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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  December 28, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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so i'm excited and i cannot wait to get to washington, get sworn in and have two u.s. senators in jon ossoff and rafael warnock i can work with on behalf of the people of georgia. >> congresswoman elect nakima williams. thank you for joining us and thank you for your time tonight. that does it for us tonight. we're going to see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word" with my good friend lawrence o'donnell. lawrence, eight days to this georgia election. it's tight, and those two republican senators are between a rock, a hard place, and a fire, like, it is really a tough situation to be a republican senator looking for re-election right now. >> and the polling is really bad for those republican senators. they're basically running in a tie with the challengers, and the general rule with incumbents, especially incumbents in the senate, is if they're not in the lead, a significant lead going into election day, usually the undecideds -- usually if there are any in georgia -- break for the challenger because they've known about the incumbent a much longer period of time. that's usually the way polling
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works. but this is such a unique situation. we can watch the polls, but we're not going to know anything until election night. >> it's going to be a busy week and an interesting week. lawrence, good to see you, my friend. have yourself a great show. >> thank you, ali. well, welcome to the 10:00 p.m. version of pardon watch here on msnbc. 23 days left for donald trump to pardon way more than 23 people. you know he'll do way more than 23 people. mary trump is going to join us later in this hour because, unlike you, she actually has some relatives who are waiting for trump pardons, and those relatives are named trump. professor laurence tribe is going to join us to ask and answer the question, is it possible for a president's use of the pardon power to absolve crimes to actually become a crime in and of itself? constitutional law professor
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laurence tribe will analyze for us the possibility of donald trump committing a crime while granting a pardon. that's later in the hour. we've now completed four full days of absolute silence from the president of the united states about a devastating bombing in downtown nashville, tennessee, on christmas morning. and today the president in waiting said this. >> before i begin, i want to say a few words, a few brief words about the explosion that took place friday in nashville, tennessee. federal, state, and local law enforcement working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent. this bombing was a reminder of the destructive power of an individual or a small group can muster in the need for continuing vigilance across the board. i want to thank the police department in nashville, particularly those five police officers who worked so quickly to evacuate the area before the
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explosion occurred, risking their own lives. and for all the firefighters and first responders who jumped into action early on that christmas morning, last christmas morning. their bravery and coolheadedness likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome and we are eternally grateful to that law enforcement agency. and i know the hearts of all americans are with the people of nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event. >> donald trump has not conceded victory to joe biden on the presidential election, but he has completely conceded the presidency to joe biden. since election day, donald trump has left the work of the presidency to joe biden while donald trump has golfed and conned people out of more money and more money in contributions to his mythical challenge to the election result, which he continues to use as his latest money-raising gimmick, including
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a fund-raising email sent first thing this morning with the subject line, "i'm not giving up." donald trump gave up working on a covid relief bill that congress passed last week. and then after the bill was passed by the house and the senate and sent to the president, only then did donald trump decide he didn't like something in the bill, he wanted to change the $600 payments in the bill, raise those to $2,000 payments, which democrats immediately agreed to. a way for a president to achieve a goal like that is to veto the bill providing the $600 payment and demand congress send a new one with the $2,000 payment. instead, trump signed the bill, but he delayed his signing of the bill long enough to interrupt unemployment payments to people all over the country who will lose a week of unemployment benefits because of donald trump's delay, lose that money forever, never get that money back. so donald trump's delay reduced the value of that $600 payment and it will do nothing to raise
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those payments to $2,000 because donald trump wasn't actually trying to do the job of president when he said he wanted to have the $2,000 payments. he was just trying to get attention. he got nancy pelosi's attention, who passed through the house of representatives today an increase in the payments to $2,000. 44 republicans joined the democrats in voting for the increased payments. but more importantly, 130 republicans voted against donald trump's idea of $2,000 payments. the overwhelming majority of house republican members today voted against donald trump. chuck schumer will try to bring up nancy pelosi's legislation in the senate tomorrow, but senate republicans are sure to block it and so today's defiance of president trump and the house republicans will be matched by tomorrow's defiance of president
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trump by republicans. all through the house of representatives today, an overwhelming majority followed nancy pelosi's motion to override donald trump's veto of the defense authorization act. donald trump said he vetoed the bill because, among other things, it changes the names of military bases that have been named in honor of confederate generals who committed treason against the united states of america. new york city's oldest newspaper, the "new york post," was founded by alexander hamilton and has suffered a long fall from grace all the way down to the point where it fell into the hands of australian media mogul rupert murdoch before rupert murdoch became an american citizen. "the new york post" is the only american republican supporting newspaper. murdoch made sure it was a donald trump adoring newspaper until today when rupert murdoch decided to use the front page to deliver a message to his friend in the white house, mr. president, stop the insanity, you lost the election. here's how to save your legacy.
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the "new york post" editorial board, which essentially takes dictation from rupert murdoch, wrote, quote, you have tweeted that as long as republicans have courage, they can overturn the results and give you four more years in office. in other words, you're cheering for an undemocratic coup. you had every right to investigate the election, but let's be clear. those efforts have found nothing. democrats will try to write you off as a one-term aberration and frankly you're helping them do it. the king lear of mar-a-lago ranting about the corruption of the world. today joe biden offered a disturbing report on how the transition is going. >> right now as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations. my team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies.
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we need full visibility into the budget planning under way at the defense department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit. as i said from the beginning, we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the department of defense and the office of management and budget. right now we just aren't getting all the information that we need for the ongoing -- from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. it's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility. >> leading off our discussion tonight, jonathan alter, columnist for the daily beast and msnbc political analyst. he's the author of the new book, "his very best: jimmy carter, a life." christina greer is with us, associate professor of political science at fordham university. jonathan, let me start with you and jimmy carter because jimmy carter was in the position that donald trump finds himself in.
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jimmy carter, a one-term president, defeated in his reelection campaign, by a republican incoming president, ronald reagan. it was a tense situation, certainly emotionally for jimmy carter and his staff. how did they handle that transition period with all the bitterness that had built up during the campaign? >> well, first of all, jimmy carter conceded early, for democrats too early, on election night. and then he arranged to have a -- such a peaceful and well-coordinated transition that in his inaugural address, ronald reagan thanked jimmy carter, his archrival who he had just beaten, for the way he conducted the transition. what's interesting, i think in terms of what's going to happen with trump, is that after he left the presidency, carter essentially revolutionized the
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post-presidency, and people think of him as having been a better former president than president. i actually disagree with that and for reasons that are a little bit relevant. when you're not president, you don't have power anymore. you don't have any levers of power and you have to kind of reach and stretch to get into the national conversation. so carter got a lot less done as a former president, much of it was inspirational, than as president. and trump is not going to have any power. and this orange monster who has been squatting in our brains is about to go away. not entirely. he'll make noise on fox and other places, but he will be much more ignored than i think we realize right now. >> christina, when people think about how donald trump is going to play in the dynamics of our politics, let's say six months from now, we have to keep in mind that i think a lot of they'd discussions don't, he's
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very likely to leave office in a cloud of pardons, including pardons to everyone named trump, pardoning his daughter, pardoning his two sons, pardoning his son-in-law, pardoning himself. that cloud follows him out into the world where he probably, very strong chance, ends up as a criminal defendant in the state of new york sometime next year. in the criminal investigation of donald trump and his businesses in new york. i just say that by way of, if we include that in the framing of where donald trump will be next year, how does that affect his ability to be a factor in republican politics? >> right, i wish i agreed with jonathan, but i don't. i don't think that he goes away. i think that he's actually -- he's still going to be relevant, sadly, because the salaciousness of these lawsuits against him, of which we'll have the series of lawsuits from when he was in
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office and we also have plenty of lawsuits from before he even got to office. keep in mind his sons and, you know, stealing money from children with cancer. i think also the third component, lawrence, is donald trump has excavated some of the worst ideologies in this nation that are caked into the foundation. so when we think about the bombing in nashville, when we think about the proud boys marching in washington, d.c., donald trump still needs and wants them to fight on his behalf. so we'll have a president who is the antithesis of someone like jimmy carter, who is my favorite living president. but he'll also continue to drum up this racial racist animus of his supporters to make sure that he keeps the attention on himself. that's what he's addicted to for those of us who are in new york, that's what he needs. and post presidency, even in dealing with his lawsuits and criminal and civil -- the list goes on and on. i think it's the millions of americans that he sadly inspires
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that will also sort of keep his relevance in the forefront. and frighten quite a few members of his party, especially those who are fearful of being primary because you'll have former republican president actually actively campaigning against sitting senators and members of the house, which we've already seen him do. >> speaking of seeking attention, the president tried to get into the game on the covid relief bill by suddenly saying, it should be $2,000 instead of $600. let's listen to what republican congressman adam kinzinger said about that this weekend. >> to play this switcheroo game, i don't get the point unless it's to create chaos and show power because he lost the election. there is no impetus to overthrow an election even if you want to. they're raising money on this scam. it is a scam. >> jonathan, it sounds like four years ago when marco rubio was
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calling donald trump a con man. it seems like republicans are finding their way back to that concept. >> at least some republicans. look, i agree that trump is not going to go gently into the good night. he loves the attention. he'll make a lot of noise. he'll continue to be in the guinness book of world records as the sorest of sore losers. but i do think increasingly the attention will be on what kinzinger calls a scam, and how much he's doing this just to advance his own interests. and when he doesn't have the power of office any more, yes, he will continue to be a factor in certain republican primaries. but remember, even as president, he didn't have that much success when he tried to interfere in republican primary contests. so at a certain point, the traumatized republicans, the republican cowards, the what i call banana republicans who don't really believe in
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democracy, they will be challenged. others who are ambitious to win the nomination next time, are going to step forward. they're not going to be shy about running. they're not going to hand the nomination to -- trump probably won't even run again. and donald trump i don't think is going to do particularly well. we have to project forward to what things will be like a couple of years from now. especially if joe biden manages to exceed expectations, which are pretty low for him actually, and provide a little bit of unity. the trump noise is going to look pretty obnoxious by comparison. >> christina, what did donald trump accomplish by his delay in signing the bill, other than basically breaking some people's unemployment benefits, therefore, costing them money? >> i mean, if it's just a self-serving endeavor, lawrence, this is the president who brags about not reading so we can't even say he read the bill and
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had some disagreements. this was all about him. while he was golfing and just spending time watching television, i mean, the sad part is $600 is a small, minuscule drop in the bucket for so many millions of americans. the fact that donald trump is playing political football with the livelihood of so many people -- in his own party, let's be clear, this isn't just something that will help the democrats. there are millions of americans of all political stripes that need way more than $600. they need way more than $2,000. this is just -- i think the good thing is we're seeing cracks in the foundation within the republican party because they recognize that people within their own districts actually need the president to lead, at least these last few weeks and actually give them some relief. they can't keep going back home and looking at their constituents and saying, well, you know, we're just sort of in d.c. trying. that's not good enough anymore when people are facing evictions and homelessness. >> professor christina greer and
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jonathan alter, thank you for starting off our conversations tonight. really appreciate it. >> thanks, lawrence. >> and when we come back, can the granting of a presidential pardon to absolve crimes become a crime in and of itself? harvard constitutional professor laurence tribe has the answer next. homegrown. . . mom, why do we always come here for the holidays? how did you find great-grandma's recipe?
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get self protection for $10 a month. reporters covering donald trump are often in the business of telling us things we already know because donald trump's nature has become so repulsively obvious to the world. so we didn't need "the new york times" reporters to use their trump sources to tell us donald trump wants to pardon his children and his son-in-law. we already knew that because we know donald trump. but it is good, it's very good to have it in the journalistic record now, using "the new york times"-level reportorial techniques.
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it means the shock pardon spree will be reduced somewhat by leaks to the news media about who is going to get pardoned. when donald trump pardons his children, it will be a big deal. but it won't be a big surprise, and that is why donald trump began issuing politically motivated pardons in his first year as president. he has been spending the long game, spending years getting you ready for the biggest pardons of all, including his pardon of himself. but what if some of the pardons donald trump grants to absolve people of crimes are crimes in and of themselves? that is the question that harvard constitutional law professor laurence tribe asks and answers in his new piece in "the financial times" where he writes, if mr. trump abuses pardons to shield himself and key allies from justice, that could be charged as criminal obstruction of justice and abuse of the constitutional power of
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clemency to accomplish an illegal end. if mr. trump has used his pardon power to commit crimes, he must be prosecuted. joining our discussion now is laurence tribe, university professor of constitutional law at harvard. he has won 35 cases before the united states supreme court, a court where most lawyers never get to make a single appearance. professor tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight. we've all been looking at the trump pardon situation and asking questions like, can he pardon himself? you've gone to the question that the rest of us have missed. can he commit a crime while issuing a pardon? it seems like an absolute presidential power that can be wielded any way he wants. but you're saying there could be criminal boundaries on that power. >> that's right, lawrence. there are abusive pardons that
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are just contemptible for moral reasons. the pardon of blackwater mercenaries. who murdered innocent iraqis. the pardon of jared kushner's corrupt father, the pardon of arpaio. those aren't abusive, but they are criminal. there is a special category of abusive pardon that is perfectly valid as a pardon, and that validity is what makes it possible, ironically, for it to be part of a course of criminal conduct. see, if the pardons of guys like manafort and stone and other people who kept quiet in order to protect trump -- if they could be struck down by a court, they'd be worthless. they wouldn't be worth the paper they're written on. they couldn't be trump's side of
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a quid pro quo bargain. it is the very fact that his pardon power is so broad that makes it possible for him to use the pardon as the official act to reward those who conspire with him to commit or cover up crimes. it's quite ironic, but it's true. george mason in the virginia ratifying convention was worried about the pardon power because it could be used by a president to keep his co-conspirators quiet. but james madison responded, well, if he does that, we can impeach and remove him. well, we tried impeaching. we impeached this president, but we didn't remove him. but the constitution gave another answer. the other answer was that explicitly in the text of the constitution. if the president commits any
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crime while in office, like the crime of giving an official favor in return for a benefit like the silence of a co-conspirator, then the president can be indicted and prosecuted and sentenced after he leaves office. that was the constitution's answer. and, in fact, the poetic justice here is that the people who are pardoned as part of the president's end of the bargain that purchased their silence, those people lose most of their fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination because having been given a valid pardon, they're not subject to criminal prosecution in the federal courts. that means they can be forced to do what they didn't want to do voluntarily, and that is implicate the president.
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so we have closed the circle, and it only remains to the independent justice department under a president biden -- and he will be president -- it only remains to an independent justice department to investigate the course of conduct that culminates in this particular category of corrupt pardon, a pardon that is in itself part of a crime. and if the evidence bears out -- and i say if. we don't know all the facts yet. then the chips should fall where they may, and the president should be prosecuted because no one is above the law. even if he tries to put himself above the law by the ultimate outrage of trying to pardon himself, which no president has done, and which i think would clearly be an invalid pardon. >> you say in your piece that if the trump pardons stand, especially manafort and stone, for example, and they're not
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investigated, there's no investigation around them and there's no follow-up to them in the next administration, you say future presidents could treat their terms in office as four-year licenses to commit heinous crimes with impunity. >> that's right. they could then, at the end of the day, by dangling pardons in front of all the people who could prove their crimes, completely clear themselves. and for the final outrage, they could say, and by the way, out the door, i pardon myself. if a self-pardon could be given recognition by any court, then the president would know that if he commits crimes from day one of his presidency to the end of four years, even horrible crimes -- crimes like treason, crimes like, you know, making --
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making war on his own people, nothing could be done about it, especially if the senate is in his own hip pocket, so he can't be removed. and when he's gone, he's not going to be open to prosecution. that would, as george mason said, turn us from a constitutional republic into a monarchy or worse. that's a nightmare. and so that's why a new administration can't simply look the other way in the interest of healing and moving ahead. we can only move ahead if we ensure some degree of accountability for someone who has been a criminal in office. and if that's what the evidence shows, that's where the new administration needs to go, reluctant though it might be to do that. >> professor laurence tribe, thank you for joining us once again here on pardon watch. >> thank you. >> you have clarified my thinking about the pardon season
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we're going through more than anyone else possibly could. really appreciate it. >> thank you, lawrence. i appreciate being on. >> thank you. and when we come back, our next guest actually has relatives waiting for a trump pardon. donald trump's niece mary trump will join us next. will join us . ♪ limu emu and doug. and if we win, we get to tell you how liberty mutual customizes car insurance so you only pay for what you need. isn't that what you just did? service! ♪ stand back, i'm gonna show ya ♪ ♪ how doug and limu roll, ya ♪ ♪ you know you got to live it ♪ ♪ if you wanna wi... [ music stops ] time out! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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do you have any friends and relatives who are waiting for a trump pardon? our next guest does. "the new york times" reports that donald trump has discussed with advisers granting pardons to his three oldest children and his son-in-law. the "times" reports donald trump jr. had been under investigation by robert s. mueller iii, the special counsel for contacts that the trump -- younger mr. trump had with russians offering damaging information on hillary clinton during the 2016 campaign. but he was never charged. mr. kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one
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anyway by the president. the nature of mr. trump's concern about any potential criminal exposure of eric trump or ivanka trump is unclear. although an investigation by the manhattan district attorney has expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to ms. trump. joining us now is mary trump, author of "too much and never enough: how my family created the world's most dangerous man." mary trump, thank you very much for joining us once again. could you help perhaps "the new york times" report on the line where they say, it's unclear -- unclear why eric trump or ivanka trump might need a pardon? >> well, whether it's unclear or not, donald certainly seems to think there is a reason to pardon them. i'm a bit hurt that i'm not on the list, but then again, i didn't do anything wrong.
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you know, this should raise some red flags for people. why pardon somebody when there is not an obvious reason to do so? i don't know if donald understands that the federal pardons don't apply to state charges. but i think his continuing to push the envelope, if he does indeed try to pardon his children pre-emptively, and indeed himself, then that creates a level of urgency we've not seen before in terms of our needing to do something to hold him accountable. >> well, it is, in effect, pointing to crimes. if he was to pardon his daughter, pardon his sons, he is saying they are very much in jeopardy of being convicted of federal crimes. and remember, that includes tax evasion, which is a very clear possibility with anyone named trump signing those tax returns
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in that business that they run. and so this clears them of any of that. but it also says they very likely did commit federal crimes. >> exactly. you know, as professor tribe said, that raises the stakes in terms of where the biden administration decides to go with this if, for whatever reason, the decision is made not to hold donald and his children accountable, we at least need to know what happened. and if he pardons them, then that is telling us very clearly that something did, indeed, happen and we need to find out what it is or, you know, we will be in danger of losing our constitutional republic. >> do you think your cousins are asking their father for a pardon? >> i don't think they need to because he's aware that whatever, if indeed there is
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anything, they get found to have done, it will reflect on him and he is most likely implicated in it as well. so i think that he's been ready to do this for a while, and they did not need to ask. >> none of the reports focus on donald trump's third wife, melania trump. in your understanding of the way the trump businesses work, and possibly the way the trump tax returns are handled, might she be in some danger on possible tax investigations of donald trump? and might the first lady need a pardon going out the door? >> obviously i don't have any inside information into that. but based on the way my family operates, i think it's extremely unlikely that melania would be allowed to be involved in any inner workings of the trump organization. and the fact that donald has not floated that idea suggests that that is the case.
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but, you know, i don't put anything past any of them at this point. >> how do you think donald, as you call him, which i have to say there is something relentlessly charming about you referring to him that way as a family member. but how do you think he's going to stand in the world of politics six months down the road after he's pardoned everyone in his family, if he does that, and as grand juries in new york are closing in on him, they've either indicted him or they're approaching indictments on him. he's on his way to becoming a criminal defendant. how do you think that's going to affect his standing in our politics? >> well, you know, by all rights it should end his having any standing in our politics. but, you know, the republican party has proven itself to be remarkably resilient when it comes to putting up with the corruption of this administration. i mean, some of these pardons --
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you know, it's bad enough he's speculating about pardoning his children and himself. but some of the pardons he's already enacted are just horrific and absolutely fly in the face of human decency. and yet the republicans do nothing and say nothing. so i think it's going to depend on whatever calculation they make in terms of their need to keep donald front and center vis-a-vis the base. but, you know, a lot of it is riding on january 5th for that reason as well in terms of who gets the senate majority. >> mary trump, 23 days left in the presidency of the person you call the world's most dangerous man in the title of your book. what do you fear most in these 23 days? >> well, unfortunately, i fear that the days following january 5th will be the most dangerous. one, because we'll know what happens with the senate.
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and then the day after that we'll see what happens in the senate vis-a-vis the election results and the electoral college. so if, indeed, we -- it's decided once and for all, and absolutely nobody except donald and his inner circle can question the election results, he will know without a doubt that he's out of there on january 20th, and that will increase his level of desperation. that will increase his -- if it's even possible, which it is unfortunately, his level of cruelty and corruption and the kinds of pardons we're going to see and the kinds of machinations going on behind the scenes will boggle the mind. so we need to be prepared for them. >> and i presume you don't believe we'll see donald trump at the inauguration of joe biden. >> no, i think, lawrence, you and i have been saying the same thing for quite a while now.
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there is no way -- again, unless somebody shoots him with an elephant tranquilizer. i don't think there is any way we'll be seeing donald at joe biden's inauguration. one, because that would mean conceding something, and two, it would mean he's not the center of attention which is the bigger reason for him not to go. >> mary trump, thank you once again for joining us tonight. always appreciate it. >> thank you so much, lawrence. >> thank you. coming up, we now know that december has been the deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic in the united states, as airport travel hits pandemic record highs this holiday weekend. is the situation going to get worse in the month of january? that's next.
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covid-19. 1 in 17 americans have tested positive for covid-19. that's 19 million americans who have tested positive for covid-19. the latest issue of "the new yorker" is dedicated to lawrence wright's article entitled "the plague year: the mistakes and the struggles behind an american tragedy." in that article lawrence wright says, a pandemic lays bare a society's frailties. one of our society's frailties is a large section of the population choose not to follow public health guidelines. according to the tsa, 1,284,599 travelers were screened at u.s. airports yesterday. that is the highest number of travelers since the start of the pandemic. more than 2 million people in the united states have been vaccinated according to the centers for disease control. that is far below the trump
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administration's goal of having 20 million people vaccinated before the end of this week. dr. celine gounder, a member of president-elect joe biden's advisory board, said this on cnbc. >> you will see him invoking the defense production act. the idea there is to make sure that the personal protective equipment, the test capacity, and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply. >> joining us now is dr. dara cast, professor of emergency medicine at columbia university. she is also yahoo! news medical contributor and a covid survivor. doctor, thank you for joining us tonight. new york city bore the brunt of this last spring when we were first being hit hard in this country. you've just heard the news about a record number of travelers --
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a record number of air travelers in this country yesterday. what are you bracing for in new york city in the month of january? >> it's not just new york city. it's the entire country. we are seeing specifically in l.a., there are no hospital beds. there are no icu beds. they are talking about crisis-level care when it comes to not just triage, but admission to the hospital. patients don't know how to get these monoclonal antibodies. everybody who is traveling is not just risking bringing the infection from their home, but catching the virus on vacation and bringing it back to their home. which is really dangerous with all of these new strains of the virus as well. so it's really -- it's not just scary to those of us on the front lines. it's also disappointing that people have given up on containing this virus. >> we saw a december surge after thanksgiving travel. are you expecting to see a january surge after the travel statistics we just reported? >> absolutely. there is nothing stopping the spread of this virus.
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people have just given up. they're not just traveling state to state or across countries, but they are also having numerous parties, you know, over thanksgiving, christmas, and now new year. so we do expect a continued increase in the number of cases of this virus. and no matter how many people we vaccinate, it means nothing if the virus continues to spread exponentially in our communities. >> let's listen to what dr. fauci said about the vaccine this weekend. >> measles is about 98% effective vaccine. the covid-19 vaccine is about 94%, 95%. measles is the most transmissible infection you can imagine. so i would imagine that you would need something a little bit less than the 90%. that's where i got to the 85%. i think we all have to be honest and humble. nobody really knows for sure, but i think 70% to 85% for herd immunity for covid-19 is a reasonable estimate.
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>> dr. cass, with the delay now in the distribution of the vaccine, we're seeing a much slower distribution than was promised by the trump administration. what are you anticipating as the timetable for getting to that herd immunity? >> look, it's completely unknown. the distribution of the vaccine has been slower than we expected and very frustrating. because once the vaccine is delivered to the states, it's up to local medical centers and private offices to start distributing the vaccine at the state's recommendation. and as we go to scale outside of fixed facilities, we're going to see a lot more distribution inequity when it comes to who is going to get vaccinated, when and how. it's going to be very complicated. i don't expect us to get to any reasonable mass vaccination until the third quarter, i would say, of 2021, which means we're looking through the rest of the winter and the spring of really continuing to wear masks,
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be distanced, and stay away from people that aren't in our nuclear families. >> what has the availability of the vaccine for medical professionals in new york city, especially people like yourselves, working in the hospitals, what has that meant to the people on the front lines in these hospitals? >> so, the opportunity to get vaccinated is nothing short of joyous. it is a path towards the end of this pandemic. physicians, front line health care workers have been able to stand up and say we trust this vaccine and we know this is a way out of this pandemic. and so we have seen more frustration in the inability to get vaccinated quickly than we have seen in hesitancy from the front line health care work force in whether or not they decide to get vaccinated. >> dr. dara cass, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. we appreciate it. >> no problem. >> thank you. and when we come back, we will have a special last word with the touch of a poet. et
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we have another update for you on joyce. you first met her in 2016 when she was 13 and attending high school in malawi thanks to a scholarship from the k.i.n.d. fund, kids in need of desks. the girls' graduation rate is half there of the boys' graduation rate. she performed her poem little by little four years ago. this year, she is going to begin her studies at the malawi college of medicine. she got there thanks to your generosity to the k.i.n.d. fund. you can contribute any amount
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towards a scholarship for girls or desks. this year, with so many of you losing income during the pandemic, i was just hoping we could keep the k.i.n.d. fund on financial life support, but so far this holiday season, you've contributed $3,254,435, which is even more than last year. two weeks ago, when we once again showed you joyce reciting her poem, leslie tweeted, tears filled my eyes watching the show and seeing joyce recite her poem. i started giving to the k.i.n.d. fund back then and each year since. i just sent in my donation. tom tweeted, joyce is a remarkable, inspiring young woman. thank you for showcasing her and creating the k.i.n.d. fund. i'll be supporting and waiting
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for more poetry from the future doctor. joyce has a new poem, written from the perspective of a girl who couldn't follow joyce's path and stay in high school, and as happens to so many girls in malawi, she gets pregnant and has a baby in this poem. here's a portion of that poem that joyce calls "had i known." >> leaving me all alone, i have no financial support. but when i see them shining in their school uniforms, trusting their future, i cry and say, had i known that education is the key to success, i would have stayed in school. thank you. >> joyce is one of 10,663 girls
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who have received scholarships to complete high school in malawi. and thanks to your generosity, thousands more will do the same. joyce has a message for those girls. >> i want to help my girls so they can achieve their dreams. they shouldn't look down on themselves. all thanks to k.i.n.d. fund scholarships, they gave me the vision to see a dream come true and to see a better future, and a better version of joyce. thank you. >> once again, joyce gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. ♪ good evening once again. i'm katy tur, in for brian williams, who has the night off.
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day 1,439 of the trump administration. 23 days until the inauguration of joe biden as the 46th president. the outgoing president is still creating chaos and election results but imposing new demands from congress while millions of americans are still desperate for help from the government. tonight, the democratic-led house voted to give donald trump exactly what he asked for and what democrats wanted all along -- direct relief payments of $2,000 instead of $600. 44 republicans voted with the democrats for those increased payments. the vote comes after donald trump initially refused to sign the $900 billion covid relief bill congress passed a week ago, then ended up caving and signing the measure as is last night. the new legislation with the higher relief payments is now in