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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/26/2021

Guest: Jaime Harrison, Peter Hotez�


Jaime Harrison, Democratic National Committee chairman is interviewed. Dr. Peter Hotez from the Texas Children`s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine is interviewed.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): What was chilling in the message that was

received is that this individual said stop telling lies. Biden did not win.

He will not be president.

And so, he was radicalized by the big lie that Donald Trump told and that

has been supported by so many Republicans in the House and the Senate.


MADDOW: Congressman Jeffries, as I said, identifying himself as

congressman-1 cited in this criminal complaint which has been unsealed

today by federal prosecutors. And he is describing there what this criminal

complaint alleges, what this criminal complaint indicates about how this

man who threatened his family was radicalized, radicalized by President

Trump and Republicans big lie that the presidential election somehow wasn`t

really won by President Biden and somehow magically President Trump is

still going to be president.

But the actual nature of the actions this man took, the ways that he

decided to act and to attack the government and to attack the press in

response to that lie is very chilling. In the complaint, this is an

affidavit from an FBI special agent who recounts the threats that this man

allegedly made to Congressman Jeffries` brother, to his family. Just listen

to this.

Quote: On or about January 11th, the office of congressman-1, Hakeem

Jeffries, informed the FBI that on or about January 6th , the day of the

Capitol attack, Jeffries` brother received the following text messages from

the defendant`s phone, which also included a picture of a home in the same

neighborhood where Congressman Jeffries` brother lived.

Quoting from the text messages that was sent to the congressman`s brother,

the text message said, quote: Your brother is putting your entire family at

risk with his lies. In other words, we are armed and nearby your house. You

had better have a word from him. We are not far from his house either.

Already spoke to Jeffries` son and we know where his kids are. Your words

have consequences.

Stop telling lies. Biden did not win. He will not be president. We are not

white supremacists. Most of us are active or retired law enforcement or


You are putting your family at risk. We have armed members near your home.

Don`t risk their safety with your words and lies.

And again, accompanying that text message is a picture of a home, in the

same neighborhood, nearby to where Congressman Jeffries` brother lives. So

he`s receiving these messages and getting a picture of one of his

neighbors` houses.

This is the FBI special agent in this affidavit. It`s the basis of a

criminal complaint now charging Robert Lemke of California with threatening

interstate communications.

Just, quote, also on January 6th, congressman-1, Hakeem Jeffries` sister-

in-law, the wife of Jeffries` brother exchanged the following messages with

the Lemke phone. Lemke phone, quote, call your husband down.

Victim two. Congressman`s sister-in-law. Who is this? Your number is only

coming up. Not your name.

Lemke phone, quote, does that matter? We saw on the hidden camera. He was

quite stirred up. You need to have him talk to Congressman Jeffries.


On the hidden camera?

The complaint then goes on to discuss the same defendants` threats to a

journalist who is not named in the complaint. Again, according to "The New

York Times" tonight, it`s ABC News` George Stephanopoulos. We have not

confirmed that independently but that is what "The Times" is reporting.

And back to the complaint. It says, quote, also on or about January 6th,

while the capitol attack is happening, while in the Bronx, New York, a

relative of journalist-1 received the following message from the Lemke


Quote, journalist one, George Stephanopoulos` words are putting you and

your family at risk. We are nearby, armed and ready. Thousands of us are

active/retired law enforcement and military, et cetera. That`s how we do


The complaint goes on to quote what is believed to be the defendant`s

Facebook page. The Lemke Facebook account says, folks, be ready for war.

Trump has refused to cede. Evidence throws -- excuse me, evidence shows

fraud occurred and the Supreme Court cases will be successful. Trump will

prevail. Spread this message.

Faith, my fellow Republicans. Do not give up. Keep an eye out for a variety

of protests.

Well, add that, "The New York Times" is also reporting tonight that a

spokesperson for the sheriff`s department in northern California and the

United States Air Force which this gentleman claims to have been, worked at

both, he claim to be a U.S. Air Force veteran, claims to be an employee of

the Alameda County sheriff`s department. Both Alameda Sherriff and the U.S.

Air Force both say they have no record of him having worked or served in

either of those places but that is how he represents himself.

And again, that was part of his threat. We are active or retired law

enforcement and military. That`s how we do it.

I think the implication there is not only do we have access to firearms and

we have access to sort of tactical knowledge that we would need in order to

kill you or your family members, but we`d probably get away with it. I

think that`s the implication of that threat there.

Nevertheless, these threatening text messages to Congressman Jeffries`

family and allegedly George Stephanopoulos` family, saying, you know, I

know where your kids are, we`re just outside and we`re armed, we`re ex-

military and law enforcement. We have hidden cameras in your home. We`re

watching you right now. We`re outside with guns and we`re going to kill you

unless your congressman relative, your journalist relative, starts saying

what we want them to.

This is also what was happening in our country on January 6th from the

president`s supporters. This is the other thing Trump supporters were doing

that day.

I mean, there`s a whole bunch of ways to try to use force to overthrow the

government. One of them is what we saw on the capitol steps, the rotunda

and the Senate chamber and all these other places the Trump mob got through

to. But another one is threatening to kill the family members of Congress

as a means of trying to force that member of Congress to do what you want.

And the further we get from the attack on the capitol, the more details we

learn, the more criminal cases are brought against people who are involved,

honestly, the sort of heavier that day becomes. It may be that members of

Congress and the Republican Party and senators and the Republican Party

think that January 6th is now ancient history and we should move past and

it there doesn`t need to be any consequences for that.

But as more people get arrested, as we get to read more criminal complaints

and indictments, the weight of what happened there, what was organized

there, is getting heavier and heavier. You will recall, for example, the

case of the 22-year-old woman from Pennsylvania charged with having some

role in stealing a laptop or some other computer equipment from House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi`s office during the capitol riot.

An affidavit -- the FBI affidavit filed in her case, it included this

almost unbelievable allegation that she had a plan to provide the laptop to

somebody who she thought would be able to give to it Russian intelligence,

Nancy Pelosi`s laptop, Nancy Pelosi`s hard drives.

Well, last week, after her court appointed defense counsel admitted that

she was part of the crowd that violently attacked the capitol on January

6th, we here this show covered the almost equally unbelievable fact same

defendant was then released into her mother`s custody. Not kept in jail.

This week, prosecutors are back in court seeking new restrictions

potentially on her release because they say they`ve just recently

discovered that since she has been out, she has tried to destroy evidence

and encouraged other people to do the same. From the hearing today, quote,

the prosecutor says we have some additional concerns about her use of the

computer and the Internet to destroy evidence, and in charge of people to

do the same. We were aware that she was deleting her own online accounts

and possibly switching devices. That was in both the original explain and

the amendment of complaint statement of facts.

What we learned recently is that we think she may be telling, we have

indications she was instructing other people to delete messages as well.

Today, prosecutors told the judge about a specific instance of that defend

obstructing an associate to delete messages. The judge thereafter decided

that this defendant will no longer have Internet access. That`s a changed

condition of her release. The defendant claims her social media account has

been hacked by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend and that explains all of it.

It is not going well. And what may be worse and more unnerving is that the

laptop in this case, the computer equipment apparently stolen from Nancy

Pelosi`s office, Pelosi`s office does say they had a laptop or some

computer equipment stolen during the capitol attack. That computer

equipment as far as we can tell has not been recovered. Whether it was a

laptop or hard drives or some other computer components, whatever was

stolen from Pelosi`s office while a witness told investigators that this

defendant planned to give to it Russian intelligence, law enforcement,

whether or not that has ever happened, law enforcement apparently has never

been able to recover the computer or the computer equipment stolen from


So where is it? And why is this person being released to the custody of her

mother, especially if she`s already broken the conditions of her release?

Meanwhile, the acting U.S. attorney in D.C. who is apparently in charge of

the investigation into the capitol attack is saying that there could be

seditious conspiracy charges brought against some of the rioters as soon as

next week. He said today that they`re closely looking at evidence of

seditious charges and he expects they will bear fruit very soon.

Also, charges have now been brought and it appears this is the first time

this has happened. Charges have been brought against someone who spoke at

one of the rallies leading up to the Capitol attack. This guy was one of

the speakers at a Stop the Steal (AUDIO GAP) capitol on January 6th. He is

charged with what he did there.

The FBI affidavit accompanying the charges in his speech described his

speech the day before urging people to -- in the crowd to fight. Telling

them it was a revolution. Clearly prosecutors think that is at the very

least a context for the federal charges he is now facing.

So, I mean, that`s where we`re at. They are starting to arrest the people

who spoke at rallies before the capitol attack. The question is whether

anybody will be charged for incitement or some other connection to the

violence based on what they did at those rallies. When the issue of

incitement, of course, is that the center of president Trump`s impeachment

trial are the people who incited this thing from the dais with a microphone

in their hand culpable for what the mob did after they were so inspired by

those speakers.

If they are, that potentially gets to us criminal charges against multiple

public officials who spoke at those rallies. When that U.S. attorney in

D.C. announced earlier this month that he had set up a strike force to

consider potential sedition charges. That`s a 20-year felony, when he said

there would be a task force set up and the U.S. attorney general`s office

to look at sedition as basically a charge category for people who are


When he announced that, he said among the prosecutors he was tapping to do

that work were prosecutors with national security backgrounds but also

prosecutors with public corruption backgrounds, public corruption

prosecutors, people used to prosecuting public officials for doing bad

things while in office. That who is looking at the sedition charges at the

U.S. attorneys` office in D.C.

And while we wait to see what kind of further charges are in store for

people involved in the capitol attack, meanwhile, the National Guard is

going to stay at the capitol for a while yet. I`ll tell you personally,

when I went up to the capitol yesterday to interview the new majority

leader, Chuck Schumer, in the Senate -- I mean, I`ve been covering this. I

knew about the military presence at the capitol grounds. But it was

remarkable to see. It was quite unusual.

We literally had to snake through armored personnel carriers set up as

barriers to get to the place that they set aside for us to park to do this

interview, with the majority leader. Just going through lines of National

Guard to do an interview with a member of Congress. It is a very different

feeling than anything that I`ve been used to in all the years I`ve done

this job.

The national guardsmen and women who are part of that deployment, it is not

an easy deployment. They are out there under austere conditions. This is

something that was not set up long term. They have thousands of troops

there and they haven`t sorted everything out, in terms of getting they will

well-fed and getting them bathroom breaks and getting a place to shower and

wash and change their clothes.

But the National Guard at the capitol, that deployment is going to be

extended at least 5,000 troops will stay through March. And that is not

because it is convenient and cheap to have that many National Guardsmen in

D.C. It is because the threats remain from the president`s supporters, from

President Trump`s supporters, both around this new aspect of their

conspiracy theory where they`re saying, oh, maybe the Biden inauguration

wasn`t real. It was some sort of deep state mirage. And the real

inauguration is the old date from the constitution before they changed it.

So Donald Trump, the real inauguration will be on March 4th. And Donald

Trump is secretly still president. And that`s when the QAnon storm -- okay.

A new conspiracy theory that maybe the next thing they`re going to do

should be in the first week of March.

But even before then, the impeachment trial will be starting in a couple of

weeks. And there is reportedly enough threat and noise from violent Trump

supporters online that the impeachment trial itself might yet be the

occasion for them to mount further attacks on the government and on members

of Congress, either as a group or individually one by one.

And so, the guard is staying. The armed National Guard, the deployment of

thousands of armed U.S. troops will extend well into March, because the

supporters of the former president may be mounting more armed attacks on

the government and we need to be prepared for it.

That news comes today as the U.S. Capitol police issued a remarkable

apology today for their failings as a police department on January 6th. The

new acting chief of Capitol police, the last one resigned, said the

department knew there was strong potential for violence. They recognized

that the target of the violence was Congress. Nevertheless, they failed to

take adequate measures to prepare, the chief of the capitol police today

apologizing for not having been able to protect the Capitol. Just a stark

thing, this full-on apology.

She says that they did prepare but not nearly enough for the scale and the

violence of the threat posed by President Trump`s supporters after they had

been egged on by the president to come to the capitol. As we continue to

learn more and more about the January 6th attack, how serious it was, how

dangerous it was, as more people are charged, as people potentially face

sedition, or seditious specious charges, as the violent movement around the

former president continues to be enough of a threat that thousands of

National Guard troops with M4 rifles will stay in Washington posted at the

U.S. Capitol for weeks to come.

I mean, all of that, what is now becoming quite perfectly clear is that the

Republican Party really doesn`t care. I mean, for all the little people

that`s we got from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that he was

open to the idea of convicting President Trump for what he describe as

President Trump`s culpability and inciting that attack, right, opining from

the Senate floor that the rioters were fed lies by the former president,

telling -- quietly telling lots of reporters that he was quite appalled and

ready to make a clean break, and he was open to convicting the president,

potentially barring him from office for life, for all that noise -- today,

Mitch McConnell voted with 44 other Republican senators that there should

not even be an impeachment trial in this case. Only five Republicans said

the trial should go ahead.

You will recall that it was Mitch McConnell who would not allow an

impeachment trial to start until Donald Trump left office. It was his

decision, and his decision alone, right? Chuck Schumer that, hey, Mr.

McConnell, if you and I agreed that the Senate can be brought back to start

the trial, that`s all it requires. We can just agree, bring back the

Senate, start the trial now. Mitch McConnell said no. I will not allow the

trial to start until Donald Trump is no longer president.

Today, he voted that because Donald Trump is no longer president, there

cannot be a trial. So, 45 Republican senators said today that there

shouldn`t even be a trial for this. Forget it.

Yeah. They stormed the capitol and tried to kill the vice president and the

speaker of the house and probably lots of us. And they stormed the Senate

chamber and went through all of our desks and had guns and tasers and bats

and ransacked the place and thought that would be the way that they would

take control of the government while threatening to kill all of us.

But you know what? It was nearly three weeks ago, 45 Republican senators

that that today. And that is technically meaningless. It has no implication

directly in terms of what`s going to happen at the Senate impeachment trial

of former President Donald Trump. The trial will go ahead. There have been

four Senate impeachment trials of U.S. presidents in U.S. history. Two of

them are for Donald Trump.

Today, all U.S. senators took their oaths to essentially serve their role

as what amounts to jurors in next month`s trial. The oath was administered

by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. He is the president pro tem of the

Senate. He`s the senior senator and the Senate majority. He is 80 years

old. He`s the longest serving in his role as president pro tem, he will be

the one who presides procedurally over President Trump`s trial.

I should note we did have a bit of a scare this evening when we received

word that Senator Leahy had been taken to the hospital at the

recommendation of the Capitol physician after reported not feeling well at

his office. We`re now told that he is already out of the hospital and at

home. He`s had a thorough examination. He got some test results back. His

spokesman says the senator looks forward to getting back to work,

potentially as soon as tomorrow.

So, again, it`s a scare in terms of Senator Leahy tonight but we send the

senator best wishes for a speedy recovery and hope it is nothing serious.

But as far as the trial that Senator Leahy will preside over next month,

Republicans don`t think there should be a trial. They believe the president

should not have been tried while he was still in office. Now that he`s not

in office, he can`t be tried.

So if you mount a violent attack on the U.S. government, including your

supporters seemingly being bent on trying to kill the vice president and

members of house and senate, depending on the timing, it might be okay.

They are really cool with this being what their party does right now. It is

almost impossible to believe that that is where they are. And that really

is where they are.

Tonight, CNN reporting that one of the new members of the House, a

congresswoman named Marjorie Taylor Greene, as recently as 2019, was

publicly advocating for the execution of prominent Democrats in this

country, including Nancy Pelosi who she suggested should get a bullet in

the head. No sign whatsoever that will have any impact on Ms. Greene`s

standing in the Republican Party or in Congress, because that`s not weird

for the Republican Party anymore.

And, you know, often when a party gets voted out of power, like the

Republicans just were, they no longer hold the White House or the House or

the Senate. Often, when that happens, in normal politics, you see all this

reporting, all the headlines about oh, the party in disarray. This is a

very particular and peculiar kind of disarray.

I mean, this is what appears to be a political party but they`re not

dealing with like, how do we regroup and address our internal differences

and come back to the American people with a newly credible case that we

should be governing. No, they are dealing with what we would usually think

of as a fringe violent extremist criminal movement. But it is right at the

heart of what they are offering the country and they are really taking

great pains to make sure that the leader who drove them fastest and hardest

in direction can run as their standard bearer again in 2024, because they

like the way he did it this time?

That`s more than a party in disarray. That`s something where it is very

hard to have a stable democracy based on a two-party system if that`s one

of the two parties, if that`s their contention right now. What do we do

about our members who bring guns on to the floor and saying that the

speaker of the House should have a bullet in the head and what do we do

about a president who just mounted an attack on the Capitol? Should we just

make sure his followers are charged and make sure he come back and run for

president in 2024?

I mean, this is not politics per se. This is a question about the viability

of democracy if that`s one of the two parties in this country. Meanwhile,

there is another major party in this country. And on the other side, we`ve

now got Democrats in control of the House and the Senate and the White

House, and what they are contending with right now is they have all this

policy they would like to get done. They have a very different challenge to

their hands.

And we`re now seeing within the past 48 hours, their idea for how they`re

going to try to get stuff done for the country. I mean, the contrast

between what the two parties are dealing with internally, it is not like

night and day. It`s like earth and mars.

But the Democrats have their own challenges and they are how to pass the

legislative agenda. Last night in our interview with Senate Democratic

Leader Chuck Schumer, he made news when he said Democrats may have a way to

pass the COVID relief bill and also President Biden`s infrastructure bill,

just with 50 votes. So even if the Republicans decide they want to

filibuster everything, those two biggest pieces of legislation that they

want to do, they may have figured out a way to do them just with Democratic


The number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, also saying today that

they may have found a way to pass a new minimum wage, a $15 minimum wage,

again, just with 50 Democratic votes, plus the vice president. Even if all

Republicans vote against it and Republicans filibuster and do everything

else to stop it.

If they could fast COVID relief bill and an infrastructure bill and a $15

minimum wage with Republicans not being able to stop with it the

filibuster, that would be quite a series of legislative accomplishments for

the entire term, let alone the first, what, month of the term?

Republicans are having their own Shakespearean made biblical drama right

now, really playing with existential stuff in terms of this country and who

they are and what they`re offering. And their confidence level and comfort

level with violence against democracy being what they are offering this

country as their option. All right?

And while the Republicans are doing that, Democrats are coming up with all

the ways they can to try to move all of the substantive policy things they

want to do without the Republicans. That`s what is happening in Congress.

And President Biden is moving forward with a ton of executive actions

because he can do that without engaging Congress at all, eliminating the

zero tolerance policy that led to kids being separated from their parents

at the southern border. We`re still waiting to hear what the

administration`s plan is going to be to reunite all those remaining kids

with their families. They said they would set up a task force to get it

done. We`re waiting to hear the details of that. But the policy today

eliminated at the stroke of a pen by President Biden.

President Biden today issuing multiple executive orders on racial equity,

building racial equity into everything the federal government does. He made

announcements today about vaccines, including his administration believes

it has found a way to get 300 million Americans vaccinated by the end of

the summer.

We`re going to be talking more about that in detail later in the show.

That`s a very big deal if they can pull it off.

Big picture though, we are at this place right now where we are supposedly

a two-party, two major party democracy. That`s been the source of stability

and continuity in our democracy for centuries now. And we are now quite

suddenly and clearly at this place where the two parties have totally

different tasks at hand.

And on the Republican side, it is some scary and kind of unnerving stuff

about whether or not they are a party that endorses violence and whether

they are a party that still believes that democracy and elections are the

way that we decide things as a country. On the Democratic side, they`re

just trying to govern. They`re trying to figure out how to get something

done without having to deal with that dumpster fire on the other side,

because how can that be your governing partner?

However much we tend to treat politics as a horse race, a numbers game in

terms of how many seats on each side, how much elections have consequences

based on how many people are on each committee, right? Once the

consequences are that you are in control of both houses of Congress and the

White House, the thing that is most key to your political success is to

show whether you can do good things for the country with your power.

Whether you can get stuff double.

The Republican Party is having a very different crisis right now. The

Democratic Party is trying to figure out how to deliver. And that makes the

task of the Democratic Party totally different than what is happening on

the other side. It makes it sort of earnest and civic right now.

But also incredibly important as to whether or not we`ll have a Republican

in the future. Because on the Republican Party, that`s not the way they are

approaching the nation`s problems right now. The Democrats have to prove

they can do this or they`re going to have to contend with the dumpster fire

over there, again, in terms of what the people of the United States have to

choose from with the two options available to them.

Just an incredible situation we`re in. But as I said, the man who Joe Biden

has just chosen to run the Democratic Party, he has a deep and complex and

urgent task ahead of him. Jaime Harrison, the new chair of the Democratic

National Committee joins us live for the interview, next.


MADDOW: When a new president is elected, it is not written down anywhere

as black letter law, but by tradition, one of the perks of the new job is

that the newly elected president gets to choose who he or she would like to

lead the president`s party. Well, President Joe Biden has made his choice.

Joining us now for the interview is the brand new chairman of the

Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison.

Mr. Harrison, it is great to see you. Congratulations on this well-deserved



much, Rachel. I really appreciate it.

MADDOW: So tell me in your open words what you believe your mission is,

your sort of vision statement for what you want to do at the helm of the

Democratic Party for these first couple years that president Biden is in


HARRISON: Well, Rachel, you know, President Biden`s mission is to enact

policy, to really help address the issues people work on on a day-to-day

basis. My job as the chair of the Democratic Party is to make sure we take

his successes, the promises he has made, that we make sure the folks down

in small towns, in the cities, on dirt roads, understand those are promises

that are kept. It is also my mission to make sure that Democrats build back

better, and we have a strengthened party, in all 50 states, in our

territories, and that we can give him more help in terms of the House, the

Senate, in governor`s mansions and state legislatures across the country.

And so, I`m looking forward to doing that. And we`re already getting to

work. I had calls into Ohio today, into Arkansas because of Sarah Huckabee

Sanders said she is running for governor. Talk about Republicans in

disarray and a dumpster fire, that`s just one hot mess.

And we are not going to allow that to happen. We are going to fight

everywhere, Rachel. And I`m excited about that prospect.

MADDOW: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you, Jaime, right now is

because I feel like there is an imbalance in the national conversation,

because of the way president Trump`s term ended, because of the attack on

the U.S. government mounted by his supporters, I feel like the whole

government is really convulsed with thinking about Trumpism as a movement,

thinking about Trump supporters and whether they fit into the Republican

Party and the Republican Party is having some very weird discussions and

decisions about how they want to court even the most extreme supporters of

the president.

And so, we think about the relationship between the politicians and the

Republican Party, and the movement of people that supports them. Almost I

think compulsively now because we`ve seam the danger that they may present

when led in ways that the president, the former president has led them.

On the other side of things, we very, very rarely talk about people who

voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, people who voted for a Democratic

controlled senate, people who voted for a Democratic controlled House again

as a movement, as a group of people who need to be courted, who are

potentially a major force in politics, depending on how they are led and

how they want to channel their energies, and that may ultimately determine

the success of whether President Biden can get done what he wants and

Leader Schumer can get double what he wants and Speaker Pelosi can get

double what they want.

I feel like the Democratic Party is millions of people in the country. Not

just the people in Washington. We don`t talk about them that way very much.

HARRISON: Well, and we have to start talking about them in that way,

Rachel. You know, ultimately, you have a lot of folks in this country who

just want to be seen. Who want to be heard, and they want to be valued.

They want a government that will work for them.

What I`m going to encourage folks to do. Look past the D and look past the

R and just ask the question, who is fighting for me? Who`s fighting for my

family? Who is fighting for my community?

And right now, you don`t see that from the other side of the aisle. They`re

too busy fighting amongst themselves. And that`s the big problem right now.

Joe Biden understands we`re facing four big disasters right now in this

country. COVID, which you know, many of us have been impacted by. The

economy is creating, so many folks are wondering how to make ends meet, how

to put food on the table, whether or not they have a roof over their heads.

The climate change that is bearing down on this country, and the racial end

equities and injustices that have plagued this nation from its inception.

Those are the things that Joe Biden has said, you know what, I`m going to

move on them on behalf of the merge people. Those are the promises that are

made. And it is important for us to galvanize these people to understand,

that they have power to really move this country forward.

And those folks in Washington, D.C. who don`t want to do that, the Kevin

McCarthys of the world who are blaming the insurrection and sedition of

that mob on the American people, those people need to be replaced. And,

Rachel, I see it as my job to help motivate and move that ball forward,

because there is no place for people like Rand Paul who believes -- who

criticized Joe Biden for going after white supremacy. That has no place in

this country right now.

So if people want to be a part of this effort to build back better, and to

have a 50-state strategy, go to Be a part of the army we`re

building to really take our country back.

MADDOW: Mr. Chairman, I`m going to ask you now if you will come back and

talk about some of those individual races. You mentioned the Arkansas race,

the Ohio Senate race that`s just open. I`m really interested, especially

given your interest running against Lindsey Graham in South Carolina and

how many I learned from about South Carolina politics, really interested in

you talking us through those races as they come up. I hope you`ll come


HARRISON: I`ll come back, Rachel. And I just leave with this, Lindsey said

May 2016, if we nominate Donald Trump, we will get destroyed and we will

deserve it. And I think that is coming to roost.

MADDOW: Wow! Democratic National Committee chairman, the new leader of the

Democratic Party nationwide, Jaime Harrison -- Jaime, it`s great to see

you. Congratulations, my friend. Thank you.

HARRISON: Good to see you. Take care.

MADDOW: All right. You, too.

Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: All right. Let`s start with the good news.

President Biden today announced his administration will be able to

distribute more vaccine to states as soon as next week. The administration

says they`re going to be able to shipment out about 10 million doses per

week for the next three weeks. And that is about 1.5 million more doses per

week than they were previously planning on shipping out. So they`ve gone

from like 8.6 million to 10 million for the next three weeks. That`s good.

The president also today announced his administration has ordered 100

million more doses each of the two kinds of vaccines that are currently

available, Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. And those 100 million

each should be delivered this summer. That means if that happens, that by

the end of the summer, the federal government will have supplied enough

total doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans.

Our population is 328 million. So, if you vaccinated 300 million of us,

that would pretty much be the end game. That`s the good news, knowing what

we are aiming at and saying we are putting together the means to get there.

States are going to get more doses soon in the next three weeks. There will

be lots more available in the summer. We are aiming within a matter of

months at getting the whole population vaccinated. That`s all good news.

But it`s all not all good news. There`s also bad news. Getting vaccinated

in this country is way too hard and way too confusing. There are still

supply chain problems and organizational problems that have led to canceled

appointments and frustration and people waiting for their vaccine who

really should have already gotten them.

States have complained for weeks about inaccurate and inconsistent

information from the federal government on how much vaccine they can have.

Hopefully the Biden administration is turning that around now but it

remains to be seen.

On top of that, there is question about whether the mutations of the virus

may require booster shots, or maybe even in the long run, entirely

different vaccines in the future as the vaccine continues to evolve and


And even while President Biden said yesterday that he hopes to increase the

number of daily vaccines given in this country by 50 percent, he wants to

go from a million a day, which is the initial goal, to one and a half

million a day, people who know the most about these things saying that even

1.5 million a day isn`t going to be enough, particularly with the mutations

of the virus, in some cases, leading to a virus that appears to be much

more easily transmitted. That means more people infected quickly. More

strain on the health care system, more hospitalizations, more deaths.

It also means more urgency in preventing people from getting this thing.

Talking about the imperatives of the new more transmissible variants, and

how well the Biden administration is doing thus far. We`ve got just the

expert here next to talk about it.

Stay with us.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can announce that we will

increase overall weekly vaccination distributions to states, tribes and

territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. And we

believe that we will soon be able to confirm the purchase of an additional

100 million doses for each of the two FDA-authorized vaccines, Pfizer and

Moderna. That`s 100 million more doses of Pfizer and 100 million more doses

of Moderna. 200 million more doses than the federal government had

previously secured. Not in hand yet, but ordered.


MADDOW: Big announcements about vaccine distributions from the Biden


Dr. Peter Hotez who specializes in molecular virology and microbiology at

Baylor College of Medicine says that the newly increased goal of 1 1/2

million vaccine shots per day, the old goal was a million shots per day.

Now, President Biden says a million and a half shots per day is a goal. Dr.

Hotez says that might be enough. He`s arguing on the pages of the op-ed of

"The Washington Post", that get closer to what we need, we need to hit 3

million doses a day.

How possible is that and why is that the right number to aim at?

Dr. Peter Hotez is co-director at the Center of Vaccine Development at

Texas Children`s Hospital. He`s dean of the National School of Tropical

Medicine at Baylor.

Dr. Hotez, it`s a real honor to have you back tonight. Thank you for making



Thanks, Rachel. Great to be here.

MADDOW: So, these are big numbers and it`s hard to sometimes conceptualize

what they mean. I know we just got to the point as a country where we can

do a million, 1.1, maybe 1.2 million shots a day.

Why do you say the number we need to be aiming at is triple that, we need

to be up to 3 million a day?

HOTEZ: Yeah, first of all, I think it`s really important not to diminish

the accomplishments of the Biden administration. We`ve now got a national

plan in place. We have a national vaccination strategy.

We didn`t have that before, so, you know, in a matter of a week, we`ve

already got a national vaccine plan in place, and that`s so absolutely

important. So I give a lot of credit to the Biden administration.

I`m a little concerned, however, that we`re not picking up the pace fast

enough. The reason I say that is our estimates indicate that in order to

stop virus transmission, remember, there`s two things these vaccines do.

They keep you out of the hospital and the ICU. But if enough Americans get

vaccinated, we can actually halt virus transmission, potentially, and we

think that number is three quarters of the U.S. population.

So, 240 million people, most of the vaccines are two doses, so that`s about

half a billion immunizations that we have to take care of. And I want to do

that by the beginning of the summer, not the end of the summer to race

ahead of those virus variants.

So the simple back of the envelope numbers are 500 million over five

months, that`s 100 million a month, 3 million a day. So we`re only striving

for half of that. And it`s not good enough because we have according to the

Centers for Disease Control, the U.K. variant may be the dominant variant

in the United States by March or April.

The transmission is going to go way back, way back up even though we`re

down by 20, 30 percent now from where we were. That`s only temporary. I

think we`re in the eye of the hurricane and those numbers are going to go

back up.

So I feel like even as ambitious as the Biden plan is, it`s still not

ambitious enough, and we can and have to vaccinate half a billion people by

the summer in order to prevent that terrible number of 600,000 deaths.

That`s the bottom line, I want to save lives.

MADDOW: So to get to that -- the corresponding sort of imperative there is

to the extent that the virus in the United States is going to be supplanted

by this more transmissible variant, a more transmissible virus, essentially

means we have to move faster to give people immunity so that the infection

rates don`t race even further out of control than they`ve already been?

HOTEZ: That`s right. We have to let the vaccination race ahead of the

virus emergence. And it`s not just the U.K. variant. We could have the

South African variant in the U.S. there is one coming out of

Denmark/California, one out of Brazil.

And not only are -- is the transmission going up, but according to Dr.

Fauci, he feels that the deaths are going up as well with the U.K. variant,

the death rate.

So this is all very, very bad news on top of previous bad news. So we have

to really look at what are some of the levers we can pull and push to

vaccinate the American people in a faster time frame. And don`t forget, you

know, as we`ve all been hearing, my inbox is flooded with people who just

are so profoundly frustrated, calling Duane Reade and CVS and Rite Aid and

Sam`s Club and Walmart trying to get vaccines for their mother, father,

brother, sister. You can`t underestimate the destabilizing effect that`s

having on the country.

So, this is not only a public health crisis, it`s a full-on homeland

security issue, in my estimation.

MADDOW: Dr. Peter Hotez of Texas Children`s Hospital and Baylor College of

Medicine -- sir, always an honor to have you here. Thanks for helping us


HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. I am standing on Lawrence

O`Donnell`s real estate and I will hereby vacate. I will see you tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.




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