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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 2/23/2021

Guest: Michael Osterholm, Matthew Dowd�


Law enforcement sheds new light on Capitol riot. Congress opens

formal investigation of Capitol riot. Capitol security officials testify

January 6 riot was planned. White House is in search of support for budget

nominee Tanden. Vaccine advisers to the U.S. FDA will meet Friday to

discuss whether to recommend Johnson & Johnson`s COVID-19 vaccine for

emergency use authorization. New research warns potential surge from U.K.

variant. Donald Trump is expected to attend the RNC upcoming spring donor

retreat in April. Texas is still reeling from devastating winter storms and

for some, recovery could take months.


STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So that sort of speaks to the

nature of the area that Woods was traveling in. That will be a part of the

investigation as well as the speed that he was traveling in all alongside

the fact that Woods is now recovering from that surgery. Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: NBC`s Steve Patterson, thank you very much

for that reports, Steve, really appreciate it. That is tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day 35 of the

Biden administration. We now have new accounts of the deadly insurrection

the riot at our Capitol. From the very chief of security officials on duty

that day as a mob screaming hang Mike Pence overran the building and

carried out the deadly seeds that went on for hours. Today Congress started

its formal investigation into the attack. Senators from two committees this

morning heard from one Capital Officer who fought off the rioters.



arm got wedged between rioters and the railing along the wall. A CPU

Sergeant pulled my right arm free and had he not I`m certain it would have

been broken. I received chemical burns to my face that still have not

healed to this day. I witnessed officers being knocked to the ground and

hit with various objects that were thrown by rioters. As an American, and

as an army veteran, it`s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens.


WILLIAMS: Last month, The Washington Post reported that three days before

the insurrection and internal Capitol Police alert warned that Congress

could be the target of a violent attack. But according to three now

resigned officials, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, House Sergeant at

Arms Paul Irving, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stanger, that warning

never made it to any of the top officials who were charged with securing

our Capitol.



24 hours was informed by the department that they actually had received

that report. It was received by what we call a -- one of our sworn members

that`s assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is a task force

with the FBI. They received it the evening of the fifth, reviewed it and

then forwarded over to an official at the Intelligence Division over at

U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: And so you hadn`t seen it yourself?

SUND: No, ma`am.

KLOBUCHAR: Mr. Stanger, did you get the report?


KLOBUCHAR: OK, Mr. Irving?



WILLIAMS: Today the Post reports another warning about violent extremists

calling for an assault on Congress was sent to a D.C. police email inbox

and to a member of the Capitol Police. The officials who testified today

all agreed the 1/6 attack was planned and that it involved white

supremacist and extremist groups.


SUND: We plan for an increased level of violence at the Capitol, and that

some participants may be armed. What we got was a military style

coordinated assault. I witnessed insurgents beating police officers with

fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal barricades, and flagpoles. These

criminals came prepared for war. These people came specifically with

equipment what you`re bringing climbing gear to a demonstration, you`re

bringing explosives. You`re bringing chemical spray they were planning on

our agency not being at what they call full strength.


WILLIAMS: Their testimony laid bare the chaos the mistakes the tangled

bureaucracy that prolong the siege, and there were conflicting stories

about the response. In his written statement, that man the former Capitol

Police Chief son said he had spoken to both sergeants at arms about a

request for approval to call the National Guardian right after 1 p.m. That

account was not backed up today.


IRVING: I did not receive a request for approval for National Guard until

shortly after 2 p.m. when I was in Michael Stanger`s office.

SEN. ROY BLUNT, (D) MISSOURI: All right, let me get that straightened out.

Mr. Sund, do you know when you asked for National Guard assistance, was it

109 or was it 2 p.m.?

SUND: It was 1:09, sir.

IRVING: First conversation I had with Chief Sund in that timeframe was a

rat was 1:28, 1:30.


WILLIAMS: Acting D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee described

what happened when the call to request the National Guard finally did go




for the deployment of the National Guard in response to that there was not

an immediate yes of the National Guard has responded yes, the National

Guard is on the way the response was more asking about the plan that you

know what was the plan for the National Guard but my response to that was

simply I was just stunned that, you know, I have officers that were out

there literally fighting for their lives.


WILLIAMS: Today`s testimony did not hold everyone`s attention. Ted Cruz

back in the Senate after his one day Cancun getaway spent some of the

hearing on his phone. The Senate is also trying to get through confirmation

hearings for Biden Cabinet nominees. Right now three of his picks are

facing some significant headwinds from Republicans particularly though

Budget Office nominee Neera Tanden. The White House is hoping to get at

least one republican senator to cross over and support her.

Xavier Becerra, Biden`s choice for health secretary and Deb Haaland

nominated for Secretary of the Interior both had their first confirmation

hearings today. And Republicans were not inclined to give them an easy

time. Here is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Becerra`s nomination.



see anyway such a radical and under qualified nominee should fill such a

critical pose at this crucial time.


WILLIAMS: And it went on like that. However, Politico is reporting

McConnell will vote to confirm Merrick Garland as Attorney General.

President Biden did get two more cabinet members approved today, Linda

Thomas-Greenfield as our U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Tom

Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, he was approved by the way 98 to 2.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, Alexi

McCammond, Political Reporter for Axios, also with us two Pulitzer Prize

recipients from the Washington Post, Columnist Eugene Robinson, and Phil

Rucker, Senior Washington Correspondent. Phil`s best seller, A Very Stable

Genius, co-authored with our friend Carol Leonning is now available in

paperback with brand new reporting. Those two are also hard to work on a

new book about the former presidents last year in office.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Phil, as I have pointed out, 1/6 is

one of those rare events, especially in the electronic age, that for a lot

of us seems to take on more impact. More weight as the days go on, since

1/6, is there a danger as you watch today`s hearings and the testimony,

that it`s getting cheapened by the posers and the apologists and the

deniers and the white washers who would have us remember a different event?


Brian, that`s been the danger building for some time, especially as

Republican leaders try to downplay the connection between that event and

President Trump or the significance of that riot to their political


I mean, look, this is a sign that domestic terrorism is alive and well in

this country. And the hearing today exposed how little our government and

our intelligence agencies know about the threat that exists in our country.

There was this warning, of course, but it didn`t reach the highest levels.

We are not sure why. But perhaps it`s because people at the FBI didn`t deem

it urgent enough for credible and effort or deeply sourced enough to bring

it to the highest levels of the law enforcement agencies. But nevertheless,

that warning went on heated on January 6, which created a lot of problems

that we saw play out that day at the Capitol. And if we saw also earlier

this week, the hearing of Merrick Garland, his confirmation hearing to be

the Attorney General, he made clear that this was going to be his top

priority and developing policies to combat domestic terrorism that is

rising in this country is an urgent concern for this new Justice


WILLIAMS: Alexi, I`d like to trouble you for a status report on the dynamic

and relationship between the two parties in the two houses. Yes, it`s tight

in the House of Representatives. But think about the Senate, razor thin

50/50 you need the V.P. to break the tie. And it`s also a chamber where

senators are sitting at desks that were ransacked on 1/6?


deeply personal for a lot of these folks whose, you know, workplace was

attacked on January 6, but we`re seeing how this is falling prey to those

partisan divisions that we`ve seen really plagued the Trump era and are

continuing now in the early days and months of the Biden administration. We

see that in the way the Republicans in the House and the Senate. Some

continue to characterize and mischaracterize to your point the events as

they took place in January 6. We see that reflected in Republican state

lawmakers across the country who are continuing to push this, you know,

conspiracy theory that the election was stolen that was rigged that, you

know, this is all a hoax, that it`s not a big deal. So we see this

trumpism, the style of politics continue not just in the House and the

Senate, and here in D.C. but we see it continuing across the country to

really showing you what the Republican Party is still about.

And, you know, we question as Phil just rightly did why certain folks

didn`t take those threat warning seriously, as it was projected to them for

January 6. But the question also remains why folks didn`t take seriously

former President Trump`s words. I mean, he broadcasted weeks in advance of

the January 6 event that it was going to be wild, as he put it, inviting

people to come to D.C. for a demonstration. He put this out in the open and

people just didn`t take it seriously or didn`t think that he was, you know,

being serious when he was putting out those tweets when he still could.

And, you know, it`s just a reminder that a President`s words really matter.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, you`ve done nothing to deserve this, but here now, a

sampler from Fox News Tonight. We`ll discuss on the other side.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY, (D) MISSOURI: We`ve seen these law enforcement agencies

go way over and above to those who say we need a new domestic war on terror

that will give even more unaccountable power to these law enforcement

agencies without any kind of oversight. But that is a scary prospect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s an insult to every American to be told that

their politicians are so important that they`re going to hide behind a

wall. I`m very worried by the steady drift towards an authoritarian and at

times totalitarian government. And you see it at the state level. You see

it in some of the big cities. And now you see it on your own National

Capitol. I think this is profoundly wrong. And that that wall should come

down immediately.


WILLIAMS: So another way of looking at those two gentlemen, it`s another

good day for the oath keepers and the Proud Boys. Eugene, I don`t want to

go Colombo on you here. But help me get this right. The Republicans are now

worried about overreach by law enforcement, what`s the chance they`re going

to start saying Black Lives Matter?


absolutely no chance that that`s going to happen, I can go on record there.

Look, nobody likes the big chain link fencing that`s around so much of the

Capitol Complex right now with concertina wire at the at the top. I mean,

it is it is hideous, it seems wrong, yet as a sort of interim step to

figure out what needs to be done next. I`m not sure there`s much of a

choice. I hope it comes down soon. But I also hope that it is replaced by

reasonable and timely security measures, which clearly were not in place. I

mean, it`s not as if none of these officials could have possibly imagined

that a crowd stormed the Capitol. It had happened in Lansing, Michigan,

earlier in the year, and you know, last year, and it happened in the


So you would think that they would have looked at that event and said, gee,

we have a great big capital to protect. Maybe on January 6, when there`s

going to be this big event and this big, angry crowd. We should be prepared

and there should have been at a much bigger contingent of not just Capitol

Police but Metropolitan Police and National Guard that could have repelled

or at best deterred the mob before it got to the point that it did. And we

had to tread.

WILLIAMS: Phil, let`s talk about the business of this still new presidency.

Joe Biden knows the Senate better than any modern era president since LBJ.

He is a realist about the Senate, also a romantic about the Senate. But

talk to me about the relationship between keeping going, pushing these

nominees who are in trouble and what he needs to happen for his 1.9

trillion relief package?

RUCKER: Well, Brian, he clearly wants to try to get these final nominations

through that 50/50 Senate and look, the first batch of nominees sailed

through the Senate very easily without a lot of hiccups, but you`re seeing

real genuine obstacles here. Not only the Neera Tanden, but to Xavier

Becerra, the nominee for Health Secretary as well as to the Interior

Secretary nominee. And it`s going to be difficult to get these through

because Republicans are finding -- are finding ways to object to these

nominees in different ways. And there`s a wild card here and that`s Joe

Manchin, the democratic senator from West Virginia.

He came out a couple of days ago and said he would be voting no on the

Tanden nomination and that almost sealed the deal for her because that now

means that the Biden administration will need to get at least one

Republican senator, to vote for her to give her a chance of winning

confirmation. And so far no Republican senator has come forward to say they

would do so.

There`s already talk within Biden circle and here in Washington about who

Biden may nominate, should they have to pull the near Tanden nomination

down. And so it`s a very tricky political game. But the Biden White House

is having to play in the Senate. And they`re looking ahead to that COVID

relief bill. They`re also looking down the road to other elements of his

agenda, including an infrastructure plan, climate change. We could go on

and on with all the policies he wants done. And he`s not going to be able

to get things through unless he has more cooperation and the Senate.

WILLIAMS: Alexi, until Vilsack got through 92 to 7, not as unanimous but

pretty damn unanimous, as they say in the Senate. Let`s talk about these

three outliers, Becerra, Haaland, Tanden. Do you see any through line to

the resistance by the Republicans to these nominees?

MCCAMMOND: Well, we`ve heard the argument be made from some that

Republicans it seems are going after the women of color, the folks of color

who are nominated for these cabinet positions now that`s certainly not the

argument that Republicans are making right on so called identity politics,

as they would put it. They`re saying that these folks don`t have enough

experience or experience. They argue that is up to snuff for what they

would like to see in cabinet nominees for some of course, both Neera Tanden

and Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

We`ve seen republicans pull up their old tweets, Brian, as ways to sort of

get at this partisan politics that we saw plague again, the Trump era that

Republicans want to try to flip the script and use now on Democrats

including today we saw Senator Barrasso say to that, you know, Deb Haaland,

oh, you tweeted in October 2020, that Republicans don`t believe in science.

Do you believe that`s true of me, someone who has a medical background? And

so you`re really seeing those partisan politics come out to play and we`re

seeing that as a through line. But, you know, it`s of course not lost on

folks that these are all people of color. And that`s part of the argument

on their allies, parts on Democrats part, on the Biden folks part that

they`re really highlighting these folks BIOS (ph), their experience, the

historic nature of their nominations, and that`s just something that

Republicans are interested in talking about or considering.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, Deb Haaland, just to choose one 30 fifth generation New

Mexican, the most American member of the House of Representatives, as a

Native American, we have ever had in our nation`s history. Beat 35

generations in this country.

Eugene, final question to you, it was an emotional scene last night, caught

a lot of people off guard. The candle lighting ceremony, the Biden`s, the

Harris` on the back of the South Portico, is this going with the -- this

horrible, horrible death of over 500,000 souls? Is this going to be the

closest thing perhaps we have seen, to a single issue presidency since the

presidency `43 was handed after 9/11?

ROBINSON: I think for the foreseeable future, it essentially is a one issue

presidency. It`s COVID, COVID, COVID. You know, the COVID relief bill is

the number one priority for the Biden administration, the program to get

vaccines out to upgrade the scientific work that`s being done on genomic

sequencing of the various strains to know what we`re dealing with, more

testing, opening the schools, this is going to occupy the next months,

certainly, and maybe the first year of the Biden administration.

And I think it`s going to not just set the tone but tell the story of the

potentially of this administration. They know they have to get this right.

And they have to move quickly and decisively. And that`s what they`re

trying to do. The question is, will Democrats stick together on COVID

relief? So far they are and it looks like they will. And I think he`ll

probably get something pretty close to where he wants the 1.9 trillion,

maybe not quite that much but looks like he`ll get most of that through.

We`re doing fairly well on vaccines, but not well enough. You know, this is

going to be the story of the Biden administration, much as 9/11 was the

story of the George W. Bush administration.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I reckon you`re right, clarity for you amid the confusion

tonight from our big three Alexi McCammond, Phil Rucker, Eugene Robinson,

great thanks for being along with us.

And as we thank our guests before we head to a break, a quick update now on

the other big headline you`ve no doubt seen today. Tiger Woods remains in

the hospital tonight after a violent one car crash outside LA this morning.

He was on route to a golf course for a Golf Digest event. He was

immediately sent into surgery for multiple leg injuries. That includes a

"shattered ankle and two leg fractures." That`s late news tonight according

to the LA Times.

LA County Sheriff`s Office says Woods struck a center median took out two

signs crossed into the oncoming lane. His SUV then rolled finally stopped

several 100 feet away. Despite all the damage his injuries have been deemed

non life threatening. Sheriff`s deputy who was the first on the scene was

among the members of law enforcement who spoke to reporters earlier




arrived on scene, Mr. Woods was seated in the driver`s seat. I asked him

what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger and that moment I

immediately recognized him. The interior passenger compartment of the

vehicle was in tacked, the airbags didn`t deploy successfully. Again, he

was wearing his seatbelt. I think this also kind of speaks to the marvel of

modern automobiles and that they`re much safer than they`ve ever been


WILLIAMS: Indeed, we will have a late update on Tiger Woods condition later

in this hour.

Also coming up for us tonight, the race to beat the variants, can America

get enough people vaccinated with enough time to stop a dreaded fourth wave

of this virus? Our next guest has a controversial strategy to get it done.

And later, is the GOP cool with becoming the party of the big lie more than

it already is? Our veteran Political watchers have the inside story for us,

as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Tuesday night.




have 20 million doses of the vaccine to be made available by the end of

March and we`re prepared to ship immediately upon emergency use

authorization, nearly 4 million doses of our vaccine.


WILLIAMS: Approval of a third COVID vaccine could be just days away and FDA

committee meets virtually this Friday. To consider this term, we`ve all

learned emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson version. And

Pfizer and Moderna are now promising to double their vaccine shipments by

spring, which we`ve been assured is coming. But one Health Organization

tonight is warning that may not be enough to stop a potentially devastating

surge of these variants.

Back with us again, tonight, we`re so happy to have Michael Osterholm. He

is a professor, the director of the aforementioned group, the Center for

Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota. He`s also

a Former Member of the President`s COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Michael, tell us your thinking on these variants. All due respect to

Johnson & Johnson 24 million doses, even though it`s one shot is not a lot,

it`s not the volume of these other two, I understand they have to make this

stuff on spec prior to approval, and it`s a big business for them. But tell

us your thinking on the variants as we`re in this foot race to get people



the audience, just to remind them that variants are mutated forms of this

virus and variants have been occurring since the beginning of the pandemic.

But more recently, we`ve had what we call variants of concern of one is the

type of variant that actually increases the transmissibility, or the

infectious of the virus. The second bucket of concern is ones that actually

provide for more serious illness. And the third one is that it actually

avoids the immune protection of either a vaccine or natural infection.

The variant that`s really front and center right now that we`re most

worried about is what we call B117 or the UK variant, which is now

circulating throughout the United States at a lower level, but rapidly

increasing. If this variant were to take off, as has been seen in England,

Denmark, Ireland, Israel, et cetera. We could be in for a major surge of

cases, in the next five to 14 weeks, are races how to get vaccine into

those who are most vulnerable.

To date, we know that over 80% of the deaths occur in people 65 years of

age and older. And at the rate we`re going right now, there will still be

30 million Americans 65 years of age or older who will not have had any

vaccine by the end of March.

WILLIAMS: What`s the solution as you see it?

OSTERHOLM: Well, a group of us it`s not just our center, but a group of

what I would call academic scholars and experts in this area, have proposed

that number one, the data becoming increasingly clear that a single dose of

the mRNA vaccines, the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccines actually provide

quite good protection. And while we want everyone to get a second dose

eventually, right now, we could really stretch our vaccine supply

substantially if we gave a single dose going forward, and then move the

second dose to what might likely be the time period after this surge.

The other thing we could do is just direct more of the vaccine to 65 years

of age and older. Right now only a third of it is going there. The other

thing we can do is for people who have previously had COVID, we now know

that one dose of vaccine together with your previous infection gives very

good protection. We don`t need to go to doses there.

And finally, there has been studies showing that the Moderna vaccine is

actually in a sense overpowered. We can cut the dose in half and still have

very good results. If we could do some or all of these different

approaches, and do them quickly. Because this variant is breathing down our

throats, we could potentially save many 1000s of lives. And I think now

it`s fair to say that the data are there. We`ve heard over and over again

from people, particularly in our government say, well, we`ve got to stick

with the science. There`s no new data. That`s simply not true. It`s been

evident in the last two to three weeks, the number of papers that have been

published looking at one dose issues around this vaccine, now`s the time

for us to consider seriously these different options.

WILLIAMS: Fascinating stuff to hear. I want to play something for you from

Fox News this Morning that people are thinking about because they`re trying

to figure out how to live their lives in the post vaccine world. I`ll ask

your opinion on it on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My parents are 80 years old, they got vaccinated. Can

they go see their grandkids? You know, the answer is yes. You know why?

Because you just explained to them the vaccines 94% effective, the chances

of a kid getting in and being falling ill are infinitesimal.


WILIAMS: Michael, is he right or wrong?

OSTERHOLM: I think he`s right. We have to learn to live with this virus in

a way that we haven`t to date. Imagine an entire country vaccinated and

still telling people that they have to isolate, they have to quarantine,

they have to continue to wear their mask and it`s not going to happen.

Grant you that it doesn`t mean that everybody`s vaccinated going to be

perfectly protected. But we have to move on. We`re not there yet. But I

think over the course of the upcoming months as vaccine increases in our

communities, we need to try to get back to that new normal.

My concern right now is front and center with this new variant. But I think

overall in the long term Yes, that`s the right answer.

WILLIAMS: Just fascinating stuff tonight comes with our thanks for taking

our questions and always finding a few minutes to discuss this with us.

Michael Osterholm from the Twin Cities tonight. Our thanks.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us the identity crisis, now facing members of the

Republican Party as the former guy tries to tighten his grip on the GOP.

And now a friend of his says he wants to be involved in policy of all

things, all evidence to the contrary.


WILLIAMS: So Trump is scheduled to speak at this CPAC Conference on Sunday

while Americans go about living their lives. Politico reports Trump is

expected to attend the RNC upcoming spring donor retreat in April quote,

the RNC is donor retreats are a prime stop for future presidential

candidates who use the event to establish relationships with, wait for it,

major contributors.

Back with us tonight A.B. Stoddard, veteran Washington journalist and

associate editor and columnist over Real Clear Politics and Matthew Dowd.

He is the founder of Country over Party. We should point out he is a Texan

who has a new appreciation for a hot shower since the cold and dark outage

of late and in the past Matthew was chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney

presidential effort back in 04.

Welcome to you both.

AB you write with your usual candor and clarity, quote, just six weeks

after a deadly insurrection against the U.S. government. Republicans are

past their horror and hopping eagerly back on the Trump train. The new 2021

ticket price they must buy into his big lie. That brings us to the question

A.B. if Trump is the banner under which they all must run, under which they

all must try to raise money. He lost how can that be a winning strategy?


he says goes so you saw that nothing made it more clear than the House GOP

whip. Steve Scalise going on TV this Sunday after his visit at Mar-a-Lago

where apparently they just talked about their families, and how chill and

relaxed the President has been in his post presidency period at his resort.

And he just could not bring himself to say that this was a free and fair

election. He said yes, legitimately Biden won when he was pressed by

Jonathan Karl of ABC News, because the electors said that on December 14th,

but basically he said a lot of things swing states just didn`t follow their

own state laws. And a lot of people are very concerned.

So what you do is instead of spreading the big lie, you never defy Trump,

you never disavow it. And you never just spell it you sit and you never

discuss how pernicious and dangerous it is, as Liz Cheney and Adam

Kinzinger and others have. You just sort of try to circle around it,

because, quote, your constituents buy into it. And that`s what`s going to

keep you in Trump`s orbit if you want to keep your job in 2022.

WILLIAMS: Matt, voters have a funny way of kind of market testing ideas on

their own, and figuring out what works and what`s going to fly. How is this

going to fly, especially in Republican, tightly contested suburban races

two years from now?


it does well in Republican primaries. So I think that`s the issue. And

that`s the real problem for the Republicans right now. They know that

Donald Trump tests at 80-85 percent popularity among the voters that will

participate in Republican primaries, even in Republican primaries in purple

states or in, you know, suburban districts that are swing districts.

The problem is, every time they venture into capturing that Republican

primary vote, it more and more offends the people in the general election.

So it`s OK in a red state or a deep red district to do that. But when you

start to try to win in suburban areas around Houston, suburban areas around

Dallas, suburban areas in Michigan, suburban areas in California, it

becomes exceedingly problematic.

And I think that`s the problem they`re in, though, it doesn`t seem like

they`re in any way trying to confront that general election problem, that

they just keep pushing that off, and it`s somehow they think is going to

solve itself. It`s almost as if they`re going through this primary they did

in 2015 and 2016, where they thought that Donald Trump problem would solve

itself or he would peter out, or nobody would deal with it, and then or

somebody else would handle it, and they didn`t have to. And then what they

ended up having is Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and then Donald

Trump, the republican president, and now Donald Trump, the republican ex

president, so I do think it`s his party.

I don`t think there`s any question anymore that it`s Donald the GOP party

is now the Trump party. And everything that Donald Trump does from tone to

what he cares about to the conspiracies he pushes is the Republican Party.

The GOP looks like they`ve accepted that. CPAC has definitely accepted that

in what they`re doing and the people they have featuring. And so that`s the

difficulty it works in a Republican primary. It`s incredibly toxic. Now in

a general election.

WILLIAMS: Well, I`d like to be a fly on the wall at the McConnell household

these days. Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us. We`re going to

slip in a commercial break. Why the nomination of one of Biden`s Cabinet

picks is hanging by a thread tonight that is among the topics we`ll take on




SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): My friendly advice to President Biden is to

withdraw your attendance nomination and select someone who at the very

least, has not promoted wild conspiracy theories and openly bash people on

both sides of the aisle that she happens to agree with.


WILLIAMS: It`s hard to get through that with a straight face but he managed

that`s the senior senator from Texas, former judge who for years let`s not

forget enabled exactly that behavior by the former president in his own


Democrats need one Republican two crossover to support Tanden`s OMB

nomination after the democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his

opposition. The odds appear to be shrinking. Sources are telling NBC News

Tonight Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told his conference during a

Tuesday lunch meeting that he wants them to stick together and oppose


Back with us A.B. Stoddard, Matthew Dowd. Matt, I`m going to start this

segment with you, as Alexi McCammond pointed out quoting the Democrats, the

optics here are horrendous. We`re talking about three nominees facing stiff

headwinds. All three are people of color.

DOWD: Yes, and it`s this the level of hypocrisy and ridiculousness is

especially listening to Senator Cornyn who`s the Senator from here, one of

the senators from here that we have a quite a pair with Ted Cruz and the

Cancun saga and now John Cornyn talking about you know, it`s an amazing

level of, of just a hypocrisy. It would be like the Houston Astros

lecturing the Los Angeles Dodgers about not stealing signs.

I mean, that would be the equivalent here and the -- I`m going to be a full

disclaimer, Neera is a friend of mine, Neera has been a friend of mine for

15 years. I have a great deal of respect for Neera in her capacity, her

qualifications. I am sure today she`s wishing that she had been more

circumspect in this but the idea that after we had Donald Trump as


And many of the senators including democratic senator Joe Manchin, voted

for Rick Grinnell, who has had the most toxic communications ever before he

was approved by the United States Senate, and Brett Kavanaugh, and we watch

that unfold in the Senate.

And so, I just think this call now by a series of people that, I mean Neera

Tanden is would probably be a jaywalker compared to Grand Theft Auto

tweeting that we`ve seen over the last five years. So it`s unfortunate for

Neera, she`s caught up in this but I think it just so underlines the level

of hypocrisy that exists in Washington DC today.

WILLIAMS: Well put, and A.B., whether you want to or not. We`re going to

talk about Ron Johnson, the rare conspiracy theorist who is a regular on

Meet the Press, the paper back home is accusing him of white washing 1/6

and here is why from today`s hearing.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Very few didn`t share the jovial, friendly,

earnest demeanor the great majority, some obviously didn`t fit in and he

describes four different types of people, plainclothes militants, agents

provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and then discipline uniform column of

attackers. I think these are the people that probably plan this.


WILLIAMS: As I always say, we paid extra to have those translated from the

original Russian. So A.B. here`s the deal. You`ve got comments like that,

that are tinged with nothing to see here. No big deal. You have the

indignity of Hawley who was asked by a reporter if he was a co-insider

today, you have the casual indifference of Cancun Cruz, and then you have

this. This has got to be factored in when we talk about the Republican

Party, A. B.

STODDARD: Brian, I think of Hawley and Cruz, I don`t think they can hold a

candle today to Ron Johnson, whose new nickname we have to credit our

friend Charlie Sykes is Ron Anon, because he is so intentionally heading

straight into a tunnel of delusional conspiracy lies that he knows or not

true in order to fend off primary challenges next year in Wisconsin when

he`s up again.

He is a smart man he knows better, like John Cornyn quote about Neera

Tanden, he has decided to move on from hypocrisy. He knows that voters

don`t care. And it really is all about sort of fighting the Democrats and

fighting reality and putting up a big stink, that is what gets you credit

and gets you small donor clicks and gets you eventually I believe the Trump

endorsement and Wisconsin next year. So he is -- he shame and hypocrisy and

all those feelings left a long time ago.

The idea that he was trying to pose this as paint this, as some kind of

church picnic, where everyone was having a wonderful time. The day we

learned a retired New York police officer was involved in the beating with

an U.S. Marine flag flying on a flagpole of a D.C. Metro cop in the

insurrection is almost beyond belief. You would laugh if it wasn`t so


But Ron Johnson will -- we can expect more of this. He has cut a path. He

doesn`t believe that there was enough weaponry there that day. He thinks

everyone was having a wonderful time, and that Trump supporters are so pro

cop. There is just no way they would have violated any laws and beaten

other cops in pursuit of getting inside to mess with the certification of

the Electoral College.

WILLIAMS: Some of them beaten with blue Lives Matter flags. Terrific.

Thanks to our guests which the subject matter was happier. A.B. Stoddard

Matthew Dowd, thank you both.

Coming up for us, the damage as we were discussing about Matt Dowd`s Texas,

the damage that Texans are living with, after the storm after the

catastrophic power failure. Five board members from the company charged

with the state`s failed power grid have announced their resignations. We

have an update on the Texas disaster when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: Powers back on largely but the nightmare remains in Texas

investigations underway into what caused the power grid failure the left

much of the state of 30 million people in the dark, no heat, no water,

freezing temperatures. By now most of the board members of that utility

have resigned but that`s likely little consolation for those whose loved

ones are still coping with the aftermath. NBC News correspondent Morgan

Chesky has our report from Texas tonight.


MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight in Texas

struggling families still in need of food, water and shelter.


CHESKY: Cathy Saul`s thankful she`s OK. Last week water from a burst pipe

caved in her ceiling. Her home already dark from losing power.

(on camera): The inside of your house is filling up with water outside it`s

10 degrees. What are you thinking?

SAUL: I`m thinking I`m going to do now. Freezing. Cold. I`m really do.

CHESKY (voice-over): In Houston Monica Were (ph) tapped out savings to put

her family of six in a hotel, water damage making her home unlivable.

MONICA WERE (ph), TEXAS RESIDENT: I opened the door and walked in. And I

stepped into puddles of water.

CHESKY: The widespread damage raising new details about the Texas power

grid. NBC News is alert in late 2020 the Texas Public Utility Commission

governor appointed ended its relationship with Texas reliability entity, a

nonprofit making sure energy companies follow state guidelines including


REP. RAFAEL ANCHIA (D-TX): When you fire the entity that`s supposed to

ensure reliability in the system with no backup plan. That was a failure of

oversight as well.

CHESKY: In Dallas vaccination sites now back open, prioritizing thousands

who missed their shot due to weather.

(on camera): And tonight we`ve learned that four board members of ERCOT,

the agency that manages the state power grid have resigned each of them

lived out of state. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he welcomes the

resignations and plans to further investigate.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to correspondent Morgan Chesky for that report from

his home state of Texas. Coming up for us an update on the condition what

is known tonight about Tiger Woods.


WILLIAMS: As promised the last thing before we go tonight is an update on

Tiger Woods. He remains in the hospital tonight after undergoing surgery

for multiple leg injuries broken bones, A shattered ankle. Initial reports

that rescuers had to use the jaws of life to extricate him from the car

turned out to be untrue. They simply used hand tools to remove the

windshield and pull them out that way.

While his injuries were on the severe side, he was lucky to be wearing a

seatbelt. Lucky to be driving a new car happens to be a small SUV made by

Genesis the luxury brand of Hyundai Motors.

The impact was so great however uprooting trees before it came to arrest,

that just about everything forward of the windshield became a crumple zone

or was sheared off. It`s also fortunate he was only eight miles from a


He was apparently on route for a golf outing with NFL stars Drew Brees and

Justin Herbert. He was coming off his fifth back surgery, like his golf

outing yesterday with Dwayne Wade and David Spade it was likely mostly

pointers he was handing out and taking no swings himself.

Single-car crashes have a finite number of causes. Distracted driving is a

big one these days but that`s usually provable by cross checking the

onboard computer in the car with the timestamps on the driver`s cell phone.

There`s driver impairment and obstruction or a hazard like an animal or a

pedestrian, mechanical failure, of course or another vehicle that we may

not know about yet.

Like other Pinnacle athletes with names like LeBron or Serena or Tom Brady,

there is intense public interest in Tiger Woods that way surpasses his

sport. As a veteran sports reporter set on this network this afternoon, at

that level of play every day, the minute Tiger Woods wakes up people want

things from him, a smile, a handshake, a autograph, a picture that will

never go away.

And starting tonight a new wave of public interest now begins. It will be

about the recovery of Tiger Woods. We will all watch. We`ll all be members

of the gallery for this one. All of us having learned never bet against

Tiger Woods we join his family and friends in wishing for a strong


That`s our broadcast for a Tuesday night with our thanks for being here

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





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