Phoenix church hosting Trump TRANSCRIPT: 6/22/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Murtaza Akhter, Mike Murphy, Darren Walker

  BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,250 of the Trump administration, leaving 134 days to go until our Presidential Election.

And once again tonight, we are following breaking news out of Lafayette Park near the White House tonight. Our NBC Station WRC reporting that protests got tense when police pushed protesters away from the Statue of Andrew Jackson after some of the demonstrators tried to take down the statue. There are reports that park service police repelled protesters with pepper spray and shields.

The news media was advised to leave the West Wing during the demonstrations. It`s been one month now since the death of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, hours from now the President will travel to Arizona for a campaign event at a mega church amid a surge in new coronavirus cases in the State of Arizona. The trip comes as we learned today that two more of the President`s advance team members working in Tulsa have tested positive for the virus. That makes a total of eight staffers who have now tested positive as a result of the Tulsa trip. That number is expected to rise.

Having last week bragged that upwards of a million people had applied for tickets in Tulsa over the weekend, the President delivered a meandering hour and a half long speech to a much smaller crowd. Local fire departments said about 6,200 people attended. The arena has a capacity of 19,000 give or take. During the President`s remarks, he used racist language to describe the virus, had this to say about testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Here`s the bad part. When you test -- when you do testing to that extent, you`re going to find more people. You`re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test, and they test. We have tests of people don`t know what`s going on. COVID, it`s this again -- by the way, it`s a disease without question. It has more names than any disease in history. I can name Kung Flu. I can name 19 different versions of names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: The White House says the President was joking about slowing down testing, but here`s what the President said himself in a pair of interviews from earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask to slow it down?

TRUMP: If it did slow down, frankly, I think we`re away ahead of ourselves if you want to know the truth. We`ve done too good a job because every time we go out, with 25 million tests, we`re going to find more people. So then they say, we have more cases in the United States. The reason we have more cases, because we do more testing than any other country by far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the Tulsa rally when the media is hitting you on that, when you said, I told my staff stop the testing. They`re saying -- was that tongue in cheek or --

TRUMP: No, it`s semi tongue in cheek. I say it all the time. I know some people thought it was tongue in cheek. It`s unfair. We`re doing so much testing, so much more than any other country, and to be honest with you, when you do more testing, you find more cases.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: A number of reports after the rally said the President was furious about the underwhelming crowd in Tulsa on Saturday night. Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni of The New York Times tell it this way. "The President was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium."

Before the President started speaking to the sparse indoor audience, the outdoor stage for the overflow crowd was being taken apart. There was no overflow. Everyone who wanted to attend the indoor event attended the indoor event. Today the White House Press Secretary was pressed on Trump using racist language in his remarks to describe the coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going back to the issue of Kung Flu, I spoke to Kellyanne Conway in March. She said that it was highly offensive and wrong to use that term. Does the President agree with Kellyanne Conway, or is he now saying that that term is not Miley offensive and wrong because, again, that was Kellyanne Conway`s own words, saying Kung Flu is wrong.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President does not believe, it`s offensive to note that this virus came from China, and to stand up for our U.S. military who China is making an active effort to completely defame. And that is unacceptable to the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: And let`s not please forget all this as the United States continues to see increasing cases in so many areas of the country, including the Sunbelt, the south, the west. Overall there have been over 2.3 million cases over 120,000 deaths now.

Today Florida, which has seen a spike in new cases, officially topped 100,000 confirmed infections. Over 3,000 deaths have been reported just in Florida.

There is good news out of New York City today, and at least for now where phase two of reopening has started. Some commuters returned as offices were allowed to welcome back some employees under strict new rules. New Yorkers can once again eat outdoors, get a haircut, again with restrictions.

Meanwhile, there are updates on a story we first brought you. Part of it happened on our watch Friday night. After the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Geoffrey Berman, refused to step down, the President fired him over the weekend, or so we were told. Berman has, of course, been involved in a number of high-profile investigations involving those close to Trump, including but not limited to one Rudolph Giuliani.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who is a frequent guest on this broadcast, wrote an op-ed in Time today saying Americans need to know the truth about Berman`s firing. She writes this about the attorney general, "Barr lost his way a long time ago, and perhaps nowhere has this been truer or at least more blatantly public, than with Barr`s the initial failed attempt and subsequent successful firing of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, an office so protective of its notorious independence that is widely referred to as the sovereign district of New York.

Just tonight Jerry Nadler, he of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic side, sat he is starting the process of issuing a subpoena to Barr over the firing of Berman. We`re also hearing much more from the President`s former National Security Adviser John Bolton over the weekend, a federal judge ruled his widely anticipated book could be published. Good news because it`s been printed and shipped, and while it officially comes out at the top of the next hour, it`s already arriving in homes. But the judge suggested Bolton may have to forfeit proceeds from the book and still may face other penalties for publishing it without formal clearance.

The book is called The Room Where It Happened. Among our next guests, Susan Page of USA Today recently spoke to Bolton about the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Is Donald Trump fit to be President?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, I don`t think he`s competent to be President. I think that he`s almost proud of not learning much about the subject matter of national security certainly.

PAGE: Would you have thought that the Ukraine matter was an impeachable offense that you would have voted to convict?

BOLTON: Well, I think I probably would have although honestly we still don`t know everything there is to know about Ukraine. And a lot of conduct can be reprehensible without being impeachable.

PAGE: Are you going to vote for Trump in November?

BOLTON: I am not going to vote for Trump. Don`t get me wrong, I`m not going to vote for Biden either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on another busy Monday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, co-author along with his Post colleague Carol Leonnig of the best-seller, A Very Stable Genius. The aforementioned veteran journalist, best-selling herself Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, and Katie Benner is back with us, Justice Department Reporter for The New York Times.

Susan Page, first things first let`s deal with this past weekend. One of the pictures that emerged is the President, shirt open, tie hanging down, hat in hand literally, making what Mark Knoller estimated to be his 500th flight in Marine One as President. And it struck me this guy who says very little by accident, does very little in front of the cameras by accident, sometimes allows his face to tell the story. Do you think in time these pictures will represent more than just a bad night in Tulsa?

PAGE: Yes. This was not a deliberate picture op. It wasn`t a photo op that President Trump arranged. This was the picture of a man who looked quite discouraged. He looked exhausted. He looked -- and he didn`t really look mad although of course we know from sources close to him that he was mad. He looked -- somebody said that he looked like Willie Lohmann, you know, in death of a salesman coming back so defeated. And I think that is not an inappropriate image.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, he chose to ad-lib much of the rally, went off for minutes at a time relitigating things like his walk down the ramp at West Point, which we haven`t even touched on, his drinking of water with one hand. I guess the feeling always is that he kind of ad-libbed 2016. It got him the job. The difference, of course, he expected to run from a position of economic strength. Never dreamed he`d be running away from a pandemic this time.

PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And not just a pandemic, Brian, but a recession and a burgeoning civil rights movement in our country that he has had a very difficult time trying to grapple with these last few weeks. I mean the President is basically winging it here in route to re-election, and it`s concerning for a lot of his advisers and other Republican allies that my colleagues and I have been talking to the last few weeks. We feel like he needs to have a sharper, more carefully honed and strategic message in order to make up the deficit that he has right now with Joe Biden. But we didn`t hear it last night in Tulsa. Instead we heard any number of sort of personal grievances and monologues and tangents in a very discordant and disconnected speech.

He`s going to have more opportunities by the way to lay out a campaign message. He`ll be in Arizona, as you mentioned, tomorrow with a rally with a bunch of younger supporters in the Phoenix area and presumably is going to be hitting some other states for rallies although none additional rallies are on the calendar right now. But his advisers think he needs a message, and he needs to be clear about it (inaudible). And right now if the election were to be held today, literally every scrap of evidence suggests he would lose to Biden.

WILLIAMS: Katie Benner, we have missed you. That beat you cover, the justice department, has a way of roaring back onto the front page, back onto the broadcast like this one, and back into the news as it has yet again. There are so many media mentions of this attorney general as a supplicant to the man who appointed him. To a greater extent that Jack Kennedy`s brother Bobby was to him in office. And yet you write about the miscues between these two guys. Tell our audience about that.

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Yeah, absolutely. It`s one of the interesting things about Bill Barr is he has been one of President Trump`s most loyal cabinet members. He has done so much to support the President and all of his claims, especially about the Russia investigation. He`s done everything but call it a hoax. He has said it might not even be credible.

So fast forward, you have a moment where in our reporting, we see the attorney general speak to the President, speak to Jay Clayton, who they hope will replace the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, who the President worries about and who Bill Barr has clashed with several times. It feels like a perfect solution.

And certainly the two men, the President and the attorney general, are both on board. But the minute you see pushback from Republicans, including Lindsey Graham, who says he`s not going to rubber stamp this, we have an issue. And the President decides that he`s going to distance himself as much as possible. It really goes to show that for Trump, you can be as loyal as possible, but you will not actually get loyalty in return, and Bill Barr learned it the hard way. And it was a very, very -- it capped a really difficult month for the Justice Department.

WILLIAMS: Susan Page, forgive me for skipping around, but back to your Bolton interview. His book, after all, is called, The Room Where It Happened. It indicates a certain intimacy while major decisions were being made. Where was he, and how does he argue that he didn`t sell his patriotism, his loyalty, and his bravery to Simon & Schuster? He was sitting on top of groundbreaking, earth-shattering events that he witnessed in the room where it happened.

PAGE: That`s right. He was in the room where it happened for 17 months, the longest-serving national security adviser the President has had so long. He in the book confirms the basics of the democratic impeachment case against President Trump. He had aides who did testify before the House impeachment hearing. And he has, I think -- he is pretty defensive, I think, in his explanation about why he didn`t testify. He turns around and attacks House Democrats. He says they`re guilty of impeachment malpractice for keeping a narrow inquiry, for making the timetable so short. He questions whether his testimony would have made any difference. That is a point that Nancy Pelosi has also made.

On the other hand, I think in the end it is unconvincing as to why he didn`t feel more of an obligation to speak out when it might have mattered. He told me, in the clip that you played, that he probably would have voted to convict President Trump if he had been in the Senate and yet he was unwilling to testify before those House hearings.

WILLIAMS: And, Susan, fast forward to today concerning some of his offensive verbiage at the rally in Tulsa, we heard from the White House, from people around the President. The President was just kidding defense, and it occurred to us we had a previous collection of these. This is already a thing. We`ll talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.

SEAN SPICER: He was joking at the time. We all know.

TRUMP: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, please don`t be too nice.

SARAH SANDERS: I believe he was making a joke at the time.

TRUMP: They were like death and un-American, un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yeah, I guess, why not?

SANDERS: The President was clearly joking with his comments.

TRUMP: This came out. WikiLeaks -- I love WikiLeaks.

SANDERS: Look, clearly the President was making a joke during the 2016 campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Susan, how is that the President was only joking defense working out right about now?

Uh-oh, we`ve lost Susan Page, who seems to be frozen for all eternity, at least smiling. Phil Rucker --

PAGE: I think I`m back now, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Oh, Susan Page, I understand we have you back. How is that defense that the President was just kidding?

PAGE: You know, one of the things I think you have to admire about President Trump is that he`s pretty transparent. I think when he says something, it`s what he means. I think when he thinks something, it comes out his mouth, or it comes out of his fingers, out of his thumbs onto his Twitter account.

So when President Trump says something, I tend to think that is what he means. And when the White House aides try to do cleanup by saying it was in jest or a passing observation, which is what Vice President Pence said today about the Tulsa comment, I`m inclined to think they`re wrong, and we ought to take President Trump at face value.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, we found something from you from the archives from, oh, coming up on two months ago now. A question you asked the President. We didn`t get an answer that day. We may be able to fill you in, first your exchange with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUCKER: What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing, and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?

TRUMP: Obamagate. It`s been going on for a long time. It`s been going on from before I even got elected, and it`s a disgrace that it happened.

RUCKER: What is the crime exactly what you`re accusing him of?

TRUMP: You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So, Phil, we have a development, and I`m going to play for you now a portion of his interview with CBN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Obama and the spying situation, this idea that they were spying on your campaign, you`ve been asked before about what crime he would have potentially committed. But I remember you talking to --

TRUMP: Treason. Treason. It`s treason. Look, when I came out a long time ago, I said they`ve been spying on my campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So, Phil, I know you can`t speak for the publisher, but I`m presuming The Post is reformatting the front page for the morning?

RUCKER: Right. I don`t know about that, Brian, but I will say it is extraordinary for a sitting President to call his immediate predecessor treasonous, to accuse him of treason. That is by definition a high crime, and there is no evidence of Obama spying on the Trump campaign or Obama authorizing spying on the Trump campaign. That is something that Trump has alleged for years now without the backing to back it up.

You know, I`m surprised that he`s now saying treason when he was asked two months in the Rose Garden by me, and it`s come up repeatedly since then. What is the crime he`s been accusing Obama of, and he`s not been able to articulate it or at least not willing to articulate it. But now we know he has treason on the mind, and again there`s no evidence of that.

WILLIAMS: And, Katie Benner, finally a question I ask you every time you come on because naturally our attention does get pulled in many different directions. During all this time while we haven`t been watching, what`s been going on inside the Justice Department? How has the institution changed?

BENNER: Sure. Well, I think we`ve seen a lot of chaos inside of the Justice Department. We saw the Lafayette Square incident where it seemed that Attorney General Bill Barr, what we know from our reporting that Attorney General Bill Barr was marshaling federal forces to essentially take over Washington, D.C. in real dramatic fashion.

He also took part in a disastrous photo opportunity in front of the church. And then we just saw him basically publicly betrayed by the President over the firing of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. It has been a bad month for the Justice Department, and quietly the head of the civil division, one of the most important divisions to the President -- it argues all of the President`s decisions for the appellate courts -- it is doing things like defending the President against, you know, needing to give up his tax returns. The head of that division, he not only quit. He didn`t even bother to tell Bill Barr. He told only the President and the White House council`s office. He sent out an email to his staff saying, I`ve tendered my resignation to the President, and he is leaving in July. But there are a lot of open spots right now in the Justice Department, a lot of open questions.

What the Justice Department continues to do, though, and we need to keep this in mind, is have an ongoing and open investigation led by the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, John Durham. As sort of a catch-all for all of the President`s claims, including the idea that Barack Obama somehow betrayed the country. It gives them an open splat with which to work from now until the election throw all of these claims against and say there is an ongoing investigation. Now, maybe that would have worked in 2016. Maybe that would have even worked in February of 2020. But we have to think long and hard about whether or not relitigating 2016 is a message that`s going to get Donald Trump elected when we have more than 100,000 people dead because of a pandemic, a second wave on the rise, a burgeoning civil rights movement, and an economy that is in collapse.

WILLIAMS: Three of our very best to take our questions and start off a new week. Phil Rucker, Susan Page, Katie Benner, can`t thank you enough for being here with us.

Coming up for us, because Tulsa wasn`t controversial enough, the President heads to one of the other hot spots in our country for another indoor rally. Why one E.R. doc there says this could be a disaster in the making.

And later, Republicans against Trump, in a lot of cases more vocal, making tougher ads against the President than the Democrats are, say nothing of their extraordinary trolling capability as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on a brand-new Monday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: It can now be said our President is traveling from hot spot to hot spot. Tomorrow he`ll be speaking at an indoor rally in Arizona. The state has been recording a surge in new cases, logging over 2,100 new coronavirus cases today. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona also reaching record highs. As of Sunday, 84% of ICU beds were in use.

For more, we are happy to welcome to the broadcast someone acutely aware of the dire situation in that state, someone who will be among the first to know if the President`s rally indeed results in its own spike.

Dr. Murtaza Akhter, a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona University`s College of Medicine in Phoenix. Also happens to be an expert on how racial inequality and income inequality affect longevity.

Doctor, full disclosure, I saw you on another network. And full disclosure, you expressed your anger in the interview I saw, which is rare these days among physicians, but we could probably use more of it. So when you hear people in the Phoenix area say, I`m not going to be ordered to wear a mask, I`m going to go without a mask in effect to show my support for this President, I know COVID`s out there, I`m willing to risk getting it because I want to go to this rally, what do you say to them?

DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Brian, first of all, and I`m impressed that you`re watching competitor stations and caught of me. For the people who aren`t wearing masks, I mean we have this idea that you can do what you want, but that`s not just how our society is built. You clearly can`t do whatever you want. We`ve had rules and regulations in place for all sorts of things. The reason this one is particularly concerning is because masks aren`t there just to protect the person wearing the mask. It`s also there to protect other people, perhaps even more so.

And so to say, I`m going to do whatever I want to not wear a mask, listen, if you`re a hermit and live by yourself, that`s fine. But as soon as you come into contact with other people -- here in Arizona, we`ve got a lot of elderly people. And I just crunched the numbers raft night. Those people who are above 65 and have COVID are 58 times more likely to die from it than somebody under 45 with COVID. That`s 58 times, not 5 to 8, 85.

And we have a lot of snowbirds here and to go around saying, listen I`m young and healthy. And young and healthy people can get sick too. I`ve seen them literally today on my shift which I just stepped out from. But to say not only that I don`t care but also I don`t care about others is really, really selfish.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I want to play for you something you`ve no doubt been sent throughout the day today. These are the two gentlemen who run the mega church which is going to be the venue of tomorrow`s event talking about what is apparently a scientific breakthrough. We`ll talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENDON ZASTROW, DREAM CITY CHURCH CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER: We`ve installed clean air EXP. We have a local Arizona company with technology developed by some members of our church. And we`ve installed these units, and it kills 99.9% of COVID within ten minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ZASTROW: Independent testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s ionization?

ZASTROW: It`s ionization of the air, and it takes particulates out and COVID cannot live in that environment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I`m going to assume they`re writing up a cover story for scientific American, and I`m going to assume you are greatly relieved to hear about this breakthrough, no?

AKHTER: I`m not supposed to laugh on air, Brian. They can`t even say ionization correctly. It`s their own video. Listen, I don`t tell pastors how to do their job. For them to tell people that they know the science behind it, again, this is a free speech country. But if you`re at something of a role that`s as important as a pastor, you got a congregation you have a responsibility with what you say.

There are no clinical data to prove that this is effective. The company website says 99.9% using a surrogate of COVID-19, not actual COVID-19 patients. And so we don`t know that it works. Even if it did work, it would only work if you`re far enough away from the person. If you cough on the person right next to you at this rally, at this church, people will be next to each other. Then they`re going to have -- they`re going to have symptoms regardless. If people are standing next to each other and somebody coughs on the other person, you`re going to get infected regardless of whether the filtration system even works or not, and we don`t even know if it works.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: And you`re going to be among the first to know if there`s even a mini spike coming out of this event, right?

AKHTER: Well, I am an emergency physician in Phoenix. I literally just stepped away from my shift, and somebody is trying to call me right now. Sorry about that.

WILLIAMS: OK.

AKHTER: And I have another shift tomorrow. So if people get sick, then I`ll see them, and here`s the other issue, Brian. That when cases become positive, the people don`t necessarily decompensate until later. So even if people spread the virus tomorrow, which they will. There`s no public health expert who would say there`s going to be no transmission in a rally like this. They`ll really, really get sick a couple weeks later, and that`s when we`ll really see a surge.

WILLIAMS: Please take that call. We never want to stand in the way of medicine. Doctor Murtaza Akhter, thank you so much for joining us. Perhaps we`ll check in with you after the event there in Phoenix.

Coming up for us, failure to relaunch. We ask a veteran conservative analyst, someone from the political trenches, his take on the state of the Trump campaign after the letdown in Tulsa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: By all accounts the president`s campaign relaunch failed to live up to his expectations. Tonight`s "Washington Post" headline laying it out this way. "Trump`s anger over Tulsa rally underscores growing problems within his campaign." That`s what made us think of our next guest.

Mike Murphy, Republican strategist, co-director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. Also co-host of the Hacks on Tap podcast. Mike, I was following you among others during the president`s event. Is there a plan, do you think, for this campaign, or did we just see it in Tulsa, and what do you think things are like right now at campaign HQ?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I am sure I would love to be a fly on the wall. I think campaign manager Brad Parscale is going to need one of those Ferraris of his to escape the anger from the president and the knives that are out.

You know, culture in a campaign is set at the top, and Trump likes to play all his people against each other, it`s a career we were there to be a yes man. So the knives are out for Parscale because the president is so psychologically connected to these rallies, he needs the support. A complete fiasco like this has to set off earthquakes inside his organization.

WILLIAMS: If my Skype vision is correct, I`m seeing an old Barry Goldwater poster behind you off your left shoulder, and I am reminded that Goldwater used the campaign slogan "In your heart, you know he`s right." And is that the same as Donald Trump talking up the silent majority, telling people out loud, I know you`re with me. I`m counting on you to come out and get us over the finish line. Is that how he wins?

MURPHY: Well, you know, Goldwater had ideological intensity. He believed in things. You know, you may agree or disagree with him, but he was consistent. Well, President Trump, his compass is himself. There`s no greater cause. So I think he thinks he`s appealing to his people through Twitter, through going to safe Republican states and that sort of thing.

But his problem is even if you grant him that hunk of vote, it`s a demographic cul-de-sac. He`s got a choke hold on old, white guys. That`s his core group, and it`s not enough to win a presidential election, which is why all the polling is so bad, particularly in the swing states. So, you know, but I think in his head he is thinking he`s got his army of people, and if he pleases them, they`ll take him to victory. I think that`s a failed strategy, but we`ll find out.

WILLIAMS: At the end of the day, what do you think really happened in Tulsa? Was it a combination of this teenage campaign to buy and harbor hundreds of mythical seats at this venue? Was it, as some have theorized, that the Trump base, conservative media to the contrary and their cavalierness about the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of folks actually stopped and realized that this was going to be the largest indoor mass gathering of the era of the coronavirus, and that kept them away?

MURPHY: Well, yes. I think it was a couple of things. I think the kids fooling around with it had an impact, particularly on their data. They were using this as a big data mining deal to catch a lot of names who, you know, they thought were supporters, and they were rudely surprised. Now they got a lot of junk data.

And I think rational COVID fears, and I`m glad to see that, kept a lot of people away. But, you know, they totally blew the expectations of this. But it`s also interesting it was that bad in Tulsa, a strong red state. My troublemaking group with a bunch of others called Republican voters against Trump, we just did a poll of Jacksonville, Duval County, which is a lean Republican county where Trump wants to, you know, hold the convention. We asks 600 voters what they thought, and they said, no, don`t come here.

A majority by 10 points said we don`t want the convention here. And when we gave them the pros and cons, it went up to 52-39 don`t do it. Even, you know, a big hunk, about 30 percent of Republicans don`t want a Republican convention in their town. So you`re seeing Trump`s grip even on places like Tulsa and Jacksonville, Florida, which I might add is a must-win county, we have him losing it by eight. It`s early, we`ll see. But anyway, there are cracks showing.

You know, as COVID moves into the redder states, people there are starting to experience the incompetence firsthand in their communities compared to kind of hearing about it in the cities, which are not as Republican. So I think it`s kind of a whole mixture of things, but I think the kids did put a hurt on him, and there was some fun irony in that.

WILLIAMS: Mike Murphy, because in your heart you know he`s right, and to our podcast audience, bring your own beverage but "Hacks on Tap" is a great deal of fun. Mike, always great to have you. Thank you very much.

Coming up for us as we continue, encouraging more corporate help in this current push for racial equality. Our next guest says it`s not how to get back to normal but, better, how to do it better when we get there when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, some corporations are making it known that they`re taking steps to promote social justice. But as "The Washington Post" points out, Corporate America, including Wall Street and Silicon Valley giants, is now pledging to play a bigger role in combating systemic racism across the US. But an examination of companies` track records shows they have repeatedly stopped short of major overhauls during prior opportunities for change.

For more, we are happy to welcome a giant of the philanthropic world, Darren Walker. Happens to be president of the Ford Foundation, also happens to be a board member of the E-commerce Firm Square. It`s an honor to have you on. Thank you very much.

And I was thinking back tonight. I saw on Instagram the words "Black Lives Matter" sent to me by a skin care company. I saw one from a sock company. In the real world, however, how in your view should the private sector pressure-test their virtue?

DARREN WALKER, FORD FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: Thank you, Brian, for having me. First, let me state a fact, and that is that Corporate America has failed black America. And in order for us to fully address the systemic racism that exists within Corporate America, we`re going to have to move beyond tokenism to transformation.

We`re going to have to ask why are there so few African-Americans on boards (INAUDIBLE) on operating at the highest levels? Why is access to capital so difficult for black businesses? These are fundamental issues that Corporate America is going to have to address, and the old playbook of dealing with a crisis that involves African-Americans is very straightforward. It goes like this.

Issue a statement with some nice platitudes. Organize a conference call with a group of African-Americans. Apologize. Make a couple of grants to the UNCF and the urban league and get back to work. That playbook will not work on this occasion.

WILLIAMS: What about the phrase that we hear, that those of us in the real world and who have been in the working world for a while know happens to be true? And that is that a diverse workforce really does make you better, and it makes you much more able and much more nimble to navigate the working world of the year 2020? How do you drill that into the people you deal with?

WALKER: That is not new information, Brian. We have had research for years demonstrating the efficacy of diversity as a way of improving the bottom line, and yet we have found it difficult for corporations to do their part to actually demonstrate that idea in practice. The reason quite candidly is because of racism. And that is not to say that all corporations are racist and that corporations are bad institutions.

It`s simply to say in many ways, corporations reflect American society more broadly. And in order for us to make the kind of progress we need to make, we`re going to have to be intentional. We`re going to have to actually develop scorecards, do the things that corporations know how to do and that is how to deliver on targets and goals and incent doing that.

So I`d like to see boards, hold COEs accountable to actually make quantifiable objectives, and when those objectives aren`t met, folks don`t get their bonus.

WILLIAMS: Imagine that. Final question. Something that I know is near and dear to your heart. To put it in plain English, a lot of charities are hurting. A lot of nonprofits are hurting during this gut punch of a period for our nation. What can you do about it?

WALKER: Well, I think what we in philanthropy at places like the Ford Foundation can do is do more than we normally do, which is to pay out the required 5 percent. At the foundation, we`re actually doubling what we`re paying out to about 10 percent, and that`s being made possible through an innovative social bond that we this last week issued of $1 billion, which is going to make it possible for us to pay out in excess of $1 billion a year for two years.

This is a critical time for the nonprofit sector in America. We depend on nonprofits to do so many things in our society, and they are at risk. They`re at risk because of the fallout from COVID. They`re at risk because corporate sponsorship is evaporating. They`re at risk because their theaters are dark. The museums are closed. Revenue is not coming in. And yet these institutions are critical to our democracy. They are critical to providing homeless services, providing head start programs and all of the things that constitute our civil society.

So as America, we cannot be Americans without a strong civil society. The work of philanthropy is to do more, to step up, to be creative, to be bold and not sit back and do what we normally do, which is allow a crisis to pass and use that old playbook. We need to throw out the playbook. We`ve got to develop new plans, and those plans have to be creative and bold.

WILLIAMS: Darren Walker, please come back on our broadcast with us. Great pleasure to have the president of the Ford Foundation with us during this time for our country.

Another break for us, and coming up, a product of the Deep South trying to change. And running out front is a brave and popular young man who learned today everybody else is right there with them.

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WILLIAMS: We talk about it here every night. Our country is changing. Some things faster than others. But what`s afoot right now indeed feels more like a movement than a moment. For some folks where it comes to practices and symbols and vestiges of the past, change is going to take time. And in keeping with our history, people emerge who stand up and lead by example. They speak up and speak out, and they force change.

One such man is Bubba Wallace. He is the only black driver in NASCAR`s upper echelon of 40-plus drivers. He is hugely popular among his fellow drivers. Like a lot of race fans, he was never comfortable with the ubiquitous confederate flags at so many NASCAR events.

The sport started after all among moon shiners in the Deep South souping up their streetcars to outrun the revenuers. The feds, who chased them through the back roads. But it`s 2020 now, and Bubba Wallace spoke up and, he forced NASCAR to change, and they did. They have banned the stars and bars at NASCAR events.

This weekend`s racing was at Talladega in Alabama where, sure enough, there was a confederate flag parade outside the speedway, then sadly a noose was found in the garage housing Bubba Wallace`s race team.

NASCAR likes calling itself a family. Today we are happy to report they acted and looked like a family. Team members from the entire starting grid accompanied Bubba Wallace`s car prior to the race. Among them was the man they call the king, Richard Petty.

Bubba drives for Petty. He drives the 43 car synonymous with that former champ. Bubba Wallace ran a great race today though finished out of the money. He did something extraordinary. Afterwards he went over to thank some first-time fans from Atlanta. Part of his cheering section among the sparse fans who were allowed in today. Bubba Wallace said today he knows this next period is going to be tough. At least his fellow drivers and his sport have his back so he can concentrate on running to the front.

Coming up for us, something is coming later this week, and while it`s big, not everyone watching will get to see it and enjoy it.

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WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, during bad times down here on earth, we often look to the heavens for help. And while our last item tonight comes from a slightly lower altitude, we could certainly use the distraction. A dust cloud is headed our way compliments of the Sahara Desert. And, yes, that means it started on another continent and was blown by west winds across the Atlantic 5,000 miles to our shores.

It`s already arrived in the Caribbean and will keep making its way west, arriving in Florida, Louisiana, Texas by later this week. We`re going to notice several effects from it. Because it`s dust, it may bother those with respiratory problems in the states affected. For them, the advice is the same as it has been all pandemic. Wear a mask. Because dust makes for dry air up at that altitude where planes fly, it can have the effect of suppressing the formation of storms. We`ll take that anytime.

The dust will also make for a daytime haze against sunny skies. This was its arrival in St. Croix. We also have video tonight from the Virgin Islands. It shows so much dust, it brought on an early dusk. Though it will become much more diffuse though it travels to the north.

Mostly people are going to notice stunning sunsets during these upcoming summer nights. The dust from a faraway desert is going to give our evening atmosphere a dramatic glow. By next weekend, the dust -- and there will be less of it -- will be keeping north into the Midwest, up the eastern seaboard, into the Carolinas.

So just when you think our world is so vast, it seems smaller, doesn`t it, when we`re united by the fight against a pandemic? Smaller still when you realize that from space, it`s just a blue marble with a finite atmosphere made up of the same dirt and water we`ve been pushing around forever, and may it always be.

That`s our broadcast for this Monday evening as we start a new week. Thank you so much for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END