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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  January 19, 2021 1:00pm-3:00pm PST

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it's 4:00 in new york. president-elect joe biden has just touched down in washington, dc, 20 hours ahead of his swearing in as the country's 46th president of these united states. after a transition like no other in this nation's history. the transfer of power that's been anything but peaceful.
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in fact, one that has revealed in sharp relief the political and security crises will inherit from his predecessor. president-elect biden has his gaze fixed on the other crisis on the nation he set to lead. the staggering toll that the coronavirus has taken on this country and incomprehensive loss of human life brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. president-elect biden's first stop, memorial for the more than 400,000 moms, dads, neighbors, and even children. the historic human tragedy that's certain to define his presidency remains president-elect biden's central focus as the pomp and circumstance around his inauguration gets under way. today, joe biden is arriving in a washington that appears very
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much to be on a war footing in the wake of the deadly insurrection just 13 days ago with 25,000 national guard troops on alert amid ongoing fears of threats from the far right fringe of our politics. overturn joe biden's indisputable and sizable victory. when he takes his place, he will not be greeted by donald trump. he's the first president in more than a hundred years to boycott his successor's inauguration, but none of that will stand in the way of what the institutions of our democracy, despite the beating they've taken over the last four years have made inevitable. joe biden has maintained since he declared victory in the election, the american people have spoken. tomorrow at noon, he will be
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sworn in as our nation's president, kamala harris, will be sworn in as vice president and all the historic firsts she'll usher in. the beginning of the end of donald trump's presidency is where we start today. the hours of special coverage. friend and colleague, brian williams. that looks like the president-elect is touching down there. >> nicole, a pleasure to be with you as your wing person for the next two hours, which introduces a theme which takes us over to the staggeringly large tarmac and runways at the place you and i know well. the veterans call it andrews air force base. its modern name is the unromantic joint base andrews. this is a non-descript unmarked lease carrying joe biden and people will notice as it taxis in the foreground are aircraft from the presidential wing headquartered out at andrews air
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force base and it forces us to say that this is joe biden's last flight for a good long while an any kind of private aircraft without markings on the side that read united state of america. he'll be flying a good deal out of this airport, which he knows well, of course, having flown in and out of here for so many years as vice president, but as you referenced, we've seen him already today. his farewell to his adopted home state of delaware. an emotional appearance and we're about to have an emotional empathetic irishman as president and we're also about, during these two hours of live coverage, we're about to witness, it's unbelievable to realize, but it's true, the first national remembrance, the first marking as a nation of the death toll, thus far, the lives lost from this coronavirus which have just, of course, gone over
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400,000. >> anyone that has been a public servant sees these as more than the planes that carry politicians. i mean, a hallmark of all of our presidents of both political parties is to be humbled by traveling on these aircraft and to think that every plane that joe biden gets on after this one will be air force one. that's always what they call the plane carrying an american president. it is such, it's just impossible to ignore the long, long journey. i think we have some of the sound, brian, from his speech earlier today in delaware where he was overcome with emotion. >> excuse the emotion, but when i die, delaware will be written on my heart.
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the hearts of all the bidens. we love you all. you've been there for us in the good and the bad. you never walked away and i am proud, proud, proud, proud to be a son of delaware and i am even more proud to be standing here doing this from the major bo biden facility. ladies and gentlemen, i only have one regret. he's not here. because we should be introducing him as president. >> brian, i had to play that after you say we're about to have a president again with the full range of public emotions. we used to write speeches for george w. bush and sit there and take lines out if we thought they would make him cry but obviously, joe biden's going to take command of this country, a country that has experienced historic and unprecedented loss this year.
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>> that's right. it's going to take some getting used to as public figures go, and of course, it will be triggered by the fact that it is such a fraught time. look at the backdrop for joe biden finally reaching his life's goal. finally reaching the precipice, the peak of american politics after so many years trying, after so many years in public service. good news, bad news. look at what you have to inherit. for the first time, we're going to have a president where the backdrop, the u.s. capitol, had to be repaired from ransacking prior to an inaugural address. that's something none of us will get used to over these 24 hours or ever. >> well, he obviously also becomes the country's commander in chief tomorrow, and it's been reported that by our news organization and others that they've had to do an extra round of vetting of the national guard troops there protecting these
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inaugural events themselves. >> indeed. 12, a reported dozen members of the national guard forces that measure now approximately 25,000, 12 of them have been removed from the mission, the dc mayor, mayor bowser said today that if it's proven, they had dual loyalties of any kind, they should obviously be removed not just from the mission but from the guard. we see the air stairs brought to the front and rear of the aircraft, the safety barrier comes down, and we'll probably see various members of the press we know our place will be exiting from the rear. we'll see various members of the biden family and entourage get off, including but not limited to joe and dr. jill biden. >> let's bring in to watch with us nbc news chief white house
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correspondent kristen welker who is tracking and reporting on the outgoing and incoming administrations for us today. kristen? >> reporter: well, nicole and brian, just picking off your conversation of contrasts, the contrast that we are going to see. this first event that president-elect joe biden is going to be engaged with is this memorial for covid victims as you have highlighted and it's remarkable, it is the first one this country will have to just pause and remember the lives lost and i think that it speaks to the fact that president-elect biden is going to use these first days and weeks and months in office to really try to draw a sharp contrast with his predecessor. with president trump. that begins right now and i think you're going to see that in his inaugural address tomorrow when he's going to talk about the need for unity and healing and then i think you're going to see that in the executive orders that he's going to pass. among the first ones we are told
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to reverse president trump's ban on traveling from muslim majority countries. he's going to rejoin the paris climate agreement. he's going to propose on day one, we are told, a sweeping immigration overhaul that will include a path to citizenship that will call for more border security, but not by building a wall. through the use of improved technology. he has proposed a stimulus plan calling for additional payments to americans who are struggling. that's already been met with some opposition, some republicans even, some democrats say it's too expensive. it's too much. it's not practical to get passed through both chambers of congress, but again, i think that this is a president-elect who is coming into office with the realization that he is facing not one, but multiple crises right now. the covid crises, the economic crises and now this national security crises. so that is going to really set
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the tone, i think, for these early days of the biden agenda. brian and nicole. >> kristen, we are watching the door of the plane. the president-elect and his family who traveled down with him to the nation's capitol are all expected to deplane any moment. if we interrupt and listen in, that's what we're watching for. brian, i'm struck by how disciplined the transition has been. there were plenty of "the interview"s -- opportunities to pop off and get sucked into the morass of the ugliness going on. this is a team that kristen welker is working on the policy announcements, they've been working on what they can accomplish by executive order on day one. they have been extremely disciplined in terms of tone. vaccinating the nation and beating the pandemic is the president-elect's priority. >> the one notable leak i can think of over the past 7 to 14
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business days was someone who leaked to the press joe biden's frustration that his covid team wasn't being aggressive enough in laying out the plan starting on day one. that's obviously the kind of leak you want when you're about to take over an effort this big, this broad, but it's not joe biden's style. it's certainly not incoming chief of staff ron clain's style and just listening to both you and kristen, i'm so struck, nicole. it took a new president to lead the nation for the first time ever in a group remembrance of this death toll. more than that, it took a guy who is not yet president to arrive in washington, dc, because of the fierce urgency of that death toll for 400,000 souls. the sad urgency of that death toll. this will give people at least a chance to pause and mark it. >> and there's been a little bit
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of reporting, but when you talk to the incoming white house staff and you say, how on earth are you going to bridge the partisan divide, curing every american of this pandemic, offering main streets across this country to get back on their street, that is the strategy of uniting the country and certainly, the vacuum that's being created by a president who refuses to acknowledge those incomprehensible numbers of lives lost and all the suffering will be filled just moments from now by the president-elect. our colleague chris jansing is live in the national mall in front of the lincoln reflecting pool where the remembrance will take place. this is a story that you have experienced personally and covered brilliantly as you do everything. that's the mood down there? >> reporter: i think the mood is very somber, and there has not
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been a somber moment, as you have pointed out, a national moment for people to come together and remember the incredible number of people who have been lost and so behind me, the beautiful reflecting pool here in washington, dc. you see some of the 400 specially designed lights and just after sundown tonight, they will be lit up into columns. 400 lights. one for each of the thousand plus people in this country alone who have died so far from the coronavirus and they will not shine alone. there are places all around the country, cities, communities, tribal lands, where they will light many places too from the empire state building to the seattle space needle to the city hall in scranton, pennsylvania, where joe biden was born and raised. and stepping into a role that's not been filled by this president and that is consoler
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in chief. there is going to be a nurse from lavonia, michigan, who's going to sing "amazing grace grace" and you have to think about when president obama went to charleston after the mass shooting at the ame church and sang amazing grace. i think nicole, about george w. bush when he stood with the mega phone in the middle of the rubble of 9/11 and how that comforted and also galvanized the country and i'll never forget ronald reagan after the challenger disaster with the beautiful words about how the astronauts had slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god. there's been nothing like that for families who have lost loved ones, people who have lost friends have heard and that's the intention tonight, to bring this country together. joe biden's first public
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appearance since returning to washington and according to officials close to him, nicole and brian, that is intentional. >> oh, gosh, just remembering all those moments and you're right, there has been no attempt to harness the collective grief and this is a grief that everyone has had to endure literally and figuratively in isolation. so this is a moment, i think, a lot of people, regardless of their political affiliation, they've been waiting many, many months for. joining our conversation, as we wait for the biden family to deplane on one side of the screen and we'll put that shot up again of where the president-elect is heading to the mall for the first national memorial this country has had. 400,000 lives lost in the coronavirus pandemic and nothing like this, and brian and kristen and others reported. lucky to be joined by phil rut
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ger at the "washington post" and former maryland congresswoman, donna edwards is here and former missouri senator clara mccast mccaskill. as we wait the president to deplane now called air force. your thoughts? >> you know, it's a really touchy moment here. one thing to point out. we saw president-elect joe biden arrive at andrews in that unmarked plane. in the past couple of presidencies during transitions, the incoming president arrived on an air force plane. same plane that could be used as air force one when they become president, part of the protocol in the peaceful transfer of power here. we have not seen that today. i don't exactly know why that is, if biden chose to fly on his plane or denied the opportunity to fly on the air force plane. but that's important to keep in mind. also, talking about how there's not been a collective remembrance of the victims of
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covid. the problem has been even deeper than that this past year. there's not been an acknowledgment of the victims of covid. president trump for months now has not been managing this pandemic virus. he has not held coronavirus briefings. he has not participated in any sort of public event and even when asked about the many victims of covid, he has reached for excuses for why he thinks those numbers might be inflated rather than offering empathy. the company has had an absence of leadership on the pandemic that appears biden on the eve of becoming president, it's going to be moving quickly and with some empathy here. >> clara mccaskill, such an important reminder and i think marks the daily war against the reality of the pandemic that donald trump and his white house have waged but such a good point. starting at reality is not something we've had a chance to do until today.
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>> the moment that joe biden won this election, he started a master class in leadership. the discipline of this transition team, the prioritization of issues that matter to american families and now for the first time since this deadly pandemic started, he's going to try to bind the nation's wounds and that's a moment of unity in america. we have seen it before. all of us are grieving for different reasons over what has happened during this pandemic. to say nothing to the thousands of family members who have lost loved ones. what he's doing tonight is really showing america sympathetic kind of take a deep breath. there's finally someone in charge that cares about them more than he cares about himself. and it is such a wonderful palate cleanser for america that this is happening tonight. no wonder his numbers are so high and donald trump behaving
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like a child, his numbers are so low right now. >> donna, there was this feeling, i think, in covering the multiple crises that the pandemic, the racial reckoning and then the results in november. that an alternate reality had sprouted up. one where the up wasn't up and down wasn't down and along with healing the nation and binding our wounds, it seems like joe biden's mission is to sort of puncture those delusional false realities that the trump white house tried to prop up around the pandemic, around the election, around other issues. >> well, and i think, nicole, we watch and await joe biden and dr. jill biden at andrews, we're also reminded that one of the things joe biden has done very successfully during this transition period is to really, you know, with a very steady
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hand, mark every single day which has been, which means we've been able to see what we're looking toward and i think today marks that end of the transition and tomorrow, the beginning of the transfer where we know that not only are we working on all of those policies that clare just outlined but where the nation will begin to put the round pegs back into the round holes and the square pegs back into the square holes and we haven't been able to do that because donald trump created a reality that didn't match the moment. and we can return to some center of gravity and i can't believe how much my heart has been both filled and more relaxed than it's been in four years because
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of joe biden. >> brian? >> phil rutger, i think you were on to something i noted when the aircraft arrived. this is unusual to be in unmarked charter 737 and first time that the president-elect arrives in washington without the courtesy u.s. air force jet and given your new title and stature at the post, given the fact i'm tied up, i expect you to report this while we're on the air and figure out why that is. >> we'll be on it, brian. the customs of the transition of power in this country have gone by the wayside because of the choices of departing president trump. normally after an election, the incoming president-elect would
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come to the white house for a collegial get to know you. all of that deprived of the bidens from president trump. there has not been any sort of communication that we're aware of to biden. they'll be staying at the blair house across the street from the white house and here they are coming off the plane. but again, it is not one of the air force planes that we're used to seeing the president-elect arrive in washington on. >> nicole, as you point out, as we've said, as the extended biden crew gets off the plane and the andrews. next time we see him climb into an aircraft, it will be air
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force one. as will be the designation, the call sign for any aircraft he's on now as president. the familiar confines of andrews air force base. another part of his life and your political life that he's very familiar with. secret service. they've been a near constant presence in his life. there was a hard built facility for them at his home in delaware. they're not green because of the tent but bullet and bombproof and that's one of the tools of the trade. >> it's so remarkable listening to you and phil talk about the traditional view.
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but also, more of the collaboration between outgoing white house and incoming white house. with stories popping in phil's paper and our news gathering organization at nbc news and the new york times, seemingly every few hours about the security crisis that precipitated and endures after the insurrection at the capitol is just stubbing to me that far from the worst thing trump has done was to skip this ceremonial sort of image that has a peaceful transfer of power. that is a loss. that's on donald trump. but to think of the homeland security crisis joe biden inherits at noon and to think there wasn't a meaningful transfer of power at the national level and all these national security agencies bordering on criminal.
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>> look at the official schedule today. >> last full day of the presidency. the broadcast last night, not a single cabinet member. we saw last week. it's been an incredible ending. a decidedly, ending on a whimper for the four years we have witnessed. >> maybe a whimper and confetti pardons to wait and watch for at this point. >> do we have any idea on timing? i've heard early evening. i've heard small hours of the morning and we are best reporting continues.
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>> more than 100 pardons, spent considerable time over the weekend with ivanka trump and jared kushner going over that list. getting the pardon paper work in order. as for when it will land in the inboxes, we don't know. we do know there are only, what, 20 hours left in the trump presidency. it's going to come soon and the latest reporting we've heard, brian, is that he's not, the president is not expected to pardon himself. that is something he has been talking a lot about over the last few months with advisers. that, of course, could change with the last guidance we've been given is that he's not expected to preemptively pardon himself in this final batch or confetti explosion, as you put it, of pardons. >> and that is largely because, phil, of a fifth amendment privilege. something he has talked and talked about in years past.
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his view that when individuals take the fifth amendment, of course, lawyers would caution us against this definition, to donald trump that implies instant and immediate guilt, it's also the predicate for the lawyer's advice too, correct? >> that's exactly right. and pardoning himself before he's been accused of or charged with a crime. he believed could send a signal he might be guilty and also risk in doing so because remember, the feds could decide after he leaves office to investigate him and his incitement of the mob attack at the capitol on january 6th and if he were to try to preemptively pardon himself, there's a theory in trump's world, it might bait or dare the justice department to investigate him and see or test whether that pardon would hold up in court because, again, we've never seen a president pardon himself in this fashion preemptively. >> look at that site.
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motorcycles at the head, usually a combined force of dc metropolitan and maryland state police to get them to the state district line. this long line in the motorcade, which, of course, includes staff vans and at least one ambulance and communications vehicle. and so on and so on, will be some of the only traffic visible today across the major bridges into the district where nicole, they've been quietly moving the perimeter in a concentric ring out and away from the capitol. and of course, as we say, there's reason for it. it's the first time the capitol has had to be repaired to act as the backdrop for an inauguration because of a ransacking and a looting. >> it's unbelievable and motorcade speak, this is a slow roll. sometimes it's to let stragglers jump in. doesn't look like that's the occasion here.
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looks like it might just be the size of this group. this motorcade. at this point, like a slow roll into the district. but you're right. i mean, this security picture is a direct result of what mitch mcconnell lies fed to them. he holds donald trump responsible. everyone is looking for tea leaves in mitch mcconnell's words, much more harsh when it comes to donald trump in the last 13 days. there's a new yorker cover that has three wednesdays, insurrection, impeachment, inauguration and it's just a remarkable three bookends. three moments kristen welker with us and doing reporting on what it is.
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>> you're absolutely right. we have seen condemnation from mcconnell from that attack against the capitol and phil rut ger talked about president trump weighing whether to pardon himself, the concerns about what that might mean legally. there could be a political price to pay as well and that might be one of the reasons that he is at this point with mitch mcconnell and he's been quite clear, he's undecided on whether to vote to convict president trump. remember, all of this is taking place against the backdrop against a second impeachment trial that we're anticipating is going to begin within the coming days if not weeks. so there is some concern that if president trump were to do that, that he would send a message to mitch mcconnell that, yes, he would need to, in fact, move forward with conviction. so there's the political price. i can tell you that president trump right now, huddling with
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his advisers on this final day. he's been taking pictures, meeting with his chief of staff, meeting with jared kushner as he mulls these final pardons and we're learning, remarkably, that vice president mike pence will not be president trump's sendoff tomorrow. logistical element to this. but underscores there has been a break these two men, president trump and mike pence, because of what happened on wednesday, january 6th at the capitol. the decision by the vice president to attend the inauguration of joe biden to be on the side of aiming to have a peaceful transfer of power is a really significant break with president trump. all the historic breaking norms,
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this is another one that will cap the trump presidency. >> that is remarkable. we're joined by our colleague joy reid. i'm struck by two things as kristen welker empties out her very vast reporter's notebook and shares news that mike pence will not attend donald trump's going-away shin dig, for lack of a better word. there's more reporting on who's not attending than who is attending and when you look at the choices that pence made in the last 13 days, i'm hit over the head by how incredibly low the bar is. by being against the insurrection, pence is compared to so normal compared to the last four years. >> and nicole, i think the people forget sometimes that before he was sort of the flunky
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side kick to donald trump, mike pence used to be a part of the body that was attacked. i can only imagine how personally he must have taken it as somebody who is a governmental republican, not an entertainment republican like donald trump is, and so i think what you're starting to see is the governmental republicans, you know, sort of quietly trying to reclaim their pardon. that's difficult because they all went along with it. they were complicit with what donald trump did to the party and went along with it more or less eagerly because of the power that it got them but you are seeing that break and nicole, i was struck too by the people who donald trump presumed or apparently someone on his staff presumed would have attend, the scaramuccis or john bolton, thinking for a moment any of these people would come and the fact that the president of the united states who currently will be for another several hours is concerning himself more with a party with military festuning and with lady
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gaga turning him down but singing for joe biden and those are the things that are troubling him. with 400,000 laying dead from covid, it's everything you need to know about donald trump and his presidency. >> you kind of buried the lead. you are fresh from an exclusive conversation with the speaker of the house who has been through some things to use trump white house. tell us about that conversation. >> absolutely. and speaker nancy pelosi, you know, you think about the history that she's lived through. we talk a little bit about the fact that her dad was a member of congress. served in the united states congress during world war ii. so she has a love and reverence for that capitol. being inside that capitol, physically being inside the building, i got goose bumps the entire time. i was both enraged thinking about the misuse and the
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disrespect that was brought on that beautiful, physically beautiful but really sacred space by people who she pointed out, she was really angry about this. she talked about the fact that these people urinated and defecated inside that beautiful place. she showed us statuary hall and pointed to the rosa parks statue where members of the national guard were taking pictures posing. african-american members because they wanted to be there. she talked about knowing these parts and talking about how she spoke with her about the fact that they wanted to memorialize her and her saying she wants to be ceded. and you could see her anger at the misuse and the abuse of the office of president and the misuse and the abuse of the congress. this is someone who is an institutionalist. but it was also, you know, a human being. and i think just as a person, i
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think that speaker pelosi was just angry and done with him and ready for him to go. she talked about donald trump as a disgrace, the capitol being a home grown terrorist attack and she's not ready to just let that go. she's not ready to let that go. >> joy's broadcast will have the interview tonight at 7:00 eastern, of course. we don't want to give away too much, but i am told we have a snippet from your conversation. we'll discuss on the other side. >> he's not going to greet the incoming president, which may be appropriate since he tried to undo the election but have for the first time in our history something other than a peaceful transfer of power. what does that mean for us at large? >> i think we're bigger than all of this. donald trump was a stain on our country. i don't think we could have
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sustained our democracy if he had two terms in office for what he was doing to our institutions or what he was doing to our constitution. he dishonored it. in every respect, was unworthy to be president. did not respect the office that he held and certainly did not respect the rest of us as well. i respect the office of presidency, of the president more than he did for how he mistreated it. and any event, he's gone. we have to, how can i say, it's not lessons learned because it was so evident all along, what a disgrace he was, but to find out how we can bring people together. that's our responsibility and again, nobody better than joe biden and kamala harris to do that. >> to our audience, the entire interview airs tonight. 10:00 eastern time on this network. joy, so many things that occur
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watching that. that number one, just the grand surroundings. we can be thankful they didn't find all of it during their rampage. we can be grateful that defenses held for at least part of the capitol but what a magnificent setting for your conversation and to the point the speaker was making, it's still bracing to hear her say that and our friends say we came close, as a country. >> yeah. well, indeed, brian. and when you look at the physical manifestations of american power and sort of american greatness, right, as people like my parents who emigrated to this country in the 1960s revered it and you see it desecrated utterly by our own citizens. not a foreign army but the army of the president of the united states' supporters. that hurts.
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you know? and i think you could see it in what the speaker was saying and the full interview, she really goes into depth about the costs of what we saw on january 6th, how we have to try to rebuild and the challenge that joe biden is clearly going to face trying to unify a country that would come to this. >> nicole, that point, i don't think is made often enough. this was obviously on our soil. obviously, the seat of our government. it's hard to look at that dome with the afternoon sun shining off of it and not think of abraham lincoln's arrival, a moment so many lawmakers and historians talk about, where it was thought at first, we really had to concentrate on the war effort. the dome can wait and lincoln said no, let's finish the dome and make it a beautiful gleaming capitol. this wasn't al qaeda.
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this was al from upstate new york. this was al from arkansas, california, california. these were our fellow americans. so whipped up and frothed up that, look what they almost took down. >> well, and we should not shave off the sharp edges of this. the insurrectionists sought to turn the capitol into the towers. they were attacking a symbol of american democracy because donald trump sent them there and because he told them two months before the election was even had, when he got a sober look at the polls that if he lost, it would be because of fraud. he spent six months sewing distrust. his allies in the media and it's not just fox news anymore, repeated those lies. so this attack on the capitol hill, on the country, was seeded
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by donald trump and i think this fight against disinformation and radicalized americans is akin to a post- 9/11 fight against radicalized foreign terrorists and i think the challenge and our legal code will be illuminated by our friends who are legal experts but i think the leadership challenge is one that, at this point, all we know is joe biden plans the attack the virus and heal every american. that is one of his pillars for bringing the country together. but i think that, i hope that there is a private plan to aggressively combat disinformation. former president obama writes about it searingly in his book. i remember you and i, joy, watched the democratic convention in the speech that former president obama gave was dripping with the pain that nancy pelosi really revealed, i think, to joy reid, about
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someone who didn't respect the office of presidency and what nancy pelosi said probably to our joy is what national security officials who served democrats and republicans who would only say privately over the last now years, we won't make it eight years. we wouldn't have a country if he'd been there four more years. what we have to understand, why do the insurrectionists and people who share their ideology, why do they want that outcome? >> joy reid, to pelosi's point that we knew it in realtime. to pelosi's point that i showed more respect for the office of the presidency than the president did, remember, four years ago, institutionalists was a swear word. it's kind of floated back into our lexicon as a calming term now. >> yeah. indeed. and if you, brian, if you walk around dc right now and see those troops, you know, god bless them for being there, you
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understand instantly that no foreign power is going to ever take down the united states. the amount of force and power that we have in our military would make it impossible for that to happen. it can only happen from within and a group of americans decided they would try to do that. not because there was some real genuine threat, but because they wanted to be the threat. they did not accept that people who look like me, people who are black, brown, people who are indigenous, people who are democrats period, should not have the right to decide who the president is, and that if they didn't get their way, their petulance would not be expressed in tweets. their petulance would be expressed by defecating, literally, inside of statuary hall. where andrew johnson. speaker pelosi pointed out that statuary hall used to be where the chamber of congress was. so you figure, andrew johnson
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tried to stop the 13th and 14th amendments to end slavery. every reconstruction act and had to be overridden in statuary hall because they used to vote. even andrew johnson supported the union. one of the worst presidents. and even he was more of an american president and he was one of the worst presidents, if not the worst president except for when donald trump came along, even he had more reverence for the union staying together than donald trump. donald trump is essentially the confederacy's last stand and so are his supporters. how do you undo that? it's like the civil war was just paused but not ended, and donald trump from queens, new york, decided he was going to make its last stand. nobody outside is going to beat those troops. go see that. it's a lockdown. and no one who wants to try it is going to succeed down there. in dc right now, it's the people
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from within we have to worry about. that's the people we have to fear and that's a shame. >> it's a shame and as we've been discussing, it's a shame that the nation's capitol is fortified as it is. on high alert today filled with tens of thousands of national guard troops ahead of the inauguration that will look like none other. not just because of the pandemic and the masks but the ongoing threat we've been discussing from far-right extremists, excited by the president who refuses to concede and accept he lost this election fair and square. roughly a dozen national guard members asked to leave because of appropriate statements and then vetting by the fbi. remove threats from within, the fbi is reportedly raising concerns that qanon supporters may impersonate national guard members. the fbi privately warned law enforcement agencies monday that
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far-right extremists have discussed posing as national guard members in washington and others reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in the city. signs of potential efforts to disrupt's wednesday's inauguration. this as a wave of new reporting paints a stark picture of the national security crisis joe biden is set to inherit from donald trump. "new york times" reports that the pentagon is stepping up efforts to root out white supremacists in its ranks as investigators have found that at least six people involved in the attack on the capitol had ties to the military. meanwhile, the massive federal investigation into the insurrection, which has led to over a hundred arrests so far, is reportedly focused on organized militia groups who may have coordinated the attack on the capitol and may be planning for more violence in the coming days. we're also learning new details about why capitol police were so unprepared for the insurrectionists that day. the former house sergeant at arms saying he declined a request for troops ahead of january 6th over concerns about
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how it would look for congressional leaders. a friend of irving's who spoke at his request telling the post, quote, there's a reality there. the leaders of the house and senate don't want the military up there. they don't want to show they can't control their own turf. joining our conversation, develin barrett who focuses on national security and law enforcement. author of the book "october surprise: how the fbi tried to save itself and crashed an election." develin, you and your colleagues have new reporting we're talking about. what is the current state into the investigation into the folks now tasked with protecting the inauguration? >> well, one of the amazing things about the investigation into the mob at the capitol is you're seeing the investigation play out hour to hour, day to day in these court filings because the fbi is so focused on getting the folks they think are most dangerous off the street because obviously, there's a concern that anyone who's on the street who committed serious
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acts of violence a couple of weeks ago could do so on inauguration day. and so you're finding in these filings and there's new ones in the last few hours that are incredible that talk about internal communications they've picked up of some of these so-called militia members saying to each other, we've got 30 or 40 people. we're sticking with the plan. we're inside and we're going forward. so we're seeing piece by piece, a picture of how these folks prepared for this event, executed a game plan for this event and then continued the conversations and the coordination after the event. >> develin, i want to read something that may suggest one of the new fronts for the biden administration. the director of national intelligence, the nominee, said if confirmed, she will work with the fbi and dhs to provide a public threat assessment on qanon. there are elected officials who associate themselves with qanon.
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donald trump refused to condemn them. they're crazy. they advocate conspiracy theories that are totally detached from reality and it would appear that the incoming director of national intelligence views them as a threat toright. and qanon isn't really an organization. it's an idea. it's a sort of perpetual conspiracy theory machine that pumps out new conspiracy theories on a nearly daily basis. and obviously, some people have latched on to those conspiracy theories and taken them to dangerous, violent extremes, part of which is what we saw on january 6th. in congress. and so, there's a great concern about what do we do with people who are told these lies, are told these nightmare scenarios, and believe them, and then try to act in the real world to prevent them or stop, you know, whatever conspiracy theory it is they've come to believe? that's a tough nut to crack, but it's an important one because look what just happened. people are willing to act on this stuff. >> devlin, it's brian.
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it seems to me this threat of insider action is two-pronged and one of two things. there is the possibility of a q-leaning guardsman or woman, number one, and number two, someone trying to impersonate a member of the guard. the latter would be very difficult from just the kit they wear to markings to their bearing, demeanor, how they address others, how they answer questions, especially now that the ranks are being so thoroughly vetted. >> yeah, i mean, look, the qanon conspiracy theory of, well, someone could go and pretend to be a national guardsman and sneak in, that sounds a little bit more like a tv show and not necessarily a good tv show. but this insider threat is a different question, and i think
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when you see the number of ex-military and ex-law enforcement involved in the violence and congress, there is a much greater concern now among the ranks. do we have a problem here? is anyone here, you know, radicalized to the extent that they might do something? that's a real worry that they have to worry about that in a way they haven't had to before. >> it's a terrifying state of affairs. devlin barrett, thank you for spending time with us. claire and donna, i'm thinking of both of you. claire, your time on the homeland security committee, donna, your time and your service. is there an appropriate historical parallel for a crisis like this one? >> there isn't a historic -- there is no parallel. this is completely and totally different. now, i will say that over the years, beginning with oklahoma city bombing, and once again ramped up after some of the massive shootings, especially of the people at the church, we
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have talked about homeland security in the context of domestic terrorists, but over the last four years, the chairman of the homeland security committee in the senate, every time i would push to talk about that more, to do a series of hearings, to talk about the real threats, because we knew more people were dying at the hands of these right-wing extremists than of any foreign terrorists that were out and about. the chairman of that committee, all he wanted to talk about was hillary's emails. now we have a new chairman. now, the danger signal we're already seeing is they had a confirmation hearing today for the new director of homeland security and none other than josh hawley has already said that he wants to object and slow down his confirmation. at this moment, when we are struggling with this fight from within our own country, for people who want to do serious damage to our democracy and to
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hurt people, it is very -- it's unnerving that you would have this same guy who was all down for the lies challenging the election that brought about the domestic terrorists in our capital, that now he's all down for slowing down the confirmation of the leader of the department that needs to be taking a look at it. >> let's drill down a little bit, claire. i mean, the heinous hypocrisy of republicans who would stop at nothing to root out the threat of foreign terrorists, who won't even call this what it is, and i understand nbc news is reporting that the biden national security council is going to focus on domestic violent extremism. that is precisely what republican sort of policy orthodoxy used to describe the radicalization of adherents to radical islam. the fact that they won't apply it because they're afraid they might lose some votes in a
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republican primary is a disgrace. how do you get past that? >> well, i don't think that the republican party is getting past it. i think you're seeing some cracks in the foundation. i guess better late than never for mitch mcconnell, speaking out today about the lies, and certainly pence, rejecting the let's go pretend like everybody's excited about donald trump celebration tomorrow morning, him saying, i'm not going to go. they are now struggling to make sure that a qanon advocate is not their nominee for the united states senate in various states in two years or even worse their nominee for president in four years. they know this is not a path to success in our democracy, and the president is making it worse by his behavior every day. he's making it worse. >> you know, donna, claire brings up a good point. trump will no longer be the story and he won't be central to
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any of the goings-on in our country, thank god. but he will still have the power to incite, and this country's national security apparatus over democratic and republican administrations has taken the incitement and the radicalization of those who represent a threat to our country very, very seriously. how do we deal with the ongoing threat of incitement from donald trump and his allies? >> well, i mean, i think you're right, nicole, and just because donald trump is removed from the white house, does not mean he's going to be removed from the national conversation. he will try to insert himself. he will continue to, in whatever way he can, from the money that he has raised to the people he's in contact with, and i think that it raises a question, a serious one, about what information is shared with donald trump. i don't think that he should be having any security briefings whatsoever, but we've also seen
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the warnings, really, for the better part of this decade and certainly the last four years of this growing level of white extremists in the country. and we've not really heeded that warning, and especially over these last four years, and unfortunately for the republican party, it isn't just that those are outside influences of the party. they are now deeply embedding themselves into the republican party. already we see members elected into the house of representatives who are -- who share these conspiracy theories and this attachment to this legion of extremists. i think it's very worrisome. i think not only do our law enforcement and military have to root it out, but through the ranks of the capitol hill police, we have to root it out. and certainly through the ranks of the republican party. and i think that donald trump is going to figure out every way and any way that he can continue
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to engage, and i think the press is going to have to be, you know, mindful of that and say, you know what? we are not going to cover every single word that is emitted, emoted from donald trump, the former president. >> amen. but that is his lasting legacy, everything you just said, donna edwards. along with an incomprehensible loss of life due to the coronavirus. and while we wait for today's memorial to begin on the part of the incoming president, here's a brief thought ahead of that event. he was a custodian studying at the university where he worked. he died 20 credits shy of graduation. they met on a blind date as teenagers and they passed on the same day. it was their 67th wedding anniversary. she was over the moon about having a second baby, but she was put on a ventilator after a c-section and died before she could meet her newborn.
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they were teachers, healthcare workers. they were parents. they were children too. these are the faces of covid. these are the faces of lives well lived. over the past nine months, we have done our very best, our small part to share with you their stories, because as we say here so often, they were more than names on a page. more than an obit. they were 400,000 americans, every single one of them the center of someone's world, every single one of them with plans, accomplishments, people who loved them. you've likely already seen some of the images from washington today. the field of flags, it's called. it's haunting. it's breathtaking. it's an illustration so powerful in its sheer scope, but consider they managed to fit 200,000 flags on the national mall, and that is only half the number of americans who have died so far.
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next hour in our nation's capital, president-elect joe biden and vice president-elect kamala harris will lead what is essentially a national moment of grief. so let's watch it together for the victims, for their families. we owe them that much at least, because as we've said, they were more than just names on a page. brian? >> it is exactly 5:00 p.m. eastern time as we look at the endless field of american flags signifying that indeed we are a nation laid low. we have witnessed 24 million cases of coronavirus in what is still an uncontrolled pandemic. we have witnessed the loss of 400,000 of our fellow souls, humans who were alive and breathing and with us at some point during the year 2020, not with us anymore during the year 2021. it is an extraordinary time for
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a new man to be taking over this office. what an extraordinary challenge. what a sad backdrop. and while tomorrow will have its moments of triumph and happiness, the backdrop will never be far from joe biden's thoughts or his vast team that they've assembled in the headquarters of wilmington, delaware, a team that by tomorrow will stretch across the river to the pentagon, stretch to all the cabinet departments as they put out their tentacles and start seeing what the challenges are. joe biden will correct some of the policies we've witnessed over these four years with the stroke of a pen, upwards of a dozen executive orders, executive orders can't do everything. they can't reverse or erase everything, but in terms of things like border walls and
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muslim bans, they can go a long way toward the signal, nicole, not rest of the world that has watched our country, the beacon of democracy, recede on the world stage. a lot of our allies have not known what to make of us. make no mistake. they'll be watching tomorrow. >> i think that's right. and i think for our allies and our adversaries, there was -- i don't know how to put it. kind of like nancy pelosi, you search for the right words to not sand off the edges but there was constant moving of where the bottom was. i remember once in 2017, saying, the bottom's calling it wants to know if we're there yet. little did i know we had eons and eons of distance to travel to get to the bottom. but when you start with grabbing women in the bleep and you end with cheering on an insurrection against your own vice president and the capitol, the word
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erasure is the right word, brian. i mean, there is debasement of the office of the presidency that joe biden will erase simply by his life and his values. and there is erasure of the divisions that joe biden has said he is committed to trying to erase, and there is erasing this pandemic, which is also one of his stated goals. but i think joe biden has been underestimated at every point of this run for the white house. i think if you go back to when we were covering those early nights in the primary and he was counted out by republicans and democrats alike, and it really wasn't an unlikely and a steely march to the nomination, and then to the presidency in this unprecedented time of a pandemic and a president not rooted in any reality, not fighting fair by any standard, so i think our allies are probably relieved that something resembling normal
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is about to come back to america, but i think there are a lot of open questions about how reliable america will be in the long run, whether this strain of trumpism is something that could resurge in four years or not. and i think that when you say the world is watching, that's probably an understatement, brian. >> while you've been talking, nicole, we've been looking at these scenes in washington, really alternating between a kind of stark militarism and the beauty of our capital city, the golden hour has arrived so that beautiful sun glow against the capitol dome, that beautiful glow on the washington monument, this is the view from the lincoln memorial, the same view dr. king looked out upon. you see the difference in the stone where the construction of the washington monument had to be halted during the civil war. you see the dome and the front of the capitol building, which
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meant something different just a few days ago. it was the location of an insurrection, a riot by american citizens. but right now, a peaceful night in large part because the capitol is locked down. this is the view we'll be seeing tomorrow. this is from behind the stage. note the very limited seating for the audience, a recognition of our uncontrolled pandemic. there is the lectern in the center. there are the bulletproof shields around it. all the vips will be seated behind that position. we have a -- i believe we have chris out on the washington mall who can speak to the extent to which this lockdown exists, and chris, you and i have both covered inaugurations. this is normally such a secure
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but exciting time to arrive in washington, d.c., every hotel has special decorations and usually a gift for you in the room as you arrive no matter what your party, no matter who your candidate. >> reporter: you know, the only person i saw in my hotel, brian, besides media were members of the national guard. that is the majority of people, national guard, police, tsa agents today. it's almost eerie to be out on the mall where we would normally see people jogging, riding their bikes, even in cold weather like this. it was very sunny today. but what we're about to witness, i think, is going to be a very powerful moment, and it's going to be heavily symbolic. the first person you're going to hear from is the catholic archbishop of washington, cardinal gregory. he is the first black cardinal in the united states, and of course, joe biden, a lifelong catholic. and in a place of honor, we're going to hear from the president-elect. we're going to hear from the
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vice president-elect. but in the place of honor is going to be a nurse, laurie key. she will be introduced by kamala harris. she will sing "amazing grace," the song that went viral that she sang at a shift change at her hospital in michigan to lift the spirits of everyone who were working full-time only with covid patients and then she will introduce the president-elect. and i think the message here is very clear for everyone who has lost a loved one. we know. we understand. i was thinking again about when george w. bush was standing in the middle of the rubble of 9/11 and said, i can hear you. joe biden's message is going to be, i can hear you. i can feel your pain. we recognize you. those 400,000 people, many of
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whom died alone, died without a loved one sitting by their bedside to hold their hand, we remember you, and we honor you. and i think there's a second part, always, when you have these moments, these iconic moments of healing that are led by presidents, and that is that it's about trust. it's about empathy, but it's also about common purpose that we can move forward, that together, as we all watch this as one, we can get to a better place, and to that end, after those 400 columns of light are lit, representing those 400,000 people who were lost, the inaugural committee is asking people across america, much in the way they got out of their windows and applauded for people at 7:00 in the afternoon during the beginning of the pandemic for those frontline workers, they're asking them to light a candle in their window or to ring a bell because church bells
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will be rung all across america to send that message to all those people who lost loved ones. we hear you. we feel you. you're not alone. brian? >> chris on the mall as an aircraft goes overhead. again, stark scenes. chris is so right, on a night like this, normally, despite the cold weather, people would be out and about and what is such an outdoor city, nicole, and it is stark right now. >> yeah, i mean, you were talking about how beautiful it is, and there is something magical about the colors in d.c. at this hour, and you're right, it's what the sun looks like against those monuments. it's just not repeated in many places on the planet. but there's something tragic about the city having to look like this, having to be so empty, between the pandemic and the security situation, it is probably a terrifying moment if you live in washington, d.c., whether you work in the government or not.
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your city is on lockdown. so, i think it's just this clash of emotions that president-elect biden is going to be the first politician to try to and begin to let americans process. joining us, brian, msnbc political analyst, former u.s. senator claire mccaskill, our friend peter baker, "new york times" chief white house correspondent, also joining us, basil smikle and our friend joy is still with us. claire, there is so much here to joe biden simply letting people feel the loss. >> as i look at these pictures, first of all, i have an incredible sadness about how empty washington is right now. as someone who was on that podium that you just pictured a few moments ago for the last three inaugurals, even when donald trump got inaugurated, there was something that is
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calming about the crowds that gather to celebrate the election of a new president and also the peaceful transfer of power. the irony is, we have a president who began his presidency with the big lie about his crowds, and a president who has been fixated on the size of crowds more than the deaths of americans. the size of his crowds and the ratings on tv, way more concerned about that than what is happening to americans in terms of this pandemic and other crises they face. so, how ironic that joe biden is going to have a very powerful moment with no crowd. with no crowd whatsoever. america's going to look at this. they're going to understand why people aren't there. they're going to want to lift up and support this new president, and they're going to say, shame on president trump for his part in emptying out the city that should be full of joyous people right now. >> well, that's such a good
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point, of course. basil, you and i have had so many conversations. i think it's almost exactly a year since the first american covid case was identified, and we've -- you've come to us and we've talked about donald trump wanting to keep people in cruise ships off at sea so our numbers didn't go up. we've talked about -- that was one of the earliest stories we covered. but this was never a story for you. you've always let us know how personal it is for you. what are your thoughts tonight? >> right. well, you're right, you know, there are 12 people that i knew that passed away from the illness and i was just reflecting earlier about my -- the church i grew up in, st. luke's episcopal church lost 21 members, including a gentleman named donald, who, you know, used to mentor so many of us when i was an acolyte in that church as a child. so you know, during times like this, what i'm thinking about, i'm thinking about all the elderly that feel isolated. i think about all the children in schools that are, you know, going to be a year or two years
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behind in their academic progress. i think about all of the folks who are downcast and despondent at this moment in time because they feel as though the self-care that they would normally engage in, even just going to buy a pair of shoes or going for a drink of wine, they'll say, why bother, because i can't go anywhere. and so, all of these things, i think, the combined effect of this has really sort of dampened our spirits as a country, and as we are on the verge of a new president and new administration, i just hope that it's a clarion call to all of us to make sure we lift each other up because there are going to be people who can't express how they feel right now but it's important to take a moment to ask, how are you? how you doing? what can i do to help? and if for no other reason and at no other moment in time, i think this is the window that we have to check on everybody, check on your neighbor, check on your family and friends and lift them up. >> i mean, basil, i think you just said the most important
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thing i've heard in many, many days. we're having a crisis of mental wellness in this country. and -- >> that's right. >> it's from disconnection. it's from despair. it's from fear. fear of a pandemic. fear of political violence, which is at a point it hasn't been in most of our lifetimes. >> right. >> what do you -- i mean, so much of what biden is doing is what chris encapsulated in just seeing us, seeing us as the country we are. what do you need to hear tonight? >> i just need to hear -- you know, there are messages of empathy that i think, you know, have come through so much in the last year and change of this campaign. i just want to -- i just want someone that can bring the temperature down a little bit and cut through noise and say, you know what, we got you, as a government, as an administration, we got you. you know, there's -- there is -- there are so many times when i think people do, to your point
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earlier, feel so, you know, like everyone's against them, that nobody's for them, and i think that's what the biden administration can certainly do in this moment. we are for you. don't pit people against each other, but we, as a nation, are for you, our residents, our citizens, our visitors. this is your government. >> peter baker, i'm looking at these beautiful, stark pictures of the city where you live that you have covered for so many years, and i'm thinking that as pierre laid it out so many years ago, he did so as a public city. he did so in these very basic, straight lines, geometric patterns. they were meant to be public places, just as they are when we have a change of power. when you think about it, george washington got the naming rights
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to the place, and they added a monument just to put it over the top. lincoln, jefferson have memorials, a towering dr. king to match his presence when he walked among us. there will be no memorial to this age we have just survived. we're going to witness here in a few minutes is the only thing that we have had that passes for a living memorial of the tragedy we've just lived through. >> well, brian, you're exactly right. you know, i was born and raised in the washington area. i've lived basically my whole life here except for a small stint overseas. i covered my first inauguration was reagan's second in 1985. i was a junior kid. my job was to write the side bar on what would be closed for the holiday, the liquor stores and the libraries and the, you know, dmv. and here, you know, every
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inauguration from that time forward, i think, until this one, has been a period in washington of change, of freshness, even when you're renewing an administration for another term, there was a sense of possibility, the idea that we were giving a fresh start, we were trying something new that we could hope that the next four years would bring us something that the last might not have. and i think that this time, it feels so unsettled. to drive around this city, to see the troops on the streets and the jersey barriers that are, you know, surrounding so much of the downtown, to feel the tension in the air, the sadness over those who we've lost, it's a very unsettled moment, and i think that is such a huge challenge for any new president, and this one in particular. i think that, you know, as senator mccaskill said -- sorry, as claire said, she recalled george w. bush. i think every president, republican or democrat, confronted with tragedy and crisis in their time has reacted
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in ways that we are seeing president-elect biden do, in which you sort of pay tribute to those we've lost, you try to channel the feelings of grief, and yet provide a sense of optimism to a dark moment. and i think you saw it with president trump's video today, he gets the optimism part. he gets the part where we are great and we will do better things, but he doesn't connect, i think. and i think that one of the things that people were missing in these last 12 months with this pandemic is the sense that the president of the united states understood how much people were hurting. and how difficult this has been for so many people. now, whether president-elect biden is able to channel that to better purposes, we'll see. it's going to be the defining challenge, i think, of his presidency. but you're right. this is a moment worth reflection and it is a moment worth thinking about where we are as a country and how we go forward. >> i think joy reid wanted to join our conversation.
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joy? >> yeah. yes, sorry. thank you, brian. you know, i guess my question would be for -- really for claire and basil as well. you know, i'm looking at these pictures along with you, brian and nicole, and all of us, and the capitol is a beautiful place, obviously, constructed largely by enslaved labor, and you know, just to you first, claire, i mean, i attended the 2008 inauguration, and there was just this sense of sort of joy and almost sort of shocking joy that, you know, this country in which slavery was so endemic had elected this black man as president. there was this sort of collective joy that was a part of that inaugural. this time, as chris pointed out, the witnesses to the inauguration of joe biden will be silent. they'll be those 400 columns of light representing the 400,000 dead of covid. it will be those flags that are
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waving silently in a very small crowd. and coming after a president who so desperately needed crowds and that's all he cared about. i wonder if, claire, you could first put in perspective for us about what happens in the institutions that are represented by that capitol and the united states senate that you love so much and served in. biden is a man of the senate as well. he's a man of this world, this political world. how does he repair the sense that the senate is a place that even is relevant to moving our country forward when inside of that very senate are some of the people who cat called and encouraged that mob as much as donald trump did. you know, how can biden even begin with all of those challenges ahead of him? >> it will be hard. he's going to try to do it through the men and women in the senate that he knows well, that he worked with.
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he's invited mitch mcconnell to go to church with him in the morning and frankly, when i think back to the 2008 inaugural, it was that church service. i was one of the co-chairmans of the inaugural and so i was invited to that church service and it's that moment i remember so vividly, because the church was full of both democrats and republicans praying together. even though it's not a very big church for those of you that have been in the historic church directly across from the white house that was part of the president's phony photo op with the bible held upside down. so, i think he's hoping that mitch mcconnell will work with him. i think it remains to be seen. there's a lot of skepticism among senators as to whether or not they can get back to trying to find common ground, but i will say this. the senate is shaken. i think everyone in congress is shaken by what happened, and as the video has come out day after day and you see the kind -- you know, people saying, oh, ted
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cruz would be okay with us rifling through their desks, he's on our side. name checking cruz and hawley, telling the police officers, we're here because your boss told us to come, that -- that has, i think, gotten the attention of some of the republicans who have been so guilty of hiding in cowardice while the president lied incessantly about things that really mattered to this country. >> basil, they're not chastened, it seems. we're going into a senate session in which the same josh hawley who was name checked, as claire just said, on the floor of the invaded capitol as these people rifled through the papers of members of congress with absolutely no respect for where they were standing whatsoever, that same josh hawley used today to object to the latino department of homeland security
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leader that joe biden selected, right? that's -- that was what he decided to do with his day. so, it doesn't feel like the republicans are the least bit chastened and not even embarrassed about immediately going after, you know, the brown nominee, you know? and saying it's -- >> right, right. >> saying it's specifically because of, you know, caravans and, you know, all of that coded racist language about daca. so, where do we go from here? democrats are going to want to fight those people, not unite with them. >> yeah, and you know what? well, actually, i would -- i'm not so sure. i mean, there are some democrats that probably will say, you know what, we need to work across the aisle, we need to -- but there is no working across the aisle with those folks. these are folks who are bent on upholding the, i guess, ideology of a group of people who feel that they're losing power in this country because of the black and browning of this
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country. and so, you know, there is no -- there the is no working together. we have to get them out of office. >> our beloved nation reverently pauses in supplication to remember and to pray for the many thousands of people who have died from the coronavirus during this past year. we turn to the lord of all to receive these, our sisters and brothers, into eternal peace and to comfort all those who grieve the loss of a loved one. this virus, more than taking the lives of too many of our citizens, as well as people around the globe, has left in its wake a sobering awareness that we are all united in the sorrow that we recognize today. we pray for those who have died
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and the families and loved ones that they left behind. we do not -- we do so not as strangers or disinterested persons but as fellow citizens who share some limited portion of their grief and sorrow. we pray for the countless families and relatives who had to surrender their loved ones without the comfort and the consolation of a familiar funeral ritual, according to their religious traditions or selections. that privation only added to the sadness engendered by the death of a friend, a relative, or a colleague. may our prayer this evening serve as a small expression of
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our national desire to comfort and strengthen those who have endured the loss of a loved one to this pandemic, and may it be a resounding gesture of gratitude for all those who have cared for the victims of this virus and their loved ones. our sorrow unites us to one another as a single people with compassionate hearts. may our prayer strengthen our awareness of our common humanity and our national unity at a time when harmony is a balm that seeks to comfort and strengthen us as a single people, facing a common threat that is no respecter of age, race, culture, or gender. let us, with one heart, commend
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those who have died from this virus and all of their loved ones to the providential care of the one who is the ultimate source of peace, unity, and concord. amen. >> thank you, cardinal gregory,
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for that beautiful prayer. we gather tonight, a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to the lives we have lost, a grandmother or grandfather who was our whole world, a parent, partner, sibling, or friend who we still cannot accept is no longer here. and for many months, we have grieved by ourselves. tonight, we grieve and begin healing together. though we may be physically separated, we, the american people, are united in spirit. and my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom, to cherish simple moments, to
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imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another. it is now my great honor to introduce lori marie key. lori is a nurse at st. mary mercy livonia hospital outside of detroit. her community was hit hard when the virus struck, and lori was assigned to the covid unit. lori is known for singing on the hospital floor, and a video of her singing a certain hymn inspired our nation. she joins us this evening to honor those we have lost with that same hymn. "amazing grace." >> thank you so much, vice president-elect harris. it is an honor to be here with you and with president-elect biden.
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working as a covid nurse was heartbreaking. it's heartbreaking for the patients who are sick. it was heartbreaking for the families who couldn't be there with them. and it was heartbreaking for those caring for them. but when i'm at work, i sing. it gives me strength during difficult times, and i believe it helps heal. so, here is "amazing grace." ♪ amazing grace ♪ ♪ how sweet the sound ♪ ♪ that saved a wretch like me ♪ ♪ i once was lost but now i'm
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found ♪ ♪ was blind but now i see ♪ ♪ the lord hath promised good to me ♪ ♪ his word my hope succors ♪ ♪ he will my strength in perfect peace ♪ ♪ as long as life endures ♪
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♪ as long as life endures ♪♪ >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, lori. as i said to his eminence as we were waiting to come in, and i mean this from the bottom of my heart, if there are any angels in heaven, they're all nurses. we know from our family experience what you do, the courage and the pain you absorb for others. so, thank you. thank you. your eminence, cardinal gregory, yolanda adams, to heal, we must remember it's hard sometimes to
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remember, but that's how heal. it's important to do that as a nation. that's why we're here today. between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection, remember all whom we lost. ♪ i heard there was a secret chord that david played and it pleased the lord ♪ ♪ but you don't really care for music, do you ♪
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♪ it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the majority lift ♪ ♪ the baffled king composing hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪ ♪ i know that there's a god above and all i've ever learned from love ♪ ♪ is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you ♪ ♪ it's not a cry you hear at night ♪ ♪ it's not someone who's seen the light ♪ ♪ it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah ♪
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♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪♪
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>> the men and women who will be the power structure of the united states of america walking away now under heavy security after what i think, nicole, was a beautiful and fitting memorial. >> i think that the incoming president, incoming vice president may have just cracked open a lot of people who were holding it all in, and i think this is the first time that anyone in a position of power has spoken to the families of 400,000 americans who have died from covid. i remember coming in on a saturday night at the very
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beginning of the pandemic, and joe biden called in and did an interview with mike barnacle and me and i told him that because my son was home full-time, i was teaching third grade for the first time in my life and not doing a very good job and anchoring from home and not doing a very good job, and i didn't want my son to see me cry so i cried every day when i ran and i asked him how he could believe in a god that allowed so many people to die. and he said he had this very thoughtful answer. he's been processing the grief of the nation's loss due to covid since the very beginning, because he understands that one loss, two losses, three losses was too many and understood the pain that people were feeling, and now he is our country's president. kaveeta patel has been watching along with eddie.
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your thoughts? >> yes. sorry, nicole. yeah, you're right. that shell to crack open, it's pretty cathartic and i can tell you that not just the tears that we have all been kind of holding in or doing on our runs or i do it at night so my kids don't see me, but it was so important to have this moment, those lights to see that those lives are acknowledged, that they all mattered, and yet, nicole, the kind of knowledge that the work still continues. we have so much more to do to heal the nation. i think you heard vice president-elect harris say that. and i'm so -- it's hard, nicole, it's so hard to be so hopeful. we have miraculous vaccines. we have a national plan that's going to come together and just think about the tragedy, you know, loved ones, family members who have died, colleagues who are truly breaking their backs, not just in hospitals and clinics but in neighborhoods to make sure businesses stay open, to make sure that you and i can
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get to and from, if we need to, and so this was so important, and it's such a fitting, fitting way to acknowledge on this memorial, on this historic day, 400,000 deaths that we've crossed and yet we have exactly what you see. we have lights honoring the angels and i couldn't -- i couldn't think of anything better and anything more necessary than this moment. >> we talk most days, and you do always find the positive, the reason to hope, but i've never heard you cracked open, and i wonder if i could just press a little farther here. another thing that i thought was so striking is to hold up the nurses who are standing on the front lines, holding our loved ones' hands as they take their last breaths and singing to them. >> yeah, that's absolutely true. you know, i'm really proud. i'm the first doctor in my
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family, nicole, and it wasn't easy to get here, but you know, my -- honestly, my godsends are all the nurses and medical assistants and clinical nursing assistants. they're the people that changed my uncle's bedpan when he was in the unit with covid. they're the people who took care of my friends, doctors and nurses who were also sick and didn't think about their own safety. they are the ones that held hands. doctors are also right in there, because they're doing a lot of this work, but yes, and the nurses, techs, i'll put the ems workers who have to deal with these critical patients in their ambulances, and nicole, in los angeles, they're just waiting for hours to have somebody empty them. they really are doing this and they're not asking for anything but honestly, nicole, they're asking for this moment. they're asking for somebody to acknowledge that this is real and it's happening, and what a 180, you know? when the president -- when
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president trump said that, you know, we were doing this for money or that healthcare people were overcounting the deaths. look at those lights. that's -- that's not anything we wanted, but it's a way to honor all of us. nicole, it's a way to honor, you know, my kids, your kids, people who can't see their grandparents. i have had patients who have said, you know, i've had to take off my ppe just to do some parts of the physical exam and they said it's the first time someone's touched them. that's -- this memorial acknowledges that, and it acknowledges that we do matter. you matter. and i'm really honestly -- i am. i'm hopeful but we needed this moment to just be able to grieve and also honor these people. >> eddie, i don't know if i can stand to be cracked open any more than kavita patel has cracked me or president-elect biden and vice president-elect harris just did, but on the topic of unprocessed grief, on
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the topic of all the hurt, on the topic of the disregard that not wearing a mask and not abiding by the couple things we could do, staying a safe distance apart, not gathering in people's homes, wearing our masks, allowing ourselves to acknowledge the loss and feel the pain and the loss seems like a good step in the right direction to getting the nation to do the right things. >> you're so right. you know, i'm thinking, as i listened and watched, i'm thinking about my good friend, charles. he died yesterday. of covid. he died yesterday. and you know, the selfishness that has kind of suffocated the land was held at arm's length for a moment.
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we've needed a national ritual to mourn so that we can think about the mourning. and for a moment, just listening to the words and the song and singing the lights, president-elect joe biden and vice president harris pulled the grief and regret out of the privacy of our hearts, if just for a moment, so that we all could share it. cardinal gregory put it powerfully. sorrow unites us. you know? we needed this ritual, because the dead weren't settled. people didn't die right, nicole. and coming out of my tradition, when folk don't die right, they haunt. so, you know, i'm thinking of charlie. when he would slice that golf ball and cuss at the top of his lungs or we would sit down and smoke cigars and talk about how bad we played and how good we would play the next round and
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thinking about all those folks who just for the moment, the nation shared their grief. oh, what a first step. what a beautiful step. i'm going to, you know, i'm reminded of the psalmist, you know? he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. maybe the dead will speak to us now. maybe they can rest now. >> eddie, i need you to keep talking. you can tell me more about charlie or tell me what biden does next. >> well, you know, i've been thinking about, you know, what lies ahead for president biden, president-elect biden. tomorrow, we're on the eve of a different moment. and he has two responsibilities, nicole. he has to do two things simultaneously. an inaugural address that has to do what abraham lincoln did in his second inaugural. as he spoke to the dead, the
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carnage of the civil war and what it ushered in and he has to do what fdr did as he spoke to a broken nation full of unemployed and hungry, folk who couldn't imagine a future. he has to do both of those at once. what we just saw spoke to my heart. it was beyond politics. it allowed me to finally just say good-bye to charlie in a different sort of way. i've been trying to -- all night, i've been up thinking about him, you know? and i could imagine my close friend thinking about her mother. all the folks who have lost folks. so, it's a step to us finally putting behind the horror of the last four years and maybe putting behind the ugliness that has so threatened the country. so, i'm thankful for the ritual. we need our rituals of mourning. >> yeah. >> we need our national rituals of sorrow, nicole. >> i agree.
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>> claire mccaskill is watching along with us. claire, it would have taken nothing for the sitting president to do what we just saw. we've lost 100,000 people since december. >> first let me just say to eddie, i'm so sorry about your friend. we all have to take a moment to tell everyone we care about how sorry we are for their friends and for their families, and that's what joe biden did tonight. it was simple. it wasn't elaborate. it was solemn. and there's two parts of this. it's not just the grief, but it's also the fear. america has been afraid because of this pandemic. when is it going to strike? is it going to get my children if they go to school? am i going to catch it if i teach? will i get it when i go to the
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grocery store? is my grandfather going to die? and that fear was ignored by the president of the united states. he not only lacked empathy for the loss of american life. he didn't understand that a president's role is to make america feel stronger in the face of fear. and joe biden, by focusing the transition on the covid pandemic and the death in his path, he has sent a message to america, i get it. i get it. and i'm on it. and we're going to do a much better job of not only bringing this thing to heel, but making you so you're not afraid every day to walk out the door. >> eddie, as personal as this is for you, the sharp relief that the loss of a loved one brings to your life, i'm looking at
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these pictures, realizing this is also personal, but for the man who's been in the white house for four years, yes, there would have been strict rules in the midst of a pandemic. but let's not forget it was this rare combination of malpractice and malfeasance and a handed us a yet uncontrolled pandemic and then the incitement of violence that has handed us our own capital city untouchable by any of us citizens. it's been locked down. we can watch this to try to be a part of it. we cannot take part in it. >> yeah. you know, we're at a crossroads as a nation. and you know, brian, it's easy for us to place all of the blame on donald trump. he makes it easy for us.
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you know? he does. but there were 75 -- 74-plus million people who voted for him. selfishness, greed, you greed, rampant across the land. but there is something that president-elect joe biden said. to heal is to remember. to heal is to remember. so not only do we have to remember our dead, we have to remember what brought us to this moment. what got us here. and it's not just donald trump. it's not just him. and that honesty will help us walk the path that we need to walk, i hope. i pray. >> chris jansing has been covering this event on the ground there for us. chris jansing, you generously
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shared the loss of your aunt margie to covid. i'm thinking of this moment that joe biden gave all of us, this conversation here. and i'm thinking of all the coverage of joe biden after the loss of his son beau and his comments today that until you've grieved loss yourself, you throw around phrases like turning grief into purpose. there is no turning grief into anything. it's a hole in your heart. but maybe having a man with a gaping hole in his heart as president is fitting right now. >> it is. and knowing that other people share with you the loss. because this is a disease of isolation, of people alone in hospital beds. i will be forever grateful for the nurse who when i said goodbye to my aunt on facetime was stroking her hair. but she nevertheless died alone.
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and as i stand here, and you know this well. i worked in the house, brian worked in the white house. when i worked in the white house for nbc and msnbc, i would come here sometimes on saturday mornings. the beauty of it, the life of it, all the people out running, pushing baby carriages, but you're also surrounded by memorials. over my left shoulder is the world war ii memorial. and across the street from where i'm standing is the martin luther king memorial. and i remember so vividly the first time i saw the vietnam memorial. and the enormity of all those names on a wall was almost too much to bear. >> yeah. >> and then when those lights lit up, and they reflect, right? so they're multiplied over and over and over again, those lights from where i'm standing. you see the reflection. and there are so many of them, 400.
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and the enormity of the idea that each of them represents more than a thousand people, that we're losing more people every day than we lost on 9/11. so it is also a sobering moment. it's a comforting moment and a sobering moment, and a moment that should indeed drive purpose, that this has to stop. it can't keep going on like this. and that there is a new administration coming in with the knowledge of that, the understanding of that, and the accepting responsibility of that. >> chris, something eddie said, that this experience tonight was not a political one. it seems that if joe biden can string together moments of leadership that are not political, he may go a long way toward his goal of trying to eye those who want to be united.
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>> there is no politics in losing somebody you love. my sister is still fighting the coronavirus. she had a bad day today. and you know that there are how many other people out there hospitalized today, who -- and their families who are going through the same thing. and lack of acknowledgment of that, it's not -- this isn't politics. this is about what we've done every time that we've had a great tragedy in our country. i lived in new york on 9/11. and the way people worried in with help, the resolve of a nation, right. was extraordinary. and we've seen it again and again and again. when the challenger disaster happened, and what we heard was from ronald reagan, we will be going to space again. and tomorrow we're going hear from astronauts during the
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course of the inauguration. so it's the idea that as a nation, we have always in times of great tragedy, in times of great challenge figured out as americans how to come together and move forward. and that's not a political statement. that's a statement of our democracy. >> dr. patel, the fact that our response to coronavirus has been so partisan and political is a feature, not a bug of the trump presidency. donald trump so much as admitted to bob woodward misleading the country on purpose, that he knew both of its lethality and the arbitrary nature of the virus, that it could indeed kill people who were otherwise healthy and young. what fills the vacuum when you have a president voted to
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science, committed to elevating competent people who rely on the science and whose stated priority is to beat the virus? >> i think it's transparency. transparency and accountability. i think you heard it in president-elect biden's words several days ago. he said it's going to get worse before it gets better, but i'm not going to sugarcoat it. i'm not going the lie to you. and that's joe biden. that's who he has always been. we have states told there is receiver and then told sorry, there is no more vaccine. we have states who are asking for help and have asked for fema and other resources to be deployed and have gotten no return calls. it's also accountability when we do have these gaps which is inevitable. this is all new. we don't have a way that we have always done this. certainly when trump buried the pandemic playbook that we worked
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on in the obama administration, that didn't help things. i think it will be the transparence it is. he'll reconstitute some of the varied institutions within the white house that do have this kind of knowledge, the national security council staffing that has this type of detail. and i think you've already heard from the new incoming cdc director, dr. rochelle walensky, she's said it in some on eds, here on television, she's made it cancer clear that her goal will be to make sure the american public understands what is happening as soon as she does an when the science is available. unfortunately, we haven't been able to trust what comes out of the trust administration at all levels. and that only further divides us. but if we have facts, if we know that certain people are not getting vaccinated and that that's a problem and we need to deal with it, we'll find solutions for it. i also feel pretty strongly that we're going to see a lot more attention on people, just as chris mentioned, her sister who
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is battling covid, patients who have recovered technically from covid but still are lingering problems. we've got millions of americans who fall into that category. >> yeah. >> and you'll also see efforts around the nih. you'll see science. science being brought up to the cabinet level in the office of science and technology was not a trivial matter. i think they're making it very clear it's a high priority. they're going to have for the appropriate budgets for those priorities. and i think as a nation, that will help -- any divide we had, because covid is hitting all state, red, blue, you know this virus has no boundaries with political alliances. so the solutions are being desperately sought after. the very people who have protested mask mandates, nicolle, are the very same people who are looking for any vaccine or any attempt to go back to normal. and i think that will all help to heal the divide. >> brian, we're almost back to
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where we started with the deadly lethal impacts of disinformation. and i keep thinking that a white house intent on pushing out information from the scientists and from the medical community about coronavirus will be such a departure from the scientists having to war with donald trump in media interviews. war on tony fauci was not something i thought i would ever cover until i had a show that covered the trump white house. what are you thinking as you watch the president's first act in washington, this memorial service? >> well, i'm stunned by the beauty of our capitol city. and while i understand that the field of flags also means all the people who can't be with us period and can't be there witnessing the inauguration, let me be the first to suggest that the lights are so beautiful, they perhaps should be made permanent. that there are memorials along
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that mall to the people who have fought our wars, and i think, i have it on good authority these will all be visible from space. in the next four minutes the international space station is due to make a pass over the east coast. i hope amid all their other work on board, they have their cameras trained on the capital city. sadly, the only thing we can predict tonight is that there will be more lights. we have lost 100,000 since december. so perhaps in a gesture visible from space, this is new washington memorial. we should keep them, protect them, keep them lit, keep them standardized. it's a bold statement. it is a reflecting pool, after all.


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