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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 2/17/2021

Guest: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Irwin Redlener, Willie Rios, David Jolly


Brutal storm cuts power and heat to millions of Texas. Winter storm causes Texas power grid to collapse. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says FEMA is supplying Texas with power generators, and sending diesel fuel, water, blankets as and other supplies as part of an effort to provide relief from widespread power outages due to winter storms. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults believe a third political party is needed, the highest in Gallup`s trend by one percentage point. A hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that was once owned by former President Donald Trump was demolished Wednesday morning. Pelosi announces plans for 9/11- styled commission to examine Capitol riot. The CDC projects a nearly 25 percent increase in U.S. coronavirus deaths in the next three weeks.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 29 of the Biden administration, somewhere between four and 5 million of our fellow Americans in the State of Texas are suffering through a third frigid night without power, heat, in many cases without running water or food.

It is straight up the 1800s tonight in parts of Texas families using candles for light, melting snow for water, burning cardboard, and in some dire cases burning their own busted up furniture to stay warm.

Arctic cold delivered by two storms has created disastrous conditions blanketing much of Texas in snow and ice while plunging parts of the state into deep freezing cold. That was nature`s role in this the rest can be attributed to the humans who run what passes for the Texas power grid. Many homes have been without power since the beginning of this week and have no indication of when it will come back on. Now the people there are doing whatever they can to survive.

GILLMORE: Well, it started with three cats and a dog, some kids, we lost power, put the kids in a different location with family members and then we`ve just been sleeping in the closet with my pets. By candlelight we put on a seat up over the door. But today it`s just -- we`ve got -- we`re trying to get out to Plano to my parents house. It`s just ridiculous. Every -- can`t find gas anywhere. I don`t even know what city I`m in right now, to be honest.


WILLIAMS: That`s how people are living tonight. This afternoon, one Texas member of congress painted a dire portrait of the situation, saying members of his district, his constituents are now facing a harsh reality.


REP. COLIN ALLRED, (D) TEXAS INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE: We are facing a real crisis here in Dallas where folks are worried about things like hypothermia, a carbon monoxide poisoning. We have some folks who`ve been without power since Sunday night. We don`t have I think an accurate idea of when all the power will come back. Texas is the only state that has its own power grid. These failures are failures of our state government, failures of our regulatory agencies, and failures of our power generators prepare for this.


WILLIAMS: As Texas utility officials struggle to get the power grid back online and explain all this, the state`s Republican governor decided this would be a good time to blame renewable energy for the outages.


GREG ABBOTT, (R) GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and oil and nuclear as well as solar and wind. But you saw from what Troy (ph) said, and that is our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid. It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the State of Texas as well as other states to make sure that we were a will be able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cooler homes in the summertime.


WILLIAMS: So he floated out that theory, the Washington Post points out, "The governor`s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department which outline how most of Texas`s energy losses come from failures to winterize the power generating systems including fossil fuel pipelines." Indeed today during an update on the power situation meant for a Texas audience, Abbott tried to explain his false claims.


ABBOTT: The fact is, every source of power the State of Texas has access to has been compromised because of the ultra cold temperature or because of equipment failures. What I made clear was the fact that if we relied solely upon green energy that would be a challenge. But in Texas, we did not rely solely upon green energy. We have access to all sources of energy.


WILLIAMS: That`s what he made clear. Another Texas official`s response to his community`s questions about the power outages appear to have cost him his job. Here`s how the now former mayor of Colorado City, Texas, Tim Boyd, reacted to their inquiries Tuesday on a Facebook post that has since been taken down. "No one owes you or your family anything, nor is that the local government`s responsibility to support you during trying times like this. Only the strong will survive and the weak will perish." There`s more where that came from, the mayor has since resigned.

Today the White House said, it`s sending generators and diesel fuel to Texas as well as water, other emergency supplies. This is all unfolding amid the ongoing effort to control the pandemic of course even as new strains of the virus continue to show up around the country. And new study shows the Pfizer vaccine appears to be somewhat less effective against the various -- the variant that has emerged from South Africa, whether permitting the President`s going to travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan on Friday to visit a Pfizer plant where that vaccine is being made. The administration is now allocating $1.6 billion just for more research into virus mutations, these strains and variants and to expand testing.

Meanwhile, as the White House pushes to reopen schools, it is facing growing questions about whether teachers need to be vaccinated before students are allowed to walk back into classrooms. Hear what we`ve heard -- here`s what we`ve heard on this topic over just these past 24 hours.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I think that we should be vaccinating teachers. We should move them up in hierarchy as well.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think if you were going to say that every single teacher needs to be vaccinated before you get back to school, that`s a non workable situation.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: We`re all really clear, teachers should be a priority.

The states are making decisions individually about where they will be on the list of who gets vaccinated. I believe they should be a priority. The President believes they should be a priority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the President believe that teachers need to be vaccinated before they go back to school.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, neither the president nor the Vice President believes that it should be -- it is a requirement. It`s not a requirement to reopen schools, but they believe that teachers should be prioritized.


WILLIAMS: Presidents also keeping his relief plan front and center. Today he insisted that he has public support behind him when it comes to passing this nearly $2 trillion package.


BIDEN: I learn based on the polling data they want everything is in the plan. Not a joke. Somewhere between 64 and 69% of the American people think we have to do this in order to do everything from open schools as we should to make sure that we`re generating income for people who are in real trouble. The federal government has to chip in, make sure we get this done.


WILLIAMS: And with that, before we get to our leadoff guests, we want to begin tonight with the very latest on what is for millions of people a desperate situation in Texas, Correspondent Morgan Chesky in Dallas for us tonight. Morgan while I note that the board of directors and senior executives names have been taken down from the utility, the power grid company there in Texas, where I`d like to begin with you is local news on your family, your mom, your grandma, what`s going on with them, and how has this affected your family in Texas?

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s been very personal, Brian, we`ve seen this crisis play out in real time as we`ve had day after day of subzero temperatures sinking. In fact, just a few minutes before arriving here, I called my mother she`s sitting next to my grandmother in Houston, Texas. And the good news is that today for the first time in a long time, they had power that actually lasted each of them endured an outage that lasted about 24 hours, the temperatures dipped inside each of their respective homes, to where they had to bundle up as much as possible. They don`t have fireplaces, so they just kind of had to light candles and waited out. And that`s what made it so uncomfortable is, not knowing when that power was going to come back on.

My grandmother told me that never in her lifetime, always in Texas has she seen anything like this. And frankly, she hopes she doesn`t ever again. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Morgan, it`s been hard enough over the pandemic watching the lines of people showing up at Texas food banks, most of them have to be shot from the air, just to take in the size of the effort, the size of the need. Now seeing people standing in blankets in the cold with water containers, empty propane tanks, people waiting for food, forget about pharmacies that have no power, it`s really all you can take to see these pictures out of that great state.

CHESKY: It`s absolutely heartbreaking. And if you look at the numbers tonight, Brian, it really feels like we`ve traded one crisis for another at last check upwards of 2 million households without power tonight. But as it stands right now, there`s several million more than that that are under a boil water notice, due to the fact that these pipes have been compromised from the freezing weather.

We know that more than a million people in the Houston area now and in the dent community, just north of Dallas, are being told to boil their water. But what`s so absolutely tragic about that is that the majority of those people don`t even have the power to boil the water. And that`s why you`re seeing the frustration only rise with every night spent below freezing and no clear timetable as to when the lights are going to come back on. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Morgan, take care of you and yours. Thank you very much for your reporting for us, and staying up late to join us from Texas tonight.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, starting with Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Professor Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin Hook-em Horns, and Dr. Irwin Redlener, the Founding Director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness who advises us on public health.

Professor, I`d like to come to you in Texas and we can`t, in these jobs, pretend we don`t have personal lives when crises hit, when tragedy strikes. How are you and yours doing, your home, your family, your friends, your circle of co-workers at the university?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, LBJ SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Brian, thankfully, we are safe. We`re warm. However, we did lose power for over 36 hours. We`re lucky. We had a fireplace. So my husband, the kiddos, the cat and I just huddled in front of the higher -- in front of the fireplace for close to two days, my folks live up the street. Luckily, they did not lose power with my 88 year old dad. But we couldn`t get there because the roads are so icy and we live in a hilly area. So it`s if not the loss of energy, it`s the inability to go to safer places. It`s now I got a notice via text an hour ago that Austin is under a boil notice and I would not be surprised if we just lose water like other parts of the city.

You said this earlier, Brian, we are in the midst of a disaster. The university is closed for the full week. I`m very worried about my students. I`m very worried about my community, especially the most vulnerable ones.

Luckily, I`m healthy. I have resources. I have that fireplace, but thousands, millions of folks across the state don`t. And I think that is something that we need to impress upon our Texas elected official and our national ones that something has to be done.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, that`s where we come to you and already tonight Republicans in our world and our nation where everything gets divided up, red and blue. When we look around Texas, when people look for folks to blame, all you can see is ours after people`s names. But a lot of the Republicans are trying to stay on brand. This came out of minority leader McCarthy`s office in the House, those watching on the left may see the situation in Texas as an opportunity to expand their top down radical proposals, two phrases come to mind, don`t mess with Texas, and don`t let a crisis go to waste. He also sub tweeted, Governor Perry`s comment that Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business. Governor Perry said, partly rhetorically, I would love it if all of us could use that partly rhetorically following any comments we make in the public sphere.

Peter, I`m just wondering when there comes recriminations for this? What will happen because the list is long?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s right. Look, you know what we see here unfortunately, during a crisis is right, in addition to actually trying to tackle the substance of the issue and put the power back on and get people some warmth and power back in their homes, we see immediately both sides running to the ramparts or Democrats see an opportunity and in Texas where Republicans have been in charge now for a number of years, Republicans of course is, you saw as Governor Abbott trying to say this is a sign of why the Green New Deal wouldn`t work when in fact, you know, the natural gas infrastructure is as much as anything else that`s in trouble because of the cold.

So, you know, it`s very typical, I hate to say in today`s political environment rather than deal with the crisis first and then come to a rational debate later as to what caused it and what can be done to make it better. People immediately, you know, are heading straight to the ideological bunkers and shooting each other across the terrain.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Redlener, you and I have now survived a hurricane season in the middle of a pandemic, where you warned about the intersection of infrastructure and illness. And now here we are in just the most unbelievable circumstance for this great state. Here we are, again at the intersection part of your life`s work of infrastructure and illness.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, Brian, so you know, and we`ve talked almost exclusively about COVID since all the months and months that we`ve been speaking about the pandemic. But the fact is that, the -- my work with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness has spanned the entire spectrum of disasters. And a couple of points I`d make about this. Number one is, almost every disaster you can think of is a public health crisis. And certainly this horrendous situation is in Texas. People will not survive. People`s health is in stake, and the vulnerable are really going to be in trouble over these next few days.

And the second point, of course, is that the best treatment for disaster is prevention. And we`ve been warning about how failing infrastructure poses a public health hazard for people that live anywhere near the failure, whether it`s a electrical grid going down, whether it`s a dam bursting, or this fairly protect a coastal area from a major hurricane. All this comes into a, a point, and the point being the health and well being of human beings who live in communities.

And I really wish there was a wake up call for really thinking hard about prevention. But, you know, these things we`ve called wake up calls, turn out to be snooze alarms, you know, we`ll get aroused now for a few days, it`ll get coverage, and then we`ll hit that button will drift back off into complacency. And that`s really too bad. And the one thing I would say is that, hopefully, the Biden-Harris administration will actually wake up to the wake up call, and really invest in fixing infrastructure and figuring out how we`re going to prevented disasters that are putting all of us at risk, Brian.

WILLIAMS: What a sad but great point you make. And Professor, we go back out to you, you have to be hard wired without empathy to look at some of these pictures. And you look at people in line with empty propane tanks, think about their lives over the past year. These are people who have probably seen their livelihoods go away no fault of their own. Many folks who never ever imagined themselves looking for food assistance from a food bank never imagined themselves standing outside in public in the elements in the blanket, they grabbed off their bed in a 40 degree house to get propane, maybe to run a grill that they can huddle around. So let`s talk about the reckoning that will no doubt come from this. And you can take us perhaps to the intersection between infrastructure and politics.

SOTO: Right, Brian. So it comes down to the fact that the power companies here in Texas, were given the option to weatherize their systems. They weren`t told to do so they weren`t forced to do so. So these power companies when they have the choice to do so, or not are going to take the cheaper option. And that is exactly what happened. We were here not too long ago, exactly a decade ago, Brian, Texas saw a brutal winter storm not quite to the degree that we`re seeing now. And we saw a whole host of studies and recommendations come out and tell the Texas ERCOT that we needed to upgrade our system.

The recommendation was made but without any teeth behind that that policy does not stick. And then layering on top of that is the fact that we are an island unto ourselves in terms of being our self contained power grid, so that when we lose power, we can`t look to other grids to grab from. So it was a perfect storm in terms of not having the regulation up to snuff, and then when that failed, not being able to turn to other power grids. And it comes down to policy. It comes down to understanding that when you do not incentivize or force companies to do something that is in the public interest that is for public health reasons, they`re not going to do it. Texas hates big government. But what do they hate more, the loss of lives, big messes, a complete disruption and disaster or having regulations that actually help people.

WILLIAMS: You raise good points there, Peter Baker, indeed, we`re coming off for years of a president reacting to every public utterance at a molecular level 24 seven, constantly. This president`s MO seems to be talking among yourselves. I have huge problems to solve. Yet I`m imagining you`re going to tell me there`s a potential minefield in how he in assigning FEMA and the like, handles this situation in Texas?

BAKER: Well, there always is, Brian. Of course, you and I have seen this so many times over the years, how a president responds when natural disaster or even a disaster that`s, you know, partially manmade in this case because of the poor infrastructure is usually one of the ways we judge our presidents. I was on Air Force One with President Bush when he flew over New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. That was a permanent scar on his legacy. So I think that this is the first challenge, really, the sort of the Biden presidency. We`ll see how he responds and how FEMA is able to help on the ground.

But you`re right, that that presidents are expected now to be the disaster, you know, in chief, disaster responders in chief basically in moments when people are in trouble, like in Texas.

And your point, I think earlier was exactly right. It`s not that this is just a terrible few days for Texans. This has been a terrible year for all Americans and for the Texans who have had to endure so much, to COVID, who`ve had to endure so much through the economic dislocation that we`ve seen, the lock downs and the and the and the struggles to for jobs, to have all this on top of what they`ve already endured, is just an extra blow and one that will be a challenge, I think, for this new White House to show that it`s on top of.

WILLIAMS: Irwin, I got about 45 seconds remaining, are we in a foot race with the new variants? And are you confident to bet on the home team?

REDLENER: I`m betting on the home team, but we`re definitely in a foot race, Brian, and the outcome is not yet determined, but we`re going to have to watch this very carefully. I am confident and happy that we have a team that has competence, is honest and is transparent, and I think we`re going to give it a fight. And hopefully we`ll be celebrating a victory a year from now, Brian.

WILLIAMS: We`re much obliged to these three guests, to Peter Baker, to Professor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Dr. Irwin Redlener, many thanks for coming on.

Coming up for us, a Texas sized disaster, leaving millions of our fellow citizens without power and water. Our next guest has been going door to door to help in the hard hit Houston area.

And later, Donald Trump back in his natural habitat appearing on three friendly cable networks that pushed the big lie, we watched so you don`t have to, all of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.



BILL MAGNESS, ERCOT CEO: We need to maintain a power balance. And if that power balance has supply and demand too far out of balance, it risks cascading catastrophic blackout.


WILLIAMS: That`s the CEO of the organization called ERCOT, an acronym for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. They may have to consider losing the word reliability from their title after this debacle. Company says the rolling outages will continue to try to prevent more severe prolonged blackouts of the Texas power grid.

Earlier today, our correspondent we talked to earlier, Morgan Chesky, met one of the many, many families struggling without heat at home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wednesday morning when we woke up the thermometer register 50 degrees inside. It was really hard, really, really hard. We don`t have any other means to heat the house. And it`s just so much clothing you can wear but still you are cold.


WILLIAMS: I want to welcome to the broadcast, Willie Rios, he`s a councilman in South Houston, Texas located in the southeastern portion of the Greater Houston area. Houston reminder is the fourth largest city in these United States.

Councilman, thank you for coming on. I`m sorry for what you`re going through. But I want to hear about your life, your home, your family, your friends, how is everyone holding up?

WILLIE RIOS, COUNCILMAN COUNT HOUSTON, TEXAS: Oh, man, thank you for having us today. Yeah, man, it`s been a mess. It`s been a roller coaster. The rolling outages, really put us, put a lot of strain on the city and on our citizens. We`ve been encountering a lot of obstacles here the past three days. You know, one of them being the biggest obstacle is, of course, energy electricity. With the lack of it, we haven`t been able to function and operate like we should and people are at first panicking and chaos sets, you know.

WILLIAMS: I know far from being a fancy politician, you`re in the building trades business and I know you are awfully proud of some work you did to fire up a Jenny (ph) yesterday, I believe, can you tell us that story?

RIOS: Yes, sir. We got the -- so the city obviously we got our sewer and water plant and our water treatment facility and our big, our main frame generator went out and I called some of my -- I`m pretty mechanically inclined called some of my mechanics and they showed up to try to help us and, you know, we got the generator go and after about three hours, and we`re able to get about 20,000 people to, you know, portable well water so they can shower and then uh, you know, so they can flush the toilet and the sewage and everything.

So, yeah, it was pretty hard. But you know, being a councilman here is just the title. I mean, everything else goes out the window when disaster strikes, you know, we kind of roll our sleeves up and, you know, get to work. That`s what we do. We got a hold our own and we`re a small city. So we rely on ourselves and we`re self sustained. So we try to make things work and yeah, we got the generator working. Thanks to two product technician, friends of mine, Caesars Sega (ph), and Cesar Estrada (ph). You know, thank them for helping us out. Without them 20,000 people couldn`t flush your toilets today. That was the big mainframe generator. Of course the day before this, my city guys, my crew of seven they`re working an 18 degree weather getting the lift stations trying to go in. I was there helping them. We were able to get two generators to, you know, pump the pump the waste out to get it to the station.

And of course we had a patchy oil come down and help us out, you know, it`s a big deal because it was a, you know, times like this diesel scars and it`s hard to get. So this was one of the -- it was a lifesaver that they were able to service us.

WILLIAMS: What are people doing for insulin, dialysis, oxygen, they go to the drugstore, there`s no power there. Hospitals are probably turning away people. We`re still in a pandemic, vaccine efforts have been suspended. How do you keep body and soul together?

RIOS: Man, we were trying the hardest to attend to everyone. First come first serve kind of basis but we get my police department, my EMS. They`re overloaded and I think it`s supposed to ice today and rain so it`s going to be hard to transport people if there`s somewhere to transport them to.

And it`s just harder -- the majority of our citizens, you know, they`re low to medium income based. So it`s hard to most of them just have one car. So it`s harder, that car doesn`t work to get them from point A to point B.

But if we have to dispatch, ambulance, or fire police, you know, it`s even harder with the icy conditions and the amount of people we have on dialysis on oxygen. You know, just with the COVID, and all that it -- I guess, if everyone -- if we had to attend to everyone, at the same time, we couldn`t do it, we`re doing the best we can, with mutual aid from the city of Houston and Pasadena.

But, you know, again, the hospitals, some of them are running on backup generators, as well. And it`s hard to get them admitted. So it`s chaos in the making. I mean, we`re still going through it little by little, and we`re trying to -- try to make it work.

But, you know, my most honest opinion here is that we don`t get like restored soon it`s going to -- we`re going to start losing more people you know more -- you`re not to be doing more welfare checks with our police officers, and they`re not going to be pleasant.

WILLIAMS: All right, you take care of yourself, too, because we need you to help lead the effort to members of our audience. This is a guy just trying to help people who are just trying to survive this. And thank you for the work you do. Councilman Willie Rios. Thanks. Additionally, for taking time to take our questions tonight. We`re thinking of you, your family, friends, all your constituents tonight.

Coming up for us, we turn our focus to politics, it`s inevitable, and the Republican Party firmly under control of one Donald Trump and Trumpism but will it remain that way? And if not, who`s going to tell him.



DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: The Republicans are soft. They only hit their own. Like Mitch, they hit their own.


WILLIAMS: The former president making the rounds on the friendly far right networks. Today`s first time we`ve heard from him since the impeachment vote to acquit. On Trump`s grip on the GOP, Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland and frequent critic of Donald Trump said this today.


GOV. LARRY LOGAN (R-MD): We`ve given up long ago trying to control what Donald Trump says or what he thinks and, you know, unfortunately, he`s not going to go away quietly. I don`t think not too many of us expected that he would. But I believe there`s going to be a real battle for the soul of the republican party that`s going to last for years. This is not an easy thing.


WILLIAMS: Back with us tonight for an important conversation, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and David Jolly, former Republican former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He has now Chairman, notably of the Serve America Movement, imagine that a group of current and former Democrats, Republicans and independents working to fix the nation`s broken politics goes without saying, we good citizens wish them all luck.

So Eugene, I`m going to read you a quote by a fellow journaux, Jamelle Bouie in the New York Times, outside of a rump faction of occasional dissidents. There is no truly meaningful anti-Trump opposition within the party. If there`s a conflict, it`s less a war and more a small skirmish with an outmatched and outnumbered opponent.

Eugene, the other meeting of this is Trump may have weaponized McConnell. But when McConnell looks out trying to gather his forces, all he might see is a whole sea of red hats.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, that`s true. That`s what he sees. But, you know, I don`t underestimate Mitch McConnell. He always plays a long game. So I, you know, I mean, Donald Trump has the support of the Republican Party`s base. There`s no question about that. Mitch McConnell rarely says anything unless he means to say it, and unless he has some idea where he`s trying to go, and so I assume he does. But he, he`s not going to, you know, a marshal and army and take back the Republican Party next month.

You know, it would have been great if somebody had warned all these Republicans about Donald Trump. At some point.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It came out of nowhere.

ROBINSON: It`s really not such a -- not such a great guy, and you might actually regret falling in line behind him. I wish somebody had told him.

WILLIAMS: Yes, this came absolutely out of nowhere. We`re still getting over the shock here.

Hey, David, New Gallup polling tonight, has actually a lot of interesting numbers and data points in it here is just one support for a third party, way easier to express to a pollster who has interrupted dinner than it is to do as I`m sure you are finding out.

But 62 percent arise of a couple texts just since September, also notably, this same poll, a new modern day record filled fully 50 percent of the voters they polled, now identify as independent. Given your new effort, though, this is all interesting fodder for the challenge ahead of you finding good hearted people who are willing to put country ahead of specific party.

DAVID JOLLY, SERVE AMERICA MOVEMENT CHAIRMAN: Yes, Brian in history says that independent politics and a new party faces insurmountable odds, we have a system of federalism where all 50 states set the rules. And those rules are often set by the two major parties who don`t want new party competition. But we know voters continue to suggest that they have a more independent form of politics, as you mentioned, nearly 50 percent of the country.

And I think so much of the focus around this new party conversation has been just on Republicans because we`re seeing the Republicans fracture. But among those polled by Gallup, the interesting thing is, your interest in the new party depends on what you believe, ails our politics, right? If it`s not progressive enough, you might want a more progressive party if it`s not conservative enough or Trump enough you might want a different party.

But there is a large population out there that just wants a government that can come together around solving problems recognizing that sometimes the best answers are on the left, the right or the middle. That`s what we`re experimenting with at the Serve America Movement, the SAM Party, we`re trying to build a coalition a new party, around these core values of problem solving and accountability and transparency, not on the left right axis where your dogma is better than my dogma. The heartbeat of the independent movement is growing. It faces some really tough odds.

WILLIAMS: I see what you did there, the SAM Party I had an Uncle Sam once. Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us while we fit in a break. Coming up from relic to rubble, the end of the Trump era in one American city that has seen better days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Harrah`s (ph), his latest $250 million project in Atlantic City but its creator says--

TRUMP: Without question, the largest and the finest gambling casino hotel complex anywhere in the world. And that`s the way I wanted.


WILLIAMS: It took seconds roughly 3,000 pieces of dynamite to destroy the last vestige of Trump`s presence in Atlantic City. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino is no more. Still with us, Eugene Robinson, David Jolly. Eugene, you can`t be a columnist without two things. A keyboard and a good metaphor. I have just handed you the ladder. Consider us your keyboard. What do you make of it?

ROBINSON: Well, Brian that should have come with a big flashing, you know, metaphor alert. No, you know, I actually do think you could make that into a metaphor for the Trump era. He`s not president anymore. I don`t think he`s ever going to be president again. His influence in the country will wane. The problem is, his influence in the Republican Party is not waning. And so maybe that`s not a metaphor for Trump. Maybe it`s a metaphor for the GOP.

WILLIAMS: All right, well take that. And you know, I always ask you to write a column on the fly. And it`s grossly unfair. Hey, David, where do you come down on the need for a 1/6 Commission, the need to find out exactly what happened and increasingly, this need to find out just how high up the chain was the level of involvement with the leaders and the insurrectionists themselves?

JOLLY: I think it`s absolutely necessary. I mean, our government almost fell that day. And in part because of the domestic threat of conspiracy theory organizations that the FBI has identified as a great threat.

The question to me is, under whose jurisdiction will we get the best answers under a commission appointed by the Congress, or under one run by the Department of Justice? And I think it would be the latter, I think, as much as you would try to create independence around a politically appointed commission, it`d be impossible to avoid the partisanship, whereas under the Department of Justice, they can deploy traditional investigative resources to get to the bottom of it, and then ensure it doesn`t happen again.

WILLIAMS: Eugenia can offer you all of 30 seconds, do you think the Commission will happen? And doesn`t it come down to the care in selecting members and staff?

ROBINSON: It doesn`t, you can be careful, and you can come up with a Commission that will do good work. But I agree with David actually, I think that the Department of Justice is the right place to have a full and fair and thorough investigation. That`s what they do.

And I think, you know, and there`s potential criminal liability that that needs to be explored and took charges that could be filed. So I hope prosecutors of the courts do their work, in addition to whatever commission we ever have.

WILLIAMS: David jolly with us from Florida tonight. Eugene Robinson remains at home. So many of our viewers have admired that artwork behind Eugene shoulder I happen to know on good authority. He`s married to the artist. Coming up the demand for COVID vaccinations was already challenging. Then along came this winter we`re having in a big bad way.


WILLIAMS: I made this point last night, it seems like all of the news we report on the coronavirus is a balance between good news and bad. The White House says we`re now averaging about 1.7 million vaccinations a day. That`s many more than the initial goal of a million shots per day.

But as the rollout gets better, in some cases, it`s been stopped cold by our severe winter weather that brings the danger of prolonging this pandemic. NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer looks at how weather is indeed slowing down this vital process.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As one crisis triggers another tonight frigid weather in some 30 states has frozen many vaccine distribution centers to a standstill with delays and cancellations.

Snowstorm in Chicago preventing more than 100 providers from getting shipments, weather also causing rippling shipping delays in Florida, leading to cancellations at grocery stores complicating and already confusing system rescheduling appointments that were nearly impossible to get.

DR. NATALIZE AZAR, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I would certainly tell people to be their own best advocate and assume that they need to reschedule the vaccine themselves.

ALMAGUER: While no agency is reporting the total number of missed vaccinations. It`s not just the storm but supply compounding problems. In New York City tens of thousands of appointments will be delayed because of their shortage and another storm is moving in.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: We`re going to run out today. Tomorrow we`re going to run out of what we have now.

ALMAGUER: With the U.S. vaccinating 1.7 million Americans a day, the White House says vaccine supply to states will increase to 13.5 million doses per week. At Gillette Stadium outside Boston, 65,000 have been inoculated, almost enough people to fill every seat in the stands.

(on camera): For Americans who can get a vaccine scientists are getting close to answering a lingering question. If you`re vaccinated and become infected, can you still pass the virus to others? Early research looks promising.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: There have been some studies that are pointing into a very favorable direction that will have to be verified and corroborated by other studies.

ALMAGUER (voice-over): But help can`t come soon enough. By mid March, the CDC says 559,000 Americans could lose their lives to the virus. A dark reminder that every day and every delay can cost lives. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: 559,000 of our fellow citizens. Coming up for us. Nature has ignored the warning on the bumper sticker, nature has in fact messed with Texas. Tonight we`ll show you how Texans are fighting back on behalf of those who can`t help themselves.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is where we started tonight. Texas is in big trouble, so many people in serious distress. Millions under a boil water advisory except some have no water. Others have no electricity to heat it if they had. Some families are busting up and burning their own furniture to stay warm. That`s not an urban myth that`s happening. Hopefully people will pay for this and Texans will demand better.

Let`s not forget however, there is no one to blame for this severe once in a lifetime winter weather event that triggered all of this. As we mentioned for a time this week, it was colder in Houston than it was in Anchorage. And not all of the suffering is falling on humans.

Down in South Padre Island, the spring break haven known for its beautiful beaches. It`s the sea turtles that need help. And Texans have stepped up rescuing the hopeless sea turtles that have been physically stunned by the cold. Their physical movement stops and their body functions begin to shut down. They can no longer swim or eat or even hold their heads up. And at that point they can drown in a half inch of water.

People have been bringing them truckloads of them to the convention center on the island. And without power to the convention center, volunteers are trying their very best to keep them all warm while admitting they will lose some of them if they were brought in while already too far gone.

About 3,500 sea turtles have been brought in so far. Their population stocks are already endangered. The Texas coast is their home, but Mother Nature left us no instructions about how to help them in this kind of cold. Tonight some good hearted Texans many with no power or heat in their own homes are doing the very best they can.

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