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.
JAMIE HARRISON, CHAIR DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We need to expand
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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-
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: I think to say that
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
ABBY LIVINGSTON, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, some
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.
JOSH WINGROVE, BLOOMBERG NEWS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, we were expecting
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?
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Brian. And, you
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: I believe that the Energy
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
REP. COLIN ALLRED, (D-TX), TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE:
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE RIOS, COUNCILMAN, SOUTH HOUSTON, TEXAS: We got the generator go and
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
MARK MCKINNON, FMR. ADVISER TO JOHN MCCAIN AND GEROGE W. BUSH: Now, there
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
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.
JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think the most interesting
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
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.
ADAM STELTZER, PERSEVERANCE CHIEF ENGINEER: Did that ancient life adapt? Is
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.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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,
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