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record spike of COVID-19 cases TRANSCRIPT: 6/23/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Phillip Bailey, Mercedes Carnethon, Maya Wiley, Charlie Warzel

  BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 1,251 of the Trump administration, 133 days now remain until the Presidential Election.

As our nation grapples with a surge of new coronavirus outbreaks and as Dr. Fauci warned today, we are now entering a critical two-week period.

Trump was back on the road, this time in Arizona, must-win state for him. Also happens to be one of the hot spots in our country. Just today according to the AZ central Web site, Arizona set records in five separate categories, new cases, daily hospitalizations, inpatient beds, ICU beds, and ventilators in use, five new records.

Trump`s agenda did not include anything on the ground related to the virus but did feature a photo op at his border wall, then a speech at a students for Trump rally indoors at a mega church in Phoenix. It was his second indoor event in four days, this time in a state where the virus is spiking again as it was in Oklahoma.

And note these pictures show the kind of indoor mass gathering we have not seen in this country since winter. People sitting close together, most of them not wearing masks. It`s only the second indoor mass gathering in our country in four days, and the President has presided over both of them.

Like his speech at the Tulsa rally, this one featured a xenophobic slur to describe the virus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said the other night, there`s never been anything where they have so many names. I could give you 19 or 20 names for that, right? It`s got all different names, Wuhan. Wuhan was catching on. Coronavirus, right? Kung Flu, yeah. Kung Flu. COVID, COVID-19, COVID, I said what`s the 19? COVID-19 some people can`t explain the 19. Give me -- COVID-19, I said that`s an odd name.


WILLIAMS: The 19, of course, is about the year 2019 when the virus was discovered. Tonight the Washington Post says seven states report hospitalizations since the start of this pandemic. As we mentioned, Arizona but then Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas. They all fall into that category. About half the states in the nation are reporting a rise in virus infections heavily in the south and west now.

Today what was in effect the first virus task force meeting in two months, except it took place during a congressional hearing. Dr. Anthony Fauci issued this warning about the new outbreaks.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We`re now seeing a disturbing surge of infections. One of the things is an increase in community spread, and that`s something that I`m really quite concerned about. Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we`re seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona, and in other states.


WILLIAMS: Fauci did add he believes there`s a good chance we may have a vaccine by 2021. It can`t come soon enough. The virus has killed well over 121,000 of our fellow citizens. It has sickened more than 2.3 million that we know of.

Meanwhile, both the President and members of his coronavirus task force today faced questions about Trump`s comment at his Tulsa rally on Saturday, when he ordered his people to slow down testing in order to reduce the number of new cases.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At that rally, when you said you asked your people to slow down testing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you just kidding or do you plan to slow down testing?

TRUMP: I don`t kid.

FAUCI: As a member of the task force and my colleagues on the task force, to my knowledge, I don`t know for sure, but to my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. We`re going to be doing more testing, not less.

ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: All of us have been and continue to be increasing to increasing readily timely access to testing.


WILLIAMS: This afternoon in Phoenix, Trump again made two more false assertions that contradict what we`re seeing and what we`ve heard from the medical experts.


TRUMP: We`re doing so well after the plague. It`s going away. They`ll say, we have more cases. Now, look, we want to do testing. We want to do everything. But they use it to make us look bad. We do all these tests, and we find pockets and we find people and we find cases. And they say, the cases have jumped.


WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, a new report from the Daily Beast co-authored by Sam Stein, who is standing by to join us, says Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told the nation`s governors in a call on Monday that it was vital that they ramp up testing. That comes as the New York Times reports what would be something of a switch, a change in the power dynamic if you will, the European Union considering blocking Americans from entering the E.U. because the U.S. has failed to control the virus.

The Times also reports Saudi Arabia has effectively canceled the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca for what some scholars say may be the first time in its history. Amid all of this, Trump is continuing to spread unsubstantiated allegations against voting by mail, which many states already do and others are considering during this pandemic. Here`s what he said about it just tonight.


TRUMP: The Democrats are also trying to rig the election by sending out tens of millions of mail-in ballots using the China virus as the excuse for allowing people not to go to the polls. Mail-in ballots is a disaster for our country. This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country, and we cannot let this happen.


WILLIAMS: That`s where we begin on a Tuesday night with our guests, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Reporter for the Washington Post. Sam Stein, the aforementioned Politics Editor for the Daily Beast. And Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine, the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Ashley, I`d like to begin with you. This President can keep having events. People will still come. The virus is not going away. Quite the contrary, is this going to be the strategy for discussing the virus going forward?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the President is really trying to rethink his strategy after that Tulsa rally where, as you said, you are correct that people will keep coming to his events, but not as many. That`s what was so shocking in the President and his team in Tulsa, where he basically filled a little less than a third of one of these huge arenas. And these rallies have always kind of been a boom for the President. It`s a place where they put him out to reenergize him, to allow him to blow off steam, to excite his base, to hopefully put him in a better mood, and this was supposed to be to get the campaign back on track, and that did not work out.

It`s an open question. On the one hand, it is quite impressive that 6,000 or so people were willing to sign waivers, show up, many of them not wearing masks, saying if we catch this deadly virus, we will not sue the campaign.

On the other hand, there`s an understanding that the public generally, including Republicans, including even Trump supporters, is taking coronavirus far more seriously than the President himself. And so there is a debate about how do they message talking about the pandemic? How do they message talking about Joe Biden? And what do they do in terms of strategy if they can`t pack these arenas the way the President likes?

WILLIAMS: Doctor, this is where you come in, especially the part of your title that deals with preventive medicine, and we`re happy to have you. So here was the second largest indoor mass gathering since the arrival of a pandemic. The first was just Saturday night in Tulsa. As this crowd waited in the hot sun, they were hit by the mist machines that you often see in Arizona, atomized water and blowing air past them while they were gathered in bunches outdoors. This happened on a day, as we said, of five new records for illness in the State of Arizona.

If the White House had just talked to any number of the doctors who work for the federal government, what do you think the advice would have been? Had they approached you, what would your advice have been?

DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you so much for having me to clarify these issues. When I see that video, it leaves me feeling terrified because those are exactly the conditions that we identified early on in the pandemic that promote the spread of the pandemic. There`s a large number of people packed into a small space. There`s air flowing around, pushing around potential coronavirus that could be circulating in that population. And a real falsehood that I`d really like to clear up is that the reason we`re seeing spikes is because of more testing.

Our testing program right now is really the tip of the iceberg because we`re testing people who present with symptoms. We`re testing people who have come in contact with people who have the coronavirus. What we don`t know is how many asymptomatic individuals there are out there in the population. And we can`t know that number until we`re able to expand testing to randomly sample in the population. So this picture, this image of these indoor rallies is terrifying for what it`s going to bring 7 to 14 days later.

WILLIAMS: And, Sam, let`s talk about these government doctors who are in the same line of work as Dr. Carnethon. They work at places like NIH and CDC. They work for entities like the Coronavirus Task Force, but they have been silent. It is a given that Mike Pence wakes up every day scared of his boss, but the American people wake up every day, a good number of them, scared of getting this. So where is the public health aspect of our government?

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR: That`s a great question. I think what`s remarkable watching this is the way that the government has diverged here. On the one hand you have basically the entirety of the Coronavirus Task Force, including the medical personnel and a lot of actual elected officials arguing one thing and then the President himself arguing quite another. Just listening in to that call from Dr. Birx with governors on Monday, it was like we`re living in an alternate reality. Testing on that call was paramount, not just for understanding the scope of the virus, but for keeping mortality rates down.

Dr. Birx made the point if you are increasing testing, you`re going to be both asymptomatic people who could spread the disease unknowingly, but also people who have symptoms early on so they can prevent them from having worse signs down the road.

So in that call she implored the governors to increase testing at the same time literally that President Trump was talking about testing as a double- edged sword in something he would not jokingly like to slow down. So it`s very confusing. Washington is happening, it leads one to wonder if we would be better and how much better we would be if Trump just simply followed the protocols and promoted them of his own Coronavirus Task Force, whether it was increased testing or the simple act of wearing a mask, which he has so far refused to do steadfastly.

WILLIAMS: Ashley, watching the President`s remarks from top to bottom, I was waiting for the emergence of some messaging that might have stood out as an emerging theme in the campaign. And I guess it was the threat of bedlam as he mentioned it at one point, that if the Democrats are elected, bedlam will come to all cities and towns in the United States. He talked about the protest movement a lot.

In 2016, it was identity politics and nicknames that got him elected in the view of some. As he looks at this next re-election, having been robbed of the robust economy he thought he was going to run on, is this kind of going to look like what the campaign is?

PARKER: Absolutely. I mean the campaign right now and his aides and his advisers are very clearly, as they have told me, casting about for a message. He was robbed of the economy. They aren`t quite able to paint Biden, although the President is trying, as sort of a liberal, socialist, Antifa member. That`s just not who Joe Biden is.

And the President doesn`t know where to land. And so it`s created a situation where there`s a ton of frustration between both the President and his campaign team in a lot of ways because if you listened to that whole speech, there were some messages, some scripted teleprompter messages embedded in there, not necessarily devastating, but are the sort of hits that his team wants him to land against Joe Biden. But then the President does things like he says -- he uses a racist phrase to describe the coronavirus, the Kung Flu. He talks about how he wants to slow testing down, and that becomes the message, and it derails everything. So the campaign and advisers are furious with the President for being incapable of staying on message, and he`s furious with them because he feels, you know, you need to do your job. You need to pack this stadium. And when the President is casting about, the final thing I will say is he doubles down on his gut instincts, which is that sort of identity politics, race politics, dog whistle, racially tinged, and even racist language that we`re seeing right now.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I have to say when Tony Fauci said today that we`re entering a critical two-week period, that put my mind into rewind. And the last time he said that was during the bad old days, the worst of it, or so we thought, during March and April. We`re getting 30,000 new cases a day. It feels like the bad old days again. If you were appointed special master for this illness and you had the faith and power and budget of the federal government, where do you think you`d attack? Where do you think you would concentrate on?

CARNETHON: The first thing that I would do in this case would really be to rely on the data that we have from other countries that are ahead of us in the course of this illness. There have been a range of responses of different countries. Many of the countries coming before us had national programs where they required certain responsibilities of citizens, one of those responsibilities being wearing of masks. I feel very strongly about the use of masks in public spaces. They`ve protected our medical professionals very well. Not since the early days of the pandemic have we seen such a high rate of infection of medical personnel, and that`s because personal protective equipment became available, because personal protective equipment was used properly.

We certainly all are eager to return to some sense of engagement with our lives. We`re going to be facing this pandemic for a long period of time. What we really need to do on a national level is promote personal responsibility around mask-wearing and around maintaining safe spaces. It`s one thing to judge if you don`t believe your own personal risk of contracting the illness and having a negative outcome is high, but there are people that you come in contact with every day whose lives you are affecting. And we need national messaging that says that a strong population and a strong America is a healthy America.

WILLIAMS: Sam Stein, on that front, toward a healthy economy, the President again said the quiet part out loud today in front of the crowd in Arizona. He mentioned that the third-quarter economic numbers will come out shortly before the election.

Now, by some readings of it, they can`t go down. They can only come up from the basement our economy has been in. This was his third visit, I note, to that state. Talk about the political stakes.

STEIN: Well, Arizona is sort of an interesting state. It`s obviously battleground judging by the time Trump`s now there. It`s one of the states that Democrats have been eyeing for a while, and frankly if you talk to Democrats from the Biden campaign to the Congressional Committees, they`re very bullish on it. Changing demographics but also 2018 showed that Democrats won statewide with Kyrsten Sinema.

On top of that, the dual hit of the coronavirus, it`s continued to spread and the economy create a ripe environment for Democrats. I think Trump knows this. I think one of the things that`s animating all his talk about moving on to different phases of reopening is this perception that if simply the economy were back up to snuff, he would be fine electorally. But that sort of negates the fact that our economy is now completely tied to our health care system and what we`re doing about this pandemic.

And so while it`s easy to say and accurate in some aspects that Trump was robbed of his economy as we have in this conversation, it ignores the fact that part of the reason the economy is not doing so well is we`ve have a very botched response to the pandemic. Other countries have gone through this. You know, managed to keep the unemployment rates pretty low. They`re coming out of their pandemic shut downs in much better shape than we are. And I don`t think the administration, specifically the President himself, has clearly tied the two of them together intellectually enough to the point that he can, you know, see it and argue it and understand that what we need to do is get our hands around the pandemic before we can fully reopen the economy, which would then help his electoral chances.

WILLIAMS: Much obliged to our big three for starting us off and for having us in tonight, to Ashley Parker and Sam Stein, our thanks, and a big welcome to Dr. Mercedes Carnethon.

STEIN: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: I appreciate very much. Please come back.

Coming up for us, a brig primary night in New York and Kentucky, big caveat here, it may take days to get a final vote count. Steve Kornacki is back at the big board tonight to tell us what we know thus far.

And later, great expectations. Will Gen Z save the day or perhaps our country? The 11th Hour is just getting under way on this Tuesday night.


WILLIAMS: Kentucky one of six states holding primary elections today and tonight tracking the results for us this evening, our National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki at the big board. Hey, Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brian. It`s primary night. Really it`s primary week in Kentucky and some of these places. Let me take you through what we know right now. This is the Democratic Senate Race in Kentucky. The winner of this gets Mitch McConnell in the fall. What you see right now, a little less than 50,000 votes counted. Amy McGrath, we saw just a little bit more coming right there, Amy McGrath ahead of Charles Booker.

Now, what`s happening here is a little complicated. The votes that you see counted right now, those are votes that were cast today, people who went out and cast ballots today. Some counties, the counties that you see in colored in here, some counties have released those numbers. Other counties haven`t. Those are the counties that are gray right here.

So we have some of the vote that was cast today in Kentucky, and then there`s another pile of votes, the mail-in votes. There are a lot of mail- in votes in Kentucky. They haven`t gotten to those. They haven`t touched those. We may not get those results for another week. So basically the key here for Booker is he wants to keep it close in the results you have right here, so far he is.

Louisville, Lexington, these are the two population centers. Together about more than a third of the vote is going to come out of these two places. If Booker can keep it close everywhere else and roll up big numbers in these places, that`s his formula. Again, we`ll see. This is going to play out not hours. This is going to play out over days. The other story that`s developing here, Brian, New York State, one of those states holding a primary.

Check this out, Eliot Engel, he has been in Congress for 32 years, a Democrat. He`s being challenged by Jamaal Bowman in the democratic primary now. Again, these are incomplete results. What this is, this is one of two counties in the district. These are the votes that were cast today. It`s a big running start for Jamaal Bowman.

In the other county, Westchester County, we`re waiting to get those numbers right now. Engel would need to draw close there, get a big advantage in Westchester to cancel out what Bowman ran up on him. And then we will also have the mail-in ballots. Those are probably going to be counted in eight days. But this is an ominous start for Eliot Engel, 32-year incumbent in grave danger right now.

And by the way, one other incumbent to note here, Carolyn Maloney, she was elected in `92. Right now she leads by 2%. Same deal here. Mail-in ballots still have to come in, a lot still to come. But flagging these two over the next couple days, I think a lot of talk about Eliot Engel, maybe Carolyn Maloney. Two incumbents may be in jeopardy here.

WILLIAMS: Voters have a funny way of ending careers on their own terms and at their own time. Steve Kornacki at the big board. Steve, thank you for that.

The Washington Post reports a shortage of poll workers in Kentucky was one reason for having fewer than 200 polling locations compared to the usual 3,700. But a surge in mail-in voting could still produce record voter turnout.

Our next guest has a new report about how some Kentucky officials are pushing back on claims of voter suppression. Back with us to talk about all of it tonight, Phillip M. Bailey, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Political Writer for the Louisville Courier Journal.

And, Phil, what are you learning today and tonight that`s going to educate how we look at the general election in Kentucky and that may even forward the story line on voter suppression?

PHILLIP M. BAILEY, LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL POLITICAL WRITER: Well, look, I think Brian tonight what we`re going to see is I think a lot of people nationwide are going to owe Kentucky a big apology. We had an unprecedented access to the vote here in Kentucky both with mail-in and early voting. That doesn`t mean it was a perfect election, there was still hiccups. Even in Jefferson County, Louisville, for example, in the last ten minutes or so, you saw a rush of people who are trying to get to the polls before the 6:00 p.m. deadline. There was a little bit of extension to about 6:03. The doors shut. You saw a lot of folks clamoring, people banging on the doors saying, let us in, let us in.

Charles Booker files an injunction. It`s extended for another 30 minutes, but there were still reports of folks in their cars pulling up. So while not certainly a perfect situation, certainly Kentucky saw mail-in election, an agreement between Governor Andy Beshear, Democrat and Kentucky Secretary of State, Michael Adams, a Republican not only allowing mail-in election for the first time in Kentucky, but no excuse for -- an early voting election as well.

I think we`re going to learn from this is, there`s going to be a lot of pressure in Kentucky to not put this genie back in the bottle if you even can. Senator Mitch McConnell will be back up for election. There is a voter ID bill that was overturned -- veto by governor that was overturned by the Republican legislature, so that will be at play. But there will be many who will say look at the numbers from the primary. You have a record number of people asking for absentee votes, something Kentuckians clearly preferred, right? The issue of more polling places being open perhaps in the fall. I think you`re going to see a large conversation here in Kentucky about let`s continue to expand and make this vote, and make the ballot more accessible to Kentuckians.

WILLIAMS: Phil Bailey, with the Senate Majority Leader up for re-election in your state, it`s going to get sporty down there, and something tells me we`ll be talking between now and then. Thank you very much for having us in tonight and talking about what we`re still witnessing play out in Kentucky, our thanks to Steve Kornacki before that.

Coming up, a former spokesman for the Justice Department calls it the most significant evidence of corruption at DOJ since Watergate. More on what`s fueling calls for Bill Barr to resign when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I`m following this very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion.

I`ve seen a very sad thing going on with respect to Roger Stone. You have a juror that`s obviously tainted.

I`d just tell you this. Roger Stone was treated very unfairly. Look at roger stone. Look at the horrible treatment he`s gotten. He`s going to be OK. He`s going to be OK.


WILLIAMS: We just present that as evidence, as a former prosecutor in the Roger Stone case is prepared to tell Congress he was pressured by Donald Trump`s justice department to cut Roger Stone a break.

Aaron Zelinsky was one of four attorneys, you may recall, who quit the case after they were pushed to recommend a shorter sentence. According to his prepared statement to be delivered tomorrow, Zelinsky will tell the Judiciary Committee, "what I heard repeatedly was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President. We were instructed that we should go along with the US Attorney`s instructions because this case was not the hill worth dying on, and that we could lose our jobs if we did not toe the line."

Well, back with us again tonight is our friend Maya Wiley, who happens to be a former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a veteran of the New York City Mayor`s Office, who is now with the new school in New York.

Maya Wiley, how significant is this and, forgive my pessimism, will it matter in the end?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  This is extremely significant, and let me just draw one comparison. We laid Rayshard Brooks to rest today. The nation watched that happen. It`s called equal justice under the law, and Rayshard Brooks didn`t get it. But Donald Trump, Donald Trump insists on loyalty, and that his friends and allies get something no other American can, and that`s to rise above the laws of this nation.

And that`s essentially what we are hearing from career public servants, from public servants who it was already highly unusual when we saw them step off the briefings filed in that case. That said to a lot of us who have any experience with the Department of Justice that something really smelly is going on, or we wouldn`t have seen that. And I think that this is not surprising in light of everything we have seen, including if we just go back, just go back to the Mueller report. Just go back to how William Barr spun and misrepresented that report in a summary that he released that even had Robert Mueller at least behind closed doors apparently registering concern.

So I could go on and on all night about the long pattern of incidents that have made that seem so predictable now. But I think to your point, Brian, what we have seen unfortunately from the Senate in particular is an unwillingness to curb the abuse of power of this particular president, bringing us to a point that I think the founders absolutely constructed the impeachment clause to help us navigate, but we didn`t. And now this is where we are.

WILLIAMS: I want to play for you something your fellow Dartmouth grad Neal Katyal said today. We`ll talk about it on the other side.


NEAL KATYAL, AMERICAN LAYWER: I don`t understand why Barr hasn`t been forced to testify. I don`t understand why the House of Representatives keeps on funding this Justice Department when they act in such a lawless way. I don`t understand why the subpoenas haven`t been issued yet. So, you know, I think, you know, the first and most -- the culpable party is, of course, the Justice Department and the President. But I do think that the House has something to bear here and the Senate as well.


WILLIAMS: So, Maya, you hear it in Neal`s voice, so much of this is done with such seeming brazen impunity. Will Congress get its courage on?

WILEY: You know, Congress needs to get its courage on because I think that the urgency that you heard in Neal`s voice is absolutely right. It cannot go unanswered. We can`t have -- literally we just watched Mr. Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was appointed by Donald Trump, who was a person who contributed to Donald Trump`s campaign, but was behaving, as far as we can tell, as a neutral prosecutor, get pushed out of the job. And frankly, a very suspect explanation about why, we have the Michael Flynn situation in which Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on two separate occasions. And now we see the Barr Department of Justice essentially trying to unravel that prosecution, and his own admission of guilt.

This is outrageous. The Democrats have to stop worrying about an election and start worrying about the constitution, because at the end of the day, this is about whether we, the people, get represented to the degree that we should to protect the constitution. We have protesters in the streets saying, we, we are not receiving the equal protection of the laws. At the same time that we`re watching, essentially people who are powerful, who can sidle up to a president and claim him as friend getting all kinds of special favors when frankly they`re putting the country in a lot more danger than anything that we hear Donald Trump complaining about from protesters.

WILLIAMS: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we wanted to hear from Maya Wiley tonight. Counselor, thank you as always. Greatly appreciated.

Coming up for us, our next guest says the kids are not OK. They happen to be fed up. More on that when we come right back.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: What makes me optimistic is the fact that there is a great awakening going on around the country, particularly among younger people that are willing to demand an honest accounting of how we think about race in this country, that are insisting that issues like climate change can no longer be ignored.


WILLIAMS: That was from earlier today, former president, former vice president who wants to be president. For over three weeks now, people in this country have been demanding change. Much of the focus has been on the next generation`s role in making it happen. Yet the headline of my next guest`s column cautions this, "Gen Z Will Not Save Us."

To explain, he writes, "The kids are fed up. More specifically Generation Z is disillusioned by a country and its myriad institutions whose moral arc seems to bend toward corruption and stagnation. It is also like any generation not monolithic and the way its justified disillusion will play politically, culturally, socially is unknown."

Gen Z, by the way, is the generation of young people born between 1997 and 2012. So events during their lifetime include 9/11, a couple of wars, the Obama election, and now here we are in 2020.

And here with us to talk about it tonight, the author of the piece, Charlie Warzel. He`s a proud resident of Missoula, Montana. We hope he`s a proud alumni of NBC News. He worked with the number of us during his time at the network. And these days, he is an Opinion Writer for the New York Times.

Charlie, it`s great to have you. If there is a median ideology, can you place it on a scale between nihilism and idealism?

CHARLIE WARZEL, OPINION WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I really mean it when I say that Gen Z is disillusioned, is fed up. And I don`t think that it occupies any real easy space here. I think that they have watched a period of destabilization that just seems to continue. It just goes on.

I think there were some thought that, you know, I`m a millennial, we graduated into the financial crisis, that they would have a bit of a financial buoy going in, even if some of the systems were a little rotten underneath. And now we see with COVID-19, with the pandemic, more uncertainty.

And I don`t know exactly how you slice it, and I think that, you know, the point of the piece is that this disillusionment is going to play very differently with lots of different people, from lots of different parts of the country. I think there`s an unbelievable amount of wonderful activism and anger that is being channeled towards justice. And I think we`re seeing that right now. But I also worry that, you know, politics is complicated and messy, and the way that`s going to affect the generation will disperse across partisan lines and across what is just and what is concerning.

WILLIAMS: Like it or not, this non-monolith generation is roundly being given the credit for disrupting the President`s rally in Tulsa. A piece of writing from MIT got our attention today. This is from Abby Ohlheiser. She writes, "The heroic narrative means that k-pop stans, which is overzealous fans, and TikTok teens are fast becoming to liberals what 4chan is to older Trump supporters. An army of anonymous internet warriors they love to praise but don`t really understand."

How much of the credit or blame for Tulsa does this amorphous army want to own or not own? And you`ll forgive the question.

WARZEL: I think that they certainly want to own it, and I think that they really did something. And I think that it sends a message that - what we`re seeing is that there is a group of people who are very good at bending the internet to their will, very good at using all these mass media distribution tools to gain the kind of outcomes that they want. That is a wonderful thing. It does cut both ways, though.

We have seen, we`ve seen with a lot of the social media platforms call coordinated, inauthentic activity. We would say maybe bots, things like that. Social media manipulation has very real consequences as we know, and it`s not a given that it will always be used as a sort of, you know, activist prank from teens to thwart the president of the United States. It could come in many different forms. And that is a bit of what I cautioned here.

The other point I would make to Abby`s great point is that we flatten and mythologized things that happen on the internet because they`re complicated and we don`t understand them very well. And I think that that is a bit of caution here. You know, these communities are different. They have different ideologies, just like any community you have in the real world.

WILLIAMS: Charlie, this was a great piece. It`s good to see you well. I note, Montana is undergoing its spike. Continue to stay indoors. Thanks for having us in. Thanks for coming on the broadcast. Charlie Warzel, our guest tonight.

And coming up for us, Rayshard Brooks, as we mentioned, remembered today on something of hallowed ground in the city of Atlanta. We`ll have that when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Eleven days after he was shot and killed by a police officer in Wendy`s parking lot after falling asleep in the drive-through, mourners gathered in Atlanta to remember 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks. NBC News correspondent Blayne Alexander has more on how friends and family said goodbye.


BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dressed in white, the family of Rayshard Brooks filed into Atlanta`s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. A soulful but somber goodbye for the 27-year-old killed by a police officer. The service at times focusing not on his death but his life as a father of four.

ROCHELLE GOODEN, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: I look at my grandbaby right there. She looks just like him. And when I look at her, I know that he`s not gone.

ALEXANDER: In the church, once pastored by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, his daughter spoke directly to Brooks` children.

REV. BERNICE KING, CEO, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CTR. FOR NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE: I know the pain of growing up without a father and the ongoing attention around his tragic loss.

ALEXANDER: Today`s service capped at 200, family and friends by invitation only. And outside, more mourners at a funeral celebrating Brooks` life while protesting his death.

REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: What do you do to stay alive? Comply like George Floyd or run like Rayshard Brooks? I`m not asking for a friend. I`m asking for myself, and my nieces, and my nephews, and my children.

ALEXANDER: King focusing on the date Brooks died, June 12th, the same day civil rights leader Medgar Evers was killed in 1963, the day Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison.

KING: So June 12th is now a constant reminder of the struggle for justice.

ALEXANDER: Today, a rally and cry for peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let my uncle`s death make us better people no matter the race. Let treat each other how we wanted to be treated as people.

ALEXANDER: And a message for those protesting.

WARNOCK: We got to keep on walking together, and marching together, and standing together. And together we will win.

ALEXANDER: Blayne Alexander, NBC News, Atlanta.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, Donald Trump`s people said the boss was just kidding. A new ad begs to differ. And then just today, the President backed them up.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, as soon as the President tossed out to his sparse Tulsa rally audience that he`d told his people to slow down testing, the cleanup effort got under way. Aides to the President affixed their straight faces and insisted he was kidding until the President himself confirmed it.

It`s a familiar and well-worn path and indeed Washington is littered with former Trump aides who took one for the boss before being thrown under the bus. But this time this topic seems different. We`re in a pandemic after all. We`ve lost over 120,000 souls, and Fauci warned us just today we`re entering another of those critical two-week periods.

And so the group of Republican strategists who formed the Lincoln Project chose to put this together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most deceptive lying president in history finally told the truth. Somehow, it was more shocking than all his deceptions.

TRUMP: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow the testing down? Slow down our chance to save tens of thousands of lives. Slow down our understanding of where COVID is and how it`s spreading. Slow down the steps to reopen the economy. Every single expert told him to test more and test faster. And now we know his response.

TRUMP: Slow the testing down, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s why this November, more than ever the choice is clear. It`s America or Trump.


WILLIAMS: The Lincoln Project to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast for this Tuesday evening. 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