.

Eugene, I`m going to play some of what we heard from the Republicans in the House for your entertainment pleasure. We`ll discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL GOSAR, (D) ARIZONA: If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censored by this House, so be it. It is done.

JORDAN: What are they doing today? censoring a member for a cartoon? You got to be kidding me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When there was violence against us, it was no condemnation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we`re critiquing Paul Gosar`s anime. Next week, we might be indicting the wily coyote for unexploited for an explosive ordinance against the Road Runner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Or that gates can deliver a line candy. So, Eugene, multiple choice for you worrisome, or typical?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Typical, typical, I mean, this is where the Republican Party is right now. And I hate to burst Mike`s bubble, but the outrage fundraising machine is certainly already in high gear, as you well know. I mean, that`s politics right now. But the other thing politics right now, unfortunately, is you know, charged with this real and potential violence. And so, it was a genuine outrage and an atrocity that Gosar committed with that, he knew what he was doing. I mean, I think even with his with his IQ of 30, he knew exactly what he was doing. He did it again. He met him and he richly deserved the censure. And, you know, his career of idiocy goes way back to his birtherism, which is what got him to Congress in the first place.

So, this was a this was a day when the House upheld a norm that must be upheld. And I was proud of what the House did today. And as Mike does, I wish more Republicans had joined in in supporting the institution because it`s important.

WILLIAMS: On that note, exactly I`m going to ask this --

MURPHY: I have to say after the --

WILLIAMS: Go ahead, Mike. I got to get a break. But go ahead.

MURPHY: No, after the Hamilton line, I`m marking them down to 22 on the IQ scale. I hadn`t heard that (inaudible).

WILLIAMS: OK, my favorite was to reference this to Dr. Gosar as if to prove a medical school had agreed to admit him somewhere in our country once upon a time. Both of these gents are staying with us. I`m going to hit set break.

Coming up, when our conversation continues, is changing the messaging while the President is on the road kind of like trying to change a tire on a moving Hummer?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:31:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: The economic proposals we put forward for the nation, the infrastructure law we just signed in the Build Back Better plan or be considered this week and Congress will not add to inflationary pressures in the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The president today addressing concerns over inflation while selling his Build Back Better plan. NBC News reports, it`s a conscious effort to rebrand and drum up support. It`s a sentiment echoed by majority leader Schumer on the Senate floor today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: It`s simple, if we want to fight inflation, if we want to create more jobs, so many businesses are short of workers. And if we want to lower costs and make sure families have more money in their pockets, the best thing, the best thing we can do is pass Build Back Better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Still with us, Eugene Robinson and Mike Murphy, so something less than a stem Winder from the majority leader there, Eugene, but is this how they have to sell it kind of a backdoor way of noting, look, I know inflation is about to strangle all American families. But it won`t come from this?

ROBINSON: Look, maybe with a little more Brio. But yeah, I think this is the way that they should sell it, they should be telling people that look, we are on the side of the working class and the middle class and you hardworking Americans, and we want to lower your costs and make it possible for you to have more productive and satisfying lives and not feel you`re on a treadmill all the time.

And, you know, get that message across. It`s better than the message they`ve had to date about Build Back Better, which has been kind of confused, confusing, frankly. And at the same time, they ought to be all over these games that labor has been making in the wake of the pandemic that John Deere workers that just settled their strike getting a 10% raise, that`s a whole lot of money in this day and age. It seems to me that the Democrats are going to make this a crusade for the working class for the middle class and see if they can get some of those voters who have tuned them out to listen to.

WILLIAMS: Mike, two things, number one, point of personal privilege Gosar went to dental school and there`s a tie in the members of the animation community they will recall that was the life stream of Hermey the Elf on Rudolph. So, second point, back to our topic, what`s more important to the White House, what should be more important selling what`s been passed or talking up what they need Manchin to pass or is there a symbiotic relationship that once you explained to Americans the goodies that are coming in, there`s more on the way that may help the larger social spending bills chances?

MURPHY: Well, first hearing that about Gosar makes my teeth hurt. Second, they are interconnected. I mean what the White House needs is to sell something people understand.

[23:35:06]

President Biden`s poll numbers have crashed. And they should not be in the illusion about that. And I think it was driven by two things. One was persona, you know, people traded in the insane chaos of the Trump years for what they assume would be centrist stability. But they see the progressives running crazy in the House. They see the president of United States unable to control the situation. They`re like, wait a minute, now we`re getting left wing chaos. We voted against -- what happened to Senators Joe Biden. So, the one of the reasons for that was it was all 3 trillion versus 2 trillion. And some Democrats say it`s too much trillion, trillion, trillion, we never knew, or the average voter didn`t know what the meat is, what do you get? So that is the gearshift they`re trying now. And look, I think changing slogans is nice, I always thought Build Back Better sounded like a chiropractor clinic. But it won`t fix the problem. They got to punch through what this means for real people. And they got to stop the democratic squabbling in D.C.

And frankly, Biden`s got to be perceived as being in charge. He looks whether it`s fair or not, we can pass them now. And it`s killing him. So, this is the restart. And there`s some meat in the bill. And if jobs connected, it can sell with real lives. He had a good event in my home state today, but he needs a lot more of it. And he`s got to close the darn thing in the Senate.

WILLIAMS: But Mike, let me ask a follow up, how do you do that? Absent the kind of heavy handed old fashioned Democratic Party chairs the three of us have seen in our lifetime, who do you go to, who do you talk to? Who do you see about this to say, we`re going to have a team meeting you over there stop squabbling, and you over there be more appreciative, and let`s go let`s play as one team?

MURPHY: Well, I think it`s time for some triangulation. And he`s got to get tougher with his left because he keeps appeasing him, and he`s getting very little for it. The bottom line is, too many people I think, on the Democratic side are confusing partisan control with ideological control. The bottom line is they don`t have the votes for the hard left wing, 3 trillion, 2 trillion, it`s going to be the -- it`s going to be close to what Manchin wants. That is reality. So, if Biden now would get on the side of that, fight the battle and you know, the squad already voted against his own infrastructure plan. I would not be afraid to triangulate against the left like he did successfully in the Democratic primaries when he got nominated and deliver a victory here and put himself in the middle of it being tough and in charge, even if he gets some criticism from the left because then he`s president again.

WILLIAMS: Yes, we do note since members of the squad voted no, Congresswoman Tlaib was left off the manifest on Air Force One today even though the President was flying to her city. No votes have consequences.

Our thanks to our two friends, Eugene Robinson, Mike Murphy, it`s always a pleasure having you on.

Another break for us and coming up, sorting out the complicated galaxy of booster shots.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:21]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: FDA is currently evaluating data on the authorization of booster doses for all people over age 18. As we`ve done before, CDC will quickly review the safety and effectiveness data and make recommendations as soon as we hear from FDA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The CDC Director on the next steps concerning boosters. Today, Moderna applied for FDA approval of their booster shot for all adults. But a few states are already offering third doses to anybody over 18 who wants one.

In a notable statement today, Maine governor Janet Mills writes this, with Maine and other New England states confronting a sustained surge and with cold weather sending people indoors. We want to simplify the federal government`s complicated eligibility guidelines.

Interesting night to have back with us tonight. Dr. Celine Gounder, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital in New York. She was part of the panel that advise the incoming Biden transition team and hosts a weekly podcast on the impact of the Coronavirus called appropriately, Epidemic.

So, Doctor, where do you fall on this conversation around boosters? And is the federal government fair game in this criticism that this is taking too long and there`s too many guardrails setup?

CELINE GOUNDER, MEMBER OF BIDEN`S COVID-19 TASK FORCE: Well, where we have very clear data that people will benefit from additional doses of vaccine is the elderly in particular people over the age of 65. People who are highly immunocompromised, and people who are living in nursing homes, and unfortunately, even in those very clearly high-risk groups that are currently eligible for booster doses of vaccine, we still haven`t vaccinated the vast majority of them. I think we`ve hit about 36% of adults over the age of 65, a similar percentage of people living in nursing homes, these are the highest risk people who really do need those extra doses of vaccine to shore up their immunity in light of an impending surge this winter.

WILLIAMS: I`m curious about something and I asked Dr. Redlener a version of this question last night, has there been any conversation at the federal level, the FDA has this emergency use authorization. Every time that phrase gets used another anti-vaxxer gets their winks. They use that phrase as the basis to say it`s an experimental vaccine, has anyone to your knowledge and the entire federal government said, hey, what if we call it something else?

GOUNDER: Well, to be clear, the Pfizer vaccine does have a full approval from the FDA. So that vaccine is fully approved. And if you compare that with some of the relatively more experimental therapies that are being used monoclonal antibodies, for example, while they have received authorization from the FDA, they have not been given to nearly as many people as the vaccines, we`ve now seen billions with a B, doses of vaccine given to people around the world. So, these are really not experimental vaccines. That FDA full approval has a lot to do with making inspections of the pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and other such extra layers, but the authorization really should be seen as look, the vaccines are safe and effective.

WILLIAMS: Now if anybody, if the subject comes up, I have them call me.

[23:45:00]

Let`s talk about the state of Vermont which we have correctly talked about as a leader in mitigation, they have done so well, 70% of Vermonters are vaccinated, and they`re having a spike. Is there a larger lesson in this to you again, they`re a small population, small landmass state, does this -- is the takeaway here that the shots may not be effective for as long as we thought?

GOUNDER: Not at all, what we`re seeing in Vermont, so they are the most highly vaccinated state in the country across the population. They also have the highest rates of vaccination among Vermonters over the age of 65. And about half of Vermonters over the age of 65, who are already fully vaccinated have also gotten a booster dose of vaccine. What we`re seeing in states like Vermont and other states in the Northeast is that even though cases of COVID infections are going up, we`re not seeing a parallel spike in hospitalizations and deaths. And so that means that the vaccines are indeed working. They`re protecting people from the more severe consequences of getting COVID.

WILLIAMS: I want to play for you some comments today by Dr. Fauci. We`ll discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I don`t think we`re going to get eradication; we`ve only done that with smallpox. We`ve eliminated diseases by vaccination, like polio in the United States, as it exists other places. We`ve eliminated measles in the United States, it exists other places. We`ve eliminated malaria years and years ago, but it exists in other places. So, I don`t think we`re going to eliminate it completely. We won`t control.

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WILLIAMS: So, he very effectively laid that out for lay people like me. To you, what does control look like? And when do we get to declare that? Well, we know that when we see it?

GOUNDER: Well, there`s a wide range of what control might mean, I think what we need to be thinking about moving outside of this emergency phase of the pandemic, is really to think about all of the viral infections that we have, whether that`s influenza, COVID, and viewing them as a composite, as additive total. And how many people per year are getting sick, ending up in the hospital and dying from all of those viral illnesses combined. I think when you start to think about them collectively, and measures that will fight all of them, and trying to minimize them as a group, you can actually have much more positive spin on this and see that there is a way forward. We can for example, in addition to vaccinating against COVID, vaccinate for the flu, many of the things that we do for COVID also reduce the flu. So, I think we just need to be stepping back and looking at this big picture, as opposed to only about COVID.

WILLIAMS: Our guest once again tonight has been Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you very much for taking our questions and supplying the answers.

Coming up for us, here`s the headline millions of us are about to travel in some form or fashion, and the travel industry is not ready to carry the load.

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[23:51:49]

WILLIAMS: Next week, 10s of millions of us are expected to travel somewhere for Thanksgiving. Transportation in this country is about to be pushed to its absolute limit.

I`m going to tell you right now what you`re about to hear in this next report, you`re going to hear that the number of Americans projected to be travelling this holiday season will be up 100% over last year. If it sounds like a lot, it is. And here is our report tonight from Correspondent Stephanie Gosk.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Travel this Thanksgiving won`t look like it did at the height of the pandemic. But that doesn`t mean it`s back to normal. More than 53 million Americans are on the move for the holiday, flight bookings are up over 100% from last year.

(On camera) Is the system that`s out there, ready to handle all these people?

MICHAEL TAYLOR, J.D. POWER TRAVEL ANALYST: Actually, no, it`s not. I`m afraid that this year it`s going to be a lot more difficult to travel than it has prior to the COVID period.

GOSK (voice-over): Airlines are understaffed, and many airports are too. There aren`t as many rental cars, and they cost more averaging nearly $100 a day. Gas prices are up over 60% in the last year. Adding to the headaches a storm is developing that forecasters say it could cause disruptions from the Midwest to the East Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rain thunderstorms have strong winds, lake effect snow and heavy cold wind chills moving Sunday, Monday into Tuesday morning.

GOSK: Here are some important tips, buy travel insurance, show up at the airport two hours early for domestic flights. The TSA says it has enough staff, but lines will be long.

DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Everybody wants to travel, everybody wants to have a good experience. And I think patients will be key to that.

GOSK: There will also be lines after security. Not all the stores and restaurants and terminals have reopened. Drink coffee at home before heading to the airport.

TAYLOR: There is still a strain, the staffing shortage has affected the entire travel industry.

GOSK: And then there are COVID concerns, case numbers have started to pick up again, especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. Masks are still mandated in all modes of public transportation. The CDC recommends unvaccinated people consider delaying their travel plans altogether. Anyone expecting a hassle-free journey next week might want to do the same. Stephanie Gosk NBC News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAMS: Tried to warn you. Coming up, one nation under just one God, not quite what the founders had in mind. We`ll talk about it when we come back.

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[23:57:54]

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, Mike Flynn wants you to know he loves Jesus. Of course, a lot of people do. The differences as you`ll hear it kind of sounds like Mike Flynn yearns for a theocracy, something closer to a forced religion or an official religion where Americans are told who to worship and what to believe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: So, we are going to have one nation under God which we must, we have to have one religion, one nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us together, working together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: But wait, there`s more. There`s also crucifixion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLYNN: With all of this stuff with the January 6 that call it the insurrection crucifixion, because that`s what it is. And in a way, you know, from a Biblical sense, Nancy Pelosi is like the punches pilot of this operation that they are doing to basically steal away all of the other aspects of what`s happening across this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: It is hard to believe this man retired with three stars on his shoulder and commanded men and women in the U.S. Army say nothing of his 24 days as National Security Adviser to the President of the United States. He was, of course later judged to have sold out his country.

Flynn`s comments on religion proved too much for another retired Army General Mark Hertling who writes this about Flynn, "This man is an embarrassment to the U.S. Army and an aberration to those of us who have proudly worn the cloth of our country. His words are disgusting."

That comment launched much discussion of potentially recalling and court marshalling Flynn, at minimum takes taxpayers off the hook for his retirement pension or benefits. That will leave only one other General Flynn, Mike`s brother Charles, a four star over at the Pentagon.

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