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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/11/2021

Guest: Anthony Fauci�

Summary:

President Joe Biden gave his first primetime national address since he took office 51 days ago, and the biggest headline out of the speech is that he says all American adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine shot by the end of next month. Interview Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Tonight, the speaker of the New York state assembly announced the judiciary committee is going to launch an impeachment investigation into Governor Cuomo.

Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That was a phenomenal hour, Chris. Very, very well done, my friend. Thank you for being out there.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour on this very sobering day.

It is one year, of course, since COVID-19 was officially declared a worldwide pandemic. A year since the country started shutting down and our lives changed so radically. A year since we started losing tens and then hundreds and then thousands and ultimately hundreds of thousands of Americans lives.

We have just in this last hour seen the first primetime national address from President Joe Biden since he took office 51 days ago. The biggest headline out of the speech, the biggest news from the president tonight, is that he says all American adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine shot by the end of next month.

As somebody who has been eagerly awaiting her vaccine shot and having no idea when I would become eligible, I will tell you, I feel this personally. As the president made clear tonight, he`s saying this doesn`t necessarily mean all American adults are going to be vaccinated by the end of next month, by May 1st.

But he is ordering all states and territories to open eligibility to all adults by no later than May 1st, which means you can get in line, which means you can start setting up your appointment, which means you can make your plans. Any American adult who wants a shot will be free to sign up for one, and the president says his administration will do everything it can to make vaccine shots available to every single American who wants one.

And that is just almost unbelievably good news. For all of the Americans who want to get vaccinated, present company included, but also for what it says about the progress the administration feels it`s making toward that ultimate goal of getting everybody vaccinated.

And you know, also, it matters, I think, that we did finally, finally get a real presidential address on COVID. A real presidential address that made sense, that was rooted in empathy, and that explained even complex things truthfully and with nuance. It feels revolutionary after what we have been through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Weddings, birthdays, graduations, all the things that needed to happen but didn`t. The first date, the family reunions, the Sunday night rituals, it`s all has exacted a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us, for we are fundamentally a people who want to be with others, to talk, to laugh, to hug, to hold one another.

But this virus has kept us apart. And grandparents haven`t seen their children or grandchildren. Parents haven`t seen their kids. Kids haven`t seen their friends. The things we used to do that always filled us with joy have become things we couldn`t do and broke our hearts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: President Biden tonight in the role of essentially consoler-in- chief on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.

The president did announce concrete steps his administration is going to be taking to try to end this thing. Doubling the number of federally run vaccination centers, he said, increasing mobile outreach to communities that are otherwise having a hard time getting to vaccination sites. Launching a central federal government website, he said, where people can find vaccine appointments.

He said no more hunting for appointments day and night. That perked up my ears. How many people do you know who have been doing that ever since the first vaccines became available? He says there will be a federal resource to align everybody with a vaccine shot with their name on it. I want to know more about that.

He said there will be thousands more people mobilized to administer vaccine shots. People like retired doctors and nurses, other federal personnel.

If the United States successfully executes a surge in vaccine availability and delivery and vaccinations stay on schedule, president Biden tonight set a date, sort of an aspirational date by which we might regain some normalcy in the way we live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I promise I will do everything in my power, I will not relent until we beat this virus. But I need you, the American people, I need you. I need every American to do their part.

That`s not hyperbole. I need you. I need you to get vaccinated when it`s your turn and when you can find an opportunity. And to help your family, your friends, your neighbors get vaccinated as well, because here`s the point: If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there`s a good chance you, your families and friends, will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.

That doesn`t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together. After this long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: President Biden speaking tonight in the east room of the White House. Again, this is his first primetime address to the nation since he has been president. And, of course, this address tonight came just hours after he signed his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. It feels very well- choreographed the president would sign this giant relief bill aimed at pulling Americans out of the economic tailspin COVID has caused and also opening the country back up safely, that he would sign that bill right before giving this major national address on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic being declared. It feels very well-choreographed, but in fact, these events were not originally expected to happen on the same day.

After the House passed the COVID relief bill yesterday, that bill had to go through a couple more steps to make it to the president`s desk. After that House vote, the White House said the president was actually expected to sign the bill on Friday, tomorrow, so that would have been the day after tonight`s big speech.

The bill went through an enrollment ceremony in which Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer signed the final bill before the bill goes to the president, it`s required by law that it must be enrolled which means it gets printed on special paper and signed by various congressional officials and then it has to be formally conveyed to the White House.

It was expected by all the time that was said and done, it wouldn`t actually be in President Biden`s hands until tomorrow, but lo and behold, White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the enrolled bill got to the White House last night, so they moved up the timeline. The president signed it today. Klain saying it`s because we want to move as fast as possible.

So another small thing, keeping with the Biden administration`s under promise, overdeliver strategy when it comes to responding to COVID. And that little bit of extra speed, moving up the signing of the bill by one day, it does actually mean something in practical terms. If your direct deposit information is already on file with the IRS, and if you are one of the 85 percent of Americans who is eligible for one of those $1,400 relief checks that`s included in the rescue plan, we had been expecting that you might get that check as early as next week.

But the White House press secretary said today that with it being signed early, with them moving as fast as they can, you may actually see that money in your bank account as soon as this weekend, this weekend. And it`s already Thursday night.

President Biden said tonight he`s not going to need the full 100 days that he promised to get to 100 million vaccine doses administered. He said tonight he expects that we`ll be at 100 million shots given by day 60 of his presidency. Not by day 100. Day 60 is soon. We`re already at day 51.

But even with beating that 100-day goal, even with vaccinating at a much faster pace than he initially promised, now, of course, many public health experts think we not only need to keep up this pace, we need to considerably accelerate it. The president did tonight say that he wants the U.S. pace of vaccination to stay at a sustained rate of more than 2 million shots per day, as a goal from here on out.

Again, all American adults eligible for the vaccine in every state and territory and tribe by the end of next month. Those are -- that`s a lot. Those are big things that he is promising and that he`s saying the government is going to be able to do. The president`s trying to raise spirits tonight. He`s acknowledging the loss that we have been through over the past year, in a way that no other American politician of his generation or any other that I have ever known can do and the way he`s able to articulate grief and empathy and sympathy.

He`s acknowledging the loss. He`s also trying to raise spirits by telling what it will take to get to the end of this crisis. And importantly, he asked for everybody to do their part. Not only does he want us all to get vaccinated, he said tonight, get vaccinated when it`s your turn and when you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, but help others get vaccinated. Help your neighbors and your friends and your family get vaccinated too. So we can pull together toward a goal of being able to be together again safely and soon.

And so this is an important address because of this milestone, because of where we are in the Biden presidency, because of what else is going on in the COVID response, but let me get specific here for a second, because there are ways this is going to go here that I think the scientific, the epidemiologists, the infectious disease experts, they understand here, but we the public don`t necessarily get it yet.

Let me give you a few things that I`m talking about here. If we open everything back up again, like they`re doing in Texas right now as we speak, and in Florida, and in Oklahoma, and in Mississippi, and all these other places, are we now vaccinating Americans fast enough that any subsequent surge in new cases, surge in hospitalizations, surge in deaths that we get from these wide openings that are happening in so many states, is it possible that we`re vaccinating enough Americans now that those subsequent surges after these openings up won`t be as bad? Is it giving us some cushion, some insulation from further spikes like we have seen in the past after other states opened up?

With 90 percent of the American population still unvaccinated now, 10 percent vaccinated, can scientists discern an inflection point, where the effect of vaccines is protective enough that it`s not actually an irresponsible choice to open up? Will we get to a point where the Dr. Faucis of the world and the CDC will give guidance on opening stuff up based on what proportion of the population is vaccinated? Is that day coming? Should we be heading toward that day already?

And then there`s the darker side of that question. If we are opening up in big parts of the country right now, if we`re opening up big parts of the country too early, before there are enough people vaccinated to make it safe to do so, could those opening ups actually fuel the rise of these more virulent variants of the virus against which the vaccines don`t work as well? Are we in effect breeding vaccine resistant strains by opening things up in lots of states and encouraging lots of viral transmission right now before we have got significant numbers of people vaccinated in those states? Or does it not work that way?

I feel like this is one of these issues that epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists` scientists who know this stuff, they understand the concepts, but we the public are still fuzzy on these things. We`re both worried about continued transmission, plateauing transmission. Still, more than 1,000 Americans dying every day, and we`re incredibly hopeful for not only the vaccinations we have had already, but for the pace at which we`re going to continue to vaccinate.

How do we put those things together? There`s a scientific point at which those points come together. The scientists need to help us understand those as the public.

And one more. While we`re on the subject of hard questions that you might need a Dr. Fauci type to answer, here`s one that I find animating me more and more with each passing day. Imagine if you will, imagine just for a second, that we had basically a cure for COVID-19. A drug you could take if you did get COVID. It doesn`t prevent you from getting infected. It`s not a vaccine. But if you do get infected, it`s basically a cure or close to it.

Imagine if we had something like that. You know, you didn`t get vaccinated in time, and you got COVID. You tested positive, but then you can take a dose of this drug, and it`s highly effective at preventing you from being hospitalized. Like 70 percent effective or even more, 85 percent effective, 87 percent effective at keeping you from having to go to the hospital because of your COVID infection, at keeping you from dying.

Imagine if we had something like that, a drug you could take, if we had something that effective at effectively curing people who got infected with COVID. A drug you could take that would keep you from getting sick and dying. How would the availability of that affect our national response to this pandemic?

I`m asking because honestly, it seems like we might have that right now already. But nobody is really talking about it.

Two new clinical trial results reported yesterday showing for people who tested positive for COVID, people at high risk of getting sick and dying from COVID, take this drug, 85 percent and 87 percent reduction in your chance of getting hospitalized or dying. Two different drugs, one with an 85 percent reduction, one with an 87 percent reduction.

One of these drugs, the 87 percent one, is already approved for use in the United States. It`s made by Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly says they can make a million doses of that in the next few months.

The other drug is made by Glaxo, and a biotech company called Vir. They say they`re applying for use authorization in the United States right away on the strength of these clinical trial results. Their clinical trial was actually called off by the advisory board overseeing it because the drug was working so well, they decided the only ethical thing to do was to stop the trial.

They decided it wasn`t ethically right to keep giving half the people in that trial just a placebo when the drug itself was working so well. It was showing an 85 percent reduction in people having to go to the hospital and in people dying. Among people who were COVID positive and at high risk of getting sick.

What if we had something that`s basically a cure? What if we have already got something that`s pretty close to a cure and we`re just not using it enough?

Dr. Anthony Fauci briefed at the White House this week on new antiviral prospects for treating and potentially curing COVID, protease inhibitors, polymerase inhibitors, entry inhibitors -- surprising numbers of drugs to treat COVID in interesting stages of development right now. But there are three, possibly soon to be four antibody treatments already approved for use in the United States against COVID that are really, really, really, really highly effective for people who have COVID, who have been infected to keep them from getting sick.

The U.S. government has bought hundreds of thousands of doses of these drugs. They`re paid for.

But, by and large, they`re not being used while still even now we`re losing 1,500, 2,000 Americans every day. If that many deaths every day. While we have drugs that can significantly reduce the prospect of people dying from this illness.

I mean, COVID-19 is not considered to be a curable illness now, but for people who are infected who are at high risk from getting sick, this thing may be way more susceptible to treatment that we`re -- than we`re acting like. Why is that? Why is nobody talking about that?

I`m getting increasingly obsessed with this. We are one year in. We have vaccines now. We need to get everybody vaccinated. All adults eligible will be vaccinated by the end of next month.

The president asking us all to help our neighbors and our friends and our family to get vaccinated too. We have the vaccines soon to be in more than sufficient quantities.

We also have some treatments now with proven clinical effectiveness. And in addition to getting everybody vaccinated to keep them from getting infected in the first place, we also need to acknowledge 50,000-plus Americans are still getting infected every day now.

And for people -- and hopefully that will go down with vaccines, but as of right now, we have been plateauing at 50,000 cases a day or more for a very long time. For people who do get COVID, for people who test positive who are at high risk of getting sick, it seems to me we need to get way more of those people access to the existing treatments that we`ve got that are going wanting right now, that are not being used while Americans die.

How do we fix that part of it? Why isn`t that more of a focus of our national discussion? Is there something that I`m missing here? Some way I`m looking at this the wrong way around?

Joining us now is our nation`s top infectious disease expert. He`s the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He really needs no introduction beyond that.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, it`s a real honor to have you here tonight, sir. Thank you so much.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Thank you very much. Good to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW: First of all, let me -- let me give you the chance to wind me back here, if I am looking at this the wrong way around --

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: -- or if anything that I just said is wrong or too fuzzy.

FAUCI: No, part of what you said, a good part of what you said is true.

The only difficulty is that when you`re dealing with something that requires an intravenous administration, the logistics of doing that on a wide scale is much more difficult than I think you made it appear.

What we really do need more of is orally administered pills like we have for HIV and hepatitis C, where someone can take them immediately. You don`t have to line up to go to an infusion center.

The other thing is you`re absolutely correct, though, that in fact some of the monoclonal antibodies are in fact really quite impressive if you get the treatment early enough. We have had a number of trials which you did not mention, when they were given to people later in the course of infection, essentially did not work at all.

So, one of the things that`s very, very clear, if you administer those drugs and the logistic difficulty in getting people to infusion centers to do that makes it difficult to readily use it. But in and of themselves, they are quite effective if given early enough.

The other point that you obviously had no way of making or knowing is that when you get a variant, the monoclonal antibodies are very vulnerable to the variants because they`re very specific for a particular part of the virus. And when the virus mutates, if it mutates at that point that that monoclonal antibody binds to, then that`s it. That monoclonal antibody is no good.

We`ve learned that from the South African experience, where the virus that is now prevalent in South Africa, the 351 variant, that one knocks out many of the monoclonal antibodies people are using. So there`s not that real confidence that we now have the showstopper with monoclonal antibodies.

They have a place, but the real therapeutic end game would be an orally available drug that you could readily administer, that you could get in a pharmacy and a person could get it just like that when they get infected.

MADDOW: Is there an interim step?

I was interested to see that with the Glaxo treatment, they talked today in their results about their clinical trial, that they`re trying to basically reconfigure that drug so that it wouldn`t be administered at an infusion center, infused in the way I think people may be familiar with, the way you get chemo, for example, in a lot of cases for oncological treatment. But they`re trying to configure that drug as a simple injection.

Now, that wouldn`t get you as far as --

FAUCI: Right.

MADDOW: -- having a -- be a pill that you can take, but it would get you closer to being a more easily administered treatment.

FAUCI: You`re absolutely correct.

So, let me be clear, despite the caveats I just gave about the monoclonal antibodies, they are potentially highly effective therapeutics. What many of the companies are working on, and many of the researchers involved, is to do just what you say, to modify it in a way that`s much more easily administrated. Namely, being able to give it in a subcutaneous injection or getting it down to a way where you can give it intramuscularly or subcutaneously, where you don`t have to have an infusion center. You could just go in, get an injection, and that`s it.

That`s the way the direction is going right now to facilitate the logistics of getting it into people.

MADDOW: Do you think, Dr. Fauci, that we are ultimately going to have coronaviruses and COVID-19 essentially endemic, and we`re going to be getting shots that are like flu shots that are updated all the time to account for new variants, that it`s something we`re never going to eradicate, but we`re going to be increasingly treating and trying to avoid through evolving vaccines?

FAUCI: That is entirely conceivable. So, when you have infectious diseases, the three ways you go at them, you can control them, you can eliminate them, or you can eradicate them.

You`re absolutely correct. It is unlikely that we will eradicate this, at least not in the near future, because of its widespread global spread that we have. That`s not going to happen.

You can possibly eliminate it if in fact you vaccinate enough people and you get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, and you do get this veil or umbrella of herd immunity.

One of the stumbling blocks to that is that this is a global pandemic. So unless you essentially equally suppress it throughout the world or if you have places in the world where it`s still pretty much doing its thing without any control, you will always have the danger, even if you do a good job in the United States or Canada or the European Union, that if you have parts of the world where there`s a lot of viral activity, the idea of a variant emerging, getting to your country, and then re-giving you another spike is a real danger.

So in answer to your specific question, it is conceivable that until we get a broader way of protection throughout the world, that we may have cycles where we have to keep boosting people, either boosting them with the original vaccine, which gives you enough antibody to spill over to the variants, or develop a vaccine that`s specific for one or more of the variants.

The only trouble with the latter is that otherwise you may find yourself playing whack-a-mole with the variants, because we have a lot of different variants. One was the U.K. Another one was the South African variant. We now have a couple of homegrown variants, one in California and one in New York.

So what you really need to do is get a vaccine that`s potent enough and broad enough that it will overlap all of the other variants. You can give that a name, more of a universal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. That`s what we`re aiming at, so we don`t have to be repetitive every year coming back to chase after these variants.

MADDOW: This week, President Biden was asked what the United States will do with surplus vaccine if the U.S. government ends up buying more vaccine than we need to vaccinate our own population, and he said we will share it with the world.

Do you anticipate that in fairly short order that the U.S. can be in a position to help vaccinate the world? Again, not as charity but because it`s the thing that needs to be done in order to defeat this thing worldwide because we are a nation that is more capable than most to be able to effectuate something like that around the world. Do you anticipate being -- us being in a global leadership role in that -- in that front?

FAUCI: The answer is yes. And there`s more to it than just that. We`re part of this group called COVAX. We have already given $2 billion and we`re going to give another $2 billion for a total of $4 billion.

The president also said, and it`s true, that we will have a surplus, and when we do, we`re willing to give it to some of the countries that can`t fend for themselves.

But there`s also another thing we can do. We can partner with many of the other countries to give the resources to these other countries that don`t generally have the capability of making vaccines for themselves to allow them to ultimately be self-sufficient. In other words, instead of giving doses to them, giving them the capability of making doses themselves.

So, all of those different things I think are going in the right direction, because it`s quite true, this is a global pandemic, and it requires a global response. And if the entire world is not controlling it, then nobody is really going to absolutely control it.

MADDOW: Dr. Fauci, I`m so grateful to have this time with you tonight. If you don`t mind just taking a quick break with us, I have a couple more questions for you on the other side of the break.

FAUCI: Sure. No problem.

MADDOW: All right. Dr. Anthony Fauci is our guest. Stay back -- stay with us. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: With Bike Week getting under way at Daytona Beach this weekend, Main Street is already lined with motorcycles and business owners say they`re ready. The 80th anniversary of the event comes a year after it was cut short just as the pandemic was exploding. As worries remain this year, a mask mandate is in place. However, when it comes to enforcement, that`s in the hands of businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not force it. We let the people, if they want to do it, that`s up to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s going to be big. I think it`s going to look like the pandemic never surfaced.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It is Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida, this week, 300,000 people expected to congregate in the streets for a motorcycle rally that happens there once a year. The Daytona Police say it`s up to business owners to enforce the mask mandate during Bike Week. Many business owners saying, meh. They won`t.

Remember last year, a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, drew just under half a million people, health officials later said that event caused the spread of COVID-19 cases to more than 20 states.

Back with us now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden`s chief medical adviser on COVID issues, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Fauci, thank you again.

I have to ask if you are worried about this motorcycle week in Daytona, if it may end up having the kind of consequences that Sturgis had last year.

FAUCI: I think there`s a big possibility that that`s exactly what would happen. I just took a look at that clip, Rachel, and it really gave me chills just looking at it. I mean, I understand people want to get out and enjoy themselves and get back to what would have been normal a couple years ago.

But we really just got to hang on a bit longer. We`re really going in the right direction as we heard from the president just a little while ago. It`s really ill-advised to do something like that because you know as a matter of fact that people are not uniformly going to keep their masks on when they finish with the rally, they`re going to go to bars. They`re going to have fun, which is understandable. You can understand their wanting to do that.

But they`re likely going to be pulling back from some of the prudent public health measures. I just hope we don`t have another surge in that area from that. It is really ill-advised.

MADDOW: We have seen a number of governors in recent days rescind mask mandates. Do you ever speak with any of those governs? Do they either consult with you or do you call them to try to talk about those decisions?

FAUCI: You know, I haven`t spoken to governors as a group for a while. I get calls almost every day from one governor or another asking usually for some advice about what to do or plans they have, saying do you think this is a reasonable idea? They need some feedback.

I have not heard from the governors of the states that you mentioned, namely from Texas or Mississippi, about the idea of pulling back on the mask mandate. I have not heard from them.

MADDOW: One of the other things I have been thinking about, as President Biden lays out this prospect of a very much advanced vaccination effort nationwide -- lots of federal resources, lots more vaccine supply, lots more ambitious goals in terms of who qualifies and how quickly, we`re seeing such different levels of performance from different states in terms of getting vaccines into arms.

We`re seeing states like Alaska, for example, do great in vaccinating a large portion of their population. A state like Connecticut is also doing well. I live in Massachusetts where they`re doing a pretty lousy job.

I wonder if part of the national effort here is to get less -- poorly performing states up to speed, to help them with best practices -- to help them reconfigure their websites or reconfigure some of the ways they`re administering things to get them to follow best practices from other places so we don`t have laggard states like Massachusetts and some others?

FAUCI: Rachel, I think you just nailed it. That`s exactly the issue that needs to be addressed, and that`s the reason why what the president said very clearly before the speech and at the speech tonight is that we at the federal level are going to really partner with the states in a collaborative, cooperative, and hopefully synergistic way where we`re opening up community vaccine centers, up to 500 of them, including in areas that have minority populations that generally don`t have easy access to the types of things, including vaccines.

We`re going to put vaccines in pharmacies, including those located in areas, again, that are underserved. We`re going to use mobile units that are going to get out into poorly served areas. We`re going to increase dramatically the number of people who will be able to give the vaccination -- regular army military people, we`re going to get volunteers from retired physicians, nurses, and other health care providers in order to get this machine running really smoothly.

That`s what the president was talking about tonight. That`s what he speaks to us in private about. And that`s when you see a much more uniform approach of efficiency of getting vaccines into people`s arms. That`s exactly what he was referring to tonight.

MADDOW: Dr. Fauci, I think it`s a comfort to a lot of Americans just to know that you are the president`s top adviser on these matters and that you are meeting with him regularly and that you are in communication with him. The president tonight told the country that one of the things he wants us all to do is listen to you when you talk to us about this disease and about the truth of this epidemic.

I feel like I have to ask you sort of the converse, is he always listening to you? Is there anything that you want the Biden administration to be doing or that you have advised them to do that they`re not doing?

FAUCI: Not at all, Rachel. I mean, we speak with the medical group every single day, multiple times a day. We meet with Jeff Zients who is the person who is really one leading the medical group.

We meet with the president at least once a week. We get involved with other types of Zooms with people on the team. We`re in constant contact.

The president says all the time, either directly to us or translating it through people like Ron Klain and Jeff Zients that he wants the science to rule what we do. Tell me what is scientifically sound, tell me what is sound from a public health standpoint, and we`ll do it.

And there isn`t anything that I can think of where we said, this should or should not be done, and it wasn`t followed. Absolutely, without -- without any exceptions.

MADDOW: Let me ask you just one specific point. There had been an expectation that the guidance for vaccinated people would come out late last week. It ended up coming out a few days later than that. There had been some reporting that suggested there were discussions within the administration about travel guidance and other specific parts of that.

Were there any shenanigans there? Was the CDC interfered with --

FAUCI: No.

MADDOW: -- at all in its ability to recommend what it thought was right?

FAUCI: Absolutely not. Unqualified no. There was no interference at all. They were just fine-tuning a document.

The CDC is very careful, Rachel. They want to get it right. They`re an evidence-based organization and they want to make sure they have the evidence. Where they don`t have the evidence, could they model it? If they can`t model, can they put good commonsense judgment?

What we saw with the first installation of recommendations is the first in a series that are going to be coming out one after the other. They will address travel. They will address workplace. They will address houses of worship.

You`re going to see that coming out pretty quickly so that people will have recommendations, what they can do now that we got a lot of people vaccinated. So, you`re going to see that very soon.

MADDOW: Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden`s chief medical adviser, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- Dr. Fauci, I am honored to have you here and have this time. I`ll ask you as I did last time, if you are -- if the answer to those last two questions that I ask you changes, if there are shenanigans, if there is inappropriate political pressure, I hope that you will squawk. You will have an open invitation to be here any time to tell us if there`s anything going on we ought to know about. We`re so grateful for your work, sir.

FAUCI: Thank you, Rachel. I haven`t changed at all over the last year, so I will tell it like it is all the time. I promise you.

MADDOW: We trust you for it. We trust you for it, sir.

FAUCI: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to here tonight.

All right. Stay with us.

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MADDOW: Dramatic turn today in the rising scandals around New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. In recent weeks, a number of allegations have surfaced in which Governor Cuomo is accused of making sexually inappropriate remarks or of sexual harassment of women he came in contact with as governor, including women who worked under him in Albany.

Tonight, the speaker of the New York state assembly announced the judiciary committee is going to launch an impeachment investigation into Governor Cuomo. That impeachment investigation will reportedly look into recent allegations against the governor as well as the governor`s nursing home scandal, where the governor`s office is alleged to have covered up the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes, fudging the numbers basically to avoid political fallout and criticism.

Now, impeachment at the state level works basically the same way that it does at the federal level. If the assembly were ultimately to vote to impeach Governor Cuomo, the next step is he would then be tried in the state senate. As of tonight, roughly two thirds of the senators in the New York state Senate have already called on Governor Cuomo to step down, including the Senate Democratic leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

The allegations against Cuomo range from allegations of inappropriate touching and inquiries about the sex lives of his subordinates to allegations of unwanted kissing and a request to play strip poker on a trip on a government plane, and the latest allegation first reported by "The Albany Times Union", the governor`s accused of reaching under a staffer`s shirt and groping her while she was at the governor`s mansion on official business.

Governor Cuomo has denied ever inappropriately touching or propositioning anyone who worked for him. He denies asking anyone to play strip poker, denies reaching under a woman`s blouse. At the same time, he has responded to some of the claims of inappropriate conversations and claims saying the actions have been misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation. He`s admitted he may have been insensitive or too personal in his interactions.

Well, tonight, just before we got on the air, "The Wall Street Journal" reported a story saying after some of the initial allegations surfaced, Governor Cuomo`s office started calling former staffers seeking information about one of the accusers, and in at least one case, encouraging those former staffers that they should call reporters and discredit the woman who was making the accusations.

We reached out to the governor`s office regarding this new "Wall Street Journal" reporting, they told us the allegation of intimidation is false.

Earlier this months, New York State Attorney General Tish James, Letitia James, announced that her office would be opening an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual remarks by the governor. Tish James` involvement in the case has been seen, particularly by many New York Democrats, as an important step in the investigative process. Especially when she made clear she would not accept pressure from anyone in terms of deciding how to run the investigation. It would happen on her terms.

Until recently, until today, it seemed like Andrew Cuomo`s fate as governor of New York state would hinge almost entirely on the results of Attorney General James` investigation, but with this latest allegation from the Albany paper, it appears that Tish James investigation may not be enough or at least it won`t be the only factor here. Today, that allegation from the sixth Cuomo accuser, the one who claims he reached under her shirt at the governor`s mansion, that allegation was referred not just to Tish James` office, but to Albany police as well.

Governor Cuomo`s attorney saying the governor`s accuser did not want to report that latest allegation to police, so the governor`s office did it themselves. Police told "The New York Times" that they haven`t received a formal complaint from the alleged victim. They haven`t opened a criminal investigation, but they have offered services to the accuser.

That means the governor could soon be facing investigations from the attorney general as well as from local law enforcement and now as of today an impeachment investigation in the state assembly. As many Democrats in the New York assembly and the New York Senate say they have already heard enough to call for the governor`s resignation.

So like I said, this story is developing by the second, some of these latest developments quite dramatic.

Watch this space.

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MADDOW: Congratulations, America. Today, we got ourselves a new attorney general. Former federal appeals court judge, former Supreme Court nominee in the Obama administration, Merrick Garland, greeted with applause as he showed up to work on his first full day as the country`s 86th attorney general. He gave a speech to the 115,000 personnel of Justice Department in which he pledged a return to normalcy and independence in the pursuit of justice.

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MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The only way we can succeed and retain the trust of the American people is to adhere to the norms. Those norms require that like cases be treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and another for foes.

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MADDOW: Less than an hour after this speech, Merrick Garland received a closed door briefing from FBI Director Chris Wray and other national security officials on the ongoing investigations into the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack. Garland has said that will be his first priority as A.G.

Tonight, "The Washington Post" reports that the FBI and the Justice Department are looking to build a large conspiracy case against a right- wing group called the Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers have already seen 12 of their members arrested in relation to the attack.

In addition to inheriting the whole docket of hundreds of criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack, Attorney General Garland will also have to start the hard process of restoring morale and restoring regular order at an agency that went through the proverbial wars under its past leadership under President Trump. And here we are still learning new details about the damage inflicted by the previous administration in its waning days.

Por ejemplo, NPR and other news outlets reporting tonight that two whistleblowers have come forward to accuse former high ranking Justice Department official and Trump ally Jeffrey Bossert Clark of improperly trying to hire unqualified people loyal to P Trump to senior justice department positions.

You may remember Jeffrey Bossert Clark as the guy in January hatched a plot with President Trump in which they planned to oust the acting attorney general who refused to investigate election interference on behalf of the president to the president`s liking. Mr. Clark decided that he -- Mr. Clark and the president decided Clark would take over the attorney general job himself when he promised that he would tell the state of Georgia that they must void their election results and no longer consider Joe Biden to be the winner in that state.

That caper, that effort to install Clark at the top of the Justice Department led very nearly to a mass resignation at the top of the Justice Department. Reported in "The New York Times" today that is now being investigated by the Justice Department`s inspector general.

Tonight, Merrick Garland ceremonially sworn into his new position by the vice president. He swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is a job in particular where it`s clear he has that work cut out for him.

More ahead tonight. Stay with us.

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MADDOW: The Best New Thing in the World today, we`ve got one. It`s 7 pounds and 11 ounces and really seriously too cute to handle. His name is Liam Matthew Donovan. He`s the son of our beloved senior producer Jen and her husband Matt.

He was born yesterday, literally, and he was a little behind schedule which means he already knows how the Maddow team rolls.

Welcome to the world, Liam Matthew.

If you`re following along at home now you may have noticed our staff has had quite a lot of babies in the past year. To be exact, six new babies since last March just in the staff of this show. And I would like to point out that would be enough to form a little baby basketball team with enough players to have a substitute for when any of the baby players got tired, which would of course be very, very cute. No pressure of course but I`m just saying this is an option that we have now because you guys are so good.

All right, that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END