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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are watching the threat
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This seems to
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST AND COMEDIAN: No, it isn`t Brian, and
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Good evening, Brian. So
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
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD SPITZER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This is a
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
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 ID.me 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.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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