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Meet the Press – November 22, 2020

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the threat to democracy.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I won, by the way, but, you know, we’ll find that out — almost 74 million votes.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump and his allies making baseless and dangerous claims about non-existent voter fraud.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER:

It is inaccurate to say that there is widespread voter fraud in the state of Georgia.

CHUCK TODD:

The president now hoping to get Republican state legislators to overturn results and choose pro-Trump electors.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

It’s an assault on our democracy and it’s outrageous.

JOE BIDEN:

It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, I’ll talk to incoming Biden White House official, Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. Plus, the Covid explosion.

LACIE GOOCH:

I’ve seen people more sick than I’ve ever seen in my life and they just drop so fast.

CHUCK TODD:

Daily case records being set.

DR. DANIEL JOHNSON:

We’re in an utter emergency here.

CHUCK TODD:

A quarter million Americans now dead.

WOMAN:

That’s how we’re going to get our mom, in a box.

CHUCK TODD:

The Trump administration refusing to confer with the Biden team.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

We are in a very serious situation, but we can do something about it.

CHUCK TODD:

But vaccine help is on the way.

MONCEF SLAOUI:

We have enough vaccine doses between these two vaccines to immunize about 20 million people during the month of December.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, you’ll hear my conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci and I’ll talk to Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed. Joining me for insight and analysis are NBC News Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, Eddie Glaude, Jr. of Princeton University, Anna Palmer, s enior Washington correspondent for Politico and John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary. Welcome to Sunday. It’s Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. In the days immediately following Joe Biden’s victory, it was easy to dismiss President Trump’s reality denial as working his base or just a tantrum or some sort of strategy for his post-presidency. But now his antics are looking less like a fit of pique than an assault on our democracy. In recent days, we’ve seen President Trump and his allies pressure Republican state legislators to overturn the election and choose pro-Trump electors instead. Trump lawyers spin baseless conspiracy theories about voting machines, dead dictators in Venezuela and a national conspiracy to rig the election that somehow members of both parties participated in. Mr. Trump fired the cybersecurity official who debunked his false claims that the election was stolen, and President Trump himself tweeted blatant falsehoods about non-existent voter fraud including last night’s explicit call to state legislators to overturn the election results. At the same time, the president is denying Biden’s transition team access to information that would allow the new president to deal with the Covid crisis on day one, among other things. Simply put, that is costing lives in a country where more than a quarter million have already been lost. Mr. Trump’s efforts to turn a legitimate defeat into a fraudulent victory appear headed for failure, but he may succeed in undermining confidence in U.S. elections and in kneecapping the incoming administration, and perhaps that’s the motive. But ask yourself: Is this the 1950’s or the 1850’s — the 1950’s when we overcame our McCarthy-era crisis and eventually pulled together as a country or the 1850’s when the nation broke apart?

JOE BIDEN:

I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won. It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.

CHUCK TODD:

President-elect Joe Biden, stepping up his criticism of President Trump’s effort to overturn the election results.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Big pharma ran million dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won, by the way. But you know, we’ll find that out.

CHUCK TODD:

But Mr. Trump’s attempts to make his legal efforts appear anything more than a PR campaign aimed at delegitimizing Biden’s presidency and building his own post-presidency brand are failing. In Georgia on Friday, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified Biden’s win after a recount:

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER:

Numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.

CHUCK TODD:

And though the president summoned Michigan lawmakers to the White House on Friday —

PROTESTORS:

Shame on you! shame on you!

CHUCK TODD:

— after the meeting, they said in a statement that they would “follow the normal process” in certifying the vote results.

BOB BAUER:

While the president and his allies are ripping at the fabric of the democracy in any way they can, the fabric is not tearing, it’s holding firm.

CHUCK TODD:

Also this week, Mr. Trump fired Homeland Security official Chris Krebs who challenged his false claims of voter fraud

REP. ADAM KINZINGER:

There’s like a loyalty purge going on in the last month in the White House.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS:

I disagree vehemently with his firing.

CHUCK TODD:

Of the 36 election lawsuits the Trump campaign and Republicans have filed, 24 have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn — and none has found a single instance of actual fraud.

JOE BIDEN:

I think most of the Republicans I’ve spoken to, including some governors, think this is debilitating. It’s not a — it sends a horrible message about who we are as a country.

CHUCK TODD:

Still, the Republican party’s response has largely been to accept and to even encourage the president’s attempts to overturn the election results. Just three Republican senators have publicly criticized the president: Senator Mitt Romney: “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic act by a sitting American president.” Senator Ben Sasse wrote that the president’s lawyers “have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud — because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.” And Susan Collins condemned the “attempt to pressure state officials.” But overwhelmingly, the nation’s top Republicans have been silent or encouraged the president’s unparalleled effort to steal an election he lost by more than six million votes, and by an Electoral College margin equal to his 2016 win.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

When Stacey Abrams challenged the results in Georgia, she was an American hero. When Donald Trump’s going to court, he’s a dictator. I’m tired of this crap. We’re gonna fight back in Georgia. We’re gonna fight back everywhere.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN:

It’s an assault on our democracy, and it’s outrageous. It’s bad for Donald Trump. It’s bad for the Republican Party. It’s bad for the country and our standing in the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is the incoming director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, it’s Congressman — for a few days longer — Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. Congress Richmond, welcome back to Meet the Press. All right, tomorrow is certification day in Pennsylvania. We got the lawsuit thrown out last night, which basically was the last legal path that he had in Pennsylvania. If you follow the president’s plan to try to get to 270, it doesn’t work without Pennsylvania. If tomorrow is not the day the GSA turns the keys over, what does the Biden transition team do, Congressman Richmond? It looks like we have an audio issue there with Congressman Richmond. We’re going to get that fixed, so we are now going to swap orders here, and hopefully, my next guest, Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, is ready. Senator Cramer, as you can see there, we had a little bit of issue. First, let me make sure you can hear me okay. Senator, welcome to Meet The Press.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

It’s good to be with you. I can hear you fine and hope you can hear me.

CHUCK TODD:

I can hear you just fine. Let me start with sort of a form of the same issue here, but I’m going to use Senator Pat Toomey, your Republican colleague from Pennsylvania. Here’s what he said last night after the decision came down to essentially throw out the president’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania. “With today’s decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a long-time conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign’s lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania. I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.” Do you concur with Senator Toomey that it is now over?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Chuck, first of all, again, thanks for the opportunity to be with you, and no, I do not, although I think it’s very likely. But that said, I think we — again, I don’t know why we’re so easily offended by a president that’s carrying out all of his legal options in court, not enhancing or encouraging any riots or burnings of buildings or beating up of Democrats coming out of Democratic meetings or events. It’s just a simple, legal process and really there have not been a lot of evidentiary hearings that have involved the Trump case. There have been other hearings. And I noticed that you used a number that was rather large of cases that have been thrown out or dismissed, but when it comes down to actually looking at evidence, there have not been many, if any, and maybe the Pennsylvania one was the first one. So, I think everyone ought to calm down a little bit. I don’t see this as an attack on our democracy. I mean, we spent four years listening to news shows and liberals discrediting, trying to discredit the Trump administration to the point of spying on him by the last administration. Forty million dollars spent on an independent counsel that started with no evidence and ended proving that there was no evidence. And then, of course, this crazy impeachment. So, I think — I think what we’re experiencing now, everyone ought to just relax and let it play out in the legal way. We’ll be just fine.

CHUCK TODD:

You’ve implied that there’s no damage being done just now in those comments. So, you believe that —

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Well, there was a lot of damage done in the last four years.

CHUCK TODD:

— that the spectacle — I mean, yeah, well, I want to ask you, the spectacle of Rudy Giuliani on Thursday using the headquarters of the Republican party. I mean, at one point, one of the lawyers accused a dead dictator of somehow being a part of this. I mean, are you really saying that the president is — you’re out there saying that the president’s not encouraging somehow any way of sort of being disorderly about this. How is that not encouraging disruption and disorderly — he’s accusing the entire system of being corrupt. Is that not undermining the democracy?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Well, first of all, what they’re claiming is that there’s a lot of evidence and they’re presenting that evidence in cases. Now, it’s up to them to present that evidence, Chuck, obviously. And we’ve yet to see a real hearing where evidence was presented. And, and they’re not obligated to present it, you know, yesterday or tomorrow, although the sooner the better from my perspective. But I’m just speaking strictly now from this “attack on democracy,” as you call it. This is, these are legal systems. This is, these are processes that are in our Constitution, in our laws, and they’re not just appropriate, but they’re really an obligation, frankly, to the millions of Americans that President Trump is a reflection of. I know, you know, a lot of people like to think that we’re the reflection of him. He’s the reflection of millions of people that want to see him fight this to the end. Now, there has to be an end, Chuck. I agree there has to be an end. I, frankly, do think it’s time to — well, it was past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with the transition. I’d rather have a president that has more than one day to prepare, should Joe Biden, you know, end up winning this. But in the meantime, again, he’s just exercising his legal options.

CHUCK TODD:

I just want to confirm. You believe that the head of GSA, tomorrow morning at this point, ought to say, “The transition needs to begin. It looks like Joe Biden’s going to be the apparent winner. Yes, there’s more to go through.” If this is what the head of GSA said, “Yes, there’s still more to go through, but it looks like Joe Biden’s the apparent winner. Let’s allow the transition process to begin,” should that be what happens tomorrow morning?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Yes, it should happen tomorrow morning because it didn’t happen last Monday morning. I just think you have to begin that process, give the incoming administration all the time they need. Now, I will also say this. I think that Vice President Biden has been a bit overdramatic as it relates to Operation Warp Speed and the distribution of the, of the vaccines and things. I mean, none of those things are a secret. The military is in charge of Operation Warp Speed. The military is still going to be there after the election. But there are lots of other things. And I’ve informed my staff well over a week ago that they ought to cooperate with any transition outreach because we want to be prepared. We have to, you know, we have a government to run regardless of who the president is.

CHUCK TODD:

Does it concern you that so many, and I’m sure you — I’m curious what happens when you have your own constituents that say to you, “Senator, I know this was stolen. I just don’t believe it.” What are you going to — what is it going to take to these, to tell those folks, your constituents in North Dakota, “Look, I know you don’t like the results, but it was fair and square”?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

That’s a great point. That’s a great point. That’s where leadership really does have to step in and where you have to both be attentive to them and then use your circle of influence. And I think what it’s going to take, Chuck, is for all of these legal avenues to be exhausted. And then, at some point, we start preparing for another election. Your monologue illustrated a couple of times in our history when there have been challenges. And the good news is is that our republic is very resilient.

CHUCK TODD:

You do realize that, in this century, there have been four closer presidential elections. 2000, 2004, 2012, 2016. Believe it or not, the popular vote win here by Biden is even larger —

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

— than Barack Obama’s was over Mitt Romney. So, at what point does this undermine our — you’ve heard Governor Larry Hogan. This is not coming from a member of the media, it’s a Republican —

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Right. Right.

CHUCK TODD:

— who thinks this is undermining the look of America to the world.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Yeah, I know that a lot of people would like a nice, tidy, historical sort of — historically traditional sort of election, but we don’t have a traditional president. He didn’t get there in a traditional way. I never cease being amazed at people like you who are surprised when he’s not behaving the same way as previous presidents have behaved. But I also go back to the fact that just last year —

CHUCK TODD:

Hope springs eternal, Senator.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

— just last year, just last year Hillary Clinton referred to him as an illegitimate president. We went through four years of trying to delegitimize him. I think that to have this process is just fine. And who knows? Remember, we’ve also never in history, in this century or any other century, had a massive vote by mail, you know, balloting where there was things like ballot harvesting and ballot curing, things that we’ve never even heard of before that were taking place. And frankly, a much, much lower rejection rate of mail-in ballots than just four years ago when there were many fewer of them. So, it’s okay to go through this process, make sure it’s being done right, make sure that it never happens again if there are irregularities. We can’t ignore hundreds of signed affidavits. That’s evidence. That’s way more evidence than Robert Mueller had.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, well, so far though, that is not the case because this evidence, they haven’t presented it in court because they don’t have it, it appears. We’ll see. As you said, if they have the evidence, they should present it. And they’ve yet to present it in a courtroom because you can’t lie to a judge. Anway, Senator Cramer, Republican of North Dakota —

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

I don’t know if that’s the reason, Chuck, but —

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we don’t know, but they haven’t done it yet. Anyway, I really appreciate you coming on. Many of your colleagues have not wanted to —

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

My pleasure. Give my best to Congressman Richmond.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes. You got it. Thank you, sir.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

Yes, all right. Thanks, Chuck. You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, joining me now, Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. He is back with us. Well, Congressman, now I want to get you to react to what you heard. I hope you could hear some of that interview–I know we had some audio issues. Um, on one hand, Senator Cramer said it’s time for the transition to begin; on the other hand, he wasn’t ready to recognize President-elect Joe Biden. Um, is that helpful or harmful to the cause right now?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Well, it’s harmful to the cause. One, it undermines the confidence in American government. This was a fair election. Joe Biden won by over 6 million votes in the popular vote. 306 electoral votes, which is the exact same number that Donald Trump had that he called a landslide. So, Joe Biden won with a mandate and a landslide and now it’s time to transition. And look, the senator said that he didn’t see much harm being done. Uh, that’s just not true. And the one thing that’s important about Joe Biden is he understands the pain of losing loved ones. And so, when we think about COVID-19 – that’s cost us over 250,000 Americans – and we’re going to have a vaccine, then we need to be meeting. We have to distribute the vaccine to over 300 million people, and that will save lives, so we want to get in there right now–not talk to former officials, but talk to the people that are in there right now, doing the job, so that we can be ready to finish or start distribution of vaccines on day one. And then the last point I’ll make is, one of the reports of, findings of the 9/11 Commission was that because the transition was short and failed, it left us more vulnerable for a 9/11 type attack. So, we should be getting the national security briefings. We should have access to everything in the federal government that we’re supposed to, and we hope that the GSA administrator is going to do that soon.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, given all of the things that have happened over the last 24 hours and what’s going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is certification day in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, uh the one fig leaf of a lawsuit tossed out in Pennsylvania. If you don’t, if it doesn’t start tomorrow – and it certainly seems like there is plenty of reasons why it should – what is your recourse? What does the, what does President-elect Biden do next?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Look, we will, we will explore every avenue. We expect it to start. The certification in Pennsylvania is a very big step. We are doing everything we can. We’ve named White House chief of staff, 13 White House senior officials. This coming week, we will start to name uh, the cabinet, people in the cabinet. And we expect the FBI – and we need the FBI – to start background checks and the other things that go with, uh, transition. So, we will continue to push it with the Trump administration, but we won’t take any, uh, avenues off the table.

CHUCK TODD:

Your friendship with Steve Scalise, Republican from Louisiana, is well known. The both of you talk about it because it’s so rare to have bipartisan friendships in this town these days. Have you talked to him, and reached out to him? I mean, if relationships matter, his voice would be a big one if it uttered the phrase, “President-elect Biden.” What does he say to you?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Well, I think he knows that this election is over and that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. It’s just amazing to me the grasp that this president has on the Republican party, and the reluctance that members have to come out and tell him the hard truth. And that’s just not with Congressman Scalise, but it starts at the minority leader and McCarthy–goes over to the Senate with Leader McConnell. You know, this is the future of our democracy on the line. It was a fair and square election. Donald Trump lost. And so, at some point, we have to move on, but this Republican Party has been very reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor that he wears no clothes.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, uh Steny Hoyer, the number-two leader on the Democratic side, said, I think, “I think this borders on treason. He is undermining the very essence of democracy, which is you go to the poll, you vote, and the people decide. There’s no doubt that the people decided.” Those are, those are strong words. Do you concur with them?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Look, it’s certainly un-American, but remember, we have to all remember who we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with Donald Trump, uh, a president that was impeached for withholding foreign aid to Ukraine unless they gave him dirt on Joe Biden’s son. So, there’s nothing–the one thing I do agree with Senator Cramer on is, there’s nothing that Donald Trump will do that will surprise me because he’s shown exactly who he is: a person who will break the law, ignore the law, to get what he wants. And at some point, I just hope that the American people understand that this is about them. This is not about an elected official. This is about saving lives. This is about protecting our country. And all of these people that are waking up in economic and financial instability and ruin because of our failed coronavirus response–we need to be doing something for them, right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I let you go, you have a unique perch. You were the national co-chair for Joe Biden’s campaign. You’re a pretty active and, uh high-level Democrat in the House. So, answer me this question: Joe Biden won the White House, but Democrats lost seats in the House. Why?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Look, it was a, uh, it was a rough and tough election and I will say this, and I’ve gone back and looked at numbers and other things. Donald Trump increasing Republican turnout made a big deal. But there’s a whole, I think, post-election audit that we should do and analysis to see where we ran strong, where we didn’t run strong. And I think the fact that Joe Biden won Georgia and we still have two Senate, uh, seats that are in run-offs could be a telling tale for what’s happening. But I do believe as Democrats, though, we need to make sure – and look, I’m a Saints fan – we need to make sure we have a good general manager, a good offensive coordinator, a good defensive coordinator, and that we all run the same plays. Look, it doesn’t have to be the exact same route, but we should have the exact same goals in mind, and I do believe that is the case. And so, uh, we will continue to push and let the voters decide.

CHUCK TODD:

Cedric Richmond, for a few more days, or weeks you’ll be a Democratic congressman from Louisiana, but soon you will be a major player in that West Wing, uh, with President-elect Joe Biden. Thanks for coming on. Apologies for the audio issues at the start.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. When we come back, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the official overseeing the government’s efforts to produce and distribute a safe and effective vaccine, Dr. Moncef Slaoui.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

We have really got to pay attention to the public health measures that we are not uniformly implementing throughout the country. It’s disparate. Some are doing it, and some are not. They’re very simple. The wearing of masks, the physical distancing, the avoiding congregate and crowd sessions, activities, particularly indoors. Trying, where possible, to do things outdoors, as opposed to indoors, and the frequent washing of hands. They sound so simple, Chuck, but they do make a difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

So, the point I was making is that we are in a very serious situation, but we can do something about it, point number one. Point number two is that help is on the way. Traditionally and historically, highly efficacious and effective vaccines have crushed epidemics like smallpox and polio and measles. We can do that with the vaccines that are going to be coming online.

CHUCK TODD:

I’m trying to figure out when we’re going to plateau before March. There is no mitigating event, and there’s no evidence that we’re mitigating a thing. Where does this case count escalation stop? When does the hospitalization escalation stop? Are we really staring at until the vaccine?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. We’re not going to completely eliminate it and turn it around rapidly and dramatically, but we can prevent it from increasing. You look at the curve, Chuck, it’s almost exponential, when you compare the curves in the spring and the curves in the summer with the inflection of the curve, where we are right now. We should not accept that we can’t do anything about that. Putting vaccines aside for a moment, which will be extraordinarily helpful, if we implement the simple public health measures that I was mentioning to you, we can blunt that inflection. It doesn’t have to be as high up. But when you think of the holiday season and the congregating indoors at what are innocent, lovely functions, like meals with family and friends, you have got to at least think in terms of evaluating, do you have people in your family that are elderly, that might have underlying conditions, like someone on chemotherapy, or other things that weaken their immune system? Do you really want to get a crowd of 10, 15, 20 people, many of whom are coming in from places where they have gone from crowded airports, to planes, getting into the house? I mean, those are the things that have been such joyous things in the past.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about testing. Believe it or not — and you have — I hear the anecdotes, it is still not easy to get a test, and it’s not easy to get a test quickly. Where — and you have said yourself — or I think earlier — that you regret, that’s — and one of your early regrets is sort of our testing strategy.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Explain.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

You know, Chuck, what I would have liked to have seen done — and I had articulated this, and it didn’t go very far — is the idea about testing to determine if a particular individual is infected, so that you can identify, isolate and contact trace. I’m all for that. That’s fine. But I’m also for what I have said months and months ago, that we should be flooding the system with tests to determine the penetrance of the asymptomatic spread. We don’t have that availability of tests. We should have now, we should have tests that are point-of-care, sensitive, specific, you can do at home, you can get the results yourself, so that you can know when you wake up in the morning, when you want to go to work, whether or not you are infected or whether the people you might want to invite over your home for a holiday are infected. We don’t have that. We should have that. I hope we do get that. That has been something that has not been within our grasp. I know, technically, it’s not the easiest thing to do, but I wish we had done that.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Moncef Slaoui. He’s the head of Operation Warp Speed. It is the U.S. government’s effort to produce a safe and effective vaccine for use, well, as soon as possible. Dr. Slaoui, welcome to Meet The Press. And let me start with, look, there’s been great news, both from Moderna and Pfizer. We know that Pfizer applied for this emergency authorization use. So, the second the approval comes, walk me through how Warp Speed suddenly gets implemented. Who gets the first vaccinations?

MONCEF SLAOUI:

So, the second the emergency use authorization is approved, the ACIP and the CDC will issue their recommendation for who will get the vaccines on a priority basis. That’s very likely to be maybe healthcare workers, maybe firstline workers, maybe individuals who are at very high risk, elderly, people with comorbidities. We will have already identified with each state and department of health where they want the vaccines to be located. We cannot move the vaccine doses prior to the emergency use authorization. Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses. And then it is each state that will decide, specifically, based on the guidance from the ACIP and CDC, who they will vaccinate.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there, is there a point where you may — the federal government may say, “Wait a minute, State X, you’re not inoculating enough frontline workers. Hospitalizations are rising too fast. You need to focus more of these vaccines there.” If you see a state not doing that, is that something you would intervene and tell a state, “Look, we know we left this up to you, but you’re not inoculating nearly enough healthcare workers”?

MONCEF SLAOUI:

Well, first of all, the vaccine doses will be distributed on a proportionate basis to the population. And, frankly, I don’t see that the federal government will intervene on a state decision. Now, I assume each state will be acting responsibly based on the guidance from the CDC and also what the label of the vaccine, what the FDA issued the emergency use authorization on. But normally this is not our intent to intervene at the micro level. It’s really on a broad basis that we are acting.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I’ve got to ask you, how hard will it be to hand off this process that you’re overseeing to a new presidential administration? And do you hope to be kept on to continue to oversee this process?

MONCEF SLAOUI:

So, frankly, the operation has been isolated from the administration, from the political environment and the political context. We worked very hard to make sure that’s the case. And, therefore, all the decisions are made, the train is running. Whether one administration or the other, it doesn’t frankly make a difference. I hope there is no disruption in any way. My personal role, as you know, I have volunteered for this on a limited basis. My personal agenda is when we have two vaccines approved and two medicines approved and the rest of the portfolio that we have really well, you know, in good hands, I’ll probably move on back to my private life. As you know, I’m highly supportive of the program and if it means I work with the new administration, I’ll be very happy to.

CHUCK TODD:

And would you like to start briefing the new administration next week?

MONCEF SLAOUI:

I understand that all the information that I made public, of course I’ll make public to the new administration. I should not be saying — I have been informed that I should not be saying anything that’s confidential to anybody, including, you know, anybody that’s not part of the administration. And therefore, I’ll act according to what the legal requirements are.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the good news this week are those vaccines. All we’ve got to do is hope we can get there and start doing mitigation and start doing all those other things to prevent this from being as bad as it looks right now. Dr. Slaoui, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your perspective with us.

MONCEF SLAOUI:

Thank you for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, President Trump has been lobbing baseless charges about election fraud. He’s not going to overturn the election, so what is his goal? Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is with us. It’s NBC News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson; it’s Eddie Glaude Jr. of Princeton University; Anna Palmer, the senior Washington correspondent for Politico; and John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary. So I want to start off with a little bit of, of numbers because, hey, that’s what I love to do, right? Check out what we’re seeing now in the 2020 presidential election. I noted earlier that there are four closer races just since 2000 than 2020, but check this out. 2020 versus 2012. Obama-Romney, 51.01% in the popular vote to 47.2%. Look where the popular vote is right now, 51.0%-47.2%. And those numbers are going to grow and they continue to grow. And so Biden’s lead is actually going to be larger when all is said and done. Let me show you the popular vote splits, by the way, 2012 to 2020. Obama won by just under 5 million in the raw vote. Joe Biden is over 6 million in this raw vote. So, Hallie Jackson, it is sort of a reminder this is the fifth-closest election we’ve had since 2000, which means it wasn’t really that historically close. I heard Senator Cramer use the impeachment as one of the rationales, Lindsey Graham say Stacey Abrams. Is this the White House strategy, that they’re basically saying, “Hey, they did it to us. So we’re going to do it to them”?

HALLIE JACKSON:

So that surmises that there is a strategy, Chuck, and it is some sort of broader work in progress that the folks are moving toward. Listen, this is about the president. This is about what he wants and what he feels. And he is feeling angry, obviously, as we know based on this. I’ve talked to sources over the last 24 hours who know, Chuck, that the president understands that there is an uphill climb ahead. He sees the writing on the wall, but the point now is to continue to keep up the fight. I thought it was interesting that Senator Cramer worked to, as you pointed out, thread the needle between, “Yes, we should start the transition process,” but, “No, it’s not President-elect Biden yet.” And I will tell you, I’ve talked with sources in both the Trump orbit and the Biden orbit. They both actually agree on one thing, which is that over the coming days, Chuck, particularly — potentially after tomorrow when the Pennsylvania certification process happens, you will see more Republicans come out, sort of putting the president on an isolated island by saying, “Yes, we should move forward. Joe Biden is the president-elect.” Here’s where they disagree, though: that it’s going to matter for President Trump, right? I think folks on the Democratic side, on the Biden side think that that is going to put pressure on the president. I talked to somebody who’s close to the president who said that probably will make very little difference to him.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Anna Palmer, the Lamar Alexander statement from Friday to me is so striking. “If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one.” Lamar Alexander is retiring. He’s leaving on January 2, I believe. His term expires, uh, technically. And he still couldn’t write the phrase “President-elect Joe Biden.”

ANNA PALMER:

I think it has a lot to do with where the Republican Party is, and a lot of these lawmakers don’t want to get crosswise with Trump supporters. They look at how many votes he got and the fact that he’s not going away anytime soon, whether or not he’s leaving this administration. There’s already talk of a 2024 run. And I think what you have is a lot of Republicans not looking to inflame the president, whether or not they are seeking elected office again.

CHUCK TODD:

Eddie, at what point do you think Democrats have to fight harder about this? In some ways, I think President-elect Biden has preached, publicly, patience. We know behind the scenes they’re getting impatient. At what point should they be acting more impatient?

EDDIE GLAUDE JR.:

Well, it seems to me, particularly after Pennsylvania certifies, if we still see this going on, they need press, you know, to put their foot to the pedal it seems to me, Chuck. Look, I think it’s not so much the success of Donald Trump’s efforts with regards to challenging the election. It’s sowing the doubt. It’s delegitimizing the incoming, the upcoming administration and then transforming that doubt into outright hostility. And I think this is the challenge that we face and that Senator Cramer honestly didn’t want to admit, that the more Donald Trump delegitimizes this process, the more he undermines our democratic process and unleashes in some ways these illiberal forces. So I think after Pennsylvania certifies, if we see this still happening, the Democrats have to press harder, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

But, John Podhoretz, we still have a, we’re still going to have millions of people that believe one thing. And this Newsmax phenomenon that we’re watching where clearly people don’t like what they’re hearing on Fox and they say, “No, no, no, no, no. I don’t want to hear an occasional fact or two. I want to go where life is different than Election Day.” Let me play a little excerpt from Newsmax.

[BEGIN TAPE]

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY:

We’re like one of the only major networks not to call the election. And our view is, of course, we’re waiting for the states to certify and see what the final result is. And we’re also encouraging the president to begin the possibility of a transition, even if that has not been certified yet.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Before you respond, John, a little history lesson on Christopher Ruddy. I want to remind folks the founder of Newsmax was best known before he founded that cable channel for this crazy, being the chief reporter on a crazy conspiracy that somehow Ron Brown was murdered seconds before a plane crash, which did kill Ron Brown. The point is that, this is sort of, Newsmax is founded by a conspiracy theorist. What is happening to the messaging to the right side of the aisle in this country?

JOHN PODHORETZ:

It’s very hard to fathom. Look, I’m a conservative. I got into this fight 40 years ago about smaller government, and lower taxes, and traditionalist values, and a strong military. And that 40 years later I and people like me are being put in the position of being accused of disloyalty because we do not buy into the notion that, from his grave seven years ago, Hugo Chavez paid off the governor of Georgia, Republican governor of Georgia, in a pay-or-play scheme to fix voting machines whose results were just verified by a hand recount. That we are somehow being put in the position of having to say, “It’s okay that this go on this way because the president has every legal right to contest and we don’t really have certification.” This is where you get off the train, when you are asked to take the train to crazy town and then move to crazy town and then send nuclear missiles to strike normal town.

CHUCK TODD:

John, when do we get back to normal town, and what happens on your side of the aisle if this splintering doesn’t end?

JOHN PODHORETZ:

Well, people think, as Hallie said, that Trump has a strategy. What if the strategy is stupid? I’ll give you an example. So in 2018 as the midterm elections were coming, Trump instead of pushing the strong economy sort of went with this two-week message about evil caravans coming up from Central America and how this was going to turn the tide and win the Republicans the House. And in fact, the Democrats slaughtered him. What if this strategy is a bad strategy? What if it’s dumb? What if he actually doesn’t know how to win and he only really knows how to lose?

CHUCK TODD:

Right. He’s yet to win the popular vote yet. Lost the popular vote by a greater margin this time than he did four years ago. When we come back, it turns out the counties we thought would play a big role in this election did exactly that, and then some. Stick with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. And a final look at our County to County project. Each piece told the story of a different trends that would help determine the 2020 election and I think we learned a lot. First up, Beaver County near Pittsburgh, representing Mr. Trump’s base. He won the county big in 2016, but he won it big again. But he did lose a point from four years ago. And it was those narrow margins that did matter in Pennsylvania. Let’s go to Milwaukee County. Could Mr. Biden increase Black voter turnout to flip the state back to blue? The answer, yes. He improved on Hillary Clinton and, more importantly, won the state. He netted his 20,000 votes just out of Milwaukee. Kent County, Michigan, home to Gerald Ford and wealthier establishment Republicans, they supported Mr. Trump barely in 2016, but not in 2020. Biden flipped the county, and he flipped the state. Grand Rapids goes blue. Maricopa County, encompassing Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs, home to Latinos, seniors, 60% of Arizona’s population. Mr. Trump narrowly carried it in 2016. This year, Biden flipped the county and the state. By the way, first time since Harry Truman that a Democrat carried that county. Finally, there was Miami-Dade in Florida. We knew it wouldn’t be a swing county. But would the charge that Democrats embrace socialism resonate with the large Cuban and Venezuelan communities? The answer was a resounding yes. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton carried it by 29 points. This time, Biden won the county, but by just seven. The margin that Donald Trump got out of Florida and cut into the Hillary Clinton lead was basically how he carried the entire state. These five counties turned out to be crucial in the 2020 election. We’ll watch these and others for signals to 2022 and beyond. When we come back, the changing faces of congressional leadership. Sorry, not true. Same old, same old after the break.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is back. Anna Palmer, it was election week for congressional leaders this week. And both the House and the Senate are being run by the same folks, essentially that we’ve had for quite some time. In fact, take a look at what we’ve put together here. Nancy Pelosi’s been leader of the Democrats since ’03. Mitch McConnell’s been Leader since ’07. The entire Democratic leadership’s been there since ’03. What’s remarkable: eight Congresses, four presidents, three changes of control of the House, two changes of control of the Senate – that’s pre-runoffs – we could have three. Same as it ever was, to quote David Byrne here, Anna Palmer. Why is it if Congress is so unpopular, everybody is so upset that both Pelosi and McConnell have such strangleholds over their caucuses?

ANNA PALMER:

Listen, the Capitol’s all about power: who has it, who wields it, and who wants it. And both Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell are very good at what they do. They have basically complete control of their caucus and conference. And there’s a lot of people wondering, particularly on Pelosi, “Is this her last term?” She’s been asked about it repeatedly, but she is going to stay as long as she wants. She basically played a flawless hand for Trump’s term, where she was able to have impeachment get done, they were able to do a trade deal, and all kinds of different things as well as hold the president’s feet to the fire and so, while there’s frustration, certainly, about the fact that she’s 80, the fact that her leadership team is – they’re all 80 or 81 years old. No one is willing to challenge her. And you can’t win with nobody. That’s what she always says, and it’s a, = it’s a good thing to remember.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Eddie, take it from the — you’re the, the least Washington of our group here, although Podhoretz will take a little bit of issue with me on that. How does this look? I mean, the congressional leadership, it really doesn’t change in this country.

EDDIE GLAUDE JR.:

Well, yeah. In some ways, it’s a reflection of the problem in some ways. Look, Chuck, I think it’s important for us to note that last year, millennials outnumbered baby boomers. And baby boomers continue to define the kind of broad framework of the country. And what we do know, just very clearly, is that the kind of ideological stream, the kind of spectrum, how we think of American politics, is much more muddled out in the world than it is in DC. And so part of what I think we need to do in order to get beyond some of the gridlock, to get beyond some of the traditional sorts of blockages as it were, is to shake up leadership and have that leadership actually reflect the experiences of the majority of the country. So, let’s see. Let’s see what happens. We have some folks on the bench: Hakeem Jeffries. You know, some folks coming up: The Squad, Katie Moore. There are young folk in the Congress who can actually come in and I think do some really interesting things in terms of pushing the needle forward and what the country needs, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, John, both Pelosi and McConnell, the reason why I think their colleagues trust them so much is, well they know – they understand the process, and they know how to manipulate the process, which — but neither of them get praise for passing legislation, if you will.

JOHN PODHORETZ:

Right, well, I mean I think one of the things that’s going on here is that people don’t actually want to do the hard work of being in congressional leadership, which is a grinding, tough, time-consuming, fund-raising, back-scratching job, and because of the nature of the modern media, particularly in the Republican party, you can become a celebrity or a star by being on television much more than you can by being the chairman of a committee or being in House leadership, hoping to rise through the ranks. You can become an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez without ever having to lift a finger on the House floor. And that’s a new thing and these people are actually willing to, like, stay ‘til midnight every night to get things through whatever they have to get through and they don’t have to go on TV five times a week.

CHUCK TODD:

It’s an excellent point. Final question, Hallie; is the White House aware that Mitch McConnell may hold his perceived fate in their hands if he just utters the words, “President-elect Biden?”

HALLIE JACKSON:

Well, he hasn’t done it yet, Chuck and I think there is, there is certainly an acknowledgement of that and a knowledge of that, that if Senator McConnell does that, watch the dam breaking, right? I think there’s a question of when that could happen. Our reporting here, the sources I’ve talked to, this legal fight and the president’s insistence on acknowledging reality will likely stretch into December. There’s that, of course, December 14th deadline, that day. Who knows what’ll happen at that point? But —

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

HALLIE JACKSON:

— keep in mind, he is hinting at a run in 2024.

CHUCK TODD:

He’ll never stop running. That’s my feeling. That’s all we have for today. Thank you all for watching. Have a safe and socially distant Thanksgiving. We’ll be back next week, because if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

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