tv Deadline White House MSNBC February 22, 2021 1:00pm-3:00pm PST
hi there, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. today president biden will mark a tragic milestone in this country. 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic. 500,000 families torn apart by a pandemic that has raged through this country starting one year ago and was met with varying degrees of indifference and denial from the former president. president joe biden made defeating the coronavirus pandemic the central promise for his candidacy and organized his entire administration around vaccinating the nation and healing the country's gaping wound from the toll covid has taken on our communities, on our children, on our psyches and on our economy. today starting the next hour we will have special coverage of the president's remembrance of tribute to those who have been lost to covid and families who
grieve them. but we start with the latest news from the administration on covid. in a briefing that just wrapped up, the cdc continued to add new details to the plan to get kids back in the classroom safely, a priority for joe biden in the first 100 days. dr. anthony fauci also offered an update on treating covid. the day's headlines are equal parts tragic and hopeful. the front page of "the new york times" offered a graphic display of the depth and breadth of the loss, 500,000 dots. each one representing a life lost to covid-19. we've lost the equivalent of the entire population of atlanta, georgia. another way to look at it, more americans have died from covid than were lost in any foreign war in our country's history. "the washington post" points out if we were to list each name on an monument by a vietnam memorial, it would need to reach 87 feet high. but there's good news on the
horizon, real tangible reason for hope. across the country cases are dropping to new levels we have not seen to the fall before that winter holiday surge upon a surge. "the new york times" headline today, quote, people are smiling. u.s. hospitals feel the drop in covid-19 patients. though experts continue to cautious against complacency. in countries farther along with vaccinating their populations, there's more good news on the impact of vaccines on transmission. in israel the pfizer vaccine was nearly 90% effective at stopping the spread of covid there. but marking a tragic milestone as we catch our first glimpse of hope is where we start today. nbc news medical contributor and medical expert dr. sanjay gupta is here and olivia choy is here, former adviser to vice president mike pence on the coronavirus task force. she left the administration last august and is now the director of the republican accountability project.
and claire mccaskill, i'm happy to see you, my friend. last time we met there was an impeachment trial going on. we turned to the crisis i think impacting every single person in this country one way or another where they live in their homes. i just want to hear your thoughts on this sad day of 500,000 souls lost with a lot of reason for hope on the horizon. >> i know it makes you uncomfortable when anybody says nice things about you on air, but i -- i do have to say that i think the effort you have made to make sure that the people we have lost from covid are known, who they are, what their lives were about. because what i'm most worried about nicolle is we've gotten to the point where these are all just numbers. this is a staggering, staggering disaster that has occurred in our country. and, yes, there are reasons that i'm anxious to hear dr. gupta, i'm especially curious about why
the variant is not picking up steam in the united states right now. and there are reasons to be optimistic. it does appear joe biden has his priorities straight. and how refreshing it was today for me to turn on our network and hear the scientists unbridled. just them talking and explaining everything from, you know, treatments to why and how we open schools. it's just the scientists. it's not politicians. and that, of course, is a major step forward. >> you, of course, made me cry a little bit. and these stories stay with all of us. a 9-year-old boy in texas, more moms younger than me than i can count, a generation of grandparents, dr. gupta, i wonder if you can speak to claire's specific question there, why are we so far not seeing those variants? did they come at a point in time
that might intersect with our vaccination schedule? can you explain what's going on here behind the numbers? >> absolutely, good afternoon, nicolle. senator mccaskill, to your question, we're still figuring it out. there's a lot of uncertainty here. let me remind everybody that right now we still have the sequencing capability to detect these variants that's ramping up. the biden administration's putting in a lot of money to ramp this up. frankly, we don't know what we don't know. we don't know truly what the transmittance rate are of these variants. and on this day of remembrance, as we're thinking about how can we mitigate the further loss of life here, every model, nicolle, is suggesting we could still potentially lose 120,000 additional to 150,000 additional americans by june 1. it does not have to be that way. that's not preordained loss. all of your viewers out there, i
know there's a lot of talk about the vaccines and i'm hearing specifically, should i get one vaccine, say pfizer, because it stops transmission, we think, in addition to being very effective against preventing severe disease versus, say, another vaccine? or hearing reports out of the united kingdom people want pfizer, they don't want astrazeneca. to all of you out there, all of these vaccines here are going to keep you out of the icu, keep you from seeing me and save your life and the life of your loved ones. we need vaccine confidence across the range of vaccines approved, not just one or two brands here. all of them work. the quicker we adopt that message worldwide because the entire world needs to get vaccinated to end this pandemic, the quicker we will be out of this and back to normal life. >> dr. gupta, why aren't there more vaccines here? why isn't the johnson & johnson getting distributed more quickly? >> the end of week is when the fda is viewing that briefing
document. they're taking their time. the fda has gone a lot through the last year, at times politicized, but they are looking at data in ways no other countries look at. i suspect we will see an emergency authorizationjohnson & johnson one shot by end of weekend potentially, which will be great for all of us. >> olivia, we have the benefit and experience of you on the show, but none is more searing, i imagine, than knowing we didn't have to be here. joe biden didn't begin his day today paying tribute to 500,000 americans two died with covid. it's a pandemic, but our response is abysmal, the worse in the world. you were on that task force. what are you feeling today, when you see the new president, as claire said, unleashing -- sarah palin might use the word unshackling the scientists, letting that drive policy and stay out of the way and do the
presidential parts of this, the flags will be lowered. we will have that opportunity, the second one, he held a memorial service, national memorial service the day before he was inaugurated and this is the second. >> yeah, i think it's two-fold, nicolle. i agree, still, it's not something that i carry lightly with me, i have to say, having lived a lot of that response firsthand and knowing what happened and how different it could have been and the fact it didn't have to be this way and the fact that medical experts on the task force and everybody i worked with were concerned the numbers would be this high if it didn't go the way they recommended, and all of that. so it's hard. and i'm glad that president biden is actually taking the time to remember the loss and the suffering that many americans have felt and the families out there who have felt this firsthand as well as medical community who has been at the frontlines responding to
this every single day doing everything they can. but then i feel hopeful as well because i'm grateful and i'll tell you what, i'll never take for granted what the power of elections and change can do when you get the right person in office with the right tone during a crisis, because that really matters. and we lived this firsthand. and i'm grateful we have someone who's really to trust the science, who's willing to give these doctors a platform to speak, and to be transparent, because transparency is key, especially in a communication like this. >> i wasn't sure if i would get a chance to play this but you set it up perfectly. because i was on the air when it happened, i have dr. fauci's very first public briefing after president biden was sworn in. let me play it. i think it illustrates this point you and claire are making beautifully. >> today can you talk a little bit about -- about how you feel
kind of relief from what you have been doing for the last year? >> you said i was joking about it, i was very serious. i wasn't joking. no, actually, i mean, obviously, i don't want to be going back over history, but it's very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact. i can tell you, i take no pleasure at all being in a situation of contradicting the president. so it was really something that you didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it. the idea you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence -- what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak. it is somewhat of a liberating feeling. >> claire, it cannot be overstated just how subverted science and good policy making
was by the, you know, 30,000-pound lying gorilla in the room. to stand at that podium, as you all said, i watched the briefings every day, they're not glitzy, but they're chockful of information. i sit there with a pen. i have to google words. i don't understand all of them. but this is what's supposed to happen. it's really no use looking backwards but the frame around in which biden was judged for hitting these remarks, and he set out pretty ambitious goals for vaccinations, pretty ambitious goals for kids getting back to school, to start where dr. anthony fauci could speak freely is mind-boggling. >> yeah, they're pretty nerdy, these briefings. they're not bam-pow television, but they're really important. they're very important in terms of vetting the nation to a place where we can begin to have
confidence. what we're hearing is not just about political and narcissism. you know, i've got to tell you the truth, nicolle, i think back on some of those trump briefings and, of course, i remember when fauci buried his head when trump was going on about the hydroxychloroquine. then i remember, of course, we all remember what happened when trump, very seriously, talked about injecting bleach. now, i'll tell you what makes me sleepless at night, he got like 74 million votes. >> yeah. >> and he said we should look into injecting bleach. that's how far down the rabbit hole our country went. and that's why everybody needs to be patient. joe biden's not going to be able to restore normalcy in a few weeks. it's going to take a while to get back into the rhythm of not having everything into the prism of having one die so he can dominate it like a reality tv
star. which turns out he was. >> truer words. dr. gupta, to this point claire is making, we do spend a lot of time covering and examining the impact of disinformation in inciting people to go and attack the nation's capitol. we don't spend quite as much time examining the role of disinformation in making people mask hesitant, social distance hesitant, travel hesitant. not afraid to travel, not afraid to convene. what role is sort of that information still playing in the fight doctors are waging against covid? >> oh, it's predominant still, nicolle, and it's shifting. it's shifting from where you wear a mask to will you not wear a mask? to now the debate on vaccines. i think what senator mccaskill just pointed out is vital here. for the last 14 months or for much of 2020, scientific uncertainty or learning as we go was painted to some as us
scientists, us public health officials, as being dishonest with the american people. and scientific uncertainty is by definition just part of the scientific process. we learn as we go. we may have to revise recommendations but we're not being dishonest with the people. we're trying to do our best by the people in conveying that not everything is absolute. but that was misused. that uncertainty as us being hypocrites or being not honest with the person on the other side who's listening to us and that was deeply harmful. now as we revise or talk about double masking or as we revisit recommendations that were initially named in 2020 with the best of interest, now people are pushing back or at least some parts are pushing back saying, you weren't honest with me back then and that's wrong. the seeds are placed in the prior administration. that's one. but number two, to answer your point directly, the discussion on vaccines, it's quite dark in some places. i do my best, as do my colleagues, to try to counter
it. at some point with the mask, silliness around masks, should you or should you not have now been translated to vaccines, so we have a lot of work ahead of us. >> olivia, listening to dr. gupta, you think about how much the country changed. after 9/11 we got new intelligence about new plots and the things we had to do changed. first we had to go through tsa and then take off our shoes because the intelligence agencies learned of a plot that had a device in a shoe. we are now incapable of trusting or accepting new information based on new intelligence, and there's some reporting -- and i don't mean to put you on the spot but i'm going to do it anyway, nbc news is reporting that biden is basically doing the opposite of everything that the last administration did. they report this, we report this, "heavy emphasis on communities of color, minority communities, economically and socially disadvantaged," and, quote, anything trump did, we're
doing the opposite." good way to go about making better, more sound covid policies? >> it's certainly fair to say that's probably a good way to start. and the part to focus on because minorities have really suffered during this pandemic, the number of comorbidities and just the information flow was certainly not there. the previous administration, their way of fixing it was just put someone of that color, a minority group, at the table and put them in front of the governors and solve it that way instead of actually doing things, we're going to make a difference and help while the doctors are sitting there discussing it during meetings saying this is a major problem. i do think we're off to a good start. but like the disinformation and sort of divisiveness, it's there and it's a problem and it will continue, right? they're doing that cpac conference down in florida because they can gather in mass gathering and you're going to see a bunch of people gathering
there probably maskless. these people will travel there and they will probably contract the virus and carry it back to their communities and just when we start to see hope, you still have the legacy of these types of, you know, information and divisiveness on the mask and things like that, that are going to continue. and it's going to continue to be an ongoing challenge. >> so sad. never mind any of the innocent people they sit to on airplanes or people who work in the hotels or serve them meals, it is one of the slow-moving, enduring scandals of trump's legacy. claire, i want to hit you with one more story in the category of hope. "the new york times" is reporting on the prospects of a post-pandemic economic boom. and obviously, this is a big part of the current white house's messaging and trying to garner support in congress for their covid relief package. they seem to have a lot of support in the public. "the times" writes, economists
fear the rebound will primarily benefit those at the top, compounding activities at the pandemic widened and for many businesses and households who struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic, those concerns pale in comparison with the opportunities that a boom could provide. i have heard others liken it to sort of a roaring '20s kind of consumption celebration period in this country. what do you predict? >> i think that is going to happen. everyone is anxious to travel, whether it's down the road to see family or whether it's in an airplane on a vacation. everyone is anxious to go out and do things that seem old-fashioned now like shopping. and we do have a consumer economy. and so our economy succeeds when people, one, field confident about what's going on around them and, two, spend money. i think we're on our way to both of those. but it also underscores how important it is increasing the minimum wage is.
i think they will argue back and forth and i don't know how quickly they will pass it and get to $15, but there's no question that is also a big part of what will be a boom. that will lift all boats, so to speak. if we can raise the wages of those who are sometimes have to turn for government help, even if they work 40 hours a week, that's a big deal in this country. i think that joe biden has a really strong case right now. it will be very politically difficult for these republicans to stand in the way of this relief package. >> hence the reliance on disinformation. dr. gupta, i want to ask you about one more headline, i listened to the interview and i'm pretty sure dr. fauci didn't plan to make this one. there's some reporting where there may be some occasions or periods where americans may have to wear our masks through this year and maybe into 2022. can you give that some context. >> of course, nicolle. dr. fauci was speaking to the uncertainty of the next several months. the best-case scenario here is
life starts to normalize in the middle of this summer. but that's contingent on the variants, for example, not taking root. we hope they don't. encouraging signs they don't, that there's no hiccups in vaccination. vaccine confidence continues to grow, we hope. if those things don't happen, there's certainly a possible scenario. we're still battling these pandemic into the winter and into q4. so he's referencing that. he's building in that anticipatory guidance that if these things don't follow through the way we're expecting them to, there's a potential for masking into early 2022. but let's hope, and he's also messaging on this, the most likely scenario is a large degree of normalcy by the fall and that's what we're willing to keep top of mind. >> dr. gupta, olivia troye, thank you very much for starting us off. claire is sticking around. when we come back, promising independence on his watch, a sharp departure from the last
guy, merrick garland revealing how his role in timothy mcveigh helped with his view. and former guy loses big in court today, clearing the way to send his tax return straight to new york prosecutors investigating tax fraud and his businesses. and update in texas, how they're seeking to restore services and trust. all of that after a quick break. don't go anywhere. she's cute li. voya doesn't just help me get to retirement... ...they're with me all the way through it. voya. be confident to and through retirement. wow. that's a low price. oh wow, that's a low price. what? ooo, that's a low price. you're so good at low prices. yeah. circle back on that later...
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my grandparents fled anti-sex anti-semitism and persecution. the country took us in, and i -- and protected us. and i feel that obligation to the country to pay back and this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. so i want very much to become the kind of attorney general you said i could become. >> guy, that's your next attorney general. does it feel good? explains his motivation for wanting to become the country's attorney general. nearly five years after his nomination for a position on the
supreme court was torpedoed by mitch mcconnell, and this time a nomination by biden for a.g. biden told garland, your loyalty is not to me. restoring the independence to the justice department is just one of the challenges facing merrick garland should he be confirmed. he will also take the reins into a sprawling investigation into the an attack on the capitol and lead domestic efforts to combat extremism. joining us, msnbc analyst andrew weitzman who worked at the justice department, lead prosecutor in robert mueller's special counsel office. claire is still here. i mean, to see that emotion and that love of country and the next attorney general is someone who feels like he owes the country something is such a -- pivot is not a strong enough word from what we just went through, where they were there ringing out every last public servant for their trespasses
against i don't know what, trumpism, i guess. what an appearance today, andrew weissmann. >> nicolle, i have the exact same impression. you compare this to the former attorney general william barr, the contrast in terms of humility, in terms of a sense of giving to the country, of really approaching this as the people's lawyer, not the president's lawyer. and i don't think there's anyone who can think that that's not going to happen under attorney general garland. so in terms of those all-important signals and that personal message, it was really quite moving. but it was just a strong a
contrast going from trump to biden as for us who lived in the department of justice as it will be going from barr to merrick garland. >> i want to ask both of you about this reporting about the role that prosecuting timothy mcveigh had on him. this is actually part of the garland story. i remember reading it when he was nominated but not really focusing on it. i don't know all of these details were ever shared. i want to read this from "the washington post." "garland said he initially feared because of reports of additional threats and truck bombs the oklahoma city explosion was just the beginning of some kind of rebellion or war. larry mackie, a prosecutor in the mcveigh case and that of co-conspirator terry nichols said garland encouraged investigators to run down possible connections to militia groups, cognizant the case had greater meaning for the nation. his message, and we certainly understood and believed it and i think ultimately the jury did as well, is we're going to respond to terrorism by relying on the institutions that made this
country so great, mackie said. merrick's team and prosecution's theme was we're going to be greater than they are." claire, i think it's just, again, whatever your politics, this is a person who has spent his time prosecuting the kind of extremism that led to the january 6th insurrection. >> and lived it. we were very fortunate if you think of the loss of life that occurred january 6th. it was tragic that we lost lives but nothing compared to what some of these groups could do with a well-placed bomb in a crowded area. domestic terrorism is in fact the biggest threat to our country and merrick garland knows it in his bones. and i am so comfortable. he's got a lot of work to do. i think andrew can speak to the repairing and restoring that needs to go internally, go on internally in doj. the career prosecutors who have
been so discouraged. we actually had an attorney general try to dismiss a case after a criminal had pled guilty because he was a buddy of the president's. i've got to just say this right now, i know i shouldn't go on this long right now but i can't help it. i watched part of that hearing. nicolle, give me a break, can you believe cruz and cornyn sat there and lectured garland merrick on politicizing doj after what they put up with, with no hearings, no brushback, with the president under donald trump, what he did at doj? it was disgusting how trump politicized doj. he tried to do it even more than he got away with. the nerve of them to sit there and act like -- cornyn said the only reason he could ever vote against him is if he wouldn't pledge to keep politics out of doj. these guys have some nerve, don't they? unbelievable. >> there's so much. we have two pieces of sound i think to illustrate both of your
points. let me first play his response to ted cruz and we'll get a response to this. >> i can assure you that i do not regard myself as anything other than the lawyer for the people of the united states. and i am not the president's lawyer. i am the united states' lawyer. and i will do everything in my power, which i believe is considerable, to fend off any effort by anyone to make prosecutions or investigations partisan or political in any way. my job is to protect the department of justice and its employees in going about their job and doing the right thing according to the facts and the law. >> andrew weissmann, he had to say that because bill barr's motto was do the shuffle wherever his crony wanted him to do. and his legacy was to be an
accomplice to a coup. >> absolutely and claire's point, it should be the democrats, the ideas a republican would ask that question is, as i like to say, added to the list of hypocrisy that's gone on for the last four years. remember, we came from a justice department where career people were routinely resigning and pulling themselves off of cases. that does not happen under normal administrations, republican and democrat. people believe in the rule of law. they just have policy differences. so that's just sort of a crazy question. and no one has any fear that there's going to be that pressure from the white house or that merrick garland wouldn't -- wouldn't resist it. and related to the january 6th events, i mean, what we really now have here is an attorney general who was steeped in domestic terrorism, who is not
going to resist going after white supremacists because they happen to vote for one side or the other. and is going to understand that this is an important terrorist group in this country. post 9/11 we rightly were looking outward to terrorism threats. but i think what we've seen on january 6th, and there's comfortable other evidence of it, our own domestic terrorism problem. with merrick garland and presumably the incoming deputy attorney general, lisa monaco, we have the most experienced attorney general and deputy attorney general on domestic terrorism i think in the department's history. >> to both of your points, i want to play his answer on combating domestic terrorism and extremism. let's listen. >> i don't think this is necessarily a one-off. the fbi director wray has
indicated that the threat of domestic terrorism and particularly of white supremacists extremists is his number one concern in this area. this is coupled with an enormous rise in hate crimes over the past few years. there is a line from oklahoma city and there's another line from oklahoma city all the way back to the experiences that i mentioned in my opening with respect to the battles of the original justice department against the ku klux klan. i certainly agree that we are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in oklahoma city than at that time. >> andrew, christopher wray made that assessment in september on live tv. if we had an attorney general who had gone out the next day and given a speech how the entire justice department was going to adjust itself, reorient itself the way it did after 9/11 to combat the threats of the fbi
director identified and testified to, we might be in a totally different place. >> well, absolutely. and it's really worth noting the importance of the attorney general's position. because we can talk about trump and how problematic he is. but the way he got away with it was because of enablers. and it's so important to have an attorney general with a backbone and principle. we did not have that under attorney general barr at all. energy attorney general sessions he actually was axed by trump because he showed that he understood the importance of the independence of the justice department. and i have no, no question that merrick garland is going to speak up if he thinks that the white house or anyone else is doing something that he thinks is improper. there's such integrity with his
candidacy. and it really does speak volumes that he was chosen by president biden for this position. >> claire, we mentioned all of the career prosecutors removing themselves from cases. those were the only public facing signs that we ever really had. this was a stoic workforce, the career prosecutors and folks that make up the workforce out in the u.s. attorney's office. what do you think merrick garland's task is in terms of morale and reassuring his workforce? >> well, there's a lot of muscle memory there. i mean, the ethos of a prosecutor is you don't try your cases for political reasons, you don't charge cases for political reasons, you don't avoid charging cases for political reasons. you keep your head down. you do the investigation. you get the facts, you apply the law and you go forward. and sometimes that means no case. sometimes it means a case. i think merrick garland is going
to just reassure them they can all just go back to work and not look over their shoulder. i do think it's interesting cornyn and cruz spent a lot of time today worrying about the politicalization of doj and somebody even asked questions about whether or not there would be prosecutions of trump and his family or hunter biden and his family. i would remind everyone on the senate judiciary committee that the highest ranking republican in the country asked for trump to be investigated. so i don't think anyone should say -- >> yeah. >> no one should think that doj is going to avoid looking at all of the facts and if they implicate donald trump or there are other crimes than donald trump or his family committed, i would depend on merrick garland to call balls and strikes and bring the evidence forward that. would not be politicizing doj, that would merely be following the instructions of mitch mcconnell. >> you're right. that was mitch mcconnell's
explicit request that the justice system do what he and 42 other u.s. senators could not. claire mccaskill, it's wonderful to see you. andrew's sticking around. >> you bet. when we come back, prosecutors were granted access to donald trump's taxes, increasing the former president's legal vulnerability. we'll look at what comes next for him. every day can be extraordinary with rich, creamy, delicious fage total yogurt.
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the disgraced ex-president's fight to hide his tax filings is now over. the grand jury declined him and said he must give his tax returns meaning cy vance will be in possession of some of the secret documents. in response vance released the following statement, quote, the work continues. trump's response is significantly longer, more meandering and went on to talk about the election that he lost and crime statistics in new york. joining us political strategist and founder of country over party and andrew weissmann is here. matthew, we will speak about texas because last time you were here, you didn't have power or water or anything else.
but starting with accountability, it's not healthy to wish ill of anyone but i think there's a pent-up desire in part because of andrew's role in the way the mueller investigation ended up, it doesn't feel like donald trump's ever been accountable to the rule of the law the rest of us live. how do you see the decision today to make his taxes available to investigators? >> well, to me the decision was basically delayed to summer and just got delayed as we saw through the election and the supreme court made the final decision on it. to me, louis grandize, the famous supreme court justice said sunlight is the greatest disinfectant, and donald trump is about to face a galaxy of suns for the first time in his life in this. i find it funny that taxes may be the way donald trump is held accountable for all of the things he's done in his life. i find it fascinating because al capone for all of the bad things he had done, was finally held
accountable and ended up out in the rock in california because of tax evasion. to me, taxes are the perfect small example -- obviously serious but small example for all of the things donald trump has done, that basically tells the tale of donald trump. he lied to people to boost his -- to boost what he was worth likely in order to get loans. he diminished and lied and diminished assets in order to pay less taxes. i think all of that is going to be will he revealed. that's why i think donald trump is so upset about all of this. because for the first time in his life, through every single relationship he had in business and politics, as you said, he's never finally been held accountable. he did lose an election this time and will wind up being the most unpopular president in history, although i don't know how much he cares about that because he emits his own ranking in this, but he will finally be held accountable because sunlight is going to shine on his tax returns. >> andrew weissmann, you and i have had a lot of conversations
and most in depth around what you wrote in your own book. i know you never understressed the importance of these investigations but as someone who investigated donald trump as part of a probe who didn't push to get all of his financial documents, what do you make of the decision today? >> you have to remember in addition the department of justice has a policy that even if we thought there was enough proof to go forward, we could not go forward and indict a sitting president. it had to wait until he was a former president. so i think the decision today is -- it was obviously correct. i mean, it was so correct that it was done in a summary order. this was trump for a second time going to the supreme court saying, stop the disclosure of my accounting records to the new york, manhattan district attorney.
the second time around, it was particularly a poor argument, particularly once he was former president trump because he couldn't make the argument this was going to interfere with his carrying out his duties. so i think now all eyes need to be on manhattan, because the ball is squarely in their court. they have now access to accounting documents that really can be a holy grail as they were when we were putting the case together against paul manafort. they have hired fti, an outside accounting firm that can go through these and i assume is being brought in to prepare to be trial witnesses, and they have brought in mark pomeranz, a king of the white collar bar here in new york, a move that suggests this is as serious an investigation as there could be. >> just real quickly, what happens? does someone have to get a pdf of his taxes and email it to cy
vance? what is the process now? by when will that office have in their hands a copy of his taxes? >> sure, it will be the taxes and all accounting records. it will be whatever the masers have, which should be a wealth of information, internal emails, communications with the trump organization, accounting spreadsheets, all sorts of notations as to how they're valuing things. mechanically what happens is the manhattan d.a.'s office calls up and says, okay, now that this has been decided, you need to turn them over by x date. the masers can hardly say we haven't had any notice. they have to have this all ready to go. and they literally can either send over a hard drive or they can just sometimes press a button and it, you know, millions of pages get produced to the manhattan district attorney's office, and i have been in that position and you basically spend a lot of nights
dividing things up and reviewing things because this is really, could be the actual key to whether you can or cannot make a case. >> poring over the evidence. andrew weissmann, thank you for spending some time with us today. you have a good dog that just turn around and sat down over your left shoulder. i'm going to hire that dog, trade my dog. matthew will stick around so we can ask him how things are going with him and his family in texas when he was on with us last week without power. an update on that story coming up.
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the nightmare continues for many texans today after last week's snowstorm battered the state, shutting down its power grid. millions of texans are still without clean drinking water so 8.8 million people are under water boil advisories as the state ramps up bottled water distribution. nbc news has confirmed at least 25 people in the state have died in connection with the storm with many desperate residents feeling like they've been left to fend for themselves, feeling angry towards leaders like governor abbott. while another state leader is under fire, senator ted cruz, he did not show up and try to help, passing out water and barbecue for a photo op on saturday after returning from his ill-timed trip to cancun. he was spoofed on "snl." matthew dowd is here with all things texas. first, how are you doing, my friend? and how are people around you, your friends and family?
>> well, i got a shower for the first time this morning, a hot shower at home for the first time in a week this morning at home. so i feel good about that. i got back in yesterday. my house, the power's been consistent, the pipes have unfroze, finally, and the drains are almost completely done and ready to go, so i'm in my house now. like many people, you have to figure out what you need to do. the power is pretty much been restored across the state, though people are dealing with these tremendous bills in certain parts of the state because of the regulatory environment. but i'm under a boil water ban in the town i'm in, so we have to still wait. we have to drink bottled water or boil it to -- however we're going to use it. you know, we've come through it. i've been more blessed than others in this, but i think the aftermath is a leadership examination, because the reason why we got here, i mean, mother nature, obviously, delivered the cold, but the reason why we ended up here was a complete lack of leadership or bad decisions that have been made for the last 10 to 20 years on the regulatory framework that
we're under or not under in the state of texas. >> how do we keep the kneejerk reaction from politicians like abbott -- you know, how do you make sure he doesn't do what he did this time the next time? he's still the state's governor. you only have one governor and his first instinct was to go on fox news and blame the green new deal. >> well, yeah. or just completely disappear and say, i'm going to take responsibility. i mean, i love the politicians that stand up and say, i'm taking responsibility, i'm going to find out who did wrong. that's not responsibility. responsibility is, like, okay, i should have done better. i'm going to do better. i'm going to fix this problem. i think, nicole, the problem is, they've bought so much into this ideology of deregulating basically everything that that was what created the problem. i'm a firm believer in private enterprise and being able to provide services in certain areas, but the utility environment in texas needs to be regulated in a better fashion. the idea that people showed up with bills today of $16,000 for
5 days of power use shows that the regulatory environment is off here. i think voters in the end are responsible for where we are, because for all the bad, incompetent people that end up in office and don't do the job they're doing, the reason why we -- they keep doing it is because they don't think the voters are going to hold them accountable or the nonvoters that don't vote and so in the end, i would ask texans, i would ask everybody across the country, don't forget how we got here, and the only way out of the mess is to vote and is to participate, because in the end, that's the only fundamental way you can ask questions, which you do very well, nicole. i can make criticisms, which has some benefit at some times, but the only way they're held accountable and the voters have to hold them accountable so it's on us. >> well, two people, i don't know if aoc has any plans to relocate, but nothing stopped ted cruz from getting on the phone and raising money, but he didn't. he went to cancun. beto o'rourke, who was on with you last week, and congresswoman
alexandria ocasio-cortez, they walked the walk. i mean, they got on the phones. she raised millions of dollars. i think beto made almost a million well calls, delivered water. there are examples of leadership. i mean, texans do have a choice. not her. obviously, she hasn't moved. let me be clear. they don't have a choice between aoc and abbott but there are people who took this moment and tried to serve the people of texas. >> yeah, and there are people that are servant leaders. that's what we want, servant leaders that are willing to hold themselves accountable. beto lost to ted cruz in 2018 and from january 2019 to today, beto has done a better job of being a united states senator than ted cruz, taking the paycheck, having won. beto has done more for the state of texas than ted cruz has. so there are, and we should hold up the servant leaders, regardless of who they are, where they come from, hold up the servant leaders. in the end, the only solution to this problem is a
community-based solution where we all come together in some way, but part of that is we have to hold people accountable that screw up. and when we don't hold people accountable and when we have monopoly situations like the political situation in texas has been a republican monopoly and almost invariably out of monopolies comes corruption and incompetence and that's the political leadership, because we have had a monopoly, we have had corruption and incompetence. >> matthew dowd, i love your invocation of the word servant leaders. it's not something we've heard for many years. when you come back, we have to have a bigger conversation about that. thank you, my friend. it's always wonderful to see you and i'm glad your power is back on. keep boiling your water. thank you, friend. the next hour of "deadline white house" starts after a quick break. don't go anywhere. we are just getting started. we are just getting started. not what's easy. so when a hailstorm hit, usaa reached out before he could even inspect the damage. that's how you do it right. usaa insurance is made just the way martin's family needs it
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>> hi, everyone. it's 5:00 in new york. you're listening to the sound of national cathedral ringing its bells 500 times, honoring the 500,000 lives lost due to covid-19 across this country. it's a solemn marking of this incredibly grave milestone. later this hour, we will continue our special coverage of remembering those lives. at sunset, we will hear remarks from president biden. he will reflect on those this country has lost. president biden will hold a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence at the white house. he'll be joined with the first lady, vice president, and the second gentleman.
. we start this hour with significant new developments in the investigation surrounding the events of the january 6th insurrection. developments that put a spotlight on some in donald trump's inner circle. from the "new york times" report, quote, the justice department is examining communications between right-wing extremists who breached the capitol and roger stone, a close associate of former president trump, to determine whether stone played any role in the extremists' plans to disrupt the certification of president biden's electoral victory. that's according to a person familiar with the plart. "the washington post" is reporting on the broad scope of the investigations, looking not only at the crimes themselves but at the mindset of those who committed the violence. quote, investigators also want to determine whether anyone who influenced the rioters bears enough responsibility to justify potential criminal charges such as conspiracy or aiding the effort, officials said, that prospect is still distant and uncertain, they emphasized.
in addition to stone, "the washington post" adds that right-wing commentator and conspiracy theorist alex jones is also being investigated for his possible ties to the rioters. quote, stone and jones also promoted the extremist groups, the proud boys, and oath keepers, and have preexisting business or personal ties with members the government has charged with coordinating and planning certain parts of the breach or in connection with violence at an earlier trump rally. records and documents show. these developments in the investigations coming as today, president biden's nominee for attorney general, merrick garland, appeared before the senate for his confirmation hearing. garland affirming he would not act as the president's personal lawyer. how a justice department with him at the helm would adhere to the rule of law and how he would make the fight against domestic exstreamism a priority. here's a part of his opening statement. >> 150 years after the
department's founding, battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remain central to the department's mission. from 1995 to 1997, i supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the oklahoma city federal building who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. if confirmed, i will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the capitol on january 6th, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy. the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. >> it's a new chapter in the country's fight against domestic terror as the investigations into the capitol siege continue, and it's where we start this hour with some of our favorite reporters and friends. matthew miller is here, former chief spokesman for the justice department and msnbc justice and security analyst. also joining us, "washington
post" contributing columnist and msnbc political analyst, our friend, former congresswoman donna edwards, and katie benner is here, justice department reporter for the "new york times." i'm glad to have you on what i'm sure is a busy day. i want to read some more from your reporting on roger stone. actually, just take us through what that looks like. because merrick garland is going to take over justice department that may be entering into some of the most parts of the investigation and contemplating some of the most serious charges and it sounds like some of them may be considered associates of donald trump's. >> absolutely. so, we saw in the hearing today that judge garland vowed to make sure that the department remained free of political influence. however, we do know that that could be trickier than we want to believe it will be as the investigation into the capitol riots moves closer to donald trump's inner circle, especially with roger stone. keep in mind that we have seen in video that roger stone was associated with oath keepers,
they were acting as his body guards, he was with extremists at the capitol. but those things in and of itself are not illegal. it is protected first amendment activity to attend a protest, to make a speech, to be associated with extremists, to espouse extremist ideology but what is illegal is to break into the capitol and because some of his own associates did so, it has given investigators basically cause to start looking at communications to see if he knew more and was aware of the -- any kind of planning. >> you know, matt miller, it falls in the shocking and horrifying yet not entirely surprising category that roger stone might be under investigation for conspiring with the insurrectionists. but it seems that the opposite of not politicizing the justice department isn't ignoring all the president's friends who committed crimes. >> no, exactly. you have to follow the evidence wherever it takes you. that's true whether they are friends of the president, allies of the president or opponents of the president. as is the case here. i think this is important reporting, and it's gratifying to see that the department is
taking this seriously and focused not just on the people who entered the capitol that day and the people who committed violent acts against law enforcement officers but whether there is anyone else responsible for the planning, for the execution, for encouragement, you know, it's one of the, i thought, the most salient points the house impeachment managers made in their final closing arguments which is that donald trump thought that he could get away with this and that he would never be held accountable. and that's what you have seen. the house didn't -- if the senate didn't hold him accountable, which of course they didn't, the people who carried out his wishes, who, you know, went to the capitol and tried to overturn the election results, are all being charged with crimes. you see them appearing in court all around the country. donald trump was able to get away. if there are other people who can be held accountable through the criminal justice system, it is the responsibility of the justice department to do that. now, that said, the point that katie makes is the absolute right one. these would be difficult cases to bring. there is a -- there is a difference between saying, go down to the capitol and exercise
your first amendment rights and saying, go down to the capitol and break in and try to overturn the election. and the justice department has to investigate. they have to look at it fully, but there is a bright line between first amendment protected activity and something that could be a crime. >> but there's no doubt, donna edwards, that merrick garland sees a direct line. he testified to it today, between what he was involved in and prosecuting the oklahoma city bombing and the job that he'll have as this country's attorney general. let me read some of "the washington post" reporting on how that affected him. as merrick garland huddled with the lead prosecutor on the timothy mcvay case, he urged caution in presented the massive amount of wreckage. do not bury the crime in the clutter. garland, then a top justice department official was encouraging prosecutors to speed the trial along and jet son superfluous findings.
he's facing a domestic terrorism threat that has metastasized. so, that is nothing to do with political association or revenge. that is a reality. white supremacists and domestic extremists have been emboldened by donald trump and frankly by the 43 republican senators who voted to acquit donald trump. >> i think so, and what was interesting today, i think, in that -- in the confirmation hearings is that merrick garland made very clear that these investigations have to go where the facts lead, and indeed, he said that, you know, they would be looking at these facts and that very often, in the process, you start at the bottom and you work your way to the top of a conspiracy. and i thought that was a really important point for him to make today in terms of the way that he would be looking at that investigation, and senators kept
coming back over and over again to his experience in handling oklahoma city and the bombing and the ties to domestic extremism, and i think that is going to frame the way that he leads the justice department in thinking about how they have to handle these things, not just for this particular instance but for what we need to look toward in the future. >> you know, katie, you have the distinction on this panel of being the only person who's covered the bill barr justice department and now if confirmed will cover the merrick garland justice department. we put together just a little bit of tape to illustrate that contrast. let's watch. we'll talk about the two on the other side. >> that is my vision for the justice department. to dispense the law fairly and impartially without respect to persons and without respect to political parties. i'm not the president's lawyer. i am the united states lawyer.
>> has the president or anyone at the white house ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone, yes or no, please, sir. >> the president or anybody else. >> seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us. >> yeah, but i'm trying to grapple with the word, suggest. i mean, there have been discussions of matters out there. >> we know that one had to flee before he was fired but katie benner, bill barr couldn't really answer the question, have you ever been asked to investigate anyone by the president because we know he was. >> so, it's interesting to contrast these two hearings. one thing i noted, both with my editors and in conversations with sources, is that when barr was in his confirmation hearing, the world, especially democrats, were so obsessed with the russia investigation that they did not really answer him or interrogate him on issues that were going to become huge issues for the justice department later down the road including his views on
presidential authority which were extraordinarily expansive and broad and his views on race. he does not believe that systemic racism exists, especially in policing, he does not believe in implicit bias or that it's a problem at the justice department. so these are things that blindsided democrats later on in bill barr's term as attorney general, especially when the racial justice protests over the summer. now, garland, in his hearing, by contrast, was asked a broad array of questions on a wide array of topics so you really do understand where he's coming from and he not only made clear that he wanted to keep the justice department independent, he made clear that he believes that principles in all cases should be very even handedly applied and he was very -- he was emphatic about it. he could not kprs more emphatically that he is going to look at the facts and the law and he's going to take cases that are presented to him and he's not going to take orders from the white house. >> you know, one of the most striking things that was said today was about chris wray, and matt miller, merrick garland quoted chris wray in a piece of
tape that we play on this show all the time, because it's almost unbelievable that it happened. he testified in september that the greatest threat to this country was not antifa, as donald trump said, and as bill barr failed to correct him on that claim. made all sorts of claims about antifa. christopher wray said that by far the greatest domestic terror threat is white supremacy, that in that bucket, they are the largest threat. merrick garland quoted him today, and it struck me that in all this time, bill barr never quoted or presented a speech to the country or to law enforcement or to the department echoing or amplifying what the fbi director testified to, but merrick garland did today. it seems that there is such a missed opportunity on the part of the justice department in total to have dealt with the threat before it led to an insurrection at the capitol. >> yeah, that is absolutely right. one of the things i was thinking as i watched the hearing was, you know, for all the criticism of the justice department, the fbi and criticism of the fbi, sometimes fairly over the last four years, the fbi did not take
its eye off the ball when it comes to the threat of domestic terrorism. chris wray was focused on it. i know that fbi field offices were focused on it but the leadership at the justice department did and you only had to listen to bill barr's words to know that. bill barr gave plenty of speeches and interviews and appearances before congress where he talked about the threat from antifa, which, of course, is not -- doesn't pose a real threat at all, certainly not one on the same level of right-wing domestic terrorism. i think that when we think about what we have to do to confront this kind of extremism now, the change in leadership and the change in focus at the justice department is one key piece of the puzzle. the other key piece is a whole of government change, that the president of the united states will now be committed to fighting domestic terrorism, not fomenting it. that is a key change, because it's not a problem that the justice department can take on by itself. by the time the justice department gets involved investigating someone or prosecuting someone, oftentimes it's after a crime has been committed. it's too late. we need leadership in the country that starts from the
president on down and it has to include the republican party to try to drain some of this poison from the system before it can boil up and become a criminal act. >> on that front, donna, merrick garland was asked about the role of disinformation and whether d.o.j. would have a role in combatting it. listen. >> do you think the d.o.j. has a role to play in examining the role of misinformation and incitement online to contributing to violence and that -- the d.o.j. has a role in working to help us develop reasonable solutions to this challenge? >> i think that every opportunity the justice department has to work with members of the senate, think about how to solve problems and how to craft legislation is one that we should take. i don't have in mind particular legislation in this area. i do think that an important part of the investigation of violent extremist groups is following their activities
online and getting an idea of what kind of information or misinformation is being put out. >> obviously, donna, he doesn't head that department yet, but even if you just read the charging documents from the, i think, more than 200 cases that have been brought against the insurrectionists, they share this belief that the election was stolen, which is the big lie. but there is a threat to all americans because of disinformation and the kinds of people and the prominence of the kinds of people that repeat it. do you see this moving to an important agenda item for this us department? >> well, i think in combination with the administration, i think looking at the kinds of tools that the department of justice needs in order to be able to combat that and some of those are, you know, just the power of words and speaking the truth. we haven't had that out of a justice department in quite some time. and others -- other things come
from legislative solutions, policy solutions that will lend us to making sure that we can hold accountable those who spread disinformation. and i think today that judge garland actually spoke to this notion of trying to figure out what the right balance is of the tools at the department needs versus policies that congress and the president need to work on. >> katie benner, your colleagues, and you all have some great new reporting out about the siege itself and tomorrow, i'm sure we will all be watching, hearing the senate homeland security and governmental affairs will hold a hearing. let me read some of the new reporting and a lot of what we know is frankly from investigative journalism about and around the events. the "times" is reporting chief sund did not hear back for 61 minutes after he called for help from the national guard. even then there was a catch. though capitol security
officials had approved his request, the pentagon had the final say. during a tense phone call, a top general said that he did not like the, quote, visual of the military guarding the capitol and that he would recommend the army secretary deny the request. pentagon approval finally came at 3:04 p.m. the first deployment arrived two and a half hours later. so after 5:30. after watching all of that never before seen security video, this story lands with such a painful thud. do you expect that we will have new information out of these hearings, or is it part of the process of holding to account some of what's been turned up and revealed to us by stories like this one? >> yeah, i think we'll see more stories like this come out and i do think we'll see more mfgs come out of oversight committee hearings, speaker pelosi has vowed to do a 9/11-style commission investigation into what happened at the capitol. and i also think when you look at the new story that we published today, what you're seeing is in this very visceral way, the consequences of
politicizing national security and law enforcement. you saw people all through the government at the very highest echelons of government afraid to take responsibility, afraid to act, because they did not understand or know what repercussions they would face from a wrathful president who could be angry with them for basically trying to stop his own supporters from attacking the capitol. you would never think we would see this in the united states and yet we did and so if people say, what is the big deal about rhetoric, about politicization, about making things political footballs, about making things like law enforcement a political football, this is the consequence. a failure to act and people being froze engine place because they do not know what will happen should they do what is necessary. >> such an important reset or the frame of all of this is that they were afraid of, i guess, at that point, his twitter account hadn't been shut down yet. mean tweets from the president. amazing. matthew miller, katie benner, thank you both so much for
starting us off and katie, thank you for your great reporting and coming on and talking to us about it. donna is sticking around and when we return, another billion dollar lawsuit against the trump ally for, you guessed it, disinformation, spreading false claims about the 2020 election. the my pillow guy is the latest target in the legal effort to hold donald trump and his allies accountable for their lies. that story is next. and later, the staggering heartbreak as the death toll from covid-19 now exceeds 500,000 souls. we'll bring you president biden's live remarks, a moment of silence, and the candle lighting as the flag atop the white house has been lowered to half staff to mark this grim milestone. and the bells continue to chime at national cathedral, 500 of them to pay tribute to those we have lost. listen. [ chimes ] [ chimes ] lverado trail boss.
trump ally and my pillow inventor mike lindell is the latest of the ex-president's pals to face legal consequences for their role in pushing donald trump's big lie, that the election was stolen. voting machine company dominion is sug lindell, accusing him of pushing conspiracies involving dominion machines to boost sales for his pillow company. lindell, a talented salesman sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows. the $1.3 billion lawsuit is just one of the many ways trump allies are taking heat for their part in trying to overturn democracy, from lawsuits and
criminal investigations, even calls to disbar pro-trump attorneys. "washington post" puts it this way. although trump was acquitted by the senate on a charge that his rhetoric incited the deadly capitol siege, public officials and private companies are pursuing a multifront legal effort to hold him and his allies accountable in other ways. the goal, according to lawyers and others supportive of such efforts, is to mete out some sort of punishment. but even more, they said, they hope to discourage other public officials from rerunning trump's strategy of attempting to overturn an election result by sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the vote. joining our conversation, charlie sykes and donna edwards, who's back with us. charlie, i read these stories and i feel a little bit of hope that we can go back to totally different takes on the world's events and opinions about the best ideas for moving forward
but return to an agreed set of facts. but then you turn on a sunday show and you see steve scalise incapable of saying joe biden won in the most secure election in our country's history as chris krebs, the person who had the job of securing the vote, has said. >> yeah, we live in a political era in which the big lie is central to our politics. and this is -- and we've spent the last four, five years talking about how do we respond to this annihilation of truth? is it going to be up to -- is it going to be up to the social media companies, mainstream media? it may be something as old-fashioned as libel litigation might be the one check, that little small voice telling people, you know, if you actually lie, that can be massive consequences. by the way, one of my favorite lines, can i just say, my favorite line from this dominion lawsuit. i think it's paragraph 67 or something.
where it says that, you know, mike lindell, when he was on facebook, at the same time that he was on facebook blaming antifa for the rioters chanting fight for trump at the capitol, he was offering, as a promotional code, fight for trump at checkout for his pillows. so, you have the intersection of the political lie, the demented conspiracy theories, and just the crass promotional desire to sell his pillows here. i think this is going to be an important lawsuit, and i think it's a real brushback pitch against people who think that in the era of trump or post-trump, that they were able to lie with impunity because they won't be able to. >> it's a good point, donna edwards, but there's no libel law that protects the democracy and the democracy can't sue for libel, but the democracy was slandered when donald trump refused to admit that joe biden won in a fair and free election. so, what do we do for the damage
that steve scalise did yesterday? any viewer of that program who believes trump's lie today was incentivized to continue to carry on whatever they do, either spreading disinformation in an online forum, continuing to believe that joe biden isn't legitimate, or worse, attracted to the extremist groups that now merrick garland is going to have to monitor as the greatest domestic terror threat facing our country. we don't have a libel law that protects our democracy. >> no, we don't, nicole, but i'm like charlie. we've got a lot of tools that we should just pull out and use, and some of that is going to come through things like this dominion lawsuit, which is going to take away every dime that was made by selling a mypillow, trumpeting this lie. every member of congress who traipses down to mar-a-lago is going to be held to account. and you know what? i'm a lawyer, and so, i like nothing more than the fact that
these lawyers are going to be hauled before their state boards and investigated for perpetrating the lie in the courts across this country. and so, we do have tools, and we should use every single mechanism possible to hold all of them to account. it may not feel, you know, deeply satisfying, but you know what, nicole? it's satisfy enough. >> let me read, on that note, let me read an editorial in the milwaukee journal sentinel for you, my friend, charlie. ron johnson's whitewash of the u.s. capitol riot shows why wisconsin's senior senator has to go. johnson was willing to throw out the legally cast votes of millions of americans, willing to throw out democracy, government of the people, by the people, for the people to serve donald trump. the only way to end this madness and get back to a government that serves its citizens instead of special interests is to vote out politicians like johnson.
representatives tiffany and fitzgerald, and replace them with people of high character who will defend government regardless of party. any chance of that happening? >> oh, yes. i go back a lot with ron johnson and i'm disappointed with him. i'm stunned at how much of the kool-aid he's been drinking and how many other republicans have been drinking the same kool-aid. he's the most vulnerable republican senator up next year and i know there's a lot of republicans that think if he does run for re-election, he puts at risk all the other republicans on the ballot because there will be such a massive democratic turnout. but to give you an insight into what's happening to republican parties around the country, i mean, ron johnson is an outlier, he's going down that rabbit hole, but others are too. one of the most important republican counties in wisconsin is crucial, waukasha county and the republican party in that county, the official party organization, held a movie night at which they screened the
mypillow guy's movie, the one that is being sued for $1.3 billion. so you have the party structure all around the country who are embracing the crazy and as a result, i think they're running the risk of really marginalizing themselves so i don't know who ron johnson is listening to nowadays. maybe when he comes back home and he meets with local republican activists, he thinks he's talking about what they are talking about when, in fact, look, there are a lot of other problems, a lot of other issues in the state like wisconsin, and ron johnson just appears increasingly isolated because of his weird obsessions with some of these conspiracy theories. >> yeah, it's such a good point. for those looking at him sort of you should the microscope, it's trump plus the crazy, and we'll see what the voters of that state think. charlie sykes, everything you have been writing in the last several weeks has just been remarkable. if anyone's missed any of it, i encourage them to read it. thank you for spending time with
us. donna is sticking around. still ahead, president biden set to address the nation as the death toll from coronavirus passes 500,000 american lives lost. when we return, how we reached this point and why health experts are hopeful that better days are ahead. e hopeful that b days are ahead 's why at americas beverage companies, our bottles are made to be re-made. not all plastic is the same. we're carefully designing our bottles to be one hundred percent recyclable, including the caps. they're collected and separated from other plastics, so they can be turned back into material that we use to make new bottles. that completes the circle, and reduces plastic waste. please help us get every bottle back.
covid and to help move it forward with the quick relief he says americans need most. at the top of the hour, an event at the white house, president biden and vice president harris will look back with the nation to remember those we have lost. meanwhile, congressional committees have begun deliberating his massive $1.9 trillion covid relief package and a full house vote is expected to send it to the senate by the end of this week. democrats want it passed before mid-march when the latest federal unemployment benefits expire. joining our conversation, shannon petty piece. giving voice to loss is something that predates this presidency and this pandemic, frankly, but it's something that he has shown a willingness to do. this is his second memorial to those lost to covid. >> yeah. >> reporter: you're right. it's something that president biden is known for, not only professionally as a senator and a vice president but of course personally. there's numerous stories of
people who have been consoled by president biden after experiencing a loss and of course something he has so much experience dealing with and now he has brought that to the white house, the flags on federal property were lowered to half staff. you can see behind my shoulder the flag flying over the white house a few moments ago was lowered and then we're expecting, as the sunsets here in washington, to hear from president biden. he should make some brief remarks, and then there's going to be a moment of silence that he has called for all americans to join in on. he has a candle lighting ceremony with the vice president, and certainly, such a stark contrast from what we saw from the trump administration and i remember us asking when we hit the 100,000 mile marker if the white house would do anything to mark that, and the response we would get from the president was questioning whether these death numbers were actually even real, and his suggestions repeatedly that the numbers were inflated. so just one more way we are seeing such a stark reversal
from the trump administration as the biden administration's been in office for about a month now. >> shannon, i watched these covid briefings and claire and i were talking earlier, how they're very technical. i have to google words sometimes. or drugs that they're talking about. today, dr. fauci was going through the specific therapeutics that were now available for treating very ill coronavirus patients. and just the flood gates seemed to be open on all the information they have and it doesn't mean they've solved all of our problems. we still have a woefully inadequate supply of vaccine. you and i couldn't go get our vaccines, we're not eligible in any state in country, but what do you make, as a reporter covering that building, of the information flow so far? >> you know, an administration official noted this to me, that the big issue they saw with these trump coronavirus briefings is they had no information. they had nothing new to share. they had no updates to share. so, while the covid briefings the biden administration has had, you know, sometimes they
are rich with information, well beyond what the public needs to know, like about antivirals and the latest therapeutics, they also often bring some announcement to them or if not an announcement about something new they're actually doing, just some updates on where we are, how are things going, and they try to make an effort, too, to address questions that a lot of the public has, like, what can i do if i'm vaccinated? what should we do about schools? address some of those topics as well. you know, it's hard to know at this point how much of the inertia and people's perceptions can be changed, but they're certainly trying to do everything they can to bring an element of science, facts, and transparency to this. you know, to any extent. you're never going to see full transparency from an administration, but that's the direction they're trying to move in. >> shannon pettypiece, thank you so much for spending time with us today, and so close to this white house event. we're grateful. joining our conversation, dean of brown university school
of public health, one of our favorite people to pepper with all of our questions about where we're heading but i wonder if you can put into context this moment, which is just the ultimate whiplash, this unimaginable death toll. i remember when the white house -- one of the few briefings where they did have some numbers and briefings, i remember deborah birx and donald trump in the rose garden saying 100,000 people might die and i gulped. i couldn't process that. we're at 500,000. but we have reason to be hopeful that the vaccines will put an end to this. >> yeah. so, nicole, thanks for having me on. i don't think -- i think unimaginable is exactly the right word. i don't think i could have imagined a year ago that we would be at 500,000. this has been a catastrophic failure, probably one of the biggest failures in american history. and you know, as we reflect on this moment, i think there are a couple of things. i think it's really important to mark this moment, to honor all
those people who have been lost, but also to double our -- redouble our efforts and our resolve to save as many lives as possible going forward. i am very hopeful about the months ahead, but we're not out of this completely yet, and the next couple of months will still be tough and i think as we get into later spring and summer, i think things will be meaningfully better. >> what is the lasting impact to our standing in the world, to be the country that did the worst, to be the country that didn't believe in the science of masks, to be the country that didn't adhere to the few things we could do to protect ourselves? what does that -- what's the lasting stain of that? >> it's going to take a long time for us to rebuild our credibility. i mean, you know, for years, we would go to countries and say, here's how you should manage this. here's how you manage this disease. here's how you manage this outbreak. countries like vietnam that have done extraordinarily well or large numbers of countries across the african continent, across south asia, are going to
be pretty skeptical of the advice we have to give and i think we really have to rethink our standing and then of course the fact that in the middle of this horrible crisis, we walked away. we walked away from w.h.o. we walked away from our commitments to global vaccinations. all of that combined really has put us in a very different place than i think we've been in a half century and it's going to take years to rebuild. >> where do you see the vaccine rollout in terms of the hope that it's going to intersect with that line of the variants coming here and spreading the way they did in the uk and the possibility that we may need to adjust them or adapt them as those variants take hold if they do? >> yeah, i'm pretty hopeful. i mean, obviously, this past week was tough because of all the storms and what happened in texas, so we saw a dropoff in vaccinations. i think we're going to see a big pick-up this week. i think we'll have days when we're above 2 million vaccinations a day and i'm very hopeful about march and that means i think that before the variants become dominant, i think a vast majority of high-risk people will have
gotten at least one dose. and so i'm hopeful about this. obviously, there are things we could speed it up. we could try to get more first doses into people, but you know, the bottom line is, i think we're on a good track, and fingers crossed that the variant and -- the uk variant ends up not being that much of a problem for us. you know, in terms of updating vaccines, that's possible. i think that if we see variants that really are resistant to our vaccines, we may need to do that. i don't see evidence that we need to do that right now. but certainly it's something we have to keep a close eye on for the future. >> for so much coverage now about the mental health toll that the isolation has taken and the education inequities of remote learning for folks that aren't in a household where someone can stay home all day and basically serve as an i.t. supervisor and help academically. what do you think the big policy conversations are as we begin to come out of this? >> yeah, there are several. one is we really have to make a
concerted effort to get kids back to school, and one oe many frustrating things about this pandemic is we've set up yet another false dichotomy between teachers' health and kids' school. and the question is, which one do you want to choose? i don't want to choose either one. i actually want teachers to be safe, teachers and staff. i think it's critical for long-term success of schools. and i think we now have evidence about what we need to do, so i think that is one area where i want to see republicans and democrats, liberals and conservatives come together and work together to make schools safe for everybody to get back. on the broader mental health issues, my gosh, like, this is going to be one of the many but one of the largest fallouts of this horribly mismanaged pandemic. we're going to have to put a lot of attention, energy, resources into dealing with the mental health fallout. it's very substantial. for kids as well as adults. >> it's something that i love to keep talking to you about. we haven't paid as much attention to it as we should have, and i think you're right, i think it's something we'll be talking about for a long time. dr. jha, thank you so much for
spending time with us today. we're grateful. we are going to squeeze in a quick break but we are waiting for president biden's remarks. they come at the top of the hour. in a moment, the mayor of hard-hit chicago will join us for our special coverage as we go to break for almost a year now, since the start of the pandemic, we have honored lives well lived. on this program at the end of our second hour and for so long, we've heard from so many of you, flagging stories for us, wanting us to know about your loved one, family members, friends, neighbors, teacher in your community, janitor, a child. well, now, we want to turn this over to you and give you a way to get those stories to us right away. so starting today, if you would like to send us a story or remember someone that you love, you can email us. the address is email@example.com. you can see the address there on your screen. send us a message with the name of the person you'd like us to remember. you can tell us a little bit about the things you'd like us
good morning, mr. sun. good morning, blair. [ chuckles ] whoo. i'm gonna grow big and strong. yes, you are. i'm gonna get this place all clean. i'll give you a hand. and i'm gonna put lisa on crutches! wait, what? said she's gonna need crutches. she fell pretty hard. you might want to clean that up, girl. excuse us. when owning a small business gets real, progressive helps protect what you built with customizable coverage. -and i'm gonna -- -eh, eh, eh. -donny, no. -oh. just a few moments from now, president biden and vice president harris will mark the tragic milestone of 500,000 american souls lost to covid-19 with a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony. it is a grim milestone that
under the right leadership certainly didn't have to be this way. a pandemic that with the right leadership didn't have to take this toll, exact this toll on our country. dr. anthony fauci told abc this morning, some of it, including disparate responses from states rather than a unified avoided. >> we've done worse than most any other country. and we're a highly developed, rich country. remember back in the late winter and early spring of 2020 when we were saying we could get as high as 240,000 and people were thinking we were being hyperbolic about it. and now here we are with half a million deaths. just a stunning figure. >> joining our conversation, chicago mayor lori lightfoot. also joining us jason johnson, contributor to the grio, professor at morgan state university. and lucky for us an msnbc contributor. donna is still with us. mayor, we've spoken throughout the pandemic, and i think that in the earliest days no one
could have imagined 500,000 of our fellow citizens would be lost to the pandemic at the barely one-year mark. how are you doing and how's your city? >> well, i do think we have to stop and reflect on this just horrific milestone. we've lost almost 5,000 people here in my city, despite a significant amount of time and effort and resources to educate people, to talk about things they could do to protect themselves. it certainly didn't help over the course of 2020 that everything that we were trying to do at the local level was really undercut by the disjointed and i would say really incompetent response from the federal government. for months and months the former president refused to take this pandemic seriously and really lead the way on what we should be doing as americans to protect ourselves and to really save lives. so a lot of us worked very, very hard at the local level.
but when the president of the united states gets on the media with the incredible platform and bully pulpit that he has every single day and ignores the science, ignores the public health admonitions, it is unfortunately sadly not a terrible surprise that we arrived at this point. i think what we can do best now is certainly reflect upon the lives lost. i think there's at this point no one in the country that doesn't know someone whose life was tragically lost to this disease. but i think this also gives us an opportunity to make sure that we do our part to move forward in an entirely different way and certainly the vaccine gives us a powerful tool to help better save people's lives. but it's a sobering moment, no question. >> you were one of the first public officials to speak out in the earliest months about the dramatic and at the time, april may, shocking racial inequity of
just how seriously ill communities of color were getting when they contracted the coronavirus. i'd love to hear how you're feeling for that in the context of vaccine distribution. >> well, i think the fact that we sounded the alarm in the way that we did but more importantly that we went into our communities and built meaningful and authentic partnerships in the black community, in the latinx community, has really started to pay dividends. we just announced last friday that for the first time since vaccines came to chicago over 50% of the people that took that first dose were people of color. that is up from barely 20% in the first early weeks of vaccine distribution. and to be clear, we're not doing a victory lap. but the fact that we've made that significant progress is really a testament to the hard work that we started back in the early days of the pandemic and really the on the ground forces
that have made a difference in these neighborhoods to really demystify the disease, bring people into care and then themselves being ambassadors for the life-saving qualities of the vaccine. it's made an incredible difference, and we're very optimistic about what the future holds because of the hard work that's been done at the local level here in our neighborhoods. >> i want to ask you two more quick questions. and if you have more updated numbers, please correct me. but as of last week more than 7,500 chicago public school teachers and staff members had been vaccinated. and i know there's a commitment to get your teachers and your teaching workforce and everyone in schools vaccinated. can you tell us how that's going? >> you know, i think it's going pretty well. those numbers sound about right from what my staff has advised me. look, this is a terrible situation that we are in. not only because of the grievous
harm wrought by the pandemic but the fact that we don't have enough vaccine to take it to every corner of our city and get everyone vaccinated in a hurry. so we have to make decisions. in chicago at least we're doing that in a data-driven way. we initiated something called protectchicago plus where we've identified through our public health department the 15 neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and we are going deep into those neighborhoods. and really our commitment is there is going to be no barrier from us maximizing the number of people in these neighborhoods in particular that are getting the vaccine. every walk of life, every employment, every age, and it's really been a marvel to see. and i think that too has really contributed to the uptick in vaccine uptake by black and brown chicago because those are the 15 neighborhoods that we are primarily in. but we just have to keep working
harder to get the message out about why the vaccine is important and then keep pushing the federal government. and i know that the biden administration is working hard but every city that i know needs more vaccine. >> mayor lori lightfoot of chicago, thank you for spending some time with us. hopefully next time we'll have you back when the chicago bulls are filling up their arena because the whole country is vaccinated and we'll be probably watching a lot of basketball on tv. thank you for spending some time with us. >> absolutely. >> donna and jason are here. you know, donna, the real-life fight against covid has nothing to do with partisan politics. and it's something we know but it smacks you in the side of the head when you listen to the mayor talking about what she actually knows, where the precious doses that she gets are going and she knows she doesn't have enough to protect her whole city. >> yeah, it was striking listening to mayor lightfoot and
appreciating her leadership all along in really trying to help her city. i mean, even where i am, a majority black county right outside of d.c. and my 82-year-old mother hasn't been able to get her first vaccine yet. and also the human toll that it takes. so many families, the 500,000-plus families who've lost family members due to covid. 28 million who have been infected. it's a real tragedy. and i think that the more this administration can push out more of that vaccine, there are people who would stand in line who would want to take the vaccine yesterday in order to protect themselves, their family members and their xhuntsd. and we just need to make sure we have all the mechanisms in place to enable people willingly to
get that vaccine. but the human toll has been unbelievable and i remember being on your show more than a year ago talking about this and never even imagining the toll that it would take on individual families and the number of lives that would be lost. this seems unbelievable that we could have gotten here, but we did because we had such failed leadership at the top that just spread like wildfire across the country. >> jason lee, i asked my team to prepare some of the most egregious disinformation and lies and misstatements that trump put out using his presidential megaphone, and then i decided i don't want to see them on a day like today. but it's endless. there are the famous lies like poof like a miracle it will go away, we've got 15, soon we'll have one. there are the outrageous
inaccuracies like hydroxychloroquine, buy it, take it, do it, you'll be fine. there's the downright dangerous bat bleep crazy stuff he said like injecting bleach into your lungs, we'll try, it right, dr. birx and she's doing that crazy thing with her face. but under all of it was a refusal, a deadset refusal to do what joe biden's going to do today. ever even pretend to care that americans were dying on his watch. >> nicolle, i'm not an epidemiologist. i don't play one on tv. but i'd say amongst all the horrible lies and all the tremendously evil, and i think evil things that donald trump and jared kushner and mike pence and the rest of his administration did was what they did about masks. and dr. fauci has said that's like the simplest thing that all of us can do. politicizing mask wearing. i can't put a number on how many lives were lost. but if donald trump had just said i don't care, wear a mask
or not, there's probably hundreds of thousands of people who would not have gotten infected. but when the president decided last year to make masks a line in the sand about whether or not you believe in trump or whether or not our eye strong person or whether or not you're weak and you're liberal, that added a cultural component on top of the disinformation that i think has cost thousands of lives and sickened hundreds of thousands of people. and that's just one of the many terrible things that we're dealing with today. and honestly, nicolle, i think for all of the terrible things we saw last year i'm happy to see the level of rollout that we're seeing from joe biden but it's just an example of gosh, if you're just remotely compebt and remotely empa thet toik human nature this is actually something that can be handled. >> president joe biden is about to begin his remarks. we're joined for special coverage by our friend and colleague brian williams. >> nicolle, thank you for having me as part of this. we just thought we would take the moment this deserves. the live coverage this