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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, December 3, 2020

Guests: Mercedes Carnethon, Robert Garcia, Baratunde Thurston, Michael Steele


President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curtail the spread of coronavirus. COVID vaccine poised to be approved as U.S. enters most brutal period of COVID pandemic. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that specific areas in the state will be under a stay-at-home order. Newsom said this is to prevent people from gathering with others outside of their household as coronavirus cases surge. Biden says multiple Republican senators have called to congratulate him on election win. Biden and Harris say they won't interfere with DOJ in apparent rebuke to Trump. Donald Trump's sustained attacks on the integrity of Georgia's presidential election tally are threatening the Republican Senate majority, and GOP senators are starting to fret.


STUART STEVENS, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Donald Trump, they have no moral compass, in allegiance to the rule of law. So, it's a gang. So, you have a guy who runs a gang and Donald Trump is attempting that being an enviable position, being able to pardon his gang members. Apparent I would love that.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Stuart Stevens, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And I really appreciate it.

STEVENS: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Stuart Stevens 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 will be back on Monday.

Day 1,414 of the Trump administration, 26 days since the election was called for Joe Biden, 48 days until Inauguration Day.

As the nation prepares to witness a new administration takeover, we do remain locked in a grueling battle with the coronavirus, a war that is taking a staggering toll every single day.

And the strain of this crisis is pushing our healthcare system ever closer to the breaking point. There have now been more than 14 million confirmed infections in this country. Keep in mind we crossed the 13 million case mark just last Friday. There were more than 205,000 cases recorded today alone. And so far, more than 2500 lives have been lost.

Tonight, in an interview on CNN, President-elect Joe Biden made it clear how much his approach to the pandemic will differ from President Trump's starting with actually listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: We spoke today three o'clock, my COVID team met with him. I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents. And I asked him to be a chief medical advisor for me as well. We talked about masking or the federal government has authority I'm going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings, you have to be masked and in transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked in airplanes and buses, et cetera. And the first day I'm inaugurated to say I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask.


TUR: The first vaccines are expected to be available by the end of the month for people at risk. Biden added that he's willing to be inoculated before his inauguration and on camera.

Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton have already said they're willing to do the same to encourage Americans to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 keeps on rising. It is now nearing 101,000. Another record, the increasing pressure on Critical Care Services has pushed California to impose new restrictions linked to the number of available ICU beds. There's more on that just ahead.

Yet again, today, there was nothing about the skyrocketing cases or the pain and the loss caused by this epidemic from outgoing President Donald Trump. His focus remains fixated on his array of false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election. Even though his handpicked Attorney General Bill Barr says he has seen no evidence of that. Those comments have apparently soured relations between Donald Trump and one of his most trusted lieutenants.


KRISTEN WELKER: Mr. President, can I ask you to respond to the comments by your attorney general who indicated he has not seen, at this point, any evidence of fraud enough to overturn the election results given that why is now not the time to concede?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he hasn't done anything, so he hasn't looked?

WELKER: Do you still have confidence in Bill Barr?

TRUMP: Asked me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud.


TUR: Multiple sources have told NBC News that Trump has not ruled out firing Bill Barr. Also, the Associated Press reports, the White House liaison to the Justice Department has been banned from the building after pressuring staffers for election fraud information.

And Trump's quest to overturn the election suffered another blow when the Wisconsin Supreme Court tossed out a request to revoke certification of his lost to Joe Biden.

We're also learning more about that possible bribery for presidential pardon inquiry revealed earlier this week. Tonight, The New York Times reports that this past summer, the Justice Department a top fundraiser for Trump, Elliott Broidy and Jared Kushner's lawyer, Abby Lowe on the roles they both may have played in a suspected scheme to offer a bribe on behalf of the billionaire real estate developer in exchange for clemency for a text crimes conviction.

The Time says no one has been charged in the inquiry. And Politico has new reporting on the matter of pardons. That says Trump is considered preemptively pardoning as many as 20 aides and associates before leaving office. Trump is quote, a shooing the typical protocol of processing cases through the Justice Department. Those up for clemency include everyone from Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to several members of his family, all people who have not been charged with a crime.

Earlier this evening, Joe Biden was asked about those reports on Trump's pardons.


BIDEN: It concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and injustice. Our Justice Department is going to operate independently on those issues that how to respond to any of that in terms of the pardons, you're not going to see an administration that kind of approach to pardons. Nor you're going to see in our administration, the approach to making policy by tweets, you know, it's just going to be totally different way in which we approach the justice system.


TUR: The President-elect also told CNN tonight that more than a few Republican senators have reached out to him privately to congratulate him on winning the election.

With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests for a Thursday night to the very best from the New York Times, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent and Mara Gay, a member of the Times Editorial Board. She's also a former New York City Hall, Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal and a COVID-19 survivor. Also, with us is Mercedes Carnethon. She's an epidemiologist and the Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Everybody, welcome. So, Peter, part of the reason that the President lost this election was his response to the coronavirus, the lack of leadership he showed. And in trying to overturn the election, which he's doing right now, he's continuing to shrug off leadership on the very pandemic that partially led to his ouster. What's going on there in the White House?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, of course, he's a president who told us before the election that as soon as the election was over, everybody would wake up and realize that the COVID pandemic wasn't there that. It was just a creation and effect of the media that was hyping it and I was spending too much time on it, and we were around in the corner toward the end. Well, we're obviously not rounding the quarter toward anything except for higher death rates, higher infection rates, higher hospitalizations.

We lost as many people in the last 24 hours, roughly as we lost on 911. The death toll at this point is extraordinary, is higher than it was in the spring, when we thought we were at the peak. So, this virus is not only going away, it's worse, in many ways than ever.

Now there is a vaccine, the President wants to claim credit for it. Obviously, his operation and warp speed played a role in funding it. But the vaccine will take months to get it to most Americans. And there's a lot of pain and suffering between now and the time that any vaccine, assuming it is approved, can get to the vast majority of the public. And there's not been the leadership as you point out from a president united states who seems to be at all focused on it, much less telling Americans what they should do to protect themselves how we as a society should be addressing this crisis because it is a crisis.

Imagine again, if we had a terrorist attack in this country every single day, day after day after day, we will be thinking a lot more about it than we seem to be thinking about this virus.

TUR: Well, we are being attacked. It's just not a terrorist. It's a viral disease. We're being attacked every single day by it.

Mercedes, the Vice President, who is now the president-elect, former Vice President Joe Biden, is approaching the virus already or laying out his plans differently than the President has. The President is obviously very focused on vaccines. Biden focused on vaccines as well. But he is saying that he's going to listen to Dr. Fauci. He's going to recommend mask wearing to everybody once he takes office, what's your medical professional reaction to what you heard from Joe Biden?

DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I'm extremely pleased to hear Joe Biden's response and in particular, his description of what is a comprehensive strategy.

You know, when you're in the middle of an attack, and we are in the middle of an attack from this virus, you don't want just one strategy to try to address it. What you want are multiple strategies so that the virus can't continue to sneak through. I'm very pleased and heartened about hearing about a vaccine because that means that our essential workers can be protected, and those extremely vulnerable populations who have to engage in close enclosed settings such as congregate care settings, however, the rollout plan as appropriate as it is, it's going to touch those populations first.

And what we're seeing right now is that the highest rate of new infections is occurring and 20 to 39-year-old. So that means that even with a vaccine rollout at the end of this month, it's going to be a while before it reaches the population who are currently hypothesized and to be spreading it either silently through asymptomatic spread or through symptomatic spread by not changing behaviors so that President-elect Biden has overlaid with the vaccine as a strategy. Universal federal support for behavior change, including masking really increases the likelihood that we can stop this terror that's scorching the earth on its way out.

TUR: On that point, is there enough being done to target that population, that generation to say, hey, listen, this is still very serious. And although a vaccine is coming, you can't let your guard down quite yet. Because I imagine that I mean, there, frankly, is a lot of hope out there with the news that a vaccine is coming that you start to think, OK, well, the end is inside. I don't need to be as strict with my daily routines as I had been.

CARNETHON: You know, I'm so glad you asked that follow up question, because it is the case that the vaccine rollout strategy is going to be going to need to be coupled with a communications plan. What we know is that there are certain populations who are more likely to contract the virus who are more likely to have severe outcomes. In many cases, those populations are the black population, the Latinx, other minorities and cultural groups that have traditionally shown resistance to vaccination, it is not going to help us as a population if we have a vaccine, and people won't take it.

Similarly, this communication strategy has to emphasize to that 20 to 39 year old population, who certainly are fatigued from the restrictions on their life, particularly around the holidays, that we have to hold firm, for a number of months more, our behaviors regarding masking, regarding social distancing, can't change. We have to hold on until we can blanket the population with the vaccine, and enough people are willing to take the vaccine.

TUR: Mara, from what you've heard so far from the Biden, incoming administration, are they doing enough to get out there and to try to build trust? Or will they be doing enough to try to build trust on the vaccine, to make sure that the vulnerable populations across the board have trust in it?

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I think actually what the Biden team has been doing, first of all, there's never enough when it comes to this virus. So yes, they're doing a lot. I think that they have a good plan that they're building for sure.

What I'm concerned about is the fact that we are starting from so far behind. And I fear that Americans may get a false sense of security or safety. You see this hope coming that the vaccines coming, but it's going to take a long time to get that vaccine to the entire population. And in the meantime, the virus is out of control. And I think because of the Trump administration's failure to build out, to build that trust, you know, on any front, on the public health side with the American people, Joe Biden has to start at square, I mean, it's not even starting at zero. He's starting from a deficit of trust.

And it's going to take a lot of time to build out that effort. Just the logistics of it are enormous. Even here in New York City, the logistics of delivering these vaccines to our 8 million people alone is just mind boggling.

I also just want to say that I think there is a piece that's missing in the public health messaging, which is that while we do know that certain populations are certainly undoubtedly at high risk, there are actually a fair number of people, a lot of people like myself, who are at high risk, and you wouldn't have known it. So, I was 33 when I got sick, and I have been recovering for months.

And while I am making a full recovery, it's just the battle of my life. I had no preexisting conditions. And there are many, many, many thousands of others in my position. So, I think the message to people who are younger needs to actually be to protect themselves as well, because you just don't know who's at risk or how your body will respond. That's really missing here.

TUR: I'm so happy, you made that point. Because there is this misconception that if you're younger, you're going to be totally fine. Or if you don't know about these preexisting conditions, you're going to be totally fine. But you're, as you said an example of somebody who is younger, who didn't know about any preexisting conditions, who's having a hard time with it. And I think your story is important for everybody to hear, especially our generation, frankly.

In talking about trust, we were going to -- we're in the middle of a transition. We're going to have an official handover on January 20. The President is not intending on attending the vice president, now incoming president-elect's inauguration. Let me play you what Joe Biden told Jake Tapper on CNN about that.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump has not said if he's going to attend your inauguration yet. Do you think it's important that he's there? You're laughing?

BIDEN: I think it would important only in one sense, not in a personal sense, important in the sense that we are able to demonstrate at the end of this chaos that he's created, that there is peaceful transfer of power, with the competing parties standing there, shaking hands and moving on.


TUR: Mara, what do you think of that? I mean, he was laughing. But he does make the point that this is a symbolic gesture, that there is a handover that the election was fair, and Donald Trump doesn't appear to be interested at all in attending and participating in that?

GAY: I think it's important. I agree with the president-elect. It's an important symbolic gesture that shows that we still have peaceful transfer of power, that we -- it's a democratic gesture. And I think as soon as President Trump hopefully makes that gesture, he leaves Pennsylvania Avenue and never comes back again. That's the best thing for the country.

TUR: Peter, how concerned is the President about what he could be facing when he leaves office? I know your paper has more reporting on this potential bribery scheme that's being investigated. That includes one of Donald Trump's former fundraisers, and among other in his in his orbit, Jared Kushner's lawyer, Abby Lowe, what else do you hearing about the concerns once Donald Trump leaves office?

BAKER: While there's so many myriad legal possible exposures for the president, his family that it's hard to even kind of keep track. Just this week, the D.C. Attorney General interviewed Ivanka Trump about the inauguration matter. They're -- obviously these investigations by the New York City prosecutor, the New York State Attorney General is looking into various civil matters. The problem to the president is a pardon doesn't solve these things. Even if you thought that the pardon was a good idea politically or in other ways. It doesn't actually get him out of trouble. If there is any trouble out there, because it's not -- they have a pardon like covers federal crimes, it does not cover state crimes, it does not cover civil matters.

And so, he can pardon himself if he wants it. There'll be a fight about that, presumably. You can pardon his family members. You can pardon people around him. But there's a lot of legal exposure out there that wouldn't be solved by that. And I think that he's very worried about that.

Now, he would say that he's worried because people are out to get him. They're unfair. They're coming after him for partisan reasons. But you know, these cases, if they're ever brought will be adjudicated in courts of law, and that he would be obviously able to fight them legally through defense attorneys. But the reason that this is complicated is not just for President Trump, but also for President-elect Biden. President-elect Biden does not want to have his administration starting off consumed with a former president facing legal jeopardy.

On the other hand, he's promised not to extend the pardon himself, that President Trump because there's a great desire among the Democratic Party for accountability. Nobody is above the law. It's a line you hear a lot. There's a really complicated moment, both for the incoming president and the outgoing president, I think is what we're going to be spending months talking about, because it's not going to simply go away on January 20.

TUR: Watch for what comes out of the states, Peter Baker, Mara Gay, Mercedes Carnethon, thank you guys very much.

And coming up, California's governor says he's pulling the emergency brake, as COVID cases and deaths in that state soar. We'll talk to one California mayor who lost both of his parents to the pandemic.

And later the growing fallout from that call to Georgia voters to skip next month Senate runoff elections. The 11th Hour is just getting underway on a Thursday night.



GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The bottom line is if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don't act now, we'll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost. Here's what we are introducing today. Regions where the ICU capacity is falling below 15 percent, we are now mandating that we are implementing a stay at home order for three weeks.


TUR: California Governor Gavin Newsom rolling out a new regional stay at home order as new coronavirus cases in his states skyrocket. If imposed bars, wineries, hair salons and barber shops in the region will all have to shut down.

California has been reporting about 15,000 new cases a day over the past week. And Newsome says four of the state's five regions are expected to fall below that ICU threshold within days.

We welcome back to the broadcast Robert Garcia, democratic mayor of Long Beach, California. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for coming on. What is the current situation in Long Beach? How close are you to that 15 percent threshold?

MAYOR ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA), LONG BEACH: Well, Long Beach is one of the many cities in county areas that are in the Southern California section. So, we're one of those five regions. And we're probably just a few days away from meeting that threshold. And that's been reported in all of our -- from all of our health officers across the region. So that's everything from LA to Long Beach, all the way down to San Diego, Orange County. And so, we will in the next few days across the region, have everything from dining, indoor, outdoor, as well as a lot of personal services all having to close very, very hard. But the governor made absolutely the right call today. Taking a regional approach, is the only way to slow down these major spikes we're having right now. And it's about saving lives. We're losing over 100 Californians every single day. And we're having 911 like events across the country. So, this is the type of bold leadership that we need at this moment.

TUR: Let me play something for you that Dr. Fauci told my colleague Andrea Mitchell a little bit earlier today about shutdowns.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You don't have to shut down the entire country. But there are four or five fundamental public health things that we all can do that were typical and again and again over and over again, universal wearing of masks, avoiding close contexts and avoid congregate settings or crowds, particularly indoors, particularly when people are not wearing masks.


TUR: So, he and other health officials have been beating this drum over and over again, wear mask, social distance, we can avoid these lockdowns. Is that just not happening in California? Are people not following those guidelines?

GARCIA: Well, I think it's pretty clear that there's a lot of people that are not following a lot of the guidelines in California and across the country. And it's in large part because we have a president of United States that is literally flaunting breaking the rules, not wearing masks, having super stressful events, having parties at the White House where no one is masked. And so, when that is the example that you have, you are going to have a lot of folks that don't follow the rules.

And so, we are in California now, into a system where we are discouraging gathering, we are trying to limit the types of events and bring people together. And it is very hard. And we know it's devastating for small businesses and for workers. But we want to save lives. At the end of the day, there is light at the end of the tunnel, vaccine is on its way. And this is the last real big challenge for us to get, we get foods next few weeks and months, we're going to be OK. And things are going to get a lot better.

TUR: You mentioned the president breaking the rules, Democratic leadership in your state, including the governor and the mayor of San Francisco and a prominent official in Los Angeles have all come under a lot of criticism for breaking the rules themselves not practicing what they preach. How hard is it to get this messaging out there when you, when you have leadership doing, saying one thing and doing another?

GARCIA: Listen, I think the governor and others have addressed those issues. I think that the important thing to focus on is the loss of life that we're having every single day and doing the right thing. I think overwhelmingly there is no question that the governor's leadership has been stellar on this issue. And the decisions he made today have been the right thing to do.

I've been also working with all the mayors, many of the mayors that have been on this program and others, and they are working very, very hard. And certainly, there have been mistakes made by some. But the important thing is not to focus, I think on those issues, the important thing is to focus on the fact that we have still a huge, massive, massive pandemic, that we're losing thousands and thousands of lives a day, 9/11 repeating over and over again and yet a lot of the country still not taking this seriously.

And so, I think overall, there is no question that California has had great leadership, and in general has been leading the way across the country. And that's what we got to continue to focus on the last few weeks.

TUR: And you have a personal connection to this. I know we've spoken about it, but it bears repeating, you lost both your parents to the pandemic, what's your message to those who aren't taking it seriously.

GARCIA: As, you know, not as even mayor of my city but as a son who has lost two parents. I am like, we all families have lost someone hurt and anger when we see folks that are not taking this seriously. Folks are still calling this a hoax or putting together marches that somehow the government is lying about COVID-19 is so disrespectful to all of the families that have actually lost someone in this pandemic. Don't end up where we have ended up. We are not going to have our families in the future. We are this year sacrificed for Christmas so that you can have your mom and dad and grandparent next year.

And for us, we have -- we're living in a new reality. But this has taken those that we love the most. And so please, this is serious. It can happen. It can happen to my mom, who was a health care worker or PPE every day and took care of herself and knew the science. It can happen to anyone, so people just need to be careful and we can get through this in the next few weeks and months.

TUR: Mayor Robert Garcia thank you very much for joining us. We always appreciate your time.

And coming up, reaction to the new revelations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's first interview together since winning the election when the 11th Hour continues.



BIDEN: There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who privately call me and congratulate me.

And I understand the situation they find themselves in. And until the election is clearly decided in the minds where the Electoral College votes, they get put in a very tough position.


TUR: Here with us again is Baratunde Thurston, author, activist, comedian and former producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He's now the host of the podcast "How To Citizen" along with Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of Maryland, and now the host of the Michael Steele Podcast, and a senior advisor for the Lincoln project.

Gentlemen, always good to see you. So, Joe Biden, Michael, saying that a lot of Republicans have called him privately to congratulate him on the election. I imagine there are a lot of people out there who are pulling their hair out saying, why can't they say it publicly? After all, he won.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER NRC CHAIRMAN: Yes, it I understand it and that frustration that goes with that, but it's the delicacy of where the party is right now. And how do these Republicans try to move forward with Donald Trump as an ever present afterthought, quite honestly, as a former president, which he'll be in a month and a half, as well as trying to figure out how to work with a new administration.

Keep in mind, a lot of these Republicans will be on the hot seat in 2022. A lot of them running in marginal states for them, states that, you know, are slightly purple. And so, they've got to figure out how to navigate this walk.

The idea the other side of this, I don't have the expectation at this late stage in the game, to have these folks come -- somehow come out and start beating their breast for Joe Biden or anything else. They will continue to do what they have done up to this point. Stand very quietly in the shadows, whisper what they need certain individuals to hear, and then hope for some daylight where they can be a little bit more forthright with their support or whatever.

TUR: Michael, but what about what happens after Joe Biden is inaugurated? Did they come out of the shadows? Is there suddenly a bipartisan relationship between Joe Biden and Republicans in Congress? Will things get done?

STEELE: Yes, that that's a very good question. And I think that that's what a lot of us are kind of putting our fingers on that pulse to see if there's going to be any life to it. If in fact, despite everything that we've seen over the last few years, and certainly what we're even seeing now, with some of the silence from some of the Republicans, that I think the President Elect, and others have expressed correctly, that there have been communications, that talk about how we move forward.

COVID-19 doesn't go away when Donald Trump leaves office, those states are still impacted that those senators represent, they have to come to the table on some type of relief $908 billion that's currently in front of us that are proposed by Republican and Democrat coalition of senators trying to move this agenda forward. It's clearly not going to be enough.

So, I think to your question, the answer, the short answer is yes. The lager and probably trickier answer is going to be how does that look? And how does it sound in the coming together around trying to get something done?

TUR: When there is divided government, the short answer --

STEELE: Right.

TUR: -- may always be yes. But it's going to be more complicated than that no matter what.

Baratunde, let me play you a soundbite from Kamala Harris, in her interview with CNN earlier tonight about something that she said during the primaries.


TAPPER: During the primary last year, Madam Vice President, like you told NPR, that the Justice Department, quote, would have no choice but to prosecute President Trump and that, quote, there has to be accountability. How does that square with what the President Elect just said about not telling the Justice Department to go after individuals?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job.


TUR: Baratunde, I guess that depends on who you nominate to be the AG.

BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR AND COMEDIAN: It absolutely does. Katie, first of all, thanks for having me. Chairman Steele, good to see you again, brother.

STEELE: Nice to see you my friend.

THURSTON: Nice to be here sharing the space. I first of all, just want to express my gratitude for the sanity, the tone, the non-threat making nature of that interview. And I'm still excited to see vice president elect Kamala Harris. So, I just have to take a moment to acknowledge that beautiful moment.

What I thought the vice president elect said, what the President Elect said, it's not my Justice Department. It's our justice department is the people's Department of Justice. That needs to be reiterated so much, because the current administration has run roughshod over not just our norms, but our laws.

And the good news from an accountability perspective is that the Trump administration is so over exposed criminally, that it's not just up to federal law in terms of the tools that we might have as a nation to hold them to account. Tish, James is lining up in New York State. And the DA of New York City is also, you know, taking aim and doing an investigation to see what those facts turn up.

So, I am somewhat confident and certainly patient that yes, we should have this separation of those powers. And let's see what the investigation show, and what shows up in some of these other cases that are beyond the reach of the partner in chief right now.

TUR: I'm talking about the cabinet. The Biden administration has made vows to make it the most diverse ever. There has been a little bit of frustration from the ACLU and some others who have said it's not quite diverse enough yet. What's your take on that?

THURSTON: My take right now is I'm happy with what I'm seeing. And I want to see more. I'm willing to give this team time to do more. As Vice President-Elect Harris said tonight, they're not even halfway through. And they've already nominated the most diverse set of eight that's ever been. So, they're partial slate is doing a pretty good job of representing the people.

And again, that's a contrast that with the era that we're exiting. Nobody nominated their son in law, or their caddy, or the person they met at the golf club that one time. We are operating on a level of basic competence again, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge that after four years of being gas lit, by insider trading scandals, and all sorts of malfeasance that we have people who take governing seriously and self-government seriously and respect the American people enough to take a transition seriously.

So, I will wait and see and also want even more. I think we can do both.

TUR: I expect we're not going to see those conference table, cabinet meetings where everybody praises Joe Biden. We're going to take a quick break. Baratunde and Michael are staying with us after the break, which is 33 days until the Georgia special election to look at how Donald Trump's baseless attacks on election integrity. Could do his party more harm than good. When "The 11th Hour" continues.



SIDNEY POWELL, EX-TRUMP LAWYER: I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure.


TUR: Amazingly, those comments came from a pro-Trump lawyer trying to make the case for voter fraud in Georgia not as surprising. Republicans are worried Trump's continued campaign against nonexistent election fraud could cost them the Senate.

Politico writing today Trump's quixotic bid to undo his election defeat as well as baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud could blunt GOP support for Georgia senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Still with us Baratunde Thurston and Michael Steele. So, Michael, wasn't just Sindy Powell is another pro-Trump lawyer who was saying don't go vote in the election, that these elections are all rigged. You have to fix them. I mean, just want to hit yourself in the head and say, what are you doing? This is a runoff that Republicans need.

STEELE: Stupid, follow stupid. Come on. No, let's let him go baby, let him go. You know, here's the conundrum. And it's not even a conundrum, is just the way it is. So, for eight months out of this year, Donald Trump and a lot of these very same people told Republicans across the country. Oh man, you know you don't want to do vote by mail. It's rigged. It's fraudulent. Don't do it. Don't do it. And the state parties largely sat silent. They said nothing. All right. And guess what happened? The Democrats beat him at it.

So now you get to this runoff in Georgia, and they're sitting going, fellas we need this vote to come by mail, because it's the dead of winter in January, it could be raining, snowing or whatever, we're in the middle of a pandemic. And now they're telling them, no, don't go vote. So, listen to them. I mean, you'll get the results you're going to get.

But the reality of it is, why are we pretending that there's some intelligence here about the voting process? We know it's not rigged. We know everything that's coming out of what we heard what you just showed, and what Trump isn't saying is a bold-faced lie. And if people want to believe that and take their chances for the local party, for the state party, then they're going to get the result they're going to get.

TUR: Baratunde, I mean, it's still seen as an uphill battle for Democrats to win both Senate seats in the state of Georgia, despite the claims that the election is not going to be fair, and Republicans shouldn't go out and vote. Despite all of that, it's still going to be a difficult path.

THURSTON: It will and in moments like these, I go to Stacey Abrams Twitter account, and I do whatever she tells me to do. And I would encourage anyone who's invested in the outcome of this election, to just do what Stacey tells you to do.

In the meantime, you know, this Republican Party has so invested in voter suppression that they're willing to suppress their own people's votes. And I don't know if that's the snake eating its own tail, or a chicken coming home to roost. But it's some kind of lesson with animals that says, you live by disinformation, you die by disinformation, too, and they're reaping what they've sown.

And it's sad to see because it still undermines the general project to self-government we're all invested in and I hope it's a short lived dalliance with authoritarianism that we're experiencing right now.

TUR: It's some kind of lesson with animals. It's like, I don't know, Animal Farm or something. Baratunde, the President's going to be down there, does he help, or does he hurt? What does he do in that election?

THURSTON: Donald Trump distracts. Donald Trump spreads COVID. Donald Trump exacerbates pain and express no empathy in a nation where so many people are dying every single day. You had earlier on your program, the mayor of Long Beach, who lost both of his parents. I've lost one parent in my lifetime, somewhat recently, you know, in the past few decades, and that still stinks. I cannot imagine that there's anything good that truly comes from this outgoing president showing up at any place in this country right now.

TUR: Michael, what do you think?

STEELE: I would agree with that. I love the way Baratunde put it, you know, he's spreading COVID, he's spreading disinformation and lies. And those who want to, you know, traffic in that will do so and those who want to believe it will do the same. As for the rest of us if you're in Georgia, go to Stacey Abrams website and do what she tells you to do. And if you're a Republican, and you have your wits and common sense about you and you want to hold the hedge against the Biden administration, then you will get yourself an absentee ballot and participate in the process and not risk your own health, the health of your neighbors and friends or your family.

This is not a complicated metric here. This is not some secret formula that we're all in the backroom kind of making up and just sort of putting out in dribs and drabs. We have been very clear from the very beginning of this election season, what's at stake, and what it will take in order to participate.

And so, if you really want to participate, you will safeguard yourself. And the easiest way to do that is to contact your local election board, requested a ballot by mail, vote, return that ballot and wait for the process to unfold. There will be no cheating. It is not rigged, and the only line you're hearing is coming out of the President's mouth. And the folks that you saw in that clip.

TUR: Time though is getting shorter. And if you want to do that you got to do it now or request that ballot and return it pretty quickly. You want to give your postal service more than enough time to get that ballot back especially as we are entering the holiday season or tonica and Christmas. A lot of mail out there. You don't want things to get delayed.

Baratunde Thurston, always good to see you my friend and has been too long.

THURSTON: You too.

TUR: Michael Steele, same to you.


TUR: And coming up as the world prepares for the vaccine rollout. New details on why one of the leading drug makers is slashing its estimated doses this year by half that report when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


TUR: The Pfizer vaccine is rolling out across the United Kingdom but there will be fewer doses than initially thought the drug maker announced it will only be able to ship half of the number of vaccines it had originally planned. Tonight, we have new details about why that is the case. Our report tonight from NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A cautionary look at the challenges of rolling out a coronavirus vaccine for the world in time to save millions.

Just yesterday, the U.K. made headlines becoming the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine for the public. Delivery of the initial doses began today. A scaled rollout is expected to start early next week. The U.S. may soon follow pending approval.

(on camera): This summer, Pfizer said it expected to produce up to 100 million doses of vaccine. In November it cut the estimate in half to 50 million doses. Tonight, we learned why.

(voice-over): Citing several factors a statement from Pfizer said scaling up a vaccine at this pace is unprecedented and we have made significant progress as we have moved forward in the unknown. Additionally, scale up of the raw material supply chain took longer than expected.

In the short-term deliveries are not expected to be impacted. The company says it will still produce more than a billion doses next year. But the anticipated supply cut in half before the rollout shows that ending the pandemic will be a scientific and logistical challenge like never before. Richard Engel, NBC News, London.


TUR: We will have more 11th Hour after a quick break.


TUR: Last thing before we go tonight, the words of one of our heroes, an ICU nurse in Indianapolis named Brandie Kopsas-Kingsley with a stark reminder that we all can use.


BRANDIE KOPSAS-KINGSLEY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY HEALTH HOSPITAL ICU NURSE: When the new says we've reached a new death toll. I don't understand that. But as a frontline health care worker, I can understand, and I can describe the sound the zipper on a body bag makes. I know the feeling of my hand on the chest. In the feeling of two minutes of CPR before the next pulse check. There's a lot of us health care workers that will never forget the things that we've had to see and do.

And I just ask that you try to think beyond yourself and beyond those numbers. And really think about the lives and what you can do to make sure you're there not the next number.


TUR: Powerful words, make sure you are not the next number. To that end, please stay home when you can and when you can't remember to wear a mask and to maintain social distance. You can follow the very latest news anytime on the And that is our broadcast for this Thursday evening. Thanks for being with us. And good night.


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