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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/13/21

Guests: Claire McCaskill, Robert Costa, Yamiche Alcindor, Tim Miller, Eugene Robinson, Peter Hotez


Jan. 6 Committee subpoenas ex-Trump official Jeffrey Clark. WH works to address supply chain issues. Consumer face rising prices, supply shortages. FDA panel to meet on Moderna, J&J COVID boosters. Biden agenda remains stalled on Capitol Hill.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The "LAST WORD" team has already posted our interview tonight with Florida School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins so that you can send it to anyone who might have missed it. You can find it on Twitter at the, you can find it That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 267 of the Biden administration. The House Committee investigating the January 6 riot and insurrection is intensifying its focus on the previous White House with a new subpoena targeting a former DOJ official under Trump, who was reportedly involved in the former president`s robust effort to overturn our election, Former Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark reportedly played a key role in Trump`s campaign to amplify the big lies about voter fraud.

Clark and Trump were reported to have been in contact during the days before the capital attack. Clark was also sent to a push Trump`s claims within the Department of Justice and indeed clashed with higher ups, who resisted. The subpoena letter to Clark says this in part, "The Select committee`s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. As a result of your efforts to prompt this departmental action the president considered installing you as acting Attorney General."

The man who was almost pushed out of that acting Attorney General job, then the acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen today gave his side of the story. In a closed-door interview with the committee, Jeffrey Clark received the committee`s 19th subpoena. And it came as the Biden White House said it would not assert executive privilege to keep lawmakers from seeing Trump`s documents. We are now just hours away from the first deadline for depositions from other Trump officials. Ex-White House Strategist Steve Bannon, one-time Pentagon Official Kash Patel have been ordered to appear tomorrow, but Bannon has made it clear he won`t cooperate on any level. His lawyer even sent another letter to the committee today reiterating that fact. This afternoon we learn more about how lawmakers plan to respond to this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We will move to hold them in criminal contempt. So, our committee will produce a report about the efforts that were made to get them to testify. We will submit that report and we will call for a vote on the House floor. That will send it to the Justice Department and our expectation is they will be prosecuted.


WILLIAMS: That will more than likely be a topic for Attorney General Merrick Garland when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee next week.

Meanwhile, the White House focused on trying to head off and economic crisis caused by supply chain disruptions. Empty shelves escalating prices for goods are now realities for so many Americans. Just ahead, we`ll have more on what the administration is planning to do about that.

Meanwhile, we may soon know more about boosters for people who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. An FDA advisory committee will meet tomorrow and Friday to decide whether to recommend additional shots.

One new study on boosters is now getting a lot of attention and deservedly so. Research from the NIH shows the J&J vaccine recipients may fare better with a second shot of another brand, either Moderna or Pfizer. We have a doctor, a leading expert, in fact, standing by to take our questions on all of this in just a few minutes time.

But first, let`s bring in our starting line, shall we, on this Wednesday night, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for the PBS News Hour, Moderator of Washington Week, also on PBS. Claire McCaskill, a former Democratic U.S. Senator from the State of Missouri, and Robert Costa, National Political Reporter also with the Washington Post. His latest book co-authored with Bob Woodward called Peril, as you might have heard is currently at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

Good evening, and welcome to you all. And Claire to channel your prior experience as a prosecutor and a member of Congress, tell us the scope of what this committee is likely looking for from a guy like Clark, who was virtually unknown beyond family and friends here to four but maybe about become very famous?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Look, this guy wasn`t, number two, he went number three, he never -- wasn`t number four. He was down in the DOJ hierarchy and so to try to learn how he could have catapulted into getting the nod from the president to take over is really important for this committee to understand.


But honestly, Brian, I think more important we need to take a pause here and realize this moment is way bigger than Donald Trump, maybe even bigger than what happened on January 6, because of this committee cannot get people to testify in front of it in an oversight capacity, then I believe we are on the verge of admitting to the country, that there are no checks and balances. There are no separations of power, that the congressional branch is toothless, has absolutely no ability to get the facts that are important for them to do their job.

So, this is why it`s so such a big deal for the Department of Justice to take a criminal referral seriously, because I don`t care if you`re a Republican or a Democrat, if you`re an American, you want Congress to be able to hold hearings and call witnesses.

WILLIAMS: Well Claire, that got our attention. Let me stop you right there and ask where -- the time is not on their side, nor is their history with this kind of thing. Where are the guts going to come from? Where`s the motivation going to come from to do what you just warned of?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think there is an advantage that they have at this moment, because one, it`s a bipartisan committee. So, a court looking at it cannot characterize it as a political witch hunt, because both parties are participating. Two, you have a president who supports getting the facts out, which we didn`t have for a number of years. And three, you have a department of justice that appears to be amenable to enforcing the law as it relates to the power of congressional subpoenas.

Now, I`ve said all along, and I`ve said this for years back when it took me two years, to get the CEO of back page, in front of our committee, we had to go all the way to the Supreme Court, we need a docket in the courts that allow these cases to be heard quickly. So, they don`t linger for years. Because sometimes this is a matter of just trying to run out the clock. But this is it. This is it, Brian. This is when Congress has to stand up collectively and say we have some power.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, based on your reporting, tell us what we should know about this person named Clark?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What`s so important about these elements of the committee`s investigation right now is they`re trying to really understand the culture of obedience and loyalty inside the Department of Justice during the final days. The crucial period chronologically, is after Barr resigns in December, then it becomes based on our reporting in the book, this more freeform period where the White House, the executive branch, the President himself driving the action, and what this committee has to figure out beyond what we`ve reported in this book is what were the pressure points from the Department of Justice on different U.S. Attorney`s, on various state legislatures on state officials, because we have a lot of reporting so far in our book and from other great newspapers about what was going on from the president. But what below the President was happening. This was a coordinated pressure campaign across the board on the Department of Justice Congress, the Vice President.

WILLIAMS: So, Yamiche, the White House is not buying the privilege claims of a private citizen. That`s clear. And that would also be correct. There`s no national security involvement here. They`re not worried about the unmasking of names. But tell us if you can, based on your reporting, Yamiche, more broadly, where this investigation fits into the Biden and democratic world more broadly?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, let`s remember that the Biden administration and President Biden have said that January 6, and the lies about the 2020 election that former President Trump lost are a stain on American democracy, and that they need to be really investigated in order to not be a continuing threat to our democracy. So when you look at the way that President Biden is seeing this and acting, he is essentially saying not only am I going to make sure that whatever information this investigation needs, it will get, but I`m also -- he`s also in some way, saying that these officials were trying to claim executive privilege that they were likely part of the issue and part of the problem here, but I want to talk about Jeffrey Clark for a minute here because he is an official who reportedly drafted a letter in December to Georgia officials claiming that the DOJ had found some sort of irregularities and that that was supposed to be some way -- it`s supposed to be some way leading into almost possibly turning the election to Georgia and turning and nullifying the results. They were of course President Biden won fair and square.

So, what you see here is really the investigators and lawmakers looking as Robert just said, looking at the individuals in the Department of Justice, who are doing the things that President, former President Trump wanted them to do, because there`s a big sort of idea that we -- because people -- enough people didn`t go along with President Trump, that he somehow the system worked and that he somehow failed, when in fact, there are a number of people who wanted to stand up and to give former President Trump what he wanted that included the vice president who ultimately did certify the election, but who came really close based on other people`s reporting, based on Robert`s reporting, trying to do something that would take away the vote in 2020, and try to nullify it.


So, what you see here from the Biden administration, is that really looking at this investigation seriously, and saying this needs to be fully investigated. And then the President wants to see everyone who was responsible for January 6, and the continuing election lives be held accountable.

WILLIAMS: Claire, back to you and your comments. I think, even some Democrats note that their party in Congress is being marked by, right now, in fighting, the delay and the Biden agenda is on them. And secondly, timidity, the subject of our first exchange tonight, you hear as an excuse from some Democrats, well, we don`t want to do, A, because if the Republicans -- and when the Republicans take over, they`ll do that to us. What flies in the face of that argument is, this is unique?

We mentioned Don Winslow tweeted a week ago, does anyone remember consequences? I miss consequences. We`re talking about consequences for an attempt to overturn a presidential election.

MCCASKILL: And we should remember, Brian, what my former colleagues were saying on the day it happened. And we had some remarkable speeches given by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, on the floor of the Senate saying we`ve had enough. Now, I don`t know what happened to their momentary insanity, I mean, they reverted back to cowering, you know, cowards of Donald Trump`s power within their party.

But there for a few hours, there was unanimity in Congress that it was important to get to the bottom of it was important for there to be consequences. Mitch McConnell basically called out for criminal prosecution of Donald Trump. So, this is not a moment for timidity. And frankly, the saddest thing about this to me, is that this is not more of a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of it. I mean, I find that incredibly depressing, that people I served with that would be the one standing up to the rights of Congress to call witnesses are now hiding behind the skirts of Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, we`ve never seen that happen to a political party in the modern history of this country.

Robert Costa, Jeff Rosen is behind closed doors for eight solid hours. I reckon we will someday get to read the transcript with any secrets, blacked out, but what do you reckon a guy like that can tell a committee like this?

COSTA: He can detail how the Department of Justice interacted with the states, the states that were maybe in some Republican circles, trying to think about having an alternate slate of electors, bringing forth different cases of voter fraud. He can give granular detail to the effort inside the Department of Justice in the final days of the Trump administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill, have to answer the question ahead of 2024. What are the stakes? What will they do? I just keep thinking about a scene in our book where Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip says, behind the scenes privately Democracy is on fire, and Democrats have to break the filibuster. He says to colleagues, even if Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Senator and others don`t want to do it to pursue stricter laws to help all voters have access to the polls. That`s the level of alarm, at least for Jim Clyburn.

And as Rosen and perhaps Clark testify, this is not just about the past, this is about the future. What is the Department of Justice? And if someone`s in control of it, what can they do under the law?

WILLIAMS: And you Yamiche, of course, Meantime, there`s legislation backed up like jets over Dulles Airport. What, based on your reporting, is the level of frustration inside this West Wing as they wait out Democrat on Democrat argument and discussion day by day?

ALCINDOR: My sense of the White House is frustration is that it`s rising, and that it`s rising because the legacy of President Biden is on the line, his entire legislative agenda when it comes to infrastructure, and the promises that he`s made to Americans are hanging in the balance and it`s not because Republicans are sort of obstructing which of course, it`s part of this the fact that of course they can`t get Republicans to get on the deal and can`t get their support but it`s also that Democrats can`t get on the same age.


You have Joe Manchin talking about vengeful, taxing and not wanting to create an entitlement society. And then you have progressives who say that the wealthy needs to pay more and that there needs to be transformational change for Americans add to that, there`s an economy here, where women are falling out of the workforce, where people are quitting their jobs, because they`re not getting paid enough. And where the last jobs report was, frankly, disappointing.

President Biden understands that he is being seen as the closer by his party. It`s why he`s really, really aggressively involved in these negotiations. But this really comes down to two senators, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, and it`s unclear whether those two senators will get on the same page. All the reporting that I`ve been doing indicates that Sinema is seen as the more complicated one and that she is the one who`s negotiating directly with the White House, but it`s unclear what her top line number is.

Joe Manchin has put out $1.5 trillion, but progressives are balking at that. So, this really is a quagmire, and it`s a quagmire with a deadline because the holidays are inching closer and closer, let alone the debt limit is going to have to be raised in December 3. There are a lot of challenges here. I will say that White House officials continuously tell me that President Biden, he has all this experience in Washington and that, that is what he`s leaning on to get him through the next few weeks.

WILLIAMS: Sitting here thinking where have we heard those names, Manchin and Sinema before? And then I remembered oh, yeah, every night on this broadcast for the last several weeks. I can`t thank the members of our starting line enough for starting off our conversation tonight. Yamiche Alcindor, Claire McCaskill, Robert Costa, greatly appreciate it.

Coming up for us, our friends, Eugene Robinson and Tim Miller standing by to talk about what new polling on the President`s agenda should mean for Democrats and their messaging, also considering its Democrats who have stalled their own President`s agenda.

And later, one of our nation`s leading vaccine experts tells us everything we need to know about a new study on mixing and matching vaccine brands, which so many people have been asking about. All of it and more as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Wednesday night in view of the White House, West Wing.



WILLIAMS: Republicans are looking to capitalize on President Biden`s struggle to get his agenda through Congress and his own party. A new CNN poll just out today shows Biden`s approval rating still hovering at 50%. Washington Post reports at GOP group with close ties to Mitch McConnell is launching a new ad campaign targeting three vulnerable senators that will, "describe the potential democratic bill as a multi trillion-dollar spending spree and the largest tax increase in decades that will lead to further inflation. It`ll cost you runs the slogan repeated across ads in the series."

So, a lot to talk about. And here with us tonight to do just that. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist for The Washington Post and Tim Miller, Contributor to the Bulwark and the former Communications Director for Jeb Bush.

Gentlemen, welcome. You both have the best words. It`s just that the Pulitzer selection committee hasn`t settled on Tim Miller`s work yet, but we`re going to get there. Speaking of your words, Tim, I`m going to quote from what you wrote for the Bulwark. There`s been no evidence to date that Democrats have a coordinated or even uncoordinated plan to sell this legislation. If anything, they are playing into the Republicans hands by litigating the top line spending number, rather than the more popular particulars of the bill. Tim, what you`re describing has a technical political term for it. And it`s called I believe, piss-poor messaging.

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I mean, I wish I didn`t have to say it, Brian, but it`s just reality. And somebody is, I think, going to shake him into reality. So, you know, maybe it`ll be up to us? I don`t know. But here`s the thing, the message coming from the Republicans, if you look at the article in The Washington Post, he laid out is very simple. Socialism, big government and inflation. Everybody can get it. They don`t need to even know what`s in the bill to understand what the criticism of it, it might be bad faith. You know, it might be BS, but it does. That doesn`t matter. We`re talking about trying to win elections here, right? We can quibble over the particulars of the bill later. Well, I`m just talking about the PR and the politics. The Republicans message is clear. The Democrats message is what? I just don`t know, and I don`t think that your viewers know. And it`s because right now they`re arguing over should it be 3.5 trillion, should it be 1.5 trillion, I listened to the segment before and those were the numbers that keep coming up, Paid Family Leave doesn`t seem to get mentioned that much. Child Tax Credit doesn`t seem to get mentioned that much.

The Democrats need a simple message to match inflation and socialism and say we are passing this bill and we`re selling it. It`s going to, you know, there`s going to -- it`s going to bring fairness, you know, it`s going to help working people, whatever it is, you know, the geniuses at the DSCC can come up with what it is, but we need three points that let people know, you know, what the proactive messages here and right now I`m just not seeing it.

WILLIAMS: Eugene indeed, television viewers see a soundbite from Jayapal that Snipes at Manchin and then they see Manchin getting chased into another elevator. But as long as he`s on television that given day, that`s OK. They hear words like reconciliation, that means nothing. We haven`t seen a bridge, a Wi-Fi connection or an airport. So, do you reckon, Gene, this will change at all before the new deadline, which is Halloween to pass infrastructure?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, I think it had better change, or they`re not going to get it thrown, and they`re going to sell it unless they sell it differently. And, you know, what Tim said basically they need to sell the particulars of the bill which are outrageously popular, which people like and they need to pick two or three of them. And just talk about those things. Don`t try to talk about 15 things. Talk about two or three things. And guess what, you could even in subsidiary messages, you can even highlight different parts when you`re talking to your home audience, you know, in your state that might wipe some other party, you know, in California, people might be more concerned about the climate change provisions.


And so, when representatives from California go home that can talk about that. But in terms of the national dialogue, they need to focus on the particulars of the bill, keep it simple, and get punchy. And talk about that. And this debate over 1.5 versus 3.5, or whatever these are largely imaginary numbers, that mean nothing to anybody except their big numbers and stop talking about the big numbers, you know, argue about that, behind closed doors, talk about the bill.

WILLIAMS: Tim, indeed, the air campaign should be on the air in all 50 states with customized ads, as we`ve discussed on this broadcast, groups, like the Lincoln Project are doing the TV ads, democrats are incapable of making they`re on the air in the Virginia governor`s race. Do you think, Tim, the Democrats will eventually get out of their own way?

MILLER: Look, I hope so. And I think that Gene`s point is right about the particulars of the bill. This is not about, you know, coming up with a fancy slogan and go into Madison Avenue or calling in Rick Wilson or whatever. And coming up with a punchy one liner. That`s not what this is. This is about, you know, identifying what these popular policies are, the paid family leave, et cetera. And selling them, look at Obamacare in 2009 as a lesson. For some reason, the Democrats have taken a lesson from that, that they didn`t go big enough. They didn`t do as much as they could have. And maybe that that`s a good lesson for progressive activists.

But for the political types, the lesson needed to be preexisting conditions was popular, staying on your parents` health care until you`re 25 was popular. Affordable Care Act as a term was unpopular. Obamacare as a term was even more unpopular. And maybe there was some racism there. And maybe there was some bad faith on the right for why that was the case. But that was reality, and they got crushed in 2010. So, I think the lesson from that needs to be pick these particulars like, you know, the preexisting condition, provision and sell that and sell it and sell it and sell it for the next 14 months. They have the time to do it. And I hope they can get out of their way and do it, but they`re just not right now.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, the good news is both of these gentlemen have agreed to stick around. I got to fit in a break. We are going to continue our conversation with the news that the Democrats aren`t the only party with trouble going on. Is Trump doing his best to hurt Republican turnout? And who`s going to explain how that works to him?



WILLIAMS: Trump may be the decided favorite to lead the Republican Party through the midterms and on to victory in 2024. But he sure seems to be doing his very best right about now to keep Republican voters at home. The former president was out with this statement today, "If we don`t solve the presidential election fraud of 2020, which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented, Republicans will not be voting in `22 or `24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do."

Thankfully, still with us, Eugene Robinson and Tim Miller. Tim, who`s going to tell them?

MILLER: Well, look, I`m really torn on this one, Brian, because I want Donald Trump to go away more than anybody else, possibly. But man, he`s the best thing that the Democrats have going right now, keeping him around with statements like that for the midterms. And that is a person that is certifiably insane. He has completely lost his grip on reality, the tenuous grip that he ever had at any point.

And look, I think, obviously, we saw the results in Georgia. The Republicans won in the first round in November and both those seats they lost in January, you can only blame Donald Trump for those two seats being lost, you can only blame him for Chuck Schumer being the majority leader right now. And so, you know, he`s looking for a repeat, I guess, I think it`s because he wants everyone to feel like they need them. And he just desires to be needed so badly. The best way to prove that you`re needed is to, you know, point that they lose without him.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, I got one for you. I`m going to play for you part of Adam Schiff on this network earlier today we`ll discuss on the other side.


SCHIFF: I do think though, as time goes by, and it will become increasingly clear, as we gain more perspective, on the last four years, Americans will come to realize what a disastrous presidency Donald Trump`s was, how many people needlessly lost their lives during the pandemic, because of his narcissism and incompetence, but also how his daily dose of bile and poison in the American body politic turned American against American and they will not want to go back to that.


WILLIAMS: Eugene, let`s discuss while exerting tough love as we like to do. One of the words he chose there was Americans will realize, these are times of consequences. That is wishful thinking, which Donald Trump makes a sport of eating for breakfast along with anything else nearby. What about consequences, Eugene?

ROBINSON: Well, there do have to be consequences, consequences for January 6, for example. And there have to be consequences for the disastrous, I think it`s a good word that Adam Schiff uses, his asterisk for your thunder, Donald Trump. But I do agree with Tim, that politically speaking, Donald Trump reappearance is the best thing that Democrats could have happen at a time when they don`t have their act quite together, because one thing that drives democratic turnout is making an election and a referendum on Donald Trump.


And, you know, the other night he had something nice to say about Terry McAuliffe`s opponent in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Glenn Youngkin. I am surprised that you haven`t already seen a call of ad featuring that soundbite and I hope I see one soon. Because the race is closer than a lot of people thought it would be. But one thing that motivates people, it motivates people pro and con, but more con is Donald Trump, a spectrum of Donald Trump. And so, this is a devil`s bargain that the Republican Party has made. And it may ultimately save the ship, but we`ll have to see.

WILLIAMS: That is so right Eugene Robinson and Tim Miller for the win tonight. Great thanks to two friends of this broadcast for coming on and engaging in our conversation.

Coming up for us, what to watch for, as the FDA in its methodical way, makes key decisions on booster shots and mixing and matching vaccine brands when we come back.



JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We estimate that over 7 million Americans will have gotten their booster, including about 3 million just in the last week. We have the vaccine supply, and we will be ready to hit the ground running as soon as any additional boosters are authorized.



WILLIAMS: Ahead of this week`s FDA advisory meetings on recommending Moderna and J&J booster shots, a new clinical study shows, mixing and matching vaccine boosters by brand is safe and effective. Turns out it`s fine.

Back with us, Dr. Peter Hotez, he`s a vaccine scientist, working with a team to develop a low-cost vaccine for global distribution, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children`s, also happens to be in his spare time Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

So, Doctor, here`s a scene I have witnessed, guy goes into a Walgreens and says, I`m a Moderna recipient. Do you have Modern boosters? Woman behind the counter says no, just Pfizer. Guy walks out. So, the new guidance is going to be no, go ahead any brand is better than no booster. Am I correct about that?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yeah, that`s probably the case, Brian. But the truth is, as you heard from Jeff Zients, you know, in the United States anyway, there`s no limit to the amount of vaccine that we have available, they all should be available in abundance. And so, all things being equal, I would tend to err on the side of trying to stick with the same vaccine dose because there`ll be more data available, more safety data, more effectiveness data. But, you know, if you have no other choices, yeah, sure, go ahead with what they call the heterologous boost, mixing and matching.

The one thing that came out with one of the studies today that was that was published in a preprint called medRxiv is it showed possibly that if you got the J&J vaccine, the amount of virus neutralizing antibody with the second dose of J&J was lower compared to the either of the two mRNA vaccines. And so, you`re seeing a lot of press saying that it`s not as good as getting an mRNA is a boost.

And I push back on that a little bit, because the way that was a small study number one, and secondly, you know, the way these adenovirus-vectored vaccines work like the J&J vaccine, the amount of antibody tends to go up over time, and they stopped that study look like after 29 days, whereas in the early studies, you could show that, you know, it started to really go up after 30, 40, 50, even 70 days. So, just to, I think we have to correct that misunderstanding that`s out there in the press, and also with the J&J vaccine, you get a lot of very strong T-cell responses which weren`t measured. So, I think it`s important that we don`t shut the door prematurely on the J&J vaccine.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you for all that. I just learned a bunch of that information for the first time. I want to play for you some comments today from Dr. Walensky, the Director of the CDC. We`ll discuss on the other side.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Despite the recent decrease in cases, most communities across the country are still experiencing substantial to high levels of community transmission, and we`re certainly not at a place where cases are in a control area.


WILLIAMS: So, Doctor, you know how this works. People hear on the news that the news is good that hospitalizations are down, that the daily death toll is stabilizing, somewhat, though it`s still outrageously high, she, it`s her job to worry about community spread. How about a state like the state you`re in now, Texas, how about a region, like the Northeast, community spread is a scary term as we head into the winter season?

HOTEZ: Yeah, you know, Brian, we`re not out of this by any means. Nationally, we`re still at a pretty screaming high level of transmission. You know, more than a year ago, you said that we had 90,000 new cases a day. I mean, I remember when Dr. Fauci first predicted we could get to 100,000 new cases a day and everyone was horrified. And that`s about the level where we`re at right now. So, it`s still a significant level of transmission. Yes, it`s going down, it`s going down with a long tail. It`s still going up, though, across the northern border with Canada and Minnesota, parts of Michigan, Wyoming. And what I`m worried about is you know, too many people are saying this is the this is it, we`re finally out of it. And Mother Nature told us last summer that she`s going to hit us with another epidemic in the south the following summer and she did that. And then we saw that big wave that came in October, November, December and into January. And I think that`s still possible. I think a fifth peak is certainly quite possible. And if it`s going to happen, and we`re going to see it verse movement, we may be seeing the beginnings of that across the northern part of the United States.

So, you know, unfortunately, we you know, some people are high fiving them -- high fiving each other saying that we vaccinated 57% of the U.S. population. I`m looking at this and said oh my God, we`ve only vaccinated 57% of the U.S. population because that means 43% is unvaccinated. So, there`s a lot of warm water for that hurricane. The Passover is a lot of unvaccinated people. So, we are not even close to being out of this yet.


WILLIAMS: Perfect way of putting it. There`s also the CDC study out of Arizona, they found that schools without a mask requirement were three and a half times likelier to have a COVID outbreak. I don`t know about Yale educated doctors, but I hear something like that. And I respond by saying, duh, you too?

HOTEZ: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we`ve been saying this so long that, you know, if we really want to get our kids through the school year, through in-person classes, which everybody understands the importance of, you`ve got to put the policies in place to make the students and the teachers successful. And it`s not that complicated. Everyone who walks into the school who`s eligible has to be vaccinated, and everyone who walks into the school has to have a mask on with the possible exception of some of the special needs kids who can handle masks, but everyone has to be masked. Everyone has to be vaccinated, then we can get our kids through the school year. And if you don`t, we`ve already seen what happens. We`ve had to shut down a lot of schools prematurely because so many kids get COVID.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Peter Hotez, you`re always so generous with your time. Thank you so much for taking our questions tonight. And every time you appear on our broadcast. Our guest tonight, Dr. Peter Hotez from Texas.

Coming up, if your kids don`t get what they are hoping for this holiday season, try telling them it`s a supply chain issue that should go over well.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned earlier, the President is home to take the kinks out of the supply chain in time for holiday gift giving to which the supply chain responded. Good luck with that.


The Port of Los Angeles will now run 24/7. President is calling on the private sector to pitch in and help as well. But there are real questions about whether it`s enough to make a difference. We get our reports tonight from Correspondent Miguel Almaguer in Los Angeles.


MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the LA traffic jam creating shipping gridlock across the nation facing a crash of cargo backed up for miles and for months. The White House meeting today with some of the country`s largest shipping carriers and authorities at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Announcing operations here will run 24/7 to ease the massive backlog.

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Today`s announcement has the potential to be a game changer. I say potential because all of these goods won`t move by themselves.

ALMAGUER: That complex delays at the nation`s busiest ports accounting for 40% of the country`s container traffic affects consumers from coast to coast. Bins filled with everyday products from electronics to apparel may not make it onto store shelves or front porches in time for the holidays.

At Lay-n-Go there`s demand but little supply.

ADAM FAZACKERLEY, LAY-N-GO, COO & CO-FOUNDER: Everything has been breaking down. We are trying to be resilient, which we always are a small business, but it`s affecting us being able to do our job.

ALMAGUER: Products are just harder to get but more expensive, inflation at a 13 year high. Prices for beef and bacon used cars, gas even furniture all up double digits. The Social Security Administration announcing its largest cost of living adjustment in nearly 40 years.

Have you ever seen a backlog like this?

NOEL HACEGABA, PORT OF LONG BEACH DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Never. We`ve never seen anything like this.

ALMAGUER: To help us the bottleneck. The White House says the Longshoreman`s Union has agreed to work around the clock, Walmart, FedEx and UPS also committing to work off peak hours with other major national retailers to follow suit.

HACEGABA: Everything we`re seeing today was induced by the pandemic. Right now, we`re on track to handle 20 million container units in Southern California. We`ve never handled anything close to that.

ALMAGUER: To help ensure shelves are stocked and deliveries do arrive freight and trucking commitments to move parcels from ports across rails and highways must also be secured, fast tracking the tangled web of Trans- Pacific and cross country shipping a monumental task.

THOMAS GOLDSBY, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE-KNOXVILLE HASLAM COLLEGE OF BUSINESS: But something like the Python trying to swallow the alligator. That`s the kind of volume that we`re trying to send through our ports right now.

ALMAGUER: Tonight, the promise of progress at some of the nation`s busiest ports as the country hopes officials can deliver.

(On camera): Officials tell us there`s more than 60 of these massive cargo ships out at sea. It takes a couple of days to unload each one. At that pace we`re saying the backlog won`t be clear until the middle of next summer.


WILLIAMS: Good imagery there with the Python and the alligator, something to remember come Christmas time. With our thanks to Miguel Almaguer for that report from the port of La tonight. Coming up for us, the story people didn`t want us to talk about with you here tonight.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, earlier today, a bunch of people in the judgmental, self-righteous, sanctimonious corner of Twitter, which is about 90% of Twitter, we`re saying things like if you people in the news media spend any time covering a celebrity going into space on a billionaire`s rocket, that`s time you`re not spending covering the attack on our democracy.

A couple of things here, first off, everybody come down. Also Have some respect for our audience. This is why newspapers have sections. It`s why we have dessert. This is a story about a new era of space travel, no different than the first automobiles or passenger jets.

Today, a 90-year-old man, a household name and an icon at that was moved to tears by what he saw and experienced. Only 597 humans have ever been to space. There are 10 of them orbiting the Earth tonight. But until today, William Shatner, who we will forever associate with space, hadn`t been to space himself and to say it changed him as an understatement.


WILLIAM SHATNER, "STAR TREK" ACTOR: You`re going 2000 miles an hour, so you`re through 50 miles, and suddenly through the blue, and you`re into black, and you`re into, you know, it`s rods mysterious and galaxies and things. But what you see is black. And what you see down there is light.


SHATNER: So much larger than the lease of life and hasn`t got anything to do with the little green roof or the -- it has nothing to do. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death. the moment that you see how -- the vulnerability of everything is (inaudible). This air, which is keeping us alive, is thinner than your skin. It`s a sliver, it`s a miserably small when you think in terms of the universe. What you have given me is the most profound experience. It`s odd, I`m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just -- it`s extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don`t want to lose it.


WILLIAMS: At the age of 90, Captain Kirk to take us off the air tonight. And our coverage of the attack on our democracy will now continue.

That is our broadcast for this Wednesday evening, with our thanks to you for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.