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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, November 25, 2020

Guests: Kavita Patel, John Fetterman, Sean Patrick Maloney


Biden and Harris will receive first presidential daily briefing on Monday. Trump pardons Flynn who pleaded guilty to a felony. Sally Yates who warned Trump White House about Flynn is said to be on Biden's attorney general shortlist. Rudy Giuliani pushes voter fraud conspiracy theory in PA. Trump repeats baseless voter fraud claims. Pennsylvania judge temporarily blocks "further action" on vote certification. Joe Biden calls on Americans to unite in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again, day 1,406 of the Trump administration, 56 days until Inauguration Day. It's been 18 days since the election was called for Joe Biden. And on this day when our nation lost over 2200 people, what a contrast between two men, the outgoing and incoming president, Donald Trump, in the space of a little over 24 hours, pardoned a turkey, and a guy who committed a felony. While today calling for the outcome of the election to be overturned, he said it out loud.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, gave what was billed as a Thanksgiving address to the nation, exhorting the American people to join him in fighting the virus and not each other a call for resilience, while noting how tired we all are in the face of this battle against an uncontrolled pandemic.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I know the country has grown weary of the fight. We need to remember we're at war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other. This is the moment where we need to steal our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to the fight. So hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue. I know we can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. America holds fast with conviction, that out of pain comes possibility, out of frustration comes progress, and out of division unity.


WILLIAMS: As the transition moves forward, both Biden and Harris will receive their first presidential daily intelligence briefing on Monday. More Cabinet nominees also expected to be announced next week. Political reporting Biden appears to be leaning toward appointing Obama national security adviser and Democratic Party Veteran Tom Donilon as CIA director, which brings us to today's rather predictable development concerning Trump's first national security adviser, one Michael Flynn who lied to the Vice President and the FBI about his conversations with Russians then who pleaded guilty twice.

Flynn also initially cooperated with Muller's investigation as expected. Trump did pardon him today posting this, "It is my inexplicably capitalized, great honor to announce the General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a full pardon. Congratulations to Flynn and his wonderful family. I know you will have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving."

The Justice Department, which had been trying to get charges against Flynn dismissed in court said it only learned of Trump's decision today but in the spirit of Attorney General Barr called the move and appropriate use of the President's pardon power. Earlier on this network a former FBI counterintelligence official had this to say about this pardon.


FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: The president who claims he's a law and order president has just said in this pardon, that it's okay to lie to law enforcement, even if you admit you've done it. So we need an attorney general who actually is about law and order. We need an attorney general who understands that America is his or her client, and who therefore relates to America and understands what we've been through as a country in the last four years.


WILLIAMS: And irony of ironies Sally Yates, the former DOJ official who first sounded the alarm to the Trump White House about Flynn, said to be on Biden's shortlist for attorney general. As all of this unfolds we can say yet again tonight, this virus is at its peak in our country right now.

The New York Times paints a dire picture of the surge noting that for the first time since the virus erupted in our country, we've added over 2 million cases in the past two weeks. Washington Post adds to the story noting the daily death toll is reaching levels not seen since early May. Today, as we said over 2200 new deaths were recorded in our country.

New CDC forecasts estimate the total of 294,000 COVID deaths in this country by December 19. Yet despite pleas from officials and health experts to stay on, millions are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Politico says Trump officials and the Biden transition team today held the first of several meetings about the vaccine. And Dr. Fauci said he's already reached out to Biden's Chief of Staff now that he's allowed to.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I've been in contact with Ron Klain just touching base with me telling me that we're going to be talking about this very soon now that the transition is in process.


WILLIAMS: The pandemic is still taking a heavy toll on jobs. Weekly jobs claims total just over three quarters of a million, an increase from the previous week, tragic especially at this time of year.

With all this going on, the outgoing president remains laser focused not on jobs or the pandemic, mind you but on overturning the results of an election he lost. Today the Trump campaign touted a Pennsylvania judge's decision to issue a temporary order preventing further action to certify that state's election results pending a hearing, more on that with the state's second senior official just ahead.

And Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani was front and center today at an odd event that was billed as a hearing by Republican state lawmakers on alleged election irregularities. No one was under oath. Of course it was held in a Wyndham hotel ballroom in Gettysburg. Trump who was rumored to be planning to make the trip with Rudy and attend in person instead phoned in to the gathering to make more false claims about winning swing states, like Pennsylvania, and for that matter the entire election.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: This election was lost by the Democrats. They cheated. It was a fraudulent election. We have to turn the election over because there's no doubt we have all the evidence. We have all the affidavits. All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly, without having a political opinion or having another kind of a problem because we have everything.


WILLIAMS: Trump indeed invited some of those same Pennsylvania state lawmakers who took part in that Gettysburg gathering this afternoon to the White House tonight to be part of an indoor gathering on Thanksgiving Eve.

It's a lot but with that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Thanksgiving Eve, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, who along with his wife and writing partner, Susan Glasser is the author of the new best seller on the life and times of James A. Baker III, Jason Johnson, a campaign veteran and journalist contributor at The Grio, a professor of politics at Morgan State University, Go Bears. And Dr. Kavita Patel, Clinical Physician and former Senior Aide during the Obama administration, she is now a non resident Fellow at Brookings and is among our medical contributors.

Well, good evening, we certainly appreciate the three of you helping to tell our story here as we begin the hour. Peter Baker, I'd like to start with you and your beat, kind of a split look from the President and the administration today. This type of pardon is the type of pardon a departing President makes, though you wouldn't have known that to look at the rest of the campaign infrastructure. There was Rudy, this time Rudy would the matte finish non drip appearing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at a hearing that was not a hearing in a hotel ballroom to argue for overturning the election, something we heard the President say out loud today. So, Peter at long last, what is the state of the Obama presidency on this Thanksgiving Eve?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look at this point, it's just shouting into the wind. I mean, you can sit in the hotel ballroom complain about the election all you want. But that's not going to do anything to overturn it. And there's this process is basically on path to being resolved that the swing states are certifying the elections, his own administration is ascertain the Joe Biden is the legitimate winner and therefore deserving of the transition resources provided by federal law. And everybody else except for President Trump and his team is moving on. The rest of the world is getting ready to deal with the Biden ministration. The new president is naming cabinet officials, senators are getting ready for, you know, confirmation hearings for Biden's choices.

And everybody is focusing on the holiday and on the COVID a, you know, pandemic that we're seeing spiking at this terrible time except for the President. And it's a quite a, I think quite a stretch that you're going to see. I think this is not the only party you're likely to see what we're hearing from our sources inside the Trump circle is that more parties are almost certainly going to be on the way over these next 50 some days with a lot of people who are certainly seeking them, hoping for them hanging out shingle waiting for them. But one of the big question is whether or not the President tries to even pardon himself.

And you can see him laying the groundwork for this with the kind of hearing you saw today about how he's been cheated. He's been robbed. He's been gypped. He's been, you know, the system is rigged against him. You can see in effect, a narrative that he is laying out there that might try to back up the idea that he himself would try for the first time in history, to be the first president to pardon himself for any crimes he may or may not have committed against the federal government.

WILLIAMS: And to my friend Jason, I'm aware muscle memory got the best of me and I asked our friend Peter to sum up the State of the Obama presidency. Obviously, mistake, obviously, we all need time off, which we're about to get. But it does bring me to my question to you, talk about Biden's remarks today, tone and tenor, and how familiar they were, how we could trace them back to, let's say, 44 of our previous presidents?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Yeah, you know, Brian, Joe Biden has very successfully. And I -- this was even the case before he officially won the presidency, of laying out a sort of tone and groundwork for we're going to get back to work. We're going to focus on organizing this country and trying to put people back into the lives that they had gotten used to.

I love the fact, Brian, and this is something -- because it's a prevailing thing. I think it's one of the number one reasons that he's president, the current President Donald Trump's mismanagement of COVID opened the door for Joe Biden to come in. And he started this months ago when he said, look, we're trying to shut down COVID not shut down the economy. And when he says, look, we're going to war against COVID. We're not going to war against each other.

I think the rhetoric of warfare, whether it's the war on drugs, or the war against terror, whatever. The rhetoric of warfare has always been the kind of thing that rallies Americans together. So I think that that is a very good and a very effective sort of rhetorical technique. The question will be as to whether or not he can rally Republicans around the kind of money and resources that are going to be necessary to establish these changes. But again, I also like the tone that I've heard from Biden, he's like, look, we're going to move ahead, whether Trump helps us or not, we're going to move ahead where the Republicans help us or not. And I think he's going to go through with that, at least in the first 100 days once he's in office.

WILLIAMS: And, Jason, while I have you let me take one more to your accurate point there, and that is all the verbiage Biden use today was on the table and available to the incumbent president. We can beat this, who is with me, we've had greater challenges before where the United States of America after all, instead, he chose denialism.

JOHNSON: Yeah. Well, yeah, the current president is responsible for where we are now. He is undoing politically, was his inability to manage this issue. And again, his son has gotten sick and Herman Cain and, you know, the fact that Donald Trump isn't just responsible for over 250,000 Americans dying from COVID. He is also probably directly responsible for so many people in his orbit continuing to contract COVID and him not doing anything about it, him not even facilitating the resources necessary to make these kinds of changes, him not even saying I wouldn't be surprised, right? If we saw pictures of Trump having a Thanksgiving meeting with his family tomorrow, with all sorts of people running in and out which every single doctor in the country has told us not to do for safety.

Joe Biden isn't just laying down the groundwork for how he's going to behave as a new president, United States. He has set a contrast to Donald Trump about modeling decent behavior, and how you select your administration, how you organize things, and how you behave in order to help a country through an unforeseen pandemic, but a solvable one with a proper behavior and discipline.

WILLIAMS: And now to the only actual doctor among the four of us, and that's Dr. Patel, this pandemic is at an alarming point. And Doctor, I don't know if you're aware, every night for the past several weeks we have -- and there's no pride in this, we've been able to come on the air and say the virus is at its peak right now. That's because it breaks every day's previous records. And I'll ask you what I've asked doctors for the past several days. Is it a given in your line of work that what's happening now Thanksgiving with families gathering will lead us to a grim and dark set of circumstances and a potential bump in deaths and hospitalizations just in time for Christmas?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: It is, Brian, and it worries me because we're, as you point out, not just in time for Christmas, but we're getting into a season where I think critically speaking, we've got health care workers, my brothers and sisters are literally giving their lives right now. And I don't know how much more they can take. We're all trying to figure out how to navigate what the next six to 10 weeks will look like. And I'm ecstatic that a Biden elect administration is already getting in the room and getting the planning going. I know what that looked like from the transition from Bush to Obama. And it's a lot of work that, Brian, this is not just toppling all records, to be honest with you. This is breaking the backs of the health care system that we need to stay open, stay alive and stay vibrant.

And these are the same health care workers, Brian, who are going to be involved in getting the vaccine out. So they are not looking at holidays and loved ones the way we are. They're trying to think about staying alive so that they can make sure they get us through to 2021.

And so I just hope, you know, listen, Brian, you've been doing this reporting every night, I really hope people tonight, just pause wherever they are trying to do what they can to stay safe. And I mean it, that their lives are on the line. And so are some of my friends who are doing this in hospitals around the country.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely, and thank you for adding that Doctor.

Peter, to go -- to return to the naked politics of this moment, we do after all, have an incumbent President still trying to overturn the results of an election. Tim Alberta picked up this reporting. He was reporting about the situation in Michigan and got this quote attributed to the President. I don't get it. The President said venting confusion and frustration. All these other Republicans all over the country, they win their races, and I'm the only guy that loses. What is the president missing here, Peter?

BAKER: Well, what he's missing is in fact that he has separated himself from other politicians for four years, actually longer than that the time he started running, he has made clear he does not see himself as just a Republican or a politician in general. He is an outsider, he is somebody who is you disrupt the system. In some ways his nomination, his presidency was the hostile takeover of one of the two American political parties. That's the phrase by the way, hostile takeover the Jared Kushner uses. And so you know, it's not surprising that people made a distinction between him and other Republicans. It doesn't mean that they have rejected all of his policies, doesn't mean they rejected all republican policies. A lot of Americans still believe in the things that the President stands for. But they are, as they have told us in the voting booth, they were disappointed in his handling of the COVID. They were disappointed in the way he has tried to divide the country. They were disappointed in his Twitter, you know, style. They're disappointed in the various ways that he has been accused of misconduct. And I think that they -- it's not surprising that people could make a distinction between one and the other.

WILLIAMS: Jason, I got something to play for you. This is former congressman and host of Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough was Nicolle Wallace earlier.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Whether you like Susan Collins or not the people of Maine elected her by nine percentage points. They voted for Joe Biden, by nine percentage points. They gave Republicans, I don't know how they gave Kevin McCarthy's house, more seats. But they did. They wanted to check democrats and they want a Joe Biden in the White House to check Republican. So I have confidence that, you know, there are still some people in the middle, who will work with Joe Biden, whether it's Susan Collins or whether it's Lisa Murkowski or whether it's Mitt Romney on the Republican side, whether it's Joe Manchin, Mark Kelly, Governor Hickenlooper on the Democratic side. I believe there are six, seven, eight people of goodwill that will work with Joe Biden.

And we'll actually forge a consensus so we can finally get things done in Washington. It's been a very long time since we've had regular order, and have been able to pass bills domestically, that actually could move this country forward into the 21st century. We are stuck in this partisanship, and we have to move forward and do it. And I think Joe Biden may be the perfect man for the perfect time to work with Republicans and Democrats alike.


WILLIAMS: Hey, Jason, I wanted folks to hear that but Former Congressman really know how to talk. So I'm tight on time, a brief reaction from you, will that give people hope?

JOHNSON: No, look, I love Joe Death, but that's not going to happen. I don't know where this mysterious Gang of Eight is that he thinks is going to appear. The Republican Party under Mitch McConnell has made it clear that they want every Democrat to be a one term president and Trump can be mad that the country is just not that into him. But there are still Republicans who are living off that Trump his base which says destroy anything Joe Biden wants to do. There will be no peace. There will be no comedy. It will be a battle the moment Joe Biden ascends to the presidency.

WILLIAMS: And Dr. Patel same rules apply. I have seconds remaining, should the number one focus of the incoming administration be getting the vaccine out and getting it into American arms?

PATEL: Absolutely. And at the same time reassurance that we can test people and get the economy open, the two go hand in hand.

WILLIAMS: Allow me to wish you all and yours a happy Thanksgiving along with our thanks for helping us out this Thanksgiving Eve, Peter Baker, Jason Johnson, Dr. Kavita Patel greatly appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a few things to say about the incumbent presidents claims of voter fraud in his state. He's standing by to join us.

And later down ballot Democrats had a rough election night. Now they need someone to lead the effort to keep control of the House in just two years. Who would want such a thankless job? Well the front runner is standing by to talk with us as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting underway on this busy Thanksgiving Eve.



TRUMP: This election was rigged and we can't let that happen. We can't let that happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around.


WILLIAMS: The President speaking via iPhone today repeating baseless claims of voter fraud at a stage so called hearing with Pennsylvania Republicans in a hotel ballroom. President said out loud over the phone. He wanted to overturn the results of the election. The timing is curious. Pennsylvania officially certified its election results for Joe Biden. Today, a judge there issued a temporary order preventing "further action to certify results." The Attorney General, Josh Shapiro responded by posting, "This order does not impact yesterday's appointment of electors. We will be filing an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court momentarily."

With us for more John Fetterman, Democratic Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for being with us. We realize you've got a lot on your plate, no pun intended. What in you know what is going on in your Commonwealth tonight?

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: What's going on? I mean, really the same thing that's always been going on with the election. You know, this Amway convention/Carnival party and snake handling at the Ramada doesn't change any facts about Joe Biden winning it. And there's no additional voter fraud aside from the two cases that I've been talking about filling last three weeks. There is absolutely nothing new under the sun. Joe Biden won. And what's curious is that if the rest of these down ballot races aren't certified by November 30. We will have House, Pennsylvania House and half our Senate because the terms expire on November 30. So there really is no end game for getting these results turned over.

WILLIAMS: When you -- this is regarding your state, your commonwealth. You took an oath of office to hear a guy like Rudy, fly into your state and make claims of sweeping massive voter fraud must piss you off at a very deep level.

FETTERMAN: Yeah, it's -- I don't take it seriously because no one really takes, you know, Mr. Giuliani, seriously, everyone knows how this movie's going to end. Like I said, it's just -- it's just it's sad, you know, like weird pyramid scheme marketing thing in a ballroom at the Ramada and like this wasn't an official function of the Pennsylvania State Senate. I'm the president of the Pennsylvania State Senate. There was no -- nothing official about this. This was simply just some weird rally in a hotel ballroom designed to spread more information, because that's all it is. All they have is lies. They've had over three weeks now to come up with anything concrete, and they haven't. Where's the -- where's the voter fraud? Not one single case of voter fraud, aside from the two established cases in Pennsylvania, which both involve Republicans trying to vote for Trump with the relatives whether they were dead or living?

WILLIAMS: Well, at least you've got Republican lawmakers at the White House tonight where they make the COVID fresh, they'll be coming back home after that gathering this evening. How does this leave your opposition party, the Republican Party in Pennsylvania after this? Do you think they'll be healthier or poor for having been dragged through this process, in some cases helping lead this process?

FETTERMAN: Well, I understand there's elements in the Republican Party that need to pander to this lunatic fringe/death cult, that is part of the Republican Party now. And I'm, you know, I hope we had a good time at the White House. It's not going to change anything. So this idea that they have somehow uncovered any fraud, or there was any fraud is absurd.

The governor certified the presidential election results for Joe Biden, that can't be changed. And these down ballot races, if they're not certified, we don't have a house or house or state Senate, and those are controlled by Republicans. So they're literally trying to make the argument that there was fraud with Joe Biden's race but my race that was there was no fraud in my and that race. So it's -- there's absolutely no basis in reality, but that's never stopped them from lying. But again, we have long past the point of turning our backs collectively on this. This, you know, yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fraud. It's absolutely a lie. It's not a dispute. It's an absolute lie designed to damage the American franchise. And in Pennsylvania, it's not going to change anything, because we all know that Joe Biden is the president-elect, no matter how many, like I said Amway conventions, they haven't hotel ballrooms across Pennsylvania.

WILLIAMS: Also didn't want to ignore what is the actual lead story in Pennsylvania today. I'm very sorry for the game postponement. I am so looking forward to seeing those quarterbacks opposite each other. Your Steelers are 10 and 0. We get to see it on Sunday. We're knocking on everybody's healthy. Thank you very much, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman for joining us, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well.

FETTERMAN: Thanks for having me. And yes, the Steelers are undefeated so we have that to be thankful for, for sure.

WILLIAMS: You got that going for you. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor.

Coming up for us no pressure, our next guest is said to be the front runner for a job among his fellow congressional Democrats that his party is hoping will be the job that averts potential disaster for them in the midterm elections, again, no pressure.


WILLIAMS: Last night here we featured an interview conducted by Axios with Congressman Cardenas of California. He's in the running to head up the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hugely powerful within the House because of its recruiting function and fundraising.

Only problem was your humble and bumbling host made it sound like he already had the job somehow, when in fact House Democrats haven't voted yet and when in fact, a good number of onlookers contend the front runner for the job is Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.

He's just been elected to his fifth term in a seat he originally flipped in a district where Trump won but were the voters liked Maloney's message and split the ticket. And so with apologies for getting his Irish up, we are happy to welcome Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney back onto the broadcast tonight.

Congressman, you're good to come on. Thank you very much. Is it a -- an overstatement when you read the Politico headline that this job is the job needed to avert disaster for the Democrats and further tell the good people watching the package of life experiences that you would bring to the role as opposed to your friend and former classmate and colleague in the House?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Well, look, I you know, first of all, I don't accept the premise that Democrats are somehow on their heels for 2022. I think we have a message and focus on kitchen table issues that matter to most American families, whether it's the pandemic or health care, or jobs or good wages, I think we can fight this battle and win it. I think we're going to have a popular president in the places we need to win. That's great. I think we're going to have a recovering an economy and God willing a pandemic, in the rearview mirror. So I think execution is key.

And whether the caucus chooses me or my friend Tony Cardenas, we're going to make a little history. In terms of inclusion in senior House leadership, but more importantly, we're going to have someone who internalizes all the voices of our caucus develops a battle plan and win. And, and that is what I'm offering to my Democratic colleagues. If they give me this job, we are going to hold this majority, and you can write it down.

WILLIAMS: OK. You know, the math is steep, I hear you that you like your chances, you know that Speaker Pelosi is going to get handed the slimmest majority in decades. You know, what happens in midterm elections with newly elected presidents. But your point is that in the places where they love them, some Joe Biden, you guys feel you can run up the score, if you change your messaging, and perhaps present a different face of the Democrats in Congress.

MALONEY: I think it's too soon to make specific statements like that, you know, I ran the after action report, when we were at a similar crossroads. We listened to all the voices develop the battle plan, we won 40 seats. I didn't do that Ben Ray Lujan did it, Speaker Pelosi did it. A lot of great candidates did it. But we were able to architect the strategy. And we can do that again.

The fact is, is that we are much more in sync with the everyday needs of working families like the one I grew up in, then the red team. And whether they pick my friend Tony Cardenas or Sean Patrick Maloney, we're going to link arms and go forward together, because the red team is coming for all of us. And we're not going to let that happen. We are going to support this new president, we are going to develop a positive kitchen table agenda around people's jobs and healthcare. And things like, you know, getting kids back to school and opening our businesses responsibly. And we are going to offer solutions.

And if we have to execute better and communicate like human beings, well, so be it. I'm not afraid to speak my mind. And I do believe that there is more opportunities than ever. This is a hopeful time as we gather around the Thanksgiving table and look at close counts in horseshoes, not in control of the House.

The Republicans are acting like they won. We have the gavel. The end. And yes, it's a little closer, but they failed and they failed. They got a beat for the White House. They got beat for the House. Mitch McConnell better watch his back. He's got to get out of the stone age's and start offering solutions now because there's a pincer movement that's going to happen between the United House Democratic caucus and a strong new president. And I'm excited about that.

WILLIAMS: Final question, and it's the dicey kind, are Democrats ready to own how much damage defund the police did, as a phrase, as a movement to races all over the country and to candidates and incumbents that had nothing to do with it?

MALONEY: Well, I mean, let's be careful. First of all, the Democratic House majority is not, you know, responsible for that rhetoric. In fact, no one's responsible except the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd. And a lot of people thought that was wrong. And we're right to point out the his the historic and systemic problem with racism in America.

And I think they parent about racism counts to a lot of my neighbors even in the Trump district. And of course, we're going to support the police, because there are our voices that call for things that we don't support, or because our Republican opponents want to lie and caricature that. And we should not confuse that with what we support.

So it falls on us to get what we actually believe in better, that's fair. But don't blame us because they're lying about what we stand for. My goodness, the fact of the matter is, is that we have control of the House. And there are many things that we can do better Lord knows, in the digital era, in organizing in the community, and addressing, you know, the complexities of the many Latino communities that differ in South Florida or the Rio Grande Valley or New York, California.

And yes, you know, the Justice and Policing Act, named after George Floyd is a good piece of legislation. I was proud to support it in my Trump district. I won by double digits for the third time in a row. That's a tall order as a gay guy. And I think we can communicate and win and stand for something.

So I'm not going to run away from trying to change what's wrong in America, just because a bunch of people on the red team are going to lie about it and caricature it. And I'd ask that you not adopt their language.

WILLIAMS: No, I know. I was asking because it had been affixed to candidates who had nothing to do with the messaging, and some of them very little to do with the movement. Your House colleague Max Rose down in Staten Island, it got hung around him in a very effective ad campaign that he tried to counter but too late. This necessarily means we're going to have you back on to continue this conversation.

The man the latest casual knows count as, as the front runner for the DCCC. Our thanks to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. Congratulations on your re-election. We wish you and your family the happiest Thanksgiving. Thanks, Congressman, for coming on.

MALONEY: Thank you. Stay safe.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us. We'll talk to the noted historian who famously said just weeks ago -



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I had to describe President Obama in one word --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't do in a word.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main answer Well, no, I'm not going to say that on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probable is a gentleman.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wisdom with compassion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will be steady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would describe Barack Obama single word, American.


WILLIAMS: All those people asked to describe the former president and let me explain why and what that's from beginning this Friday. This network is presenting a multi-part primetime documentary series on Barack Obama and his legacy as told by those of us who covered him. Those who know him best, those who worked for him served alongside him.

Let's talk legacies with the most quoted man on this broadcast the celebrated author and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. His latest work is Presidents of War. It is part of what long ago became the Beschloss shelf in our house.

Michael, great to see you. Thanks for coming on.


WILLIAMS: I was thinking of you today vis-a-vis, a photo I have ready to show you and our audience fairly well knows the last time our country had five presidents in the Oval Office and the big deal when this was published was that to the far right Jimmy Carter was a man apart. He was the which doesn't belong and why in this photo because he is different fundamentally in so many ways from his colleagues, but go forward from this. Can you see Donald Trump pun intended standing for this kind of collegial event, this kind of post presidential tradition?

BESCHLOSS: No, I can't Brian. And the main reason for that is that as of tonight, Donald Trump has virtually no relationship with any former president. He shun them. He said, he doesn't need to go to them for advice, because they're failures. And I think the result of this may very well be in the future that when there are gatherings of former presidents, he will not be there. That's what happened to Richard Nixon after his resignation from 1974 until his death, Nixon was never included in a Republican convention, nor did he attended inauguration.

WILLIAMS: I haven't had a chance to debrief you after your comment that you made on this network when the outcome of the election became apparent. You said we had come close. Tell our audience what you mean?

BESCHLOSS: Well, I think American democracy went through a near death experience. I think Donald Trump had been elected to a second term without the constraint of having to run again, you would have seen authoritarianism in this country tried in a way that we had not seen before.

There were a lot of hints of it in the first term. And I shudder to think what it would have been like, especially in the second term, when the Senate was still held by Republicans who, even at this point after he's lost the election are amazingly deferential.

WILLIAMS: For the families who've been affected by this virus, even for folks who will gather tomorrow, just as couples missing their kids, missing their extended family, this is a dark Thanksgiving. But I also following you on Twitter these past several days, you've been chronicling what was happening? What was Thanksgiving 1963 like just when we think we're living through a dark Thanksgiving ourselves in this country?

BESCHLOSS: Well, American emotions had been brutalized by the assassination of President Kennedy who was 46 years old, something that people had not seen, in their lifetimes, the assassination of a president, especially one so young with young children. And image after image of his widow who was 34 years old. Jackie has two children, Caroline, who was six years old, and John, who was three on the day of his father's funeral. That was the kind of thing that Americans had not seen before.

In retrospect, all these decades later, I think Americans look back and say that in all sorts of ways, America has never been the same sense.

WILLIAMS: And let's end this segment where we started you can use more than one word, but especially in the hindsight that four years on the Trump presidency has given us what's the first draft of how you look back on Barack Obama as President.

WILLIAMS: Well, look what his contemporaries have just done this month, they just elected his chosen Vice President Joe Biden, by millions of popular votes. People are voting for Barack Obama with their feet. And I think the result will be important for him because no longer will you have a president falsely saying for four years, when I came in after Obama, I inherited a mess and falsely saying Barack Obama was spying on me and all the rest.

You'll see a president the United States, Joe Biden, who treats Barack Obama with the respect he deserves, who will welcome him back to the White House for the first time in four years. Hang his portrait and the portrait of Michelle Obama and I think the full circle will have been completed and Barack Obama will get the kind of hearing in front of history that he's deserved since he left but because of the last four years has not got

WILLIAMS: Happy Thanksgiving, my friend to you and yours.

BESCHLOSS: My friend, thank you. Happy thanksgiving to your family and you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Michael Beschloss, our guests tonight. Coming up for us for the few the proud the brave, those who are traveling to be with others on Thanksgiving, we have a guide how to stay safe if you must, right after this.


WILLIAMS: Despite urgent warnings millions of Americans are traveling this Thanksgiving Eve despite a virus real enough to have canceled tomorrow night's NFL game they'll play on Sunday. Folks are traveling at pre-pandemic levels. This is a live look at air traffic over our country right now. Every one of those icons is a plane load of people. Our report tonight on how to stay safe if you must be out there traveling from NBC News correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite a raging pandemic and a skyrocketing death toll, Americans are on the move this Thanksgiving from Miami headed north.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far being is safe. Everybody's following the rules. So no problem.

COSTELLO: To New York headed west.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want to see my family. My dad was really sick. So it just needed to happen.

COSTELLO: Roughly a million people flying each day since Friday, even as the CDC urges Americans to stay home. Triple A projects 48 million people are hitting the roads. The Cadoodle (ph) family keeping a tight bubble driving to Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to stay safe and that's why we're absolutely staying within our inner circles and just going to our cabin.

COSTELLO: While cars and planes may be lower risk, experts worry about airports restaurants, trains, rental car shuttles, and meals with family and friends. The nation's top Doc's warn, we will likely pay a devastating price if hospitalization soar as they did after Memorial Day July 4th and Labor Day.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This is clearly a super spreading event and we can see a surge of cases on top of the current surge in a couple of weeks.

COSTELLO: 18 states plus DC now require out of state or rivals to be tested or self-quarantine. But the CDC is now considering dropping the recommended self-quarantine time from two weeks down to seven to 10 days.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ASSITANT SECRETARY: The accumulating data suggest that we don't have to wait 14 days. We know that the average person will get sick about five days after their exposure.

COSTELLO: Meanwhile, back at the nation's airports tonight, TSA agents are behind Plexiglas and keeping travelers separated.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Tom Costello for that and coming up for us a different kind of message to take us off the air tonight.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight, during the rough and tumble of the campaign that I think has ended by now, we often featured the ads by the Lincoln project the current former lapsed and weaponized Republicans who got together and set out to beat Trump and Trumpism.

Tonight we hear from them again in the closing minutes before Thanksgiving begins here in the east, but with a very different kind of message for all of us.



WILLIAMS: The Lincoln project giving thanks and allow me to add this on behalf of the nice people who put this broadcast on the air every night during a pandemic no less. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving in the true spirit of a holiday. Good night.


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