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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 2/5/2021

Guest: Jason Johnson, Caroline Randall Williams, Bill Kristol, Jon Meacham


Trump`s 2nd impeachment trial is set to start Tuesday. President Joe Biden signals he`s willing to move ahead with COVID Aid Bill without GOP Support. Trump lawyers suggest they`ll use police brutality protest videos in impeachment trial. House votes to oust Representative Greene from committees after Kevin McCarthy fails to act. Georgia clinic shut down over vaccine distribution.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: I think they meant to talk to me? They`re telling me I got to wrap up the show, so I will, but thank you for being with us. And that is Tonight`s Last Word, according to my producers. You can catch me again tomorrow morning on my show, Velshi. I`ll be talking to top Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein about what`s next for the COVID relief plan, who`s going to get the much needed checks and when? Sunday is the countdown to Donald Trump`s second impeachment trial begins. I`ll be joined by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman James Clyburn, that Saturday and Sunday mornings 8 to 10 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. The 11th Hour with my friend Brian Williams starts right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day 17 of the Biden administration. In four days time, Donald Trump will once again be defending himself at an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. He was acquitted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in his first go round exactly one year ago today. His place in the history book of impeachment was already secure. But this solidifies his unique low point in American history.

Now Trump`s charged with incitement to insurrection stemming from the riot on Capitol Hill a month ago.

Tonight, in an interview with CBS News, the President is speaking out about Trump`s behavior, whether he should get intelligence briefings, whether he would vote to impeach if he were still in the Senate.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ran like hell to defeat him because I thought he was unfit to be president. I`ve watched what everybody else watched, what happened when that crew invaded the United States Congress. But I`m not in the Senate now. I`ll let the Senate make that decision.

NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR: Should former President Trump still receive intelligence briefings?

BIDEN: I think not.

O`DONNELL: Why not?

BIDEN: Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.

O`DONNELL: What`s your worst fear if he continues to get these intelligence briefings?

BIDEN: I`d rather not speculate out loud. I just think that there is no need for him to have that intelligence briefing. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all other than the fact he might slip and say something?


WILLIAMS: Tonight, the latest reporting from the New York Times says Trump`s defense lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen have, "worked feverishly on Friday to get up to speed on the case and prepare for the trial." It adds that they, "had yet to learn anything about how the trial would operate, including its schedule, how much time the defense would have to present its arguments and the rules for entering evidence. I`m in shock we`re starting Tuesday and we have no agreement for how any resolutions will be put forward. Mr. Schoen said in a telephone interview, we have no rules, no agenda, no timeframe. There is no possible way this is consistent with due process."

Political reports that Trump allies are concerned about the public relations blowback from the trial as Democrats lay out the events of January 6 methodically, "some of his most ardent supporters fear that trial could further damage his reputation. The Democrats have a very emotional and compelling case, said former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. They`re going to try to convict him in the eyes of the American people and smear him forever." Though, of course, that ship may have already sailed.

As all of this unfolds, Joe Biden today took his first flight as president on Air Force One. In this case, the smaller version, the 757 version of the aircraft for the short flight over to Delaware, president is refusing to back down amid opposition from Republicans who want to shrink his nearly $2 trillion relief bill. He said his strongest message yet that he`s willing to move forward on his economic relief plan without Republican support.

Both the Senate and House have signed off on an initial version of a budget plan that would begin turning Biden`s proposal into real legislation.

Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats met with Biden today. She says she wants the House to pass its version of Biden`s plan within a couple of weeks. The economy remains anemic after nearly a year of this pandemic, just 49,000 jobs were added to our economy in January, we`re still down 10 million give or take something Biden took note of today.


BIDEN: It`s very clear, our economy`s still in trouble. And I`m going to act fast. I`d like to be -- I like to be doing it with the support of Republicans. If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting dry -- bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that`s up to the crisis, that`s an easy choice. What Republicans have proposed is either to do nothing or not enough.


WILLIAMS: President said today he won`t budge on the idea of 14 $100 stimulus checks. But tonight, he signaled his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 may not, in fact be part of the final bill.


BIDEN: I`m prepared as president of the United States on a separate negotiation on minimum wage.

O`DONNELL: But that may not be in your American rescue plan?

BIDEN: No, I put it in but I don`t think it`s going to survive.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, the administration is stepping up its effort to get more Americans vaccinated. Today, Yankee Stadium officially opened as a mass vaccination site in New York. President has signed off on a series of initiatives to use the Defense Production Act, while invoking FEMA and the U.S. military and stepping up vaccinations, Pentagon sending over 1000 troops to various sites across the country.

Today, the CDC director said the U.S. is beginning to see a decrease in cases since the post-Christmas peak on January 8, even though numbers remain dangerously high. We now know the full toll of this pandemic. But you may recall what journalist Bob Woodward wrote that there were early signs back in 21, Trump`s National Security Adviser told the president way back on January 28, over a year ago now, "This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency. This is going to be the roughest thing you face."

While meanwhile, this is what the public heard.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re working very strongly with China on the coronavirus, that`s a new thing that a lot of people are talking about. We only have five people. Hopefully everything`s going to be great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to emphasize that the risk to the American public currently is low.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven`t experienced first class the world`s best public health care system, infrastructure and professionals looking out for you.

TRUMP: My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.


WILLIAMS: And we all saw how that went, on February 5 2020, one year ago today, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut sent this out on social media, expressing his concerns, "Just left the administration briefing on coronavirus. Bottom line, they aren`t taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for any emergency funding, which is a big mistake."

On February 7, Trump revealed to Bob Woodward that he knew just how lethal this virus was.


TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That`s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don`t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air that`s how it`s passed. It`s also more deadly than your, you know, your, even your strenuous flus. This is deadly stuff.


WILLIAMS: With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this Friday night, a familiar face to us around here, NBC News Veteran Alexandra Jaffe, she is these days a Political Reporter for The Associated Press, Jason Johnson, Campaign Veteran and Journalist Contributor over at the Grio and a professor of politics at Morgan State University, and Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician, former Senior Policy Aide during the Obama administration. She`s now a non-resident fellow over at Brookings and is among our Medical Contributors.

Well, good evening, and welcome to you all. Special welcome to you, Alexandra, and I`d like to begin with you. As we all know, impeachment could not come at a busier time for this brand new administration. And here comes the cliche riddled question to you about whether or not the Biden White House can walk and chew gum at the same time?

ALEXANDRA JAFFE, AP ASSOCIATED PRESS POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely, it`s the question they`ve received for the past month even before Biden came into the White House and they have repeatedly insisted that they can. There`s every indication that they can, Biden has a packed week next week. He`s heading to the NIH on Thursday, the Defense Department to meet with the Secretary of Defense on Tuesday and a vaccination center on Monday. And while that`s happening, his legislative agenda is moving forward on Capitol Hill, even as half of the day is going to be spent on this impeachment trial.

The House is working on markups of the COVID-19 bill. Senators are already talking about amendments to that bill. So despite the fact that much of the nation will be focused on impeachment, and of course, you know, the news cycle is going to be dominated by impeachment. Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill are working to move his agenda forward.

WILLIAMS: Jason Johnson, I have one for you. One of the president`s impeachment lawyers was on Fox News tonight and was asked about the prospect of all these videos of rioters, insurrection, looting, the taking of our capital, how they could possibly counter that in defending the president. I`ll play for you his answer. We`ll talk about it on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s an awful lot of tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the street, cheered on by Democrats throughout the country, and many of them in Washington using really the most inflammatory rhetoric that`s possible to use and certainly, with there would be no suggestion that they did anything to incite any of the actions that certainly, there wasn`t any anyhow. But here when you have the president of the United States give a speech and says, you should peacefully make your thinking known to the people in Congress he`s all of a sudden the villain so you better be careful what you wish for.


WILLIAMS: So Jason, what do you make of that legal/audio visual strategy? And second question, do you have any indication the outcome this time will be different from last?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, I`ll go to the second question, no, the outcomes not going to be different, Republicans will not vote to impeach Donald Trump again, they`ll give a bunch of speeches, they`ll say they`re disappointed. They`re say, they`re unhappy, and they won`t vote to impeach him. But I got to say on the scale of sort of my cousin, Vinnie to Jackie childs, this is some really bad wiring. It makes sense that five people already dropped out of Trump`s legal defense team, because here`s the thing, the argument that you can somehow distract the public by saying that protests last year about the murder of George Floyd are somehow similar to a president of the United States who spent two and a half months lying about an election and then ginning up a crowd to attack the capital, a crowd that consistently said that they wanted to hang tight, Mike Pence. A crowd where we have video of people saying, we are doing this for Donald Trump, people picking up phones and let`s call Trump and tell him we`re here.

I don`t remember anybody protesting last summer saying, we`re doing this for Nancy Pelosi. I don`t remember anybody protesting about Breonna Taylor`s death and saying, we`re doing this for Chuck Schumer. So if the argument is to somehow claim that Democrats have done the same thing that Donald Trump did, that`s going to fall upon deaf ears, maybe it`ll satisfy some of the right wing microphones but they weren`t going to change their minds anyway. There is a -- is no chance that anybody`s mind is going to be changed to defend Donald Trump based on the defense that his lawyer was laying out tonight.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, please take us into the territory of what is still an uncontrolled pandemic. Officially, I read today that if this current pace of vaccination continues, it`ll take us seven years to get where we want to get. But if I asked you to give us a positive report on the effort to stop the spread, could you?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, Brian, actually, there are some glimmers of hope, you`re right. We do need to accelerate vaccinations but to give some context. Yesterday, we did about 10 times as many vaccinations in a 24-hour period as there were coronavirus cases. So there still are too many new cases of coronavirus. But they`re coming down as you mentioned. And then we`re getting better and better news from manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson filed for an emergency authorization yesterday, looks very likely that they will receive FDA authorization in the next week or so. And that will give us, Brian, an incredible number of one dose shots that are highly effective and can be an incredible kind of tailwind for this vaccination.

And then on the heels of that, we are looking at probably getting even more promising data from Novavax and other manufacturers behind that. So, you`re correct. On the current path, it would take us a long time, but we`re about to see through new manufacturing as well as what the President is invoking from the Defense Production Act, some real ability to get to that precious herd immunity sooner than we think.

WILLIAMS: Alexandra, I know in your job, you get to write the first draft of history, especially at the Associated Press. I also know, you know recent political history. So that`s how I`ll load up this question. What`s the downside of President Biden getting this relief package with not a single Republican vote, it has been done?

JAFFE: Well, the risk is that he poisons the well for future legislative negotiations with Republicans, which we`ve already heard Republicans warn, you know, you push this through without any bipartisan support, then the rest of your agenda may be dead on arrival. And Biden has laid out a pretty ambitious agenda after this COVID aid package. We`re likely to go into an infrastructure package he wants to get work done on climate change, on health care and so it makes things that much tougher if Republicans say, you know, what you weren`t negotiating in the states from the start.

It also raises some questions about his brand. Joe Biden has built a political brand over decades as a dealmaker and person who genuinely believes in bipartisanship. That`s how we -- he came to be known as vice president. That`s how he was known during his time in the Senate. And that`s how he ran his campaign. Even on Inauguration Day, he promised to unify the country and to work across the aisle.

And so I think some voters that were won over by that pitch, may be wondering if, you know, this is the President that they hoped it would be, and maybe wondering if he`s broken some of those promises, so there could be political ramifications if he pushes things through unilaterally. That said, it`s worth noting, this package has widespread support, we`ve seen polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly support it. So the political objects we`re pushing through a plan that Americans both support, and clearly need are pretty positive for him at that point, and at this point, and it may insulate him from any political fallout.

WILLIAMS: Jason, you`re going to think you are the lucky recipient of the video Daily Double, but I got another one for you. This is MTG from today. We`ll discuss on the other side.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I`m fine with being kicked off of my committees, because it`d be a waste of my time. Now, I have a lot of free time on my hands, which means I can talk to a whole lot more people all over this country. And I can talk to more people and make connections and build a huge amount of support. I`m going to be holding the Republican Party accountable and pushing them to the right.


WILLIAMS: So, Jason, for bringing home the bacon to her congressional district. When you take away committee assignments, there goes the bacon, so not so much on running for the folks back home. But fundraising, yes, building her own personal stardom, yes, do you think Kevin McCarthy views this as a problem or a kind of a secret asset?

JOHNSON: You know, McCarthy probably thinks it`s a secret asset. But we`re going to look at the history of this. The history, this is Sarah Palin, it becomes a self-aggrandizing thing for that individual that doesn`t really manifest and improve votes. Marjorie Taylor Greene is not going to flip anybody see in 2022. Marjorie Taylor Greene is going to raise a lot of money for herself. But whether or not she becomes something beneficial to the Republican Party, I don`t think that`s going to happen.

Look, her anti-Semitic or racist comments, the fact that she can`t bring anything home their constituency, the fact that she was threatening Cori Bush, the fact that she refused to apologize for anything that she did, the fact that she has mainstream Q&A, which is basically a white nationalist death cult, none of those things are going to be beneficial. And if the Republicans had even a lick of common sense, what they would be thinking about is for all the years that they tried to demonize Nancy Pelosi and all the years that they tried to demonize AOC and Ilhan Omar and the squad and everything else like that. That`s what`s going to happen to them with Marjorie Taylor Greene, if they let her go run around the country with free time, (inaudible). If they let her run around the country, every single person she touches she`s going to affect, not just with COVID because you won`t wear a mask, but she`s going to affect them with the QAnon state, which is not what Republicans want to be running in 2022. But McCarthy can`t seem to control his own caucus. So he`s going to let it run while.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, let`s take what Jason just said as a segue and talk about not wearing masks, the state of Iowa back to your bailiwick is ready to go back to the old days, lifting restrictions, lifting public occupancy rules, lifting mask requirements, gathering limits, as the Des Moines Register puts it today. We`re going to sound like a scold. If we say, isn`t that the fastest way to fill up emergency rooms and perhaps even force another lockdown?

PATEL: Yeah, Brian, I mean, this is now so clearly been demonstrated countless times from the Republican convention to rallies, to grocery stores in Florida, where they actively are proud of not wearing masks that doing all of this is exactly the formula for overwhelming your healthcare system for denying care for all other medical conditions, because you`re tying up your health system with COVID cases. And furthermore, infecting and killing people.

So, it really is -- I have gotten to the point where that type of action really should be held accountable in a court of law. These are actions that are absolutely going to lead to deaths and hospitalizations and cases and who knows what kind of chronic symptoms, Brian.

So, this is the kind of political posturing that is getting the American public nowhere, but further down. And so I hope that this gets but I truly hope that people come to their senses not just in Iowa, but around the country where they`re using this as a badge of honor to show kind of this individualism when the true individualism, Brian, is to take this seriously and realize your actions have -- can affect people exponentially. That`s actually the definition of viral spread.

WILLIAMS: We are much obliged to our big three for finishing the week with us and starting off our Friday broadcast. Alexandra Jaffe, Jason Johnson, Dr. Kavita Patel, greatly appreciated. Thank you all.

Coming up for us, why one of our next guests a lifelong conservative says it could be beneficial to keep this Marjorie Taylor Greene around?

And later, an extreme group of political activists taking aim at the government but not the ones from a month ago on the hill. Pulitzer Prize- winning Historian Jon Meacham is here, what our past can teach us about defeating extremism in our midst. All of it as the Friday edition of the 11th Hour is just getting underway.



GREENE: Record number of Republicans voted for President Trump and when I tell you Republican voters support him still, the party is his. It doesn`t belong to anybody else.


WILLIAMS: Faithful until the end, Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to make it very clear her allegiance to Donald Trump remains strong. She spoke out one day after losing her committee assignments, the Democrats in charge of the House made the unusual move after the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to do so.

Politico points out today, "With his sights set on winning back the House and with it the prize speaker`s gavel, McCarthy is carefully trying to thread the needle between two competing and often overlapping factions in his conference, the Republican establishment and the pro-Trump wing. Well for more, we are thrilled to welcome to our broadcast, Caroline Randall Williams. She`s an author, poet and academic and currently Writer in Residence with the Department of Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. And we welcome back, Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker and Politico, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, currently editor-in-large, at large over at the Bulwark.

Carolina, Indeed, welcome to the broadcast, thrilled to have you and what I hope is a layup to start you off. Is MTG more of a threat to the Dems or Republicans?

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE: I love that question. I think that she is sort of obviously more of a threat, in my mind, to Republicans, if they`re, you know, most of the decent Republicans that I know have either actively abandoned the party and, you know, set up factions like Mr. Kristol`s, that are obviously anti this movement, or they left the party altogether, Joe Scarborough and Nicolle Wallace, that kind of thing, Steve Schmidt.

But I think that the Republicans that are trying to claim that this is a party of decent Americans who are saying and on the side of all Americans, they are going to have a really hard time justifying those claims and that allegiance in the face of her ongoing rise. So, I think it`s -- she`s much more of a threat to the Republican Party.

WILLIAMS: And Bill Kristol, you made the point that it`s better to have her around that you think it`s actually useful, expand on that?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Slightly ironic when she says out loud when other people don`t quite dare say when she says, the party is Trump`s, it`s nobody else`s. Think about that for a minute, what is she talking about?

In America, political parties belong to the voters who vote for them, the people who belong to those parties, the elected officials of those parties? The party is Trump`s, it`s nobody else`s. That`s something you say, literally, that`s the word authoritarian statement, right? The party belongs to the leader. In this case, it`s not even the leader who`s in power, who`s president, it`s the ex-president. It`s -- I mean, you can`t imagine a Republican member of Congress saying this, even about a beloved former president, Ronald Reagan in `89, or Barack Obama in 2017, it would look kind of crazy. The party is Barack Obama`s, it`s no one else`s. And you know, he was president, we respect him. And it`s a political party. And we`re free citizens. And we`re each elected official advice to follow our own judgment.

So, the kind of authoritarianism of it, I think, is a wakeup call. And that`s why it`s useful to have her say it. The others are intimidated by Trump. She`s proud of being part of a party that is not really the kind of party you want to have in a Republican government and democracy.

WILLIAMS: Bill, what about being a member of Congress, I mean, getting tossed from committees, frees up her time so she can spend more time with her conspiracy theories, but the folks at home send you to Washington for a reason?

KRISTOL: I mean, one hopes maybe some of the folks and do to make a statement and cause trouble and advance to fight the liberals and all that. I mean, it`s part of a general degeneration of our politics that she`s -- that when she says that, you know, I mean, you react correctly, but I think an awful lot of people think, yeah, they do anyways, get press conferences and speeches and attack people and have symbolic votes. And when you look at how Congress works, much too much of it is that way, so she`s getting extreme manifestation of a problem that goes much deeper than Ben-Hur alone.

WILLIAMS: Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us. I`m just going to sneak in a commercial break. You`ll hardly notice it.

Coming up when our conversation continues, the politics surrounding the second impeachment of that guy.



REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): I believe that when those stories are told of the human toll that was unleashed as a result of the recklessness of the former president of the United States of America, I hope that some of my senate colleagues will search their consciousness and do the right thing.


WILLIAMS: Congressman Jeffries from New York will indeed find out soon in just four days, Donald Trump`s second impeachment trial gets underway. That`s hard to do still with us, Caroline Randall Williams and Bill Kristol.

Carolina, I want to hear you out on the subject of witnesses. We know how powerful and compelling witness testimony could be. We saw a lot of it on the floor of the House yesterday, just members of Congress talking about that day.

We`ve also seen the power of the video from that day, it is so oddly mesmerizing, when you realize they`re taking our Capitol, they`re looting our Capitol. Talk about the double-edged sword of witnesses, the other edge being the shenanigans the republicans might try to get into.

C. WILLIAMS: You know, I think that when I see those images, and then you pose that question that way, Brian, what really comes to mind is that I think these lines were drawn. I mean, they were drawn a long, long time ago, but they`ve been reactivated. It`s been -- it`s a little late to think that the testimony could sway people who`ve already chosen the side, because we all know that watching, you know, our side prevail or storm, the steps would move us and we all know that watching the other side, do it. Or watching the other side be sad about what we perceive as our triumph won`t hurt us.

And I think I struggle to believe that these people who have stood by brewing these appalling behaviors and this insane rhetoric and being complicit in it for the last four years at least, I struggled to believe that the sort of visual outcome of that is going to do much swaying, because I think that there are a lot of really smart people that are serving the Republican Party in the House who already know that this is who they`re working with.

I think that the southern strategy is paying off now, I think it was a deal with the devil, and the accounts being called in and then all the Republicans who followed Lee Atwater into the 80s are paying for it now.

And that being willing to use strategies that rely on implicit dog whistles and racism and appealing quietly to white supremacy to get votes won, that`s when the Republican Party stopped being the party of Lincoln.

And it`s, you know, it`s sad to me that I don`t see this as some sort of, I don`t see the promise of bearing witness as something that`s going to move people to do the right thing at last, because I think it`s a little late for that.

B. WILLIAMS: Well, Bill Kristol, I couldn`t say it any better than that. And let me start with you. Where she left off, is there any card the Democrats can play? What if anything, would give air cover, which is a necessary commodity in Washington, you`ve speculated about republicans that might come over what would give them air cover to suddenly find their courage gather themselves up and vote to convict?

KRISTOL: I think Caroline`s right. And it`s unlikely they`re looking for an excuse not to convict and that excuse is going to be a bogus argument. I think that they can`t convict the president once he`s out of office, even though he was impeached while in office. And even though I think the Constitution is pretty clear.

But I would say the one thing, I think the House managers are going to make a strong case. And I think the way to do it is both the incitement to the riot, which is pretty inevitable that the breaching the Capitol, maybe the ground for that was laid over the last four or five years. Maybe it was laid over the last 25 years, as Caroline suggests, still it is different than what has happened before.

And I think, then, what the fact that Trump did nothing as it was happening, and he is the president, other people have given irresponsible speeches. So, Trump`s lawyers can kind of muddy those waters. No one else has been president, watch the Capitol be breached be assaulted by people acting in his name, people to whom he spoke just a couple of hours before people who were in Washington DC asked him to come to Washington. And the President watches that on TV apparently enjoys it. Tries does not try to call them off for what two or three hours does not seem to call a meeting of the National Security Council, doesn`t call the Defense Department, doesn`t call the Justice Department, doesn`t call the FBI, doesn`t make sure that all resources are being rushed there to stop the injuries, the mayhem, the deaths as it turned out.

I think if you could somehow juxtapose those, if you could show those images that you`re seeing that you`re showing now of what`s happening at the Capitol, and then split screen show President Trump in the Oval Office, you know, I mean, you have to have other photos of him watching television and doing nothing and just do it almost every half hour 1:32 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

It just brings home what an incredible dereliction of duty it is. Their demagogues, their irresponsible statements, the other presidents have said things that were you know, as I say irresponsible little advice. No president has sat passively watching television when the Capitol of the United States was stormed and apparently enjoying an event tweets at the end of it all praising the people who did that I think there`s a chance that might that might get to people.

B. WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, thank you, brilliant stuff as always, and Caroline, please take this the right way. I was so tired of watching you be brilliant with Lawrence O`Donnell often just minutes before we came on the air. I so greatly appreciate you accepting our invitation so we could spread some of that brilliance around our audience. We hope it`s the first of many times. Thank you both. Have a good weekend. No matter which team you are rooting for.

Coming up for us tonight, one/six, the taking of our capital and let`s call it what it was. It happened a month ago tomorrow but as Jon Meacham will tell us, it`s far from the first time the GOP has had to take on extremists within.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: Let`s have trial by combat.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to have a country anymore. We`re going to walk down to the Capitol.


WILLIAMS: But remember, they weren`t inciting anything. Tomorrow marks one month since the rhetoric at that rally spawned a deadly riot and the looting of our nation`s capital.

On the current state of the GOP, Ron Brownstein writes the following in The Atlantic this week, the question of how Republicans deal with the extremists in their ranks, is now more urgent than perhaps at any other point since the Birch Society`s heyday in the 60s, the GOP is morphing into a quasi-authoritarian party, one that`s becoming more willing to undermine democratic norms to maintain power.

We are so pleased to have back with us again tonight. Our friend Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning author, presidential historian, a professor on the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University. He occasionally advises the new president on historical matters and major speeches and again, relevant to our conversation. He is co-author of that handy book. We use it every year around here, "Impeachment: An American History,"

Jon, first of all, big night for Vanderbilt. You add in Willie Geist, and you got the Holy Trinity.


WILLIAMS: So I know I`m going to be hearing from him. You should all be very, very .

MEACHAM: I`m following Caroline was not my plan. You`d never know after a stars, so.

WILLIAMS: I`ve been wanting to have her on for a long time, as our staff will tell you. Let`s talk about other times this particular party has had shall we call it an extremist problem?

MEACHAM: Well, I was thinking this week about a passing conversation I had was lucky enough to have with George Herbert Walker Bush, who, in 1962-63, was chairman of the Harris County Republican Party in Houston.

George H.W. Bush was a hugely ambitious, eager politicians son of a senator from Connecticut, wanted to be in politics the next year before he turned 40. He announced for the Senate challenged Ralph Yarborough. He was not someone who was uninterested in his political future.

And the John Birch society, which had been founded, I think, in 1958. I saw General Marshall, President Eisenhower as quote, conscious agents of the communist conspiracy. It opposed the fluoridation of water, believing it was a communist plot. Believe there was a student essay contest on what were the best grounds on which to impeach Chief Justice Warren from power.

This was, you know, and a kind of QAnon like, the group and George Bush`s task as chairman of the party in Texas, and Texas was a Birch stronghold, was to purge the party, to try to say this is not who we are. Those are extremists. And he did it. And Bill Buckley did the same thing at National Review in the same era.

And I remember asking the former president, whether that had been painful. And he said in that way of his, you know, the way to do George H.W. Bush`s voice is Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne. As Dana Carvey once said, he said painful, no. And I did all right. It was hard. But, you know, I did just fine.

And I think that`s an important point for Republicans who were Republicans before the Trump takeover. And I know there are arguments that it wasn`t a takeover, but a natural development. I think that`s a much more debatable point.

But at this hour, there is a live extremist element, threatening not only the health of one of our parties, but the health of the nation itself, and the literal health, as we saw, and if I may say so Leader Hauliers (ph), really amazingly good speech this week, the health of our elected representatives, and you may say, if you`re a Democrat, if you`re a progressive, you may say, good, let the Republican Party implode, and that may be fine, it may be fine to have this particular iteration of it.

But since Jefferson and Hamilton, the country has needed two parties, having a healthy competition ultimately is good for the country. The problem now, of course, is that one of those parties is not a rational actor. But the example of President Bush shows that you can stand up to extremists and still thrive in that party.

WILLIAMS: Is it possible in 45 seconds to speculate how they get their brand back as a party? Do they? I guess they have to want it first.

MEACHAM: They have to want it. There has to be I, you know, I`m kind of in the camp that it probably needs to break up. Just as a clinical observer, you probably need to have the core, core Trump people leave. I don`t think the establishment Republicans and so far as there are any want to see that happen because they know it`s probably a decade long loss.

But the party probably needs that. I would argue in the same way the Republicans needed to get rid of the not anti-communism, which was fine. But the anti-communist extremists and conspiracy theorists, that`s what this is really about, Brian, right.

This is about can you agree on facts? Can you understand that we are devoted to the same ends, which is a more perfect union, even if you disagree almost to the death on the means.

WILLIAMS: The other member of the Vanderbilt faculty on with us tonight, Jon Meacham. Pleasure as always. Have a good weekend. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us tonight. Why one rural clinics race to vaccinate everyone they could find was put on an unexpected pause will bring you that report when we come by.


WILLIAMS: Some we want to show you from the state of Georgia where vaccinations have been halted in one rural county. Technically for inoculating too many people. It`s a story you need to see and we get this report tonight from NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): State Health officials with boxes of vaccines are pretty common sight these days. But they aren`t delivering doses.

They are confiscating data from this rural health clinic in Elberton, Georgia.

DR. JONATHAN POON, THE MEDICAL CENTER OF ELBERTON: It was shocked but then a lot of anger. Because we knew that immediately. Everything that we had tried to do up until now to vaccinate our county was just laid to waste.

GOSK: The state health department didn`t issue a warning. It just shut the vaccinations down for six months, because Dr. Jonathan Poon and his staff inoculated local teachers, and the state says it`s not their turn.

POON: We vaccinated a total of 177, you know, schools, school system employees,

GOSK (on camera): And you did that while you were also vaccinating seniors?

POON: That`s right, we were trying to do it all simultaneously.

GOSK (voice-over): At a time when vaccination clinics were struggling to get up and running. This one had already bought an ultra-cold freezer and a new building to administer the shots.

When the vaccine arrived, they were giving out 60 to 70 doses a day.

POON: We were the only ones who was vaccinating every day at this rate for the county.

GOSK: The clinic says it was so efficient, it wrapped up Phase 1A early moved on to essential workers. But the state made a change putting seniors 65 and older ahead of essential workers. Dr. Poon says they didn`t know.

POON: There was never any malicious intent to defy the state, and nothing that was trying to move people ahead of each other. It was just trying to vaccinate everybody as quick as we can.

GOSK (on camera): Is it fair to say that there are people sitting at home today who are eligible for vaccines? And who would be here today, if you weren`t closed out?

POON: Absolutely.

GOSK (voice-over): The Medical Center which has treated locals for more than 50 years appealed the state decision. But the Health Department says the problem is the plot. And it feels forced to set an example.

CHRIS RUSTIN, GEORGIA DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH: When outside of the phase in such a almost deliberate manner, was something that we could not ignore. And we needed to make sure that others that are better vaccinating. Understand that we have such limitations on our vaccines left, we have to follow a plan that`s been clearly communicated.

GOSK (on camera): Surely there is a compromise that doesn`t keep them out of the loop for six full months. What happens in three months when you open up to the general population, and here you have a facility that`s ready to go and instead is dark.

RUSTIN: Yes, as I`ve stated before, we will continue to monitor this situation.

GOSK (voice-over): State officials have increased vaccines to other locations in the county and say there is sufficient local access.

JENNIFER KATES, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: Whether it`s a state, county or a clinic is facing almost, you know, an impossible situation a Sophie`s Choice. Who do you decide to give a number of vaccines to when everybody`s deserving?

GOSK: Dr. Poon says he understands and wants to follow the rules.

(on camera): Is it emotional for you and your staff to see this place empty?

POON: It`s heartbreaking because we poured everything in the past few months to try and make this a success.

GOSK (voice-over): But for now, all they can do is wait.

POON: We present a lot of tears shed, a lot of sleepless nights. Trying to understand why this would happen to people who try to do the right thing.

GOSK: Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, Elberton, Georgia.


WILLIAMS: Unbelievable story. Another break for us and coming up, there are two kinds of bowls this coming Sunday super and puppy. One of them will feature the First Lady and the first new -- the brand new White House residence.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, it`s Super Bowl Weekend which means it`s puppy bowl weekend and if you are blessed enough to love a dog, if you are blessed enough to know the love of a dog, you have no doubt rejoiced along with us that dogs are back in the White House and the First Lady will appear with them during the puppy bowl with this public service announcement.


JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi there. I`m Jill Biden here at the White House with our two dogs Champ and Major. For a lot of us during this pandemic, our pets have been such a source of joy and comfort, and maybe a barker to on a video conference.

The unconditional love from a dog is one of the most beautiful things on earth and we owe it to them to keep ourselves healthy. So please keep wearing your mask even when you`re out walking your dog. Right guys?


WILLIAMS: First Lady with two very good boys to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast for this Friday night. And for this week, it comes of course with our thanks for spending this time with us. And as always have a good weekend unless you have other plans. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.