IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 3/4/2021

Guest: Clint Watts, Irwin Redlener�


GOP is using delay tactics to stall COVID aid in Senate. GOP Sen.

Johnson insists 628-page bill be read aloud. Capitol Police request

extension of National Guard support. Connecticut ends some restrictions but

keeps mask mandate. Alabama Governor is ending mask mandate on April 9. 17

states have no mask orders or plan to lift mandates.


AARON SORKIN, SCREENWRITER: Coming to the set in the morning, I felt like I

was getting tossed the keys to a Formula One racecar. As long as I didn`t

put the car in the wall, these actors were going to win the race. But a

kind of a good tug of war that we had on the set, which was helpful for the

film was that Sacha and Jeremy Strong, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, they

understood that it was their job in the courtroom every day to demonstrate

to this judge that they have no respect for this proceeding at all, and

that they were going to do whatever they could in the courtroom to bother

Frank Langella basically.

In the meantime, I had to make sure because we`re doing the courtroom drama

that both sides cared about whether they won or lost. So, we kind of kept

going back and forth on how much circus there could be in the film. But

these guys have done a tremendous amount of research coming in. Look, even

before Sacha got the part. He was writing -

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Aaron, I`m sorry, we`re going to have to

take that into our offline discussion. We are out of time. And Sacha that`s

the only reason Aaron Sorkin got the last word. Sacha Baron Cohen, Aaron

Sorkin, thank you for joining us tonight.


O`DONNELL: OK, Sacha did get the last word. The 11th Hour with Brian

Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 44 of the

Biden administration and the President`s plan to slow the spread of a virus

that has killed over half a million of our fellow citizens wiped out about

10 million jobs is now up against a full on assault from Republicans in the

U.S. Senate.

Biden`s nearly $2 trillion relief bill is being read aloud right now on the

Senate floor. That would be 628 pages of it to a mostly empty chamber being

read by the clerk at the request of Wisconsin Republican Senator and

Conspiracy Theorist Ron Johnson, who made good on his threat to lead his

party`s effort to drag out the process of getting to final passage.

This all got underway earlier today after Vice President Harris broke the

50/50 tie on the vote to begin debate of the bill. Marathon reading is been

going on since around 3:30 this afternoon. It`s expected to end early

tomorrow morning. Senate Democrats we`re not only unfazed but defiant.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are delighted that the Senator from Wisconsin

wants to give the American people another opportunity to hear what`s in the

American rescue plan. Let everybody listen because it has overwhelming


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): I wish Ron Johnson would use this time to

explain to the Trump voters that the election wasn`t stolen and that

millions of people, you know, didn`t vote for Donald Trump instead of Joe



WILLIAMS: Chuck Schumer will need to keep his caucus together to make this

key part of the Biden agenda a reality. Today Senate Minority Leader Mitch

McConnell added another challenge aside from calling the bill too

expensive. He argued it`s not needed.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Just become a rite of passage for a new

democratic president who began with a poorly targeted spending spree that

doesn`t give Americans what they need. We already laid the foundation for a

roaring comeback. The bad administration inherited a tide that was already



WILLIAMS: This morning, we woke up to news that another 745,000 Americans

lost jobs last week alone slightly higher than the previous week. The clock

is ticking to get this bill to the President`s desk federal unemployment

benefits run out in 10 days.

Meanwhile, Capitol Police want National Guard troops to stay right where

they are for a few months longer to help protect the Congress, police

officials, waiting for approval from the Pentagon on that. This comes after

federal officials warned about intelligence indicating extremists might try

to launch an attack today just two months after the insurrection. This was

QAnon Inauguration Day by the way. Biden`s homeland security chief says

such threats are at the top of his department`s agenda.



stream the information, social media, other sources with respect to this

particular day, March 4, but quite frankly, we are vigilant every day as we

must be when the threat is as acute as it is in the domestic violent

extremism context.


WILLIAMS: House representatives cancelled today`s session because of the

most recent threat to the Congress. There is now a partisan divide about

heightening security and some of the strongest objections are coming from

the very senator who raised his fist in solidarity with the crowd that

overran the Capitol.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): This is the people`s house. It should be open to

the people. And just to say that, you know, hey maybe for whoever will have

the massive guard presence, and have it fenced off from the public I think

is the wrong choice.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We should have them here as long as they are

needed. We have to ensure with our security that we are safe enough to do

our job.


WILLIAMS: NBC News reporting tonight that Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant

General Russel Honore, a friend of this broadcast and the task force he has

been heading up reviewing what went wrong on 1/6 will present their

findings and recommendations to lawmakers on Monday.

Biden White House now facing a new challenge as it ramps up its effort to

reduce the number of coronavirus infections across our country.

State governors are now taking various approaches to restrictions and mask

mandates, even amid clear signs that the pandemic is nowhere near over.

They`re all doing it to stay on brand. Today, Alabama`s Republican Governor

Kay Ivey said she`ll keep the statewide mask mandate in effect for just

another month then drop it in April.

In Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat announced on Thursday his

state will soon and capacity limits on a lot of business categories while

keeping a statewide masked mandate in place.

The decisions by the leaders of Mississippi and Texas to lift the mask

mandates led Biden to call the moves of mistake and "Neanderthal thinking."

Well, today Governor Greg Abbott of Texas claimed dropping the mask

requirements wouldn`t make a big difference in his state and he offered a

blatant falsehood and an attack on the Biden White House.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The bottom ministration was spreading COVID in

South Texas yesterday because of their lack of constraint of testing and

quarantining. People who`d come across the border illegally. The Biden

demonstration was exposing Texans to COVID. That is Neanderthal type

approach to dealing with the COVID situation.


WILLIAMS: There`s also news and another story we`ve been keeping an eye on

the New York Times reporting tonight top aides to New York`s Governor

Andrew Cuomo rewrote a report in summer of last year to hide the number of

nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus.

It`s a lot and with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests on this

Thursday night, Shannon Pettypiece, our Senior White House Reporter for NBC

News Digital, our eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, NBC News Correspondent

Garrett Haake is with us, and Clint Watts returns to the broadcast, former

FBI Special Agent, distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy

Research Institute, Our National Security Analyst, also happens to be the

author of, "Messing With The Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of

Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News.

Garrett, because of your beat on the Hill and what`s going on there, I`d

like to begin with you, also this quote from Phil Bump over at the

Washington Post, while the Senate reads the coronavirus relief bill, and to

be specific, it`s just a clerk to a mostly empty chamber. Nearly 1400

Americans may die from the virus. So, Garrett, here`s the question, any

fear among Republicans that they may be on the wrong side of this pandemic


GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Republicans have been trying all week

long to take the shine off of this relief bill. I`ve been to half a dozen

news conferences with Republican lawmakers trying to convince the public

that this bill is too big, it`s unnecessary that it would have been

appropriate for March of 2020. But it`s not necessary for March of 2021.

And we`ll find out Brian. And the only Republican lawmaker who seems to

still be in play to possibly vote for this bill is Lisa Murkowski, the

Senator from Alaska, who`s up for reelection in 2022. And who may look at

it this way, you`ve got a bill, it`s got 60 to 70% popularity, Democrats

are going to pass it anyway with 50 votes. And it`s free money, when you

have a chance to vote for free money for your constituents when you are in

cycle, that`s usually a pretty easy, yes. But Republicans are making a

long-term bet that by the time they`re up again for reelection, that this

pandemic will be long enough behind us that there`ll be perhaps something

else to worry about something else to run against. And the Biden

administration and congressional Democrats are laser focused on getting

this done before they leave town probably sometime in the very early

morning hours of Saturday morning.

WILLIAMS: Shannon, indeed same question to you when you`re reporting, have

you detected any signs of weakening among Republicans or are they all

willing, perhaps save Murkowski of Alaska, are they all willing to go off a

cliff for this?


be a unifying moment for the Republicans and something that they have

needed to unify around because there has been this obviously, you can call

it as civil wars, you can call this a divergence of opinions. But there has

been this identity crisis going on in the Republican Party. So this has

given them something to rally around. And yes, politically, it is a bizarre

thing to rally around. It is weird to rally around opposing funding for

vaccines, to oppose stimulus checks. This is wildly popular, and it has

genuinely seemed to surprise people in the White House that Republicans are

so in lockstep opposed to this. They did seem to think that they could

actually get one or two Republicans, if nothing else, because of how

popular this was.

So this has been a bit of a wakeup call to the White House about how

difficult it is going to be to get Republican support for anything. You

know, if you can`t get Republicans to join on to support stimulus and

vaccine funding, as they have a number of times and other COVID relief

bills, how are you going to get them on criminal justice reform or

immigration or something that really is a partisan issue. You know, that`s

going to be the challenge for them going forward. They`re continuing to

hold these bipartisan meetings at the White House, trying to, you know,

continue having conversations and, you know, address these things down the

road. But so far, Republicans are in lockstep against this. And we are at

the polarized Washington that Joe Biden had pledged to, you know, sort of

disseminate to draw, you know, to create that unity. We`re not seeing that


WILLIAMS: I have a follow up question on that. We`ll go to Clint watts

first and your life`s work, the Intel world. Clint, Evan Perez over at CNN

has a clean kill on a story tonight that the Feds are looking into phone

records, linkage communication between members of Congress and the rioters

whether witting or unwitting. Did they help with the planning and execution

of this duel? Question, Clint, is the FBI likely to find all the columns

that are out there? And do you think some lawmakers may have something to

worry about?

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I think the answer is no on the

first one, Brian. They will find everything. What they`ll be able to do

essentially is match up calls, essentially, call records will be able to

connect. And if there were congressmen or staff members of those

congressmen that were coordinating or communicating with the rioters as

they came into the Capitol, they`re going to have a big problem, that

signal will definitely be touched off.

What they won`t know is what is inside those communications. But that leads

to the second part, I think, what you were addressing, which is the FBI,

they now have, I think his last count, it was 280 people, they`ve already

issued complaints or criminal complaints in the diamonds, and another 300

open cases, that means they`ve got witnesses. So you can take those call

records, you can look at where those signals were. And you can start to ask

questions of those people that have been arrested. And as we`ve already

seen with some of the people that have interviewed out in the open media,

people that have been detained, further breaking into the Capitol, they`re

starting to talk. So I imagine for the FBI agents that are leading these

investigations, they`ve got a lot more information now. They have a much

better understanding of the threats. And that`s probably why you saw that

joint DHS, FBI bulletin that came out yesterday about a potential attack

that could have occurred today.

WILLIAMS: Garrett Haake helped me understand something, if the members of

the House in the senate were targets on 1/6 and they were witnesses to 1/6

and it was their capital, their chamber, our capital that was looted, why

is there a debate over securing the capital? Is it like mask wearing has it

just fallen along partisan lines? But what`s the other side of the debate?

HAAKE: Well, it`s actually not partisan, Brian. There`s a pretty big I

think actual majority of lawmakers who don`t like the National Guard

presidents who don`t like seeing the Capitol surrounded by eight foot,

nanoscale fences topped by razor wire, they think there`s perhaps a less

heavy handed way to keep the Capitol secure and to allow them to do their

jobs. Even for folks who don`t spend a lot of time in Washington access to

the Capitol, could not be more different in normal times from access to the

White House. The Capitol and its office buildings usually wide open the

office buildings are accessible to the public so, all the parks that

surround the Capitol. And lawmakers really like having that access to their

constituents and their constituents having that access to them. They are

hopeful that there`s a solution that might be a little bit less aggressive

than having 5000 people with automatic weapons guarding them every day.

They`re going to get a briefing on Monday for Lieutenant General Russel

Honore, who I`ve been doing my very best to get him to leak to me the copy

of his final recommendations of what he`d like to see put in place on the

Capitol, but we know he`s going to want more police officers and some kind

of more permanent fencing, some structural changes to the campus that I

think a lot of lawmakers from both parties are going to resist. They want

that open campus that has been such a staple of the Capitol Hill community

and that part of D.C. for such a long time.

WILLIAMS: Good luck with Honore, by the way, I`ve known him for years, he`s

a lot of things, Alico (ph) would not make the top of the list.

Shannon, back to my, my follow up, let`s go one deeper on bipartisanship,

is the Biden White House continuing to pursue bipartisanship. And forgive

me if this sounds cynical, so at least they can say, we pursued

bipartisanship, we invited as many of you over to our side as possible, we

had some of you to the Oval Office?

PETTYPIECE: Well, they have to pursue bipartisanship, if they want to get

any legislation passed going forward. So they`re able to get this bill

through with 50 votes, with reconciliation, and all the Democrats held the

line. So that appears, they`re going to be able to do that. Going forward,

anything else they want to do, they need 10 Republicans to join on to. So

infrastructure, criminal justice, reform, immigration, you know, even just

sort of the general business of the government, you know, even the minor

stuff, they`re going to need to get those 60 votes. So if they want to get

anything done, they have to get bipartisanship.

Now, there is the alternate route that I know a lot of people are probably

thinking about, and that is the filibuster, do you get rid of the

filibuster? And then you don`t need those 60 votes, you don`t need those

Republicans? Well, you know, that`s an error has some problems, one because

President Biden has repeatedly said he is philosophically opposed to that,

from his decades in the Senate. That`s not something he is open to. But

even if he was, so then do they won, have the 50 votes among just Democrats

to get rid of the filibuster?

And then if you don`t have the filibuster that said they do get rid of it?

Are there 50 Democrats who can agree on immigration? Are there 50 Democrats

who can agree on a minimum wage increase? You know, are there 50 Democrats

who could even agree on Neera Tanden? You know, the answer to that was no,

the answer to a lot of those is no. They don`t even have Democrats united

on a lot of the big complicated issues. So I think that`s where we get back

to the bipartisanship and President Biden just going to have to continue to

beat this drum.

WILLIAMS: Imagine infrastructure, there`s no running water in Jackson,

Mississippi and Texas, the state of 30 million people Homestate of Garrett

Haake, just about fell apart after a winter storm was left, cold and dark.

Clint, you get the last question, and this is a follow up for you. This is

out of Politico. The FBI on Thursday arrested Federico Klein, former State

Department Aide on charges related to the storming of the Capitol, marking

the first known instance of an appointee of President Donald Trump facing

criminal prosecution in connection with the attempt to block Congress from

certifying Biden`s victory. The alleged presence of a Trump political

appointee at the riot may tie those events more closely to the President.

Clint, what should we make of this? Do you think we`ll see more of this?

WATTS: I think it`s probably just the tip of the iceberg, Brian. If you

look at the context of the lead up to January 6, the day before the night

before, there were open rallies where you saw lots of coordination, you saw

lots of planning, and you saw very clear resource of this.

The other part was the President himself on separate occasions, the day

before he tweeted out, this is going to be wild. He indicated, according to

vanity fair to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Miller, you`re going to

need a lot of people tomorrow. He then goes out into the lawn and what does

he say? I`m going to walk to the Capitol with you. It was a coordinated

event. We`ve seen the President speak of this before where he will suddenly

throw things out that are really forecast or foreshadowing, what`s going to

happen in the future. And when you look at the coordination of the stock,

the steel movement, which was online for weeks in the lead up to this, this

is how we knew this was going to be a significant issue. I think you`re

definitely going to see connections, both in the White House and with a lot

of the President`s supporters, some of whom that he probably just pardoned

which were also part of these rallies that happened the day before.

WILLIAMS: Three friends of this broadcast starting us off on a Thursday

night, Shannon Pettypiece, Garrett Haake, Clint Watts, our great thanks for

being here.

Coming up for us, what do you call a Republican who refuses to wear a mask?

Well, longtime conservative Bill Kristol, who is standing by has a name for

that. He`ll join us next. And later, why some catholic bishops are saying

no to one of the COVID vaccines? We`ll ask our doctor on call what that

could mean for ending the pandemic, as the 11th Hour is just getting

underway on a Friday aforementioned Thursday night.



GOV. KAY INVEY (R-AL): After April tonight, I will not keep the mask or in

effect. And we`ve been relaxing our restrictions throughout this entire

deal every chance we could have it. While I`m convinced that mask mandate

has been the right thing to do, I also respect those who object and believe

that this was a step to fall.


WILLIAMS: Again, let`s just call it staying on brand. Alabama is the latest

state to announce it will lift its mask mandate two days after Texas and

Mississippi up to the pressure by saying they`re doing the same.

Meanwhile in Florida let`s talk about this, Trump ally Ron DeSantis, the

governor there is at the center of a vaccine scandal. This promises to get

worse. The Miami Herald reporting today, "As Florida`s eldest residents

struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,

nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the

Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January. It`s also home to many

wealthy donors to the Florida Republican Party and GOP candidates including

Governor Ron DeSantis."

For more we are getting the Bee team back together again tonight and by Bee

team, the three of us mean that in the nicest way. Baratunde Thurston,

author, activist, comedian, former producer for The Daily Show with Trevor

Noah, these days he is the host of the podcast, How To Citizen, and Bill

Kristol, author, writer, thinker, political, veteran of the Reagan and Bush

administrations, Editor at Large over at the Bulwark.

Gentlemen, great to have the gang back together. Thank you both for coming


Baratunde, is this -- the story about Florida, it feels to me every time we

have the discussion about equity, this kind of thing means we should just

put a just kidding at the end of it. Think about the bus driver from New

York, who after working all his or her life, lives in a single wide in

Florida because that was the pot of gold at the rain, at the end of the

rainbow. They got to retire in Florida. Think about what we know about

black and brown communities. What we know about the so called deadly

trinity and black America, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, if you`ve

been paying attention over your adult life, you know who should get the

shots first, and it`s not happening?


thank you for having me back. Good to be here with you, and Bill. What`s up

bill? Ron DeSantis continues to disappoint. And I think there`s a

counterpoint in his own history, when he wanted the government to work

inefficiently and ineffectively, he and Florida Republicans gummed up the

work, slowed it down, made it harder for people to get unemployment

benefits. When there was a record run on the system, millions of people

were left out in the cold, billions of people were left without any

resources because they didn`t want the government to work. And what you

said about COVID is absolutely true, it`s poor communities, its indigenous

communities. It`s black and brown communities that are more exposed to this

disease that are more wrecked by epidemiologically and economically. Yet,

when Ron DeSantis wants the government to work to show up efficiently and

effectively, it`s only for his people, not all the people, and so the

wealthy donors in these enclaves, and it`s not surprising, but it`s no less


WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol, as you often do, you drop something on social media

this morning that got our attention and made us think, and I`ll quote from

it, "Mask, refusers appeal to liberty. But even staunch libertarians know

that checking the spread of disease is a legitimate government function.

The hostility to masks isn`t libertarian. It`s nihilistic. Nihilism has

come to characterize a significant part of today`s conservatism."

Bill, nihilism really leaves nothing standing because nothing matters. Life

is meaningless. And the question for a guy like you with your history in

modern America, how did the party of shining cities on hills, embrace

nihilism what we`re seeing right now?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yeah, when I wrote the cheapest,

I was so struck by some of the coverage for said, Republican governors are

loosening up, they`re abandoning all the restrictions on businesses,

restaurants, and also the ban on mask wearing. But those are different

things when you think about it for a minute. I mean, the opening up the

restaurants, opening up schools, there are arguments for doing so I think

many people many states have done so too quickly and irresponsibly. Others

have doing it more gradually. But at some point, we will open up and we

want to open up and there`s a cost to not opening up to be fair, and it`s a

genuine tradeoff between public health and people`s jobs. And of course, in

the case of kids, education, and that`s a debate we`re having.

But what`s the case against mass query? I mean, there`s no trail, there`s

no, there`s nothing, I mean, it`s a total public good. Some lives are going

to be saved. Some hospitalizations are going to be prevented. So the case

against mask wearing is just, I don`t want to do it. And it`s not

libertarian in the sense of, this is my you know, my freedoms, their steak,

everyone is always understood that checking communicable diseases, we are -

- we will do certain things for the sake of public health and decent human

beings do certain things to just out of, you know, respect for the --

trying to help out the community and help out their neighbors and not

endanger others. So I`ve always thought the hostility the mask wearing is

really sort of its own, it has its own particular character that`s a little

different from the public policy debates about the schools or the

restaurants or the businesses.

And seeing these governors just say no, no more about mask wearing when

it`s obvious we have these new strains, the numbers are going up in

Mississippi and Texas, the two states that have stopped mask wearing, they

went up last week, the number of cases. We are the verb. We see the light

at the end of the tunnel. So you know, let`s hang on here a little bit and

then the vaccine really will liberate a lot of people to do it now. It`s

just pure. I don`t know what, performative nihilism, I would say in the

sense of just, you know, we don`t want to do it, so we`re not going to do

it. And maybe you know, these people`s biggest backers have already gotten

vaccinated, so they don`t care like Ron DeSantis` wealthy friends.

It`s interesting, the governor of Mississippi did announced she was going

to remove the mask mandate, but only in a month, to be fair, and the

governors of West Virginia and Utah two pretty conservative states, and

Republican governors said no, we need to hang on here for a month or two

and keep on doing the right thing for public health. So it`s interesting. I

mean, it does seem particularly irresponsible what`s been done in Texas and


WILLIAMS: Talk about how a citizen used to be you could live your whole

life and not really bothered to learn the name of your state`s governor,

what COVID has done is enforced to everybody exactly who their governor is,

and exactly what they stand for and what they don`t.

Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stick around during the break, our

conversation will continue on the other side. And coming up a healthy

majority of Americans are saying, show me slash us the money. That means

really, that every Republican senator is prepared to return to their home

states and explain why they didn`t vote to send money to the folks back

home. I don`t know why we`re showing Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: When Donald Trump was president,

they were willing to vote for a total of over $3 trillion in aid. Now that

President Biden is president and the economy`s in the same pickle.

Generally speaking, they don`t want to vote for a nickel. I wonder why. I

wonder why.


WILLIAMS: Guy has a point. There`s a new Monmouth poll out tonight. This is

Democrats and Republicans all mixed together like that`ll ever happen in

2021 it finds 62 percent of Americans surveyed say they support the

President`s nearly $2 trillion COVID relief package slowly working its way

through the US Senate.

Still with us Baratunde Thurston and Bill Kristol. Bill, you get to go

first, this time, after a dramatic reading from Tripp Gabriel in the New

York Times, he writes, quote, as the election returns rolled in, showing

Trump winning strong support from blue collar voters in November while

suffering historic losses in suburbs, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a

Republican, you think declared on Twitter quote, we are a working class

party now that`s the future. But since then, Republicans have offered very

little to advance the economic interests of blue-collar workers.

So Bill, how do you think the working class hero he of Stanford and Yale

Law School, Mr. Hawley is going to go home and explain to the Missouri

working class from St. Louis all the way to Joplin? Exactly why he voted

no, not just on this, but on every single Biden cabinet appointment.

KRISTOL: You`ll say the Democrats, the Biden administration, the party that

wants to cancel Dr. Seuss, and Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head and play every

cultural war card and frankly, every race, ethnic guard that began I


But I think it`s a big opportunity for the Biden administration, maybe they

could have shaped the bill a little differently, but now they`re going to -

- they`re going to get it through it did the vaccine production has been

accelerated, there`s going to be a lot of money flowing out. And in three,

four or five months, we could be in decent shape as a country both, let`s

hope, but I think we really couldn`t be in terms of both health, public

health, and in terms of economic comeback.

And then politically, the interesting question for me is, how does Joe

Biden spend that political capital on democracy reform, voting rights,

immigration, all of them, I think he gets a kind of you might get a second

wind in a way that presidents often don`t though, by, let`s say, September,

if the public health situation has improved, dramatically, schools are

reopening, and the economy`s doing pretty well, and he will be able to take

credit for it because he will have been the person who did the vaccines and

he will be the person who showed through the economic recovery package.

WILLIAMS: Baratunde, Bill nicely previewed the question I had planned to

ask you, and that`s about cancel culture. It`s becoming a thing, a phrase,

it`s going to be a thing absent other issues that people don`t want to talk

about during the next primary season. It gives Jim Jordan something to talk

about other than his troubles. Mr. Potatohead, Dr. Seuss next thing, you

know, we`ll find out he wasn`t ever a doctor. Where do you put all this

what his perspective on what we`re living through?

THURSTON: I have a hard time taking the term cancel culture seriously,

unless we`re going to take in the great sweep of this country`s beautiful

and ugly history. As the indigenous nations who were here before there was

ever a nation called the U.S. about canceled culture. Ask all of the

cultures of the African peoples who were brought here to slave away for no

compensation whatsoever, lost their language, their religions, their family

ties, about canceled culture

And of this Republican Party, the most absurd thing I can see is after

January 6, when a vast majority of elected federal Republican officials

voted to cancel the results of a free and fair democratic election. Don`t

come to be about canceled culture.

Look, the good news is this. They lost. The good news is Joe Biden on his

inauguration day signaled what unity really meant enough of us have come

together to move all of us forward. Right now that enough are the democrats

in the U.S. Senate. And I`m grateful to them.

WILLIAMS: And that ladies and gentlemen of the audience is why we invite

these two gentlemen on the broadcast. We are so grateful to both of our

friends Baratunde Thurston and Bill Kristol, thank you both.

Coming up after a break fact checking some of the latest fears about these

COVID vaccines with a prominent public health physician.



DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER OF FDA ADVISORY PANEL: Right now basically we`re in

like a titanic situation. You know, we`ve all been dumped into freezing

cold water, which is this disease. And there are a limited number of

lifeboats I say, climb into whatever lifeboat you can get. I mean, we

shouldn`t whatever vaccine you can get, get. Don`t try and choose among



WILLIAMS: That is the message we`ve heard across the board from health care

officials to end this pandemic. Country is now administering an average of

2 million vaccine doses every day. New York Times reporting the one shot

one and done J&J vaccine is not just proving popular, it`s allowing states

to rethink their distribution.

So back with us again tonight, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director of

Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness who advises us on

public health. Doctor, as you and I have discussed, I think there was a

huge PR failure, unintentional either on the government or J&J`s part or

both. During the rollout of J&J, the numbers on efficacy were different

from the other two.

So was the control group the sample once and for all. Is there a

discernible difference between these three in their ability to keep you

from getting sick? Keep you out of the ICU? Or is it a distinction that`s

numeric without a real world difference?


let me say it this way, and I`m going to get to the punchline, and then

I`ll wind back. So the punchline is, literally as Dr. Offit just said, get

whatever vaccine you can get as quickly as you can get it period. All three

of them are very effective in keeping people out of not just the hospital,

but the ICU. And they`re totally capable, seems and comparably capable of

keeping people from dying.

That said, the testing, the monitoring the data collection, from the

Moderna and Pfizer were different from what J&J did. And the ultimate

reality of this difference is really not meaningful to people because what

J&J is saying we`re not quite as effective maybe in suppressing mild

disease, as the other two aren`t, although we don`t even know that

entirely, but we`re equally as effective and keeping people from dying and

keep him out of the ICU. So, at the end of the day, this is what I said

earlier is take whatever you can get and as quickly as you can get it.

WILLIAMS: Last, we have a complication today from the Catholic Church, some

catholic bishops are saying their parishioners should avoid Johnson &

Johnson if they can because they call it a morally compromised vaccine

because of its abortion derived cell lines. Some cooler heads have

prevailed in the church and told people if you have a chance for the J&J,

you`re not making a moral decision by getting it. I won`t drag you into

religion, doctor. But how should we view this?

REDLENER: So, Brian, this is not the first religion that has gone against

public health principles. We had evangelical churches throughout the south,

early on, and throughout the pandemic, that were still allowing people to

gather in large groups and often not being faced protected.

We had Orthodox Jewish congregations who were defined vaccines in general,

and also gathering in large crowds, for religious purposes, and funerals

and weddings, and whatever. Now we have the Catholic Church with this

particular message.

And I`m Brian, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is for

church officials and trusted officials in the church, if not the bishops,

but others to say, listen, we`re dealing with a deadly pandemic, you`re

going to die. And if you can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you`ve got

to take it, even if this message has to come from the Pope. And I hope it

does. We`re trying to squelch a very serious public health crisis. And

whatever it takes, it needs to be done.

But what we don`t need now are sort of religious principles from any

religion, impeding what we need to do to keep our population safe and

healthy, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Here, here, I agree. And the commercial break, a friend of mine

texted me to remind me that none of us know anyone with the seasonal flow.

I`ve yet to meet anyone with a common cold over the past year, that might

be evidence that masks work. And yet, listen to these governors, Texas,

Mississippi, and now Alabama, Texas is home to what, five different

variants. I am guessing these governors didn`t check with the likes of Dr.

Irwin Redlener before lifting mass requirements, right with the end zone


REDLENER: Yes. I checked my messages Brian and I didn`t hear from Greg

Abbott. But listen, here`s the reality. On July 2, Abbott proposed and got

a mandate to for everyone must wear masks on that day, for about 7,200 new

cases of the COVID-19. Of course, he imposed mandate.

On the day that he talked about lifting the mandate, exactly the same

number of cases appeared around 7,200. So there`s no rhyme or reason this

is, I guess, some political issue, maybe it`s a response to, you know,

maybe he wants to change the conversation after really failing the state

with response to the crisis with the weather and the freezing of the loss

of heat last week, but whatever it was, is certainly I in my mind, it was

just absolute ignorance, a level of political calculus here, which is

really a shame.

You know, is thinking about this, too, Brian, you know, one of the things

that Donald Trump did very effectively, he erased what used to be a hard

line between politics and public health. We just didn`t go there. We didn`t

cross that boundary, on the assumption that every human being on the planet

and in the United States, from whatever political strife or ideological

benefit came from, they wanted us to be safe, and not to die from a


So this whole idea of crossing that boundary, and mixing politics and

public health and the pandemic is kind of crazy and outrageous. And I think

one of the things that Biden needs to do now is to get that demarcation

cleared up, and that`s how he`s going to reestablish the credibility of the

federal government and the message is about being safe during a pandemic,


WILLIAMS: I can almost see heads nodding and hear people agree with you as

they watch and listen to your comments across the country. Dr. Irwin

Redlener as always, our thanks for coming on and taking our questions.

Coming up for us, our government, our president trying to get money to the

deserving people who need it. Sadly, other people are getting it too. You

need to see this next story. It`s important right after this.


WILLIAMS: As the democrats are trying to deliver $2 trillion in relief,

this next story is about the cost of good intentions. Good money, our money

what`s intended as relief money winding up in the hands of bad people. We

get the story on the scammers tonight from NBC News correspondent Jo Ling




national pandemic to go along with our own pandemic in terms of COVID-19.

JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Orange County

prosecutors raided this strip mall store in Southern California, they found

clothes and backpacks stuffed full of $100 bills, stacks of stolen taxpayer

money meant for unemployed workers.

SPITZER: There was so much cash they didn`t even know where to put it.

KENT: Prosecutors say a company called Nguyen Social Services filed false

Unemployment Claims part of a scheme they say cost taxpayers in California

an estimated $11 million alone.

(on camera): Government programs have long been targets of scammers. How is

this different?

SPITZER: It`s not different anytime you have an opportunity where people

are moving quickly and they have not put safeguards in place. There are

people lying in wait.

KENT (voice-over): State and federal officials tell NBC News the national

scale of fraud during the pandemic has been staggering. In Colorado

officials disclosed that they have seen more fraudulent claims than

legitimate ones. And audit in Nebraska found nearly 70 percent of CARES Act

unemployment money was misspent through the first half of last year alone.

(on camera): Several states refuse to tell NBC News how much they`ve lost

in the pandemic, the prime suspects crime rings, prison inmates and cyber


(voice-over): It`s prompted the Justice Department to launch a 50-State

Task Force and the Labor Department inspector general is currently

investigating saying at least $63 billion may have been stolen. Experts say

the real amount could soar well above 100 billion bigger than the Bernie

Madoff scandal or Enron. Cybersecurity firm has been hired by more

than 20 states to stop the theft.

BLAKE HALL, "ID.ME" CEO AND FOUNDER: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Program allows you to basically take any identity and self-assert that your

driver for sharing economy app or that you`re self employed, and you can

get $20,000 in a debit card. There literally is no other prize it`s like

that for organizing crime.

KENT: And is the senate debate a third round of unemployment relief, a

warning about fraudsters next move.

SPITZER: They have their next scheme about how to rip us off already in

place. And we don`t even see it coming.


WILLIAMS: As I said, tough to hear, but we all need to hear it. With our

thanks to Joe Ling Kent for that report from the west coast. Coming up,

Republicans are saying Biden`s being mean, and notably, they`re managing to

save with a straight face.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve probably heard that mentioned I don`t know how

many times since the President used the term Neanderthal comments.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Well, first, of course, Joe is not the type of

word that a president should be using.


WILLIAMS: Let`s begin right there with the last thing before we go tonight.

Please note the governor of Texas just said Neanderthal is not a word a

president should be using. That`s debatable. That`s also gaslighting. You

could argue that one of the reasons that Governor of Texas was such a

slavishly, loyal, reliable compliant Trumper for the last four years is the

same thing that cost most elected Republicans their dignity. They were so

scared that a president who did truly say mean things often on a daily

basis, was going to say something mean about them.

Donald Trump never called anyone a Neanderthal. It`s true, but he made up

for it in other ways.


DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re being led by stupid people Fox.

President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. Crooked Hillary is such a nasty

watch. Lying Ted, and little Marco. Low energy Jeb. Crazy Bernie. He`s

crazy as a bedbug. Elizabeth Pocahontas, Warren, sloppy Steve Brian, Chuck.

Crazy Nancy. Bunch of losers. The top of the FBI was scum. Call me Chuck

like a dog. Little pencil neck Adam Schiff. Alfred E. Newman. Mini Mike.

Hey sleepy Joe. Are you corruptly? There were some guy running McMuffin?

It`s bullshit. OK? It`s bullshit.


WILLIAMS: Just something to roll around in your mind the next time the

governor of Texas calls out the president for using the word Neanderthal

and think of this, most Texans would have gladly chosen to live by gaslight

when Governor Abbott statewide power grid quit and the people of Texas were

denied the basic necessities of life during a winter storm.

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

here with us on behalf of all my colleagues here at the networks of NBC

News, good night.




Copyright 2021 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are

protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,

distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the

prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter

or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the