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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 2/18/2021

Guest: Colin Allred, James Carville, Mark McKinnon�


Texans are enduring 4th miserable night without heat and power.

Texas freeze leads to pipes bursting and floods. Stores low on food and

roads closed across Texas. President Joe Biden activates FEMA to help after

death deaths rise in Texas. Johnson & Johnson vaccine may end up as two-

dose regiment if that improves efficacy. Senator Ted Cruz is facing

criticism after photos surfaced on social media that purportedly show him

traveling to Cancun, Mexico as Texas is dealing with a winter storm that

has left residents without power and water. NASA Rover Perseverance landed

on Mars in mission to search for past life.



Medicaid so that folks have health care. Yeah, protect our rural hospitals.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Jamie Harrison, thank you very much for

joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

HARRISON: Thank you so much, Lawrence. And take care, stay safe.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Chairman Jamie Harrison gets Tonight`s Last Word. The

11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. This was day 30

of the Biden administration.

Texans are enduring a fourth night of freezing misery in the wake of a

winter storm that seems to have unleashed a growing humanitarian crisis in

our own country. An act of God followed by an abject failure by man.

Meantime, tonight one man, Ted Cruz is getting a whole lot of attention,

none of it good for leaving on vacation in Cancun before thinking better of

it. After one night at the Ritz Carlton more on his story in just a bit.

While the power is back on in all but about 350,000 homes and that`s a lot

but it`s not 5 million. The weather has left exploded pipes, major floods,

people`s homes have been destroyed, while taps are dry and millions are

going without running water.

Food is also now in short supply. Grocery shelves, refrigerator cases are

largely empty. Getting away is something most people can`t do. Many highway

overpasses are just closed because they`re frozen. Fuel is in short supply.

Gas stations running out, no one seems to have any propane.

Tonight, in a great state of 30 million people, people are focused on their

survival and their loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we`re really concerned about how fast the

temperature is really dropping inside.

CHAMIEKA HOUSE-OSUYA, TEXAS RESIDENT: It`s, you know, either you stay in

your house and you know, you are cold, you freeze to death and you have no


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know how many gas stations we went to, five



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least, and we`ve been haven`t been able to find fuel.

ADRIANA GODINES, TEXAS RESIDENT: We only have like two cases of water left.

So we`re trying to divide it between two families.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, (D) HOUSTON: There are still folks in danger. There

are still people without power, and there are a lot of people who simply

can`t afford to go into the store. So we`re trying to do mass distribution

sites. But things are real tenuous for a lot of people in the city.


WILLIAMS: Our friends at the Texas Tribune report things could have been

worse if such a thing as possible. Officials say the state was, "seconds

and minutes away from a power grid failure that could have caused a month-

long blackout."

This week`s weather has been deadly some 30 people have lost their lives.

The feds are now stepping in to help. The President today authorized FEMA

to supply Texas with generators and water and blankets and the like, which

brings us somehow to Senator Ted Cruz who as we said flew to Cancun,

Mexico, as his constituents were freezing.

It was late last night when the picture started showing up on social media.

Yep, that was Ted Cruz and his family at the Houston airport. NBC News

confirmed that Cruz` staff even called up Houston Police officers to escort

him through the airport.

New York Times reports that his wife Heidi sent text messages out to

friends in the neighborhood saying, "Their house was freezing, as Ms. Cruz

put it. And she proposed to get away until Sunday. Ms. Cruz invited others

to join them at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun where they had stayed many times

noting the room price this week. $309 per night, and it`s good security."

The text messages were provided to the New York Times and confirmed by a

second person on the text thread, who declined to be identified because of

the private nature of what they shared amid the growing ensuing outrage. At

6 a.m. this morning, Cruz booked a new return flight from Cancun to

Houston. A source telling NBC News he was initially booked on a flight

returning Saturday. Upon returning home with protesters in front of his

house, a rather shell-shocked Ted Cruz admitted Cancun may not have been a

great idea.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: We left yesterday that plan had been to stay

through the weekend with the family that was the plan and, you know, I have

to admit it, was the last week`s been tough on a lot of folks, our girls,

when they got the news that school was canceled this week, they said look,

why don`t we take a trip. Let`s go somewhere where it`s not so cold. And

Heidi and I, this has been a tough week. And it`s been a tough year for

kids. Kids all across the State of Texas, and so we were trying to be good

parents and said OK, we`ll do it. And so we booked the flight. You know, I

have to admit I started having second thoughts on the moment I sat down on

the plane.


WILLIAMS: Cruz appeared tonight on the friendly confines of the Hannity

Show, not so much contrition, though he did lie about wind energy in Texas,

saying it supplies a quarter of the state`s energy and that is false. Right

wing media and the Texas governor, as you may know, have tried to falsely

blame frozen wind turbines for the state`s troubles.

The nation`s other ongoing crisis the pandemic is getting even closer to

having cost nearly a half million American lives. Today we learned COVID

has indeed had a corrosive effect on all of our lives that has caused a

drop in American life expectancy fell by a full year in the first six

months of the year 2020. That`s the largest drop in our society since World

War II. It declined for black Americans by nearly three years, nearly two

years for Latino Americans on the vaccine front.

White House COVID advisors say Johnson and Johnson`s vaccine could end up

being a two-dose regimen, if it proves to offer more protection than a

single shot. Companies already filed for emergency authorization of its one

dose version, which has shown to be 66% effective against moderate to

severe cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, many are still wondering about whether vaccines ought not be

required for our teachers, reentering schools and about the effectiveness

of vaccines against these new strains of the virus coming in from overseas

that we`re hearing so much about. Earlier on this network, Dr. Fauci

weighed in on both issues.



you`re not going to open up schools until every single one of the teachers

get vaccinated, namely making it a scenic one on of opening. I don`t think

that we can go there otherwise would be very difficult to get the schools


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How close are you to finding a new vaccine to handle

this South African variant?

FAUCI: Very well, that likely will take several months. We`re already, for

example, working with the Moderna company, Pfizer`s doing it on their own.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Thursday

night, Abby Livingston, Washington Bureau Chief for the Texas Tribune, Josh

Wingrove, White House Reporter for Bloomberg News and Dr. Vin Gupta,

Critical Care Physician, also an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the

University of Washington, Institute for Health Metrics, and Evaluation.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Abby, given the subject matter, and

the immediacy, I`d like to begin with you. And I`d like to read a quote

from the Atlantic. This is David Graham. "It`s tempting to turn the

hypocrite label on Cruz but his sin is worse. Every politician is a

hypocrite at some point. Cruz`s error is not that he was shirking a duty he

knew he should have been performing. It`s that he couldn`t think of any way

he could use his power as a U.S. Senator to help Texans in need. That`s a

failure of imagination and of political ideology."

Abby Cruz watchers heard the insurrectionists drop his name, they saw Cruz

vote in effect, pro insurrection and thought, well, maybe this will ding

his presidential hopes, then came Cancun. Now people are wondering if it

will ding his career in the U.S. Senate from continuing beyond this term.

But more immediately, locally as a journalist based with a Texas

publication, are we overplaying this or underplaying it, the political

aspect, Mr. Cruz, and the overall human tragedy unfolding there?


Democrats have complained to me that this is something of a sideshow, in

comparison to the human misery of what`s happening in Texas. To be clear, a

senator`s job in this kind of situation basically has three things. The

first one is they need to advocate to FEMA on behalf of the governor to get

funds and engagement to the President.

The back end of it is a senator will have to deal with the cleanup and that

means advocating for funds back in the state after the crisis is over. But

in between is more symbolic. It is being there with the constituents. It`s

they even have clothes, certain clothes, they wear polo shirts,

windbreakers, things like that. And just talking to normal people in the

state friends of mine who are not political junkies, my phone has been

exploding all day long. These are the scale of how big the State of Texas

is hard to convey.

We have like four Chicago`s that are all under pressure right now. And

right, the Texans who are well off are doing things like filling their

bathtubs with potable water or using the neighbor`s pool butter for toilet

flushing. And so this is just a blow to morale in the state. And so I think

it is something that Texans are fixated on, because it`s just, it`s

symbolic more than anything but that is still a very big factor in how

things are going because we are still in a pandemic and I mean mental

health is starting to really wear thin in the state.

WILLIAMS: There`s also the sympathy and the empathy among those of us not

in Texas, who have watched Texans through no fault of their own, lining up

in droves in food lines, people who never thought they`d need help. Now

they`re lining up for drinkable water with their empty propane tanks. It`s

really, it`s more than you can take if you`re born with any empathy.

Josh, course here we are, the weather has now interfered with vaccine

shipments during the new presidential effort to speed vaccine shipments to

as many Americans as possible. And I`m quite certain, you`re going to point

out that the White House is aware of potential negative optics and

potential negative outcomes here.


something on the order of 12 million shipments this week, including to

pharmacies, the White House simply haven`t said yet how many of those are

affected? You know, we`ve had weather delays in the past, they haven`t

really caused structural, you know, changes, it`s been more of a road bump.

I think they would hope that that`s the case here. The suffering that we`re

seeing, it`s just harrowing. The images are stunning out of Texas. And, you

know, I think it`s true that this increasing is both a powerful image. But

a sideshow, there`s a lot of important reporting coming out over

recommendations that were made a decade ago over this very issue and the

lack of regulations with respect to insulating, you know, the energy

infrastructure in Texas for these type of extreme weather events.

I actually think that we`ll see President Biden, who by the way, spoke with

the Governor Abbott, just you know, earlier this evening, the White House

just released a statement maybe move forward on this. Remember, he`s been

calling not only for infrastructure spending, but for energy

infrastructure, in particular, for climate resiliency, in infrastructure in

particular, both those buckets kind of come into play on this but, you

know, but I think if possible (technical difficulty).

WILLIAMS: We`ve had a freeze on camera. Vin that brings us to you. I don`t

know what you carry in your magic black bag or if it`s a solution for what

ails us right now. We had our mutual friend Dr. Redlener on last night.

This has been his life`s work, the intersection of infrastructure with a

public health crisis, truly the public health. This, of course, comes at a

time where we`re looking in our rearview mirror for these variants and

trying to outrace their arrival here?


know, let me let me speak to Texans, a place where I have family. And I

know Texas is hurting right now. But there`s good news. I`ll be my role

here on this panel to deliver some good news. What we`re seeing and Andy

Slavitt from the White House Coronavirus Task Force tweeted this out, what

we`re seeing is we`re not just talking percentages anymore to the American

people about the ethicacy of these vaccines to start to normalize life.

Andy Slavitt tweeted out that, in fact, amongst those nursing home

residents that received the vaccine, we`re seeing a sustained decline in

cases in Connecticut, in nursing homes, in places that the vaccine has

gotten into arms.

Obviously, there`s a delay in Texas, and that`s going to be remedied,

especially with the president, declaring a national emergency. Though this

-- so hopefully this is a temporary blip, Brian, but in addition to that

Connecticut data point, there`s great data out of Israel, for example,

showing that amongst those who are 55 and older who`ve gotten the vaccine,

they`re 92% less likely to actually end up in the hospital with severe

disease. So this is just phenomenal news. This is the type of data that we

can hang our hat on despite the variants, because all these vaccines

crucially, keep ER the ICU, regardless of the variant that you may be

infected with. So that`s something we have to hang our hat on as we scale

up vaccination in people`s arms across the country, disaster or not.

WILLIAMS: Abby, we reported, the power outages are down to 350,000

customers. And let`s be candid if 350,000 people on the east coast where

most of the news media are headquartered, where in the dark and in the

cold, it would be a lead story several nights running. We`ll see about

national interest in Texas and trying to sustain that. When the power comes

back on as it is for more and more customers, that doesn`t end the problems

of course, and this is going to be a real challenge in a state where you

look from one end to the other as you put into this vast state and you come

up with really nothing but Republicans to look out for the fix.

LIVINGSTON: And I think that there is an impetus to deal with this. The

state legislature is in session now that they`re all in Austin and Austin

is the city that may be hit the hardest. And so that is one fascinating

aspect of this is the political classes feeling this as much if not more

than anyone else. And on top of that, suddenly there is interest in

infrastructure, there is interest in looking at these things. But it comes

down to cost. And I think this is a central question facing Texas voters.

And I don`t know the answer of which way they will go. But Texans love

small government, and do they want to continue on that path? Or do they

want to take a different approach? And I think that is going to be a huge

issue, and Governor Abbott`s reelection, which is only about a year and a

half away.

WILLIAMS: Josh, let`s give your Wi-Fi another spin here and see if it

holds. Are there any concerns on the part of the people around the

President about the handling of this? Yes, a hardened cynic would say stand

back offer the help you can but for now, the Republicans in Texas are doing

their own bang up job.

WINGROVE: There`s been no whiff of them. Thank you, Brian, for your Wi-Fi

patients. But I think that Joe Biden really sees his role on this and other

issues is trying to be a national healer. I think we`ll see more of that

going forward. I think that what we, you know, what he wants to take from

this is the sort of show support. But again, I do think he`ll try to pivot

a little bit out of it and say that this reflects the need for increased

investment in not only energy infrastructure, but infrastructure writ large

in the U.S., the energy patchwork system in the U.S., in particular in

Texas, sort of raises the fear that this will happen again, before this

happened before. And it`s happening now.

So that President Biden, I don`t think is taking any glee in what is

happening here at all, any sort of partisan silver lining at all. But, you

know, right now absolutely Texans are at a crossroads on this one. And Ted

Cruz in particular, of course, is going to wear this for a while. The

optics of his trip, given its sort of optics is such a big part of the way

he does his job as a senator. I mean, this is a guy who looks for cameras.

And now of course, the cameras were looking for him.

WILLIAMS: And finally, Doctor, I hear your good news. I see your good news.

And I so appreciate hearing good news, especially on this broadcast. Sadly,

I need to counter it with this. This is from one of your medical

colleagues, Dr. Atul Gawande today. He says, I know COVID seems like it is

subsiding. But the B117 variant is spreading. What we do now to stop it

determines whether it takes over and fills hospitals again, in two months,

it`s going to take more than vaccinations. The supply won`t come fast

enough. And Doctor, he adds his voice to all these other warnings, dire

warnings, we`re hearing about these variants, which are truly scary imports

in this country.

GUPTA: Well, Brian, you know, Dr. Gawande is channeling what is dissonant

in the public domain about our existing public policy at the state level,

across all 50 states where we`re telling people to double mask, minimize

their time in grocery stores. And yet indoor dining is open in 48 states,

schools are open with variable mitigation efforts. Ventilation is not

really a top priority, but the guidance that was released recently. And so

there is concern, and especially when you think about the B117 variant that

Dr. Gawande mentioned, that was originally identified in the United

Kingdom. And where was that spike located, a logarithmic increase in that

and the prevalence of that variant, in schools. So we need to be humble. We

need to think about testing and ventilation and all the strategies that

we`ve been preaching about as we open up society, because we all want

normalcy, but he`s right. As we`re ramping up vaccination, we don`t think

we`re going to reach herd immunity in some states until early June into mid

July. We need to keep cases down here. That`s high quality masking, and

it`s minimizing your time in public. And that is -- and that`s why it`s

public policy that`s consistent across the line. So we keep cases down.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, indeed, as we`ve reported here this week in Europe, where

they`re in another lockdown the countries dealing with these variants. Look

at us the uniquely American way of throwing the doors open and reopening

society and they wonder what it is. We`re up to because they know what`s

coming. Abby Livingston, Josh Wingrove, Dr. Vin Gupta on a big night, our

thanks to our big three for starting us off here tonight.

Coming up, we talked to a member of the Texas congressional delegation who

has chosen Dallas over Cancun. We`ll ask him what`s being done to make sure

something like this never happens to our citizens again.

And later, our political professionals James Carville, Mark MacKinnon, they

weigh in on all 30 days of this new presidency and that man, all of it as

the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Thursday night.




and Commerce Committee will be taking up some form of, when I say

investigation, I mean a look into it to see how things could have turned

out better and will turn out better in the future.


WILLIAMS: By the way, this won`t be the first time the federal government

gets involved in a massive power failure in the State of Texas. It`s been a

decade but a similar cold snap left millions of Texans in the dark. At that

time an investigator found, "The single largest problem during the cold

weather event was the freezing of instrumentation and equipment called for

weatherization improvements."

So much for that that did not happen. Texas has its own power grid, which

is great when it works. For more, we are happy to be joined by Congressman

Collin Alread, Democrat of Texas. He`s a lawyer. He`s a former NBA -- NFL

player, oh my god almost made you a basketball player, and a former Obama

administration official. And importantly, he is a member of the House

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Congressman, I have to share with you and our viewers these pictures out of

San Antonio, which I know is not your district, but it is a genuine

tragedy. A massive apartment complex has gone up tonight. Multiple alarms,

there`s a hydrant right in front of the building. It`s frozen solid, so

departments are bringing in tankers, trucks of water, but it`s going to be

a total loss. They`ve since had a partial collapse that has started the

cars on fire in the lot. So it`s just one tragedy and a state full of

tragedies. What do you need most in your district in Dallas is it firewood?

Is it water? Is it plumbers or propane, or some combination of all of



Well, thank you for having me on, Brian. We`ve had a week, out of the dark

ages here in Texas. Now where you`ve seen Texans burning anything, they can

get their hands on breaking down furniture and their own fences for light

and heat to the Texans dying of hypothermia of carbon monoxide poisoning.

And what we need now in Dallas is different from what we need in Houston,

different what we need in Austin and San Antonio. And Dallas are -- we

still have water, thankfully. But we are seeing folks coming home now with

their power turning on, and all their pipes have burst and their homes are

flooded. And so they have nowhere to sleep. And we still have cold weather

here. And of course in Houston in Austin, in Fort Worth, we have boil water

advisories where they can`t drink the tap water. And so depending on where

you are, this crisis is certainly still ongoing, even though the power is

coming back on thankfully.

WILLIAMS: So what do you do from your perch? You are a democratic member of

congress and a red state of blue guy and within a blue circle, and I note a

blue den to boot. What do you do to harness the anger? You have felt the

passion you have felt these past few days, as a member of Congress in a

state where it`s republican politicians, as far as the eye can see what can

you do to improve a power grid that has decided years ago to go out on its


ALLRED: Well, as you said Texas is unique in the lower 48 in terms of us

having our own power grid, and that also means that the state bears the

responsibility for not listening to the recommendations that they were

given a decade ago about an incident just like this. And I`ll just say

this, Brian, this storm was not unexpected. We knew it was coming for

several days, when we knew to try and prepare for it in our own personal

capacities. But the power system was not prepared for this. And so what we

can do number one, as a member of congress and working with FEMA, and been

on the phone with them, to make sure that we bring in generators, blankets,

potable water, and make sure we get that distributed across the state. And

then afterwards, this is going to be one of the largest cleanup projects,

the damage is unbelievable. The insurance Council of Texas estimated this

is going to be the highest claim event in the state`s history higher than

Hurricane Harvey, which came in at about $180 billion.

And so this is -- the cost is going to be enormous in terms of the

recovery. We also have to invest in winterizing and hardening our

infrastructure. Because whether it`s this storm or some other event, we

know that we`re going to continue to have these extreme weather events in

the State of Texas, we`ve had them for several years now coming in

different forms. And so we have to be prepared for that. And the federal

government can play a role in that too.

WILLIAMS: So what does it do to you when you hear media on the right when

you hear your governor even flirt with the idea of blaming the Green New

Deal, blaming green energy efforts, blaming wind turbines for causing this?

ALLRED: Well, first of all, we understand that renewable energy makes up

about 10% of the Texas power system. And so while every single form of

energy has gone offline during this crisis, it`s certainly not the fault of

renewable energy that we`re in this, the vast majority of the power we lost

is from thermal sources, natural gas, coal, and nuclear, instead of blame

it on renewable energy sources is just bizarre. And it`s also against the

spirit of what we`ve been doing here in Texas, where we`ve been

diversifying our energy grid and doing in a really good way. We are the

state that leads the country in wind power, and that`s a great thing for

us. But you have to also weatherize that wind power. I mean, they get

strong in cold weather in the Dakotas and in Iowa, but they still are able

to get wind power there. They use natural gas in Alaska, but they it

doesn`t freeze in the winter, like it has here.

And so we have to make sure that we`re prepared for these weather events,

and not try to find these political games that we can play who we`re going

to blame this on, and actually look into what happened, make sure that we

protect people. Because Texans have died, Texans are facing just terrible,

terrible conditions and they don`t need a governor or anyone else going

around trying to find and pursue their own political agendas instead of

trying to find solutions.

WILLIAMS: Congressman, we`re so suffer sorry to watch the suffering from

here. I`m sorry for your -- you and your home and your friends and your

family and your constituents for what you`re all going through. We`re

watching very closely, trying to do what we can. Texas democratic

Congressman Colin Allred, thank you very much for taking our questions

tonight and stay safe.

Coming up for us, we`re guessing our next two guests have a thing or two to

say about that man and his short lived Excellent Adventure. James Carville,

Mark McKinnon standing by to join us after this.




after about three hours and we`re able to get about 20,000 people to you

know portable water so they can shower and then you know so they can flush

the toilet and the sewage and everything.

So it was pretty hard but, you know, being the 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 in you know, get to work.


WILLIAMS: As we said last night that gentleman`s a politician, he`s just

not the fancy kind. He`s in the building trades, that`s South Houston city

councilman Willie Rios. Yesterday he told us about how he worked late into

the night to fix a generator at the city wastewater treatment plant just to

allow his constituents to be able to flush their toilets.

Then there`s Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Tonight he is admitting it obviously

was a mistake to fly to Cancun last night, daytime high 83 degrees while

millions of his constituents were freezing without power.

Dallas Morning News captured the reaction this way. Quote, Ted Cruz insists

he`s just good dad taking the girls to Cancun but leaves after one night

long enough to get blistered.

Back with us tonight, James Carville, a veteran democratic strategist who

rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential effort. He is co-host

of the politics War Room podcast and Mark McKinnon is back with us, former

adviser to both George W. Bush and John McCain. He is now of course one of

the hosts of the circus on Showtime, which thankfully is back on the air.

Hey Mark, I`ve got to read you this. This is from Manu Raju, the very Abell

chief congressional correspondent over at CNN he writes about Hannity who

really tried to give an assist to his friend Ted Cruz tonight.

Hannity keeps saying Cruz was just going to drop off his kids in Cancun and

make a quick round trip. Yet Cruz admitted he was planning to stay through

the weekend. Text leaks show his wife plan to get away with neighbors. Cruz

now says he planned to work remotely from the beach.

Mark, you`ve spent a lot of time around politics. You`ve spent a lot of

time in Texas. Lindsey Graham likes to joke that if Ted Cruz murdered

someone in the Senate, what is that know, if Ted Cruz were murdered in the

Senate, there wouldn`t be a single vote to convict.

Rick Wilson always repeats the joke. There are two kinds of people, people

who hate Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz. Is Ted Cruz as bad as he is being portrayed

in this 12 hour period?


are some people who say they`ve seen him putting on a human suit recently

as well. But you know, I did my first campaign with James Carville in 1984

learn most of what I know about politics from James and I wish he would

throw the question to James, which is, can you imagine a worse scenario for

a politician?

First of all, I`d say that, that natural disasters make and break

candidates and officeholders. I mean, Rick Perry got a lot of his stature

from ably handling hurricanes and tornadoes. I remember Katrina very well

for George W. Bush. So it`s -- it is the most obvious and easy opportunity

for a politician to do good stuff, to be on the job, and to not only not be

on the job, but to take a hike with your kids to CanCruz is just


So the final point I`ll make about Ted Cruz is what`s amazing to me is that

he was one of the foot soldiers that tried to overturn our democracy that

helped lead to an insurrection at the Capitol, but the thing they`ll

probably be held accountable for politically is this trip to Cancun.

WILLIAMS: Yes, Mark, I was on the ground in New Orleans for the famous Air

Force One flyover overhead, that was not a good feeling, not as you as you

know, not the proudest moment for 43.

So James, take on this topic, and this guy and these optics.


thing is to Cruz family, friends, dime them, these texts that they were

doing, and we`re going to go to Cancun, and we`re going to stay till

Sunday, and we got a room at the Ritz Carlton for, I don`t know, $300 a

night. And it will texted everybody and then the friends but by this

afternoon, people will call in me and depression. And a lot of people have

different texts about that are not very, very popular people.

He`s not a very popular guy, and he`s in trouble now. No one`s going to

come by and defend him. I mean, a lot of Republicans can stand up and they

just go leave him. But as I said, Watergate to just quit slowly into when

out there, you know, sometimes it might people get in trouble that they`ve

built up friendships and loyalties over life, and people come to aid to

rush to their defense. So other than Sean Hannity, I think it`s a short

line rushing to the Cruz`s defense out there. I really do.

WILLIAMS: Mark a fair question, why isn`t it a winning strategy for the

GOP? I mean, first of all, they can just look around Texas, where this is

going to be an existential threat to them in the future in a very red

state. Why isn`t fixing America a priority with them? They last four years

with Trump, but they all went along with him and not making it a priority?

MCKINNON: Well, it`s a great question, Brian. And we`re focusing on that a

lot of our show this week, which I mean, this is related to climate crisis,

right? I mean, this storm system that moved into Texas as a direct result

of climate. And so, you know, we went to Detroit, and we talked to the

automakers. The interesting thing is that business, you know, which is

generally thought of as being conservative and Republican friendly, they`re

leading the way on climate change.

I mean, the Ford Motor Company this week lay down the marker that they`re

going to make all of Europe electric and in within 10 years. So, Texas is

really behind the curve, their climate deniers down there and they went off

the grid and now they`re paying the price.

WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. I`m just

going to slip in a commercial break here, no one will even notice.

Coming up the challenges that may lay in front of this still new precedent

our conversation continues after this.



REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Every time we`ve made progress in America,

we`ve confronted backlash and emerged from that backlash to continue to

make more progress. The framers of the Constitution were not perfect. They

didn`t promise a perfect country. But they did promise a journey toward a

more perfect union.


WILLIAMS: Congressman Jeffries, who was a guest of ours just days ago with

Jen Palmieri, one of Mark`s co stars on The Circus. Still with us, James

Carville and Mark McKinnon.

All right guys, let`s talk about the new president. James, I`d like to

start with you and I have a dual question. Part one is the grades you would

give him after 30 days?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, congratulations to Mark and (INAUDIBLE)

Hakeem, I think is one of the most talented people we have in the

Democratic Party right now. But he`s going to promise you that.

MCKINNON: I agree James.

CARVILLE: I don`t know. Honestly, I would -- I would do it -- I would love

to be sort of mildly critical of something a new presidents done. I really

can`t think of anything so far. You know, I think his Town Hall was just

right up right on the money. I thought he had the right attitude about it.

He seems to be pounding things and efforts very early and I`m sure it`s a

bit of a honeymoon and we`ll have plenty to complain about later.

But as of right now, I think he`s doing extraordinarily well and his

demeanor and his policies and everything that he`s done so far, but this is

not going to last but right now, I`m 100 percent. And I think a lot of

people feel that way. And he`s doing a remarkably good job so far.

WILLIAMS: Well, James, I have a follow up and forgive the snark. I can see

the Democrats are doing a bang up job in Texas thus far and don`t need the

President`s help.


WILLIAMS: But it`s probably fraud. What Biden does now about and for Texas.

Bill Kristol was theorizing tonight on Twitter, that may be a -- an Admiral

McRaven, or a Will Heard could be asked to be a kind of White House

emissary on the ground in Texas. He floated some other names, but maybe

appoint a special master and Ambassador to go out there and run the

administration effort.

CARVILLE: Well, I may not like Bill, he`s a friend of mine. We work

together on this campaign. But there`s a lot of talented people in Texas, I

mean, that my friend, Collin Howard, he could do anything in the world, the

congressman from the Dallas area, been around these Texas Democrats,

(inaudible) Republicans. There are talented people at (inaudible) Democrat.

But I think that there are plenty enough people to do this. And I think

they`ll go out and figure out how to do a grid, they got a little big

cowboy shirt and did kind of bid them. And they`re going to have to rethink

this thing. And I think the smarter people in Texas, which a lot of smart

people in Texas, already figured this out. So, but there`s a lot of

talented people in Texas and a lot of electing a lot of men to Congress in

the United States.

WILLIAMS: State of 30 million Americans certainly has its share of talented

people. Hey, Mark, let`s talk about the Senate. I don`t know whether it`s

McConnell Senate or Trump`s Senate, but they certainly have operated as a

bloc over the past several years on the Republican side of the aisle, any

of these issues that Biden is floating, whether it`s coronavirus relief,

whether it`s outreach to Iran, whether it`s immigration reform, an area

where Republicans have certainly made positive noises in the fact in the

past, any of that going to cause people to at least be tempted to come


MCKINNON: Well, we`ll see. Brian, I mean, the fact is that he has been

pretty bold out of the gate. I mean, particularly on climate, for example,

shutting down Keystone, I mean, even progressive on the climate side were

impressed and said, wow, you know, but that causes problem for people like

Joe Manchin and John Tester, who we talked to just today about this issue.

Immigration is going to be interesting, you know, I campaigned with George

W. Bush in 1999 on immigration reform, He was proactively reaching out to

say we need to do something on this issue. So it`s been two decades now.

And the Biden proposals is not only bold, but it`s very different than what

we`ve seen before. There`s not the usual kind of trade offs for more

enforcement, which is typically and that`s what Barack Obama did.

So this is a much more sort of progressive notion on immigration. We`ll see

how we`re doing (INAUDIBLE) like I say, listen to the drawing down on any

enforcement inviting everybody over. So we`ll see, but it`s sort of like

Hakeem said, you know, for every progress you make, there`s going to be a

backlash, so get ready for the backlash.

WILLIAMS: I am old enough to remember when Republicans campaigned on

immigration reform indeed. Mark will be watching you Sunday night, James,

we watch you whenever we get the chance. James Carville, Mark McKinnon, two

of our friends, much of lives. Thank you both for joining us.

Coming up, after seven months and 300 million miles. a chunk of American

ingenuity is tweeting from the surface of Mars, so at least we can still do

things like that.


WILLIAMS: There is a new and beautiful film compilation in 4k HD. And it

shows all the incredible pictures and VISTAs that the two previous rovers

have recorded on the surface of Mars. The red planet in all its stark and

remarkable beauty, a six month voyage to get there.

So far away from Earth that radio communications take 11 minutes just to

travel through space back to Earth. And yes, you`d be forgiven, looking at

these pictures for thinking we can do this. We just can`t keep the power on

in Texas. And that`s true because NASA works on a higher plane than the

rest of us. They`ve gone and done it again earlier today that just landed

new rover called Perseverance send out a tweet as one does. It reads I`m

safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.

NBC News correspondent Tom Costello has more on today`s pivotal moment

inside Mission Control.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heartbeat tone indicating everything is normal.

TOM COSTELLO, NCB NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tension inside

Mission Control as real as if this were a human mission, watching and

waiting as 127 million miles away, Perseverance was in its final fiery

descent through the thin Martian atmosphere.

Finally at 3:55 p.m., confirmation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Confirmed. Perseverance in safe place on the surface of


COSTELLO: Perseverance stuck the landing. Then the first shots of the

landing zone just a real crater billions of years ago, a massive lake. Soon

Perseverance will drill into rock and soil searching for evidence of

ancient microbial life.


life on Earth has and is it somewhere underneath the surface hiding from

the radiation hiding from the stark low pressure of Mars atmosphere.

COSTELLO: The samples likely brought back to Earth in 10 years. Also on

board a four pound mini helicopter the first to take off and land on Mars

and a microphone so humans can hear what Mars sounds like.

At the White House, President Biden was watching the landing.

STEVE JURCYZK, ACTING NASA ADMINISTRATOR: I could not be more proud of the

team. I got a phone call for the President of the United States. And he

says first words were congratulations man. And I knew it was him.

COSTELLO: The planet that`s held our imagination for a millennia, slowly

revealing its secrets. Tom Costello, NBC News on planet Earth.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us here tonight a little more for those who just

can`t get enough you can guess the topic.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, the unmitigated disaster in

Texas. And by that of course we mean Ted Cruz, flying to Cancun during the

biggest statewide crisis in the modern history of the state might not have

been the best idea.

In fact, it could have been the Cruziest thing the Republican senator and

insurrection enthusiast has ever done. And that`s saying a lot. Think about


Donald Trump savage Ted Cruz and his wife. No problem. Cruz became a loyal

Trumper. Rioters savage the Senate chamber including senator`s individual

desks, no problem. He still voted with the big lie. His brief trip to the

Ritz Carlton Cancun does set a new kind of standard. Sure enough, had

launched thousand memes and hashtags from Snake on a Plane to Cancun cruise

to Flying Ted, Chris Christie even got roped into the fun. And our friends

at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah quickly went to work on a big job, the

brief history of the hypocrisy of Ted Cruz.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It`s crazy that we`d be taking a recess, let`s not

take any recesses. Let`s work. Let`s work every day, let`s work weekends.

Let`s work till we get the job done.

Apparently, the majority leader made the decision that it was more

important for senators to be home, on vacation, home playing golf, home

doing anything, but being here on the floor of the Senate doing the

people`s business.

President Obama and for that matter, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic

Party that they`re so out of touch with where the American people are right


He goes and plays golf hundreds of times with his buddies. He is not

focused on the people who are hurting who are paying the cost.

We got a job to do and we got a short window of time and so we ought to

stop taking recesses, stop taking time off and just keep going until we get

it so.

Apparently playing a game of pool is a higher priority for this president

that it would be to go and see the humanitarian crisis he`s created.


WILLIAMS: So rest easy Texans. Your senator is back home tonight. Warm and

cozy at his home in Houston where apparently the power has been restored.

Not as warm as Cancun but when millions around you are suffering. It`ll do.

That is our broadcast for this Thursday night with our thanks for being

here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News,

good night.




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