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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/26/21

Guests: Robert Costa, Lisa Lerer, Stuart Stevens, Robert Wachter


The Justice Department has released new police body camera footage from the January 6 assault on the US Capitol. Democrats inch closer to deal on massive social spending plan. President Biden was in Virginia tonight, campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, and trying to tie his opponent to the former President. But time is running out for his legislative priorities as Congress tries to strike a spending deal.




BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 280 of the Biden administration and there is breaking news indeed tonight in the January 6 investigation. Washington Post reporting the House Select Committee expected to subpoena one John Eastman. He is the pro Trump lawyer who outlines scenarios for overturning the election results in Trump`s favor.

The Post reports quote, it will happen share Bennie Thompson said in an interview Tuesday of a subpoena for Eastman, who played a key role in the legal operation that was run out of a command center at the Willard Hotel in Washington in the days and hours leading up to January 6.

House investigators are also focusing on getting more witnesses to cooperate. Earlier today that committee chairman said some of those witnesses have been coming in without being asked without being subpoenaed. Even earlier this evening, one committee member was a bit more forthcoming about their focus.


REP. PETE AGUILAR (D) JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We have had dozens of interviews with individuals. Every day, you know, we are reaching out we are pulling these threads to find out what transpired. And those interviews and those discussions are leading to more discussions. Within the Department of Homeland Security is we want to know about the intelligence issues. We want to know what intelligence was out there, which was sent over to Capitol Police what was not, and we want to know their role between the Election Day and January 5 and January 6. They play a key role and so we`ve asked them questions. We`ve asked questions of the National Archives, as well for DHS material.


WILLIAMS: The Committee and a good many other people are also watching the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland as they weigh in whether or not to prosecute Steve Bannon for defying the committee`s subpoena.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): They`ve got run their traps on all of the guidelines for deciding on a criminal prosecution in a case like that. We think it`s an open and shut case. We have other sanctions available to us that we will use either in his case or in the case of other people who decide that they`re too good for the justice process of United States and to grid for a congressional subpoena.


WILLIAMS: The federal criminal investigation into the Capitol Riot has been focused on the lawless brutality of the assaults on police officers. Today prosecutors released a new video of yet another view of what law enforcement was up against as they battled with pro Trump rioters.

In other political news this evening, we`re now just one week out from election day the race for governor of Virginia has become something of a bellwether for Democrats and Republicans looking ahead to the midterms in 2022. Admittedly, largely because the news media have decided it`s a bellwether.

Tonight the President was back in Virginia to campaign for Terry McAuliffe. He`s in a tight race with his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin, who has - - which has raised alarms among Democrats as you might imagine. During the rally, Biden made a point of putting the focus on former President Trump.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Terry is running against an acolyte of Donald Trump. To win the Republican nomination he embraced Donald Trump. Terry`s opponent has made all of his private pledges of loyalty to Donald Trump. And but what`s really interesting to me, he won`t stand next to Donald Trump now that the campaigns on. Think about it. He won`t allow Donald Trump to campaign for him in this state.


WILLIAMS: Youngkin held his own rally tonight. He`s been endorsed by Trump not once but several times. This election is also being seen as a test of Biden`s domestic priorities and all of them are being held up by Democrats. Today, the President continued negotiating with members of his own party in an effort to try to make those priorities the law of the land.

Biden met with groups of liberal and House Democrats, moderates, as well to resolve their differences over health care coverage, green energy, paid leave, plans to overhaul the tax code and the like. The program couldn`t top 2 trillion but it`s much smaller than the President and his party had first envisioned or wanted for that matter.

Democrats are also trying to hash out ways to pay for it all from a tax on billionaires to a 15 percent corporate minimum tax rate on corporations.


And while it`s kind of a given, we`ll go ahead and say it anyway. Biden also met this evening with Manchin and Sinema. So far neither seems quite ready to sign off on the revised spending plan. Meanwhile, their majority leader says progress is being made.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I know that Democrats in both chambers are working really hard to get this consequential, desperately needed legislation across the finish line. I believe the final deal is within reach.


WILLIAMS: Also, tonight, we may be on the brink of seeing COVID vaccines authorized for millions of younger children. Tonight, advisors to the FDA have indeed recommended Pfizer`s vaccine for children`s five to 11 years of age. Agency is all but certain to grant emergency authorization for the vaccine. Perhaps as soon as this week the CDC will then meet early next week to announce their guidelines for its use usage.

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Tuesday night. Jonathan Lemire, veteran White House reporter who officially took over as the newly minted host of this network`s 5:00 show, appropriately named "Way Too Early." Just this week, he also just joined Politico as White House Bureau Chief, Robert Costa, national political reporter with The Washington Post, his latest book, co-authored with Bob Woodward, "Peril" is now in its fourth week on The New York Times bestseller list. And Lisa Lerer, national political correspondent for The New York Times, good evening, and welcome to you all.

And Mr. Costa, because it`s your papers reporting tonight that we lead with. And because it`s your book, which basically told the story of the command center across the street from the White House, more or less at the Willard Hotel, I`d like to begin with you. Let`s talk about this potential Eastman subpoena. What more can you tell us about it and him?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: This is an important crossroads for the January 6 Committee to try to figure out what were the discussions like beyond what has already been reported on the night of January 5, on the day of January 6, about not just having President Trump to block Biden certification, but maybe even move the election into the House of Representatives.

Bob Woodward and I in our book, revealed the Eastman memo this two-page six-part plan to have Pence put into motion, something that would have likely caused a devastating constitutional crisis and the committee is now turning not just to the police officers on the scene, and others who are part of the riot, the insurrection, but also to those on the legal and political side.

WILIAMS: Lisa, you covered the McAuliffe rally tonight. I`m told Democrats are worried. McAuliffe looks exhausted. He has met a few -- he has made a few unforced errors thus far in the campaign, so is pinning the Republican candidate to Donald Trump. No other way to ask this the best they`ve got at this point.

LISA LERER, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s really the only play they have. I mean, what was really striking about tonight`s rally was that President Biden`s spent the bulk of his time not talking about his own legislative agenda, this congressional package that really encompasses the bulk of his domestic priorities.

But the guy he ran against last year, Donald Trump, and that was really the focus of his remarks was trying to tie Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump. I mean, look, Democrats know that Donald Trump was the best motivator their party had, it drove voters to the polls and record numbers, breaking records in Virginia every year for the past four years. And they`re hoping that they can sort of repeat that and provide this boost of enthusiasm for their base that you really need in this kind of off fear election.

But of course, Donald Trump is not on the ballot, and this will really be a test of how resonant he remains in voter`s minds. You know, now that he`s off in Mar-a-Lago.

WILLIAMS: Cuts both ways, indeed, Jonathan Lemire, as I welcome you to the dark side, I want to ask you, what does this possible subpoena of a guy like Eastman mean about the intent and speed of this one, six committee?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC "WAY TO EARLY" HOST: Well, thank you, Brian. I appreciate all of that. I mean, it shows that the John Eastman is certainly not just going to be content to with the headlines out of the referral for criminal prosecution of Steve Bannon. That, of course has been a central focus to this point Bannon refusing to testify now could face criminal charges, convicted even a year in prison.

He has told cool people close to him though, I`ve reported, that he`d welcome that, that he wouldn`t be embraced the idea of being a MAGA martyr, if you will.

As far as Eastman goes, that goes to show that the breadth of this investigation is continuing to grow, that it won`t just be the boldface names Eastman is someone who a lot of Americans hadn`t heard of until Bob Costa and his colleague Bob Woodward eliminated his memo in their terrific new book.


And it goes to show that they are -- they`re taking the seriousness of this plot as successful as it ended up being to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden`s victory. And it`s about what`s happened January 6, and the events that right up to it, and bring those responsible to justice, perhaps, or at least hold them accountable. But it`s also about trying to stop what could happen again in 2022, and 2024.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Costa, I`d like to play for you something we heard earlier today from veteran fed Neal Katyal, now a lawyer in private practice, but knows his way around DOJ. He talked about the possibility of a DOJ investigation into the former president.


NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: America, Roland is just about the most cautious principle with careful person in this town. So it`s possible that he has an investigation that hasn`t, you know, gone public, but at some point, patience runs in and the investigation has to take shape.


WILLIAMS: Indeed, general garland is a patient man to patient for the likes of so many Democrats these days who want action and consequences now, but Robert, talk about the kinds of pressure the AG is under right now.

COSTA: The AG is under enormous pressure from Democrats and some Republicans who are critics of Trump, because they`re looking at what the Department of Justice is doing hundreds of people arrested for participating in the insurrection. And we have seen the DOJ be very aggressive. We`ve seen the arrests in different kinds of footage.

The question now facing Garland is this, beyond those who were participating in the violent scene, what about those who are inside the room? And is there a crime of conspiracy to defraud the United States, it`s a crime to try to defraud the United States, to commit fraud to try to deceive the country itself to deceive the leadership of the government, the Congress, and is Garland want to go down that path. I don`t have reporting on that front.

But you can see at this point, the Justice Department in a decision making position, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about just how far they want to go. But as a reporter, I would step back and just say, I spent nine or 10 months with Woodward, looking into this. This was an insurrection that was across so many different fronts, the president pressuring the Vice President, the DOJ, state officials, the courts, the Congress, I`m not here to define it as a conspiracy. But I will tell you, it was a coordinated pressure campaign, based in our reporting directed from the person at the top, Trump.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you for that answer. Hey, Lisa, we`re looking at the talks between the liberals and the moderates. Among the Democrats, and we keep saying night after night, there`s no one else to blame for the blockage of the President`s agenda other than his own party, we know what to expect from the Republicans.

A casual observer sees programs in the news every day, being tossed over the side. And every day that happens that someone`s pet program from the First Lady to major members of the Senate and House. Do you think this will fuzz up the message? Do you think by the time they get done, they will have tossed out too much balanced against what the President`s initial views were?

LERER: Well, certainly some progressives feel that way. And we saw Bernie Sanders show a little bit more than annoyance today, when they were talking about throwing out a program that he`s advocated really hard from, for which was expanding dental coverage and for Medicare recipients.

You know, he started this negotiation saying 7 trillion that was really a fictitious number. He was never going to get that. But he saw 3.5 trillion, which was the initial size of the package as a compromise. The question will be how the American public perceives it. I think the administration set this up, they really fostered this parallel. They encouraged us parallel, that President Biden was like FDR was going to pass this sweeping domestic program.

So even though the number they`re all circling around now, 1.75 is a really big number. That is a big, big package. It may not feel that way. Now that these programs have been pared down from pretty expansive campaign promises, but we`ll have to see right now they have no package and that`s something that the McAuliffe people and Democrats in Virginia and elsewhere say is really hurting them. And that state that as you pointed out in the intro we`re all going to look to look to is a bellwether of what could come in the midterms.

WILLIAMS: Yes, to mimic a phrase from Washington and about half a century ago billion here, billion there pretty much. Pretty soon you`re talking about real money.


Jonathan Lemire, a quote from your new employer union, your new publication and that`s Politico, quote, some Democrats involved in conversations with the White House were less optimistic, openly fretting that talks risk losing momentum and stalling out if they aren`t done by the time Biden gets on that plane. They mean this week to Europe, they`re in hand to hand combat. The ammo is all gone. They`ve switched to bayonets. They`re just trying to get it done, said John Podesta, founder of the progressive Think Tank Center for American Progress. It`s got to be a lot of it made Pedesta go military there, Jonathan Lemire. What reporting have you that they are any closer today really than they were yesterday or last Friday night?

LEMIRE: Yes, bayonet, certainly a strong image, Brian. There is some concern because there`s a trio of deadlines, transportation bill funding runs out at the end of the month. That`s number one. Number two, the race we`ve been talking about, the Virginia governor`s race with Terry McAuliffe, literally pleading, taking this unusual step of begging the White House and congressional Democrats to get this done, at least passed the infrastructure part of it, if not the reconciliation bill to give him something to run, which shows the alarm he`s -- he is experiencing about his candidacy. And then of course, he asked the President on Thursday, heads to Europe, Rome, first audience with the Pope, and then the G20. Summit, although Xi Jinping won`t be there, so that takes out some of the heat of it. The President does have a meeting with French President Macron, which could be a little awkward at the left fair submarines.

And then, of course, the climate summit in Scotland. And he`s really hoping to go there to reestablish America`s moral leadership on the issue. That`ll be hard to do if the climate provisions are all stripped out of the reconciliation bill, or if there is no bill at all.

So yes, there was optimism last week that they were close. And I think there`s been -- my reporting suggested incremental progress last couple of days, but still a long way to go about how this is going to get paid for, about the fate of the family leave, about the child tax credit, how long that will be in there.

This is not a done deal. And though Sinema and Manchin have both privately signaled they think they can get there and maybe even this week, some of the progressives who have been accommodating to this point are saying, not so fast. We don`t want to give away the store. President Biden, he wants this done before he leaves Thursday morning. He`s got work to do.

WILLIAMS: Our starting line on a Tuesday night, Robert Costa, Lisa Lerer and our newest co-worker, the bilingual Jonathan Lemire. Our thanks gang for starting us off tonight. Coming up for us some surprising words from Joe Manchin as the Democrats get closer to a deal we are told on Capitol Hill. We`ll get a read from our political experts.

And later why California Doctor known to be cautious about COVID thinks we`ve reached a point where this may just be our life now. We`ll have him explain all of it as the 11th Hour is just now getting underway on this Tuesday night beneath the rotors of Marine One.




SCHUMER: I know that Democrats in both chambers are working really hard to get this consequential, desperately needed legislation across the finish line. No one ever told us no, one ever said that passing transformational legislation like this would be easy. But we aren`t are on track to get it done because it`s so important.


WILLIAMS: President leaves for Europe on Thursday with his economic agenda still very much up in the air. He would like to sign a bill at this point, any bill prior to his departure. And so to that end, he had his usual house guests over tonight, Sinema and Manchin in the Oval Office or as they call it, Tuesday.

Here to talk about it, Juanita Tolliver, veteran political strategist to progressive candidates and causes and Stuart Stevens, veteran of the Mitt Romney and George W. Bush Presidential campaigns, who is these days with the Lincoln Project. His latest book, and it`s an important one is, "It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump." Well, good evening, and welcome to you both.

Juanita, we`re going to have sore feelings on both sides is whatever the President is going to sign still a victory?

JAUNITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Right. Like, I don`t think it can be underscored enough that one Democrats are pulling this load all by themselves to make investments that are critical for the American public. But two, these investments are still historic. I think in conversations with folks like Representative Presley about all of the things that are still included here now negotiations aren`t done. And as Representative Jayapal said last week, it`s not all done unless it`s all agreed to by everyone, then we will have a final picture.

But short of that final picture, what we still have is going to have a large impact on people`s lives. And that`s what`s going to matter a year from now in the midterms is the impact that Democrats are going to be able to deliver through legislation like the Build Back Better Act.

WILLIAMS: Stuart, I brought something for you. This is -- these are the comments of Joe Manchin during Q&A in front of the Economic Club of Washington today, we`ll discuss on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So have you ever thought my life would be easier for you if you shifted to being a Republican? And somebody have said recently that, you know, people have approached you about doing that.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you thinking about do it?

MANCHIN: No. I`ve never thought from this. I mean, what I`m telling you now is who I am, do you think by having a D or an I or an R is going to change who I am? I don`t think the Rs be any more happier with me than these are right now. OK, I mean, that`s about as blunt as I can put it. So I don`t know where in the hell I belong. But let`s go to an ease.


WILLIAMS: Stuart, a snarky person would say there`s no reason for him to change parties now that he`s discovered he can stop an entire President`s agenda as one guy in the Democratic Senate. But let`s get beyond that. That kind of hail fellow well met, mansion exterior, hides a lot of long knives that are out for him in Washington right now. And sooner or later, he`s going to have to come around and agree to something.

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Yes, I think so. Look, we have to live in the real world. West Virginia with Donald Trump`s best state.


If you didn`t have Joe Manchin there, you`d have probably some whack job Republican who, you know, would be nothing but a Trumper. So, I think Democrats have to look at Joe Manchin and think, look, this could be worse. You know, he`s not somebody that may be completely in lockstep with the party. But that`s necessary -- not necessarily a bad thing. You want somebody to represent West Virginia.

The important thing here is, you know, the Democrats control government right now, barely, but they still do. And the perception is they do, and they`ve got to get something passed here. This is very popular stuff that they`re fighting for here. I mean, the anti-dental care and anti-health benefits lobby is pretty small among people. You know, people like pre-K care, they want more child tax credits. So they need to get into defending what this is about, and get it done and move on.

WILLIAMS: And to that end, Juanita, how much harder is it with each passing day you went through the steps? You went through the sticking points you quoted, Congresswoman Jayapal, but it`s about to be Wednesday.

TOLLIVER: It`s about to be Wednesday. But let`s be real, they have a lot more work to do but it`s within their grasp, Brian. Right. This is the closest that they`ve been to deal. And even though they find themselves in a similar situation, like in September, where you have progressive saying, Hey, we`re not voting on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Build Back Better Act is ready to run alongside it. Difference is that language is in a much further place than it was before granted, there are still big holes to fill progress has been made.

I do think progressives are right to hold out on a vote tomorrow and have another showdown with Speaker Pelosi because as they`ve been saying this whole time, we are not going to leave anyone behind. That is the ethos behind these investments anyway. And that`s something that all Democrats should be supportive of.

So as they go into the negotiating these last pieces, whether it`s the billionaire tax, whether it`s paid leave, whether it`s Medicare expansion, put the people first, because that is who is going to, one, be holding you accountable or rewarding you with reelection. And I have to say, as Manchin finds himself in sustaining the limelight in this moment, I`m not sure the GOP would have him after voting twice to convict Trump, as well as against his let his singular legislative achievement in the 2017 tax bill, as well as for investigating January 6, right, like the GOP likely wouldn`t have mentioned even if he tried to get over there at this point. He should love the one he`s with, negotiate in good faith with Democrats and get this deal done.

WILLIAMS: Look, who`s defending Joe Manchin. I`m checking the time right now. All right, Stuart, I`m coming to you after this break. Both of our guests have agreed to stay with us. We`re going to continue our conversation to wit. Coming up the issues and the final days of the campaign that some, i.e., the news media have called the unofficial start of the midterm elections.




BIDEN: He started this campaign by saying that the number one issue in the race was is called the election -- he called for election integrity. This guy started he`s calling for election integrity. Now, why did he do that? Because he wanted to hear Donald Trump, who was a price he`d have to pay for the nomination. And he paid it. But now he doesn`t want to talk about Trump anymore. Well, I do.

Talk about an oxymoron Donald Trump and election integrity.


WILLIAMS: President Biden tonight in Virginia trying to tie the Republican candidate in the race to Trump and trying to help his friend Terry McAuliffe win the election there. Politico puts the stakes like this. A win for Youngkin, Biden`s aides and allies say may not scuttle his domestic agenda, but it would be the first domino to fall foreshadowing potential problems with the party`s plan midterm quest to paint Republicans as too extreme to govern.

Still with us, Juanita Tolliver and Stuart Stevens. Stuart, I brought along a little something for you. And something tells me you`re already familiar with it. Here is the latest production of the Lincoln Project.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Donald, it`s happening again. You need Glenn Youngkin.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBENATORIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump endorsed me the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without you he was nothing gave him power.

YOUNGKIN: And I thanked him for it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s why Glenn Youngkin has banned you from coming to Virginia. He thinks you`re a loser. And you`ll make him one too. You`re not welcome. He`s embarrassed of you. He wants you to stay away not far away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Glenn Youngkin just another rhinos stabbing in the bash.


WILLIAMS: Stuart, I`ll admit the turnip truck just this minute dropped me off. If I didn`t know better, I would think that spot is aimed at just one viewer and maybe part of time ad buy in say, I don`t know, Florida television markets.

STEVENS: Yes, you know, I mean, Glenn Youngkin, he ran as the President said, as a Trump guy. Now he doesn`t want Donald Trump to campaign with him. You don`t see Terry McAuliffe running against away from President Biden or other Democrats. Look, the reality is, there`s a one term governor of Virginia. Glenn Youngkin, an ambitious guy. If he wins this race, he`s going to immediately start running for his next office. And to do that in the Republican Party, you have to do crazy stuff.

I mean, look at Abbott in Texas. Abbott is a crazy guy, but he`s doing crazy stuff. I mean, he has a daughter that he would put a bounty on. I mean, it`s really where the party is now. And Donald Trump is on the ballot this Tuesday, just as he was on the ballot, November 3 and 2020. And Republicans have this need now to please Trump that they can`t get away from and that`s reality. Terry McAuliffe will be a good solid governor. Glenn Youngkin is going to be an ambitious Republican who`s going to do what I could do stuff, like you see it right now, you know, trying to make people afraid of Tony Morrison.


WILLIAMS: And Stuart, you see this as the play remaining for the Democrats in this race. Just go ahead and pound Trump over the finish line.

STEVENS: Yes, I would put Trump on the ballot because that`s really what the race is about. Trump lost two by 10 points on November 3 2020. Say why do you want to -- if you didn`t vote for Trump last time, why would you vote for him on November 2, 2021?

WILLIAMS: Juanita got something for you. It`s our colleague, former Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill earlier on this network.


CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Culture wars have been working for the Republican Party. They no longer talk about economics or deficits, or trade policy, or foreign policy. It is all about phony culture wars. I do think we should look and see what the Republicans have done with culture wars and take that part of that fight that most Americans agree with us whether it`s guns, or whether it`s reproductive freedom, or whether it`s access to vote. Those are all important issues in culture wars, and we should make them much more front and center than we have.


WILLIAMS: So we need to in keeping with my theory that Democrats culturally are all former student council presidents, they are terrible at this. They have failed miserably at this. Do you think with the right coach, they could learn to run on something like this, like they`re being run against?

TOLLIVER: Yes. And right, Brian, like I don`t want the Democratic Party to ever dumb itself down to the point of only speaking through language that would resonate with let`s be real, the deepest, darkest worst parts of people, which is what the GOP does. So while in still talking about issues that matter, still talking about substance that matters, sure, there is absolutely a space to tap into the very real impact and very real fears that people see.

I think you saw that in 2018, actually, and again, it`s 2020. Right. Biden`s team in 2020 was a return to normal. In 2018 it was about women, taking back all the seats that we saw Republicans taking and emphasizing the power of women, as well as all of the ways that Trump is horrible and wrong and toxic.

And I still think Trump is toxic as to what was saying for the Virginia gubernatorial race. And that is why Biden was explicitly right and lifting the veil on who Youngkin is and tying him to Trump. I think that the President said it absolutely. When he said extremism comes in many forms, including a smile and a sweater vest, right? Like that is who Youngkin is. He`s trying to say hey, I`m just a suburban dad, when in reality, we know he`s anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality, and anti, so many things that are fundamental to just basic existence in the Commonwealth of Virginia that the state house under Democratic control has been able to implement.

So I appreciate a McAuliffe`s campaign team passing out copies of beloved to the press tonight. I appreciate them already hitting that button back against Youngkin and to continue to beat that drum, because that is what Democrats should do to get them over the finish line. Show the voters who Youngkin is, remind him of every lie of Trump`s that he spread, remind them that Trump has endorsed him six times and run all of those clips back from the primary as well as him selling his base of voters that he absolutely is coming for basic rights of people in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

WILLIAMS: Hard to believe we`re back to book banning. Next up we`ll be debating fluoride in the water at this rate. Our thanks to these two friends of our broadcast, Juanita Tolliver and Stuart Stevens. Great. Thanks for joining us and participating in our conversation.

Another break for us and coming up, what if our current pandemic situation is as good as it`s ever going to get. We`re going to speak with a leading academic physician who says it may be time to resume living in what he calls the new normal.



WILLIAMS: As a steady drop in New COVID cases fuel some cautious optimism out there even though our daily death toll around 1,500, 1,600 souls. Health experts are beginning to prepare for what comes next. Our next guest is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle under the eye catching headline. This is it is the consensus among COVID experts. The article includes a recent post from one of those experts, Dr. Bob Wachter, who wrote quote, for the past 18 months my personal COVID choices, very cautious, were driven by prospects of lowered risk in the future, mostly via vaccines. My current view is that we`re nearing a new normal at least for the next few years. It drives me to choices on travel, dining, et cetera, that feel right long term.

For more, we welcome to our broadcast the aforementioned Dr. Bob Wachter, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF University of California, San Francisco, also one of the Bay Area`s leading experts on this virus. Doctor, thanks very much for coming on. Explain to our viewers the difference between pandemic and endemic and explain please your position that this may be our life now and how you got there.

DR. ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIR OF THE DEPT. MEDICINE UCSF: Yes, thanks, Brian. I hope not. I hope it gets better. We need to continue to work on vaccinating more people and, and being careful. But my fear is that we may be reaching a point where there are enough unvaccinated people and delta is infectious enough that we kind of reach of an equilibrium, it`s not a great equilibrium, we would want the fire has to go away and bring us back to what life was like two years ago.

But the problem is 40 percent of the country is still unvaccinated. Delta is incredibly infectious. And I think we may be reaching a point where we have swings back and forth, where certain places like San Francisco where I live, 80 percent of people are vaccinated, that`s awfully good, but not high enough to make the virus go away. Other parts of the country where you have only 30 or 40 percent of people vaccinated, a lot of people been infected. They have some level of immunity, but it`s going to wane over time.

So we`re talking about needing to give people boosters, trying to get people who got immune from their cases, vaccinated in the first place. And I liken it a little bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, you sort of reach a point where you`re finished and you say you`re good. But then you`ve got to start all over again. And we may be at a point where maybe it gets 20 or 30 percent better maybe gets 20 to 30 percent worse, but unlikely to get 90 percent better than it is now. So we have to start making choices that reflect that this may be what life looks like for the next few years.

WILLIAMS: Of course there`s no good news contained in what you just said, for the people with comorbidities, preexisting conditions, they`re going to remain scared and weary and at risk. And I guess that`s going to be their lot in life. If we go forward as we are now.

WACHTER: Well, I would see a little bit of good news that if they are fully vaccinated, and if they`re eligible, if they get their boosters, they are incredibly well protected against getting super sick and dying. So, and that`s different than it was a year ago, year and a half ago. So I think that news is good. For the unvaccinated people, I think they`re very likely to get infected at some point. And hopefully they`ll do OK, but there`s obviously a chance that they won`t. As you know, there are new drugs coming down the pike that may lower the chance of getting super sick, if you do get COVID.

So things may get incrementally better. But I don`t know any COVID experts who believe that COVID is going to go away get completely out of our lives. So we`re going to be in this sort of meta stable condition for a while. And to me, the choices I was making six months ago, were -- which were very careful and still are fairly careful, were predicated in part on things are going to get super better. That was before delta. And that was before I realized that perhaps a third, 40 percent of the United States will not take a vaccine. So we`re not going to get to a point where we reach that herd immunity we`ve all counted on and we have to be ready for a future where there`s still some COVID in our lives.

WILLIAMS: So is that stasis you`re talking about? Would it be the same as life during a dangerous, virulent flu season? A word I hate to invoke because we lost so much time and so many lives with a president who was bound and determined to compare COVID to the flu. But in terms of being germ aware, in terms of getting a yearly shot, could it be a flu-like member of working society?

WACHTER: Yes, I think the best projections we have out there are that it would -- it might get to be like a really bad flu year 50, 60 80,000 people dying in the United States a year so we`re talking pretty terrible. And I think now that we`ve experienced a pandemic, I think it`s pretty likely that for older people who are being careful, they will be fully vaccinated, and they will choose to wear masks, for example, if you see an uptick in COVID cases. I think people are going to follow COVID reports like they follow weather reports and say, OK, you know, things are getting a little bit worse in my community, it`s time to be more careful again.

So I think we`re going to be in a world where there still is COVID as there is flu where people are going to need boosters. And but for people that are fully vaccinated, and if they are eligible, take boosters, they will be quite safe against getting very sick and dying. I worry a lot about the people who are unvaccinated. I think most of them will end up getting COVID. Most of them will survive and do OK. But they may have the illusion that they are immune. They have partial immunity, but it`s looking like their immunity is waning after a year. So they really need to get vaccinated if they don`t they will continue to be vulnerable.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for that. It`s an educated prognostication. And thank you very much for agreeing to come on with us, take our questions and explain your position to our viewers. You`ve given us a lot to think about Dr. Bob Wachter --

WACHTER: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: -- our guest tonight from the Bay Area. Coming up for us, very shortly it`s going to be very important that you bring two critical things to the airport when you travel, a valid form of ID and your face.



WILLIAMS: The most recent progressive insurance and part of that fabulous series about people becoming their parents makes note of the fact that older folks still like those paper tickets at the airport. Increasingly though your boarding passes on your phone, and even that might be yielding to the future. Delta Airlines for example, now rolling out a new program that uses facial recognition in place of travel documents. NBC News correspondent Tom Costello has our report from Atlanta tonight.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just in time for the holiday travel rush Delta Airlines and the TSA taking facial recognition to the next level.

(on camera): State of the art technology rolling out here in Atlanta also Detroit.

(voice-over): For those who opt in, no more scanning your paper ticket or mobile boarding pass. All you`ll need is your face.

(on camera): Passengers will check in using the phone app with their passport photo on file. Once here, no need to show your driver`s license to an agent, simply walk up to the kiosk, drop your mask. The camera then compares your face with the photo on file and spits out your bag tag.

(voice-over): Put the bag on the belt and off it goes. To join the program, you must be a Delta SkyMiles member and have TSA Pre-Check then just upload your passport. Security checkpoints also get easier.

(on camera): Once you`re in the TSA Pr-eCheck lane, you simply walk up to the camera, take off your mask.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And come on through.

COSTELLO: And you`re through.

(voice-over): The TSA says biometric scanners are faster and more accurate than manually checking IDs, speeding passengers through airports and onto planes.

(on camera): When you show up at your gate, no phone, no ticket. You simply walk up to the camera take off your mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome aboard, sir.

COSTELLO: You`re done. A lot of people may be concerned about their photograph in your system for privacy reasons.

RANJAN GOSWAMI, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT DELTA AIRLINES: Absolutely. We in fact, do not store any imagery of any customer. All we do is once this kiosk takes your photo, it maps that photo with what Customs has in their database based on your passport information.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Soon, Delta and the TSA plan to expand to New York`s LaGuardia Airport, Minneapolis, LAX and other hubs taking facial recognition from the curb to the jet bridge. Tom Costello, NBC News Atlanta.


WILLIAMS: By the way, what could go wrong with those kiosks? They always work at the airport. Coming up for us, what happened in this room today that caused such instance and intense outrage?



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, Krysten Sinema is back in the news and getting talked about a lot tonight which always seems kind of fine with Kyrsten Sinema. Late today, she and her wing man, Joe Manchin, had the latest in what seemingly have become daily meetings in the Oval Office with the president all the while assuring us it`s not about them.

Except that today when she took her turn presiding over the U.S. Senate. It was about her and her choice of clothing. And that would be a black T shirt and a denim vest and the reaction was immediate. Ron FilipKowski posted it saying quote, at this point she`s just telling us she doesn`t give a blank anymore. Jezebel describe the embroider denim vest as looking like it could be worn by an early American Idol contestant, a tailgater, a barback at a really jaunty dive bar or a clothing hanger that never gets touched at L- Train vintage. Others weighed in, denim vest. New low for the U.S. Senate. For what it`s worth, I don`t think any man would get away with that.

Nothing against a denim vest but presiding over the U.S. Senate in one is embarrassing, just like everything Senator Sinema does. And how about these, she should have patches like NASCAR so we know her who owns her. And it`s definitely more insulting to deny Medicare for all with a denim vest on.

So that`s just a sampling. Lots of talk about what used to be the dress code in the Senate chamber. Relatively little criticism from the Republicans in that chamber. There may be a little sensitivity there because of who they have allowed to preside over the Senate chamber in recent months.

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