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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, January 13, 2021

Guest: David Jolly


President Donald Trump condemns violence he incited in White House video and ignores impeachment, and dodges all responsibility. Trump becomes only president ever impeached twice. Mitch McConnell won't hold Senate trial before inauguration. Ten Republicans abandon Trump and vote to impeach. A Georgia State Representative announced she plans to file articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. Jim Gosar gets tonight LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,455 of the Trump administration, seven days until the inauguration of Joe Biden as our 46th President. It's now been exactly one week since insurrectionist. American citizens looted and desecrated our Capitol.

This dark day and modern American history now takes its place among all the other dark days we have witnessed over these past four years. This president will now leave office having lost the House, Senate and White House, having lost reelection, having lost the popular vote twice.

As of today, and as children will be taught in schools for the rest of our days, Donald John Trump of Queens, New York now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

The man who warned us we would get tired of winning has now lost everything. His place in history has now been cemented. The man who we heard on tape trying to rig the outcome of an election, he lost, the man whose malfeasance, malpractice and enablers will forever be linked with an American death toll now approaching 400,000 souls.

Trump will now be tried as an ex-president, a real gut check of the gutless, the ultimate test of the Republicans who sold out their names and offices to become the party of Donald Trump.

Because of the violence, the president incited, there are troops quartered inside our U.S. Capitol for the first time since the Civil War. That's how real the threat is from weaponized components of the millions of Americans who have been lied to, for years by a man now a week away from leaving office at long last.

Here now a reminder of what Trump's supporters heard just one week ago today.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: They rigged it election, they rigged it like they've never rigged election before. We will not let them silence your voices. We're not going to let it happen. I'm not going to let it happen.

Now, it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we're going to walk down and I'll be there with you. We're going to walk down. We're going to walk down anyone you want. But I think right here, we're going to walk down to the Capitol, we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.


WILLIAMS: The House moves swiftly after that, and this time, it was a bipartisan rebuke all 222 Democrats getting an assist from 10 Republicans who actually crossed the aisle to vote to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement to insurrection. The rest of the Republican caucus rejected the charge with a mix of outrage over the process straight up, what about ism and appeals to unity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way this helps the nation deal with the tragic and terrible events of last week that we all condemn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make no mistake. The left in America has incited far more political violence than the right

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I call bullcrap. When I hear the Democrats demanding unity, sadly, they are only unified and hate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I oppose this rushed impeachment brought forward without a single hearing. It will only serve to further divide a nation that is calling out for healing.


WILLIAMS: Then there was this from their Republican leader, the man Trump has been known to refer to as my Kevin, who had done his best to amplify the President's false claims of a stolen election.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (D) CALIFORNIA MINORITY LEADER: Some say the riots were caused by Antifa, there's absolutely no evidence of that. The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.


WILLIAMS: And House Democrats then drove home Trump's role on that day a week ago as they made the case for his second impeachment.


REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defend this constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brood out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote for this, for America, for constitution, for democracy, for history.


WILLIAMS: Not long after the House voted, Trump recorded and released a message that made no mention of his second impeachment.


TRUMP: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. There has been reporting that additional demonstrations are being planned in the coming days, both here in Washington and across the country. I have been briefed by the U.S. Secret Service on the potential threats. But I cannot emphasize that there must be no violence, no law breaking and no vandalism of any kind.


WILLIAMS: The Senate is now facing a second Trump impeachment trial. But Mitch McConnell loyal to the end is dragging it out until the bitter end. "There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making, it is a fact."

McConnell is also not ruling out conviction. Today, he told Senate Republicans he's made no decision on how he himself will vote, saying he's going to listen to all the arguments. By the way, McConnell will no longer be in charge during the trial. Chuck Schumer, who becomes Majority Leader next Wednesday, responded to all these, writing, "There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors, and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again."

Joe Biden who's inheriting an uncontrolled pandemic, let's not forget, and an economy on life support, let's not forget, today said he hoped the senate can find a way to, in effect, impeach and chew gum at the same time.

Meanwhile, some members of Congress suspect last week's rioters may have gotten help from colleagues seen leading groups on reconnaissance tours of the Capitol before the riot. Our colleague Tom Costello explains that this way.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They were allegedly getting tours despite the pandemic and these lawmakers say that these people on the tour seem to be gathering intel on the layout of the building and then allegedly some of them showed up at the attack the next day.


WILLIAMS: And federal officials say they're now sorting through an avalanche of potential new threats. The New York Times among those reporting tonight that authorities have issued a joint intelligence bulletin that warns last week's riot could be a "significant driver of violence" for armed militia groups and extremists targeting the upcoming inauguration. To that end, by the way, today, the FBI briefed police chiefs all across our country.

It's a lot and with that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this consequential historic Wednesday night, Shannon Pettypiece, our Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital, A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor, Columnist for Real Clear Politics and Alexi McCammond, Political Reporter for Axios.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Shannon, I like to use at least one song title per broadcast. So here it is. There's a kind of hush all over the world tonight in large part because Donald Trump's cell phone has been rendered mute. He can't use Twitter. There's reporting tonight that just to release that video. There was some consternation in the West Wing, what platform to use because he's been kicked off so many of them. There is additional reporting tonight that he is in self pity mode. I read this from the duo of Parker and Rucker over at the Washington Post. His relationship with lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most steadfast defenders is also fracturing. Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani's legal fees.

As he watched impeachment quickly gained steam Trump was upset generally, that virtually nobody is defending him including Press Secretary Kayleigh Mcenany, Senior Advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow, National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Shannon, there is further reporting by the New York Times tonight that Trump had to be dissuaded from going to the House floor himself to try to make his own case for innocence all of it paints a picture of a man alone in the residence.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. You know, you mentioned no one defending him. And of course, that is in part because our reporting indicates no one wants to touch this with a 10 foot pole. No one wants to be in the presence line of sight, no one wants to get dragged into this drama. They don't really know where this is going, how this is going to end. So a lot of his allies who have not publicly rebuked him like we have seen, you know, Mitch McConnell publicly distancing themselves from him. We know there has been a divide between the President and the Vice President that has spilled into the press with the two of them not talking until very recently.

But so not only do, not have allies defending him, because I don't want to be associated with him. But typically, in a White House, and as we saw during the last impeachment, there is some coordinated effort within the White House among the staff to marshal a defense. They line up surrogates to go on the TV talk shows. They send out talking points to allies on Capitol Hill. So everyone is sort of on the same page. That's what we saw the last time there was this impeachment. And we've seen in past times in crisis.

The White House is so a mix of chaos and quiet at this point, that there is just no organized effort at all inside the West Wing to try and defend the president. People have either left their jobs, they're not coming in. They're disengaged. They're trying to pack up boxes physically, and get ready for a transition, that there just is no defense going on in the White House. It's -- I was talking so my colleagues, Kristen Welker, Peter Alexander, who were there today, they said it is so different from past crises, and the last impeachment where there was this like, hive of activity going on, and all sorts of coordination in the strategy.

Now it's nothing, it is radio silence. And to top it all off, the president doesn't have Twitter to use or Facebook to use. So you get these videos that are produced internally by the White House, not by the news media, and distributed, you know, through some sort of haphazard way, it was hours into the day where the White House was still trying to figure out how they were going to actually distribute this video to the press.

WILLIAMS: And let's go ahead and declare a Kushner watch tonight, which means, you're going to start seeing stories starting tonight that put Jared in a heroic light, something akin to saving the republic as he has done in the Middle East, just a word to the wise and readers and viewers at home.

Hey, Alexi noting your day, what was it like for you inside the Capitol, covering impeachment from a crime scene?

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, what a historic day. Thanks for having me, Brian. And it's good to be with you guys. I mean, it's such a remarkable time being in the Capitol today. I'm sure you all saw the photos of the National Guardsmen who slept there overnight. And we're walking the hallway standing and lining the hallways. I've heard from several members, mostly Democrats that I've talked with in the last couple of days, who said if we had this level of National Guardsmen present last week, none of this would have happened.

So while they're heartened to see these changes in the capital, it's a little alarming and there's a little bit of frustration that these guardrails weren't put in place and weren't readily available to them last week to kind of prevent this attack that we saw happen at the Capitol last week. I mean, it's very quiet, it's very somber, it's a very different mood than the capital was the last time impeachment was happening when similar to what Shannon was just describing was the mood at the White House, it was very frenzy, there was a lot of action, a lot of things going on. And this time, it was very quiet, much more subdued. Members came in, just to do the work that they did.

And of course, Brian, that's not just because of the moment that they're in one week after the Capitol was attacked, and many of them feared their lives were in danger. But that's also because we now know that the lockdown that members had to go into ended up being a super spreader event, because several Republican members refused to wear masks during a global pandemic. And so members were really just trying to get in, get out and do their work. And it was a totally different time and vibe than what we would expect but a somber tone overall, as members are really kind of focused on this issue of accountability, but also recognizing the grave situation that we're in that has led them to the point of impeaching President Trump again.

WILLIAMS: OK, A.B., we'll start with the House and later in this segment, we'll get to the Senate. But let's talk about House Republicans. Let's talk about Liz Cheney and the tenacious 10, the 10 Republicans who crossed over at a time when the Republican leader in the House hemorrhaging fundraising money because big companies don't want to be involved with sedition. So what's the dynamic among Republicans as you read it tonight, A.B. in the House?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, I think that it was very brave to see them come out the chin, but it's a small number. And I do think that you just look at the numbers of people who went along last Wednesday, and this Wednesday, and you know, that this is really still Trump's party. And I think that's part of the Senate Majority Leader's calculation about the timing of a trial is that they really still believe that the voters who are threatening the lives of the members of Congress are in charge of their political futures. And that's why I think despite the fact that they've been cut off from their corporate contributions, and they feel like they really need to get rid of Trump. There's still a feeling among The members, that they are -- their constituents demand that they oppose impeachment, that they continue to defend the president, and you can tell within leadership that they feel that that is what's going on with their followership.

I mean, Liz Cheney is a standout away from the rest of leadership, as you can see in their votes. And so, you know, she's I think she earned a lot of respect in what she did. But only nine other members, you know, have the guts to defy death threats, and vote for impeachment.

So, you know, the whole game that McConnell's playing, I think really is indicative of the fact that they're chastened by the fact that enabled Trump, and that all of these corporations are cutting off, not only seditionists, but all lawmakers in some cases, but I do think they're warily watching the reaction at home and are not so certain that they can cut ties with it.

WILLIAMS: Shannon, my question to you involves a quiz for our viewers and not this panel, because we already know the answer. I'm going to put a picture on the screen of freeze frame from a YouTube video and ask the good folks watching to identify this man. This man happens to be your chief law enforcement officer Americans. His name is Jeffrey Rosen. He is the Acting Attorney General of the United States. We don't get to see him or hear from him live in front of microphones or reporters, like the rest of our government seemingly, he now puts out videos instead, the first we've heard from him since this act of insurrection, and sedition was a video he put out, looking for leads in this investigation.

Shannon, after an attack on the heart of our government, I get that this guy is going to be an asterisk in history. But where is our government?

PETTYPIECE: Well, that's a concern we have been hearing from a number of, you know, allies, I would say of the president, advisors of the President, this deep concerning that include former White House officials in this, that there are just not people in crucial jobs, functioning at a high level to carry out the business of the government, whether it is within the White House, whether it is within so many of the departments and agencies that have acting administrators in there right now, the head of the Department of Homeland Security just left right before this enormous security event we are having to coordinate right now in Washington. You mentioned Acting Attorney General, Acting Defense Secretary, you know, and of course, then there's this trickle down throughout all of these agencies. And some of these agencies, I would say like DHS have been hollowed out long before this, some of that being intentional, and some of that being just mismanagement over years.

So this is a real concern, not just the people on the outside but people on the inside that we have been hearing from that there is not the personnel in the key positions to be able to carry out the functions, some basic and some really crucial right now for the U.S. government in these next seven days.

WILLIAMS: Alexi, I got one for you, feast your eyes on Lindsey Graham, on Sean Hannity tonight we'll discuss on the other side.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC) SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The president the United States was impeached today without one witness being called, without a lawyer present, and it's an assault on the presidency itself. These actions that they continue will incite more violence. What good comes from impeaching President Trump after he's out of office? Joe Biden, if you're watching tonight, you have a chance to practice what you preach. You should call on Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and say for the good of the country. President Trump will be leaving office on January the 20th, let's stop impeachment. Let's stop it now.


WILLIAMS: So Lindsey is out there still taking one for the team note the hint of violence in his answer. But Alexi, Biden contends, as I said earlier, the Senate can impeach and chew gum, and he couldn't get enough of his picks through the Senate at the same time?

MCCAMMOND: Yeah, Brian and I talked to a handful of Senate Democratic aides today. And I basically asked them logistically, is this feasible, is this something you could see working out where you could split your days and half and focus on impeachment and other legislative priorities, including but not limited to, you know, beginning confirmation hearings for Biden cabinet picks. And the folks that I talked to said, yes, it's just a matter of Schumer and other Democratic leaders getting together to figure out what the structure of the days look like. So it sounds like it's just a logistics issue or a logistics meeting to be had at this point.

And, you know, I talked with some folks about an hour ago who sources familiar with a meeting that House impeachment managers had this evening, in which they discussed the way forward and said that while it's not completely off the table, it doesn't seem likely that they will wait until after Biden's first 100 days to send those articles of impeachment to the Senate, which obviously makes this dynamic about how to figure out how to walk and chew gum at the same time, more of a realistic possibility for Democrats.

And this source also said that they met for about an hour, but that it's still up to Speaker Pelosi about how they move forward. But that there -- they get the sense that things are moving sooner rather than later. And that goes back to this idea of accountability. So while Senator Lindsey Graham wants to talk about what he thinks should be done, you know, unfortunately for Republicans, they've lost the Senate, the House and the White House. And Senator Lindsey Graham isn't really in charge of telling Joe Biden or Democrats how to move forward with this impeachment trial in the Senate. So he can talk to Sean Hannity about it. But unless he's talking to Leader Schumer, I don't know that he'll have much sway.

WILLIAMS: Hey, A.B., one more note on McConnell, I want to hear you out. Republicans have to realize that they have in their hand, the ripcord to free themselves from Trump, I guess unless Trump is the greatest thing that ever happened in their political lives?

STODDARD: Again, I see in McConnell's intentional lead campaign this week that he wants to threaten the president. And I think it was effective. I think that's why we saw the video today. And that's why we have Lindsey Graham, on the records, The Washington Post talking about how he's on the plane with the president calling his colleagues and lobbying them to oppose impeachment.

But there was enough of a warning from McConnell, to the president to behave well, I think he put out the video, as I said, as a result of the threat from McConnell that he would vote to convict and possibly, you know, he could find those 17 members, and get a supermajority and have this all done while he was still president. I mean, I think the specter of that was in the threat.

And then since the President, you know, has sort of stood down and put up the statement today and this video, McConnell and his colleagues are going to, you know, give all these conflicting signals, which they are about the timing of the trial and what it means and whether or not it's a good thing to convict a president after they leave office. But I think that they still don't know the answer to whether or not the voters they serve are going to let them separate from President Trump.

WILLIAMS: Terrific starting panel tonight, Alexi, you thanked us for having you, allow me on behalf of the viewers to thank you for being here, along with Shannon and A.B., great thanks for starting us off on this consequential night.

Coming up for us, why Tom Friedman of the New York Times says he wants Trump back on Twitter, and his advice for the Democrats to get the country back on track. He is standing by to join us.

And later, it hasn't exactly been orderly but the transfer of power will happen and with it, the big lie of 2020 will finally be put to rest but at what cost? The enormous challenges ahead for the incoming administration as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this most consequential Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: On this night of all nights, we are so grateful to be able to welcome back to our broadcast this next guest Thomas Friedman, three time Pulitzer Prize recipient, Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times. And a guy who has covered genuine attempted coups in several capitals around the world never dreaming, we would see one here.

Tom, you make a provocative point about handing the president, his cell phone back and saying your Twitter account has been restored. Why on earth tell our viewers what we want to do a thing like that?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Well, Brian, of course, it has nothing to do with Twitter. What it has to do with the fact that I believe that the most important thing that can happen right now for the health of the country, is that this rotten Republican Party fracture. And this is a party that is now marinated in and dominated by conspiracy theorists.

It's been able to hold together, basically under Trump, because it had power. So because it had the control of the Senate and control of the White House, Republicans could tell themselves this lie. I wouldn't let Trump babysit my kids or coach, my kids little league team, but I love what he did on taxes or what he did for Israel or what he did for, you know, any number of issues. He doesn't have that power anymore. The Senate Republicans don't have that power anymore. So I think this party is ripe for fracture. I can't think of anything more important right now, Brian, than that this party fracture between what I call principled Republicans, people like Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and the unprincipled ones, because this is now Trump's party. And as long as it is Trump's party, it must be kept out of power. That is the lesson of the last two weeks.

And I think the best way to keep it from being in power is if the principal Republicans create their own Lincoln Project, Lincoln Party, whatever they want to call it, center, right faction independence, and be ready to work with Biden to kind of consolidate a center right, center left coalition and leave the rump of their Publican Party out in the wilderness, there is no better way to cure the madness of a political party than to keep it out of power for a while.

WILLIAMS: It is indeed Trump's party and airgo the primetime hosts over at Fox News all have a role in it. I want to play for you Tucker Carlson from tonight.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Why are Republicans playing along? They don't really have a sound political rationale for any of this. They're just dumb and guilty by impeaching the president during his final week in office. Congress will not succeed in discrediting Trump among Republican voters. In fact, it will enhance Donald Trump among Republican voters, obviously.


WILLIAMS: Obviously, Tom, what do we make of that?

FRIEDMAN: You know, these guys are knuckleheads, then it's nothing but all star wrestling, you know, bribery, those guys, whatever, get them a headline or rise out of their party, they're not important.

What's important, I believe, is that Trump be impeached, that he'd be made politically radioactive, that the principal Republicans moved to the center, we could actually then get a strong problem solving caucus in the Senate and the House. And we already saw the potential of that with the stimulus bill. And we leave the Trumpers and the QAnon and the conspiracy theorists as a rump Republican Party that will find it impossible to win a national election. And Lord, that will be a blessing for America.

WILLIAMS: Tom, now we reached the tough love part of our program, your advice for the Democrats who are, let's face it, not without problems, weaknesses, and bad instincts at times?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, look, as I said in that piece done, some things are true, even if Donald Trump believes them. And he didn't win 71 million votes, just because they're all QAnon supporters. He touched people. He founded gut connection. And there are things Democrats can do. I think that will make it easier for principal Republicans, however few they are, to really collaborate in the best sense that word with Biden, stop talking about defunding the police. OK. It's not only a bad idea, it's just a terrible message. Talk about better policing. All right.

You know, stop talking about democratic socialism. Talk about inclusive, just capitalism. Talk about not just redefining the pie, but talk about growing the pie. And let's, you know, we have to dial down the canceled culture, political correctness in newsrooms and college campuses. It's out of control. And Trump fed off that, it doesn't remotely compare to the canceled culture we saw last week, with an entire party trying to cancel an election. But it is destructive, I believe, for broadening the democratic, you know, base in popularity in the country. So the things democrats can do to that I think are good policy and good politics.

WILLIAMS: And it's for all these reasons yours was among the voices we truly needed to hear from tonight, our thanks to our friend Tom Friedman of the New York Times. As always, please come back.

Another break for our coverage on coming up, another Pulitzer Prize recipient, and a former member of congress standing by to talk about the search for profiles and courage. Amidst all the big villains.



REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: This is not, as Liz Cheney says just some action. She characterize it as the biggest betrayal of any president of the United States in our history.


WILLIAMS: Congresswoman Liz Cheney, chair of the Republican Conference again was one of the tenacious 10, the 10 Republicans who crossed over voted to impeach the president today for what it's worth the most bipartisan impeachment vote in our history.

Some Republicans are already calling on Cheney to be ousted from her post. She's number three in the House. The title is conference chair officially. Well, today she said to that, quote, I'm not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience. It's one where there are different views and our conference, but our nation is facing an unprecedented since the Civil War, constitutional crisis. That's what we need to be focused on.

For more we welcome back to our broadcast to have our returning veterans and longtime friends Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and David Jolly, former Republican member of congress from the state of Florida, who has since left the House and for that matter, his political party.

But David, I'm going to begin with you, because of the three of us, you have served in that chamber. How big a moment did we witness today, on top of all the moments of these past four years?

DAVID JOLLY, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: This was a historic moment. And one that might mean that Donald Trump's legacy is that he goes down and the long lens of history is perhaps the worst president in American history.

And I say that not because he was a president who's now been impeached twice. But if you look even at the impeachment throughout history, Johnson for firing a war Secretary, Nixon face impeachment for obstruction of justice, Clinton for perjury, Donald Trump's been impeached for inciting an insurrection against the United States.

And today, our entire national story changed. We now have been a nation that can no longer be looked at and Reagan's words as the shining city on the hill, but instead a nation who had to indict through the power of impeachment, a chief executive who tried to turn on his own country. This is a dark grave chapter that I think as history continues to move on, we will look back upon as one of the very low points in American history.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, it's really something to roll around just hearing the congressman say, inciting an insurrection of around the United States and this is the President of the United States we're talking about.

So Eugene, proof of life came in this latest hostage video. This is now the coin of the realm. He doesn't appear so much as he appears on video. Peter Baker over at the Times wrote that Trump expressed no regret or any sense that he had any responsibility for any of this by stoking the politics of division not just last week but for four years.

My friend Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post, to save American democracy, truth needs to beat fantasy. Eugene isn't there but one guy who can say to MAGA world weaponized or not MAGA world? Look, it was a big lie. I lost the election. It wasn't stolen.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Right, Donald Trump could say that he could have said that last Wednesday, in his various statements, then he could have said it at any point between then and now. He could have said it today. In the statement, he released the hostage video.

But again, that's what makes all these calls for peace and Kumbaya from the president and from other Republicans. Empty, absolutely empty, because we won't we will never begin to get back on track until we deal with the big lie that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. There are millions of Republicans not just the hardcore Trump cultists, but millions of everyday Republicans who believe there was something wrong with the election, and therefore there is Joe Biden's presidency is somehow less than legitimate.

And this is our huge challenge going forward as a nation. Today we should have heard Republican after Republican in addition to saying, let's join hands, let's lower the temperature. Even if they're arguing against impeachment, every one of them should have made clear that all the nonsense about irregularities and voter fraud was indeed alive. It's not true. It was a normal election. Joe Biden one, now let's move on. But we can't move on until that is said and that is understood.

WILLIAMS: Dear viewers, I tried to tell you Eugene didn't get a Pulitzer for nothing. Both of these gentlemen and I mean, gentlemen have agreed to stay with us through this next break when we come back. Think about it this time next week we'll be at the end of yet another history making day, the near impossible task facing one Joseph Robinette Biden of Delaware.



We're back and let's talk about that guy and the challenges he has a head. Still with us are Eugene Robinson and David Jolly.

Eugene, this statement from Biden reads in part today, I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.

As I in artfully put it at the top of the broadcast. He wants the Senate to impeach and chew gum at the same time. How does this handicap though his young administration? Well, I

ROBINSON: Well, I think inevitably it does. I mean, and the one thing that makes me really mad about today, today was necessary, a president had to be impeached, and now he has to be tried. But it makes me angry. But the first days of the Biden administration or worse weeks, may have to be focused once again on Donald Trump. All he has done is salt the earth and sports the fields he's done. You know, he's put us in a situation and we've got 4,000 people dying every damn day from COVID-19. The economy is on a ventilator.

We have huge problems that we need to solve and, and Biden has the will, he has a team. He needs to be able to get started. And it is it is unfortunately necessary to deal with a president who will incited an insurrection and conclude this impeachment process. But there's so much that has to be done. There has to be a way to at least move forward on the agenda and still do the impeachment just has to be.

WILLIAMS: Hey, David Jolly, I got one for you. This must have been something akin to the conspiracy Super Bowl tonight. Here is the new QAnon Congresswoman from Georgia appearing on Newsmax.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R), GEORIGA: We cannot have a president of the United States that is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese or Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies. So on January 21, I will be filing articles of impeachment on Joe Biden.


WILLIAMS: David, is this going to be our life for the next four years?

JOLLY: And perhaps longer that's today's Republican Party. She is not a serious member of Congress and her words don't merit serious listening to and I think we're going to see more members like that emerge.

But it's an example as you say, Brian, of exactly what Joe Biden will be facing once he takes office. But the two urgent issues that Joe Biden faces, he does not need cooperation of the Congress, per se, tackling the coronavirus, he will dramatically change public health policy in the United States through the power of his administration. And he will heal the nation in that way. And then restoring credibility and strength on the world stage after four years of an irascible, unpredictable, arguably dangerous, chief executive, those two items immediately Joe Biden can tackle without the cooperation of the Congress.

You will have to submit a budget probably by late February that will outline his priorities for the year. And I think that's where you see the policy conversations kind of kickoff. To Eugene's point about the impeachment trial, very importantly, the Senate doesn't have to do this full time. When the Senate has handled impeachment of judges, they do a part time. They do it for part of the day. They take hours off the Senate floor to handle the impeachment trial, and then they go into regular business.

The framing of the trial of Donald Trump will not be removal of office but merely whether he could run for office again, that doesn't merit stopping Joe Biden's agenda for two weeks to have that trial in the Senate.

WILLIAMS: There are workers in France who envy the senate work week of Tuesday through Thursday. That's grueling enough. Two guests who were so good we look like geniuses for inviting them tonight. Eugene Robinson, David Jolly. Gentlemen, thank you both. Quite a day we've all had.

Coming up for us, what Trump is doing in his final days in office that could make a difficult transition for Joe Biden even more difficult.


WILLIAMS: Seven days until Joe Biden becomes president as one writer put it today the outgoing administration is leaving behind some diplomatic banana peels for the new administration. But that's the polite way of putting it. The truth is our roten Secretary of State Mr. Pompeo is leaving office as a small vindictive man in keeping with the ethos of the outgoing administration. Our chief Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell covering for us tonight.


ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good evening, Brian. Usually in the final days of any administration, presidents even defeated ones defer to their successors and resist big policy moves. Not so with President Trump.

Even this week, his administration is making decisions that President like Biden may not be able to change.

(voice-over): After the right at the Capitol, the president finally promised an orderly transition. But he's taking steps to tie President Elect Biden's hands on key policies at home and abroad. This week, a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, making it tougher to control harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

Before that, new travel bans on green card applicants and temporary visa holders to further limit immigration.

This as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lays roadblocks for the president elect around the world.

On Saturday, removing restrictions on us relations with Taiwan that had been in place for decades. The most sensitive issue with China, which has furiously condemned the move.

Monday, Pompeo declaring Cuba state sponsor of terror, reversing and Obama decision from 2015 that was critical for establishing diplomatic relations. And yesterday, Pompeo accused Iran of ties to al Qaeda without citing any evidence.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: You now have the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, Islamic Republic of Iran as the home base for Al Qaeda.

MITCHELL: A major barrier to Biden's hopes of rejoining the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned in 2018.

(on camera): The President Elect has vowed to freeze or undo any of these last minute orders that he can. But unwinding the foreign policy decisions may be a lot harder. And there is no sign that President Trump is done yet. Brian


WILLIAMS: It's unbelievable all of it. Andrea Mitchell, thank you. Coming up for us. We'll take a visual stroll from one end of Washington to the other. While we listen to a wise man, it was a reminder for us all.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, one last look at the imagery of today and just one American city Washington, D.C. at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue the famous and the first sign of the end of a presidency, the first moving van outside the West Wing. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue the building that is a crime scene is full of National Guard troops.

As somebody pointed out today they are ready to die to protect Republican members of Congress who are too afraid of a weak, deranged narcissist to act in the best interest of our country. Think about that.

We'll look at some of the images of what we've just been through. As we listen to the words of our friend Steve Schmidt, the pride of New Jersey the pride of the Lincoln project, who in his own profound way today reminded us how young a society we are reminded us about the bravery we're capable of the close call we have just survived and the danger afoot right now.


STEVE SCHMIDT, LINCOLN PROJECT: 13 generations of American patriots have made blood sacrifices from Lexington to Concord to Gettysburg and Antietam to Normandy to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the American experiment, very nearly came to an end. Because all that it takes to end it is a collapse of faith and belief.

And when you have 80 percent of a political party that says that the elections aren't legitimate anymore on the basis of BS, we're on life support as a democratic nation. And everybody should understand how fragile all of this is, all that it took was four years, four years of Donald Trump to bring this country to one of the lowest points in its history.


WILLIAMS: Listen to the words of Steve Schmidt. It's how we leave you on this historic evening. That is our Wednesday broadcast with our sincere 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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