tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 23, 2020 8:00pm-9:00pm PST
good evening once again. day 1,434 of the trump administration. 28 days to go until the inauguration of joe biden as our 46th president.
meanwhile, the outgoing president is issuing another slew of pardons. granting clemency for a total of 29 people. and let's be clear, some of the pardons tonight are going to straight-up criminals. some reward corruption and cooperation with russian intelligence. we heard the news just after trump landed in florida tonight, this was another stunning rebuke of the mueller investigation, while doling out rewards for allies, especially those who stayed quiet. paul manafort, roger stone, convicted of lying to congress,
obstruction, and witness tampering. charles kushner, father of jared kushner. by the way, he was put away by chris christie when he was u.s. attorney in new
jersey for tax evasion and witness retaliation. manafort was sentenced to 7 1/2 years, he's been under home confinement due to the pandemic. tonight, he promptly thanked trump by saying, mr. president, my family and i humbly thank you. words cannot fully convey how grateful we are. history will record that your presidency accomplished more in four years than any of your modern day predecessors. you truly did make america great again. as for roger stone, his 40-month prison sentence had previously been commuted by trump, who signaled that clemency was in the cards for both guys.
>> i think the manafort trial is very sad. one of the reasons i respect paul so much, people make up stories. i believe he will tell the truth. and if he tells the truth, no problem. the question was asked about pardons, with respect to paul manafort, it's sad the way he's being treated. roger stone, he's a character. i've always liked him. it's very tough what they did to roger stone. they put him in for nine years, it's a disgrace. roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion. roger stone was treated very unfairly. paul manafort, the black book turned out to be a fraud. pa >> have you thought about pardons or commutations at all?
considering override votes. uniquely painful for republicans who are scared to death about what trump may say about them. and now, threatening to blow up the covid relief bill. trump's demands for changes, could not only delay assistance, but shut down the federal government. this could impact the effort to reverse the current covid surge, and the effort to get as many americans vaccinated as possible. >> the money that we need at state and local health departments is tied up there. we don't have the resources to deliver this vaccine without that support. our lifeline with this vaccine is being compromised substantially if we don't have the resources to get the vaccines into people's arms. >> the bipartisan relief bill has won praise from president-elect joe biden, vice president-elect kamala harris
today had this reaction to the president's decision to hold it up. >> people are hurting right now. they're hurting. and we need to get relief to them immediately. the one thing he should not be doing, after the work went into the bill, holding up when by the end of the month people, their benefits are going to end. >> with that, let's bring in our guests on this wednesday night, the eve of christmas eve. erin haynes, who works for the nineteenth. peter baker, stephanie rhule, and neal katyal, veteran of the justice department. former acting solicitor general, who has argued dozens of cases before the u.s. supreme court.
counselor, because it's the law that gives us the lead story, i'm going to begin with you.
and i'm going to read you the accompanying statement regarding the president's pardons tonight. quote, as a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, mr. manafort has been revealed to be one of the greatest victims of the greatest witch hunt in history. mr. stone was treated very unfairly. he was subjected to a pre-dawn raid of his home, which the media conveniently captured on camera. mr. stone also faced potential political bias at his jury trial. pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the mueller investigation. breathtaking statements aside,
can pardons equal real-time obstruction of justice? and who do we see about that? >> yes, we can. and the idea that this president is a law and order president, with that language, my foot. trump is going full banana republic in his last 28 days. and, you know, i think at this point, if you want donald trump to give you a pardon, you have to be a republican, you have to be a war criminal, someone who didn't rat on trump, or a turkey. that's about it. and these people, like paul manafort and roger stone, were convicted by juries. this isn't a circumstance in which they were poor folks who pled guilty because they didn't have counsel. these were the most extensive process imaginable. so, yes, this pardons being doled out to people, and trump
floating the pardons while the investigation is happening of stone and manafort as the mueller report said, very problematic. the president's pardon power under our founding documents is virtually unlimited. but if there's any sort of corruption, it can be the basis for re-opening things, with a new investigation and a new set of charges. i suspect trump will try to preemptively pardon that, but at some point there's a limit to the pardon power, and donald trump is surely testing it. >> and peter, the president's vacation schedule for tomorrow and the press pool that covers him got our attention. it's at the bottom, it said, as the holiday season approaches, president trump will continue to work tirelessly for the american
people. his schedule includes many meetings and calls. peter, that's a first in my years and in my knowledge, that's the definition of the job he was elected to do. a couple of the issues he could tackle is an uncontrolled electronic hack into government computers, and an uncontrolled pandemic. could this have anything to do with your newspaper reporting today he's now spending most of his time watching television? >> look, his schedule from the election until today, about seven weeks, has almost every single day said no public meetings or events scheduled. he's had some meetings behind closed doors that were not on the public schedule, with people like sidney powell, mike flynn, rudy giuliani, and others who are feeding his conspiracy theories about the election.
but we've seen very little of the president when it comes to some of these big issues that are confronting our country right now. you named two of them. the russian cyber attack has been unprecedented in hitting our government agencies as well as some private sector computer systems. and covid is not going away, as he said it was before the election. it's worse than ever. more than 3,000 people died today, a whole another 9/11 in the last 24 hours. the president has said nothing about it, even the vaccine, something good, he's not even doing that. so you see that line on his schedule as sort of a very defensive way of the white house saying, yes, yes, he's working. even though he's down in mar-a-lago. they set the pool to show up at 7:30 a.m. typically, that's not because the pool will be there to cover phone calls and meetings,
they'll probably go with him to his government club. >> erin, that brings us to the incoming administration. other than not expecting a shred of decency, what does this mean for the president-elect and his team? >> well, listen, brian, i think what you're seeing in these final 28 days is president donald trump picking and choosing how and where he wants to be presidential. but make no mistake, this is all absolutely presidential for this president. what we saw, whether it is his absence on the response to the coronavirus pandemic from a public health and an economic perspective, or whether the pardons, yes, there were some earlier in his tenure, like susan b. anthony or jack johnson or even alice johnson that were more in line with what we
traditionally think of as presidential pardons. but now, rewards for loyalty, and retribution for those he deems to be disloyal. things that underscore his feeling that he is right, continuing to focus on the idea that this election is rigged. i think what we're seeing now is him writing the final chapter of his legacy. and we still have a few more weeks to go. if in fact the reality is setting in that he didn't win, he's focusing more and more for himself and his supporters on the idea that he's right. >> stephanie, i'm going to guess you had the highest math s.a.t.s of the group. the president rolled a grenade into the covid relief bill after conflating it with the larger general funding bill. he promptly left town. what is the state of play? i ask on behalf of those
americans who were told to expect $600 and now are left with the hint, the promise of maybe 2 grand. >> well, let's make something clear. they were told enthusiastically by the president's treasury secretary two days ago they would be getting that $600 as early as next week. for who have been out of work for ten months, who are at risk of losing their homes. and even the food banks they go to could lose their funding, they're counting every day, hour, and minute. they're certainly not going to be getting a check for anything next week. but this thing that the president wants to float out there, saying i don't want $600, i want $2,000. anyone who follows any of this knows the president has had months and months to work with either speaker pelosi, or he
could call with mitch mcconnell, and he hasn't. after all these months of congress working together to come up with some stimulus package. it's a step in the right direction. to now the 11th hour, no pun intended, people reasaren't goio believe it. it serves no one, not even him. >> indeed. stephanie, some of the reporting is that the president is so not wedded to any dollar figure, this was much more personal. this was about mcconnell and thune appearing and saying publicly that they had turned the corner and admitting we have a president-elect not named donald trump. >> then is what the president -- is what he's trying to do, if i can't live in the white house,
let's just burn it down? you have the georgia senate runoff in less than two weeks. do you think it's going to help republicans running there that the president is blocking the next stimulus package? if he wanted the american people to get two grand checks, then he would have worked tirelessly in september and october to get that done, and the checks would have had his face on it. and the checks would have helped him win the election in november. but he didn't do it because it's not a priority, and it never was. back then, he was saying we're in a "v"-shaped recovery and everybody was rocking and rolling. >> everyone was looking up what that meant. erin and stephanie nicely opened up the door to the georgia runoff. no pressure, georgia. all it does is decide the balance of power in the u.s. senate. do you have any idea of where that reads right now? >> i want to underscore the
point that stephanie is making. issues like the pandemic are really important for voters who right now are seeing the impact of who controls congress in the final days of these campaigns. it's really an open question of who that helps in terms of republicans or democrats. mcconnell said that this, you know, the senate response to pandemic relief was hurting loeffler and perdue. and that this was something that could be useful to them on the campaign trail, getting that relief, you know, approved and getting that out to georgians, who are very much hurting. but what we know is that the holidays and the coronavirus are not deterring people from casting ballots both in person and by mail in numbers exceeding or matching where we saw the general election. voter suppression is also impacting republicans as the president continues to kind of
tout this message of a rigged election. this can have a galvanizing or det det det deterrent effect. and you hear from democratic surrogates who are continuing to go down to georgia, the spirit of congressman john lewis, who we lost this year in the midst of this pandemic, invoking the spirit of john lewis, having him really as somebody who is looming large over these senate runoffs, is something that i think is also factoring into folks' motivation to vote, even in the midst of a pandemic, and even in the midst of this holiday season. >> one other point about georgia -- >> go ahead, steph. yeah. >> one other point about georgia, remember, delta airlines is based in atlanta, georgia. right now, every single vote
counts in that state. restaurants didn't get a carve-out in the stimulus package. airlines got a huge carve-out. it matter immensely to them. how do you think those employees will feel when they say, yes, we're going to keep our jobs. no, we won't. whose fault is that? president trump. they live in georgia. >> with thanks to erin and stephanie, thank you and happy holidays to you both. peter and neal are staying for one more segment, on donald trump and the law. as we continue to discuss tonight's breaking news. also ahead, what bill barr was reportedly saying about the president on his way out the door. and once a promising milestone in the fight against the virus, 1 million americans
have received a dose of the covid vaccine. who should be in line for the next round? as "the 11th hour" is just getting under way on this eve of christmas eve wednesday night. some hot cocoa? mom, look! are you okay? head home this holiday with the one you love. visit your local mercedes-benz dealer today for exceptional lease and financing offers at the mercedes-benz winter event. bundle auto and home, and save up to 25% with allstate.
i want to wish our new attorney general great luck and speed, enjoy your life. bill, good luck. a tremendous reputation, i know you'll do a great job. >> two years later, today was attorney general bill barr's last day on the job at the justice department. in a farewell note, he said it's been a great honor to serve at the doj. saying over the past two years, the men and women of this department have risen to meet historic challenges and upheld the rule of law. please remember one of those historic challenges was working for an attorney general willing to act as the president's lawyer and do his bidding. it comes as the new york times
reports, barr has told associates he has been alarmed by mr. trump's behavior in recent weeks. memorize that quote. we'll see it from every person who departs this administration. still with us, peter baker and neal katyal. peter, something of greater urgency, as we send people off into the holiday break, among the adult staffers in the west wing, and there are probably enough to count on one hand, why have they traditionally been fearful of what happens when the president goes south to m mar-a-la mar-a-lago? >> because he has fewer guardrails down there than in the white house. we've seen in the last seven weeks, there aren't many guardrails left there, either. fewer staff around him. fewer people to say, let's think
about this before we do something. fewer people to restrain these impulses. and they've been quite extraordinary in the time since the election. so i think you're right, there is a concern about what he might or might not do down there. what is really interesting, this is a moment where the pardons represent a way for the president to exercise control when nothing else is working for him. right? since the election, he's seen his power begin to ebb away. he keeps telling people the election was stolen, and virtually nobody in a position of authority agreed with him. they passed a covid relief bill without his participation, and he's flailing around saying i don't approve of this. but the pardons represent a way for him to do something that nobody can undo.
he doesn't need anybody else's permission to do it, absolute power. one of the things that is almost unchallengeable, but neal may tell us some novel ways it may not be true anymore. but he's angry, he's lashing out, and saying this is something i can still do in the last 28 days i have left. >> neal, your good friend, lin-manuel miranda may put it to music in "departure of the s supplicants." but saying i had real concerns about this guy before i left. everyone on their way out will say that, because of care and feeding of their reputation.
look back and give us the quick take on bill barr's legacy as attorney general. >> well, last week, brian, on your show, i said there's only one word to describe bill barr, and that's disgrace. that's really it. he will go down as the worst attorney general in our lifetimes, perhaps ever. the most sacred duty you have as attorney general is even-handed administration of the law. and barr will go down as someone who rweaponized the justice department to protect trump's friends and go after his enemies. it's ironic, because at his confirmation hearing, barr said he would be independent. people like me understood that to mean independent of trump. but i think what he really meant was independent of principle. because that's what this attorney general did, whether leniency for trump's convicted pals, or engineering the tear gassing of americans outside of the white house, or insulting
the career women and men of the justice department. i got call after call today celebrating barr's last day from the justice department. the criticism is coming from democrats and republicans alike. one said pretty much what i just said to you, or president bush's deputy attorney general saying similar things. this has been an abomination start to finish. >> the folks i've talked to tonight say there will be more pardons, many of them. number two, this is proof that donald trump knows his presidency is over. these are the kinds you keep for the end of your presidency. not merely the end of your first term. indeed, our thanks tonight as always. we'll have you back, and events will force us into a similar
conversation. peter and neal, thank you for being with us on this wednesday night. coming up as we continue, with a president seemingly willing to burn the house down on his way out the door, what remains, truly, of the republican party? we will ask a former member in good standing, when we come back. hen we come back [ engine rumbling ] ♪ [ beeping ] [ engine revs ] ♪ uh, you know there's a 30-minute limit, right? tell that to the rain. [ beeping ] for those who were born to ride, there's progressive. . .
as we said, into the covid relief bill, and promptly left town. once again, the men and women of his party are now left in an excruciating position. though all of it would be easier in the presence of presenincipl. the new york times says republicans could be forced to choose between party leaders and congress and a president known to savage anyone he views as going against him. and bill krystol joins us. happy birthday, and we were cognizant of your thread on social media yesterday. we discussed it here last night. you posed the question, perhaps
bill barr is leaving on the eve of christmas eve for the reason. perhaps there are things coming that he didn't want to be part of. did you feel proved right and vindicated today? >> a little bit. thanks for the birthday wishes, first of all. good to be with you. a little bit, but i'm worried about what is still to come. neal katyal said that bill barr has been a disgrace, and talked to people so relieved to see him go. and i don't quarrel with those judgments at all. i think barr did not do a few things trump wanted him to do. there may have been pardons that were a bridge too far. he may not have wanted to be a part of some that are to come. and perhaps there are other things trump wants the justice department to do that barr didn't want to be a part of. i've talked to people who were in the trump administration, and
i think mostly tried to do their best. they're much less confident that the new acting attorney general would stand up to trump even to the degree that barr did. i don't think we've seen the worst of it, honestly. >> is there a category of pardon that you find more galling than the rest, perhaps the pardons that reward corruption, perhaps the pardons that reward collusion with russian intelligence? >> it's a heck of a choice, right? war criminals, it's all terrible, obviously. and the signals it sends in terms to our politics, our society, our reputation abroad, it's all very bad. but i would say the manafort pardon and those who conspired probably with the president to get russian help in 2016 and covered it up and lied about it. he said to rick gates in 2018,
sit tight, you'll be taken care of. i think the only person who testified fully, michael cohen, and then rick gates. everyone else is now off the hook. we can condemn the pardons, and i certainly do. let's not kid ourselves, that worked. tru trump got away with the russian thing. he didn't quite get away with the ukraine thing. ben sasse said it was rotten to the door, but he endorsed him for re-election. i'm perfectly happy not to forgive the republicans who went along with this. as you said, there will be all these people in the white house and in the republican party, oh, boy, it was very upsetting. very alarming.
i did a lot to stop him, but it's not clear how many of them really did. >> here's what tom friedman writes, here's what i predict. if trump keeps delegitimizing joe biden's presidency, the gop could splinter. trump may have done america the greatest favor possible, stimulating the birth of a new, principled conservative party. which if true, bill, would be music to your ears, presumably. what are the chances? >> short-term, unlikely. maybe down the road, a little bit more likely. but the veto of the defense bill and the spending bill to which the covid relief is attached, that's hurting trump in congress the way that the pardons, russia, ukraine, they were all
happy to excuse. they voted, they thought they would be supported by trump, now they're in a difficult position. i think they'll override him on the defense bill. they and their friends, i think there will be a greater willingness to say, a little bit over the next few weeks and months, especially once he's out of office, let's not listen to him. how much that will really be a break, how much they're willing to take on trump's electorate out there, i'm dubious about that. but i think it's probably more significant from the point of view of his hold on the republican party. >> 23 minutes, it won't be your birthday anymore. but we cherish the few moments you spent with us. bill, our thanks, happy holiday health officials warn of more
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there was a moment of good news today. the cdc announced over 1 million americans, 1 million of our fellow citizens, have received the first dose of the pfizer vaccine. now, pfizer agreed to supply an additional 100 million vaccine doses in our country by the end of july. just a little reminder about how drawn-out this will be. by the end of july, to help offset a looming shortage. as vaccinations continue in our country, two potentially more contagious strains linked to south africa were found in the uk. and we're happy to have dr.
irwin redlenner. doctor, i so badly wanted to take a victory lap, and celebrate 1 million shots in 1 million american arms. but the two strains do demand our attention. i talked to a friend in london, saying everybody is worried about the south african strain. >> there's reasons to be worried. but the strains in uk and in south africa are much more virulent, but there's been a dozen or so mutations since this whole thing began. and these particular variants have a significantly higher rate of infectiousness than the original ones. and i hate to bring difficult news, but one of them may be
more dangerous for children, in fact. because it can cause more infections and more serious illness. we're seeing our eyes closely focused on these developments. and hopefully none of them will affect the ability of the vaccines to prevent the infections. we don't know that for sure yet. but fingers crossed, we're hoping the vaccines will still be effective, and there's every reason to believe they probably will be, brian. >> doctor, who that we haven't thought of or named should be next in line for this? i ask because ron desantis, the governor of florida, who has been wrong about so much of this at every stage of this pandemic, of all the states to be wrong, in the state of florida, he's saying that seniors there should be able to take precedence over front line medical workers if
the workers are young and in good health. where do you come down on a question like that? >> you know, this has been a really vexing problem, because there's different opinions on who should be first. there's a lot of people who should be protected, for example the people whose stores will be open if we have another shutdown. grocery store and pharmacy clerks. we need them to be healthy. they come often from lower middle class environments, and the people who drive buses and subway cars, they all have a lot of contact with the general public. and people have made the case that those folks ought to be first in line. not to mention the hard-hit black and hispanic community members who have taken the brunt of much of the fatalities we've seen. there's a lot on the table. ron desantis does not present
himself with credentials of good judgment and a lot of intelligence. he has a opinion, and he's entitled to it. but there is a lot to be discussed. >> and one word for sticking up for the home team tonight. i've learned the fdny, day one of getting the vaccine for the world's largest and greatest fire department, they've been completely stressed during this pandemic. they are the front lines in the city of new york, along with new york's finest, so that is good news indeed. dr. redlenner, our wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and year ahead. thank you. coming up, with the virus on the loose in the uk and beyond, a look at the extraordinary measures being taken to stop the spread. some of them reluctantly coming from inside that building.
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as the uk battles these new strains of the virus we've been talking about, some there say the restrictions and lockdowns now and the food shortages they're starting to see are reminding them of another era in that country. our report tonight from richard engel in london. >> reporter: london is on war footing again. the city is the epicenter of a viral mutation that has made the coronavirus 40% to 50% more contagious. people are hiding. most everything is shut. officials say they may have to tighten restrictions even further after christmas. >> i hope it doesn't last. i hope reduce transmission, and ultimately the vaccines will
come through. >> reporter: this is one of the british government's top medical advisers. how does it feel right now for you watching the uk be so cut off? >> yeah, it feels very strange. we're physically cut off, it feels like something from my parent's generation, 70 years ago, being cut off in 1914. >> reporter: back then, they faced the nazi blitz. these days, londononers are taking -- the uk is under siege again. france temporarily cut trade across the english channel. >> i was in the navy for six years. quite a time. but that was quite different from from these days.
>> reporter: michael tibbs is 99 years old. he was a lieutenant on a submarine in the pacific campaign. >> you do get these people going against regulations, and we just have to obey the regulations. >> reporter: did you think this would happen again? in your wildest imagination, that you would be in a state where now there's government rules about how you can live? >> how can you imagine anything like this would happen? you can't. >> reporter: he just got his first dose of the pfizer vaccine, which scientists are hopeful will also defeat this new viral strain. but until then, london remains under attack from another enemy in the air. richard engel, nbc news, london. >> our thanks to richard for that extraordinary report out of the uk tonight. coming up for us, a moment
all feeling between what this time should feel like, what it should mean, and what we're going through in this long and dark winter. the uncontrolled pandemic that we're living through has taken so much from us. hundreds of thousands of lives. and even more livelihoods. during this season, please remember them, all those who cannot provide for their families this year. people who have never needed help, never dreamed of asking for help. and please pause along with us and take in this moment from today. when nwe were interviewing a woman in line at a food bank in southern california. >> this food that you're picking up today -- he says that the food they're picking up here is for their christmas meal.
[ speaking foreign language ] this is just one of the stories. you have a parking lot filled with people that are going to be picking up their meals, picking up meals for christmas. sorry. >> a tough and gutting moment to watch together. here we are, minutes from the start of christmas eve. christmas dinner for that family. and millions of others will come from a box, donated by good-hearted and generous souls. now comes our chance to show you the good and generous souls that i get to work with. if you're a regular viewer, we thank you. if you you've just now stopped by on your way from bravo to hgtv, welcome. to take us off the air tonight, counting down to the actual arrival of christmas eve in the east is our greeting to you, from the same men and women who have kept us sharp and on the
i am happy to have you here. when we meet in a parallel universe someday, you and i, where none of this has actually happened and in the years after the obama presidency, turns out we had a normal president who did normal things on normal timelines within the bounds of normal american politics. when we meet in that parallel universe, you and i are going to love the tv show that i had planned and written in its entirety for december 23rd, 20