Trump`s former Chief of Staff claims that the investigators` subpoenas are overly broad. Committee members are decrying this action as a stall tactic, and are moving forward with contempt proceedings for him. Pfizer says that early data indicates a third shot is effective against the Omicron variant. Senate Republicans passed a bill to repeal Biden`s private sector vaccine mandate, with the help of two Democrats.
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TRIZA KATENGEZA, K.I.N.D. STUDENT: (Speaking in Foreign Language)
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LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Triza Katengeza gets tonight`s Last Word. THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.
BRAIN WILLIAMS, MSNC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 323 of the Biden administration. And if you listen, listen real closely, you can hear the sound of a ticking clock, the time remaining for a committee in Congress to finish investigating to identify those who broke the law and define our Constitution, and indeed used violence to try to overturn our presidential election.
And then there`s the question of consequences. It`s been pointed out clearly and just this week, if they don`t pay, the rest of us will during the second attempt.
For the bigger names called before the committee, the strategy seems to be defined, distract and delay, work the refs, beat the clock and hope to get away with it.
Mark Meadows, Trump`s fourth and final Chief of Staff, and remember, a former member of Congress himself is now suing the committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for good measure.
Meadows is asking a federal court to block enforcement of the subpoena to testify as well as the subpoena issued to Verizon for some of his electronic records. Meadows has stopped engaging with the committee. He backed out of a deposition scheduled for this morning. Tonight committee members dismissed his lawsuit.
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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it`s a very superficial filing meant to try to obstruct install. He`s really in a compromised legal position because he`s provided information to committee which acknowledges is not privileged, and yet he`s refused to appear to answer questions about those various documents.
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WILLIAMS: In a letter to Meadows attorney because that`s how they do things on the Hill. The 1/6 committee said they were left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings. Letter lays out much of what the committee has learned from records that Meadows has already submitted including a November 6, 2020 text exchanged with a member of Congress about appointing alternate electors in certain states as part of their plan that the member admitted would be highly controversial and to which Meadows apparently replied, I love it.
There`s also a text January 2021 between meadows and an organizer of the January 6, "stop the steel" rally and messages about the need for Trump to issue a public statement that could have stopped the capital attack.
By the way, hard to hide how happy Meadows seemed to be on 1/6 judging from the imagery shot backstage at the rally that ended up trashing our Capitol.
Tomorrow the House Committee will hear from Ali Alexander one of the more prominent organizers of stop the steel rallies. New York Times reports he plans to testify He had nothing to do with any violence or law breaking at the Capitol. Earlier today, the speaker spoke out about the ongoing trauma caused by the insurrection.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: I`m never forgive president, former president of the United States and his lackeys and his bullies that he sent to the Capitol for the trauma that he that wasn`t what was exerted on our staff. When I saw what it meant to the staff the way it traumatized them. It was frightening. You cannot erase that.
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WILLIAMS: Also, tonight, there`s new information about vaccines and this oncoming Omicron variant. Today, Pfizer said the first two doses of the shot might not prevent infection, but a booster dose of Pfizer does indeed appear to provide strong protection against this new variant. Dr. Fauci says this could lead officials to redefine who is considered something we`ve talked about here fully vaccinated.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADIVSOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: This is something that`s on the table that`s being discussed. I don`t see it happening immediately. But I think as time goes by, and we learn more about the importance of this, with regard to the new variant, I think you`ll be seeing at least a consideration of this.
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WILLIAMS: Tonight, the New York Times reporting over 200 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. So that`s something. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a resolution to overturn the President`s private sector vaccine mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees.
Notably, two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Tester of Montana, voted with all 50 Republicans, the measure is expected to now fail in the House.
The Senate vote comes even as cases, hospitalizations and deaths are up across our country.
With that, let`s bring in the three friends of ours who make up our starting line on this Wednesday night, Peter Baker, longtime journalist and author chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor.
She`s among the host of the podcast Sisters in Law along with Kimberly Atkins-Stohr, Jill Wine Banks and Barbara McQuade, and Dr. Vin Gupta, critical care pulmonologist in Seattle who advises us on public health. He`s also on faculty, the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Well, good evening, and welcome to you all.
And Joyce, I`d like to begin with you and reading you the statement from the committee about Meadows. Mr. Meadows flawed lawsuit won`t succeed at slowing down the Select Committee`s investigation, maybe they can hear that ticking clock as well or stopping us from getting the information we`re seeking. The Select Committee will meet next week to advance a report recommending that the House side Mr. Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
So Joyce, do a question to start you off. Number one, does the suit as you read it have any merit? And number two, can one make a privilege argument? If the crime in chief, if what they`re investigating, oh, by the way, happened to be the attempted overturning of a presidential election?
JOYCE VANCE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, you know, first things first, this lawsuit is about as frivolous as they come, Meadows as a former member of Congress as well aware that the Speech and Debate Clause bars this sort of an action. He`s really as we used to say just litigating for an audience of one trying to get back into Trump`s good graces, and knowing that the appellate process that accompanies even a frivolous case, can delay his testimony, because now it`s become clear that these difficult witnesses are all about trying to delay matters.
But, you know, that`s not quite so easy when the January 6 committee has heard from over 250 witnesses. It`s not just Mark Meadows, who can testify about what`s in his documents, what`s going on.
And so the question that you asked ultimately is whether these witnesses will get away with covering up what increasingly appears to be conduct that if not technically criminal was certainly in furtherance of an insurrection at a minimum, at an effort to subvert a lawful election.
And the answer to that should be no. The answer should be that Congress should vote to condemn this conduct, and hold Meadows in criminal contempt. And then the real issue is what`s DOJ going to do about it?
Meadows has acted like his conduct didn`t belong within the scope of executive privilege. We now know that there were private personal communications for one thing.
And Brian, perhaps my legal education is flawed or inadequate. But I`ve never heard that you can have a temporary waiver of executive privilege to make a couple of bucks off of your book, and then go back and tell Congress you won`t testify, because the conduct is covered by executive privilege.
WILLIAMS: And Joyce, that`s indeed the theory that Mark Meadows wrote a book he thought Trump would take it. Well, he did not. And the theory goes that he`s been ordered to pull back all other cooperation beyond what he has already been so generous in writing about the former president.
Hey, Peter, trigger warning, you covered all of Trump`s presidency, remind us how this tactic of delay and distract worked for them pretty well. I`m remembering.
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, no, that`s a great question, Brian. Before I get to that, you said at the top that the clock is ticking and talking about the January 6 commissions, the clock is ticking on something else I want to talk about tonight for a second. And that`s of course, your hosting of the show. This week, of course, will be your last and I just want to say I didn`t want this opportunity to pass without saying what a great treat and great honor has been to share this journey with you. You are an icon for journalists. You have been a role model for all of us, and you are a class act all around and I can`t tell you how much I`m going to miss being with you these late nights. I wouldn`t stay up late for anybody else, the way I am more than happy to stay up with you and it will not be the same. But thank you so much for all these years of great service.
WILLIAMS: Bless you and back at you --
BAKER: I don`t want to embarrass you. I don`t want to embarrass you, the guy know -- you`ve got more -- you`d rather just have the show be about the issues and that`s what`s made you special.
The issue you raised I think is an important one because, you know, what we saw during Trump`s presidency is he resisted again and again, congressional oversight, he resisted impeachment investigations and he did a rather successful it because he managed to put it into the courts and the courts acted so slowly.
We didn`t hear Don McGahn`s testimony for instance, when it was required by the House for I think almost two years after they actually tried to first get it. We didn`t end up ultimately hearing testimony from John Bolton in the Senate trial on the first time he was up for impeachment.
And there are so many times that the congressional investigators wanted to hear from people around the president and because President Trump used the courts and use these claims to delay as you say, and put things off, lost traction became moot over time, and it succeeded in keeping information out of the public sphere.
Now, we`re -- we have a different justice department now that we did, obviously, under President Trump, Merrick Garland takes these things a little bit more seriously than the Trump`s Justice Department did. But even now, he saw that the prosecution of Steven Bannon, for criminal contempt for not cooperating will not in fact, elicit the testimony at least in the immediate term, because the trial won`t be held until July it looks like at this point.
Now, criminal contempt is not supposed to, you know, force the testimonies to punish that behavior. But it means that this committee isn`t going to hear from Steve Bannon anytime soon.
Mark Meadows is watching that closely. We`ll see how he, you know, acts in response. But I think you`re right. If the strategy seems to be delay, go to courts, see if you can push it off as long as possible until it`s no longer relevant to the inquiry at hand.
WILLIAMS: Peter, don`t make me kill your mic. But bless you for what you said. And no one should forget, don`t forget this job of mine has meant I get to work with the likes of the three of you and all of our guests.
Speaking of which Dr. Vin Gupta, so good news today from Pfizer. I assume you applauded it upon hearing it but also early indications that all of us in the vaccinated community may be headed for a fourth shot at some point here shortly.
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Brian, you know, I am worried that we`re losing the pot entirely on what success looks like, you know, are overly focusing on these reports. These press releases on antibodies on lab based studies now what`s actually happening inside the bodies of people, which is that these vaccines, either two vaccines, certainly three are still keeping people away from hospitals, away from folks like me and my colleagues.
Our immune system is more complicated and more comprehensive than just antibodies. It works in complex ways to prevent severe illness and losing that plot, Brian. This is the key piece here is the difference between psychologically emerging from this pandemic and staying mired.
It may be clear for all your viewers who are no vaccine. I say this as a pulmonologist against a contagious respiratory virus has ever currently, in terms of the vaccines that exist for COVID-19 or will ever exist, no vaccine against a contagious respiratory virus will prevent a positive test. That`s not what they`re designed to do, or even mild symptoms.
Take the flu shot. Our historical barometer of success is preventing severe illness, not mild symptoms or positive tests. We`re now coming around to accept that reality.
Normalcy requires us getting real and specific with people about proper expectations. We need to start getting people comfortable with the concept of yes, you might test positive, even if you get three doses in and it`s OK, you might have mild symptoms, and it`s okay because that`s how vaccines against respiratory viruses contagious ones behave. And that`s totally normal.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for that doctor, that clear explanation. Joyce, over to you, and an answer that may call for a judgment on your part. Are we all running the risk loading hopes and dreams onto the work of this committee? Because this committee is the focus right now is it at all kind of evocative to you of Mueller, the people who were walking around when you and I first started at this saying, he`s got this, he`s got this.
Well, when history looks back when we widen the shot, he didn`t have it. And what he had was instantly diminished by the president`s attorney general slash personal lawyer. The Democrats got Charlie Brown, the rest is history. Is there as you read this committee in their work, that same danger.
VANCE: I think it`s hard to avoid the comparison. But it`s also apples to oranges. Because at the end of the rainbow for the January 6 committee, there`s not an indictment, there`s not a prosecution of the former President or anyone else. This is a committee that`s work is really designed to tell the American people the truth, and then to leave up to the American people the conclusions about what to do with it. That might seem like a small piece of work, given everything we`ve been through, but ultimately, it was the truth that seemed to triumph in the 2020 elections. And enough Americans just enough Americans heard the lure of the truth to reject Trump`s bid to stay in the White House.
You know, the wild card here, Brian, is what`s going on inside of the Justice Department. We don`t see a lot of signals that there`s an ongoing investigation looking into the president and those around him related to January 6, and The Big Lie.
But as a former prosecutor, one of the things that I know to be the most true is that if you`re conducting a highly sensitive investigation, the hallmark of success is conducting it an absolute secrecy, making sure that no word gets out of grand jury or other investigative proceedings. But the truth right now is we just don`t know whether DOJ intends to prosecute.
Ultimately, it could be work that`s being done in the January 6 committee that could make it impossible for DOJ to avoid prosecution if clear evidence and clear picture begins to develop.
And as we all have concerns about the clock ticking on the 2022 election, one thing that remains in place no matter what the majority is on Capitol Hill looked like after that election is that a Democratic nominated Attorney General Merrick Garland will still be running the Justice Department.
And if there is evidence that warrants prosecution, much like we`ve seen these prosecutions of people who stormed the Capitol, then that Justice Department will still be free to bring those charges.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, and thank you for pointing that out. Peter Baker, let`s take your resume out for a spin. Let`s switch to foreign policy. I want to play for you something the President said today about yesterday`s televideo session with Vladimir Putin.
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JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I was very straightforward. There was no minced words. It was polite, but I made it very clear. If in fact, he invades Ukraine, there`ll be severe consequences, like not he`s ever seen, or ever happened seen in terms of being imposed.
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WILLIAMS: Peter, given your time in Moscow, your understanding of the subject matter and one Vladimir Putin, how is all of this likely to be received over there?
BAKER: Well, look, Vladimir Putin has been around for a while. And he`s a clever, savvy player on the international stage. He knows what he believes anyway, the West is going to do in response to his moves here. He`s already factored into his calculations. He -- He`s decided what tradeoffs he`s willing to make and which ones he`s not.
So he knows what`s President Biden`s toolbox. He does a couple things. One, America and NATO are not going to go to war over Ukraine. There`s clearly no appetite on the behalf of the West to use military force to defend Ukraine, which is not at this point in NATO number.
Two, he knows that there are in fact economic sanctions that can be applied that have not been applied so far. We did not in 2014 when he seized Crimea, cut Russia off from the financial system, we did not take the most stringent measures possible. So we didn`t take it under Obama, we definitely didn`t take it under President Trump like President Putin a whole lot more.
And he`s -- and Putin is making a gamble here about whether he thinks that President Biden will pull the trigger on cutting them off from for instance, what they call the swift financial system, which would be crippling in some ways to many Russian businesses.
So he`s already figured out what he thinks President Biden is going to do. The question is what President Putin is going to do, and we haven`t figured that out. Is he just using this effort to extract some sort of concessions? And if so, what kind? Or does he genuinely intend to start something enatic here? There`s a lot of reasons thanks he wouldn`t, award recurring would be messy, even for the Russians, they will obviously have the advantage but it would -- wouldn`t be easy and it wouldn`t be clean.
At the same time, you know, he`s looking at his legacy as somebody told me today, he`s on the back nine of his presidency, and Ukraine is a sore spot to Russia and has been for a long time. They may not be wanting to take military action take territory that they want to destabilize it and keep it out of the hands of the West. And that may be something that President Biden doesn`t have anything available to stop.
WILLIAMS: Interesting. All of it. Vin Gupta, last word will go to you. Here`s the question. What does Europe seem to know that we don`t? I`m seeing all kinds of kind of graduated shutdowns going on. Friend of mine this week called her travel agent, travel agent said, do not make plans to leave the United States unless you must for business. I can`t guarantee I`ll get you out of whatever country you`re going to or get you back in here, depending on what Omicron does.
GUPTA: Well, Brian, I think it`s his risk tolerance here. Here we`ve accepted without the threat of shutdowns or any other stringent measures like 2020, that we`re going to lose about 10,000 Americans week over week, well into the beginning of March, overwhelmingly amongst the vaccinated.
Europe`s made a different calculation. shutdowns, for example, is going to mitigate their additional loss of life. So it`s as simple as that.
I will quickly say that since I know we`re limited on time here for all your viewers, I get this question often. I`m immunocompromised. I`m fully vaccinated, but I still feel like the vaccines might not have been fully effective and within me. Now, today, the FDA there wasn`t press on this actually cleared a monoclonal antibody treatment as pre-exposure prophylaxis, meaning you can talk to your doc right now he should have that conversation say, I heard there`s this, this therapy I can get as pre exposure prophylaxis that might protect and safeguard my defenses. As we`re dealing with this variant, I encourage you to have that conversation as quickly as you can.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. I had not heard that. And I`m guessing nor did have a lot people watching us tonight. To these three friends of mine who just happened to make up our penultimate starting line this evening, Peter Baker, Joyce Vance, Dr. Vin Gupta, great guests and great friends all, our thanks.
Coming up, Al Franken and Mike Murphy on the politics of vaccine mandates. Why we`re seeing growing opposition now even from some Democrats mirroring the country out there. And later, I hope you can handle the truth, because we have a special guest with us tonight. We`ll talk to the screenwriter whose writing style you know when you hear it Aaron Sorkin here with us to talk about his new film "Being the Ricardos," all of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Wednesday evening in view of the White House lawn.
WILLIAMS: Republicans withheld from two red state Democrats are sending a public message to the President tonight. They`re not happy about the President`s vaccine and testing mandates for private businesses.
Of course, one of them is Joe Manchin, but the other is John Tester of Montana. Again, to Dems from ruby red states. We welcome back former Minnesota democratic US Senator Al Franken, who has the good fortune these days to host the only podcast bearing his name and happens to be on a comedy tour and Mike Murphy, veteran Republican strategist and co-director of the Centre for the Political Future at USC. Also the co-host of the Hacks on Tap broadcast -- podcast rather. Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
Mike, so set me straight here. Republicans are going to go out and brag on the fact that they have at least in this Senate vote, come to a bipartisan consensus, as they will call it to try to kill vaccine mandates and with the new nihilism losing 1,200 souls a day. I guess that`s OK.
MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, sciences out. Next week they`re going to attack geometry. There`s a whole plan. Yes. Look, I we have crazy politics now. It`s totally tribal. It is interesting that Tester, the Democrat, though from a rural state, which is more culturally conservative, join the bandwagon against science here.
But it`s not a great day in Republican Party history, where -- or even American history, where apparently it`s a huge fight in the Senate of whether or not to compel people to take a miracle drug. So, hard to explain, but it`s the reality we`re in now.
WILLIAMS: Al Franken, how does this work in the U.S. Senate when two Dems choose to cross over and be on Mitch McConnell`s team for one vote on one day? What`s it like going back? How does it work?
AL FRANKEN, FMR U.S. SENATOR: I haven`t been there when it`s 50-50. So 50- 50 carries its own problems. You know, this is just part of the big lie. You know, if Trump had won, he would have been touting the vaccine, he would have said, Oh, I -- it was my idea to go as fast as you could to get a vaccine as if we`re the greatest pandemic in 100 years. That`s counts as an idea.
But he got -- he actually got a shot off of TV. And this is just part of the whole disinformation campaign that the Trump people and the Republicans have been pursuing. And it`s working and it`s killing people. It`s killing people.
WILLIAMS: And Mike, that`s exactly the point. They`re running against vaccines in some cases, as we welcome this new variant. And think of Joe Biden who ran on solving a pandemic, who is out there trying to tell people what they`re going to get in their hometown. And Mike, you know this better than most his polls are straight up underwater.
MURPHY: Well, COVID, there`s no political victories in COVID. Because if you`re a responsible leader of either party in this crisis, you`re in the castor oil business. You know, some -- it`s a democracy, people have the right to be incredibly stupid, but they don`t have a right to act in a way that endangers other people.
So, you know, my advice to President Biden, who does have political problems now and again, it`s hard to get a political win because people are just hugely unhappy about this, and COVID and living under it, but get tougher on the vaxx deniers. I think the country is ready for a tougher fight over this. Biden`s tried to be unifying. I think it`s time to shame these people their danger to public health.
WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen have agreed against their will to stay with us through the break. Coming up when we come back. Congress has just 17 shopping days left to get Joe Biden`s economic package passed before the Democrats self-imposed Christmas deadline. But again, Joe Manchin keeps his own pocket calendar.
WILLIAMS: President was in Missouri today. He took what Democrats are begging him to do kind of a victory lap. He`s talking about what people will get from the infrastructure bill. Just in the past month he has landed in Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and one state not starting in N that would be New Hampshire. Still with us, Al Franken and Mike Murphy.
Senator, I want to play for you one of your former colleagues on the remaining big piece of the Biden agenda. Here`s Elizabeth Warren`s comments we`ll discuss on the other side.
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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We need to get build back better done. We have talked and talked and talked and talk. It`s not as if we need to talk some more to figure out what this bill is about and what it does. We don`t need more delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Al you know a thing or two because you`ve seen a thing or two. Can the Democrats move this? Will the Democrats move this?
FRANKEN: Well, Elizabeth is right. But then again, she may be wrong. Because it`s, I don`t know what leverage they have over Joe Manchin. I don`t know if it`s worse to take the vote and not win or to, you know, Joe, I think wants to child tax credit. He sort of indicated that he wanted to wait till they had to renew that. I think that affects a lot of people in West Virginia. But I don`t see the leverage that the caucus has over Joe. And so, I wouldn`t think that the Chuck Schumer will want to bring it to the floor and lose.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for your candor in that answer. Mike, as I just catalogued, Biden`s on the road, big time, that`s a change. And that`s something Democrats were carping about on messaging as recently as a week ago. Is it work working? How will we know and to be polite about it? Is he the best messenger could surrogates do this better and fan out more?
MURPHY: Well, I think on this he is a pretty good messenger. It`s right in Biden`s wheelhouse the bipartisan infrastructure bills, a great victory. It`ll just need time to work. And, you know, he always has to fight distractions like the, you know, the inner ideological fights in Congress. I don`t think they`re going to get the domestic thing done till next year, and it`s going to take some grinding. It`s just not as simple as Senator Warren indicated. I kind of agree with what Al Franken said.
And Brian, because I know you love Smoltz, I cannot resist finishing by saying thank you for making me a part of this broadcast. It`s been my home at NBC for several yours now, it`s been an honor. I`m very proud to have worked with you and I wish you tremendous luck whenever comes next. My pitch stand-up comedy. You`re a funny cat, my friend, and good lluck.
WILLIAMS: Oh, listen to who`s talking Mike Murphy who actually has the chops to go on tour should he wish to. Al Franken, by the way, is currently touring and performing stand-up part of the tour he calls, wait for it, the only former senator currently on tour, tour. He is in Ithaca on Friday at what I hope they`re calling the lake effect tour, and a Town Hall in New York on Saturday night. Gentlemen, I couldn`t do this without smart guys like you. Yes, Al.
FRANKEN: I was going to say something, also, but you looked embarrassed when Peter Baker brought it up and I and Mike`s thought was really sufficient. So whoa, there, I didn`t mean that. That was a time t that way.
WILLIAMS: Wow. That`s a rare instance away Cable News Kismat right there.
FRANKEN: Well, I`ll tell you one thing I just -- I hope the next person tells me what day of the presidency it is at the beginning.
WILLIAMS: All right, and to be -- I can`t wait to forget. Coming up, to our experts, thanks to these two gentlemen, his distinctive storytelling has a way of capturing real life and our attention. Like no one else in this country screenwriter Aaron Sorkin when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lucy guesses some names.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, teasingly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the script indicates that Ricky takes his hands away from Lucy`s eyes turns around and says --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So my question again, Jess, does Ricky honestly truly believe that there might be eight different men who routinely walk into their apartment all of whom sound exactly like Desi Arnaz?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think we`re saying Ricky stupid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you`re saying the audience is and that`s something for which they won`t soon forgive you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve charged with these lessons?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A ton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That`s a really representative scene from this film, a short clip from the new movie "Being the Ricardos," written and directed by my celebrated friend, Aaron Sorkin. The movie brings to life the complicated partnership that was "I Love Lucy" and later Desilu Sudios Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. The movie offers a rare glimpse into the drive the ambition, the passion, behind one of the most beloved sitcoms in American television history.
And so with us tonight, the aforementioned screenwriter, producer, playwright and director Aaron Sorkin, his latest work "Being the Ricardos" will be released in select theatres this Friday, and then the day we`ll all wait for December 21 on Amazon Prime video.
My friend, this was such proof that when I was a kid in Jersey watching black and white reruns, one hour to the north in Scarsdale, you were the same kid watching the same black and white reruns. I was privileged to see this movie today. And it knocked me out from the casting to the shooting locations, to the language and storyline and your choice to profile a week in their lives. Talk about her what drew you to her, how self-aware, how visionary, how tough as infantry, she was and so far ahead of her time.
AARON SORKIN, DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER AND PRODUCER: Everything you said is just true and is true. And it`s good to be with you, Brian. I`m a longtime viewer first time guests. Five years ago, a terrific producer out here named Todd black, met with me and asked if I wanted to write a movie about the relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. And I did I just didn`t know it yet.
And over the next 18 months, we would meet once a month, once every two months. And he kept feeding me new information about them that I didn`t know the first thing being that she was accused of being a communist, and that "I Love Lucy" was almost cancelled, literally cancelled and so it was Lucy and Desi all the writers. And I just found these very interesting points of friction along the way.
Lucille Ball in her 40s became the most powerful person in television but being a woman that wasn`t easy to be. She -- There`s a line in the film where she says that she navigates (INAUDIBLE) egos for a living. And that`s what she had to do.
Most critically with her husband, Desi, they were deeply in love. Desi respected her, supported her, protected her. But he came from a culture that had a very narrow definition of manhood. And it was difficult for him to be the second banana.
WILLIAMS: This is going to educate a lot of especially young movie goers. I hope it has the ancillary effect of getting people you know, the reruns are always on somewhere, get people to do a deep dive and see what it is we`re talking about here and realize, look at a calendar and realize there was a time in our lifetime when you weren`t allowed to sleep next to your significant other on television and Lord knows you weren`t allowed to be pregnant.
SORKIN: Yes, that`s one of the things happening in the film as well. The film takes place during one production week of "I Love Lucy," Monday table read to Friday audience taping, there are three crises that hit them. One is that Lucy is being outed as someone who 16 years earlier had registered with the Communist Party simply to honor her grandfather who had raised her since she was four years old, but her father died.
And at a time as she said, when he says, back then it wasn`t considered much worse than being a Republican. So she is -- she`s about to be counseled for something she did 16 years ago. But another one of the crises is that Lucy`s pregnant in the middle of the season, at a time as he said, when a woman couldn`t be pregnant on television, Desi insisted on incorporating this into the storyline that Ricky -- that Lucy Ricardo would be pregnant to which the network CBS said no, no, no, no, no.
But Desi and Lucy had their way, though they weren`t allowed to say the word pregnant. They could only say that she was expecting and they did finally move their twin beds together.
WILLIAMS: Well, the future was upon them, I guess. Our friend, Aaron Sorkin has agreed to stay with us while we sell some things, something he`s familiar with because we`re all in the same boat after all.
When we come back, we`ll continue our conversation with the writer, director of this new film you`re going to be hearing so much about as the holidays approach called Being the Ricardos.
WILLIAMS: We`re back with our guests, the writer director Aaron Sorkin. And we determined in conversation a few days ago, Aaron, you`re the most quoted guest we have never had on. I am forever quoting Andrew Shepard or you`ll forgive the phrase I go to Bartlett`s quotations or I`m quoting Sydney Alan Wade, or I`m quoting Colonel Jessup and having established the words you`ve given us.
In your work in your art, America usually wins. And the sensible center usually holds unless I`m wrong in summing up the through line. With that established, how rough a time has been for you to watch what`s happened to our country.
SORKIN: It`s been very rough. And, Brian, you`ve helped a lot of us get through the last few years. You know, I think that people who do what I do, there`s going to be a lot written about the Trump administration. There`ll be movies and TV shows and plays. My prediction is that you will never see him though as anything but an offstage off screen character, simply because he is not plausible. You don`t believe that such a person could possibly be elected president.
So it`s been rough and the roughest part of course, is how divided we are in this country. I don`t know how we fix that.
As for my kind of romanticized, idealized version of government, listen, I feel like you know when I started the West Wing, I felt like in our in popular culture, our elected leaders, the people who work for them by and large, they`re portrayed either as Machiavellian or adults.
It`s either house of cards or beat two shows I like very much. And I thought, you know, why can`t we have a show about people who work in government who are as committed and as competent as the cops are on cop shows, and doctors and nurses are on hospital shows, and lawyers are on legal dramas. And, as I said, I have a romantic idealized style of writing. And it`s suited that well.
WILLIAMS: What is more difficult for you to watch? And let`s spread this out over the past five years you and I have both lived through. The -- When the inarticulate achieve great heights, or when the articulate failed to live up to the moment?
SORKIN: That`s an interesting question to ask. I always feel bad when anyone doesn`t live up to the moment. But I think it`s the choice A when the inarticulate reached great heights, and it`s not a matter of inarticulateness. It`s a matter of lack of character, a lack of honor, a lack of good intentions, frankly, and certainly a lack of brains.
WILLIAMS: Well, if anything, I stand before you to stand up for the inarticulate, someone`s got a lobby for us in life. Aaron Sorkin has been our guest at long last he got in under the wire. I`ll say that. The new film, which you`ll be seeing and hearing about over the holidays, in theatres or in the space of your own home is called "Being the Ricardos." What a pleasure, what a blessing. Thank you for spending some of your time with us tonight, Aaron.
SORKIN: Thank you so much for having me, Brian, I appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. Coming up, speaking of having the right words, when they matter when history is being written in the moment. Let`s talk about some of the moments of your life that may be indelible, and we will do that right after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, point of personal privilege. I have this theory about podcasts. And while even devout fans only have time to listen to so many in life. My theory is that before the end of this decade, every American will have a podcast. And when that time comes when we`re all talking, we will then officially have no time to listen to anyone else. Wait till people by the way discover radio. They`re going to lose their minds. It`s like live podcast 24/7. But I digress.
Until that day comes. And while I`ve been proud to be among the only 500 Americans remaining without a podcast, I now have a podcast and it`s about what you`re watching. It`s about my occupation at least the one I have for the next 24 hours. It`s about the news business but not what happens on some random Tuesday in August.
This is about the moments when people in our jobs are tested when something big happens and too often that means something bad. The moments when you call or text the people in your life to say turn on the TV are you watching this? We call this podcast "We Interrupt This Broadcast" those dreaded words that told us viewers people of a certain age especially in the days before 24-hour cable that we were about to see and hear a bulletin a special report.
Here`s the list I want to show you of season one and part of season two already available. We have several seasons planned and ready to go. You may remember for example, where you were for some of these like a day in late March of 1981.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: On that grey drizzly day in Washington when Reagan appeared and waved to the cameras, a young deranged man named John Hinckley Jr. had snuck into the press area with a handgun.
SAM DONALDSON, FMR. ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Six, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang just, just very staccato like. I watched the president. Heck Brown (ph) our camera man, noticing the sudden commotion realizing that the shots had come from his right, swerved his camera over and caught the pileup, as Secret Service advice to everyone jumped on Hinckley. I watched the president. I was aware that other people were falling to the ground, but I did not see any evidence that he`d been hit. He had had a quizzical look on his face. As the first shots were out at Jerry Parr, his lead agent, door was already open, which was standard pushed him into the car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That`s from one of the episodes of our podcast. That`s what it`s like you heard Sam Donaldson`s voice. We let those who were their reporters, producers, anchors tell the story of what it was like in the moment. You`ll hear the stories of the Simpson chase, the death of Diana, JFK and Oswald and RFK and MLK and Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. And events like the murder of John Lennon, which happened to be 41 years ago tonight.
Because as we like to say before, it was history, it was news. Journalism has been through a tough time and it remains tough in a country that can`t agree on facts or truths. A country where we`ve been labeled the enemy of the people by our president. We all thought it was a good time to examine when we`ve been at our best, even some of the worst days for our country.
Again, it is called We Interrupt This Broadcast, you know by now where to find them. We just hope you learn from it and enjoy it.
That`s our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks as usual for being here with us. Tomorrow night we get to meet this way one last time. For now, on behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC, good night.