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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/11/21

Guests: Philip Rucker, Jackie Alemany, Paul Butler, Robert Gibbs, Mike Murphy, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia

Summary

A whistleblower identifying as a former high-ranking US Capitol Police official excoriated the department`s leadership before, during and after the deadly January 6 insurrection in a new letter to Congress. Texas Gov. Abbott issues order banning Covid vaccination mandates in rebuke of Biden. Merck asked the FDA to authorize emergency use of its experimental antiviral pill to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults. Gruden`s resignation comes after a report from the New York Times found emails with Gruden using racist and homophobic language.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Boston began the day with another successful running of the marathon and to live the Boston Red Sox are at this moment showering themselves in champagne. The Sox having won their playoff series and Boston will sleep tonight with dreams of another world series. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.

[23:00:31]

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again day 265 of the Biden administration, there appears to be a new effort to amplify the lie of a stolen election, the lie that laid the groundwork for the sacking of our Capitol. And let`s not forget the attempt to overturn our presidential election.

This comes as the January 6 Committee is escalating its effort to uncover critical information about what happened on 1/6. This week, former Trump aides to Donald Trump are scheduled to appear before the panel to give in- person depositions. One time White House strategist Steve Bannon has already decided not to comply with his subpoena setting up a potential legal battle.

Earlier today January 6, committee member Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland said he`s told the chairman to take a hard line on those who would defy subpoena orders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I`m advising the deployment of the full panoply of enforcement powers at the disposal of the United States Congress. That includes criminal contempt powers, civil contempt power that people govern here, and no one is above the law, not a president, not a former president, not the political cronies of the former president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: And here`s part of the problem. Donald Trump is now trying to breathe new life into the lie that he and not Joe Biden should somehow be sitting in the White House. Trump and his allies have been trying to get help from state officials who are willing to support and act on the big lie his false narrative, especially in states he lost like Pennsylvania, that State`s Attorney General, the Democrat Josh Shapiro has been sounding the alarm about Trump`s efforts. Reports tonight indicate he is planning indeed to run for governor in 2022.

We`re also learning more tonight about a new U.S. Capitol Police whistleblower. Last month a former Capitol Police officer sent a 16-page letter to congressional leaders accusing senior officials have failing to properly share vital intelligence in the days ahead of the insurrection.

This letter also claims one of those top officials later lied to members of Congress about sharing that information with assistant and deputy chiefs. The anonymous Capitol Hill police official also writes of what he saw as Capitol Police battle rioter saying two senior leaders sat in the command post and watched while failing to assist fellow officers. One democratic member of Congress says the 1/6 Committee should also investigate these allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): It`s all the more reason that we need to continue to see an aggressive January 6 bipartisan commission pursue the ground truth of what happened that day. But I`m afraid that sometimes when letters like this come out, we have a tendency to want to blame the police or the victims. Let`s ultimately not let off the hook the person who assembled incited and aim the mob at the Capitol and that`s Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Late today, the Capitol Police For their part issued a statement it reads in part that their leaders under their new chief are committed to learning from prior mistakes and protecting our brave officers who fought valiantly on January 6.

Also tonight the Supreme Court is about to hear an important case involving abortion. Tomorrow the justices will hear a case out of Kentucky it`s rather technical. It turns on whether the state attorney general can intervene and defend a law restricting abortion, even though it`s already been struck down by a lower court.

Meanwhile, Justice Department has responded to that order from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate Texas`s six week abortion ban in that DOJ knows that quote, Texas has not merely protracted its assault on the rights of its citizens. It has repudiated its obligations under our national compact in a manner that directly implicates sovereign interests of the United States.

Tonight we also learned that Texas as Republican Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates from any entity in the state that includes all employers. Abbott`s order mentioned the Biden administration`s vaccine mandates which he called, quote, federal overreach.

As the battle over vaccines continues, the drugmaker Merck is moving to obtain emergency authorization from the FDA of what would be the first medication to treat COVID.

[23:05:04]

Early trials have shown the pill reduces hospitalizations and deaths by about half. We`ll talk about that later in this hour.

There is also another incredible story unfolding tonight at the intersection of sports and race. Viewers of Monday Night Football learn during tonight`s game that former Monday Night Football analyst veteran football coach Jon Gruden has resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders just hours after New York Times reporting that his past e-mails included homophobic and misogynistic comments. This follows an earlier report of Gruden using a racist trope to describe an NFL Player`s Union leader. He released a statement tonight that reads I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff and fans of Raider nation. I`m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Monday night. Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize winning senior Washington correspondent for The Washington Post, co-author along with Carol Leonnig of The New York Times bestseller, "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump`s Catastrophic Final Year," Jackie Alemany, political reporter for The Washington Post, the author of that papers, morning newsletter Power Up, which means she has to be up in about five hours and Paul Butler, a former federal corruption prosecutor at the Department of Justice, currently a professor at Georgetown Law School. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

And Phil, I`d like to begin with you. How closely is the White House watching this 1/6 committee as it gets serious, including but not limited to the possibility that federal marshals are going to have to go out and get people.

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Watching it very closely, Brian, and they obviously we`re seeing from these four former Trump administration officials in advisors, an act of defiance. They`re acting in many ways the way former President Trump would act where he and in their shoes, saying no trying to delegitimize this investigation D legitimize this commission and refuse to cooperate and participate in any way.

And what that means is there`s going to be likely now, a protracted legal battle over you know, how to compel their testimony how to compel their documentation and the other records that this commission rightly is seeking in order to do their work to investigate and get to the bottom of what happened on January 6.

And so this could drag out for some time. It certainly has the attention of the Biden White House, and it also has the potential to get in the way of Biden`s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill, depending on sort of how much oxygen the January 6 back and forth, takes up over at the Capitol.

WILLIAMS: Paul, you heard the man use the magic three words protracted legal battle, which brings you the second question tonight. Let`s start with the case of Bannon. What can a committee like this do and what do you reckon they will do?

PAUL BUTLER, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If witnesses like Bannon refuse to cooperate, the House committee can refer them to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, and then it would be up to the Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether to prosecute. And if Garland does bring a case and wins, these witnesses could be sent to prison, or they could be fine.

The Committee could also ask for a civil lawsuit to be brought by its own staffers if it one that then a judge would hold the recalcitrant witnesses and civil contempt, which means that they would be fined or go to jail until they comply. The problem with a civil lawsuit is as Phil said, it could take years. There were lawsuits filed over witnesses who that House subpoena, who Trump didn`t allow to appear. Some of those cases weren`t resolved until after Trump left office.

WILLIAMS: Jackie, what does the 1/6 committee and this may not be answerable, what do they do if sitting members of Congress perhaps with a letter are after their names become identified as material witnesses or worse suspects?

JACKIE ALEMANY, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, Brian, that`s something that the Select Committee has been grappling with since this investigation commenced. But look, something we`ve been actually keeping a pretty close eye on is the names that we haven`t been seeing in these subpoenas that have already been transmitted to witnesses.

So far, we`ve seen names like Steve Bannon, Dan Scavino, Kash Patel, Mark Meadows, all subpoenaed to provide information and deposition potentially as early as this week, but we haven`t those names like Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, people like all those are Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs, who were in contact with Ollie Alexander, the organizer of this stuff of steal the rally, who Alexander himself has said he was he was in touch with them in order to plan some of the events around the rallies that preceded the January 6 insurrection.

[23:10:29]

And so those are names that we have not seen in subpoenas yet, it is quite possible that they are maybe quietly cooperating with the Select Committee. We`ve been told by Chairwoman Thompson and Cheney that they have been surprised by the amount of people who have come forward voluntarily to provide information. They`ve already been conducting close for interviews, but they we`ve also been told that to expect a slew of other subpoenas coming up potential witnesses, who were in touch with President Trump on January 6, and leading up to that day.

WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, I`m reminded that Orwell`s 1984 opens up with the clock striking 13 o clock. It`s -- I lay that out as a predicate for this question. You covered a lot of Donald Trump. You have co-authored two books about him. Is the effort to change history, the effort to get us to believe we didn`t see what we all saw with our own eyes just getting started.

RUCKER: I think that certainly right, Brian, it`s just getting started. And it -- so far has not entirely been successful. I would point out that we are on the 11th hour, not the 13th hour, so closing out the night at the proper time. But look, President Trump, former President Trump is committed to trying to whitewash this history. He has a lot of support from his allies, Republicans on Capitol Hill and Republicans, frankly, throughout the country, including those tens of millions of voters who are still standing with him and still believe that he won the election and that it was rigged, when in fact there`s no evidence to suggest that it was.

But we`re seeing him continue as he did at that rally over the weekend in Iowa continue to claim the selection was rigged, continue to delegitimize the work of members of Congress like Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican on the Select Committee to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, and continue to put out this farce that that this was not actually an attempted insurrection on the Capitol, that what we all saw on live television, those harrowing images at the Capitol on January 6, that it wasn`t really that bad, that it wasn`t the sort of violent spectacle that we witnessed, and that in fact, those were patriots trying to fight on President Trump`s behalf to keep him in office because they believed he had won the election.

It is all a fantasy. And yet it`s one that the most powerful Republican in this country right now is working very hard to advance and make real.

WILLIAMS: Paul, forgive me for jumping around. But we don`t often have a lawyer of your caliber and experience to give us the status of the Texas abortion law and where you see the next steps.

BUTLER: So Brian, last week, a federal trial judge issued a 113 page ruling that both the Texas law and aggressive and unconstitutional violation of a woman`s right to choose. So Texas appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That`s one of the most conservative courts in the country, and it reinstated the ban.

This is called an administrative state. It puts the law on pause while the court decides whether to make this state longer on Texas appeals the file judge`s decision that struck down the ban. So Texas`s argument is that this is a state law that can only be challenged in Texas State court.

And remember, Brian, this Texas law has this bizarre provision that sets up private citizens as essentially bounty hunters. Anyone who sues an abortion provider under this law gets their legal fees paid and $10,000 if they win, but because the ban on abortion is enforced only by private citizens, Texas says the justice department can sue because it`s the regular citizens, not the states who are enforcing that law.

And very quickly, the Department of Justice responded today. It said it`s not about state`s rights because the Texas law violates Roe versus Wade. The argument is if Texas is allowed to get away with this, no constitutional right is safe, because any state could sabotage it in the same way.

WILLIAMS: Jackie, finally because you speak Capitol Hill I`m going to quote to you from The Dear Colleague letter that Speaker Pelosi has sent out to her fellow Democrats in the House.

[23:15:08]

In order to pass both the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill on time, it is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon. Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from members is to do fewer things well. Jackie, it`s up to you to explain what that means.

ALEMANY: Yeah, that sentence is already etched in my memory, Brian, and as I`m preparing to pepper it to lawmakers tomorrow as we`re going to catch them in the hallways, and they`re one day back to vote on the debt with it. But it`s certainly a sentence that`s not going to please progressive, as it says, I think, a rather suggestive message through lawmakers that the clock is ticking on for the House Democrats to get the bipartisan infrastructure bill done that they haven`t had much success yet in getting, anything quite frankly done, as both tandem infrastructure bills have stalled at the moment.

And I thought it was rather interesting that Pelosi also shouted out Congressman Gerry Connolly. In that statement, the congressman from Virginia, who`s she`s been spending time with on this trip abroad. Virginia, as you know, is going through a gubernatorial race right now, that`s become pretty heated between Terry McAuliffe and Younkin. And that is the new sort of silent timeline that we`ve heard deadline from some of these frontliners and vulnerable House Democrats who are really eager to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill.

They keep pointing to this November election date as the time that they must get it done before. Mark Warner set it on the record, Abigail Spanberger said in op-ed over the weekend. I think that we`re only going to hear these calls getting louder and louder, even as progressives continue to insist that they`re not going to pass this without a fully completed impasse reconciliation package. That`s that social safety net that we`ve been discussing day in day out that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been at the White House trying to hash out as well. It has really bottlenecked all of all of Capitol Hill right now for Democrats.

WILLIAMS: At least lawmakers who see Jackie approaching tomorrow know in advance what she`s going to be asking, by the way, a correction. We urge our viewers to subscribe to her newsletter, which I got the name wrong is called Early 202. Early, indicating the hour that she gets up to work, 202 of course, the area code for Washington D.C. and at further risk of embarrassing our guests. I`m sitting here looking at their pictures, realizing that from left to right, we have a Yale graduate, a Harvard graduate, and a Yale graduate who for good measure went to Harvard Law School. We promised folks the smartest guests on television. I think tonight we have delivered.

With our thanks to Phil Rucker, Jackie Alemany and Paul Butler, greatly appreciate the three of you starting off this new week.

Coming up for us. They only twice impeached Florida retiree gets an 88-year old Republican senior statesman to genuflect to him on stage. While another Trump acolyte refuses to admit the election wasn`t stolen. And later, our political experts weigh in on what`s at stake for the current president and his party, as Democrats negotiate over his agenda while Rome burns. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Monday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:22:11]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think the election, last time I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not? I understand you think there were regularities and things that need to be fixed. Do you think the election was stolen?

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): And it`s not just the regulate states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they`re supposed to follow. When you see states like Georgia, cleaning up some of the mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: All of that is crap. Of course in the year 2021 it always seemingly 13 o`clock, that right there is the second highest ranking Republican in your House of Representatives refusing to say that Joe Biden won the election. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney fired back on Twitter writing, quote, millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen. Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the big lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic. And that is why she is no longer in the Republican leadership.

Back with us tonight, Robert Gibbs, former Obama campaign, senior advisor and White House press secretary of course, under President Obama and Mike Murphy, veteran republican strategist, co-director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. Both are also co-hosts, and I don`t think we`ve had this before, of the Hacks on Tap podcast, which we heartily recommend. Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming on.

Mike Murphy, the site of Chuck Grassley, at the Trump rally, I think we have a little bit of that we`ll play it and discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I was born at night but not last night. So if I didn`t accept the endorsement of a person that`s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn`t be too smart. I`m smart enough to accept that endorsement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Mike, even people who once respected Chuck Grassley looked at that scene as a be clowning as something disgraceful as an 88 year old supplicant, who wants another Senate term that will expire when he is 94 years old. Mike, what does it say when a guy like that is willing to sell his soul to the man standing behind him?

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it says what we just saw. I`m reminded of the image of a heroin dealer shaking the little bag on top of the junkie, you know, I mean, Grassley knows better and he`s had a distinguished career in many ways.

[23:25:00]

But the crack of getting reelected and the fear of Republican primary voters have led a lot of these guys to not only check their dignity at the door, whatever he has gone, I think, at least to me, and also check their, you know, their compass of what is constitutional right. But this is hard, cynical politics and they fear Trump`s grip on Republican primary voters. So they make an existential decision between continuing with the cheap haircuts in the Senate and everybody calling them senator or facing the music and maybe losing their job. We could use fewer of this kind of Chuck Grassley is and more Bob Corkers and others who would rather not be there than supplicant themselves to Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Gibbs, I`ve got one for you. This is an edited down version of the closing comments. Bill Maher made on his show Friday night that instantly ricocheted around the internet with mostly Democrats saying to their fellow Democrats, find these last few minutes of the broadcast, send it to everyone you know, we`ll have a brief sampling here and discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER" HOST: A Sabbath residents spend their post presidency building homes for the poor or raising money for charity or painting their toes. Trump has spent his figuring out how to pull off the coup he couldn`t pull off last time. Here`s the easiest three predictions in the world. Trump will run in 2024. He will get the Republican nomination. And whatever happens on election night, the next day, he will announce that he won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So the entire segment goes on much longer, and we commend it to people`s attention. It was ordered. It was reasoned. What`s your reaction to the argument he`s making?

ROBERT GIBBS, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think, Brian, it`s hard to argue with anything that Bill said in that clip. I think, to Murphy`s point around the grip that Trump has on the Republican Party, I think we saw this weekend, that grip continues to get tighter and tighter. You know, these weren`t average Republicans, the number two Republican in the House, the senior most Republican in the Senate.

And so when you see that grip getting tighter and tighter, you understand that what we saw in 2020, and we`ve talked about is likely a preview of what happens in 2022 if Republicans lose elections, they don`t like. Or in 2024, I should say, and in 2024, when Donald Trump runs, when he`s almost certainly the nominee, and he does everything again in his power to fight the outcome of the election if he doesn`t like it. I think that`s what we`re all having to get comfortable with. This is not just a reckoning with the history of what happened in 2020. It`s a preview of what is coming our way very quickly.

WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. Let me fit a break in now. We`ll come back and continue our conversation. When we do, we`ll talk about this, when it comes to the current president shrinking agenda. As the New York Times put it tonight, as we`ve been saying for many nights in a row, the biggest problem right now is his own party. This one is on the Democrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:32:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWALWELL: Of course the money matters but the mind relates to policies that make differences in people`s lives, that`s being negotiated right now. We`re back in session tomorrow. I`m confident that we`re going to have a deal very soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are Democrats doing a good enough job messaging? What actually this is all about?

SWALWELL: No, we have to do a better job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: And optimistic prediction from California democratic congressman Eric Swalwell, as his fellow Democrats tried to trim down Biden`s $3 trillion spending bill. Washington Post has this reporting on last week`s meeting of Democratic liberals in the House quote, members of the almost 100 strong caucus left Friday`s meeting for a two-week recess with an agreement not to give an inch publicly while they continue to consider privately how to respond to the reality that some of their priorities would probably have to be jettisoned from Biden`s Build Back Better economic package.

Still with us, Robert Gibbs and Mike Murphy. Robert, I`d like to harken back to your time as press secretary during the time of the Obamacare fight. And how many and what are the echoes back to that period from now? The arguments about great being the enemy of the good and good being the enemy of the great. And what would your advice be to the Democrats? Because this right now? This is on them?

GIBBS: Yes, it`s a great question, Brian. And I do feel a bit of remembering exactly what happened in 2009 and ultimately into 2010. Look, I think in many ways, as much as this is dragged on the Biden administration is actually well ahead of the timeline of where the Obama administration was. We didn`t sign healthcare until March. I don`t think any Democrat wants to see this play out to March, namely gubernatorial candidate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.

I think it is really incumbent upon the party to come together. I think the only person that can bring the party fully together at the table to make the decisions that Speaker Pelosi talked about tonight is President Biden. And I think this has to get wrapped up much, much sooner rather than later.

I think the polling that Congressman Swalwell was talking about and messaging. The aspects of the build back better plan are enormously popular. The challenge is, the American people have heard a debate about a number, not about what`s in that legislation. Very few know the popular things that are in that legislation.

It`s time to get to an agreement and start to sell that legislation to the American people. It`ll bring down their health care costs, it will bring their down their prescription drug costs, it`ll finally start to make a real fight against climate change all the things that President Biden ran on, and Democrats were elected to fix.

[23:35:00]

WILLIAMS: Mike, I want to get your take on a quote from our mutual friend Eugene Robinson, who writes this in his column under the headline, take the Democrats, our Doom narrative with a grain of salt. He writes, when the narrative warns that Biden urgently needs to get the progressives and the moderates in his party to set aside their differences, I take a somewhat different view. What I see is a pretty normal exercise and legislative given take, except that it`s all happening within the Democratic Party while Republicans hoots holler and obstruct from the peanut gallery.

Mike, keeping Robert`s important historical point in mind, where we are on the calendar versus where the Obama team was back then. And remembering, you know, this doesn`t mean the Democrats don`t have a problem. And it doesn`t mean that someone has suddenly said, You know what, we`re going to skip the midterms and 2022. There`s just too much going on. What do you make of Eugene`s thesis?

MURPHY: Well, I he`s a pal, but I disagree. I mean, the other part of the history lesson is what happened to the Democrats in 2010 was a pretty good Republican year. So you know, the struggle that Democrats are having is trying to get their troops unified when the progressives have so much strength in the House. So if they can land a deal, sooner rather than later, they will be able to go fight their corner on it.

The problem is, and Robert alluded to this, the deal has been defined not by the candy in it for voters. But this thing is so huge, even Democrats can`t get lung over it. It puts Biden in a tough position because have no doubt this thing has the shot clock, and it`s ticking away. And if he can`t deliver it and be in charge in year, one of his administration, he`s looking weaker and weaker.

I mean, the power right now is Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate, and about 90 progressives in the House. And the political problem is those progressives have all the power, but they come from districts that are so safe, a crate of hammers could get elected if it had a D stenciled on it. They`re making the calls for all these vulnerable moderates who can get wiped out in the midterms by Republicans, or more or less being ignored.

So, they got a tough plane to land here. I think they have some time. But Biden needs to get out front in charge, be president and solve this thing. Or they`re heading for in my view, very rough midterms. Despite all the self-inflicted wounds we`ve republicans are so good at.

WILLIAMS: Well, to your last point, a district like AOC is a point we always try to make the stakes are just different for her than they are a moderate.

MURPHY: Yes.

WILLIAMS: She wakes up every morning and a four to one, five to one Democratic district. She`s not going to feel the pressure that others do. Mike, a quick addendum question and that is, where is the messaging? Where are the 50 news conferences in all 50 states with the cameras showing in the backdrop, the prominent metropolitan area bridge that is going to fall into the river or the bay? Every city has them? Airgo a bill called Build Back Better.

MURPHY: Yes, that`s the trillion dollar question. Because the only message now is this thing is such a big budget buster. Even a bunch of Democrats can`t support it. That`s deadly. So yes, they need the roadshow. They, you know, they -- but I think Biden has been stuck in DC and it`ll continue trying to land the plane, the progressives tasted blood so they`re hard to deal with and getting it down to 2 trillion or less. And meanwhile, the vacuum on messaging is being filled. So you`re right, they need a campaign to get this thing back to the voter candy to make it a plus instead of a Republican punching bag.

WILLIAMS: See, history and candy in one easy to digest segment, thanks to two friends of the broadcast, Robert Gibbs, Mike Murphy. Thank you, gentlemen, for staying up with us on this Monday night. We appreciate it.

Coming up for us. We`re a step closer tonight to a pill to fight the Coronavirus. We will ask one of our leading public health physicians about it when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:42:23]

WILLIAMS: As we mentioned earlier today, the drug company Merck applied for emergency use authorization for their antiviral pill to treat COVID. York Times points this out, quote, clearance for the drug would be a milestone in the fight against the Coronavirus experts said because a convenient relatively inexpensive treatment could reach many more high risk people sick with COVID than the cumbersome antibody treatments currently being used.

Well with us tonight for more. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, infectious disease physician, founding director of Boston University Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Policy and Research. Doctor, so many questions, number one, if you have the unfortunate event in your life of getting shingles, they put you on an anti-viral. I`m assuming this is the same family of drugs. And do I have the story correctly that Merck`s trials were so successful, they called an early halt to them to try to hurry and get this available to people who need it.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: That`s right, Brian, I think that this is a class of drugs that works by stopping the replication of the virus and many other things in our arsenal have tried to do that by the monoclonal antibodies that you mentioned. I`ve tried to do that. But the difficulty is that this is some, today, you know, long weekend, I`ve had patients have had, for example, trouble accessing monoclonal antibodies. Clinics are not open everywhere. They want them to be an oral drug like this one.

The good news is we haven`t seen the data. But the good news is you said as an independent safety and monitoring database basically stop the trial saying, look, the success is very clear, which is what Merck take this data to the FDA. The promise here is that you know, if you could get this in the hands of folks who are just diagnosed who are high risk, you can have their chances of getting hospitalized, you`re making this via to taming this virus even more, you`re making it a livable risk.

The tough part here is that, look, we`ve had this kind of promise with other things like rapid tests where we said, this is going to change the course of the pandemic and things need to line up and in this case, the things that need to line up are cost availability, right? Merck has said that they will be able to make about 10 million courses by the end of the year. The government is about 1.7. If to look at our hospitalization or cases about 100,000 cases in the U.S. right now. And so will there be enough and $700 per cost, of course, will that stay that high? And if it does, will that you know lead to as high an uptake.

And the last Brian is that it needs to be linked with testing. Because you need to be tested to be positive to be able to take the drug and if we`re still struggling to get those at home tests, which hopefully the new Biden administration investment will make that easier, that`s what needs to come together for us to really recognize the promises trust.

[23:45:17]

WILLIAMS: Can you back up a second? Did you say $700? If so, that`s the first time I`ve heard that mentioned.

BHADELIA: Yes, it`s about 1/3 of the price of monoclonal which is good. But that`s still a lot. And one wonders beyond the, you know, the 1.7 million courses that the government has purchased, what will the cost of this look like, right. And that`s why I think that we have to think about what the game plan is, if we really want this to make an impact, we need to make it available wherever that needs to be to the manufacturing is important. But the cost, of course, is going to be equally important.

WILLIAMS: I would like to play for you some comments Dr. Fauci made on CNN on Sunday, we`ll discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You`re outdoors, for the most part, at least, when my children were out there doing trick and treating, and enjoy it, it`s a good time to reflect on why it`s important to get vaccinated, but go out there and enjoy Halloween as well as the other holidays that will be coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So doctor, these are the same kinds of questions I often ask you, you just referenced cases are dropping, but the weather is getting colder, and we`re looking at Halloween and Thanksgiving. Do you share Dr. Fauci`s optimism?

BHADELIA: For Halloween, you know, one of the things that I`ve said last year, as well as that it tends to be lower risk than indoor activities. If you take your kids outdoors trick or treating, we know that it`s as a big differential in risk. And unless you`re gathering a bunch of kids indoors, you know, and you don`t know the vaccination status of the adults, that makes it a bit more dangerous. But that outdoor trick or treating in general is safer.

I do think though, that, you know, as we move forward with these new tools in hand, these antivirals, potential approval of UA for vaccines for kids, you know, the new boosters that we`re looking at, at least currently for high risk folks, maybe are more people in the future, and then you have potentially access to more testing, you could see greater resilience.

The trouble here is that there`s still parts of the country that are under vaccinated and you have counties that are really, really low sort of uptake of vaccines. And in that setting, you may see hyperlocal outbreaks, that just could see new surges and in that cold weather and with that holiday travel.

WILIAMS: Doctor, I have under a minute for one last question. And that is, what`s your expectation FDA panels meeting this week on the Moderna and J and J boosters?

BHADELIA: I think there`s very, you know, as long as the data holds out, right, I think that we have to look at the J and J data discussion, but there`s clear evidence in my mind about the fact that the drop in efficacy for hospitalizations for Johnson and Johnson is concerning and I think those are going to be approved.

And even though the Moderna`s efficacy is held up, I think you`re still seeing, you know, a decrease efficacy over time and people are older. So I -- if I were to predict something, I think that they might take a similar route to what was taken with Pfizer just to align the two mRNA vaccines and not cause more confusion, but we`ll have to wait.

WILLIAMS: Our guest tonight has been one of the public health physicians who has guided us through this pandemic thus far. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, our thanks as always for taking our questions tonight.

Another break and coming up for us the countdown is on. For a record setting mission to space with someone we all know pretty well on board.

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[23:51:51]

WILLIAMS: At the age of 90, William Shatner is set to become the oldest man in space a day later than originally planned. He is now two days away from boldly going where no other 90-year old has gone. That`s into space on board one of the Bezos` Blue Origin flights. Tomorrow morning`s takeoff has been delayed due to 75 mile an hour winds at the launch site. I don`t know much but I know that`s not good. The mission will now launch on Wednesday we get our reports tonight from NBC News correspondent Tom Costello.

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TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the launch pad the countdown is on hold. William Shatner and three others a Blue Origin employee and two paying passengers now waiting till Wednesday for high winds to clear.

WILLIAM SHATNER, STAR OF THE ORIGINAL STAR TREK: In the back of my mind is jeopardy. And I don`t mean the quiz.

COSTELLO: This morning, Shatner admitted the delay makes him nervous.

SHATNER: I don`t want to be on top of a rocket in 75 mile an hour wind. Scotty beam us up fast.

COSTELLO: Hard to believe, Captain Kirk is 90 years old now.

SHATNER: I`m Captain Kirk and I`m terrified going to space.

COSTELLO: His four minutes of weightlessness will make him the oldest person ever to reach space after 82-year old Wally Funk`s in July. Now Shatner and his team are in the simulator preparing for their 11-minute round trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are all buckled in and ready to go to space.

COSTELLO: The same simulator we were in last summer.

(on camera): What really stands out to me is just the size of the window and you`ve got six of them in here right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, over a third of the surface area of the capsule are windows.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Perfect for the view Shatner has been dreaming of.

SHATNER: I`m going to see the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of our Earth.

COSTELLO: But his ultimate goal.

SHATNER: The thing I really want to do is come back down.

SHATNER: And beaming back to Earth is out of the question. Tom Costello, NBC News in the West Texas desert.

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WILLIAMS: Coming up can they hear you now a big phone and internet provider is scrambling to keep its customers during an expanding boycott movement. We`ll explain.

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[23:57:42]

WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, OAN, the One America News network is for people who find Fox News to leftist. The people who want to bathe in a nice warm grievance, believers in the big lie, vaccine doubters and the like. If you should stumble upon it on cable, you can also pick up their signal. If you happen to angle your tinfoil hat just right, you`ll see it has the patina of respectability until someone starts talking.

So it didn`t go over well with AT&T customers when they recently learned and an astonishing report by Reuters that AT&T helped to build OAN and continues to subsidize the network as OAN has paid millions to AT&T to make it part of their dish network slate.

The problem for AT&T is they`re losing customers over this. And if the Lincoln Project has any say in it, they`ll lose a lot more when people see this.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Friends, family, the people who make our lives complete with AT&T, you can reach out to those people to feel the connection too many Americans are missing today. In addition to reliable connections and crystal clear sound quality, your AT&T plan helps fund one America News Network. OANN is a streaming channel that hires radical alt right, white nationalist as hosts cheers the capital attacks and promotes COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Want more by keeping your cell service with AT&T, you can help pay OANN host Pearson Sharp to call for mass executions. And with AT&T, you`ll be able to keep funding politicians like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who pushes radical new laws against voting rights and women`s rights. AT&T funding sedition, oppression and of course, One America News Network.

(END VIDEO CLIP

WILLIAMS: The Lincoln Project to take us off the air tonight as we start a new week. Holiday for some workday for others. Can you guess which category we`re in? That`s our broadcast for this Monday evening. It comes with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.