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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 20, 2020

Guests: Arthur Caplan, Kavita Patel, Clifton Truman Daniel, John McWhorter


U.S. hits new daily record of 194,000 plus COVID-19 cases. Republican state lawmakers from Michigan met with President Donald Trump at the White House and said afterwards that they were not "made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan." Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for COVID-19. Dr. Fauci compares the current growth rate of the coronavirus case curve from the spring to now: as "almost exponential." Pfizer submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Trump still insists he won 2020 election. Trump continues post-election misinformation campaign. More than 1,000 hospitals across the United States are "critically" short on staff.


JON OSSOFF, (D) SENATE CANDIDATE: We can finish the job in Georgia. Thank you, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Jon Ossoff, democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia. Thank you for joining us once again tonight. We appreciate it.

OSSOFF: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Jon Ossoff gets Tonight's Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good Friday evening, day 1,401 of this Trump administration, 61 days remain until the Inauguration, two months from today, in fact, and it's been 13 days since the race was called for Joe Biden.

Tonight, the pandemic is still raging out of control in these United States with over 194,000 more cases reported just in the course of today, that's another Daily Record. We lost another 2000 people just yesterday. Yet the outgoing president remains lesser focused not on the pandemic but on overturning the results of the election.

Today the President met with Republican state lawmakers from Michigan. They were summoned to the White House as Trump's legal team is seeking to have the GOP run state legislatures just go ahead and name Trump electors and states that were won by Joe Biden.

The White House Press Secretary today called the meeting routine, nothing to see here. And in his statement, the lawmakers didn't say whether the President pressured them to overturn the results. But they did say this. "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan." But they did get to see the White House.

The Michigan State canvassing board is scheduled to certify the vote on Monday. Georgia officially certified its election results today following a hand recount of nearly 5 million votes. That means the state's 16 electoral votes will officially go to Joe Biden.

Earlier today, the President held what was billed as a news conference on prescription drug prices. He took no questions but did say this about the election.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not an easy thing to do. Big Pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won by the way, but you know, find that out.


WILLIAMS: And while that is false, he did make a curious aside when praising himself and his administration, for all the work he's done on drug prices.


TRUMP: They'll never be anything like this. I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it.


WILLIAMS: He hopes they keep it in place, presumably meaning the Biden team that takes over in that place January 20. Still as Trump refuses to concede, Biden and Harris met with Schumer and Pelosi in Wilmington today. A lot of it devoted to discussion of the need for an emergency aid package. All this comes amid the awful relentless and dark winter surge of coronavirus across our country.

Our nation's been averaging about 165,000 new cases a day over the past week. Total cases nearing 12 million now, deaths of course have passed 255,000. Today the president's son, Don Jr. became the 49th person connected to the White House or Trump campaign that we know of to test positive for the virus. Spokesperson said he is asymptomatic and quarantining after testing positive earlier this week.

Rudy Giuliani's son who works for Trump in the White House has also tested positive for the virus. Andrew Giuliani was at his father's nearly two hour long indoor press conference yesterday at the Republican Party chairman headquarters. The press conference that will be remembered for the flop sweat hair dye lose.

And Rick Scott, proud Florida republican became the latest member of the Senate to announce he has tested positive for coronavirus. Senator Scott says he has mild symptoms but is feeling good. Today Dr. Fauci addressed the massive spike in new cases.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're not going to completely eliminate it and turn it around rapidly and dramatically. But we can prevent it from increasing. You look at the curve, Chuck, it's almost exponential when you compare the curves in the spring and the curves in the summer with the inflection of the curve where we are right now.

We should not accept that we can't do anything about that. Putting vaccines aside for a moment which will be extraordinarily helpful, if we implement the simple public health measures that I was mentioning to you, we can blunt that inflection.


WILLIAMS: There is more encouraging news today on the vaccine front today. Pfizer applied for emergency approval from the FDA. New York Times reports regulators at the FDA plan to take about three weeks to review the vaccine.

Meanwhile, there's growing concern Trump's refusal to concede will hurt the Biden effort to fight the pandemic. Earlier today, a frequent guest on this broadcast, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who now sits on Biden's advisory board, said this about the need to share information.


DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, MEMBER OF BIDEN CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Prior to being on this advisory group, I actually had frequent conversations with members of the NIH, the CDC, the FDA, all of these areas in terms of looking towards what can we do, how can we address this pandemic. And since I've been a member of this group, I have not been allowed by law not to speak to these people. This is a big problem. And you can't minimize it by just saying the people who are there now will be there at the end is really important that the transition team have access to the kind of information that will allow them to plan now for hitting the ground running on January 20.


WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring in the leadoff guests on this Friday night, Susan Page, Veteran Journalist Best Selling Author USA Today, Washington Bureau Chief. She was of course, Moderator of the VP Debate, this cycle. She's Barbara Bush's biographer, her next work will profile Speaker Pelosi. Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, along with his wife and writing partner, Susan Glasser, he happens to be the author of the new best seller on the life and times of one James Baker III. And Jeremy Peters rejoins our fold at long last. He's a Veteran Political Reporter at the Times and not to be outdone, he is the author of a forthcoming book about Trump's Takeover of the Republican Party.

Hopefully, we've ticked everything up a notch or two on Amazon. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

Susan, I'd like to begin with you. The President told us what he do if he didn't win. Of course for four or five years, Bill Maher has been warning his audience, the guy's never going to leave, or at least he's going to try to stay. We see what he's doing now that he has lost. He's never had a great love for institutions. And that's an understatement. Talk about the institution, he is so badly damaging every day now?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, there were some things we knew were going to happen with this election. We knew counting the ballots, was going to take longer than usual, because of all the mail-in ballots, because of the pandemic. We -- so we understood that.

I think that even though President Trump told us repeatedly that he was not committed to the peaceful transfer of power, somehow we didn't take him seriously enough, because it is exactly what we're seeing. Go on since the election was called a couple weeks ago, we see him disputing the peaceful transfer of power in a way that is unique in our history. Never before in American history have we seen an episode like Michigan lawmakers, being called to the White House with the presence hope that they will overturn the call of the voters in their state when it comes to the Electoral College. So perhaps it's shame on us for not believing the President when he told us what he was going to do.

WILLIAMS: Peter, it was probably a flashback to the Soviet Union, you were once familiar with, you don't see the top guy for 15, 16 days and people are left to listen to state run radio for martial music. God forbid, today, we did see him he did bill it as a news conference, but took no questions. Do you buy in, Peter, to this reporting that since his presidency started under and remained under a legitimacy cloud, or in a legitimacy cloud, that he wants to confer that cloud to the incoming Biden administration?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think there's something to that. He has felt from the beginning, President Trump has that he was never given the due he was owed, that Democrats and the media continually look for reasons why he won, rather than the fact that he was a better candidate, whether it be Russia, whether it be Comey, whether it be, you know, some other excuse in his mind, and therefore he felt like he never got treated with the legitimacy that he had earned. And therefore, I think you're right, that there is at least part of him that, you know, is for payback here.

Now, the differences, of course, is that Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats may never really been all that accepting of him, but she did concede defeat, she didn't fight the facts. She didn't fight the math, and she didn't make up, you know, wholesale allegations of fraud that weren't backed up by evidence in the court. And I think that this is a wholly different situation that we saw four years ago, but I think you're right, that the President feels better. It feels like he never got what he deserved, and he doesn't mind that he is in fact, inflicting that on the next president.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy, while welcoming you back from the Witness Protection Program, I know you're well sourced in the, in the dark arts on the right and the world of Mr. Bannon. We last checked in on him he was threatening to put Fauci and raise heads on pikes and be had them that, of course, followed his arrest on a yacht off the coast of Connecticut. He has never been burdened with the responsibility of having his name on a ballot. It is different from the cheap seats. But from his seat, is he calling some of the shots here as he doing some of the rabble rousing as the President's inability to concede goes on so long?

JEREMY PETERS, THE NEW YORK TIMES POLITICAL REPORTER: I don't know that any current or former advisor of President Trump is going to want to put his name on what we've seen over the last couple of days. I think that inside Trump world, Brian, that press conference we saw yesterday with Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, was widely considered to be an embarrassment. I was the fringes of the fringe. I think as one person said to me, if these people were shouting on a sidewalk, you wouldn't stop. You just keep walking right past them and not listen to a word that they were saying.

It was utter conspiracy theory to the point where you even had Tucker Carlson of Fox News, call out Sidney Powell and say, this is nonsense. We can't believe what you're saying. You've offered no proof. But the response to him shows just how much the Republican Party remains in Donald Trump's clutches because rather than being lauded for what he said, Tucker Carlson and any other Republican since who has dared to question or dared to show any independence from President Trump has been attacked and criticized.

And it really is a sign I think of how enduring his hold is on this Republican Party. And it tells you that when Republicans look at the results of this election, they don't see a president who is defeated, even though privately they will all acknowledge that, yes, he has been defeated, and he has no chance of winning what they see is not a repudiation of Trump or Trump ism, they see a very close election that failed to affirm the democratic view for what government should be. And I think that bodes for very, very long for years ahead.

WILLIAMS: Susan, friend of mine, not in politics said to me out of the blue middle of this past summer, his prediction that the month of November, December and January, would be the three most challenging months for democracy in the modern era. I think he's going to turn out to be right as an institutionalist, yourself, as a citizen, as a journalist, how much trepidation do you have regarding just the next 60 days?

PAGE: Well, you know, I think one thing we should note is that the system seems to be working, that the legal challenges that President Trump's campaign has brought that do not have evidence of any significant voter fraud, haven't gone anywhere in the courts. They haven't gotten traction. And of course, and we've also had, good news today, the Michigan lawmakers came out and said they were going to follow the law. We saw Georgia with a Republican governor certify its result with Biden as a winner in Georgia. So that's all good news.

I think the sobering news is that we've got 60 more days. And we have no signs at all that either the president or his Republican, other Republican officials are about to relent in any way. And there are some real OSS to their refusal to concede this election. One is the legitimacy of Joe Biden as the new president, sobering Monmouth University poll yesterday 77% of Trump voters that they thought Biden was being elected as a result of fraud. That's going to create a very difficult landscape for the new President when he does take over.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, that number was shocking, indeed.

Peter, the these latest cases of coronavirus in and around the President's orbit, you have long reported that it appeared to you that there were more people out, more people sick or quarantining at any given time than any of us were led to believe that the West Wing was a very barren place for the longest time and still may be does any of this threaten to humanize this coronavirus in the West Wing in this presidency that went from July until yesterday without a task force briefing in public?

BAKER: Well, there's many others that so far. Look, you know, not only the president son who is, which we were told today tested positive, present himself, his wife, his other son, Baron. This son, Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, the President's White House Chief of Staff, the presence National Security Advisor, vice president's Chief of Staff, the Vice President's Chief Spokesperson, all these people and more, have tested positive in some cases, gotten quite sick all these last few months and it has not convinced this White House or at least this president anyway, to express a sense of urgency at this particular moment.

Now we're in an incredible moment, as you just show Dr. Fauci talking about this. We've had 24,000, I just went looked up the numbers 24,000 deaths from coronavirus since Election Day, since Election Day, that's eight 9/11, imagine that and the President of United States has not been out there, out front talking about. He did come out to claim credit for the vaccine. The vaccine will be a great thing, assuming it works. But there's a lot of time between now and the time most Americans will get that vaccine and a lot of sickness and a lot of deaths that can happen between now and then without the leadership of the President of the United States helping us get through this crisis.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy, the dirty little secret of election night, as I keep saying is the Republicans had more or less except for the top of the ticket, a pretty spectacular outing all things considered. It's not at all beyond the realm of possibility to imagine a Speaker McCarthy in two or four years. Having said that, though, it could have been better had the president not kneecap to the U.S. Postal Service during a pandemic. I think you get the impression that there are some Republicans running out of patience for them is this, have we come down to the shooting a guy on Fifth Avenue equivalent moment? Because he's playing with house money now, this is going to affect what is left of that party? The none Trump sold out core of the party going forward.

PETERS: I think a republican right now, Brian, who has designs on a future position of leadership in the party is going to remain very, very reluctant to say anything that would contradict President Trump, anything that looked like it would be critical of President Trump because he remains the head of the party and he will remain the figurehead of the party when he is no longer president.

It's hard to imagine anybody who could captivate the imagination of the Republican voters the way that he is and really continues to, has for the last four years. So I think when I talked to these Republicans, it's -- it really is striking. On the one hand, they say they think that he is doing really foolish things. They will say in unguarded candid moments that they think he's doing reckless and even destructive things to American democracy. But what they won't say is when they think there will be a critical mass of them to stand up and say enough is enough, because they know that their political futures are for the foreseeable future, tied to this man, and that is not going to change.

WILLIAMS: And a lot of people are watching and taking attendance and taking notes. Susan Page, Peter Baker, Jeremy Peters, much obliged to having the three of you stick around this late on a Friday night after the week we've had to start us off. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, the White House is taking credit for speeding up a COVID vaccine. We'll talk about the pros and cons of fast-tracking shots in arms during a pandemic.

And later, no past president has ever tried to claim to office quite like this one ever. Harry Truman's grandson has written about presidential transitions. We get his take on this extraordinary situation just as the 11th Hour is getting underway on this Friday night.



GEN. GUSTAVE PERNA, OPERATION WARP SPEED CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER: For Pfizer to be filing for the EUA is just remarkable. We have about 40 million doses of vaccine give or take exactly when EUA comes out. And what we're going to do is we're going to execute fair and equitable distribution.


WILLIAMS: He's the logistics guy, Army General Gustave Perna heads up the military effort to ship and inoculate millions of Americans that vaccine. And FDA vaccine Advisory Committee begins reviewing Pfizer's emergency use authorization request December 10. But members of an independent vaccine working group including our next guest, Professor Arthur Caplan have concerns. They write, "An emergency use authorization would potentially open the floodgates to deploy an unapproved and unlicensed vaccine to millions or tens of millions of individuals before gathering the proof of safety and efficacy that licensing a new vaccine typically demands.

For more we are so pleased to welcome to the broadcast the aforementioned Arthur Caplan. He's a Professor of Bioethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. He has authored or edited dozens of books, including a recent one relevant to this conversation, Vaccination Ethics and Policy. We're also joined by Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician, Former Senior Aide during the Obama administration. She is now a Non-Resident Fellow at Brookings and is among our medical contributors.

Welcome to you both. Arthur talked first about your concerns about this emergency use authorization. Is it based on a fear that these have been rushed to market at all?

ARTHUR CAPLAN, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE PROFERSOR OF BIOETHICS: No, I'm not worried about rushing things, Brian, because I think the data has been outstanding. I've seen a little bit of it and the safety profile is good. And I'm pretty sure we'll get the approval for the emergency use.

What I'm worried about is if you do an emergency use as opposed to another path called expanded access, you basically don't get informed consent from the recipients, you just give it to them with a kind of the sheet that you get when you get a flu shot, you know, that little information sheet and you stop collecting data. There's a risk that people who are in the trials now we're going to say, hey, this thing looks good. Let's end the trout. And if I'm in the placebo group, if I haven't had the vaccine, I would like to get it.

So expanded access is more restrictive and who gets the vaccine in an emergency, keeps the trials going a bit longer to get more data, a little bit more long term data, emergency use, which looks to be the way we're going is kind of, it works, it's good, here we go, everybody, take it.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Patel, the head of Health and Human Services, Mr. Azar, interrupted his praise of Donald Trump long enough today to deal with the here and now and made some predictions about how much product is going to be shipped, when and to whom. We'll play a bit of that, talk about it on the other side.

We believe we will have between Pfizer and the other 95% effective vaccine Moderna, as many as 40 million vaccine doses by the end of December. That's enough for 20 million people. By the end of January, we think we'd have enough for all of our first responders and our Hurlock health care workers. By the second quarter, we would have enough cumulatively by them that the entire American population that would like vaccine could get vaccine, could get the vaccination.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Patel, I guess my question is, does that sound real to you and how much of this is going to be hampered? There being no transition between Trump and Biden?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, Brian, that's the exact question to ask because I think as Secretary Azar laid out, that would assume that there's some seamless continuity of government, which we know is not happening. I think Furthermore, again, vaccines don't save lives, vaccinations do, so we can have hundreds of millions of doses and if they don't get into people's arms. And so far, Brian, based on the kind of botched rollout of every aspect testing, a lack of contact tracing in this country, I certainly do not expect that any of this will be as seamless as possible.

Having said that, I think Dr. Kaplan is exactly right, that we need to be very careful in making sure the right populations receive this vaccine. And I do think that the Food and Drug Administration and the advisory groups from the CDC, and the FDA and outside people will have to do their part to make sure that possible.

WILLIAMS: Arthur, there's no elegant way to ask this, is our employers a backdoor way to get vaccine doubters to get the vaccine, it can be a condition of employment. Employment is a privilege and not a right. We do have a sizable population that is anti-vaccine than was before this. We have a sizable population, unwilling to wear a mask and a sizable population that believes this virus is a hoax. So this is where your job as an ethicist collides in the middle of a pandemic with a great national need to get as high a percentage of this in as many arms as possible.

CAPLAN: You know, Brian, there has been a lot of doubt, some different from the usual anti-vax sentiment. They're just people out there who hate vaccines and have forever but a lot of Americans said if Trump is rushing this vaccine through with political pressure is making things go at warp speed, I don't like that description. It's unfortunate makes people nervous that you're cutting corners. But with the shifted administration's I think science will come back to the fore. I think people will regain trust, that the FDA really does believe that these vaccines are sound effective and safe. And I do.

And I'm going to make another prediction. The first people to get this is not going to be people in the workplace, your employer won't be pushing you that may come later. It's going to be healthcare workers, high risk people. And if they get the vaccine, and they do well, and they don't die and they don't sick in and they don't have adverse events. All that distrust I predict is going to start to shift drastically. And we're going to see people say I want the vaccine.

You know, when people have anti-vaccine sentiment, it's because they think about diseases like measles, or mumps, they don't see them very much. You have 255,000 dead Americans today, it'll get worse, sadly, by the time these vaccines roll out to the general public of the beginning of next year, people look around and they're going to say, I don't want to die. I don't want to be gasping in a ventilator. These first responders took the vaccines and they worked and they seem safe. The issue isn't, am I going to be forced out predict the issue is going to be, how do I get it. Can I get first in line? We may even see black markets develop.

WILLIAMS: I can't thank the both of you enough for coming on our broadcast, Dr. Kavita Patel and Arthur Caplan, thank you so much for sharing part of your Friday night. These are valuable answers for us as we approach this mythical day.

Coming up, his grandfather laid out a blueprint of what an orderly transition of presidential power should look like, Harry Truman's grandson standing by to talk with us.



TRUMP: Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. And we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aide throughout this transition.


WILLIAMS: Only problem is that's not what he's doing now on the traditions of Presidential Succession. Our next guest writes, my grandfather Harry S. Truman initiated the protocols for the peaceful transfer of presidential power as we know them today. Grandpa wanted Ike to be able to hit the ground running without suffering a fate similar to his own. Because Franklin Roosevelt compartmentalized when he died on April 12 of 45, Grandpa ascended to the presidency, knowing virtually nothing about how the White House had been running things

For more we are indeed thrilled to welcome to the broadcast the grandson of our 33rd President Harry Truman, the aforementioned Clifton Truman Daniel has written the book on his grandfather "Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman" and portrayed him on stage and a production of the one man show. Give them hell, Harry. He's also the honorary chair of the Truman Library Institute, and I ask all our viewers if you ever get within 500 miles of the Truman Presidential Library, please make the trip. You'll be glad you did.

Thank you very much for coming on our friend, the historian, and undisputed king of black and white Twitter, Michael Beschloss, posted a photo of your grandfather. And today, despite a fierce campaign in which each had criticized the other, President Truman welcomes President Elect Eisenhower to the Oval Office yesterday 1952. Why was a peaceful cooperative training transition so important to your grandfather?

CLIFTON TRUMAN DANIEL, PRES. HARRY TRUMAN'S GRANDSON: The state of the world and then thank you for having me this evening, Brian, I appreciate it. And the state of the world is always. It's dangerous. Now it is dangerous. And many times we had to at that time, even though we were not the World War II was long over. But we were we were in Korea, we were still continuing the Korean War.

So there are things that a president has to be able to do, has to know, he has to have the intelligence briefings, he has to know how things work, so that he can continue with continuity to keep things going, to run the United States to keep policies going and keep things and be ready to meet the challenges. So grandpa knew that as I said, he was shocked, at Roosevelt's death and unprepared and he had to do a lot of catch up.

WILLIAMS: I am knocking on wood, as I say this, but we are so completely vulnerable right now, God forbid, 1000 times to any foreign actors, trying to pull something during these next 60 days, especially the President has just decapitated a lot of the civilian leadership at the Pentagon. That threat of side, what's your fear about the permanent damage that might be piling up to the institution of the presidency and these grand traditions, we pride ourselves in following.

DANIEL: I hope there is no permanent damage. But that is my fear that what is happening now is unprecedented. Even though my grandfather and President Elect Eisenhower were not getting along at the time, neither one of them would have would have even thought that this kind of thing could happen. It's unprecedented. It's undemocratic. It's un-American. And it does threaten -- our peaceful transfer of power is a dare I say it's sort of the envy of the world. There are countries that I've maybe even still today stand in awe of the fact that we do this every four years or every eight years, that we politely and collegially even after bitter campaigns, transfer the power from the sitting president to the president elect.

It's an amazing thing to have accomplished. And it's something that we that -- I am in fear of losing. But I'm again hopeful, hopeful that that the institutions which some of your earlier guests were saying that the institutions of this country seem to be holding up pretty well during all of this, and I hope that continues.

WILLIAMS: I greatly urge our viewers to read your book. Key West has been on my bucket list for years. I still haven't seen your grandfather's house down there, but I will, especially when there's a vaccine, Clifton Truman Daniel, what a great pleasure having you on. Thank you very much.

DANIEL: Thank you, Brian. I appreciate you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, if the president says it enough times, doesn't make it true with the possible exception of losing the powers of his office at 12 noon on January 20. We'll ask a professor who knows a little something about the power of words. That's what he teaches when we come back.



TRUMP: We're way up in Michigan, one state. I won Pennsylvania buy a lot like was in Georgia, I won buy a lot. A lot. The campaign which I won by the way.


WILLIAMS: In fact, we know that Trump did not win Michigan, Pennsylvania or Georgia. The President keeps saying he won the election. But as we know that doesn't make it true. To quote him, we'll see what happens in a very short period of time.

Back with us again tonight, easily our favorite linguist John McWhorter armed with a PhD in linguistics from Stanford. He is professor at Columbia University and a contributor at The Atlantic and once in a great while we can talk them into coming on with us to talk about our president.

John, repetition is his thing. Whether it's Russia, Russia, Russia, or Sleepy Joe or Spaceforce, his rally audiences say it with him. As a guy with no sense of stewardship over us or our country, no custodial interest in the American people. He's throwing out rigged election and election fraud as just another phrase. This one though, carries great weight because it causes us to doubt our democracy.

JOHN MCWHORTER, LINGUISTICS EXPERT: Funny thing about him is he has no sense of what we all of us out here think of is. He is a narcissist person, where over time he is learned that everything is about him. He has been given a pulpit from, you know, his father, and he has succeeded in a kind of Calloway. And we're watching is that Donald Trump can't imagine that he may have failed in an absolutely in a loving way.

And I am fascinated by this, because he really did fail. And we're going to watch him trying to deny it. We're going to watch him doing all these little machinations. But the truth is that he really can't make any kind of case that he is not lost this election. So we have to think about what is truth. And he wants us to examine the idea that maybe the dark web is hurt him in some way. Or something like that. But the conditions are such that that clearly isn't true.

And so that is what we're seeing is somebody limited intelligence and a certain narcissistic tendency thinking that he can get by. (INAUDIBLE) he said he can. And so that is what we're seeing. I find it almost novelistic. I can't wait to see people writing books about how Donald Trump feels where he is actually lost an election, and nothing else can be said. And he has to allow that he is not the magnificent person that he has thought that he was.

But we have to understand this. We can't think that he is being smart. We can't think that he is trying to do something in a way that we associate with Savonarola, or the (INAUDIBLE), or even you know, Giuliani when he was smart. This is a person who knows one thing. Do they love me? He can see they don't. And he wants to make sure they do. But they don't. And I'm fascinated. I'm really fascinated by where he will go from here.

WILLIAMS: It's been said that if guys like A-Rod get to the Hall of Fame, it's going to have to be with an asterisk because of the PE -- the performance enhancing drugs that whole era. It's been said by historian something close to this President has debased White House remarks and utterances so much, they'll have to have some sort of similar asterisk. Can we unlearn stuff like the easy lying and in a official statements from the president, can we unlearn some of the language we have had drilled into us because of said repetition for these past four years?

MCWHORTER: Yes. What Donald Trump has done to the office with the tweets, even the tweets, the President tweeting spontaneously, and often, clearly, like falling asleep with the (INAUDIBLE), that idea that that's normal, that will not continue to be normal, if only because of the contrast. It is it was. That is what he did for four years. And the Republicans will be always responsible for that.

But no, I don't think that that's going to become a norm. We have had for years, when, frankly, a narcissistic, in curious baboon has accidentally become the president. And the next President will be a normal president that will establish a precedent for the next four years. And, you know, things go on.

But no, we have witnessed a bizarre thing that happened because of a certain permutation of the Republican Party that began with George W who now looks like a statesman to us. And frankly, he is in comparison. And then that went on through the threat of Sarah Palin. But here we are now. And that was an interregnum. We're going to go back to real statesmanship. And Biden will be the first thing and then the next republican person who comes along, I suspect will have to be somebody who makes them God themselves.

WILLIAMS: I'm no linguist, but I know closing remarks when I hear them and that was john McWhorter sitting in front of a world class collection of CDs with a roaring fire nearby. Thank you, sir. Thanks for having us in. Thanks for lending us your always superior words. Coming up, in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic, hospitals need help. They need equipment. That's true, but it's people they need the most.


WILLIAMS: Donald Trump's own government in this case, the diminished and Trump defied Department of Health and Human Services now admits that over 1,000 hospitals in this country are officially critically short on staff.

We have a report on the shortage of people in the fight and the exhaustion among those who have never left the fight. All of this just as the overwhelming winter spike arrives here with that NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez.


GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a brutal reality and the war against COVID. One in five U.S. hospitals is facing a staffing shortage.

DR. MICHAEL PIETILA, SOUTH DAKOTA CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: We can turn areas that aren't hospital areas into hospital areas. But if we don't have the people to take care of the patients doesn't matter.

GUTIERREZ: Since the pandemic began. An army of traveling nurses is rushed in. First in New York City where they were cheered daily. Then to other hotspots.

LAUREN WILDENBORE, NURSE (ph): When I was in New York, people seemed a lot more supportive of health care workers.

GUTIERREZ: Right now traveling nurse Lauren Wildenbore (ph) is in South Texas in a COVID unit.

WILDENBORE (ph): A lot of people say that COVID is a hoax, that masks don't work that masks are politicized. It's frustrating, trying to correct people.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Throughout the country there are 40 to 50,000 traveling nurses taking on assignments but now during the pandemic, they're in demand like never before.

(voice-over): According to Trusted Health, a nursing job posting site, the nurses fees are now twice as much as pre-COVID levels. Right now there are thousands of open jobs.

DAN WEBERG, TRUSTED HEALTH CLINICAL INNOVATION HEAD: The supply of nurses is being tapped out. They're on assignment doing the heroic work that they've been doing for the now nine months. The front lines are seeing death daily.

GUTIERREZ: With North Dakota allowing infected but asymptomatic workers to treat COVID patients, 60 Air Force nurses are now headed to that state as backup.

TESS JOHNSON, NORTH DAKOTA NURSES ASSOCIATION: We're tired or physically and emotionally exhausted. We're pretty much at our breaking point.

GUTIERREZ: For this latest wave, the most dire shortage nationwide is not always beds, ventilators or protective gear. It's people. Gabe Gutierrez, NBC News, Des Moines, Iowa.


WILLIAMS: That's what it's like in the field. Coming up, a friend of the President has an idea of something we could all do. That would be a nice gesture toward the president. Perhaps just not the gesture. You had in mind, you'll want to hear it though when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go on this Friday night when the polio vaccine came out it was forever called the Salk vaccine by millions of Americans in a grateful nation after Dr. Jonas Salk. As we are all painfully aware, life in America will not feel anything close to normal until the coronavirus vaccine has been perfected and really distributed.

Should the coronavirus vaccine, the COVID vaccine be called anything when it gets here? Well, a name has been suggested here for that from Fox and Friends this morning. Geraldo Rivera, ladies and gentlemen.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT-AT-LARGE: I think I had an idea, you know, we're in with the world so divided and everybody, you know, telling him he's got to give up and time to leave and time to transition and all the rest of it. Why not name the vaccine to Trump that, you know, make it like, have you gotten your Trump yet? It'd be a nice gesture to him. And years from now, it would become just kind of a generic name. Have you got your Trump yet? Now I got my Trump, I'm fine. You know, I wish we could honor him in that way because he is definitely the prime architect of this Operation Warp Speed and but for him, we'd still be waiting, you know, into the grim winter for these amazing, miraculous medical breakthroughs.


WILLIAMS: You know, for my money, Geraldo raises a good point there. It's possible we just don't give the president enough credit for his FDR like devotion to tackling this virus, his laser like focus, his daily devotion, the sympathy he's forever expressing to the families of the quarter million dead. Even the way the president lectures us in that way to please wear a mask and stop the spread. And he's always advocated injections.

Geraldo may be onto something thing, what Trump's steaks did for the hungry, what Trump water did for the thirsty in our nation, what Trump University did to lift up the uneducated in our country? Well, along comes Trump. The vaccine. Possibilities I think you'll agree are endless.

That is our broadcast for this Friday night and for this week, thank you so much for being here with us as always, have a good weekend unless you have other plans. On behalf of all my colleagues here at the networks of NBC News, good night.


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