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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, January 7, 2021

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Melissa Murray, Mike Murphy, James Carville, Russel Honore


Calls grow for Trump to be removed from office. Over 200 Hill lawmakers call for Trump's removal. Dems threaten impeachment if Pence won't invoke 25th amendment to remove Trump. Reading from a script, Trump condemns Capitol riot and admits "new administration" will takeover. Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigns.


REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA): And I really don't think, you know, you have to be very partisan to look at yesterday and be insulted the way we would be if we had been invaded by a foreign power. I mean, there were essentially foreign flags, Trump flags being posted and hung from some of the most sacred square inches of brown in the United States. And the way it felt to me and the way it felt to a lot of us was that, we had to stand up for what that place is about. And we had to deliver that message loud and clear so that our the people we represent know, we've got their back, we're protecting this institution, we're not going to give up and no matter how passionate you think those people are, we are more passionate. And we will be going for.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Congressman Conor Lamb, thank you very much for your words in the middle of the night last night and for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

LAMB: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: That is Tonight Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,449 of the Trump administration, leaving 13 days until the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president. And what a uniquely dark time in our modern history, this was of course the day after our humiliation on the world stage and embarrassing violent spectacle of American citizens, looting and defacing our own capital, which they overran and entered with ease.

Tonight, Donald Trump in something of a hostage video recorded remarks written for him on a teleprompter he denounced the violence that he incited. And in a shocker to his base, he admitted he's out of there 13 days from now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders. America is and must always be a nation of law and order.

The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who broke the law, you will pay. We have just been through an intense selection and emotions are high. But now tempers must be cooled, and calm restored. We start we must get on with the business of America.

My campaign vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results. My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. Now Congress has certified the results. And new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.


WILLIAMS: It's our reporting along with a number of others that the National Guard was actually authorized by Pence and not Trump.

Late tonight the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos resigned blaming Trump for the rhetoric that fueled the violence. She was unbothered serving Trump for all these years but just couldn't fathom staying another 13 days.

Earlier today, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also resigned, becoming the first cabinet member to do so remotely more interesting because she is married to Mitch McConnell. They are just two of several White House resignations in the wake of the siege at the Capitol. Even with just 13 days left in this administration, there are increasing calls for Donald Trump to be removed from office immediately either by the cabinet through the 25th amendment, or new articles of impeachment.

Tonight, in something of a shocker, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, which has forgiven all kinds of other Trump behavior called on him to step down. "If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign."

Over 200 lawmakers in Congress have now called for or signed on to calls for the President's removal from office. Democratic leaders are pushing hard for him to be ousted. They want the vice-president to invoke the 25th amendment which would allow him and the cabinet to strip power from the president.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): If the Vice-president or cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus. By inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed from office. While it's only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Speaker Pelosi and I tried to call the vice-president this morning to tell him to do this. We -- they kept us on hold for 25 minutes, and then said the vice-president wouldn't come on the phone.


WILLIAMS: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who's standing by to join us in a moment, posted this, "Donald Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office immediately."

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, who of course presided over the first Trump impeachment today called for a second.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports not shockingly that Mike Pence is against invoking the 25th Amendment.

New reporting from CNBC says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed the 25th Amendment within their own agencies as the Capitol was under siege on Wednesday.

Trump's former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly came out today said, it's time to consider removal from office.


JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the Cabinet should meet and discuss this, because the behavior yesterday, and the weeks and months before that, has just been outrageous by the president.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: If you were in the cabinet right now, would you vote to remove him from office?

KELLY: Yes, I would.


WILLIAMS: Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois today became the first Republican on the Hill to back Trump's removal, saying, "It is with a heavy heart that I'm calling for the sake of our democracy that the 25th amendment be invoked."

Amid all that, there are questions being raised about whether Trump could face potential legal charges stemming from his comments ahead of and inciting the riot. Today, a federal prosecutor investigating the attack responded to that saying, "We're looking at all actors here, anyone who had a role and where the evidence fits a crime."

New York Times writes, that in recent days, potential prosecutions have been on Trump's mind that he's become more vocal about the idea of pardoning himself in addition to his kids.

President-elect Biden has strong words today for those who took over the Capitol. He minced no words about those responsible for it.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, in my view, one of the darkest days in the history of our nation. What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent. It was not disorder. It was not protest. It was chaos. They weren't protesters. Don't dare call them protests, they were a riotous mob, insurrections, domestic terrorists.


WILLIAMS: This is all unfolding, of course, during an uncontrolled pandemic and a slow rolling vaccine effort, that is way behind where we were promised.

Today, over 4000 souls were lost. A new record breaking the last death toll record, which was set yesterday, and in LA County alone, there is a death from COVID now every eight minutes.

For more and before we bring in our other guests tonight, we are pleased to be joined, as we said earlier, by a man with an important job, the aforementioned Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York.

Congressman, thank you very much for coming on tonight. We are happy you and your staff are OK. I want to talk for a minute about what we witnessed yesterday. How will you ever view the Capitol police the same way again, when you walk into work for that matter, how will you ever view governing the way you view constituents, what your fellow Americans did? What the harm they wanted to do to your chamber and to that building?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, good evening, Brian. It's a great honor and privilege to be able to serve the people of the eighth congressional district in Brooklyn and Queens and to serve as a member of the people's house. I think all of us who have the opportunity to serve in that great institution have reverence for the Capitol, reverence for the Constitution, reverence for our democracy, certainly on the Democratic side, I think that is clear.

And there was an assault that was deliberate on all that we hold there, a violent insurrection that was incited and directed by the President of the United States of America. So it will be one of those very rare days that lives in an infamy in American history.

But the reason why we returned to the Capitol, is because we wanted to make it clear that mob rule would not prevail, the rule of law would. And that's why we went back to the floor of the House of Representatives that Speaker Pelosi reopened it. And we completed all work to certify the election of Joe Biden, make it clear that the terrorists would not prevail, the patriots would.

WILLIAMS: For American viewers who didn't know you prior to impeachment, they certainly got to know you as one of the featured impeachment managers. And it's with that experience in mind that I asked you how on earth with 13 days remaining, and the Senate in recess, for starters, how on earth would you remove this president from office even tried to begin to fast track the process?

JEFFRIES: All options are on the table with respect to removing this president with the fierce urgency of now, in my view. What is in the control of the House of Representatives would be our ability to make it clear that the President is not above the law, and an insurrection and incitement and sedition is clearly a high crime and misdemeanor and that every second, every minute, every hour, every day that this president remains in office, he is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the American people.

There are dynamics that need to be worked out with respect to the Senate. We are going to have a discussion as House Democrats tomorrow to figure out the best way to proceed, to receive input from every member of the caucus and of course, guidance and insight from Speaker Pelosi and the chairs of jurisdiction. No decisions have been made, as it relates to how to proceed. But there's a uniform consensus that we cannot normalize this behavior that the president must be held accountable, and that there's no reason for us to believe that he will learn his lesson.

The senator has tried to pull the wool over our eyes on the Republican side of the aisle after he was impeached the first time and indicated that he had learned a pretty big lesson he has not. It has gotten worse, that's why we have to act.

WILLIAMS: That famous quote from Susan Collins that may just live forever. Congressman, knowing something about the 36 hours you and your colleagues have just been through, I can't thank you enough for staying up with us. And joining us yet again on our broadcast Democratic Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries of New York state and city. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.

And with that, let's welcome in our leadoff guest this Thursday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House reporter for The Washington Post. And Melissa Murray, she's an NYU Law Professor who clerked for Sonia Sotomayor while on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Welcome to you both, the House Rules tonight are simple. If anyone talks about the President's new tone, you'll be dragged off the air feed first, though I know such a thing is no danger with these two initial guests of ours tonight.

Ashley Parker, indeed, I'd like to begin with something you wrote, something akin to the law firm we've now come to know at the Washington Post as Rucker, Parker and Dawsey. Here is one line from that piece about the President's edited and awkward video tonight. This was not a concession so much as a grudging acknowledgement that his presidency would end. And actually, indeed, let us in on your reporting as to how it came about, during what I know, was a dark day in the West Wing.

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It was a dark day, and it was sort of 24 hours that began with the president really trying to escape reality. You know, I talked to a close advisor of his who said on Wednesday, he was watching those that violent insurrection, frankly, that he encouraged from the White House with not quite enjoying it, but this person said bemusement was sort of excited that his team, his people were fighting for him.

And then sort of the chips started falling apart. He originally didn't understand just how precarious his situation was. But I was told that it was a combination of several factors, right? One was sort of the range of people who were dropping away from him. There were the cabinet resignations, there were the people in the administration who weren't taking calls from the West Wing, were trying to avoid it. There were people on the First Lady's staff that were low level press secretaries that were defections from Republicans on Capitol Hill. That was one thing he was facing down still is facing them the threat of impeachment. There was a very real realization that he was being told by his lawyers that he could really face some legal jeopardy for any number of things, but most specifically for potentially inciting this riot on the Capitol in 13 days. He's not going to have those protections of the White House. It was sort of that combination of all of those things that forced him into this place where he did, as we said, never uttered the word seen, but came as close to a concession as someone like Donald Trump is likely to get.

WILLIAMS: Professor, over to you and coming out of our interview with Congressman Jeffries, if the Democratic caucus in the House named you as special legal master, which I suppose is not beyond the realm of possibility one of these days, how would you counsel them as per legal remedies to remove this man from office in 13 remaining days? Is there a path in your view?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, again, the paths are really limited. The 25th Amendment is obviously one way that the executive branch can move to remove this precedent. But as we've seen, the defections of Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos mean that there may be fewer cabinet officers that will be needed to create a majority to then move forward and have the vice-president submit to Congress, a petition for the removal of the president because of incapacity.

The other option, of course, is the congressional option. And that, of course, is impeachment. And we've already seen an impeachment hearing just this year or last year, seems almost like it was a million years ago, but it's just a year ago, that would be harder would take a longer time, we have 13 days. But again, it just seems like something has to be done at least to signal that this sort of conduct cannot be condoned, less least of which by the President of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Ashley, we touched on this at the top of the broadcast, if you're on this guy's cabinet, or staff, think of what your tolerance level has become think of what you have accepted, explained away put up with, think of the lies you have either fouled off or have to process or explain over these past couple of years. And yet some people are leaving with 13 days remaining.

Dual question. A, is this resume maintenance on the part of a couple of people. And B, should we expect to any more from inside his circle?

PARKER: Well, to your first question, it's a bit of everything. There certainly is that element of resume maintenance that if you are, you know, this administration is coming to an end, you're trying to get a job in corporate America, on K Street, just about anywhere, frankly, you want to have taken a stand against a violent insurrection against the U.S. government encouraged by the leader of that government. That's sort of resume 101.

But there are people, you know, it's interesting, who there does seem to be a very legitimate existential question. These people are grappling with witches. Some people truly say it was just so beyond the pale that they could not tolerate it. And they absolutely had to resign. Some are sort of saying they would like to resign, but sort of the thing we always hear, which is, you know, we need the guardrails. And we have reported as have others that some of these top national security officials and cabinet members have actually been called in implored by former national security officials and national security firms to stay because they don't sort of want that vacuum of continuity of government that a foreign adversary would love to take advantage of.

And then I talked to someone else who said, look, I'm a little skeptical that some of these people if Donald Trump had won a second term, but something like this would happen, would actually be resigning. Are there more to come potentially? There's a lot of discussions. But just like with the 25th Amendment, it's an open question of sort of how high that verbal is up and if people actually pulled the trigger.

WILLIAMS: Professor, again, back to the area of law, Joe Biden named Merrick Garland as his attorney general today, which while a loss for the senior federal bench with which you are very familiar, is certainly a return of integrity to the Justice Department. And, Professor, how does this work? Let's talk about just the outgrowth of yesterday, those who are facing criminal charges, to those cases just get kind of passed on like a baton in 13 days, can we expect at least that will be an orderly process?

MURRAY: I can imagine that there would be an orderly process by which those cases would go through the Department of Justice. They would continue through the Department of Justice. There may be questions about whether this new DOJ will have different enforcement priorities than its predecessor, DOJ. Ostensibly, this DOJ will have more removal from the White House than the predecessor DOJ did. But again, the fact that Merrick Garland has been named the nominee to the Attorney General post is already a very comforting sign to those who have worried about the path the DOJ has taken over the last four years and of course, those who have been named to serve under him, my NYU colleague Lisa Monaco, Vanita Gupta, Kristen Clarke, all of those suggests that there will be a more robust enforcement of civil rights and certainly some of the things that we've seen over the last couple of days would trade in the realm of not only domestic terrorism, but perhaps civil rights as well.

WILLIAMS: It's for good reason. These are two of the voices we want to hear from up high in our broadcast tonight. Professor Melissa Murray, Ashley Parker, and briefly the voice of Ashley's young daughter making an audio cameo, Happy New Year to all three of you. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us tonight, after years of lies to his base, the result of which we watched in our Capitol yesterday. Well imagine their surprise upon hearing Trump say tonight there will be no second term. But after Trump's direct role in such a dark, humiliating day for all Americans, will it still be Donald Trump's party? While he's a disgraced retiree on the golf course in Florida? Mike Murphy, James Carville standing by to talk about that next.

And later on, one of the rioters said afterward that the cops were very cool yesterday. We'll talk about why that might have been and why the Capitol was stormed in just a couple of minutes. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Thursday night of yet another consequential week.


WILLIAMS: Tonight, in a video statement, Donald Trump finally acknowledged defeat. But Columnist George Will writes the president, along with senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz must forever be tied to yesterday's insurrection in our Capitol building. He writes, "In 14 days, one of them will be removed from office, it will take longer to scrub the other two from public life until that hygienic outcome is accomplished, from this day forward, everything they say or do or advocate should be disregarded as patent attempts to distract attention from the lurid fact of what they have become. Each will wear a scarlet 'S' as a seditionist."

Well, for more two of our best are back with us tonight, James Carville, Veteran Democratic Strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign, these days co-hosts of the politics War Room Podcast, and Mike Murphy, Veteran Republican Strategist and Strategic Adviser to Republican voters against Trump, also happens to co-host the Hacks On Tap podcast.

Gentlemen, good evening to you both. Mike, let's talk about Ted Cruz where Trump is concerned. He put the sick in sycophant. What responsibility does he bear and what stock would you put in his career right about now?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: Well, he and Senator Hawley own a lot of this. They were the deputy dogs here to Donald Trump. I think they both made a very cynical calculation, which is not new to either of them, that this would somehow put them on the fast track to the 2024 Republican nomination. I think the way overplayed their hands. I think they own this. And I think the Will column is right. We now know who exactly who they are. And I predict in the long term, even within the Republican world is going to hurt them badly.

WILLIAMS: James, I saved the topic of Josh Hawley just for you. Let's spend a moment to discuss the Senator from Missouri. I noted John Danforth, the Dean of all living Missouri senators said today that he regards his work to get Hawley elected as the biggest mistake he has made in his life. Hawley will now, to his great consternation, forever be branded with that photo from yesterday, right before the invasion of the Capitol building of the somewhat fascistic raised clenched fist as he looked over to the Trump supporters who were by then thundering their way to the U.S. Capitol, also something that sharp eyed viewers noted from last night.

Senators get up in the well of the Senate, they clip on a microphone they often walk around gesticulate, look at notes. But when it's their time for the five-minute address, five minute remarks they talk. Hawley is among the very few who seeks out the camera across the chamber and talks to that camera like every day is a chance for yet another Josh Hawley commercial. His publisher canceled his plans for a new book today. Where do you put the career and hopes of the very calculated Mr. Hawley of Missouri?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, that guy is one of the better educated people in the United States government. And no one ever --

WILLIAMS: Stanford and Yale Law School.

CARVILLE: Yeah, I mean, he's really a well-educated human being. He never learned how to curb any visual thing of his ambitious he just -- when you see him, he's just reeks of ambition. And, you know, since Danforth is probably one of the more respected retired Republicans out there, anyway, he was a guy with behind Clarence Thomas being on the Supreme Court. And he just doesn't -- he doesn't come across. I just don't see him as having any skill to get beyond I mean, he may be able to win reelection in Missouri. But I don't think he's -- I don't think he's going to play in Peoria or anything like that. But I really doubt that his ambition is craven.

And Tom Cotton, who's also an Uber educated guy. He got the ball come to him, and he probably helped himself a little bit. Senator Cruz is another highly, highly educated man. I don't know how these people ended up where they are. One of this day just Senator Kennedy from Louisiana, I think one day some angry spying that to be, they're out there.

WILLIAMS: Senator Cruz, I'm reminded has exactly the same --

MURPHY: Yeah, it's not been a good day for a Harvard --

WILLIAMS: No, I was going to say, he has this exact same education --

MURPHY: Not a great day for Yale Law School, Harvard Law or Oxford.

WILLIAMS: He has the same education as Michelle Obama, Senator Cruz does Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law School talk about two people who as adults have chosen to do different things with the brains God gave them.

Mike, what does it mean for Donald Trump if he has lost the editorial board of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal?

MURPHY: Well, it's not the end of Donald Trump but the spell, the hypnotic grip of fear on the elected classical Republican Party is definitely a lot weaker. This thing was a tipping point, it really shook I think, particularly in the Senate, but it shook the caucuses. I mean, they had the nightmarish experience of actually meeting the very worst of the hardcore supporters of Donald Trump as they came crashing into the Capitol and the way we haven't seen since 1814 when the British Army tried to the Redcoats tried to burn it down.

So, this has shaken people. And we can't underestimate remember, on this day of this attack, they were reeling from losing control of the Senate in Georgia, a race to three weeks ago. They all thought they're going to win. So, they wake up, Trump has wiped him out in the Senate. He's already wiped him out in the house and he's lost the Oval.

So, there's very little reason politically to think that Donald Trump if you're a Republican elected who has been caring for them is anything that anthrax politically, you just worry about your primary, but I think there's a massive exhaustion.

Now the fight will go on because Trumpism and cynics like Hawley and Cruz will kind of put on a red freight wagon try to be Trump and go maneuver in the primaries. And we're going to have to wait and see but I think it's really hit a half-life. Even out there in member the wider republican primary electorate is not exactly the people in the Uncle Sam suits and Viking hats that were like trying to bash furniture and Nancy Pelosi's office. Those are thugs and criminals. I hope the FBI rounds them all up.

There's plenty of Trump's support in the primary. But again, I think it's ebbing. And I think this was a tipping point because Trump equals disaster and losing. We will see. We're going to have that fight as we lead up to the 2022 congressional primaries where we have a shot that take back the House, we're going to have a big fight internally about what kind of party we're going to be.

WILLIAMS: Let's be fair, it was more than a Viking hat. It was kind of a shirtless, Chewbacca mankind. But more on that after this. Mr. Carville, I'm coming to you after the break. We're going to talk about what just happened this week in Georgia. And what just happened to Mitch McConnell's previous job title coming up, as well. All this becomes Joe Biden's problem in less than two weeks time more on all of it when we come back.


WILLIAMS: We are back with our guests James Carville and Mike Murphy. James as promised to you. And it seems like a week ago, but it happened during the election Tuesday night. Here's a quote today from Jonathan Shade, who says the difference between a one vote majority and a one vote minority is not trivial. It is everything. It's the difference between impotence and having a presidency the nature of reporters and commenters on cable news and social media certainly didn't mean us is to overreact to whatever most recent development is playing out on their screen. In this case, we may be under reacting.

In our defense, we did have the minor matter of the looting and desecration of our Capitol to talk about yesterday in the aftermath of the Georgia election. But James talked about the importance of what the Democrats pulled off this week.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, Mark Twain famously said the difference between the right word and the nearly right word is a difference between lightning and a lightning bug. And I think definitely, John Shade is trying to say that that's a big, big difference. And John got a very small guy. He goes, people should read it. And we'll take you through exactly why.

You know, I've got a quote the first presidential issue, General Sherman, who famously said on September 1, 1864, Atlanta is always fairly taken.

I think what happened in Georgia is I think our candidates were turned out to be better candidates than people expected going forward. And they just had an enormous turnout, particularly among Democrats. I mean, the overall turnout in Georgia was staggeringly high for the runoff.

And I think the question going forward is high turnout and become a characteristic going forward, and hopefully the Democrats can replicate that kind of thing and 2022, which is going to be hard to do that turnout was just staggering.

WILLIAMS: Hey Mike a question about Mike Pence. How does he survive? And does his political survival depend on Americans forgetting let's call them the supplicant years? The adoring stare and things like being chairman of the coronavirus task force, which as a group looked the other way if we're being really candid, while hundreds of 1000s of Americans died?

MURPHY: Yes, look, I think he wants to run for president in the primaries, but I don't know what he'll run on. He's like the old joke about the middle of the road, nothing but a dotted yellow line and a dead skunk. Because he was the Trump supplicant. Now Trump will call him the Trump traitor, but he's not standing up to fight Trump quite enough. So, he's got no constituencies.

So, I think it's pretty grim for him now, maybe here in the last 13 days, or have some theatrical? But I think -- I think Pence in internal political stuff is in about as bad shape as you can possibly be. But I'll say, you know, he earned it. There is no Mike Pence. There is no Mike Pence identity. He was just the Trump's butler. And now Trump doesn't like the butler anymore. Not so good for the butler.

WILLIAMS: I've learned one thing it's a good quote to go out on and there it was James Carville, Mike Murphy, a duo that never disappoint. Gentlemen, thank you both. Happy New Year to you both. Appreciate you coming on.

Coming up for us. The world saw what law enforcement did and did not do yesterday. General Russel Honore standing by to tell us what should have happened in his view.



TERRENCE GAINER, FMR. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Clearly there's failures. There has to be a lot of questions asked and the answers given. What is very clear is the police underestimated the violent crowd and the size of it and they overestimated their ability to control it.


WILLIAMS: And sadly, that goes in the understatement Hall of Fame Capitol Police have a lot to answer for after writers easily laid siege to the U.S. Capitol with the full House and Senate and their staffs inside and the vice president provide -- presiding on the House floor.

Late today Chief Steven Sund announced his resignation as head of the Capitol Police Force. And then there's this, quote, three days before the pro-President Donald Trump right at the Capitol the Pentagon asked the U.S. Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower.

And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents, the police turn them down both times. So we could only think of one guy and indeed back with us again tonight on this big night for my beloved Louisiana, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore who led the relief effort of course, in the days following Katrina in New Orleans. He happens to be a 37-year veteran of our armed forces. He has written a book that is called "Leadership in the New Normal." And we recommend that.

General, tell me what the response would have been if you'd been at your desk in the Pentagon watching live news coverage across the Potomac River with the ability to send people manpower across the river to help.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, JOINT TAKS FORCE KATRINA COMMANDER: Oh, that's a great question and watching this whole thing unfold yesterday, we would have been giving warning orders to the D.C. National Guard to start to prepare to mobilize. You can prepare troops to mobilize and assemble them before you employ them. So mobilization and deployment is different.

I was surprised that the Pentagon did not have those troops on standby. The FBI had a major failure in their Intelligence, obviously by those offering the Capitol Police help and they refused it. I think once this all get uncovered, there was complicit actions that the Capitol Police, a police chief is been fired.

But now we need to look at his special investigation was he complicit along with the sergeant of arms in the House and the Senate, it gives appearance of complicity be complied because he might have thought 45 was coming to the Capitol. And they gave way to the protesters who easily breached the Capitol.

This is a crying damn shame. And I applaud those individual officers who put their lives on the line yesterday to try to restore order, but yesterday they were poorly led. The good news is tomorrow, those three individuals we'd be fired and not allowed back into the Capitol, the sergeant of arms of both houses, and the Capitol Police Chief. And I think investigation we'll find out there was some complicit actions here.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, over 50 of those officers in trying to do their jobs were injured. But as you pointed out, they were poorly led. This was a surprise to no one. The President had advertised it. Hell this went out in a group emailed every QAnon nutjob and white supremacist and neo-Nazi and anti-Semite within hundreds of miles yet, I want to read you this from the Washington Post.

In memos issued on January 4, and 5, the Pentagon prohibited the district's guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense Secretary's explicit sign off, according to officials familiar with the orders.

And general I think we know each other pretty well. I am not a conspiracy theorist either. And yet reading the tea leaves here, you would think that some kind of a fix was in

HONORE: It was complicit. They complied, doing what they thought 45 wanted to do. And I don't want to cross the line here because I'm subject to Uniform Code of Military Justice. But because if I make derogatory mock against the president, or certain members of his cabinet, but I will say this, the hell with it. This was total incompetence. And it was complicit by the leadership involved in securing the capital, because they wanted to please 45 because he thought he might would come over. This is a crying shame.

I used to be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and attend meetings that's the situation run weekly, sometimes biweekly. I knew this security plan. I have coordinated with the Capitol Police, the sergeant at arms in discussions on how we would security Capitol doing the annual inauguration speech.

I noticed plan. I know the details. I know the intelligence that's collected by the FBI. I know the intelligence collected by now Homeland Security. They all knew that this could be a dangerous situation. When you have that many people come into town, and they fail to act.

And the Department of Defense should have had the D.C. Guard standing by also should have been standing by is the Maryland State Police and the Virginia State Police. This is the interagency operation, sir. And the FBI support teams, they will not there.

This is a crime damn ship. This is a failure in government. But what it did it unmask the division in this country, that there are people that's been given misinformation, Russian type information operations by the likes of Sean Hannity and 45 himself. That's something that the election was stolen.

This problem will not go away. And we need to apply all elements of government and media to this. In franchise this idea that the election was stolen, because 45 as made some 70-million of his followers believe the election was stolen. And it's a shame because it's great.

WILLIAMS: I just going to say 46 is --

HONORE: It is history classes what President sent a bob to the -- to the Capitol to go attack a place where the vice president. Well, this will be a history question.

WILLIAMS: Sadly, I think you're right 46 is days away. Indeed. I've learned one of the Capitol Police officers has tonight passed away due to his injuries. General Russel Honore, this is why we want to talk to you tonight. Thank you, sir, so very much. Happy New Year to you. Coming up for us an update on our nation's other crisis, the uncontrolled pandemic in our midst.


WILLIAMS: While our attention was necessarily focused on an angry mob of mostly maskless rioters as they breached and looted the center of our government, the U.S. recorded what was the deadliest day of the pandemic broken only by today's record, as we mentioned a new grim milestone just today. Tonight NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer reveals why this outbreak will likely get worse before it gets better.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a record number of Americans remain hospitalized, tonight a new Jama study finds 59 percent of all COVID transmission comes from asymptomatic individuals. And now in San Diego County an explosion of cases of the more contagious variant of the virus.

ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA PUBLIC HEALTH INFECIOIUS DISEASE EPIEMIOLOGIST: Your risk is actually greater today than it was the day before yesterday and the day before that.

ALMAGUER: With the National Guard deploying in hotspots states like Arizona and Mississippi to vaccinate healthcare workers, Los Angeles County remains the nation's epicenter.

DR. BRAD SPELLBERG, USC MDICAL CENTER CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: None of us wanted to be over more than the people working in our hospitals.

ALMAGUER: Outside LA, Methodist Hospital activating crisis standards of care. Patients here may have limited options for care and should consider advanced healthcare directives like a Do Not Resuscitate order. At some hospitals triage teams have even identified COVID patients unlikely to survive, who could be taken off ventilators and move out of the ICU to make room for others.

(on camera): Tonight this hospital may be the first in the area but it likely won't be the last to initiate crisis standards of care. California is in need of a lifeline.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Miguel Almaguer for that report from the west coast. Coming up for us, something we're all doing, processing what happened yesterday when our fellow citizens looted our capital.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is about what we watched in horror yesterday. Those were again our fellow citizens rioting and looting our Capitol Building. Our report tonight on how people are processing it even how they're explaining it to their kids from NBC News correspondent Kevin Tibbles.


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Nation awoke and our flag was still there, but the aftershocks reverberate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a nightmare. It's a nightmare.

TIBBLES: From Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's heartbreaking. It's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's ridiculous. It's a gross abuse of the system.

TIBBLES: To Atlanta.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sad to watch our country almost being torn apart.

TIBBLES: Headlines shout chaos insurrection, siege, words never associated with American democracy.

(on camera): And if adults are having trouble comprehending this, what are we telling our children?


TIBBLES (voice-over): Schools now prepared to explain. In Denver they will offer counseling, in New Jersey teachers pledge it to be their duty to prepare students on how government should function and in Chicago Episcopal priest Erika takacs prays with parishioners and has this advice for parents.

REV. ERIKA TAKACS, CHICAGO EPISCOPAL: You don't want to hide it. No. And you do want to make sure that they know that they are held close and safe.

TIBBLES: Tonight, many are also holding close that beacon of hope so many believe their nation still represents Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.


WILLIAMS: And that's our broadcast for this Thursday night during these still dark early days of this new year. Thanks for spending time with us here this evening. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.


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