IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 23, 2020

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Michael Osterholm, Clifton Truman Daniel, John McWhorter


President-elect Joe Biden names several cabinet nominees. Biden picks may face tough confirmations. The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said that its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 90 percent effective in preventing the disease, a third breakthrough in the fight against a pandemic that has killed nearly 1.4 million people worldwide. GSA recognizes Biden as "apparent winner" allows transition to begin. Trump still insists he won 2020 election. Local and state officials plead with residents to stay put for Thanksgiving. Trump continues post-election misinformation campaign. More than 1,000 hospitals across the United States are "critically" short on staff. One in five U.S. hospitals faces dire staffing shortages.


JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER U.S. HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: Four years ago, Trump said that he was going to hire the best people. And that could have been a bigger lie. Joe Biden is actually hiring some of the best people. So it's good to see that.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Secretary Julian Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CASTRO: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Julian Castro gets tonight's LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again. Day 1,404 of the Trump administration, 58 days until Inauguration Day. It's been 16 days since the 2020 presidential race was called for Joe Biden.

And today might mark the first day of the rest of Donald Trump's life. That is because tonight Joe Biden officially became president-elect. And let's also be real clear here. It's over. The President has failed in his attempt to overturn an election result. Joe Biden will as plan take over as the 46th president at noon January 20 in keeping with the results of the election.

Another way of putting it is Trump's defeat became official when the woman who runs the General Services Administration, faced with a boss who will not concede just tonight grudgingly agreed to officially begin the transition to the Biden administration.

In a letter to Biden that avoids calling him President-elect Emily Murphy signed off on his transition, and noted she was under no political pressure writing, "Please know that I came to my decision independently based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official, including those who work at the White House or GSA, with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. I did not receive any direction to delay my determination."

Her decision came just hours after election officials in Michigan certified Joe Biden's victory, Trump posted his reaction to the news about the transition with a message that did not sound like a concession. "I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our country. Our case strongly continues and we will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail. Nevertheless, in the best interests of our country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done and have told my team to do the same."

Tonight the New York Times reports that this way, "Mr. Trump had been resisting any move toward a transition but in conversations in recent days that intensified Monday morning top aides including Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, Pat A. Cipollone, the White House Chief Counsel, and Jay Sekulow, the President's Personal lawyer told the president the transition needed to begin. He did not need to say the word, 'concede,' they told him. Trump continued to solicit opinions from associates including Rudy Giuliani, who told him there were still legal avenues to pursue."

This all comes after a string of losses for Trump and his effort to overturn the election results. Now, Trump's legal team is putting all their efforts in Pennsylvania, even as several counties have begun to certify the Biden victory. Earlier on this network one of Trumps campaign lawyers explain the strategy here.


JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Our legal strategies to make sure that every legal vote counts and is counted fairly and accurately. And we have time and again until December 14, at least where those electors for the Electoral College will vote. And so our strategy is to make sure that we continue to challenge all of these false and fraudulent results. The election was stolen and President Trump won by a landslide.


WILLIAMS: OK, so, so far, none of the election lawsuits has uncovered any fraud. Meanwhile, President-elect Biden stepped up his effort to build his administration. Today, he met virtually with a bipartisan group of mayors and also announced choices for key cabinet positions.

To begin with, he's nominated former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary. She served in the Obama administration. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to head up Treasury and our 231 year history.

Biden also put forward his national security team which included Obama administration veteran Tony Blinken for Secretary of State and former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate czar. These nominees will have to be confirmed by the Senate which like all of Biden's appointments may be a dicey business resulting in drama and close votes. Biden was asked about that earlier this afternoon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you expect Republicans to put up any significant roadblocks to your nominations?

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: Are you kidding me?


WILLIAMS: The New York Times notes Biden appointees will also have to deal with decisions being made by the Trump administration on their way out. "Mr. Trump's political appointees are going to extraordinary links to try to prevent Mr. Biden from rolling back the President's legacy. Some of Mr. Trump's advisors make no attempt to hide the fact that their actions are aimed at deliberately hamstringing Mr. Biden's policy options even before he begins. President Obama was optimistic about how Biden's team would handle the aftermath of a Trump White House.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There's been some damage done that is going to take some time to dig ourselves out of but there's no doubt that Joe's got the right people to do it. And I have every confidence they'll be able to do it. It just may not happen instantaneously.


WILLIAMS: So now with the transition stalemate at an end, the Biden team will have access to information they need to try to contain the out of control coronavirus outbreak as well as the plans for vaccine distribution. Let's not forget, today a third drugmaker AstraZeneca announced its -- announced it had positive results from late stage trials of a coronavirus vaccine. It's candidate developed by Oxford University is up to 90% effective. It's expected to be less expensive than other vaccines does not need to be stored at sub zero temperatures.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has lost nearly 260,000 souls, almost 12 and a half million have become infected that we know of. Despite the CDC warning about avoiding Thanksgiving travel, the TSA says over 3 million people were on the move this past weekend, the most for any weekend, since the pandemic began in earnest in March. Earlier today Dr. Fauci expressed his concerns about the eventual impact of all this holiday travel.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If in fact, you're in a situation, when you do the things that are increasing the risk, the travel, the congregate setting, not wearing masks, the chances are that you will see a surge superimposed upon a surge. What we're doing now is going to be reflected two, three weeks from now.


WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on a Monday night of Thanksgiving week, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, co-author of the Longtime Bestseller, A Very Stable Genius. Susan Page, Veteran Journalist, Best Selling Author, USA Today, Washington Bureau Chief. She was of course, Moderator of the V.P. debate this cycle. She is the biographer of Barbara Bush. Her next work will profile Speaker Pelosi. And Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at the CIA and Pentagon, former Chief Counsel to the House Intel Committee.

Well, good evening and welcome to you all. Mr. Rucker, I'm going to begin with you and your beats. You share a four way byline. I know tonight in the Washington Post with some real detail from behind the scenes. Trump was described as angry about the situation. He called political advisors Monday to say he had doubts about the GSA initiating the transition to inquire about whether he could block certification of the Michigan result and to express reluctance to travel to Georgia to campaign for the two Republican senators facing runoff elections, according to officials and advisors. What is going on behind the scenes Phil Rucker?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, what's happening, according to my colleagues, and I recording today is that the President has been very reluctant to agree to this procedural move, which is quite significant, which is the General Services Administration, allowing the Biden transition to take place, that is effectively a surrender on the part of the president after 16 days of delaying the transition and trying to subvert the vote.

He of course, is continuing his fight publicly. He believes he has some legal avenues ahead. But the reality here is that it's over and tonight brought some end to it. But the President took a while to get to that place psychologically. He had conversations over the last few days with the number of advisors who were telling him, look, the avenues are running short here. You need to let the transition begin. And then in the last 24 to 48 hours, we've seen this chorus of calls from some Republican senators who are influential from a number more than 100 national security veterans in this country who wrote a public letter today calling on the Trump administration to begin this transition. And importantly, from the CEO of Blackstone, Steve Schwartz, man who's perhaps President Trump's closest ally in the business community. He went public today with comments saying effectively, that Biden had won this election and the country needed to move on. All of this has wounded the president, but got into an emotional place where his advisors were able to convince him to go ahead with the beginning of this transition, so long as he doesn't concede.

And my colleague, Josh Dawsey, is reporting that there's actually an effort underway in the White House right now to get the president to deliver a formal speech to the nation. He would not concede in this speech, but he would use the moment to tout his accomplishments in office and to commit publicly on camera, from the lectern to a peaceful transfer of power. That's the conversation underway tonight.

WILLIAMS: Susan, I'm told at least one Fox anchor tonight used television to speak to an audience of one as one does, kind of letting the president know, it's over, urging the president to campaign for both candidates in Georgia.

And let's project a little bit that's not going to be the same for him as a losing candidate now he can say all he wants, it was rigged. It was fixed, we won this election. It's still not going to be the same for him. I'm wondering, what to you has been the cumulative effect of this rolling blunder and B.S. two plus weeks?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, one conclusion I think we can draw is that the system has worked that it has not been up to President Trump. Further, he won the election or not, it's been up to the election process. It's been up to judges in the states who have kicked out lawsuit that alleged fraud without showing fraud.

But this has been I think, at some cost we have not previously seen, in modern times an example of the loser refusing to recognize results for a couple of weeks for blocking the peaceful transfer of power with the transition process. And that leaves I think some Americans including a lot of Trump supporters, questioning the legitimacy of Joe Biden elected and that will be a big task for the President to elect, to have to address once he does take office.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, let's talk about the Biden selections thus far. I don't know if he even considered an oil company CEO as Secretary of State, but be that as it may the reaction to the names put out today, the names we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, but also Homeland Security, DNI, ambassador to the UN. These are career people. These are competent experts. And I think the reaction because of the competence was kind of gentle crickets across Washington. Am I wrong?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: No, you're right, Brian. This is a return to normalcy. I mean, after four years of chaos, after four years of alliance dissing and dictator coddling President-elect Biden has announced tonight as a set of national security professionals to take over. And these are individuals, all of whom have relevant experience, all of whom have served in government, all of whom are recognized experts. And they all are loyal to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their agenda. And when they speak, they will speak authoritatively for the President.

And the other thing that's I think, interesting is that all of these people know each other. They've worked together. And I know them personally. And they're unfailingly nice. They're not just diplomatic in a professional sense. They're actually good people who care about our country and care about principled us leadership. So Joe Biden selecting people like Tony Blinken and Avril Haines, and Jake Sullivan, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Ale Mayorkas. He's really got the A team. He's got basically the 86 Celtics on the floor. And they've got a lot of work to do to clean up the damage, but I think they're going to do it very well.

WILLIAMS: Might be a shock to the U.N. when a career diplomat actually takes her chair as our ambassador to that world body.

Hey, Phil Rucker, do we know anything more about the post presidency plans of this particular president?

RUCKER: Well, it's interesting, Brian, that President Trump the last several weeks has been wanting the world to think he's planning his second term, right? He keep saying he won this election, and he'll get it all sorted out in court. But in reality, our reporting shows that the President has been privately plotting his next act. He's been planning for how he could make a lot of money without doing very much work, which is I think, something all Americans would probably strive for. But he's thinking about maybe writing a book, he's thinking about a television gig of some kind. And most importantly, I think he's thinking about a rematch another run in 2024 and has told advisors that he may want to declare a new campaign as early as December before the end of this year because he wants to keep the political operation going. And no matter what he does, he has told his friends and allies that he's committed to trying to remain an omnipresent force in American life in the media in Republican politics, and effectively freeze out that field of 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls, which we all know includes Vice President Pence, but also Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo, people who've served this administration. It's going to be a bit of a rude awakening for them if they suddenly have to compete with their boss for the nomination.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Susan, let's try a viewers guide to the folks watching tonight trying to predict the future the early part of the Biden administration. And for the sake of this conversation, let's assume the Democrats don't take the majority in the Senate.

Days ago, Mitch McConnell just gaveled through a vote on a young woman, eight years out of law school, who is now a federal judge, a federal judge for life.

I reckon Biden, if he wanted to, wouldn't get that same chance to put up someone who the other side considers outlandish Biden's probably going to be limited to very moderate federal judicial nominations. He's probably going to be limited to only those cabinet secretaries he feels can safely pass. And won't that also be a limit on his governance?

PAGE: Well, he's going to take office at a time of just huge challenges. He's going to have a democratic controlled House with the narrowest majority of any speaker in two decades. He is, as you say, may well end up with a Republican controlled Senate. We'll see that after the special elections of Georgia. And there's a lot of talk that people have talked about the working relationship you may have with Mitch McConnell, the two of course, know each other well, from his days in the Senate, and from his days as vice president.

But if you look at Mitch McConnell's record, as Majority Leader, it is not an encouraging one for democratic White House taking over. He has not shown a willingness in the past during the Obama administration to be that kind of constructive bipartisan. Let's find common ground figure. He is instead been someone who is focused on winning the election the next time around, and that creates big problems for a president who will want to get the big things done.

WILLIAMS: I was reminded, Susan, just tonight that Mitch McConnell was the only Republican senator who attended Beau Biden's funeral. But to your point, he's also a real fighter and a transactional Senate Majority Leader.

Jeremy, Jim Mattis co-wrote a piece that I'm going to read you part of it. It says, "In practice, America first has meant America alone. In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate America first from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security."

Jeremy, this is not my area of expertise. I'm still looking to find mine. But I'm not trying to diminish the Mattis message either. It seems to me as an observer, that it's really not going to take much. We've already heard some politicians in Europe say things like America's back, that for all people's fears over the last four years that strained relationships and alliances that are appearing in ruins now, this could come back quickly?

BASH: Well, here's the reality, Brian, about international relations, which is that all the big challenges we face, whether it's COVID, or climate, or even curbing Iran or North Korea's nuclear ambitions, or checking China's rise, we can't do it alone. We have to work with allies and partners. And they are our force multiplier, so working multinationally, multilaterally with other countries who share our values, who share interests. That's the way we get things done on the world stage. And that's in stark contrast to what Donald Trump pursued, which is Neo isolationism, a form of nationalism and basically dissing our allies.

And so I think the team that Joe Biden has put on the field tonight and as announced, will lead our foreign policy for the coming years is a team that are committed internationalist. And they know in a clear eyed way how to protect America's national security interest, and we'll go it alone if we have to. We'll use military power if that's what's required but our first move is going to be diplomatic. It's going to be us all using all elements of American power, has to be working with our friends and our allies to get things done internationally.

WILLIAMS: I'm imagining NATO members have never paid this close attention to the American GSA, as they have in the past few days. To our friends Phil Rucker, Susan Page, Jeremy Bash, our thanks for starting us off on this Monday night of Thanksgiving week. We greatly appreciate it.

And coming up, now that the transition is formally underway, we'll ask one of the vice president, former vice president now President-elect Biden's coronavirus advisors. What the Biden team needs from Trump to hit the ground now.

And later, two political veterans rate Biden's cabinet picks thus far as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Monday night.



FAUCI: You have a highly efficacious vaccine and only a relatively small 40%, 50% of the people get vaccinated, you're not going to get the herd immunity you need. What we do need is we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated.


WILLIAMS: So a lot of work still to be done. As we mentioned AstraZeneca today joined Pfizer and Moderna becoming the third maker now of a highly effective vaccine candidate, their version said to be cheaper, easier to transport one of the -- that once the vaccines are FDA approved, the next challenge will be actually getting shots into arms across our country and around the world. Complicating matters, the Trump administration has so far not communicated distribution plans with the incoming Biden administration.

Back with us again tonight is Michael Osterholm, Professor and the Director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota. Also happens to be a newly named member The President-elect's COVID-19 advisory board.

Michael, I presume this helps that a 20 day wait to get your hands on everything is better than maybe a 40 day wait. And I'm not sure our audience understands you've been forbidden from calling your public health counterparts inside this sitting government, before we got actual notification that the transition is underway. So does this help?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, MEMBER OF BIDEN CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Thank you, Brian, it helps a lot. The transition team will immediately begin reaching out to those federal partners, whether they be at the FDA or the NIH, for the CDC, so that we can, in fact, begin planning, not just for what's happening now, but well, after January. So this is a very important development, and one that will really help us a lot with the vaccine delivery to the United States.

WILLIAMS: Is it a strange feeling that your sum total efforts are to hit the ground running January 20. And in some cases, you're inheriting wheels that aren't moving, you're inheriting at administration without as we have this conversation, a national plan?

OSTERHOLM: Well, you know, I think it's really important to remember we do have a number of really highly talented and skilled scientists within the federal government. I mean, Tony Fauci is a classic example. There are many outstanding individuals at the CDC and the FDA that have had many, many years of Career Service, and really outstanding science development and research.

And so the fact is that they will still be part of this team going forward. And I know that the Biden-Harris administration will use that scientific expertise immediately. In addition, as you know, the incoming administration is already starting to develop their own plants, whether it be around vaccination, testing, et cetera. So I think it will be a good handoff that will occur. And I'm excited about the fact that we now collectively, all of us can really work together with science as the basic of value that we're all using to judge what we do.

So I think the next several weeks will actually be very positive, in terms of what we can do to move this new administration forward, so that on January 20, it does hit the ground running.

WILLIAMS: We have a graphic showing the air traffic currently over the United States. Every icon is an aircraft with people on board, all those people leaving somewhere to go visit somewhere to then return home, is it now predicted in your line of work, because of all these people getting together despite all the government warnings, that we're going to see a bump in hospitalizations, and the death toll just in time for Christmas?

OSTERHOLM: You know, Brian, this is one of the really sad commentaries about where we're at right now, is helping Americans understand the seriousness of this situation. Tonight, as we said here, we have over 88,000 Americans and hospitals around the country with COVID-19 infection, many of them critically ill. Our hospitals are breaking at the seams right now.

And so it's really important that people understand, no one is asking them to sacrifice or to reduce their contact with others, just for the sake of it. This is really about human life. It's about maintaining our healthcare systems. So yeah, this is a real challenge for us.

And as you've seen, and as you know, having been on the show a number of times with you, you've seen what's happened since Labor Day. We've gone from 26,000 cases a day reported to now we're averaging over 170,000 cases. And before long will be well over 200,000 cases a day. That is going to break our healthcare system.

So please America understand, you know, we just got to stop swapping air and the way we do that is we don't do all this large-crowd related activity that travel is going to be a problem. And I don't want to see where we're going to be in four or five weeks. That is scares me a great deal.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Michael Osterholm our thanks as always for joining us tonight. Greatly appreciate it. Good luck with your work upcoming.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: And coming up for us where political developments are concerned. How big was today?



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 (ph), NURSE: 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.


Content and programming copyright 2020 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.