ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": -- this is a remarkable effort and it`s available now, you can stream it on Netflix. Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, thanks for joining us tonight. And that is tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams begins right now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,292 of the Trump administration, 92 days to go until the November 3 Presidential Election that is exactly three months from tonight.
As the coronavirus pandemic still rages through much of our country, we have a hurricane to update you on. It may make landfall during this broadcast tonight, during the -- near the border between North and South Carolina.
Millions of Americans at the height of summer are living under some sort of warning or watch tonight. The storm will have a long life now as it makes its way up the East Coast. So we thought we would begin here briefly with our Meteorologist, Bill Karins, who has the very latest from the National Hurricane Center update? Hey, Bill.
Hey, Brian, we are watching this storm closely as it`s bringing a tornado threat. We`re getting high winds. We`re hearing reports of water being over washed on shore. And then we`re going to deal with the storm for about the next 24 hours all the way up the eastern seaboard.
So let`s get to the latest. First off, you can see the position of the category one hurricane right along the South Carolina, Georgia border where it meets the coast. And we`ve already heard of significant reports of damaged your Bald Head Island. And the worst of the heavy winds right now is right over the top of Wilmington, North Carolina. And that`s where we`ve had a couple tornado warnings near that area too. And we`ve even had some damage with that.
So as far as the forecast, 85 mile per hour winds, I want to talk about how slowly this storm is going to lose its steam. Typically these storms make landfall and they quickly reduce, not this one. Even tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. still 70 mile per hour winds in between Richmond and Norfolk. And then even by Tuesday evening 60 mile per hour winds outside of New York City.
So what does all of this mean? Well, the power outages will be the story tomorrow at this time. Will it be hundreds of thousands? Will it be millions? That`s what we`re going to find out in the next 24 hours. If you`re anywhere east of I-95 that is your greatest risk for power outages.
So how windy will it get? As we go throughout noon tomorrow, look at Ocean City, Maryland 73, Atlantic City 60 mile per hour winds right up through the Delmarva, the Jersey Shore could gust to 70 mile per hour winds. Philadelphia near 50 mile per hour winds, New York City looks to top out about five to 6 p.m. Long Island also some wins could be in the 50 to 60 mile per hour range. A lot of big trees, and then when we talk about the higher elevations of the Catskills in the Poconos, that`s where we could deal with not just a wind threat but also flash flooding, Brian, 55 million people included.
And on top of all of that we even will see isolated tornadoes all the way from the New York City area southwards down the coast. So, you know, this storm is only a tropical storm to a lower end category one hurricane but with people losing their power in this air of COVID and people being stuck at home and working from home, there`s going to be a lot of issues that weren`t foreseen before the storm hit.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, this storm is poised to over deliver indeed. Bill Karins, thank you so much for starting us off with that.
The President did hold his coronavirus briefing tonight. Speaking of the pandemic, here is how he described the state of our nation in the midst of this pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We`re beginning to see evidence of significant progress. I have to add that the virus is receding. We must focus on new flare ups in the states where the case numbers have risen, including Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, and I think you`ll find that they`re soon going to be very much under control.
A permanent lockdown is not a viable path. Lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don`t. And our current phase we must focus on protecting those at highest risk while allowing younger and healthier Americans to resume work. And school, we want to open those schools, we want to open them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We`re now well above 4.7 million cases with over 156,000 Americans dead. New York Times reporting more than 1.9 million new infections were reported in just the month of July alone. That number accounts for nearly 42% of the total U.S. cases reported since the start of the pandemic.
Tonight the Washington Post on the board with reporting that the virus is surging in several Midwestern states that had not previously seen such high infection rates and while there`s been some leveling off in the Sun Belt numbers remain too high there. The Post also says there are new upticks as many of us know here in the east.
Just yesterday, Trump`s Coronavirus Task Force coordinator was, let`s say uncharacteristically candid about what we`re facing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We are in a new phase. What we`re seeing today is different for March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It`s into the rural as equal urban areas and to everybody who lives in a rural area you are not immune or protected from this virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that right there didn`t win or any friends at the White House this morning, Trump voiced his criticism on social media. "So crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait and hit us. Pathetic."
Trump was referring to Speaker Pelosi`s comments about having no confidence in the virus response. But his message to Dr. Birx on his own team, about her candid assessment of the crisis was nonetheless clear. And this afternoon he was asked to explain his wording.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you said today in a tweet the Dr. Birx is taking bait from Speaker Pelosi. What did you mean by that?
TRUMP: I think we`re doing very well. And I think that we have done as well as any nation. I told Dr. Birx, I think we`re doing very well. She was in my office a little while ago. It`s a person I have a lot of respect for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: A leading vaccine specialist said today the coronavirus has become a runaway train in our country, a tragic situation as he put it, that means we cannot have a normal life. While the U.S. is now seeing something of a leveling off in the pace of new outbreaks there`s no doubt that we surpassed the European Union and the number of cases. We lead the world in total cases. Late today Dr. Anthony Fauci who`s been the target of his own White House takedown attempt, defended Dr. Birx.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What Dr. Birx was referring to, was the prevalence now in the United States as a nation, particularly in some of the states that are having surging of infection, is what`s called inherent community spread. It`s much more difficult to get your arms around that and contain it. It`s insidious. There are people who are spreading it, who have no symptoms at all. That`s what she meant by a different phase of where we`re going right now because it isn`t easily identifiable, who the spreaders are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As all of that unfolds, Trump is now facing new legal troubles as he fights to keep his financial records out of the hands of the Manhattan district attorney. The DA`s office, suggested in a new court filing today was investigating, "alleged insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers." President, being one of those officers, also refers to public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization. That signals a significantly broader inquiry than prosecutors have indicated at least in the past.
You may recall the investigation was originally focused on hush money payments ahead of the 2016 campaign. Well, today Trump dismissed the latest revelations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is just a continuation of the witch hunt. It`s Democrats stuff, they failed with Muller. They failed with everything. They failed with Congress. They failed at every stage of the game. They send them around to all over the country, I guess maybe, but it`s a terrible thing that they do. It`s really a terrible thing. The witch hunt has gone on long enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a busy Monday night as we begin a new week, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize Winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. His co-author, Carol Leonnig, the two of them out with the best selling book, A Very Stable Genius, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for Politico, and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Vice Chair of Preventative Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
Good evening, and welcome to you all. Doc, I`d like to begin with you. When the President says the virus is receding when he lists the states where it`s not and then says it`s soon going to be very much under control. Where is he getting that do you think?
DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you, Brian, for that question. I`d like to remain positive to the extent that I can. But I don`t see very many positive indicators when we consider the prevalence of the coronavirus, and its continued rapid spread, that at this stage is threatening our economy even more than it was before.
There certainly are some positives. There`s been some movement in coming up with better treatments. There`s obviously the positive note that Dr. Fauci placed on progress with regard to the vaccine in development, but right now what we have I think, as Dr. Birx said is widespread community transmission that`s threatening the opening of schools, which is really at the forefront of many families minds right now. And because we didn`t control this nationally, now we`re in a position where we`re having to make decisions that none of us feels comfortable with, with regard to choosing how to return to work and how to return to schools.
WILLIAMS: Anita, to the question that`s been whispered about, is it possible there is no national plan as we sit here, three months prior to a Presidential Election, because the President is unable to see a campaign upside and leadership even leading our country out of something awful?
ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s actually a campaign -- his campaign advisors and aids are telling him that they should have a national strategy for anything to get us out of where we are today in America. So they want him to come out with a national strategy. They think he should have already done that with masks, with lockdowns, with whatever needs to be done across the country. But instead, what you`re seeing is this patchwork. So some states in some localities are doing one thing, and some are doing another. And obviously, we see that`s not working. They are begging him to come up with this national strategy for a political reason, for a reason to get this under control. So he can say, look, I did manage this.
And he`s having a really difficult time with that, as you just saw, he wants the country to open up. And there are health experts who are saying we can`t do that. So he`s got a problem there. This is not a joke at all. But I was talking to one strategist of his, an ally of President Trump, who was saying he should change his slogan from Make America Great Again to make America Normal Again. And I don`t say that in jest. It`s people want to get back to their normal life.
WILLIAMS: And Phil Rucker, now that I figured out how to introduce you for the 500th time, while not quite from the podium and the White House briefing room, in a letter to campaign followers today, the President almost seemed to be giving the red states permission to wear a mask and came as close as he has ever said to simply saying out loud, wear a mask.
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Brian that was really striking to see written under his name and a blast email Trump campaign supporters that it`s important to wear a mask. He acknowledged that he doesn`t like to wear a mask, but that he does it anyway because it might do some good and you have to stop and realize that we`re now in August, the pandemic began back in March. The virus hit the United States back in January. And imagine if the President had urged his supporters in red states to wear masks from day one you might have saved thousands of lives in Florida, in Texas, in all of these states that have been so hard hit this summer. Yet here he is the President now calling for wearing a mask although notably, he does not often wear one in public and nor though his staffers at the West Wing, very few people wear mask day-to- day as they`re working in closed conference.
WILLIAMS: Anita, a note of sarcasm if I`m allowed that electricity you feel in the air must be about our exciting new health care plan that the President is going to unveil the sarcasm is because of the following sample along with our audience, just how long this has been in the making?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to do something that`s going to be great healthcare. We`re signing a health care plan within two weeks. I`ll be signing it some time very soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said two weeks, when you spoke to Chris Wallace. It might be -- it might be Sunday, but it`s going to be very soon.
We`re going to be introducing a tremendous health care plan sometime prior -- hopefully prior to the end of the month. It`s just about completed now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So Anita, wouldn`t people on Capitol Hill know if there was exciting new health care for all Americans on the way?
KUMAR: Well, let`s be clear, President Trump has been talking about a health care plan for three and a half years that hasn`t really come -- he hasn`t come out with. What he has been talking about lately is bypassing Congress altogether. This is his new thing these last few weeks, he feels that one of the Supreme Court case that had nothing to do with healthcare, it actually had to do with immigration, gives him the opening, he needs to do all sorts of other executive actions, executive orders. So he`s talked about health care, he`s talking about taxes by executive order, and he`s also talking about immigration. And he outlined again today that we`re going to see those in the next few weeks.
Now there are a lot of people who would say why haven`t we seen those before? Why haven`t you worked through Congress, but he is very much focused on his own actions in these coming months, his own executive actions.
WILLIAMS: Doctor, let`s talk about reopening schools because as we keep saying it`s the most intensely personal conversation families can have right about now, especially families have one to two wage earners who are under profound economic pressure in this cataclysmic downturn in our economy. In your view, are there states and localities that may have done the diligence and may be about to do this right, as opposed to those who are not?
CARNETHON: Yeah, that`s a really excellent point about the variability that we see across states about readiness for schools to reopen. I think all along, experts have agreed that being in school is preferable for children. Children learn better, they`re particularly at the younger ages. And there`s a social emotional element that can`t be replicated at home.
And when we have to have these hybrid models or these out of full models, that puts a great deal of financial pressure on families who have to work and then who have to find childcare. There are places in the country where the burden of disease is low enough, and the schools have the resources and the space to be able to spread out the students and the students and the community uses protective equipment so that they can be masked and can actually be in enclosed spaces together. And so whereas a national strategy regarding prevention is needed, the decision about opening schools is a very local decision based on resources. And what you can expect to see is that the rate of disease within a school or school funding is going to reflect that of the background rates of disease in the community. So it does not makes sense to open up in states where diseases are surging and where resources are scarce to be able to provide safe learning environments.
WILLIAMS: And Phil Rucker, finally the Republicans in the U.S. Senate have largely been so pliant that it is always news-making when one of them comes close to stepping out of the line. I give you veteran Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who reacted on Twitter to the dust up between Birx and Trump. Just saw on TV that President took exception to some interview, Dr. Birx said about status of pandemic. I hope the President knows she is a scientist not a politician," who needs punctuation. "President said he likes to hear all sides. So you heard Dr. Birx, you might disagree use love, not anger."
Phil Rucker, for Chuck Grassley, that some extended Haiku there. I will point out that your colleagues at the Post after there was quite a hit job in the New York Times your colleagues at the Post have done some continued reporting on Dr. Birx?
RUCKER: That`s right, Brian. And this was an extraordinary road the President had today with Dr. Birx, who by the way was just acknowledging what all the data show us publicly, what the what the fact is, which is that the virus is out of control in a lot of these states, and then that the U.S. is in a new phase here. But she is somebody who for months has sacrificed her own professional reputation to defend the President, to defend his handling and management of the coronavirus. She has been ostracized by many in the scientific and medical communities because of her fierce defense of the President and loyalty to him. And yet the President is not showing that same loyalty back to her which, you know, if it were not, a pattern of his behavior would be startling to see, and yet we`ve seen this time and again where aides will put their necks out on the line and just get whacked by this President.
WILLIAMS: A night we`re covering a hurricane and politics is the television equivalent of walking and chewing gum and as a result our profound thanks to our big three for starting us off so well tonight, Phil Rucker, Anita Kumar, Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, our great thanks.
Coming up for us, just what so much of the country does not need right now, as we said and approaching and arriving hurricane on top of a pandemic. It`s making its way up the East Coast. We`ll talk to the mayor of one of the towns directly in the path.
And later, the controversy is in the mail. The President attacking the U.S. Postal Service as he openly tries to delegitimize voting by mail during the aforementioned pandemic. A member of Congress trying to protect the Postal Service, standing by to join us live. It`s a lot. It`s the 11th Hour just getting underway on a Monday night.
WILLIAMS: Forecasters say this hurricane we`ve been covering as packing winds of between 75 and 85 miles an hour and just in the time we have been on the air. In fact, at 11:15 Eastern Time, we`re told at Holden Beach, Ocean Isle area the hurricane has in fact come ashore the first one to do so in the continental United States this hurricane season.
The National Hurricane Center is warning of life threatening storm surge. North Carolina remains under a state of emergency tonight.
To get the very latest we welcome back to the broadcast Bill Saffo, Mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina. Mayor, I say one thing every time you come on the broadcast and that is Wilmington, North Carolina doesn`t scare easily. Sadly, you`ve seen way worse hurricanes than this, but not so much during a pandemic. How are you doing tonight?
BILL SAFFO, MAYOR OF WILMINGTON, NC: We`re going to weather it out. It`s coming to shores as we speak right now. We were seeing a lot of wind, a lot of out of power outages, a lot of tornado warnings. But it`s been a very challenging environment to say the least, Brian, with the coronavirus that we`re dealing with and, you know, having to prepare for this since early March in preparation for hurricane season that we were going to be working under a different kind of a protocol and limited amount of staff in our emergency operation centers. What do we do with people who have to evacuate the area?
The decision was made to where the stone that we`re seeing that coming ashore today was to keep people at home. We felt that that was a safer option for the community and for public health. And, you know, we were staring at a category two, three or four, it`s a different situation for us, but working with the governor`s office in the State Emergency Management, folks in Raleigh, we forgot that this was the best thing for us in our community and for our citizens was to shelter in place.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, have you been told of anyone who got more of this storm than they were counting on. Have there any swift water rescues or anything like that underway?
SAFFO: We do not know as of right now. I mean, the winds have picked up pretty significantly, but I will tell you, as soon as these winds down, we`ll get our assessment teams out there to see what kind of damages we do have. Our emergency personnel are ready to go once the storm passes. But, you know, earlier today we were looking at a tropical storm or a strong tropical storm, but this evening is coming ashore. It`s a category one storm and this is what these storms do. They`re very unpredictable and they can pick up speed right before they hit land. And obviously this one has. So we`re going to see probably some pretty good damage on when we wake up in the morning.
WILLIAMS: What was the health of your beaches like over this past off- season and any reports of physical damage there as of yet?
SAFFO: Not as of yet but I`m sure that we`re looking at a storm surge between one to three feet. You know, we were anticipating that but the beaches were in pretty good shape. We`ve done some management (ph) projects in the last year or so. So we felt pretty confident that we could weather this storm season but this is the first one and it`s early in the season. So we hope we`re not going to see another one but right now we`re dealing with this one and we feel that the beaches will be OK. But, you know, again it came ashore as a category one and we were expecting a tropical storm earlier today.
WILLIAMS: Mayor Bill Saffo is an example for all our viewers of how to remain calm when an 80 mile an hour gusts come right over where you are. Mayor, thank you. I realize it`s a busier than average night in Wilmington, North Carolina. We hope everyone there stays safe.
Coming up for us, one major university today began a huge task of testing as many as 30,000 students. We`ll ask the school`s president about the decision and the challenges ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When I speak to college presidents and university presidents, they have different plans that I think if they implement them when they bring the students back, if they bring the students back, looks pretty good, namely testing people before they get there. Once they get there testing them and even keeping them quarantine, then again, you`ve got to be careful when you get people coming in from outside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Colleges, universities preparing to welcome back students and faculty this month to a school year perfectly in keeping with the 2020 we`ve witnessed thus far anyway. At the University of Kentucky, which remember includes 30,000 students around 19,000 employees. In person classes are set to start in exactly two weeks. And to that end, all students who are physically returning to campus for the fall will be required to be tested from --
For more we welcome to the broadcast Eli Capilouto. He is the president of the University of Kentucky. Thank you so much for joining us. Explain that at the end of the day this came down to a judgment call. I imagine you and your board, your -- whoever is on the governance of the University of Kentucky. But at some point you had to say let`s go for it. Let`s see if we can do it safely.
ELI CAPILOUTO, UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY PRESIDENT: Yes, we had a group of experts, epidemiologists, infectious disease physicians, we decided the best thing to do is Dr. Fauci said is get a baseline test. We welcome 30,000 students from 120 counties, 50 states in over 100 countries.
We want to protect our community, the city of Lexington and the surrounding counties. And the best thing to start with is a baseline to understand what we`re facing. And of course we have when in cases where there are positive results. We`re fully prepared to isolate and quarantine.
WILLIAMS: So you can deal with them on a case by case basis. Obviously, you would do contact tracing, but you`d prefer to deal with it piecemeal and continue the educational mission of the college.
CAPILOUTO: Yes, we`re using a blended approaches of in person and making maximum use of technology. It`s really not piecemeal, everything here is integrated. We leveraged our technology. Every day, every employee, every student, will fill out an attestation. Do you have any of these symptoms, the ones associated with COVID? But this is an old shoe leather epidemiology pencil pad walk around. We created a modern public health system.
So we have technology. If we see a hotspot of fevers in a particular residence hall, we can intervene early. If someone learns that, gee, you may have the symptoms of COVID, we can send them that message that says, stay in your residence. We`ve wired all our classrooms, for two way communication, you`ll be able to watch that on your laptop or iPad, and we`ll get the food to you don`t go out and expose anyone. And the same thing goes for our faculty and staff. We`re trying to make it easy to be safe.
WILLIAMS: God forbid I`m sure you`ve talked about the possibility and I`m sure you have a strategy if you need to pull the ripcord and say, admit that we`re in the middle of a spike and that this was a noble decision, but perhaps it`s not the best for the students, faculty and all the families they have to go home to.
CAPILOUTO: Very good question, Brian. We started planning for this literally the day we sent everybody home. We expected to return to some sort of reinvented normal. We knew it would be somewhere between traditional and class instruction and fully online.
So our continuum includes all of that. If we had to pivot to do something like you described, we`re fully prepared to do so.
WILLIAMS: Well, you`re going to be up to your neck and young Wildcats prowling around campus before too long, it may just feel normal for some stretches of the day of the college day. Eli Capilouto, thank you very much at the end of your work day for making some time for us and good luck to everyone on campus.
Coming up for us. The President calls the U.S. Postal Service, a joke. We`ll ask the congressman leading the USPS subcommittee, what he thinks about that and an upcoming vote by mail election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m the demise. This is the new one. I`m now the demise of the Postal Service. Post office has been losing billions of dollars a year for many, many years. The Postal Service is a joke, every package it delivers, they lose a lot of money. And that`s not fair. They`re using COVID to try and get the mail in ballots. I don`t think the post office is prepared for a thing like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The post office disputes that last assertion and the New York Times says there`s a different reason for delays and mail service writing quote, in recent weeks at the direction of a Trump campaign mega donor who was recently named the Postmaster General, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure in a pandemic that deliveries can be completed each day. Voting rights groups say it`s a recipe for disaster.
That is why ladies and gentlemen, we`re happy to welcome to the broadcast Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerald Connolly. He happens to be chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, which as part of its business monitors the US Postal Service. Thank you, Congressman so much. I realized it`s late at night on a school night for you. Is the US Postal Service ready for this challenge?
REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA, SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVT. OPERATIONS: I think it is. But it won`t be if this deliberate sabotage. And I am very worried that the new Postmaster General, who is a political donor and crony of Donald Trump is setting about to impose a political agenda that could damage or disrupt the ability of millions of Americans to vote by mail. But the postal service itself is absolutely ready and committed to get those ballots to the electoral boards and have them counted by election day.
WILLIAMS: I don`t know if you took an opinion poll, maybe you know, data to get people`s feelings about the United States Postal Service. Going back to when we are little kids. It`s often said that a letter getting delivered from New York to Honolulu for the price of a stamp in three days time is one of the great bargains in the world of 2020. Is this just part of the ongoing rolling destruction of norms and institutions to you? Or is this depending on who this Trump guy is, is this very distinct and very targeted for November 3?
CONNOLLY: I think it`s both. I think there`s an ideological overhang on the right, that hates the Postal Service, because it`s three things they hate. It`s big, it`s quasi governmental and it`s unionized. But I think Trump himself realizes that this is an election that cannot be won on the merits. And so you have to try to disrupt it. You have to suppress votes. You have to make it harder for people to vote by mail.
And he understands that there`s going to be an enormous surge of Americans who attacked aren`t going to buy vote by mail this year. And he also knows that in states that have adopted all male voting, it works. Fraud is minimal. If non-existent, and it works, they`re able to get results and that`s fair and they`ve expanded the franchise in the process.
You asked about public support, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Yes, good ahead.
CONNOLLY: If you do all -- if you do a poll today, 17 percent of Americans, 70 percent approve of government generally. That number for the Postal Service is 74 percent. It is the highest, esteemed institution in America.
WILLIAMS: Huge employers of veterans among other things.
WILLIAMS: I`m going to read you a quote from one John Dean of Watergate fame. We quoted this on the air Friday night. Time for UPS, Amazon, FedEx and other national delivery services to step up and design a supplemental system to the US Postal Service to deliver ballots for the 2020 election. Plus state wide drop boxes everywhere. Can`t let Trump win by destroying the Postal Service, his plan.
Congressman, he has a point here. Amazon can tell you were between Hong Kong and Virginia, the hairbrush that you ordered is currently, why not as a workaround use some of the other assets we have even in private business.
CONNOLLY: I think that`s possible. But, look, nobody handles the kind of volume that the Postal Service does. Nobody has a mandate by law in terms of universal service. No one has a constitutional mandate, like the United States Postal Service.
So, we can`t get around the postal service. We can`t really do work around. And the overwhelming majority of the 630,000 postal employees in the United States, believe in their country, believe in their mission and they`re going to do everything they can to make sure this works despite with Donald Trump and his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy trying to do.
WILLIAMS: 630,000 employees, we should repeat that number as often as we can. Congressman, we`d like to keep talking to you on this topic.
WILLIAMS: We hope you are able to raise a ruckus with some of your colleagues. Thank you very much for staying up late with us on a Monday night. Gerald Connolly from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
CONNOLLY: Anytime. Thanks.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us. Million saw him every day during impeachment. He was the man who had the chairman`s ear. And now Special Counsel Norm Eisen has a lesson for all of us tonight. He`ll talk about his new book, "A Case for the American People the United States versus Donald Trump."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Yes.
REP. LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to a bank in order to help him obtain a loan?
COHEN: These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank in one occasion where I was with them in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bead on the Buffalo Bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As one does revelations from Michael Cohen`s testimony in front of Congress were included in a Federal court filing that we mentioned earlier from the Manhattan DA`s office suggesting a broader investigation into Trump and his business for fraud.
Our next guest was a lead drafter of the articles of impeachment against Trump, who spoke extensively with one Michael Cohen and his new book. He likened Cohen`s recounting to a profiler at the FBI describing how a serial killer thinks.
With us again this evening is Norm Eisen, prior to serving a special counsel of the House Judiciary Committee during impeachment. He was this nation`s ambassador to the Czech Republic. He was ethics lawyer inside the Obama White House. As we mentioned, he happens to be the author of a new book, "A Case for the American People: The United States versus Donald J. Trump." Norm has never been ambiguous.
Counselor, welcome back onto our broadcast. You spent extensive amounts of time with Michael Cohen. Is part of your book and attempt to, to hit reset to remind people where we`ve been? We were chugging along so fast during those hearings, and during the impeachment process, that one of the things you argue is Michael Cohen gave you a roadmap to the financial investigations of this president.
NORM EISEN, FMR. COUNSEL TO HOUSE JUDICIARY DURING TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: Brian, thanks for having me back. The book is indeed and effort. Think of it this way like your alarm clock, Brian. I need three alarms to wake me up in the morning.
The Russia investigation was the first alarm. The Ukraine impeachment was the second alarm. And that the book is intended to be part of the third alarm because we need to have the American people awake as we had for the November election.
And Michael Cohen was a very important part of that story, traveled to New York, met with him as he was getting ready to report to prison. It`s only one of I give the details of those meetings in the book, startling new evidence of Trump`s pattern of criminality and only one of the revelations. The book is packed with the all the behind the scenes stories.
And what Michael told me about is you`re seeing again, with today`s court filing by the Manhattan DA, Mr. Vance, a pattern of alleged insurance fraud, bank fraud, hush money payments, and other misconduct that has extended over a period of years.
WILLIAMS: I`m going to quote the author to the author and here it is, "Abuse corruption, cover up. Abuse corruption cover up. Trump has been doing it for decades he began the cycle a new from the moment he was sworn in and returned to it time and again while sailing through his presidency."
But counselor, here`s my question, to what end? What law or electorate is about to lay a glove on him?
EISEN: Well, Brian, I think that the American people have experienced a gradual awakening up and the suffering that Donald Trump is exhibiting in the polls comes from their disgust. They see the pattern. It`s the same pattern with Russia. Russia, are you listening? Then it`s Ukraine, are you listening? Can you do us a favor though? Now he`s doing it with the governors, Brian, where he says that essentially the same thing. I don`t call unless they sell say thank you. He wants to quid pro quo.
He`s doing what we`ve seen before. He intentionally neglected COVID in order to the evidence is now clear, because he thought that was going to be in his electoral interest. So, abuse of power to gain electoral advantage and then obstruction. Same thing with COVID, as he`s done before the lies, the attacks on inspectors general, the retaliation against whistleblowers, and of course now we`re entering another chapter of the story with these allegations of alleged financial abuses and the cover up of those abuses that the Mr. Vance is looking at.
WILLIAMS: How are you enjoying a book tour from home?
EISEN: Well, you know, it`s, I missing my friends on the road, I miss meeting the readers in person. It`s different to work from your study. You can see this is where I`m sitting at the desk where I wrote the book. I essentially have been non stop in this study, since I left the Hill finished the impeachment trial, but I`m enjoying it. And it`s always great to chat with you.
WILLIAMS: Counselor, it`s a pleasure to have you and we wish you sincere. Good luck with this. Again, the book is, "A Case for the American People: The United States versus Donald J. Trump." The author Norm Eisen has been kind enough to join us from the room where it happened where he actually sat down and wrote those words. Counselor thank you very much as always.
One more break for us when we come back and update on the swirling mess that is going to dominate the East Coast, as the West Coast is fighting a different kind of disaster.
WILLIAMS: We`re back with a quick update on Hurricane Isaias. The category one hurricane made landfall 11:15 tonight Eastern Time. Coming aboard near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina maximum, sustained winds 85 miles an hour.
Remember hurricane Hana was our first to hit land this year when it made landfall in Texas. This is the first Atlantic hurricane to make landfall on the continental US. It will over deliver now for its size as it starts the day is long ride up the I-95 corridor, which brings us to the last thing we before we go tonight having started with this natural disaster on the east coast. Let`s turn our attention to the west.
And in California where they assign each wildfire a name. It`s the Apple Fire that has their attention tonight. So named because it started near a road called Apple Tree lane in the mountains east of LA. That was Friday night it exploded from there. Thousands are being evacuated. Still, thousands are on the run again during a pandemic.
By the 9:00 p.m. hour on the west coast, a minute or two from now it will have burned they say close to 50 square miles. Interestingly, officials think they know what started it. Eyewitnesses report it was a vehicle spewing burning carbon from a diesel engine. And now of course the damage has been done.
Firefighters hitting it from the ground and from the air say, as of late today it was only about 5 percent contained. And that`s not good. It was allowed at one point to burn up the side of an 11,000 foot peak because it was simply too steep for firefighters to get at it.
Satellite imagery shows the smoke visible from space and blowing hundreds of miles to the east. Enough smoke to add a red glow to a sunny day in Phoenix, Arizona. Busy night in Southern California. Busy line night along parts of the eastern seaboard as well as our broadcast comes to an end on this Monday evening. Thank you so very much for being here with us as we start a new week together for 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