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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 3/1/2021

Guest: Ashley Parker, A.B. Stoddard, Nahid Bhadelia, Joseph Spector, Amie Parnes, Andrew Mitchell, Isaiah Pinnock


CDC is worried about states removing COVID restrictions. President Joe Biden pitches $1.9 trillion COVID aid bill to Senate Democrats. Biden works to get Dem senators behind his COVID bill. Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, accused the Trump administration of gutting the U.S. immigration system, complicating his job as he tries to meet demands from Democrats to roll back his predecessors` policies. Trump unleashes attacks and vows return at CPAC. Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations of sexual harassment. New Jersey plumbers drive to Texas to help restore water.


JESSE MCKINLEY, NEW YORK TIMES ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF: There`s a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of people are wondering what happened here. And I think there`s going to be pressure for a speedy resolution.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Jesse McKinley, thank you very much for joining us from Albany tonight, I really appreciate it.

MCKINLEY: Anytime.

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 41 of the Biden administration. Tonight there are as you`ve no doubt heard troubling allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York Times out with a report of a woman accusing him of making an unwanted advance at a wedding. This comes after two former aides accused Governor Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace. We`ll have much more on the story ahead.

Also tonight, a third COVID vaccine is about to be available to millions of Americans. Johnson & Johnson single dose one and done shot is making its way to communities across the country just days after the FDA signed off on its use.


JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Starting yesterday, we began executing on our plans by distributing 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson to states tribes and territories, and also to pharmacies and community health centers. Johnson & Johnson doses will be delivered as early as tomorrow.


WILLIAMS: About seven and a half percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated by now, that includes, we`ve just learned former President Trump and his wife Melania. A Trump advisor today acknowledged for the first time they were inoculated at the White House back in January. That was just months after they both came down with the coronavirus. Unlike the new president and vice president that Trumps though kept it private, which of course erases the public health benefit of seeing our leaders get the vaccine. And that goes especially among members of Trumps often vaccine skeptical political base. Even with the good news about the new rollout of vaccines today, the CDC director warns the country is at a precarious point still in this pandemic.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift and the trajectory of the pandemic. The latest CDC data continues to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number. I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.


WILLIAMS: President Biden`s COVID relief bill is now with the Senate after the House passed it early Saturday morning. Biden plans to spend much of this week lobbying his fellow Democrats to support the bill. He`ll need all 50 of them since as unlikely to get any help from Republicans. Today, he held a virtual meeting with a group of Democratic senators talking about the bill. President has also had a virtual meeting with Mexico`s leader part of his effort to turn away from Trump`s immigration policies while trying to avoid any kind of new crisis at the border. Biden`s new Homeland Security Secretary described what he says is the damage done to our nation`s immigration process by his predecessors.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The prior administration dismantled our nation`s immigration system in its entirety, quite frankly, the entire system was gutted. It takes time to build out of the depths of cruelty that the administration before us established. We have begun to develop and rebuild of the program to reunify individuals with their families here in the United States, as was once the case.


WILLIAMS: Secretary Mayorkas added that the administration is considering allowing those families separated at the border under Trump to stay in our country permanently. Biden now also has a new Education Secretary. The Senate has confirmed Miguel Cardona today, and Merrick Garland is one step closer to becoming the next Attorney General. Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send his nomination on to the full Senate.

At his confirmation hearing, Garland promised to make the prosecution of the Capitol rioters his top priority. Today new court filings revealed the feds alleged the Proud Boys militia group dressed, "incognito" and spread out to many different locations from which they could force entry into the Capitol.

Importantly, tomorrow, FBI Director Chris Wray will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the intelligence concerning the insurrection.

Meanwhile, former President Trump and his surrogates continued this weekend to spread the big lie that set the stage for the attack on the Capitol. He made his first public appearance at the CPAC convention Sunday, where he attacked those who voted against him during his second impeachment and left no doubt about his role in the party.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re not starting new parties. We have the Republican Party. It`s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party.

The Democrats don`t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey. And in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez, that`s another beauty. Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Butler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadeo, and of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney, how about that? Hopefully, they`ll get rid of her with the next election. With your help, we will take back the House. We will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. Who, who, who will that be? I wonder?


WILLIAMS: Obviously a president going after a laundry list of members of his own party is rather unprecedented. But what else is new, Trump may soon be facing even more problems. On the legal front, the New York Times reporting prosecutors in the Manhattan DA`s office, who are looking into his finances and his family business, are intensifying their focus on the Trump Company`s longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg.

With that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this back to work Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, A.B. Stoddard, Veteran Washington Journalist, Associate Editor and Columnist at Real Clear Politics, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, back with us as well, Infectious Disease Physician, Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit, Boston University School of Medicine.

Good evening, and welcome to you both. Ashley, I`d like to start with you. And it`s a bit of a process and strategy question, though. You`ll know the answer. How is the White House to get Democrats to stay in line and then the tough part looking for any possible crossover voters? If they lose a Democrat, they need a commensurate Republican for this relief bill?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: That`s exactly right. And as of now their focus is on keeping the Democrats in line as tough as a task is that is going to be. It is easier as of now at least then trying to get one Republican for a dropped Democrat. And so that`s why you`re seeing this week, President Biden today he had a phone call with about eight moderate Democratic senators who he is going to need their votes for that bill. To be clear, he needs every democratic vote, but they were talking about sort of specific ways they could maybe target the money in the relief feel better, but not really change any part of the core of it. Tomorrow, he`s going to be talking to Senate Democrats and Wednesday, he will be talking to House Democrats because of course, once the bill moves through the Senate, it will get kicked back to the House.

And that`s really the challenge that he has to keep the moderates on board, while also not making so many concessions that it angers the very vocal progressive wing of the party who believes that they helped get him elected and they believe they deserve certain concessions from him.

WILLIAMS: A.B., I have something for you. We`ll all listen to Lindsey Graham from Fox News tonight and discuss on the other side.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s not necessary for everybody to like each other. I actually like President Trump. He`s been very nice to me. He`s allowed me to be in his world. He allows me to give my two cents worth about different issues when he was president. This is his party. If you don`t get that you missed a lot at CPAC. Donald Trump has the nomination right now and nobody can take it away from him if he wants to run.


WILLIAMS: He`s allowed me to be in his world. First off, the Little Mermaid called wants her lyric back. But secondly, I want to show you a graphic, A.B., this is the straw poll from CPAC, 55% of attendees respondents would vote for Trump in 2024 primary, interesting number as is this, 68% of them want Trump to run for president again, 95% want the Republican parties do advance his policies and agenda. This was as, you know, all too well, a gathering of the true believers this weekend. If we`ve agreed that trumpism is the Republican Party, are you convinced, A.B., that Trump is going to remain there guy?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, I, a lot of people like congressman Kinzinger are hoping that he will fade in favor with each passing month. And I just don`t see that, I think that you look at the way the state and local parties are constructed these days, that whole apparatus was filled with Trump people starting in 2016 -- 2017, after he won. They are completely Trumpian operations. If they Adam Kinzinger, member of the Republican Party wanted to come through that system, and become a state senator or a congressman, or even a Senate candidate for federal office and sought the support of those parties, they would be turned away if they were reality, Republicans, if they did not support the big lie, if they did not pledge their support for President Trump in 2024, if they took the January 6 insurrection, as what it was a consequential deadly attack on the government.

And so this is the stranglehold he has on the party, those numbers I`m sure we`re not what he wanted. I`m sure he wanted more, as he is insatiable, but he`s made it clear, get rid of them all, that he has a list, he`s going to check it twice. And he`s going to use all these party apparatus to I think, get rid of Liz Cheney, in Wyoming and other people in primaries as well. And so while he might be a criminal defendant soon and things might get bleak down the road for him right now, as Lindsey Graham says, it`s time to get on board and stay on board.

WILLIAMS: And A.B., just a quick follow up, you and I have been around a while how bracing is it to hear a president rattle off a list of elected members of his own party for scorn?

STODDARD: It`s just -- we`re suppose -- what is the expression we continue to use? We`re shocked but not surprised. It`s really sick. I mean, the idea of naming all those people who already faced death threats, we know this, from impeachment, and then say at the end, get rid of them all. As if we`re living in a third world dictatorship. It`s remarkable. But he needs that control. He needs dominance. And he`s -- he, you know, he`s not going to get a lot of opportunities, like the death of Rush Limbaugh and accident from Tiger Woods, and a CPAC speech to air all these grievances, but he`s going to take every opportunity and friendly every opportunity that he can.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, over to you, why is our CDC Director arguing, this is not the time to let up the loosening of standards in so many states not withstanding?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: I`m glad you started with that, Brian, because you know, the news of the new vaccine is great. Now one more tool in our arsenal, 20 million more people that could be fully vaccinated by the end of March. But we`ve plateaued in our cases for the last 10 days and the deaths, is sort of plateauing. And that was just thinking on her words today, because where we`re at, you know, about 2000 deaths and about 70,000 cases a little less a day and not know is our peak during the summer. And that`s, on that setting is where a lot of states are considering opening up exponentially all that indoor capacity. And one just wonders, why are we making it harder for ourselves, as you said, only 7.5% of us are fully vaccinated about 15% have gotten one dose. So far, we`re far from hitting a point we`re out of the woods, particularly with this variance. And I think it`s partly connected to what, Ashley started with this relief bill. You know, if we could get that out there, maybe we could give our businesses a little bit of relief. So we can hang in there and get to the other side and really maximize the benefit that we have from these miracles, which are these vaccines that we`ve discovered and have found to be so effective.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker back to you and back to politics and back to the White House. In Aaron Sorkin`s fictional White House we heard argued, we fight the fights that need fighting. Is there any appetite to go deep on minimum wage? There`s no law that says Joe Biden must take the word of the Senate parliamentarian, it`s been cast aside before in modern Senate history. This is a big fight. No one believes human life is sustainable at 750 an hour in The United States of 2021.

PARKER: In the parliamentarian, in fact has been fired before when a party didn`t get the ruling they wanted. So the answer is yes and no, the Biden administration has made clear that it is going to respect the process, respect the parliamentarians ruling, in part because overriding the parliamentarian isn`t as simple as declaring I override her, they would actually again, need the votes for that. And they likely do not have them because of their very fragile majority in the Senate. And in some ways, this ruling that helps the president in the White House push through this COVID relief bill, because there were some moderate democratic senators, most notably, Senator Manchin, who had expressed real concern with that $15 minimum wage.

That said, it is not going anywhere. As you pointed out, there is real pressure from the progressive wing of the party, to bring up that minimum wage. There`s real pressure, even just in society, you are seeing companies on their own making the same calculation you made that people cannot live on a minimum wage as it is now and that if they want to attract the best employees, they need to raise it themselves. What was striking today was Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary was asked this very question basically, in the briefing, what happens now. There was sort of a plan B to penalize companies that did not bring up their minimum wage that has now sort of been put on hold. And she basically said, the minimum wage question is not going away, we are absolutely going to fight for it. But how and when and what the plan is, we don`t really know quite yet. And that`s where things stand.

WILLIAMS: A.B., as unfair it is, as it is to pull one sentence out of an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. We found one from Michael Gerson, the noted speechwriter for Bush `43 that we thought needed highlighting, "The party has been swiftly repositioned as an instrument of white grievance." And A.B., you and I have had this discussion before math and demographics don`t favor that approach. However, the reality might be with the base?

STODDARD: Right. The question after January 6, and the loss of the two seats in the Georgia runoff and the loss of the majority of Republicans was an impending impeachment trial was, you know, is this our moment where we walk away and say, we need to have a big coalition again, we need to win the popular vote in presidential elections. We need to win back former Republicans, we need to win back independence, we need to win national elections. And this guy lost us everything that there was only a few days and weeks before they decided that the base was so fervently behind the president, they would cling to that passionate minority, because they couldn`t get their primary elections and stay in their seats without them. And then they`re going to muddle through. You lose even 18, 20% of the Republicans who may be voted, held their nose and voted for Trump or voted for Biden, but we`re going to continue to support Senate and House Republicans after the January 6 insurrection, and you really get into a worse math situation than they were in on November 3. But they have decided that their ticket, they`re not even in the stadium until they please these people who believe Trump won the election, believe that the FBI and the DHS and all of the judges who decided that there was not fraud found, legitimate fraud found in those court cases 60 of them, they`re all liars. And they`re going to proceed with those voters and try to keep those voters happy, and hope that they can drive out enough of them. And that`s just an incredible gamble in 2020 when Donald Trump is not on the ballot. And in those elections when he`s not they always tend to lose.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, final question to you and you get the last word, we celebrate the advances in vaccines, the J&J vaccine may get us into places from the South Bronx to South Central and rural parts of South Carolina along the way, but because the emphasis has been on vaccines, we`ve turned our backs of bits we in the media on testing, there`s been a decline in the real number of people being tested. You want to put in a good word for thorough testing?

BHADELIA: I do. So we`ve gone from an all time high of 14 million tests a week to about 10 million and the reasons are you know, as you just pointed out in the headline complicated they seem to be combination of the fact that you know, people aren`t traveling as much. So maybe they`re testing but also that people are not potentially getting exposed as a case numbers are going down. But the worrisome thing is potentially that we`ve shifted our focus to vaccinations and we want to make sure that we keep investing in that testing. So keeping those, that immense amount of transmission down is how we keep the variants in check. We don`t give the virus the ability to evolve because they won`t replicate. But the last bit is the fatigue, you know, which is what I worry about are people getting just pandemic fatigue and not getting tested and staying on top of potentially symptoms or exposures. And that`s where I want to really put in the good word. Please do get tested, continue to get tested, so we can keep an eye on the ground of where this disease is moving.

WILLIAMS: Our big three, this first night of a new week, Ashley Parker, A.B. Stoddard, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, great thanks for being with us.

Coming up, the latest allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, tonight a third woman as we said has stepped forward this time, accusing him of an unwanted advance. One of the reporters following all the developments will join us.

And later, 1000s of Texas residents still without drinking water. Will talk to a New Jersey plumber who saw enough, he packed up his family and business and drove out across the country to help out, as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Monday night.


WILLIAMS: As we reported the top of the hour, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing another accusation of sexual harassment. Tonight the New York Times reporting 33 year old Anna Ruch is accusing Cuomo of an unwanted advance. This was at a wedding back in 2019. Times reports Cuomo put his hand on Ms. Ruch`s bear lower back when she removed his hand with her own, Ms. Ruch recall the governor remarked that she seemed aggressive and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear. Ms. Ruch was bewildered by the entreaty, she said and pulled away as the governor drew closer. Ruch told the time she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by the encounter and a friend captured the exchange in a series of photographs taken on Ruch cell phone.

Time goes -- Times goes on to report a spokesperson for Cuomo did not directly address Ruch`s accounts, but referred to a statement Cuomo released Sunday after a second former aide accused him of sexual harassment. In that statement, he denied he ever inappropriately touched her proposition to anyone. The statement also read in part, "I acknowledged some of the things I have said have both been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way. I am truly sorry about that."

NBC News has confirmed the second accuser told her story to the New York Times reached out to the other two, Governor Cuomo has agreed to refer the matter to the New York Attorney General`s Office for an independent review, it`s believe she will hire a private law firm for that.

For more we welcome to the broadcast, Joseph Spector, he`s Politics Editor, also covering government accountability in the Atlantic region for USA Today. Thank you for coming on. And the beginning question is very simple, can he survive this?

JOSEPH SPECTOR, USA TODAY POLITICS EDITOR: That`s right, Brian, that`s the question everyone`s asking tonight. You know, you have three women now have come forward to the first two are former aides of Governor Cuomo. This one was not but, you know, it all goes back to sort of this escalating concern of accusations against Governor Cuomo with personal conduct, whether it`s his words or his actions, making young women feel uncomfortable when they around -- when they are around him. And it just, you know, today is the one year anniversary of the first COVID case in New York, which, as you remember, ended up being about 800 deaths a day on mid April, and Governor Cuomo became popular, well known, it became national news to tune into his briefings, and today, no briefing on the one year anniversary of the first COVID case. So it just goes to show you the turmoil and tumble that`s within his administration.

WILLIAMS: For viewers watching around the country who may not have followed this as with as much granularity, as guys like me and you, the subject in New York, for a lot of people remains upwards of 11,000 dead seniors in New York State nursing homes. Let`s go further granular about how the governor is regarded by colleagues in politics. It said when you`re going to get into political trouble like this, it helps to have friends. He is a controversial figure in Albany and throughout the State of New York, is he not?

SPECTOR: Well, that`s right. And you raised very good points there. For one, we need to remember what happened last month, and that was before these allegations came out Cuomo was already facing calls to resign and or for lawmakers to start an impeachment process with him. Why? Over the undercounting of nursing home deaths by about 50%, this is an issue that went on for months in New York and finally, report ironically by Attorney General Letitia James, who is now investigating the sexual abuse allegations or sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo. She came out with a scathing report that showed the undercounting. So there was already calls for Cuomo to step down or face impeachment. And now you add this to it. And really it has created more and more calls for him to step down. I mean, tonight you had the first Democratic Congresswoman from New York, Kathleen Rice from Long Island saying that`s it, he needs to go after the latest New York Times report.

So to your point about, does he have friends, does he have political capital? Not really. And that`s really what the issue is here in part. I mean, you know -- you you`re in office for three terms, he has been accused of steamroll in a legislature time and again, and so now you`re seeing progressive Democrats in particular calling for his resignation and Republicans calling for his resignation. So he doesn`t really have that middle area here to fight but, you know, people have also said Governor Cuomo has been in politics for decades. He`s a bare knuckle politician. He`s battled in New York politics before, so you know, one political consultant told me today if you think Cuomo is going to go hide under Ruch and just disappear, you`d be kidding yourself.

WILLIAMS: We know you`ll stay on the story. We`ll have you back for major developments, Joseph Spector, USA Today, our thanks for taking our questions here tonight.

Coming up, a new book sums up Biden`s victory this way. He was in the right place at the right time. And despite what we heard from Florida this weekend, he went on to win the presidency. Both author standing by to join us when we come back.



REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I want the public to know that I`m voting for Joe Biden, South Carolina`s should be voting for Joe Biden. I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.


WILLIAMS: One year ago February 29. Now President Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary, thanks in huge part to that endorsement from the veteran Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn. He was the first dab of Biden blue on our primary map that turned decidedly Biden blue and ultimately lead to victory.

It`s something our next guests know a lot about and so we welcome them back tonight, Amie Parnes. She`s senior correspondent for The Hill and Jonathan Allen, senior national political reporter for NBC News Digital. They happen to be the co authors of the New York Times bestseller "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton`s Doomed Campaign." But we`re here to talk about their latest work available tomorrow. It is, "Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won The Presidency."

Hey, guys, it`s great to see you both again. I have to say, as a reading experience, like you, though not as granular as you I was there for all of it. I knew how every story ended. But rereading your account of Bernie`s heart attack, Mayor Pete`s meeting with Obama, the Clyburn endorsement and so on and so on made it accelerates your heart rate to read it in narrative form.

Amie, when you look at the title like this, and I`m quite sure you`re hearing from Biden folks saying lucky, what do you mean, this was the result of hard work and having the best candidate? Just how dead was the Biden campaign? And how close did it come to folding up shop?

AMIE PARNES, THE HILL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Pretty dead, Brian. You know, you look back at Iowa. And you look back at New Hampshire, they were trying to figure out how to keep how to stay alive literally. They were talking about whether to refinance Joe Biden`s House at one point. They were considering there was a secret coup almost being planned around the campaign manager because they weren`t happy with the work he had done. There was so much that we report out in this book so much detail behind the scenes you kind of know what was happening, you know, that he kind of scraped by and in the end one, but we show you just how hard it was for him to get it.

You know that that Clyburn endorsement wasn`t certain. Then COVID happens. There was luck after -- lucky break after lucky break after lucky break. And he got some help, too. You had Elizabeth Warren taking out Michael Bloomberg. For him that kind of cleared the field there.

So there were many, many instances and we kind of take you into those scenes. We give you the upstairs, downstairs, if you will, on in this book.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan, I mentioned the Clyburn endorsement as Amie just did. You`ve been around politics a bit is there a parallel in modern political history for single endorsement with as much power as that Clyburn endorsement?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I`ve never seen anything like it, Brian. The alacrity with which the Democratic Party joined behind Joe Biden after he won South Carolina is something that we`ve never seen before. And Jim Clyburn carrying Joe Biden through South Carolina.

Look, Joe Biden, my one South Carolina with without Jim Clyburn support, but he wouldn`t have won by the huge margin that signaled to the rest of the Democratic Party, including other candidates, like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar that it was time to get out of the race, and endorsed Joe Biden.

We go into this in detail in the book, as you know, but for the viewers, we go really deep into detail into the machinations behind that endorsement, Biden and his team were asking Clyburn for months to get off the sidelines to get an endorsement and Clyburn held off and he held off and eventually leave this really kind of captivating scene in the book where Clyburn has asked Biden to say that he`s going to name a black Supreme Court Justice if he gets a chance. And Biden is sort of pulling them off.

If Biden wants to do it with the staff tell him not to do it. They get to the debate stage in South Carolina, Clyburn is watching Biden and won`t do it, he won`t do it. Clyburn rushes backstage to find him during a commercial break and says, you better do this now, Joe.

And so that was something -- I don`t know that the client endorsement was contingent on that moment, but it hadn`t yet happened. Biden goes out says he`s going to do it, Clyburn gives the endorsement. The rest is history.

But I think these details are hopefully for the reader fascinating. And just one other thing, to your point about walking the title. This was a very close race in the end. I don`t think walk and skill are mutually exclusive. Some people say they`d rather be lucky than good. I hope this works both.

WILLIAMS: Amie, the portions about Barack Obama, as no one needs to remind you will make news from this book, Obama to me kind of stays consistent and on brand throughout. But give us the briefest version of what surprised you about the Obama Biden relationship as time went on?

PARNES: Well, for starters, we heard that they never really had a conversation about the endorsement. The former vice president now the president said that they had a conversation he asked for his endorsement if he asked not to endorse. That conversation never happened according to someone very close to the former president.

We have another scene in the book where we have the -- where we have the former president talking to a group of donors, and they`re asking him what he thinks about the field. And he gives kind of a very long sermon about Elizabeth Warren.

And at one point he even forgets to mention Joe Biden. And he has to be reminded, well, you didn`t mention Joe Biden, what`s that about? And so that`s all in the book, but it`s a very -- it was a very complicated relationship from the start.

I think the former president was very worried about the campaign that his partner would run. He had a meeting early on where he taught to Biden aides about how they would be running the campaign and he didn`t want him to embarrass himself. And that was very clear from the very start.

WILLIAMS: Since those guys in the 70s, who covered the Watergate story as a writing duo, we are blessed once again in the modern era, with great writing duos and our viewers are looking at one of them. This is the book as they say, in blurb land. Excuse me, those of them who can talk. You think you know the story until you read this? You guys, I`m losing my voice. Thanks. We`ll continue right after this.


WILLIAMS: So belated and full throated thanks to my friends Amy and Jon and forgive the battle I`m having with a frog in my throat tonight. It has been two weeks since that winter storm system caused a catastrophic power failure in Texas.

Tonight, nearly 400,000 Texans are still living under a boil water notice in a state of 30 million people so many homes and apartment buildings have burst pipes and can`t find the supplies or enough licensed plumbers to repair the damage.

Andrew Mitchell is a plumber from Morristown, New Jersey and he wanted to help. Back on February 20 he loaded his family and $2,000 in supplies into his truck and he headed for Houston, Texas. Since then they`ve restored running water to over two dozen homes in Texas.

We are pleased to welcome to the broadcast Andrew Mitchell, owner of Mitchell`s Plumbing and Heating in Morristown and Andrew`s brother in law and his apprentice. Isaiah Pinnock. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming on.

Andrew, starting with you, was it just too much for you to watch on television and please tell me you feel good about the work you did?

ANDREW MITCHELL, OWNER, MITCHELL`S PLUMBING AND HEATING: Yes. I had the skills and the column was there. Once I found out that they said that master plumbers from other states can come on over practice. I know that the need for more plumbers were there. I just asked Isaiah if he wanted to go and he was like, absolutely, we can leave tomorrow. And I took that and I said, let`s do it.

WILLIAMS: Isaiah, how did this whole experience change you? And I know it must have been frustrating because you were probably surrounded by people who needed your help yet you can only help a certain number.

ISAIAH PINNOCK, APPRENTICE, MITCHELL`S PLUMBING AND HEATING: I got to say it`s been extraordinarily empowering to just see all of this (INAUDIBLE) been forced to you know, be you know, working next to.

WILLIAMS: We`re trying to tweak the Wi-Fi Skype signal we have lost their audio. Let`s try one more time. Isaiah, take another stab at that answer for me.

PINNOCK: Oh, yes. So you know, it`s been very empowering you know, ever since we kind of came down here it`s just been one family after the next and we really tried to just been meeting people where they`re at kind of trying to bring you know the relief and the supplies to places that, you know, we`re kind of slipping to the wayside and we`re kind of just trying to, you know, show people that despite you know, the unprecedented times that you know, hope is still, you know, lives here and it doesn`t take nothing but a few donors and a few people in a roll up their sleeves to just, you know, help get this problem under control.

WILLIAMS: And Andrew real quick, I want to emphasize to people usually if you need copper pipe or PVC or an elbow joint, you go to Lowe`s or Home Depot. There was no such thing as that for the folks in Texas, right? They there were no Plumbing Supplies, which is why you load it up your own.

MITCHELL: Yes, sir. As soon as I found out that the Home Depot`s were --

WILLIAMS: Oh man, we`ve lost both of these gentlemen. Again, they are frozen, but certainly not in our memory. Our thanks for the good work they did in Texas to our two guests tonight who by the way, have just after driving hours back east. Just both of them exhausted returned home to Andrew and Isaiah. Thank you gentlemen, both very much.

I`m sorry for the electronic hiccups we`re having.

Coming up for us. The third weapon in the war on COVID could be going into arms by this time tomorrow when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


WILLIAMS: Well, we talked about this earlier with the always terrific Dr. Padilla. There is more help on the way while health officials continue to warn us about these new variants of the virus coming into our country. The FDA approved this Johnson & Johnson one shot vaccine shipments are on their way as we speak. NBC News correspondent Tom Costello has more on the new vaccine rollout tonight.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first J&J vaccine doses began moving this morning with UPS and FedEx again splitting deliveries. Inside each shipment a GPS tracker and Louisville UPS driver Juliette Watson had the first shipment.

JULIETTE WATSON, UPS DRIVER: I`m making history, people can come back out on the world back up.

COSTELLO: The first J&J dose is expected to go into Americans arms within 24 to 48 hours, just as the latest CDC data underscores the need for more doses faster. After several weeks of declining cases, new cases are suddenly up more than 2 percent nationwide to 67,200 per day. Deaths are also up 2 percent to nearly 2,000 per day, just as some cities and states are relaxing COVID restrictions.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained.

COSTELLO: While the J&J vaccine appeared to be only slightly less effective in clinical trials than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci says true comparisons are impossible, because the trials were done at different times with different populations, when different virus variants were dominant. All of our critical life saving protection.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: We have three highly efficacious vaccines that also, as Dr. Walensky says, has a very good safety profile.

COSTELLO: The J&J vaccine trials prove efficacy against several variants.

FAUCI: There were no hospitalizations, or deaths in any of those studies.

COSTELLO: The Biden ministration says it will be delivered evenly across the country 20 million doses by the end of March.

(on camera): For those who have been vaccinated, Dr. Fauci is urging common sense and socializing with others who`ve been vaccinated without a mask mostly in homes as the CDC works on more complete guidance.


WILLIAMS: And our thanks to Tom Costello for that report from Washington. Coming up for us, we watch CPAC so you don`t have to. We`ve got highlights, you might want to stick around.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight little service we`d like to provide we watch CPAC this weekend. So you wouldn`t have to. It was a three-day Florida Bacchanalia devoted to the big lie and loyalty to one man here now a sampling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is great to be in Florida where you guys are normal. You`re open. I don`t have to wear a mask anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know if you agree with me. But Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we call ourselves conservatives. But what are we really? We`re freedom lovers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I opened a restaurant in Rifle. Colorado, the only city in America named after a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mom, what are you going to do with a gun? Well, I just want my gun just in case somebody come up in this nursing home I`m blown away. I mean, you know.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A wave of criminal violence is sweeping across this nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say no to Antifa. Say no to BLM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do they always have to play the race card?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what do they do they just stream you`re a racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich. That`s all I hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The New York Times thinks I`m the worst secretary of state of all time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boys can be girls and girls can be boys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abortion is not safe. Someone always dies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we`re influencing our boys to be soft. Men are not supposed to be soft.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Hello CPAC. Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the best president in my lifetime.

TRUMP: Walls and wheels. Those are two things that will never change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 72 million Trump voters were not brainwashed.

TRUMP: The world is actually a small piece of the universe, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is a real American samurai.

TRUMP: We won the election twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know there were dead voters. We know there are double voters.

TRUMP: What happened at 3:02 in the morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The revolution is not done.

TRUMP: Did Biden win? No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most consequential presidency that we`ve ever seen in our lifetimes.

TRUMP: I may even decide to beat them for a third time. OK?

I mean there`s such left.


WILLIAMS: A festival of worship and a political party that now exists in service to one man, a twice impeached private citizen in Florida.

That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week with our thanks for spending this time with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.