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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 18, 2020

Guests: Bob Scott, Bill Kristol

Summary

Donald Trump spreads false election attacks as pandemic rages. White House claims Trump is working on COVID-19. Trump COVID testing czar warns of "dangerous pandemic." Iowa governor issues indoor mask mandate. COVID-19 cases spike in Iowa straining hospitals. New York City schools may close again as COVID-19 cases surge. State and local officials issue varying restrictions as Trump admin offers no COVID-19 plan. Many Republicans won't publicly admit Biden won.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And a quick programming note tomorrow night at this hour, Jonathan Capehart, with President Barack Obama in conversation for the full hour. Do not miss it. That is tonight's LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,399 of the Trump administration, 63 days until the inauguration, 15 days since the presidential election, and 11 days since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the race. And yes, we have a president who refuses to concede. He loses his power of office at noon on January 20. The rest of it is petulance and politics and paperwork and it's all happening against this god awful and uncontrolled pandemic that again today reached another awful milestone.

The death toll today went over a quarter of a million Americans. People who were with us at the start of 2020 will now not be here to see another New Year's Eve.

This map shows just how widespread the virus is. Where the cases are? This was put out by the government. Take a moment, look at the area of red, find where you live where your friends and family live. This is a snapshot of our country as of tonight.

Also, as of this evening, there are nearly 80,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19. That's another all time high. Yet today was another day of radio silence from the president. As he stayed hunkered down in the White House, he continues to watch TV. He remains a constant presence on social media, spreading more falsehoods disinformation about Joe Biden's election victory. We did hear from Trump's Press Secretary who insists the President is focused on his job.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the President's hard at work. He's hard at work on COVID among other issues. I'm sure you'll hear from him at the right moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The administration's testing czar at a very different view. This afternoon he sounded the alarm about our current situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT GIROIR, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S CORONAVIRUS TESTING CZAR: Right now we are in the steepest rate of rise in numbers of cases. Our hospitalizations are going up 25% week over week. Our deaths are going up by 25% week over week. And this is not going in the right direction. We are at the most serious and dangerous part of the pandemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: A new study estimates there may be as many as 3.6 million people in this country infected and shedding enough virus to infect others around them. A wave of new restrictions, stay at home advisories, mask mandates now accelerating as governors impose more rules to try to slow the infections.

Starting tomorrow, New York City's public schools will be closed indefinitely. New York home to the nation's largest school system, of course, it is the city's second system wide shut down due to this virus. The President-elect continues to focus on the virus even as the outgoing administration continues to block the formal transition. Today Biden acknowledged what his team is up against.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: We should be further along. One of the problems that we're having now is the failure of the administration to recognize the law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognizes who the winner is. And then they have to have access to all the data and information that the government possesses to be prepared.

And it doesn't require there to be an absolute winner. It says the apparent winner. We've been unable to get access to the kinds of things we need to know about the depth of the stockpiles. We know there's not much at all. There's a whole lot of things that are just -- we just don't have available to us, which unless is made available soon. We're going to be behind by weeks or months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: We do have this tonight and it does apply to common sense to Biden transition officials are telling NBC News that a few current and former Trump administration officials have begun reaching out privately back channel to the Biden transition team.

But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today made it clear he has no intention of cooperating until the White House acknowledges Joe Biden is the president-elect. And just a note as you watch this, please remember, this is a fully grown man, the man in the cabinet with oversight over our health scared to death of crossing his boss in a nation with a quarter million dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: So we've made it very clear that when GSA makes a determination, we will ensure complete, cooperative professional transitions and planning. But that's -- we follow the guidance. We're about getting vaccines and therapeutics invented and get the clinical trial data and saving lives here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: We did learn today that new data from Pfizer shows its vaccine 95% effective. Company says it will soon as the government for emergency authorization, which could mean distribution to high risk groups by the end of this year. As we mentioned Trump remains laser focused not on the pandemic, but on his effort to somehow overturn the results of the election.

Today, his campaign decided to spend 3 million for a partial recount in Wisconsin, a state Trump's projected to lose by over 20,000 votes. His campaign once recounts in democratic strongholds of Milwaukee County and Dane County. Biden beat Trump and Milwaukee County by 40 percentage points, 40. Trump lost Dane County by over 50 percentage points. The Trump campaign says it's selected these two counties because they are "the locations of the worst irregularities."

State of Georgia has been carrying out that hand recount as you know since Friday. Officials there say they expect to announce the results tomorrow and that Biden will remain in the lead. We're also keeping an eye on fallout from Trump's online firing of election security official Chris Krebs. Today one Republican ally of Trump's seemed to indicate some level of exhaustion with the lame duck president scorched earth tactics.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: It's a president's prerogative, but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to return to a little bit more of a -- I don't even know what's normal anymore. We'll call it the next normal it's not the new normal it's the next normal. I'm confident we'll -- on January the 20, we'll have a peaceful transition of power and then that will be the next normal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring it off our -- bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night. Three returning veterans, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent, Associate Editor at Politico, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter with The Washington Post, also Moderator of Washington Week on PBS, and Errin Haines, an AP veteran, now Editor at Large for the 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom focused on stories about gender, politics and policy.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. Robert, by dint of your most recent reporting, I'd like to begin with you, tell us about your new reporting on this overturn the election strategy. And I am sure I joined the Americans in our audience who can't wait to hear this.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Brian, in brief, just published a story at the Washington Post for tomorrow's paper. And what you have is a president, who's in bunker mode talking to Rudy Giuliani, and they see the numbers, they see the numbers across the political map. And they privately acknowledged many Trump allies to me and other reporters that this election is lost that it's President-elect, Biden, but publicly, they want to continue to raise doubts about the integrity of the election. And it's now not so much about claiming voter fraud, or making baseless claims of election fraud. It's about pushing Republicans in different states to disrupt the selection of electors to the Electoral College in some way to try to decertify results on election boards. So voters across the country just don't believe on the Republican side that the election was done in a fair way.

That's the intent of all that you're seeing right now. It's being driven not only by Rudy Giuliani, but outside figures on the right like Mark Levin, and Steve Bannon, who remains very close to Rudy Giuliani.

WILLIAMS: So Steve Bannon, to your point who we last heard from when he called for Fauci and the FBI director to be beheaded, still, according to your reporting has a direct line and to affect anything from policy to talking points in this?

COSTA: He is, based on our reporting tonight, very close to Rudy Giuliani. And every day Bannon is out there along with others in Bannon circle and Giuliani circle, stirring the pot legally, politically, making baseless claims trying to make the Electoral College a target, in a way it has never been. And so you have Rudy Giuliani talking to the president. And some of the people around the President's campaign are uncomfortable with this. Of course, they're not speaking out publicly. They don't want a public fight. But they see Giuliani is driving this and Bannon is driving Giuliani and the conservative media echo chamber is amplifying all of it.

WILLIAMS: So Anita, what can you add to these reports on our network and at least one other have tentative outreach going on? Less so from within the Trump camp more so from people who've, and there's a growing list have recently departed the Trump camp into the Biden campaign, the presidency in waiting? In some cases, they -- this is valuable stuff that they need to know.

ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, if you talk to the folks over it, the Biden team, they tell you that they are comfortable with a lot of things. You know, they've been working on policy. They've been working on, who they're going to bring in. And of course, this is someone who was vice-president, he knows a lot of people that were in that administration that are going to be back. So really, what they're looking for is that real time information that you just showed a clip of Joe Biden talking about how they're not getting those specific information about a numbers and that sort of thing.

So yeah, there are a number of people, of course, from the Obama administration now, from the Trump administration, hearing some people that used to work there that are feeling like, let's get this going. There is a sense, not from Rudy Giuliani in this small circle, but many people at the campaign and the White House that this is over.

Really actually the hiring of Rudy Giuliani really last week, was sort of the last straw for a lot of people. They feel like it is over. Let's get on with this transition. Let's get on with we're leaving in a couple months. That realization is there. It's there for so many people, except for this small circle that is talking president.

WILLIAMS: Errin, while it is notable, and it's one thing for us to say that Trump hasn't taken questions in 12 days, because for him that is so highly unusual, so much TV to watch, so much Twitter, so little time. There's another thing where that order seems to have trickled down through senior members of his administration. Here now a sampling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER MILLER, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: God bless our women and men in uniform. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why you aren't going to take any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Have a great day. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you not take questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you as a defense secretary not take questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kayleigh, can you stop for a couple of seconds?

MCENANY: Hi, guys, I'm sorry I've been meeting (inaudible).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Errin, you know, very little happens by accident, especially with the attention of the world upon you. So if they don't want to talk about the job, the leavers of government, the pandemic, God forbid, why do they want to stick around and stay in the job?

ERRIN HAINES, THE 19TH EDITOR-AT-LARGE: You know, good question, Brian. Listen, you mentioned the press secretary saying that the President was going to emerge at the right time to address this pandemic. When would be the right time? Would it have been the week of the election when this pandemic was raging? And you know, we saw the wave coming back would it be, you know, tomorrow, which would be a week from Thanksgiving, as families are considering gathering and could maybe use some guidance from national officials about whether or not that's a good idea, and maybe what precautions people should be taking to keep themselves and their loved one safe and to keep trying to get these numbers back under control, as you're seeing, you know, officials at the state and local level attempting to do in the absence of a national plan.

When is going to be the right time? I wonder. And not just for the president, but really, for anybody who was concerned about the health and safety of their fellow Americans as it's this pandemic continues to rage out of control.

Look, I mean, we can debate who the number one draft pick should have been tonight in the NBA Draft or where George's Anthony Edwards should be playing. But what we can't debate is that, you know, the results of this election are pretty much settled. You know, and, you know, that is not going to change, although I do think that there should be some concern about, this voter certification effort that that Robert mentioned, that his reporting is talking about, because where are we talking about these voter certification efforts happening, places like Detroit, places like Atlanta, places like Milwaukee, right, and that has a chilling effect on black, the black and brown voters that are being targeted in those places, even as you have a runoff in Georgia, where maybe people where the electorate could be expanded or wondering, well, gee, if I cast my ballot in this runoff, is it going to count could it possibly be challenged?

This is not just about the outcome of this election, which I think most of us have accepted as having been decided, you know, but the President whether he -- you know, wants to ignore or not address this pandemic or you know, try to stall the results of this election. What we know is that both the pandemic, and, you know, this election, the results only become more true, you know, as we go along.

WILLIAMS: Errin, thank you, by the way for your reminders of what's important in the outside world. It's why I often get off the air and watch Mr. Van Pelt, because sports often reminds us what is normal out there.

Hey, Mr. Costa, with the caveat that --

HAINES: Priorities, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Yes, you got it. With the caveat that all the people I mentioned. I imagine you're going to mention want their names withheld. Less they get tweeted about? I know you've talked to Republicans. I no fuses are getting shorter on just how much appetite there is for any more of this obstruction. What do you know?

COSTA: Well, some of them are starting to put their names out there, Brian. Scott Reed, one of the biggest Republican strategists out there, who is ran Bob Dole '96 was the longtime strategist for the Chamber of Commerce was really plugged in with leader McConnell's whole political orbit the biggest donors in the country. He told the post tonight his words. This is a clown car that Giuliani's running. Bannon is being aggressive but doesn't have a plan. He thinks this whole push to call it voter fraud, that the elections rigged and now trying to make a triple bank shot to the Electoral College, doesn't have coherence.

So Scott Reed speaking out, others on Capitol Hill are privately speaking out. You heard John Cornyn's comments, the Texas Senator. They want to return to normal. They want some kind of change here. They're not going to have a public brawl with a president who's sitting there at 1600 stewing about not really sure how to concede if he ever will concede as he thinks about his brand. But this is a Republican Party. Believe me, based on my conversations all day today, they're ready to move on. They're not ready to rebuke him but they're ready to move on.

WILLIAMS: Anita, this is a president I'm reminded who arrived in Erie PA days from the election and promptly told the audience in Erie that he never would have come back to Erie PA, did he not need that area geographically for the electoral map, whatever happened to that reporting that this was going to be would stocky endless summer that he was just going to go back out on the road and do rallies or did the thought of 130 secret service agents in quarantine, and spikes and coronavirus, and all the states he would want to visit get the better of them?

KUMAR: Well, I think there are a couple of reasons for that. And you didn't mention one of the other reasons, which is it takes a lot of money to go out on the road and put on these massive rallies that people talked about. There are people close to him that are urging him to do that, that he should not leave the White House unless he gets back out on the road for these rallies. You know, there have been a number of times that we've heard that he was supposed to go to Mar-a-Lago, his place down in South Florida and pretty much every week we've been hearing for the last couple of weeks, every weekend he was going to go, you know, he was scheduled to go for Thanksgiving. You saw him cancel that.

What people are telling him to do is look, if you want to look like you're fighting, you're fighting the selection, you want to look serious, you can't go down to South Florida and party, you need to stay at the White House and look like you're hunkering down and fighting this thing.

So you see him there. You're not seeing the rallies, I think in part because these legal, these lawsuits and recounts are quite expensive. You saw in Wisconsin, you mentioned, you know, it costs $3 million for them to ask for a recount just in two counties, had they done the entire state, it would have been you know, about eight or $9 million.

So, you know, there's some concerns about that. But they're basically saying people are telling him stay at the White House, you know, look like you're fighting this. Now, there are some people that say, look, he should come out and talk about things that are happening. These changes he's making, policies he's pushing and the coronavirus, and we just haven't seen him do that.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Errin, I need 45 seconds of brilliance. What about the Democrats trying to combat what's happening right now as a form of voter suppression?

HAINES: Well, listen, Joe Biden's lead is approaching 80 million votes in this country and climbing. They're still counting votes in California in New York. According to my former employer, the Associated Press and voter turnout in this election 65%, which is a rate that we have not seen since Madam Vice President-elect Kamala Harris a sorority was incorporated and you can look up that year if you are interested to know as a little bit of trivia.

WILLIAMS: Errin, some other broadcast we'll get into the definition of skyway. But thank you for tonight, and for always, Errin Haines, Anita Kumar, Robert Costa, our big three to start us off tonight. Greatly appreciate it gang. Thank you.

Coming up empty beds are getting hard to come by and hospitals nationwide. The mayor of one hard hit city in Iowa says people need to wake up. We'll hear from him next.

And later, no matter Donald Trump's view of reality. His reality is that he loses the power of the office at 12 noon on January 28. We'll ask Bill Kristol about the future of the pliant political party. He will leave behind in his wake in Washington, as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Wednesday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: As new coronavirus cases skyrocket, some Republican governors who refused mask orders are now issuing them. Iowa has seen a huge spike in new cases. Since early November hospitals are strained after no mask mandate for months. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds reversed course and started requiring masks indoors.

Mayor Bob Scott of Sioux City Iowa told The New York Times. "This should have happened three weeks ago,' he said pointing to the dwindling room at hospitals. 'We don't have that many beds left."

With that we welcome to this broadcast the aforementioned Bob Scott, Mayor of the great city of Sioux City, Iowa. We also welcome back to this broadcast, Dr. Irwin Redlener, a Pediatric Physician, Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University's Earth Institute, happens to be the founding Director of Columbia's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Mr. Mayor, I'm happy to say that I've spent a lot of time in your great town, friend of mine was the great Sioux City Iowa broadcaster, Bill Turner who we just lost this past summer at the age of 90. So I'm happy to tell you I have enjoyed Sioux City Iowa over the years, having established that what are you looking at tonight concerning your case rate, concerning available ICU beds, and concerning mask wearing?

MAYOR BOB SCOTT, SIOUX CITY, IA: Well, I visited with the hospital administrator sent some text back and forth today and we're OK as far as hospital beds right now. They come and go and they go up and down. More concern is our local medical professionals that are on the front line now for the last two or three months with really heavy numbers and there's going to be a burnout factor here is something doesn't change real quickly for Sioux City.

WILLIAMS: A few and I walked down the main drag tomorrow, let's say lunchtime. What percentage of people would we see wearing masks?

SCOTT: But we're Iowans, you know, and so we have an opinion about everything. Probably at least, I would say that the number might be higher today probably 60%. A week ago, I would have probably told you maybe 40%

WILLIAMS: Irwin Redlener, I want to read you something from the New York Times. It's kind of a shocking quote. This is about vaccine distribution. "We absolutely do not have enough to pull this off successfully," says Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III, the state health officer of Mississippi. This is going to be a phenomenal logistical feat, to vaccinate everybody in the country. We absolutely have zero margin for failure. We really have to get this right.

So Doctor, take states like Mississippi, Arkansas, take states like Iowa have miles and miles of rural territory, go all the way west to where Sioux City borders, think about it, Nebraska and South Dakota, all those states are having a spike. What do you -- it's one thing to say we have a vaccine. And this enters your life's work. How do you get it in all of those arms safely?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, hi, Brian. So this is a major problem. And it's actually the majority of states that are expressing these extreme concerns that they won't have the resources and the distribution mechanisms. It's one thing to manufacture the vaccine. And by the way, at least one of the two vaccines, these extreme low temperatures and everything has to be transported in very, very subzero conditions. And then we have 65 million Americans who live in federally designated health professional shortage areas. And on top of that, the governor's are crying that there is not enough resources and manpower to get this distribution right.

So we've been saying this, from the beginning of this whole episode, Brian, around about vaccines is that, we may have some manufactured available vaccines to give to health workers and first responders by the end of the year. That's true, but I don't really expect to see effective distribution until the third and probably the fourth quarter of 2021. So we have to really organize our expectations to meet those kinds of challenges that people are expressing, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Mayor, think forward to what it's going to be like when I don't know if it's going to be the Iowa ready reserve and National Guard, arriving in Sioux City setting up inoculation centers, setting up tents freezers required, the paperwork, can you see this happening in the next two months? Is your city ready to stand up that kind of organization overnight?

SCOTT: Well, we have excellent guard units in our community. I know they'll rise to the occasion. We have a emergency management team that's in place that will rise to the occasion. I will tell you this. We'll do whatever we can. We've responded to floods in the past. We've responded to tornadoes, we'll do what we have to do to get it done.

WILLIAMS: And are you worried about public opinion where it affects the percentage of people willing to come forward and get this vaccine when the time comes?

SCOTT: Well, I am. I think some people don't see this as the national crisis. It certainly appears to be one to me. I cannot argue that it isn't. And so I'm hopeful that the citizens will realize that the vaccines, the only way out of this for us right now and we'll get vaccine in.

WILLIAMS: All right, both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us as we fit in a break.

Coming up when we resume our discussion, as cases go up. Schools shut down. Why some argue that closing schools should be a last resort in our country. We'll talk to our guests about that topic when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY TURNER, MINNESOTA NURSES ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: There is something seriously wrong when nurses have to take to the streets to beg for protection in the middle of a pandemic.

LACIE GOOCH, NEBRASKA MEDICINE ICU NURSE: We're understaffed. We have so much on our plates as nurses. There's not enough of us to help.

DR. NICOLE GILG GACHIANI, CHIEF PHYSICIAN QUALITY OFFICER IN DES MOINES, IOWA: There's a sense that no one is listening to us and ICU bed in rural Iowa. Does it mean much of what you need is a neurosurgeon for a head bleed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Across our country, staffing and resources are dwindling state local officials are struggling to slow down the outbreak as we mentioned schools in New York City and in Kentucky will transition to all remote schooling.

But New York Times columnist Nick Kristof argues this should be a last resort as many businesses have stayed open or reopened. He puts it this way. Quote, much of Europe pursued the opposite route closing pubs and restaurants but doing everything possible to keep schools operating. And the evidence suggests that Europe has the smarter approach.

Both of our guests remain with us Mayor Bob Scott of Sioux City Iowa, and Dr. Irwin Redlener in New York. Doctor, this one goes to you. You're a pediatrician by training. How should we have thought from the beginning about schools and is the column in the New York Times right that may be the way the Europeans went at this. And it was spotty in Europe, the Sweden example comes to mind. But maybe the way the Europeans went at this was the right way.

REDLENER: Well, a lot of countries went at things entirely differently than we did. And we ended up having many multiples of time the number of fatalities that that some of those countries did. But as far as children are concerned, which has been my own life's work, as you point out, Brian, it is painful. It's heartbreaking to have so many children not being able to go to school and a lot of children being forced to do remote learning, which they don't have the hardware, they may not have internet access, or people to mentor them at home.

And it's very odd to me that we have schools open, schools closed and restaurants and bars open. There's something very wrong about that. And I agree with Nick Kristof, that this is backwards, and we should do everything possible, keep schools open.

That said, neither opening the schools or opening other businesses like restaurants, when we still did not have the pandemic under control is potentially dangerous. I understand the dilemma that mayors and governors are facing, but I really wish we could find a way to get those kids back to school as soon as possible, as long as we could do it safely, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Mayor, how does the school decision work in Sioux City? I know the New York Mayor set a threshold of a 3 percent infection rate system wide.

SCOTT: In Sioux City we don't have. The school board actually runs the school district, the local government, city government does that mistake but we go remote in Sioux City based upon the number of kids and staff in that particular grade level. So some of the schools are still meeting some of the grades are still meeting and just it's a mixed bag right now.

WILLIAMS: Talk to me about the economic hit Sioux City has taken.

SCOTT: You know, fortunately, we've been pretty lucky in that area. I don't know how much longer it'll continue if we -- continue to see the rise in the spikes that we've been seeing. But so far, we've been able to weather that the small businesses obviously are hurting, the restaurants and the bars are hurting. There's no question about that. The attendance and those are way down.

But by and large, we haven't noticed a real large unemployment increase. In fact, we've had that curve coming down the last few weeks. Again, you know, the last eight weeks here have been pretty rough. So we'll see as it continues -- if it continues to go up like it has been, I think we're going to probably be in for a little bit of trouble.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Mayor, I got to ask you about the graphic behind you. What is LOH, and what happens when someone sends a text to that number in Sioux City?

SCOTT: I don't know that. I think that's I don't know where that's coming from. To tell you the truth. It's not something I have. So it's got to be something in your background?

WILLIAMS: Well, OK -

SCOTT: Sorry.

WILLIAMS: -- we'll figure out what it is. There's a giant hand and a giant phone right over your right shoulder. Hey, Doctor, let's go out on some hope. Offer a note of hope to the people watching tonight worried that we are that December is going to be the new February in this country that January is going to be the new March. We've been through this once. And it's looking like a pretty dark winter season for a lot of folks.

REDLENER: You know, Brian, I'm going to be three pieces of hope. And if I might end but let me start off by saying we should not in any way take this situation. Wrong here now because we understand that the trajectory is going straight up, basically. And we're going to be in for a very tough next few months.

That said, we are on the verge of having a vaccine that works. We're on the verge of a testing that's going to be able to be done rapidly at home or in points of care. And the third thing is the big thing is Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their teams, we're going to see an entirely different approach to dealing with this enemy, this unseen, highly dangerous, lethal vaccine, we're going to see an entirely new approach to dealing with this.

And don't forget, listen, there were 407,000 Americans that died in World War II, we're going to exceed that number. There's no doubt in my mind, then the next few months, we need leadership. We need consistent messages, we need to fast track tools that we need. And I think that's what we're going to see with the Biden-Harris team. They're not going to give us false hope. I think they're going to give us real hope, by developing a strategy that will make sense to the majority of Americans

WILLIAMS: Hope amid the sadness and madness from the two gentlemen at different fronts in this battle. Thank you so much Mayor of Sioux City, Iowa, Bob Scott and Dr. Irwin Redlener, both of you for being with us tonight.

Coming up, our next guest says despite Trump's election loss, this is the time to pay attention because he's still getting what he wants right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHMIDT, FMR. GOP STRATEGIST: There is no action this man has taken that is worse than this final one and his defeat of the election because the American system has been sustained on faith and belief in democracy since the 1790s. And Donald Trump is really the first person who is deliberately and premeditatedly tried to poison it. And it's a tragic thing to watch it happen. Watch your play out and watch Republicans go along with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Steve Schmidt was Nicolle Wallace this afternoon and what I'm going to show you now is evidence that Donald Trump's campaign to declare this election rigged is setting in. According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, over half of the Republicans surveyed consider Donald Trump to be the rightful winner of this election, which has already been called for the president elect Joe Biden.

Let's talk about all of it with Bill Kristol, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administration's in another political party and editor-at-large of the Bulwark these days. Bill, I'm going to show you something John Kasich said on CNN tonight we'll discuss it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: You have a group of doctors who are saying to the administration we need the information. We need the information to protect our frontline workers. We need the information to protect our patients. We need to frontline information to make sure how to distribute the vaccine and they're losing patience. What the hell are they doing down there? Stand up starts speaking out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So Bill I mentioned earlier the trembling supplicant, Alex Azar who actually has authority over the nation's health from his chair in the Cabinet Room, but he is crippled in fear of this president. When does this start to become actual malpractice that abets mass death?

BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, it's unbelievable, isn't it? He's the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he could tell his own people to start cooperating with the Biden team or with just outside physicians and making information available when useful tomorrow. And what would Trump to fire him? I mean, you know, that they're so I guess - it seems like we've had this discussion so many times.

But it's one thing when he's the president, and there's an election coming up, and he could be president for a second term he's lost. Everyone knows he's lost. And for the Republican Party and his own cabinet, and everyone else to just go along and the way they have, it's -- it is not being very eloquent, because I don't it's kind of it's hard to explain and hard to articulate, really.

WILLIAMS: Following you, as I do every day on social media, this chapter of this drama seems to have really gotten to you because now they're playing with house money. Now they are shifting the gears of government and tradition and peaceful transfer of power in a way that could leave a lasting mark. And how do you come to all the journalism that says when Trump departs January 20, this will still be the Trump Republican Party. Do you agree with that?

KRISTOL: I tend to agree with it, partly because of what he's doing now. And he's getting the political support, as you said, from senators and others, criticizing him for his truly outrageous and despicable behavior. But also look at the election returns. He wasn't really repudiated. He was clearly defeated by Vice President Biden. But with the Republican Party wasn't defeated, they get lost one seat, the Senate, it looks like and gained about 10 of the House, they held state legislative chambers, a heck of a lot of people who defended Trump, enable Trump even echo Trump and tried to outdo Trump got elected.

So the lesson Republicans are taken from this as well, we will get rid of Trump, he'll go away, maybe it'll fade away. There'll be happy enough about that. But they don't have to repudiate Trump. Trump to reconsider anything they've done for the last four years. I guess that's what makes me most angry, but also just really depressed as someone who had some hopes of a Republican Party that one could be proud of, or at least respectful of that there's not even going to be any real reconsideration. It just going to be Let's move on. We'll sort of hope we get beyond some of the really bad stuff.

But look, the strategy of sort of accommodating Trump and Trumpism but maybe being a little less crazy about it looks like a winner. They think they're going to win the House in 2022. They think they have a good chance in 2024. I'm not confident they'll see that even though it's a national emergency that they need to cooperate with incoming President Biden's I haven't noticed they were nice to Senator Harris when she showed up on the Senate floor the other day, but I days telling Republican senators is the chairman of the relevant Senate committee telling Secretary Azar you need to cooperate with the incoming Biden team. Are they telling Trump the chairman of the defense of the Armed Services Committee telling Trump, hey, you should not shake up the entire top leadership of the Pentagon and put in a bunch of unqualified and in some cases, kind of crazy people to run a rather important agency of the federal government.

So again, I am worried I much I've always been sort of pessimistic about the Republican Party for the next few years. I'm more pessimistic now.

WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol will keep having this conversation with you. We'll keep following you on social media. Thank you for having us in and coming on tonight. Coming up, our report on this rush to get tested before Thanksgiving, and the experts whose job it is to say not so fast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Americans who are desperate to spend Thanksgiving with their families and to our friends as we all want to do are rushing out some of them to get coronavirus tests. And then there are the experts whose job it is to remind us that a negative test result only means you didn't have the virus at the time of your test. And it's no guarantee that people around you are safe. Our report on all of it tonight from NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

VICKY NGUYEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CDC classifies Thanksgiving gatherings as higher risk so many are taking precautions ahead of time.

(on camera): So if I'm going to get tested, what is the absolute best time to do it?

DR. JOHN TORRES, NBC NEWS SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look and see how long it takes to get the results back if it's two days, then get tested two days before Thanksgiving.

NGUYEN (voice-over): But it's not foolproof.

TORRES: That negative test result does not give you a free pass.

NGUYEN: Here's why. If you get tested five days after being exposed, you may test negative. Three days later at that family gathering, you could be pre-symptomatic, but contagious and not feel sick until days later. Still inside that 14 day incubation period. There's also the possibility of being exposed between that negative test and arriving at your destination.

TORRES: That test result is a snapshot in time, that's that one day you're negative. You could be positive the next day.

NGUYEN: As far as the different tests, the PCR is the gold standard. It's more accurate, but results take longer. Some rapid antigen tests can get you answers in 15 minutes, but they have a higher rate of false negatives.

TORRES: Testing by itself is not going to be enough no matter what your test result is.

NGUYEN (on camera): We are about a week out from Thanksgiving. Is it too late to quarantine?

TORRES: Any amount of time you can quarantine is better than none.

NGUYEN (voice-over): Even with a negative test, you should still wear a mask, keep your distance and open windows if you're gathering this year. Vicky Nguyen, NBC News.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: And coming up for us tonight's installment of elections have consequences.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, those people who accuse Mitch McConnell and the Republican controlled U.S. Senate have not doing any work really aren't paying attention to the Senate docket. While you'd be correct to assume they've done nothing for victims of the coronavirus before leaving town tonight on a richly deserved long Thanksgiving break.

In order to please a lame duck president, they have approved five of Trumps federal judges in just these past 30 hours of work, including one they were warned against approving by the American Bar Association but that's so old school and so administrative state and I digress.

One of those five judges approved over these past 30 hours is Kat Mizelle, Kathryn Kimball mizelle known to our friends as Kat. She is 33 years old. And while she has never tried a case in a courtroom, if you encounter her in her new job, you best refer to her as Your Honor.

She's only been out of law school for eight years, the Bar Association labeled her unqualified for the job. But no matter that did not stop Kath from becoming a federal judge. For starters, two things jump off her resume. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she works at Jones Day, one of the Trump campaign law firms where Don McGann is a partner.

In Kat defense, she's always been a star at the Lakeland Florida Christian school, they still talk about her, her perfect English score on the ACT two years as class president. She was on four high school sports teams took piano lessons for nine years. She was first in her class at University of Florida Law School. She's deeply religious talks about her faith in a way a lot of people agree with.

Years ago, she told her alumni magazine at Lakeland Christian quote, faith and living are not two separate parts of my life. I think of my work as work that I'm doing unto the Lord and I want to do my best for him. I continue to strive to serve him and I think that means giving your absolute best to whatever you're doing and serving with a focus not to glorify yourself, but to glorify Christ.

And at the age of 33, she is now a federal judge for life. Part of a federal judiciary remade by Graham, McConnell and Trump, the other four federal judges. Judges approved in these last 30 hours of Senate work. They are ages 38, 45, 39 and 40. All appointed for life. All with the power to reshape American law and life for the next half century or more, all of it because elections have consequences.

That is our Wednesday evening broadcast. We thank you very much for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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