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

Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 24, 2020

Guest: Rob Davidson


President-elect Joe Biden introduces foreign policy and national security team. President Donald Trump briefly emerged to tout the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaking 30000 for the first time ever, and then vanished after a minute without taking questions. Trump issues final turkey pardon. Trump prepared for Thanksgiving with a pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden. Trump reportedly plans to pardon Michael Flynn. Preparing for life after Donald Trump, Republicans grapple with his outsize influence on their voters. With cooler weather and holidays approaching, hospitals are bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases that could exhaust medical staff and resources. CDC director says household gatherings are driving pandemic. Travelers ignore warnings as COVID cases surge.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 1,405 of the Trump administration, 57 days to go until the Inauguration. It's been 17 days since the election was called for Joe Biden.

And there is breaking though not entirely unexpected news as we come on the air tonight from Axios first to report that Donald Trump has told confidence he intends to pardon his first National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as one does. He pleaded guilty twice, to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition in late 2016.

Now in news regarding the next president, the transition has now started in earnest Biden may receive his first presidential daily brief as early as tomorrow, more on that in a bit.

Also, the Biden-Harris team now has made contact with all federal agencies. In an exclusive interview with Lester Holt today, Biden described some of what is now taking place.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Immediately, we've got outreach from the NASA security shop. Already we're working on meeting with the COVID team in the White House. I think we're going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past. And there's a lot of immediate discussion. And I must say, the outreach has been sincere.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Have you had any conversations with President Trump post election about, you know, paving the way for this transition to happen?

BIDEN: No, I have not heard anything from President Trump.


WILLIAMS: Now, earlier today, the President-elect formally introduced his nominees for those key national security jobs in his cabinet and White House staff.

The contrast with the current administration was clear and did not need to be spelled out. Biden hoping that comparatively the integrity and intellect and expertise on that stage and Wilmington speaks for itself. Biden himself making a point of noting he does not want a team that just says, yes.


BIDEN: That's a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. They'll tell me what I need to know not what I want to know. What I need to know.


WILLIAMS: The nominees not only echoed Biden sentiments, there were strong signals, there'd be no hesitation in speaking the truth.


AVRIL HAINES, BIDEN NOMINEE FOR DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power. And I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise. And that you value the perspective of the intelligence community, and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult.

TONY BLINKEN, BIDEN NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE: We can't solve all the world's problems alone. We need to be working with other countries. We need their cooperation. We need their partnership.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, BIDEN NOMIEE FOR SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The Department of Homeland Security has a noble mission, to help keep us safe, and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD. BIDEN NOMINEE FOR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.

JAKE SULLIVAN, BIDEN NOMINEE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: But you've tasked us with helping unite America to pull people together to tackle big challenges.

JOHN KERRY, BIDEN DESIGNATE FOR SPECIAL CLIMATE ENVOY: In addressing the climate crisis, President-elect Joe Biden is determined to seize the future now and leave a healing planet to future generations.


WILLIAMS: Now most of those people on the stage today will require Senate confirmation today. One Republican senator was asked about what he's seen thus far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you make of Biden's Cabinet picks? Do you think that you'll have a hard time confirming them?

SEN. SASSE (R-NE) ON BIDEN NOMINEES: I'm glad he's resisting the far left on most of the picks to date.


WILLIAMS: Biden says he'll be giving a Thanksgiving address of sorts to the nation tomorrow. Today two more states certified him as the winner of the election even as the Trump campaign continues to make noises about legal challenges. We're also learning more about how Trump came to his decision to allow the transition and move forward.

NBC News reporting allies told Trump, "he needed to shift course to protect his brand." They also suggested he and his resistance to "quell the protests" within his own party. We did get an unexpected glimpse of the lame duck president today as the Dow worked its way to a record close above 30,000, which remember a whole lot of analysts attribute to the Biden transition news and Biden's naming of Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary.

Nonetheless, in an oddly brief appearance in the briefing room, the president tried to fit in a victory lap.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The stock markets just broken 30,000 never been broken that number. That's a sacred number 30,000 nobody thought they'd ever see it. And it's the 48th time that we've broken records in -- during the Trump administration. And I just want to congratulate all the people within the administration that work so hard. And most importantly, I want to congratulate the people of our country, because there are no people like you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.



WILLIAMS: Hasn't taken questions in three weeks, mind you. Hours later, he was back in front of cameras for the annual pre-Thanksgiving turkey pardon, which when you think about it is one of the few presidential customs he has maintained. It was simply too tempting for several headline writers in our trade. This was a lay-up shot really lame duck pardons turkey.

In pardoning, a giant bird Trump chose to mention the China virus as he called it, appeared to take a swing at General Jim Mattis, who suggested Joe Biden abandon the Trump era America first approach to foreign policy.


TRUMP: America first, shouldn't go away from that, America first.


WILLIAMS: Biden has indicated containing the coronavirus surge and distributing the vaccine will likely need to be his immediate focus in office.

Today, our death toll rose over 260,000. Coming up on 13 million people infected that we know of one new forecast out of Washington University in St. Louis predicts there may be 20 million cases by the end of January right around the Inauguration.

Today was another record for hospitalizations in this country north of 88,000 now. As the virus continues to spread unchecked the current administration today said the first vaccines will be available as soon as the FDA approves emergency use maybe early next month.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: If all goes well, we could be distributing vaccine soon after December 10.


WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Thanksgiving Week Tuesday Night, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter with The Washington Post, Host of Washington Week on PBS, Alexi McCammond, Political Reporter over at Axios and Stamp Sam Stein, Journalist, Politics Editor for The Daily Beast.

Well, good evening, and welcome to you all. Robert Costa, what's with the big name Republicans who are not yet willing to call Joe Biden President-elect? We'll start there and then work our way into tonight's news.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: President Trump once told Bob Woodward and I that real power is fear and he has instilled fear in the Republican Party. They're in a preservation mode right now to hold on to their seats that are afraid of their own voters in many respects. They see a possibility for gains in 2022. But they have to get through primaries first. And they look at President Trump trying to hold control of the Republican National Committee keep his allies installed throughout the Republican Party. And they may wish him to go away in some corners privately. But he's here to stay.

WILLIAMS: And now Alexi to the story Axios broke tonight the possible Flynn pardon, I am guessing the reporting further goes on to say that the Trump crowd sees only upside here.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, just, you know, shout out to Jonathan Swan time and again, right? But this is exactly what we've expected from President Trump, especially during this lame duck session is to settle personal scores by either firing people or pardoning folks close to him. And they do see this as a political upset, in part because a pardon of Flynn would mean that they're kind of taking this out of the hands of the courts, and out of what will soon be a Biden controlled view, so to speak, Department of Justice, which could handle someone like Michael Flynn, differently than the Department of Justice has so far under President Trump.

We also know that Sidney Powell, who's become an interesting character, and these last few weeks alone working with the Trump campaigns legal efforts to overturn the results of the election. When she started working with Michael Flynn last year, let's not forget, that's when his tune changed. That's when the story changed from him pleading guilty twice to lying to the FBI to then saying that he was being entrapped by the FBI.

And so we've also heard President Trump say that Flynn has been treated unfairly. He's been the target of Obama officials. So we've seen how President Trump has been talking about Michael Flynn and a move to pardon him. Well, of course, it hasn't happened just yet. And nothing is final until the president actually does it. A move like this is something we've come to expect from the president.

WILLIAMS: And Sam, every reason to believe the list will include Bannon and Manafort at this point and the question to you is, how much of this is shiny object and how much of this is, as Trump sees it, as this whole transition has played out, pay back to the Democrats, his enemies, real and perceived the fact that his presidency has operated under a cloud of legitimacy from the start?

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR: Well, I think that's a big component of it. For the past four years, he felt -- he's felt, Trump has felt that he was unfairly targeted, that people tried to delegitimize his presidency. A lot of those feelings that he's had have bled into his current predicament and his refusal to concede in this election. So I do think some of this is retribution as you as you talked about everything. Some of this is just Trump using the tools at his disposal. You know, this is he's used the part in power already to help political allies. He has shown no, you know, willingness to hold back on that. So, before he leaves office want to do it again.

I will say, you know, the impact of this is, you know, it's not just the pardons that are being granted, but it's how we perceive the pardoning power of the presidency, which has been used quite controversially before. If you were to use in this manner, it would potentially prompt some challenges legally, about how far and what kind of purview the President's party power actually does have. So we can expect that to be challenged post Trump's presidency as well.

WILLIAMS: And Robert Costa, that's an interesting point. Because institutionally, these pardons would also reverse, so much work, heavy lifting years of creating files on these individuals, all of that, of course, institutionally at the federal justice department level.

COSTA: And that's true at the federal level. And one thing that's really a point of discussion inside of the President's inner circle is whether he's going to pardon himself or attempt to do so in some way.


COSTA: And what does he try to escape federal scrutiny but there's still ongoing investigations in New York, Letitia James, state attorney general and Manhattan district attorney, and so as much as the President may try to protect him and his allies in the coming weeks, there are ongoing investigations into his finances in the state of New York.

WILLIAMS: And to Alexi, to years superb interview on Axios, on HBO that aired last night with Congressman Cardenas who runs the DCCC. That is not a title to be envied these days. It's the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. For your reporting, the Democrats are just now coming to grips with how bad election night was, how thin their majority is in the house. I'll play this exchange, which is self explanatory about how Democrats can perhaps better speak to Hispanic voters.


MCCAMMOND: What do you understand about the Latin x community that the Democratic Party doesn't get right now?

REP. TONY CARDENAS, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, I understand the cultural competency is important. For example, I grew up in a household for two languages are spoken. We did a better message in Spanish and English to a community that communicates in two languages. We are going to get them to nod their head and say, I like this Democrat.

MCCAMMOND: I don't understand how it's 2020 and we're still having this conversation.

CARDENAS: It's frustrating to me and I would like to see the DCCC change overnight, literally, to make sure that we have culturally competent, diverse staff, diverse vendors, diverse campaign consultants, diverse candidates all across the board and let them know this is your house, (foreign language).


WILLIAMS: So Alexi, if indeed he does get this job, a thankless job vacated by Congresswoman Bustos, he, I note, worked into the conversation. He's an engineer by trade. He'll be the guy that has to engineer preventing a Speaker McCarthy in two years.

MCCAMMOND: Yeah, well, and especially in a midterm election, which historically Democrats are poised to get shellacked because it's the first midterm election during what will be President Biden's first term. So it's a really tall order. But what's interesting, Brian, as we think about the Democratic Party kind of being in the wilderness right now different factions of their party, publicly and privately speaking out against each other, blaming one another for the House losses that they weren't really expecting in this cycle. Obviously the Senate, they did not do as well as they had hoped, even though they captured the White House.

And so we're seeing this kind of fractured party, although they have a new leader in Joe Biden, and someone like Congressman Tony Cardenas is an interesting choice for folks to be throwing their support behind, though of course, he's not running unopposed. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is also running against him. But, you know, Cardenas is a Latino man in a moment when Democrats are recognizing that they, as he says, need to be more culturally competent with Hispanic voters with the Latin x community, looking at the fact that Donald Trump not only increased his nationwide support with Latino voters from 28% in 2016, to 32%, this time around, but in key states like Florida and Texas and elsewhere, and they know that they can't keep having this same conversation about we need to talk in English and Spanish. Like I said to Cardenas, it's 2020. How do we keep having this conversation?

And so they're really kind of looking inward and looking to different types of leaders who could step up in this moment and be able to help lead them through with these specific types of voters in a way that their current leaders haven't really been able to help them with?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't mean to prematurely award him the thankless job, there's still an election and a process that has to take place. And, Robert, this brings us to the struggle between the democratic left on the democratic center, there were already criticisms of the selection of all people, a former Secretary of State John Kerry, to run opposition and be the environment czar by folks on the left who thought it should be a young progressive. Biden clearly looked at Kerry and thought this needs to be fought on the global stage reengage in Paris and that needs a guy with heft and experience.

COSTA: Personnel is policy to a point what you're seeing with these Biden nominations isn't a move toward internationalism, establishment vote a few days, at the same time what John Kerry wants in this climate positions, what many on the left want. They do want engagements with international institutions, collective action, on climate change. What we're going to have to watch is beyond executive orders, can President Biden next year work to get some of the initiatives that the green side of the party wants, the more liberal side wants into a stimulus bill could be a two or $3 trillion stimulus early next year, can he work with them to enact change, not just on a surface executive order level, but really with money, money allocated towards the kind of priorities that people like Representative Ocasio-Cortez one.

WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, this question may sound cynical, how's the Trump fundraising effort to overturn the election going right about now?

STEIN: It's not cynical at all, Brian. So there -- it's interesting, key donors in Trump orbit have basically soured on this entire effort. They look at is comical, or they watched the press conference from Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell. And, you know, scratch their eyes. They thought there was no basis for and they're turning away from the president. But that hasn't hampered the President's efforts here, in part because they're having an incredible robust grassroots stoning, donation, incoming to the campaign.

I talked to a source tonight who said in the days after Election Day, when they were fundraising for the recaps, they were getting $10 million a day just online. That's an absurd number for a post election scenario when you assume your donors have tapped out. But the grassroots loves this. They want to support it. This shows to some degree that this is Trump's party. This is Trump's movement. It's going to be interesting to see what happens if you ever exit the stage. But that there is intense grassroots support for what he's doing, which is in turn allowing him to not only retire campaign that but keep this mission going forward.

WILLIAMS: Three journalists seemingly never tapped out, our thanks to Robert Costa, Alexi McCammond, Sam Stein, greatly appreciate the three of you starting us off this Tuesday night.

Coming up for us, the transfer of power is now officially underway, a closer look at the stark contrast between the outgoing and incoming administration.

And later, nearly 100,000 Americans are spending this Thanksgiving week in a hospital room. We'll check back with an E.R. doc struggling to make sure his patients will be around, and with us for Christmas. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this Thanksgiving Week, Tuesday night.



BIDEN: It's a slow start. But it started and there's too much left to go. So I'm feeling good about the ability to be able to get up to speed and I fully expect based on what I've heard so far. We'll get full cooperation each the agencies in question.


WILLIAMS: The Biden transition team finally getting the resources they need to take office on January 20, 12 noon after a week's delay his team is now coordinating with the outgoing administration. And we learned Intel briefings will start as soon as tomorrow.

Here with us again tonight, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post. And A.B. Stoddard veteran of political journalism, currently associate editor and columnist over at Real Clear Politics. Good evening, and welcome to you both. A.B. I have a bit more of Joe Biden to play for you tonight, then we'll discuss.


BIDEN: This is not a third Obama term because there's -- we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama Biden administration. The President has changed the landscape. It's become America first, it's been America alone.

WILLIAMS: A.B., are people conflating of the appearance on that stage of integrity and expertise with the appearance of a third Obama term?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Well, I think it's interesting because Joe Biden ran often, you know, harkening back to the Obama-Biden presidency, and he's having a lot of people filled top posts, who worked in the Obama administration. I think it's easy for people to say, look, you know, that's just what he's doing. And it's a third Obama term. I don't see it that way as the former Vice President, the President-elect described.

This is just layer upon layer of crises that while President Obama entered into a deep recession, near depression, the Joe Biden is going to have to navigate a once in a century pandemic with a very battered economy that could likely deteriorate in very scary ways this winter, while he's dealing with our retreat in the world, what he was talking about the policies of America First, and what it has done to our alliances and to our adversaries.

And so this is just a really different set of circumstances. The one thing I noticed and his rollout is that is similar is sort of the leadership style that President Obama used, which is that people are -- that there's no drama, and that people are going to stick together as a team. Though in Joe Biden's case, it's much more -- it's much more profound. These are literally a team of trusted friends and allies and coworkers. This is not a team of rivals. It is not a team of controversial people. It is a team of competent and qualified people who are so steeped in this policy, and in the consequences of the last four years and the crises that we're in, so prepared to work together. They are not celebrities. They're not looking out for number one. They will not be kneecapping each other. They will not be leaking to the press. And that Joe Biden is not going to be a big part of their day, the way President Trump had to be the center of everyone's universe, in the Trump administration.

So from style to substance to the actual threats facing this new team, I do think that it is it's very different from the last four years and the years before that.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I said this last night, I don't even know if Biden considered an oil company CEO for Secretary of State, but if not, that's his loss. Hey, Eugene, it can you assure us that there will be a time in the foreseeable future, when we will walk around and live our lives and go days without thinking about who the President is?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Boy, I think I'm going to get there. I hope everybody else does. I mean, what we're going to see over the next two months, is a split screen just like you had me and A.B. abundant split screen. And we're going to have Donald Trump saying and doing crazy things over here and Joe Biden, you know, preparing to take the reins of power and doing reasonable and statesman like, then go over there.

And the Biden, half of that screen is going to get gradually bigger and the Trump half of that screen, it's going to get gradually smaller as we approach Inauguration Day, because that's the way it works. That's the way it is. And we're going to be more focused on the new administration.

And when Donald Trump is no longer president, he still make a lot of noise, he'll still have a big following of the true believers. But what he says just won't matter as much. It can't possibly matter as much as it matters now because he's the most powerful man in the world right now. And he won't be at 12:01 p.m. on January 20. And that will make a big difference.

WILLIAMS: A.B. I got something else for you. Here is Tucker Carlson from Fox News tonight.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What is emerging so far as tonight looks a lot like the H.R. department at a large leftwing multinational, heaps of woke authoritarian social policy, mixed with a corporatist economic agenda, so the rest of us will get stern lectures about our moral failings, those never end. Well, a small group of highly connected people will get even richer.


WILLIAMS: So A.B., is that Fox News going to the mattresses? Is that how the resistance is going to sound for four years?

STODDARD: Well, it's very -- it was very similar the criticism across the board today, if you look at the tweets from Senator Josh Holley, and Senator Marco Rubio, in addition to what Tucker was criticizing there. It's all sort of a piece which is that these are career elite is too well educated, who are just been in the government too long, too friendly to corporations, because now the Republican Party, of course, is not friendly to big corporations. And it's going to be very interesting to see as they navigate the Georgia runoffs with the business leaders now threatening to not play ball in that runoff election.

Should the transition not go smoothly and the president not move on where the Republican Party is going to land once President Biden is actually an office with a very slim majority in the House, likely not a Senate Majority and even if he has a 50/50 Senate, no power to push progressive legislation. So the threats that they're trying to frighten people with now about what is going to happen is not really likely to arrive. Those are the things that of course, you know, the progressive left was hoping a blue wave would produce but they're going to be as disappointed as Senator Holly or people on the right and conservative media who are looking down at these picks and promising that it's going to lead us to ruin.

WILLIAMS: Yes, leave it to Senator Holly, he of Stanford and Yale Law School to call out that elitism where he sees it. Both of these nice guests have agreed to stay with us over the break.

Coming up, how the Republican Party may try to move forward in this post-Trump environment brings the question will there be a post-Trump environment to Gene's point more when we come back.



TRUMP: Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn't coming to Erie. I mean I have to be honest there's no way I was coming. I didn't have to. I would have called you today Erie, you know, if you have a chance get out but we had this thing one. We were so far up we had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything. And then we got hit with the plague. And I had to go back to work. Hello, Erie.


WILLIAMS: And unbelievable moment late October in the waning days of the campaign. Still with us are Eugene Robinson and A.B. Stoddard.

Eugene, two points, number one there is polling out today, I am not going to show it on the screen that shows that man the favorite for 2024, which is also why people hate us. But number two, my second and final point is, if he's talking that way about Erie P.A., in this cycle, how is Donald Trump four years older going to take to the rallies in the Erie PA of the world in another four years?

ROBINSON: My honest opinion is that he's not. You know, I think he is -- four years is how long in Trump years, right? That's like 25 years or 50 years and Trump years. And so many, many things will happen in, you know, around this guy in the next four years.

But it is really hard for me to imagine him actually running. It's easy for me to imagine him trying to dominate the conversation, dominate the Republican Party to hamstring the other presidential hopefuls Republicans who want to run in 2024.

And the interesting dynamic will be how those people like Tom Cotton and then Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence and Marco Rubio, how do they deal with the, you know, 800, literal 800-pound gorilla called Trump, who has, you know, who has control of their party and they're going to have to fight back against that. At some point it's going to be fascinating.

WILLIAMS: And AB let me name another prominent Republican by way of putting this tweet on the screen, which we saw and chose to highlight tonight. It reads has Portman called Biden President Elect yet. This brings us to a man invited on this broadcast for life. Rob Portman, classic Bush era Republican, senator from Ohio.

Now about him calling Biden President Elect, all I know is they told Ray Liotta in Goodfellas that when you're in the Witness Protection Program, you can't communicate with the outside world. So let's give Portman the benefit of the doubt.

But seriously, AB, at some point, he's probably going to need to ask the voters of Ohio to reelect him. He took a dive for Donald Trump, his pedigree, not withstanding, politically, what is he going to say? Although I never I never really liked the guy.

STODDARD: This is what is so incredible is what Gene was talking about. Can the Republican Party post-Trump reset or reboot or reframe can they if they go along with the fact that the election was both stolen with conspiracy fraud on a national level.

If they have to carry this bag for President Trump and they do not tell their voters in December or January or February or some other month and 2021 this was all a complete con and a complete fraud on them for the President to raise money and soothe his hurt feelings, then they have to -- if they don't tell the truth, they have to go along with the fact that this was stolen. And they really can't move on from President Trump. Whether you're Rob Portman running for senate again in 2022, or you're Cotton, Holly Cruz, Rick Scott, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, and you're trying to run in 2020 for the presidential nominating level.

So this is really beyond a big foot, this -- that the idea of whether or not you've called for the transition, or you've congratulated President-Elect Biden really has nothing to do with and does not exonerate you from the burden of coming out and saying, the President has trashed the greatest democracy in the history of the world by pretending, by lying about conspiracy fraud, that boat stole the election and none of this is true.

So whether it's a primary challenge, whether it's the general election in a Senate race in Ohio, everyone has to either tell the truth, or continue with the fraud and it's going to be a tough choice.

WILLIAMS: Brilliant stuff could not have asked for two better guests on this night of all nights on this topic, AB Stoddard, Eugene Robinson, two veterans friends of this broadcast, thank you both so very much. Happy Thanksgiving to you both and your families.

Coming up, the COVID vaccine could be rolling out in weeks we're told. We've got an ER doctor standing by with a stern reminder. It will not save us from ourselves in time for Thanksgiving.



DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: When you see docs and nurses, folks in healthcare on Twitter that seemed like we're complaining is nothing to do with being busy that is not the point. The point is we have people waiting hours, we have ambulances driving all over West Michigan taking people to different hospitals because everywhere is full.


WILLIAMS: His exhausted posts like that one on social media are how we first got to know Dr. Rob Davidson, descriptions that the tail the dark and grim and really grinding reality on the ground in hospital carter's as hospitals overflow now with virus patients.

Back with us tonight indeed is Dr. Rob Davidson. He's at ER doc in Western Michigan, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. Dr. Davidson, thank you very much for joining us.

You're in Western Michigan for our folks who don't know. So that makes you read on two maps the political map, yes. But now the COVID map of bright red through your region and to the west and on up through the plains. And the Rockies, give us the situation where you are as of tonight.

DAVIDSON: Well, it's exactly like I said in the video and the folks I want to highlight our paramedics are EMS providers, they're the true heroes keeping the entire system going right now. Because every shift when I go in, or when I leave our hospitals for the next hospital over is full, the big hospitals in our region that normally will take our overflow on busy weekends they're all full.

And so we are sending paramedics around Western Michigan, hour and a half in the back of a tin can essentially with COVID patients, bringing them to other hospitals that have a bed or two until we fill them up. And that's just the reality. Now it's been that way for two weeks. It'll be that way into the foreseeable future if people don't change their behaviors.

WILLIAMS: And did I read correctly that health care workers in your part of the world have been told, even if they've had a close contact with a case they know to be positive, they're still needed as long as they're asymptomatic?

DAVIDSON: Yes, that's that is true. And it's been true. And honestly, the number of close contacts that we all have on a regular basis, it would be impossible to staff, hospitals and ambulances if the criteria was anytime you're in contact, you go home. So that's true.

WILLIAMS: Now, that brings us to Thanksgiving, and I want to play this from Dr. Redfield, head of the CDC. We'll discuss it on the other side of his comments.


ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: The real driver now of this epidemic nails, not the public square, it really is driven by the silent epidemic, the asymptomatic infections largely in individuals between the ages of say 12 and 35, who would ever think rural North Dakota would be in the red zone? It's all in the red zone. It's really being driven by household.


WILLIAMS: So doctor, that brings us to Thanksgiving. And this sounds just gruesome to discuss. But is it axiomatic and assumed in your line of work and in your region that because of human behavior in Thanksgiving week, we're going to be looking at a bump in hospitalization, certainly, and maybe even death toll right around Christmas.

DAVIDSON: I think it's almost an absolute. Our system is modeling for twice the number of inpatients we currently have across the region. As a best case scenario, about three or four weeks from now, worst case scenario could be two times that. And so we're begging people to please do their Thanksgiving virtually stay within your community. We're begging people to wear masks. I had a Republican state representative step out today and announced the support of a mask mandate supporting our governor, supporting doctors and nurses and health care providers. Those are the kind of people we need to step up and to just all get together without politicizing these issues, and do it for each other because the vaccines great, it's coming. But we need to do the work together now.

WILLIAMS: If your caseload increases by that factor, aren't you going to be into like Pentagon field hospital territory?

DAVIDSON: Well, we have surge plans, you know, first we'll be filling up the ER or at least half the ER with within patients in all of the hospitals in the region. But there are contingency plans for field hospitals for other clinical spaces that we can convert into hospital beds. Again, we can have all the beds in the world if we don't have the staff to staff them that's when the patients will suffer. So that's the concern.

WILLIAMS: Here, here I hope you're allowed a couple minutes off to have some semblance of thanksgiving with safely with those you love. I join our viewers and thanking you for the work you do. We will continue to follow you and your story and that region on social media. Dr. Rob Davidson has been our guest tonight.

So that is the perspective from the front lines and coming up how Americans are responding to this still uncontrolled still exploding health crisis during this heavy travel of all things holiday week.



ADM. BRETT GIRIOR, MD, ASSITANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: A test that's negative today doesn't mean you're going to be negative tomorrow or the next day or the following day. I'm a Cajun, we'd have 10 people in the kitchen cooking for 12 hours. You got to stop doing those kinds of behaviors have smarter choices whether your test is negative or not. That negative test is not a free pass.


WILLIAMS: There is a simple truth here that needs to be said it's not meant as a scold or to be preachy. But this is the truth what we choose to do. Over this Thanksgiving break could decide the future course of the virus in this country.

In this next report, you're going to see three types of lines of people in three different places. And this is happening all over the country. People are lining up in airports, at food banks, and that testing locations all in the same week. And that pretty much sums up this Thanksgiving of 2020 the story tonight from NBC News correspondent Miguel Almaguer.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight is COVID cases surge across the nation. So does the number of Americans traveling since the start of the pandemic, despite the CDC warning for families to stay home.

These are the scenes at airports from coast to coast.


ALMAGUER: Some of the busiest are in the same states where the virus is exploding.

CARLA DURHAM, TRAVELER: I'm in a medical field. So I needed a little break. Just trying to mind my P's and Q's.

ALMAGUER (on camera): With over 50 million expected to travel for the holiday when you land here at LAX out of state travelers must fill out a COVID awareness for California wants them to quarantine for 14 day.

(voice-over): Though many hard heat states are implementing restrictions on private gatherings enforcement is nearly impossible.

SCOTT STUART, OREGON RESIDENT: Or we're having a family Thanksgiving having all of our family over. And we would welcome anybody that wants to join us including any kind of state agent that wants to come in.

ALMAGUER: While many are worried about catching the virus a growing number are more concerned about their next meal at food banks around the nation. Americans like Connie Alfonso need a helping hand.

CONNIE ALFONSO, RESIDENT: Very grateful I don't even have a car. My car broke two weeks ago. And I asked my dad to please, you know, bring me.

ALMAGUER: Tonight Americans are lining up at food banks, testing sites and airports amid a pandemic that rages on. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.


WILLIAMS: Coming up during the election, the President made a prediction over and over again to rally audiences something he was sure would happen right now if Biden won. Well, Biden won and we are back in a moment with a necessary fact check.


WILLIAMS: Late word into us tonight that there are tentative plans for a trip tomorrow for Trump and Rudy to fly to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to join a Republican event designed to discuss the election results in Pennsylvania.

Again, not on the President's official schedule, but it is being considered for tomorrow this trip by the President and his personal lawyer something to watch. We'll keep an eye on it as well.

Now, last thing before we go tonight, as we reported earlier, the president walked into the Briefing Room today, a statement so hastily planned reporters weren't all yet in their seats. Some missed it entirely. Although it's also true. If you blinked you missed it.

The president who hasn't taken a reporter's question in 21 days, walked in he was with Mike Pence, who looked for all the world as if his arms have just been installed today. Then the President spoke for one minute, two seconds. Extensively, he wanted credit for the stock market hitting 30,000 which might have launched a who's going to tell him moment backstage because as we said most of the financial analysts we heard today credited that 30,000 mark with the market reacting positively to the transition to Biden formally getting underway and Biden's naming Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.

The markets like stability, the markets like what they see so far in Biden, and we offer this reminder that this is not what the President predicted would happen right now.


TRUMP: They say the stock market will boom if I'm elected. If he's elected, the stock market will crash. Now your 401(k)s doing? You want to see him crash vote for Sleepy Joe. You want to see him drop like a rock if you want to have some fun with your family, explaining why is it down 80 percent dad, we don't love you anymore dad.

Jen said Biden got in. You will have a stock market go down like you wouldn't believe. If he got elected this thing will crash. If Biden wins, you're going to have a stock market collapse the likes of which have never had.


WILLIAMS: The outgoing president to take us off the air this evening. That is indeed our broadcast for this Tuesday night of this Thanksgiving week. We comes with our thanks to you for spending this time with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the network's 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.