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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, December 29, 2020

Guests: Neal Katyal, Bill Kristol, Tim Miller, Greg Bluestein


Trump White House predicted 20 to 100 million vaccinations by end of 2020. Biden blasts Trump administration's vaccine rollout. There are new concerns about the COVID vaccine distribution, as Colorado confirms the first U.S. case of the new COVID strain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an attempt by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unanimously approve a House-passed bill to increase direct payments in the coronavirus relief package to $2,000 from $600. Control of the Senate rests in the hands of Georgia voters in the Jan. 5 runoff election that will determine two seats. Georgia GOP senators back $2K COVID stimulus checks in flip-flop.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: No contribution is too small. For Monica Kalilombe completing high school is about her future and much more.


MONICA KALILOMBE (through translation): I want to be a role model to my family and siblings. I want to get educated and help assist them.


O'DONNELL: Monica Kalilombe who is a role model gets Tonight's Last Word. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I'm Katy Tur in for Brian Williams who has the night off.

Day 1,440 of the Trump administration, 22 days until Joe Biden is sworn in as the nation's 46th president.

The current president was out on the golf course in Florida again today, as the effect of the pandemic continues to impact nearly every aspect of our lives.

Tonight, Colorado has confirmed the new -- the first known U.S. case of a new coronavirus strain first identified in the United Kingdom. The patient is said to be a man in his 20s with no travel history, who is now in isolation. Scientist here and in the U.K. have said they believe this new strain to be more contagious, but not more severe.

However, cases are now overwhelming hospitals in Britain.

There's also late word that congressman-elect Luke Letlow, a Republican flew from Louisiana, died tonight from complications related to COVID-19. He was just 41, father to two small children and would have been sworn in, in just days. His death along with the new more contagious strain underscores how important it is to get the vaccine out fast.

But there is growing concern, we are not moving as fast as we could or should be. The CDC says 11.4 million doses have been sent to states, but only about 2.1 million have received the vaccines first dose so far. That is not exactly where this White House promised we would be in the final few days of this challenging year.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We'll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020, at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, and likely much more than that.

We will have 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, maybe sooner than that, maybe substantially before. Every American who wants the vaccine, we'll be able to get the vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expect to have enough doses to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of this year, 50 million total by the end of January and at least 100 million total by the end of the first quarter.


TUR: None of that was lost on Joe Biden, who today criticize the Trump administration for the slow pace of the distribution.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: The Trump administration's plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind. We've only vaccinated a few million so far. In the face of accident, the vaccination program is moving now as -- if you continue to move as is now it's going to take years, not months. This is going to be the greatest operational challenge we've ever faced as a nation. We're going to get it done. But it's going to take a vast new effort. It's not yet underway.


TUR: Biden's comments come just after Vice President-elect Harras got her shot and encouraged other Americans to do the same. The incoming Biden-Harris administration is aiming for 100 million shots during its first 100 days.

Biden also says we'll use the Defense Production Act to order private industry to speed up manufacturing of material needed for the vaccines, as well as PPE which is again in short supply at many hospitals.

Late this afternoon, the lame duck president responded to criticism about vaccine distribution, writing, "It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the federal government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly but gotten them to the states. Biden failed with swine flu."

Meantime, the battle over increasing the amount of direct COVID Relief payments reached a new face on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this morning blocked consideration of a house bill that would give $2,000 payments to most Americans something Trump and Democrats won but many Republicans don't.

This afternoon Mitch McConnell introduced his own bill combining the higher payment with two additional demands from Donald Trump, a repeal of the internet liability protections known as section 230 and the establishment of a commission to study voter fraud, something Democrats are unlikely to support. That bill will not be considered until the Senate votes to override Donald Trump's veto of the defense bill, which McConnell urged his colleagues to do without delay.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER: For the brave men and women of the United States, armed forces, failure is simply not an option. So when it's our turn in Congress to have their backs, failure is not an option either. I would urge my colleagues to support this legislation one more time when we vote tomorrow.


TUR: Senator Bernie Sanders is adamant about blocking a vote on the defense bill until there's a vote on those increased payments.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: My plan is pretty simple is to demand that Mitch McConnell allow the United States Senate to vote up or down on that legislation that was passed by the House whether or not we could get to 12 or 13 Republicans that we need to pass the House Bill, not sure. And I think we got a shot at it.


TUR: And Republican Senator Pat Toomey is taking out his opposition to the $2,000 checks, saying he will not consent to a vote on it.

Meantime, Donald Trump is still trying to overturn the election. His campaign is now asking the Supreme Court to set aside Wisconsin's vote and to put the case on a fast track so it can be decided before Congress council electoral votes on January 6.

And there's news tonight about possible future prosecutions that may await Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports the Manhattan DA has brought forensic accounting specialists into its criminal investigation of Donald Trump's finances.

With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Tuesday night, three veterans in their fields, Shannon Pettypiece, our Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital, A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor and Columnist for Real Clear Politics, and Neal Katyal, former acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration. He's argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Everybody, welcome. So Shannon, I do want to start with you on this back and forth with the president talking about how there really isn't a delay in distributing the vaccine. And if there is one, it's all on the states, Biden saying it could move a lot faster. The numbers here don't lie, Shannon, 2.1 million vaccinated so far, that is well short of where this administration promised we would be at the end of the year. What is going on right now with Joe Biden? What might he have learned today that caused him to go out and criticize this president so directly, which is only done a few times since being elected and his effort to try and cool things down?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. And I will say that doctors advising the Biden transition and close to the Biden transition, had been telegraphing to us for at least a week or two now to myself and my colleagues, hey, there's going to be a real problem. This timeline is not going to go as smoothly as they anticipated. Those advising Biden could see this coming. I think there was a bit of OK, well, let's wait and see. Let's give it a couple of weeks to see how things shake out. But we're about 15 days in.

And well, you know, that isn't a lot of time, we're really up against the clock when you look at how many people are dying every day, and the administration's response, it just reminds me so much of where we were on testing. There's the confusion, there's the onlines. There is the, you know, miss expectations, and then the administration trying to sort of fudge and tweak the numbers and move the goalposts halfway through.

And then of course, this overarching theme of kicking it to the States, and just like with testing and saying, well, we got you the test, we got you the vaccine, it's your problem now, like the federal government is this bystander in the whole process. And does not seem to be any course correction going on in the administration, at least as far as we can indicate. So for the next 20 to 21 days we have left. That seems to be the trajectory we were on. And we heard Biden coming out today saying that he has directed his team and is looking at a way to reverse this course, day one when he gets into office.

TUR: And testing never got fixed, Shannon. It just never got any better despite the insistence that it was getting better and was totally fine. Where is the President on this distribution? Is he involve at all, is he trying to get things moving faster or is he just tweeting when news is brought to his attention?

PETTYPIECE: Yeah, I mean, he's obviously out on the golf course. And the only reason he tweeted today about oh, you know, the vaccines are getting out there. We're doing such a great job, was because President-elect Biden had raised the issue, otherwise, he wasn't going to bring it up at all. The position of the president of the Vice President of Admiral Brett Giroir, you know, is sort of leading up this effort as well, has just been OK, we got it to the States. You do it, your job now. And that's where they seem to be leaving it not realizing that states need federal support. They haven't gotten the money that the COVID -- there is money in the COVID relief bill, but they haven't gotten that money yet. They need those resources. And it's just not there. So they need some help.

TUR: A.B., there's also quite a bit of drama in Congress right now over two things, both the NDAA and this increased amount of money for stimulus relief checks. In vetoing the NDAA, the President put Republicans in a really tough spot, forcing them to override him and then opening up the possibility for potentially raising that direct stimulus payment amount which Republicans had to pose in vetoing the NDAA the reasons the president kept giving were about social media companies in Section 230, and the liability clause, and also about voter fraud as well as other things. There's been some confusion though -- I'm sorry, confederate renaming a basis. There's been some confusion, though, and some head scratching about whether he really cared about those two things. And I had Senator Tim Kaine on earlier today, and he raised another interesting possibility about what the President might really care about. Let's listen to that.


SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: The President didn't (inaudible) which requires corporations when they incorporate and then every year when they're up with the states to fully disclose their -- what's called beneficial ownership, who owns the corporation? The President hasn't said this. But as somebody who has dozens or hundreds of corporations, and who fights really hard, getting information from getting out about his own personal finances, I wonder if this is the real reason he vetoed the bill.


TUR: It's really about shell company disclosures. What do you make of that, A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, it's an interesting prospect. It's surprising though, that only one democratic senator has raised it as an idea, you would have thought that it would have been aligned, you know, coming out of House leadership, as well.

I tend to fall into the area of believers after observing the president for so long that he is not usually playing four dimensional chess, and especially right now he's acting out of so much anger and so much kind of desperation. That I don't know, that was why he was so emphatic about vetoing it might be, but it's part of a big stew of other things that are going on that he's fighting with Republicans about. He seems to be very focused on social media companies, of course, and battling them. So in that something he believes will rally his supporters, and that they will understand. So I think that it's possible for sure. But you are right, that it's -- these separate battles, over COVID relief, over his fictional election fraud story that he's raising money off of, and the defense bill, all of these things are putting a lot of relationships that the Republicans have had with President Trump into an awkward situation where they're going to have to break with him on some things, and they're, you know, hoping that he won't attack them as he is attacking Mitch McConnell, John Thune, Brian Kemp, Doug Ducey and other high profile Republicans.

TUR: There is an end date to this and it's rapidly approaching not just the inauguration on January 20, but when the Electoral College votes get counted in Congress, next week on Wednesday. Neal, the President's legal team is now trying to overturn the results in Wisconsin. They've tried to do this and other states. The Supreme Court has rejected, a Texas lawsuit saying that that the Supreme Court should overrule the election. What is the likelihood that they're going to get anywhere with this Wisconsin suit?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Zero, I mean, not even 0.01%. Trump reads the law about as well as he manages vaccine delivery, and his lawyers are no better. They've had 59 different losses, Katy, all across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected suit after suit. They're sitting on seven different motions to expedite consideration. They've shown no appetite whatsoever. And that's because Trump's got neither the law nor the facts on his side.

TUR: What do you make of what might happen on January 6, A.B. this day where the Electoral College votes get counted, where the President's trying to hold a rally and have some sort of March on Washington?

STODDARD: Well, this is really going to be atrocious, Katy. This is going to be an unprecedented, indivisible event, really, in our history. As Neal made clear in his piece in The New York Times, this is really a perfunctory predictable occasion that results in these states that Trump is continuing to tweet about and lie about are not just they've been certified, and just going to be a process where they're supposed to in a formal way except these results. The idea that they are getting a bunch of Republican congressmen looking for a senator to accompany them, to try to pretend there's a dispute and really, in violation of their oath to the Constitution, disenfranchise and subvert the legally cast votes of millions of Americans is really not just embarrassing, goofy, pathetic political theater. It's dangerous.

And the idea that on the outside of the building, the President is looking for this kind of last Trump made for television show where he's going to have supporters come who believe all the lies he's telling them, and potentially, you know, incite violence. I think will be, I love to be very thankful, if no violence occurs on January 6, actually, it's that potentially toxic, so this is really no small event. That's why think Republicans behind the scenes like Mitch McConnell, are working furiously to try to prevent it from escalating, but they will certainly try the President's supporters to make a last stand for him guess what he craves, and he's making that quite clear.

TUR: And if that wasn't enough drama for you, Neal, the news of the Manhattan DA has hired a forensic accounting firm and its investigation into the President's finances, what is the significance of that?

KATYAL: Well, I think it shows that this is a serious investigation, as I think we've all known that there have been both serious federal and state, potential crimes that Donald Trump and his organization have committed over many years. The Federal one was stymied by Bill Barr, and others which shut it down even though Trump was named as individual number one in all sorts of legal proceedings.

But the state Trump can't shut it down. His attorney general only deals with federal stuff. And even if Trump tries to pardon himself or something, he can't shut down that state prosecution. And so I think you see the rule of law working out there. And, you know, just to return for a moment to this whole question of January 6, I think the most troubling thing, Katy, is that we have a vice president now, who is exerting terrible leadership. I mean, he doesn't look like he knows what to do. And, you know, my Vice President Pence, I don't think has been this uncomfortable since his doctor told him he had to wear short sleeves to get vaccinated. I mean, the idea that he can even figure out now 56 days after the election, who won, or to congratulate Kamala Harris, our nation's first female Vice President, first Asian American Vice President, first black vice president is to me on thinkable.

I mean, the reason we wrote that piece in The New York Times is to demonstrate just a simple point, which is great leaders know how to give up power. It's easy to take power dictators and dispense to that all the time. But great leaders like George Washington part with their power, ensuring a seamless transition, but these guys are just in it for themselves. They're not in it for anything else.

TUR: You right? Well, Mike Pence do the right thing. If Mike Pence does not do the right thing, Neal, what happens?

KATYAL: Well, I mean, if he tries to declare, you know, these rivals slates in Arizona, or something to count or something like that, then it goes to the House and Senate, and they've got to win both the House and the Senate in order to throw those slates of electors out, which is an impossibility, and so there is not -- there is 100% certainty that we know what's going to happen at the end of this process. And all Trump is doing and Pence are trying to delay this out, I don't know for fundraising, or to take shots or because they're sore losers or whatever. But the one thing we know is that this is not the American way.

TUR: Neal Katyal, A.B. Stoddard, Shannon Pettypiece, everyone thank you very much.

And coming up, with a new variant of COVID-19 confirmed in this country, a warning it could be a decade before vaccines protect enough Americans. Dr. Vin Gupta joins me next. And later, with time running out for the Trump administration, the political highlights of 2020 and the parts, you'd probably prefer to forget. THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Tuesday night.



ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES ASSISTANT SECRETARY: The Federal plan is to provide the guidance, to provide the infrastructure. You know we're providing all the vaccines, the distribution mechanisms, the needles, the alcohol swabs, but it's really a state and local level to get vaccines at arms like it always is every year 170 million flu shots, that's done at the local level. The federal government doesn't invade Texas or Montana and provide shots to people.


TUR: But this is not like a typical flu season and at the current rate and NBC News analysis finds it would take nearly 10 years to achieve the Operation Warp Speed goal of having 80% of the country vaccinated. That's the amount experts say is needed to finally get this pandemic under control.

With us tonight is Dr. Vin Gupta, a critical care doctor specializing in these kinds of illnesses, also an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

There's a lot of frustration, Doctor, about the pace of this rollout. There's also a lot of frustration about how it is being done. The federal government says the states are in charge of distribution. And the states clearly are overwhelmed given the amount of patients that are in the hospitals right now, and the fact that the vaccines are mostly going to hospitals. How do you break that log jam? How do you make this work so we can get more people vaccinated quicker?

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Katy. You know, you're exactly right. I think this is not just a typical flu season, where we're trying to get up a regular inoculation with the flu vaccine for over 170 million Americans. This is very different. This is a disaster mindset, disaster situation where we need that type of mindset broadly.

And so there's a few things that can be done from a federal footprint standpoint. Number one, the Army Corps of Engineers, and specifically the Army Materiel Command, they've been supporting some phase three trials with Sanofi, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, they can actually help support distribution logistics, and they're not doing that right now, specifically for Pfizer, for much of the Moderna supplies.

So number one, DOD could actually play a leading role here in ensuring that we don't have some of the mix ups, Katy, that we've seen just in the last week in terms of states not getting the allotment that they thought they would get. So that's one.

Two, Katy, there's a lot of community health centers across the country, that will be qualified community health centers that could actually be sites where people can get the wine up and get vaccine. So we can get them in a common sense, organized way. What you're seeing in places like Florida and Texas, governors that have not decided to abide fully by CDC guidelines, they've now opened it up vaccination to a greater cohort of older individuals. They're just lining up, they're being told to show up at a specific place at a specific time, and then bring blankets because it's cold at night. That just doesn't make sense. It's not fair to those individuals. So we can actually leverage the network of federally qualified community health centers across the country that are funded by the federal government to say, go and get your shot here, and we'll make sure you have an appointment, we'll make sure we have a follow up appointment. That's something that government can absolutely do.

And three, this was touched on in the first segment, Katy, that needed funding from this COVID bill is going to be critical to make sure we have more immunizes that are trained in how you actually drop the vaccine and put in people's arms. That is not as simple as it sounds, number one. Number two, all those people that are currently trained already focused on health systems, and long term care facilities. So we need more immunizes as well, that's going to be really vital.

TUR: How concerned are you about this new variant, which has now been detected here?

GUPTA: You know, number one, it shows that our surveillance capabilities are just simply, they're not as robust as they are saying the United Kingdom. We're relying on academic medical centers, and private health systems right now to do genetic sequencing, this genomic surveillance that basically can detect, are we seeing different strains like the U.K. variant here in United States. We're picking it up in Colorado, easily more widespread throughout the country. From a clinical standpoint, it's pretty clear from other experts across the world that this is not a more lethal strain, number one, and then number two, Katy, it does not appear that this is going to evade the immune -- our immune systems once we actually get vaccinated, so that the vaccine will work. That's really good news. And then number two, I think this is a wake up call for all of us to say, we need to be making sure surveillance systems are up and ready are looking for these different strains so that if we do need to say develop a different vaccine, design a different vaccine, say in a year or in two years, that we're ready for that, so we're detecting what we're actually circulating our environment in real time.

TUR: Let's hope we get things sorted out quickly. Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much.

And coming up, a look back at the politics of 2020, how would you describe the year that is about to end? Some answers when THE 11TH HOUR continues?



TRUMP: Happy New Year. Happy New Year. We're going to have a great year. I predicted the impeachment thing is a hoax. It's a big fat hoax. I think that's going to go very quick. I think it's going to go very easy. If you're honorable, I'm going to win the election by a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about your New Year's resolution? What's your goal for the New Year?

TRUMP: We're doing great. Our country is really the top of the world. Everybody's talking about it. Thank you.


TUR: Well, that is how it was going this time last year in Trump world. It is almost hard to remember what we were talking about at the start of 2020. On that front, one of our next guests puts it this way. Remember when impeachment was going to be the seismic political event of 2020? Neither does anybody else.

Here with us to talk about all of it is Susan Page, veteran journalist, best selling author and USA Today Washington bureau chief, and Bill Kristol, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administration's and editor-at-large of The Bulwark.

I don't envy the task of trying to put everything that's happened in the past year into this rather short segment, but we are going to try to do it.

Susan, when you look back at where we were a year ago. How do you put it into words? How much more difficult the times are today than they were on December 29 2019?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, you remember at that point, the House was voting impeachment articles against the president. The Senate was about to launch a trial, we thought this would define and shape the presidential election. None of that happened.

What happened was a global pandemic that has killed an unfathomable number of Americans. All the economic upheaval that's brought a racial reckoning we didn't expect and then really the most disputed presidential election we've had in modern times with the president who continues to refuse to concede that he lost. So this is not a year that any of us had seen before with a combination of prices that just it just have just cascaded over us for the past 12 months.

TUR: Bill let me read something to you from Susan Glasser and the New Yorker reading today. She says the hardest thing to accept is that 2020 is not merely the year that Donald Trump's luck ran out, but that with it, the countries did, too. Sadly and yet inevitably, this terrible wretched toxic year of pandemic death and economic distress of partisan hatred and national protest is the culmination of all that Trump has rot and all that he is.

That was one of the biggest concerns going into the Trump administration was all of this erratic behavior was his lack of experience. It was all well and good when it was normal politics or at least survivable while it was normal politics.

But what happens when there is a real serious crisis that faces this country and all of a sudden in the last year, he is in office, we face a crisis that we have not experienced in 100 years.

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: We pay a terrible price. Obviously, human price is suffering and economic price picks we didn't get on top of the pandemic hopefully with a vaccine coming. And I think a better administration coming in and people adjusting, we will get past the pandemic.

But I do think that the X-ray of our body politic that we've seen in the last four years really, and unfortunately, I say this, sadly, obviously, Republican or former Republican and conservative, but of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, the X-ray of the separability of the Republican Party, whatever, two major parties to demagoguery and authoritarianism and extremism. That's not changing overnight. Right.

And the fact that Trump got more votes than he got in 2016, it was one thing to vote for him as a, you know, take care of take a chance, how bad how badly could he do the Republican Congress will keep him in line the adults around him. After four years of this and after the pandemic, I got to say, the fact that so many people stuck with him, believed him, believe him today about the election. Not a majority, but a lot. That's not changing overnight.

So I agree with Susan boasters. And Susan masters is of age that this isn't just a one off year, that's kind of going to end, we're going to turn the page, you know, January 1, we're all going to wake up and it's woof, that's all over, unfortunately, not the case.

TUR: I wonder Bill, how much of this drama does carry over because you do have some of the President's supporters now trying to pull it back? You have the New York Post coming out and saying, enough is enough. You also have this tweet from the Arizona Republican Party. Remember, the Arizona Republican Party at one point was saying that you should shed blood for Donald Trump.

Now they're basically calling him a Benedict Arnold, how much can you stuffed the toothpaste back in the tube? Is it possible if the establishment of the Conservative Party of the Republicans gets back in line with some sense of normalcy, that the electorate will fall in line as well?

KRISTOL: You know, that's a big question. I think we'll have a low. I do think there'll be some Trump in Mar-a-Lago. It's not the same as Trump in the White House. There will be other people will come forward, the intimidation factor will decrease. But I wish I were more confident that we could really distribute the repudiation of Trump.

The New York Post is a good example. I mean, it speaks for a lot of the conservative, editorial page speaks for a lot of populist conservatives. That's kind of bad. What Trump's doing now is challenging the election stuffs a little crazy, no rethinking of the fact that they endorsed Trump for reelection, no rethinking of their defense of him during impeachment and their defense of his lies, and their excuses for his management of the pandemic and their promotion of quack cures and attacks on next person, so forth. You know, some of that is rethought. And for and repudiated, I would say, I don't think we're out of the woods by any means.

TUR: And when I say fall back in line, I mean, except basic, fundamental facts, like, this is up and this is down.

Susan, if you would -- Joe Biden's coming in. And obviously he's got a real challenge in front of them, how does he possibly try and bring the country back together, try and restore some sense of equilibrium?

PAGE: Well, he really campaigned that he was a person who could do that. And he could do that by going back to much more moderate mainstream by partisan attitudes toward government. He really didn't embrace the most progressive elements of the Democratic Party. And then there was a time when it looked like the progressives were really going to drive the primary process.

Joe Biden is promising return to an earlier era where we had big partisan fights, no question about that. We had big elections. But at the end of the day, the losers conceded the election had been lost. They got themselves up that people who had won, got together tried to face and address some of the biggest problems facing the country.

Now, some people think Joe Biden is naive to think that, for instance, he can have a bipartisan working relationship with Mitch McConnell, which, you know, during the experience during the Obama administration, not such a happy one with Mitch McConnell. But we'll see.

And I've got to say the passage of this COVID 19 relief bill, finally, at the last moment, is a sign that maybe there is a path here, that takes us away from kind of the frozen in place, partisanship that we've seen for so long.

TUR: I think it depends on whether the republicans really do want to shed Donald Trump or if they still feel like they need him for their own political power. Susan Page, always good to see you. Bill Kristol, good to see you as well. And coming up how drama happening in the Senate right now could determine control of the Senate, one week from today when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



STACEY ABRAMS, VOTING RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They are feckless hypocrites who would rather win an election than help the people of Georgia and do their jobs.


TUR: That was Stacey Abrams talking about Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who reverse their stances on COVID-19 relief in order to fall in line with the President. Notably of course they're both in tight races in next week's run offs in Georgia.

Politico describing the move this way. Trump's demands have put Republicans in a bind, forcing them to either tack on hundreds of billions of dollars to the coronavirus deal, or buck the president and his legion of diehard devotees.

Back with us again tonight, Tim Miller, a contributor to The Bulwark and the former communications director for Jeb Bush and we welcome to the broadcast Greg Bluestein, political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Welcome, guys.

Greg, no one knows Georgia politics better than new this race is certainly very tight. Where do things stand right now?

GREG BLUESTEIN, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION POLITICAL REPORTER: Raise your type. Both campaigns see this as basically, I should say all four campaigns to this is basically a toss up right now, going into the final week of the campaign. President Trump's visit is going to be a pivotal moment. He's coming on the runoff eve on Monday the night before the election, and Republicans are making on huge Election Day turnout to overcome what appears to be a democratic advantage and early votes. So that will be a make or break moment for Republicans here.

TUR: Is it going to be about those voters who voted for Joe Biden and then voted for the two republicans in the general election or is it going to be about turnout more democrats suddenly turning out then Republican voters, Greg.

BLUESTEIN: It's the latter. This is all about voter mobilization, voter energy -- energizing that core of 2.5 million voters, those pools that each campaign has. You know, the general election was basically split down the middle of Joe Biden getting a 12,000 vote victory in Georgia. So both can all four candidates, though two tickets are essentially going after energizing those core supporters rather than persuading the few undecided voters to get back out there.

TUR: How significant are the gymnastics that both Republican senators need to do, Tim, in order to fall in line with the president. Now both of them suddenly having to say that they support $2,000 checks when they didn't initially?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I agree with Greg, I think on balances the turnout play. And so I don't think it's particularly significant with regards to turning up voters. And if anything, all the drama and craziness around this has made this the most well known runoff election probably in the history of this country. I you know, I think that a lot of the Republicans in Georgia are obviously very well familiar with what's at stake here, because of all the drama and discussion around it.

I do think that particularly this NDA vote, I think he has made a big bind on whether to overturn his veto on funding of the military. If you look -- if this does end up being a really tight race, by really tight, I mean, less than a percent, you know, you do look at these Atlanta suburbs, and these Biden, Purdue voters. And I think that you could see a little bit of deterioration among, you know, what you might just call for shorthand, and never Trump kind of republican vote in the Atlanta suburbs, you know, over the lack of funding to the military and over some of the craziness around, you know, the fake coup and attacking Grand Rapids burger and all that.

So I think he's heard them there on the margins, but kind of in a weird way helped him help them with engagement among the base in the rest of the state.

TUR: Democrats had a hard time with some really high profile and potentially promising races in the general election, South Carolina with Jamie Harrison, the race against Tom Tillis in North Carolina as well, if you were advising the Democratic campaigns about how to do things differently in Georgia, how to make that outcome different. What would you be telling them?

MILLER: Look, the one nice thing that they are working for them as they have two different candidates that can kind of speak to the two different parts of the party. I don't think in North Carolina and South Carolina and Kentucky and some of these states, these Senate candidates were doing a very good job of talking to former Republican suburban voters who voted for Joe Biden. I think a lot of those voters felt very comfortable as Joe Biden and weren't willing to go all the way there for people like Cal Cunningham and Jamie Harrison.

And so I think tailoring a message to them, you know, that's going to work with Ossoff. Georgia is a different animal than those other states, though. And there's a big democratic, particularly Black bloc of votes there that are to get, a runoff is different than a general election.

So turning out the base is actually more important in this run off than it was in those gentlemen and those other general elections. And I think the never Trump crowd, my crowd is a little bit less important in this race than it was in the general elections. And I think that's what cost cutting in North Carolina.

TUR: Greg, I know this happens a lot. But the President has just tweeted, but he's tweeting about Georgia, so allow me to read it. I love the great state of Georgia, but the people who run it from the governor Brian Kemp to the Secretary of State, are a complete disaster and don't have a clue or worse. Nobody can be this stupid. Just allow us to find the crime and turn the state Republican. It goes on in another tweet. My question to you though, is how much influence does the President have right now on what is going to happen next week in Georgia?

BLUESTEIN: This is what's keeping Republicans here up at night. They're worried that he'll continue to push his Civil War push this infighting within the Georgia Republican Party here attacking the governor, attacking the Secretary of State, attacking other republican officials who defied his calls to illegally overturn the election results rather than focusing on the two Senate runoff candidates whose victories could really shape Joe Biden's presidency to the longer he keeps on airing these grievances and focusing on his own election defeat and not focusing on the two runoff contenders, the more than those runoff contenders worry that he's distracting attention from their races.

TUR: Greg Bluestein and Tim Miller, gentlemen, thank you very much. We appreciate all your time. And coming up, a report from Wuhan one year after it all started when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


TUR: China continues to struggle with new coronavirus outbreaks as the country prepares for the Lunar New Year in February its busiest holiday season. Tomorrow marks one year since word of a mysterious illness first surfaced in the city of Wuhan. Tonight NBC News correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer brings us back inside the first coronavirus epicenter, where many questions remain unanswered.


JANIS MACKEY FRAYER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the city where the virus first emerged busy streets, kids in school and not a single local case of COVID-19 in over 200 days.

Wuhan is the safest he says. But one year on questions linger here about how it began.

One doctor told us that hospitals had noticed a busier flu season last December, it became widely known that some doctors flagged as SARS like virus, but we're silence. December 30th this alert from local medical officials to hospitals about unexplained pneumonia became the world's first warning.

Twelve months later, the World Health Organization is still waiting to get a team to Wuhan.

(on camera): It still is unclear whether the market was the source of the virus though outside experts believe it was a starting point for the outbreak.

(voice-over): It's highly politicized. China's government claims the virus could have come from somewhere else. It's also tried to contain criticism. Sentencing a video blogger who reported from Wuhan to four years in prison on charges of spreading false information.

Her lawyer says she did things that are beneficial. She is innocent.

Chinese vaccines have started to roll out for emergency use here or a makeshift hospital used to be there's now a huge showcase of props and displays that credits the leadership of President Xi Jinping with the city's victory and presents the virus as a thing of the past. Janis Mackey Frayer, NBC News, Wuhan.


TUR: Incredible see how busy those streets are. Coming up, so much hope in one tiny container when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


TUR: The last thing before we go tonight a wonderful moment of hope captured by our own Vaughn Hilliard this afternoon, Harriet Hoody red wine, a resident of a retirement community in Phoenix, Arizona, became emotional when Peggy, her partner of 39 years received her first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Because of the pandemic Hoody and Peggy have been isolated from each other since March. So Hoody watched it all happen over FaceTime


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sleeve just wait up. Sleeves up. Alcohol cop. Her it comes. All right. All right. The miracle has happened. First step, first step. Thank you, Lord. It's really, really amazing. Here she is. Got the sleeve back down. The first step, the first vaccination babe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does this mean for you guys, Rudy and Peggy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, goodness. What do you think that means to us? We're hoping we're going to get -- be able to get things whatever we call normal again. 28 days you get the next dose. Then you will be protected. And I am so relieved that it finally it is finally come today.


TUR: Helping us 28 days go by in a flash. Some hope from Hoody and Peggy to take us off the air for this Tuesday night. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the network's of NBC News, good night.


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