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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
JAIME HARRISON, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thank you so
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
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 Democrats.org. 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINEAT BAYLOR:
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
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.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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