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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, January 8, 2021

Guests: Susan Page, Peter Baker, Jon Meacham, Jen Golbeck, Clint Watts, Rick Wilson, Baratunde Thurston


Calls grow for Trump's removal after Capitol riot. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown down the gauntlet in this area telling Trump to resign or face a second impeachment or removal via the 25th amendment. Three House Democrats members of the Speaker's team have already drafted the articles of impeachment titled Incitement of Insurrection.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,450 of the Trump administration. Twelve days remain until the inauguration of Joe Biden as our 46th president.

The effort to stop Donald Trump from doing anything over the next week and a half is gaining momentum inside, even outside the nation's Capital. Tonight, the worst fate of all has befallen the president. His cell phone has been rendered, mute and ineffective.

The man who said he could not have been elected president without Twitter has been tossed off of Twitter. They announced tonight that his account has been suspended permanently citing "the risk of further incitement of violence."

The company ads in a statement, "Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and State Capitol buildings on January 17, 2021."

That's actually an emerging threat. We have two experts standing by later in this hour to brief us on that very threat.

It turns out all it took to get Trump banned from Twitter and Facebook and Instagram was his role in inciting the looting and desecration of our U.S. Capitol.

Other pro-Trump groups gathered at state houses across the country threatening state officials along the way. Meanwhile, the momentum is gaining speed to make Trump the first president to be impeached twice. Such a thing would settle any argument about history's worst president.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown down the gauntlet in this area telling Trump to resign or face a second impeachment or removal via the 25th amendment.

She drew that line in the sand after meeting with her caucus for nearly four hours and after talking with Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley about making sure steps are in place to keep Trump from launching military hostilities including but not limited to a nuclear strike. The speaker made the case for action against Trump in an interview with "60 Minutes."


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The person who's running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States and only a number of days until we can be protected from him. But he has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him.


WILLIAMS: Three House Democrats members of the Speaker's team have already drafted the articles of impeachment titled Incitement of Insurrection. NBC news reporting it could be introduced as early as Monday.

The wording here includes this, the President "threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President."

The White House had this response today, "As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one nation. A politically motivated impeachment against a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country."

Well, this afternoon President-elect Joe Biden was asked if he backed this push for impeachment.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've thought for a long, long time that President Trump was unfit to hold the job, spy ran, while I'm focused on the virus, vaccine and economic growth. What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and since this may happen again, let's not pause to -- let's pause to point out he has been a loyal Trump vote in the U.S. Senate all these years. He now says he's open to looking at impeaching Donald Trump.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): The House, if they come together and have a process, I will definitely consider whatever articles they might move. I believe that the President has disregarded his oath of office.


WILLIAMS: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska now the first Republican senator officially to call on Trump to step down in an interview with her hometown "Anchorage Daily News," she said, "I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage. He doesn't want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego."

She went on to question her own membership and what has become the party of Trump.

Meanwhile, with the inauguration just 12 days away, Trump today announced he will not be attending the inauguration. Joe Biden seem to be fine with that decision.


BIDEN: One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on, it's a good thing I'm not showing up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier, you'd said that if you'd hope that he would show up only in the sense that it was valuable to send a signal to the world about the transfer of power. You've clearly changed your perspective on that.

BIDEN: Because he has clearly demonstrated, he exceeded even my worst notions about him. He's been an embarrassment to the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the Vice President Mike Pence?

BIDEN: He's welcome.


WILLIAMS: And with that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Friday night. Susan Page, Veteran Journalist, best-selling author, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief. Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times." And Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, presidential historian, he's Professor on the American Presidency at Vanderbilt, unofficial adviser to the President-elect.

And once again, relevant to this conversation, both Peter and Jon are among the authors of the book, "Impeachment, An American History."

Here we are again.

Well, Susan, you get the big starting question tonight, the task of summing up as a longtime Washingtonian, as a citizen of this country, how it felt to watch what transpired in the Capitol this week. And further, and this may call for speculation, what's the real chance this guy not serving out his term?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": You know, I, I've covered six presidents. I've seen assassination attempts that launches of war disputed elections, impeachments, two of them already, but I've never seen anything as shocking as what we saw on Wednesday, marauders rushing through the Congress, some of them armed with zip ties apparently to take hostages, while members of Congress fled, empowered. It was -- I've just never seen anything like that. It was -- it was distressing and historic, and will have ramifications for I think, a very long time for our democracy.

I think at this point, it's going to be hard to keep the House of Representatives from impeaching President Trump, probably toward the end of next week. I think there's a feeling that it's not just to remove him from office, there's only -- he's only got 12 more days left. It's to make the point that his role in this was simply unacceptable and deserves history's rebuke.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, there are real Nixonian concerns about the President's mental state about the number of departures from the circle immediately around him. So the question can fairly be asked who's going to be left around him to watch him in the West Wing.

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORREPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, it's a great question. There was such an exodus this week of top aides and administration officials and cabinet officers in the immediate aftermath of the mob that you began to wonder who would be left. The White House seemed to be emptying out. That caused a lot of consternation among Republicans. And even some Democrats who were worried that maybe in fact as tempting as it was for these people to leave and protest and say they didn't want to work anymore. There was a value in sticking it out for these final two weeks just to watch the, you know, the wash the store, if you will, to make sure the government is simply running, if nothing else, and perhaps to serve as some sort of a break on any further erratic action by the President.

You had people like, you know, I talked this week to former Secretary State Condi Rice and she was very concerned.

The national security team not simply disappear with two weeks left, because who knows what mischief could be caused by our adversaries overseas thinking that we're in a period of instability.

So you're in a really extraordinary moment where not only, as Susan aptly described, have we had this devastating, really unprecedented attack on the symbol of our democracy. You also have sort of a meltdown on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House, where nobody's quite sure, you know, who's running the government. And if so, you know, what will -- what will happen in these next last 12 days?

WILLIAMS: Jon Meacham, we've been looking to talk to you this week, though. There's no joy in asking this next question. And that is I want to measure your level of sadness, your level of worry for our country as you along with the rest of us watched these rioters in, you know, Cabela's Bass Pro Shops, camo and red hats. As Susan mentioned, a lot of them armed with zip ties, said to be on the lookout for the sitting Vice President and the Speaker. Hoisting the confederate flag inside the U.S. Capitol. Having set up a noose on Capitol grounds in the parking lot.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The social contract is, if not broken, frayed, and the full -- this is the fullest manifestation of that. Over the last five years it has been unspooling. You have done this every day for X number of days telling the story chronicling this flight from fact, this flight from evidence, a flight from truth, however inconvenient to a self-serving vision of reality where power is more important than principle. And the mob, which was figurative, until Wednesday, has become the literal guiding force in the Republic.

And, you know, one way to think about civilizational structures is we have a state of nature. You know, Thomas Hobbes wrote about that, the state of nature is the war of all against all.

The point of civilization is to enter into a social contract where we cede certain rights in exchange for certain protections. The entire notion of how we've organized ourselves as non-Hobbes (ph) in entities is really under assault. And it's not hyperbolic, right? I mean, there's nothing -- were beyond hyperbole, if that's possible.

And it was, again, without being too sentimental, it was heartbreaking to watch that. And it was particularly heartbreaking because it -- there seemed to be so little resistance. It seemed they felt entitled to do what they did. They felt empowered to do what they did.

Soldiers have died, protesters have bled in search of a more perfect union, in search of a democratic world, where the values of faith hope and charity would have at least a fighting chance against our appetites and our ambitions. That's one of the points of America.

And as disheartening and dispiriting, and disturbing a moment as certainly in my lifetime, with the possible exception of the attacks on the murder of innocence on September 11.

WILLIAMS: Well, Susan, having heard Jon lay out the stakes, can you explain the remaining Trumpers in the House and Senate? When you look at this presidency, one way, he leaves office, the Democrats control the White House, the House and the Senate? What explains the lingering allure of Trumpism and Trump loyalty?

PAGE: Well, one factor is that he has simply remade the remade the Republican Party in his image. This is a different Republican Party than it was five years ago before he came on the scene.

And even now, in the wake of this week's terrible news, 77 percent of Republicans say they approve of the job that President Trump is doing. That's in a new PBS Marist poll that came out today.

In the aftermath of that 77 percent still approved, 83 percent do not want him removed from office. He continues to have standing in the GOP, even though we've seen some erosion from some members, Republican members of Congress and some business leaders and others.

He -- you know, I think that the supporters of President Trump continued to believe that he speaks for them, he stands up for them. And he's telling them the truth when everybody else is lying to them. And that is perhaps the biggest challenge or one of the biggest challenges that Joe Biden is going to face when he takes office in just 12 days.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, your colleagues at the paper report this tonight, "Behind closed doors, he," Donald Trump, "made clear that he would not resign and he expressed regret about releasing that video on Thursday committing to a peaceful transition of power and condemning the violence at the Capitol that he had egged on a day before."

In fact, in his last video, he called the rioters special and expressed his love for them. So Peter, lay out how you view the remainder of his presidency. And when those cannons sound at the conclusion of the oath on the 20th of January, a few minutes past noon. They're usually audible throughout Washington. Is this guy going to be on a golf course in Florida?

BAKER: Well, he will not be here to hear the cannons, that's for sure. He's already told us as you showed earlier, that he doesn't plan to attend the inauguration of Joe Biden. And Joe Biden obviously, as you showed, is not all that upset about it.

It's the first time by the way that any sitting president has a boycott it, in fact, or skipped the swearing in of a successor since Andrew Johnson, who Jon Meacham wrote about in our book on "Impeachment." So that's not quite the parallel you might have wanted, but he's impeached president too. And I suppose there's a certain synergy there.

We've learned that he's playing at this point, there's discussion by the family to leave Washington all together and leave the White House on January 19, the day before inauguration. So he won't even be here when the Biden's are moving in.

And I think that between now and then we don't know exactly what's going to happen. There's talk of him going to Texas, in this coming week to the border to, you know, highlight his immigration policies. He's making another video to promote the accomplishments of his administration as he sees them.

But if you talk to people who work there, both currently and who have left even just in recent days, there's such a demoralized spirit, people who gave years of their life to this president and feel completely betrayed. The accomplishments he wants to tout this video to them feel like they've all been wiped out. That this is such a defining failure on the part of this president that no matter what you thought of him before, no matter what good things you might have thought he did, they seem to have been overwhelmed and overshadowed and will -- and just -- and really wiped out for the sake of history by this event this week, and that this is how he's going to be going down in history.

So it's a -- I think, for people who work for him as well as people who never liked him to begin with, it's been a crushing week. And I think the one consistent know you hear from most people in Washington, except for blood relatives, and the most partisan people is they're waiting and can't wait for January 20th for this to be over.

WILLIAMS: Yes, this was a legacy event, no question about it.

Hey, Jon, David Leonhardt of "The New York Times," as I like to say, pulled up Meacham this morning and I read the following, "In the four months between Franklin Roosevelt's election and his 1933 inauguration, much of the world descended into chaos. Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, and the Reichstag, the parliament building burned. Japan quit the League of Nations. In the U.S., hundreds of banks shut down. Lynching surged in the south. "The country numb and nearly broken, anxiously awaited deliverance," as David Kennedy wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the era.

Jon, beyond telling your friend David to escape his lane. This is usually your role on this broadcast and the others on this network to tell us, to reassure us, to remind us only that things have been worst -- worse in the past, is that still your view?

MEACHAM: Well, nothing necessarily, they've been worse, but that they've been bad and we've come through it. And we've come through it, because just enough of us were devoted to this notion that in fact we are stronger together as a whole as opposed to a seeing politics as this perpetual clash of interests.

You know, Franklin Roosevelt the night he took the oath on the east front of the Capitol, he went back to the White House, and like a good Episcopalian, he was having a glass of whiskey and going to bed and one of the brain trusters came to him and said, Mr. President, if you succeed in solving the depression, you will go down as our greatest president, but if you fail, you'll go down as our worst. And FDR looked at him said, If I fail, I'll go down as our last.

I don't feel that level of existential crisis for President-elect Biden. I think that the reaction is a good sign, in terms of the harm that the country seems to be addressing this moment.

But here's the thing, with all respect to my lane, which I which I love, to some extent, the more important question tonight and in the coming season is less about how history will view what's happened this week and more about the unfolding story of what do people who decided to make their peace with Donald Trump, not once, but twice in two national elections? Millions upon millions of people, what do they do now? Do -- are we so desensitized to genuinely transformative public events, that somehow or another in the span of a couple of days, a couple of weeks, this is going to be well, maybe the liberals were exaggerating? Or you can just see how that sort of that part of the political swamp and forest will try to change the perception of this.

But this was a fundamental reality. And if the country does not begin again to see that politics is about the mediation of differences and the resolution of problems for a given period of time and not a Shermanesque arena for total constant warfare, then this is just a chapter in an unfolding story. It's not the last chapter. And I think that's what all of us as citizens, and not as journalists, not as historians, as citizens, we have to think about is do we want to live in this -- in a world where politics is so consuming and so divisive?

And so, ultimately depleting that it keeps us from addressing things like, oh, I don't know, a global pandemic that killed 4,000 people today in America. This isn't, you know, this is not an academic conversation. This isn't something you're doing to fill your broadcast. We are facing a deadly virus, a rise in political violence. There are people who are suffering, who like the Great Depression, are seeing their futures slip away, the inability to provide for their families.

This isn't paint ball. This isn't pro wrestling. This isn't fundraising texts. These are people who are breaking into the Capitol with guns killing a police officer, and distracting the republic from addressing fundamental questions about the health, safety and security of millions of people.

WILLIAMS: Jon, thank you for that. Thank you for setting our thinking right, as we say farewell to what was pretty awful week.

Susan Page, Peter Baker, Jon Meacham, we're in your debt for helping us start off our broadcast on this Friday night. Thank you.

Coming up, we'll go behind the curtain. We will sadly dive into the murk of the dark web and find out what the rioters who stormed the Capitol are saying now and what they could do next.

And later, they were once the President's greatest defenders, some of them outright sold their souls and their seats in Congress to Donald Trump. But now begins the Great Migration as they start to distance themselves from there president.

The 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Friday night as we bring this consequential week to an end.



FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: I believe that some of the delays we're seeing and some of the leaders being arrested is because I think the FBI is looking at very serious charges of inciting riot and even worse than that. And of course, we've lost a Capitol police officer. So there will be a murder charge on somebody.

But I think grand juries are being condemned. I think indictments are going to come down.


WILLIAMS: And the consequences have begun. Justice Department says 13 people thus far have been charged in federal court with crimes related to Wednesday's riot and looting at our Capitol.

DOJ says Richard Barnett of Arkansas, the man with his feet up on the desk in the Speaker's office. He's been arrested, faces several charges including violent entry, theft of public property.

NBC news reporting the extremists made little secret of their plans online, "Users talk for weeks about a siege of the Capitol, some talking about it like a foregone conclusion. Others simply debated how violent the uprising should be, and if police should be exempt."

Well, for more, we're happy to welcome to the broadcast Jen Golbeck. She is an expert in malicious online behavior, who's an author and professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.

We also welcome back Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is also the author of the recent book "Messing with the Enemy, Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News."

Professor, welcome to the broadcast. I'd like to begin with you.

How far in advance did you see this coming? Even I saw some of the storm the capital memes. Some of them were emblazoned on the t-shirts of the rioters while they were in the Capitol.

JEN GOLBECK, EXPERT IN MALICIOUS ONLINE BEHAVIOR: That's right, we saw this for weeks leading up to January 6, that we knew that this march was going to happen. And it wasn't just in the dark web in these kind of not very popular forums. It was on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, that we saw people who were planning to attend this march, talking about their plans to storm the Capitol.

And as you lead with in this segment talking about how many people they were going to kill and how it was going to happen. So it's something that I think a lot of us saw and expected. I don't know that we expected that actually make it in but certainly that they were going to try.

WILLIAMS: And, Clint, will they all in your view, and given your experience with the FBI, will they all be found and tried?

CLINT WATTS, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes, Brian. One of the great ironies about the anti-mask movement is it leaves them highly vulnerable to being detected with facial recognition or followed up from just surveillance camera footage, you know, around the country.

And I think that's what you saw today, not just from probably the FBI internally, they got great mechanisms to do this. I mean, they do this all the time. But you also have a crowdsource community that's very angry online that was combing through all of these pictures, because the perpetrators were uploading them onto social media, the internet onto websites. So they are actually putting evidence out about their own crimes, which is, from an investigators perspective, very unusual, but also quite fortunate that you can track a lot of these people down.

So I think in the coming weeks, you will see a continuous stream of arrests that continue.

The big thing is a lot of these folks scattered afterwards. Went back to their hometowns in many different states. And so, it will take some time to get all those I.D.s that actually trace all these people out.

WILLIAMS: Professor, now it gets confusing because some in the online MAGA crowd have seemingly turned against their leader, the President, they're shocked apparently to find out he's only going to serve one term. So, does that militarize the movement somehow, absent the founder?

GOLBECK: We're really seeing a fracturing right now, just in the last day or so since Trump gave his speech yesterday. There's a big feeling of betrayal that they have put their lives on the line and really committed and all of a sudden he's going to go away.

A lot of the people who are at the Capitol on the sixth are believers in the queue and on conspiracy theory. Their line has been trust the plan, they thought there was a secret plan that was going to happen and now it's kind of dawning on them that that's not something that's going to come through.

And then they're also seeing the movement itself turning on them with a lot of the acts at the Capitol being attributed to Antifa. I think what they wanted was to be embraced as people who were patriots defending their country. And instead, Republican Congress, people are denouncing them. The President is sort of denouncing them. And then within the movement, they're being denied and saying, actually, it was somebody else.

And so I think that's making a lot of them less enthusiastic about the action that they had been really committed to up until Wednesday.

WILLIAMS: Both guests have agreed to stay with us as we fit in a break and coming up in our conversation. After Wednesday's seditious show of force, the looting and desecration of our Capitol, what the cammo and ziptie forces are looking at their -- as their next possible outing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you need to change any of the planning for your inauguration as a result of this?

BIDEN: Totally different entity is in charge of the inauguration that was in charge of protecting the Capitol a Secret Service. I have great confidence in their ability to make sure that the inauguration goes off, goes off safely and goes off without a hitch.


WILLIAMS: Now to the point the president elect was making today, security concerns about the inauguration should be somewhat lessened because it will be declared a national Security special event, that means tons of law enforcement. Lots of eyes in the sky from satellites to drones to hilos.

Still with us Jen Golbeck and Clint Watts. And Professor back to you again, despite the fact that some of the rioters have been disincentivized in part politically because Republicans were eager to put the blame on Antifa. Some are still incentivized. Talk about these planned events. One was mentioned in the Twitter statement tonight, a gathering on the 17th. There's a gathering on the 19th. What is the plan and among who?

GOLBECK: So on the 17th, we've seen something planned from before Wednesday for armed groups. And it comes from some militia groups, and then some Second Amendment enthusiasts to march both on the Federal Capital in D.C., but also on state capitals. So gatherings and marches, the point being to show up arm for those.

Now they've come out since the sixth then said, we're not going to do what was done on the sixth, but they are really explicitly planning to show up with guns. So that's something to be concerned about.

The 19th and the 20th are much more the kind of element that we saw on the sixth, they're really angry about the election, they feel it was stolen. They're also planning in these forums to show up armed.

And so I think if that manifests and things can really change a lot in the, you know, a couple weeks that we have going, what we're going to see is a much smaller contingent, but one that's angrier and potentially prepared for violence. We certainly see that in the tweets where there's language, like I'm willing to lay down my life for this, if this is what it comes to. I'm going to enjoy my last cup of coffee today before I get ready to do this.

So you know, I think the FBI is going to be looking into who these people are and trying to stop it. But we also need to pay attention to those actions going on at state capitals, where there's plans to carry out these kinds of activities.

WILLIAMS: Clint, I always note your unit flags on the wall behind you, starting with your days at West Point on through your service to the army and the FBI. You have seen terrorism beyond our borders. How does that look to you within this country legitimized by the leader?

WATTS: Brian is remarkable if you rewound 10 years, we'd be talking about a guy named Anwar al-Awlaki, essentially inciting people to do attacks in the U.S. homeland. Telling people to attack symbolic targets, maybe the Capitol, possibly trying to hit soft targets in the United States.

If I went into the online forums today, I would see the same thing being said by domestic actors, militia groups, extremist groups, accelerationist terrorists who want to speed up a second Civil War. And the tipping and queuing they look for is from the president, President Trump's words carry more in that space than anyone elses.

And I think to your point, even before the commercial break, which we were talking about what the future looks like. The one thing was interesting is the President was what united many disparate groups over the last several years.

One of my colleagues, Jan Berger, wrote an excellent piece a couple years back that you have anti-government groups, white supremacist groups, sovereign citizen type groups, that you have just people that want to go against more establishment government, all showing up under one leader and that's President Trump, he really binds them together.

So I think, moving forward, what you do have a problem with now is many of these people that perpetrated the attacks at the Capitol, they are now heroes in their community as extreme as they are, they will be seen as heroes. And once they get that, just by the fame if they're not in jail, I think that's something to worry about, particularly as we move into summer and fall of this coming year.

WILLIAMS: Glad you added the caveat if they're not in jail, well, sadly, we're going to need you both to come back on between now and the inauguration. Our thanks for coming on tonight and explaining all of this to us and our audience. Professor Jen Golbeck and Clint Watts, thank you so much.

Coming up for us. One of our next guests coined the phrase, everything Trump touches dies, he wrote a book with that title. The other says those who stayed with Trump should be forced to stay on the bus till the end. Rick Wilson along with Baratunde Thurston when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Graham, you are treated (INAUDIBLE). You know it was rigged. You know it was rigged.


WILLIAMS: Trump supporters none too pleased with Lindsey Graham's 11th hour decision to go ahead and uphold the results of our election all it took for Graham to change his mind was the looting and desecration of the Capitol.

And that was all it took for a leading Trump supplicant like Graham to come under fire from the base as if four years of bootlicking gets you nothing in this day and age.

Back with us again tonight. Baratunde Thurston, author, activist, comedian, former producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah these days, the host of the podcast How to Citizen and Rick Wilson, longtime Republican strategist who has since left the party. He's an author, and happens to be the co-founder of the Lincoln project. Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Rick, I have to begin with you because of Twitter's decision tonight to kick off Donald Trump. Does Trump without Twitter now mean Republicans without fear? Meaning is Rob Portman going to emerge from the witness protection program, is Nikki Haley going to say she never did like Donald Trump.

RICK WILSON, FMR. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Brian, in the last five years, I cannot tell you the number of times Republican elected officials have said to me, I hate him. I can't stand him. He's destroying the country. But if I say anything, he's going to tweet about being destroyed my career, or I'll get a primary.

Well, folks, now your excuses are expired. He does not have a Twitter account. The bullhorn is broken. The platform is shattered. He can't strike you down. If you say which is -- what's in your hearts. I encourage my former Republican friends to step out of the darkness now you've got that moment.

WILLIAMS: Baratunde, it's good to see you. We've saw it. We've already seen some legacy repair work by Lindsey Graham. We've already seen some legacy repair work by the likes of Pence, McConnell, will it work any of it?

BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR AND COMEDIAN: I doubt it. I understand their fear. And I want to thank you for having me back. I wore a sweater for you tonight because America needs a nice big warm hug after the violent week we barely survived. So congrats again, everyone for making it to Friday.

Just so, Donald Trump is not merely a president or a politician or a powerful figure. He has become a cult leader and there are millions and millions of people who've bought into the deception he has wrought that the Republican Party has amplified and right wing media has powered and enabled along with social media because it was profitable to do so to lie. So there was profit and serving up those lies. And now people are living with the consequences of those lies. Many of us knew it.

For years going in there were chances to get off this bus at Helsinki. There were chances to get off this bus and Charlottesville and people said no, I'm going to go over the cliff. So when these last waning hours, I would urge anyone who has the power to stay and defend the Republic, now's your chance to do that. That's the only serve purpose you can serve right now, the 25th amendment and preserve the functioning and safety and secure operation of the U.S. government until it's in good hands again.

WILLIAMS: Rick Wilson, your name was almost invoked tonight on Twitter by the likes of Jason Miller. This was tweeted out by Annie Carney of the New York Times, how the resignations and disavows are playing inside the building. "They're bottom feeders," says Jason Miller, the Dems will hate them. The Trump base is going to hate them for being rats jumping ship. I guess they're auditioning for jobs at the Lincoln project." Rick, are you guys hiring?

WILSON: No I'm not going to hurt like Jason Miller who could never pass the personnel screening. You know, we don't have on our shortlist of personnel requirements, deadbeat dads who give strippers abortion pills, just not on my list of requirements at the moment.

But, you know, we're flattered by Jason's attention because we haven't been in his head for about a year now. But he is -- he's speaking of rats. You know, there's no benefit in being the last rat on the ship as explodes.

WILLIAMS: Baratunde, let's talk about what we witnessed this week. But more importantly, what we've witnessed over the past year. The looting and desecration of the Capitol, aka the white privilege, Jim Burry (ph), has us thinking in a different way. Let's spend a minute talking about black voters in this country.

The earnest, honest church going, pogoing voting group that more than any other single voting group, save to the Biden campaign, elected Joe Biden as President of the United States, and in their spare time oh, by the way, earlier this week, flipped control of the Senate, from Republicans to Democrats, I yield my time to you and your sweater.

THURSTON: Thank you, Brian. It's a great setup. Rick, amazing, sick burn with the Miller situation. Black people have been in this country since the start of this country. And you don't get to be more American than being owned by America.

So we have some special rites, of memory, of belonging to this place. And I am in awe of the people that I'm privileged to be a part of how we consistently show up for a place that consistently tries to remind us we're not welcome.

And it sometimes feels like we're dragging America kicking and screaming toward its own creed toward its own beautiful words and beautiful documents. None more, personified them this week, with everything you just said about the electoral results, especially in Georgia, especially given who Reverend Warnock is who his ancestors were, and for that very same week to have a confederate flag waived inside the U.S. Capitol. So many died, so many bled to silence, that rebellion in that flag and that undermining.

And we still live in the shadows of that Civil War, with disproportionate voting and access to political power granted to people who lost that war with false participation, trophies of Confederate memorials propped up for traitorous losers to that Civil War. All this in one week, because America is nothing if not a place of contradictions, ugly, yes. And also beautiful.

And so to my fellow black Americans, you're beautiful. Thank you. We can still keep showing up and we need the rest to show up to and that includes the Republicans who remain stand for the country. Opt back in, join us as we've been fighting this a long time. Get on board.

WILLIAMS: Beautifully put. Rick Wilson, I can offer you the last word in 30 seconds. How should people process what I've been calling the Great Migration this movement people away from Donald Trump, people who heretofore had signed over their seats in Congress to him?

WILSON: The transference of their souls back into their bodies is going to be a painful process. And it's not going to be without a political and personal and moral cost. I encourage them to take the right steps. If you wanted to see people truly make a step towards their reforming their reputations in the White House, the administration either quit or invoke the 25th do it tonight. Don't wait. Every minute that passes does not improve your chances of being readmitted to society. It lessens them.

WILLIAMS: Two gentlemen who are both friends of this broadcast both on the best sweaters and have the best words Baratunde Thurston, Rick Wilson, gentlemen, thank you both have a good weekend unless you have other plans. Coming up, an update on the fight against the Coronavirus right after this.



BIDEN: Vaccines give us hope. But the rollout has been a travesty. This will be the greatest operational challenge. The greatest operational challenge we will never face this nation.


WILLIAMS: As we break yet another death toll record today, I look at the uncontrolled pandemic robbing us of 4,000 of our fellow citizens on a daily basis now and what you need to know about the vaccines when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight and as we prepare to give way and leave you to your weekend we are duty bound to return to the dark and slow moving storm that is keeping so many of us inside and out of circulation during this winter. That would be the uncontrolled pandemic

Joe Biden pledged again today to rev up vaccine production and distributions get it into arms because now that the vaccine is out, it's already bogged down. Our report tonight from NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first phase of vaccinations, it was clear who was going first frontline medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. But now the order and the rollout are getting more complicated.

SHEILA GRAHAM, DRIVER: I've no we're not a doctor or nurse or ambulance driver but we are touching people, you know, their wheelchairs, their walkers.

GOSK: 68-year-old Sheila Graham drives elderly patients to get medical treatment in New Jersey. She has no idea when she will qualify for the vaccine.

GRAHAM: I am concerned because there have been a number of people at this job drivers especially who have been exposed.

GOSK: With each state controlling how vaccines are given there's a patchwork of plants.

JENNIFER KATES, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: People just don't know where they are in line and if they are up for the for the shot, where to go and how to figure that out.

GOSK: Geneva Conway is 88 years old and lives in Albany, New York. She knows she qualifies for a vaccine.

GENEVA CONWAY, NEW YORK RESIDENT: At my age, I really would like to have the vaccine yesterday.

GOSK: But she doesn't really understand what's supposed to happen next.

CONWAY: I have not heard of the definitive time table in this area for my group, for the over 70 people.

GOSK: Some states including Texas have announced that everyone 65 and older is eligible for vaccination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My phone has been blowing up with citizens calling who are over 65 trying to find out how they get the vaccine.

GOSK: But there are still hundreds of first responders waiting for their vaccines in Johnson County, Texas. Emergency Manager Jamie Moore personally knocked on pharmacy doors looking for doses.

(on camera): Can you afford to be getting in your car and knocking on pharmacy doors?

JAMIE MOORE, EMERGENCY MANAGER: Well, I mean the truth of matter is, is that we have to do what we have to do.

GOSK (voice-over): For now there is only a limited supply of vaccines.

GRAHAM: And we go get it right now. Do we have first choice.

GOSK: And there's plenty of confusion. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York.


WILLIAMS: That is our broadcast for this Friday night for this first full week of the New Year. Our thanks for being here with us. As we like to say, please have a good weekend unless you have other plans. On behalf of all my colleagues up the networks of NBC News, good night.


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