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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/28/21

Guests: Ashley Parker, Eugene Daniels, Jackie Alemany, David Plouffe, Mike Murphy, Jon Meacham


Biden begins European trip without action on agenda. House delays vote on infrastructure bill. Biden unveils details of $1.7 trillion economic proposal. Key race marks major test for Democrats and Biden agenda. Biden arrives in Europe for high-stake summits.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That`s tomorrow night 10 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. Watch it, record it, watch it again. I will be watching for the second time tomorrow night. It really is that good. You will learn a lot. I certainly did. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again day 282 of the Biden administration, the President arrived in Rome about two hours ago for the first stop have a five-day European trip. President had hoped that by the time he landed, the House would have voted on his bipartisan infrastructure bill. But tonight, we learned that vote has been delayed again. Right now, the earliest it could take place is next week. No one to blame here but the Democrats.

This morning, Biden visited Capitol Hill to unveiled what he called a new framework for his domestic spending bill, hoping to sway the liberals in the House. They refused to vote on the infrastructure bill until the larger spending measure advances in the Senate.

Biden appeal to his fellow Democrats framing the moment is one that would determine his future and theirs. NBC News reporting, the President told Democrats gathered, I don`t think it`s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities on my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week. After that the President appeared on live television.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: I know where historic economic framework, no one got everything they wanted, including me. But that`s what compromises, that`s consensus. And that`s what I ran on. I`ve long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy. The agenda that`s in these bills is what 81 million Americans voted for.


WILLIAMS: This news $1.75 trillion plan includes priorities like funding for health care, climate change, childcare, universal preschool. The package notably does not include programs like paid family leave and free community college. Tonight, the White House says it is confident the bill will become law.


AMB. SUSAN RICE, WHITE HOUSE DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL DIRECTOR: I`ve been involved in these negotiations for the last many weeks, even months. We believe this framework has the votes that can pass the Senate and pass the House.


WILLIAMS: The two Senate Democrats who held out on supporting the bill were non-committal, you know their names already, Joe Manchin posted this message saying, "As we work through the text of the legislation, I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people."

A statement from his wing woman Kyrsten Sinema, read in part, "we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package. I look forward to getting this done." But earlier tonight, we heard this from the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D) WASHINGTON JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I met with Senator Kyrsten Sinema today, it was a really good meeting. Very productive. And I`ve been talking, as you know, to Joe Manchin, we will deliver both the biff, the infrastructure bill and the remarkably transformational Build Back Better Act. I actually today, I see the end.


WILLIAMS: There is also news tonight on the January 6 investigation and special committee. Washington Post reporting that that committee has postponed tomorrow`s deposition for one Jeffrey Clark. He`s the former Trump DOJ lawyer who was reportedly sought to back up the President`s false claims of election fraud.

NBC News has learned that the Committee expects to subpoena John Eastman, the Trump lawyer who drafted the blueprint to overturn a presidential election.

And there is a new development involving former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to court documents Cuomo has been charged with forcible touching, a mixed misdemeanor sex crime. This of course comes after he resigned in August, following a report from the state attorney general alleging that he sexually harassed multiple women. Cuomo`s attorney responded today saying his client, "never assaulted anyone."

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Thursday night. Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico, co-author of each day`s edition of the playbook and Jackie Alamanni, political reporter for The Washington Post. And the author of the paper`s morning newsletter, the early 202 emphasis on early.

Good evening and welcome to all of you. Ashley, I`d like to begin with you and let`s begin on the Hill. This was billed as almost a locker room scene with the President, members of his party, exhorting them to get this done saying in effect, if you don`t, this could be ballgame. Do you have any reason to disagree with the President`s assessment?


ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: I do not. And you`re right that it was sort of this that from the redout we`ve got and there were members who were chanting, vote, vote, vote. But when you have president, go up to the Hill, use that capital, meet with lawmakers implore them and mean in many ways to do something for his presidency, for their majorities, he didn`t necessarily say it, but for Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia governor`s race, and also so that the U.S. is not embarrassed when he arrives at the Climate Summit in Glasgow basically empty handed and to show his theory of the case that government can work. And you still can`t get a deal that`s a big problem for this President. And one bit of frustration I did pick up in Biden world this evening, was that again, for all his imploring and this was the one of the few times he sort of said, trust me, it`s on me, right? And try to make it more about doing something for him, been for those two senators, where there`s real distrust.

The frustration is that he never really explicitly said the words, you know, I need your vote. I am begging you for my vote. And someone put it to me this evening, that`s kind of politics 101. There were some questions why for that full show, you didn`t kind of take that final extra step that they think could have potentially made a difference.

WILLIAMS: He certainly had a number of votes asked of him and his many decades on the other side, as a member of the U.S. Senate.

Eugene, listening to Ashley`s reporting, no one needs to remind you presidential power is a currency. You spend it when you think there`s going to be a return. So, we have this scene on the Capitol, President and the First Lady get on Air Force One, they land in Rome, nothing, no vote. Is it just because everything including the Democratic Party is broken in 2021 or is there something I`m not seeing here?

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think the thing that was missing from a lot of this conversation between Democrats was trust, right? You had the White House, tell progressives, work with progressives, to this -- to kind of put these two bills in tandem, right? We`re going to pass these bills together, that`s what`s going to happen. And then you also have to ask these same people who are told that these things were put in tandem, that these were going to go together, that there was no pulling these things apart, that now you have to vote for the bill, when I head over to Rome, so that I have a win to give to show people.

And also, you have to take all these cuts, these difficult cuts, that Senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema agreed to, right? That is part of the issue here is that there`s such a lack of trust. And that is why he had to step in, that is why he had to use that presidential capitol, as you put it, to actually kind of make this thing move along. But some folks I`ve talked to is like they want him to do this earlier, right? They wanted him to lean and talk about how important this was earlier, and they`re happy that he`s doing it now. But the process, the timing, doesn`t have to be now, right? They still have negotiating to do. Progressives are really filling themselves. They feel their power, they know that their votes are needed. And they have a lot of things that they still want to put in -- put in and take out of this reconciliation bill before they vote for it. And I think that is one of the things that we`re going to see over the next couple of days.

I don`t think that we`re going to see any kind of vote, like you said, until next week, because I was talking about types of congressmen today who are already heading and members of Congress who are heading home and weren`t expecting to come back tomorrow, anytime this weekend. So, they`re not going to get to this again until next week. That doesn`t really change a lot, right? It change continues the conversation but what it does is that makes voters feel like nothing is happening in Washington, D.C., you promised us Joe Biden that you are going to go there and get things done. And whether it`s fair or not, right? The President only has so much power in this. But they promise that you`re going to make things happen, things are going to get going. And they`re not feeling that and you`re seeing that respecting -- reflected in his polling and how people think he is handling and has handled these negotiations, and his polling and overall.

WILLIAMS: As you know, they`ve always said the most dangerous place in Washington is to get between a member of Congress and the airport on a Thursday night.

Jackie, this somehow brings us to you. I`m curious about your reporting on the Hill, even the atmospheric surrounding the President`s visit, what was said afterwards, and do you care to hazard a guess as to when we will see this vote understanding you`re not being graded on it and it`s a moving target?

JACKIE ALEMANY, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, Brian, well, I think there are two tracks of conversation going on at the moment. One of them actually hit upon which is this major issue of trust. There were lots of lawmakers who liked what Biden had to say. They agree with the framework. They support the framework, even though some of their priorities aren`t reflected in it.


I just got off the phone with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who was pained over paid family leave not being included in the framework that she saw so far, but conceded that if a vote was held tonight, you still would have voted yes, and that she still supported the framework, because she wants to support President Biden`s agenda. And then -- but then there is this issue of precedent members kept referring back to. You had Rep. Juan Vargas saying that he liked what the president had to say. But at the end of the day, he still doesn`t trust Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to actually support this framework, even though they were the two lawmakers that were requesting the $3.5 trillion package to get shaved down to 1.7 trillion five. And both of those senators today, sort of oddly, and conspicuously, you know, hedged when asked explicitly whether or not they supported the framework that they had worked so closely with this White House, on hammering down. So, I think that raised a lot of red flags for people.

The second track of conversations here was sort of an optimism that the legislative tax is going to get done. They`re going to see it and hopefully they`re going to get this done next week. And now turning and pivoting towards the messaging. So, people like Sherrod Brown, saying Democrats have two choices here, we can either complain about what is excluded from this package, or Democrats can herald the transformative policies that they`ve actually been able to successfully fund for the first time in history.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, Jackie, the messaging has been roundly criticized. And I felt -- we were hearing the first pivot to positive messaging on the cable networks this afternoon, when the President was on route to Air Force One.

Ashley, you touched on this, let`s talk about this overseas Summit G7, G8, I don`t know how many G`s we are up to these days. It`s not like the main kids in the cafeteria are talking smack about you when you walk in, though there is some evidence that did indeed happen to Donald Trump on the world stage. What is, do you reckon the real-world impact of a showing up? They know because they can see our media. The struggle he`s been through showing up with no legislation in hand, even though it wouldn`t have anything to do with that gathering anyway.

PARKER: Well, let me just start by answering your question with his first foreign trip, the G7. We`re now on the G20. But did you seven that I went on with him and I remember standing there just feet away from him and Macron of France in Cornwall, where Macron could not have been more delighted, and he was channeling all the other leaders pretty much that America was back. It was someone they felt like they could trust, they could deal with was not as mercurial or chaotic as former President Trump. This is now his second trip in reality, in some ways, has intruded. And when President Biden campaign he sort of said, one of his theories of the case was if you elect me, I can show you democracy in action. I can restore democracy, I can show you how it works. And in a certain ironic way, he is very much showing the world how democracy works, but not in the way he had hoped. It`s not by partisan bliss. It`s not the Republicans have suddenly changed their tune because he`s a fellow Senator just like them. It`s democracy with razor-thin majorities were messy, and there`s the lack of trust. And there are big policy disagreements and Republicans still aren`t helping him and that is what he is going abroad. That`s the baggage, you know, that he`s carrying with him.

But leaders are also aware he sort of arrives empty handed, they see what`s going on back in Washington. They know that there`s still a chance for a deal so is it sort of the blissful greeting that he got the first time? No, it`s a more real world one but they -- I think are still cautiously optimistic the same way this administration, those progressives in the moderates are as well.

WILLIAMS: Great analysis there. And after the submarine dust up I don`t think you`ll be feeling the love from Macron this trip quite yet.

Eugene, you can always tell the rookie White House aides from the people for whom this is not their first rodeo. The latter group is fine staying home on a presidential trip overseas, been there, done that. A number of prominent White House aides are indeed staying back, and I imagine Eugene all their work is cut out for them.

DANIELS: No, absolutely. They have a lot of work to do. That has nothing to do with what`s happening over there in overseas for President Biden, right? You have this reconciliation bill, they`re going to continue they say to me talking to everyone they possibly can to make sure that next week does happen, right? You do see some kind of infrastructure boat next week so that they don`t have to go another week with these negotiations.


And like all three of us have been saying, it`s about finding out where the trust is, making sure that they can say, OK, maybe we don`t have every single thing hammered out. But we promise we`re not going to change it in some vote-a-rama a bunch, right? And that is something that people in the house are extremely worried about, right? There are things in the Senate that make it kind of difficult to believe that the text you`re looking at, is going to be the exact text that`s going to come out at the end of the process. And that`s something that they`ve talked about being worried about.

You also have, you know, we`re going to be in November here pretty soon, they also have to go into have to raise the debt ceiling, on the government, they have all types of things that they`re going to have to do at the beginning of December. And some of that work is going to have to start now, because they have to do all of these things while also, and more importantly, selling these things to the American people, we got our hands on some of the documents that they sent out to supporters in different progressive groups, basically trying to sell this as like President Biden did what he promised to do, because what they wanted to see all day on television was people going up and saying we heard a little bit, he talked about that kind of optimism that we were seeing at one point. People saying that President Biden promised that he did what he came to do, he got compromised, compromises our democracy is dirty at times, but you know, we`re going to keep fighting for these things.

But then things started to fall apart. So that is something that they have to contend with, as President Biden`s over there, and all eyes are going to be -- are going to actually be over here, and not so much what he`s doing over there.

And I will say, something that is good for President Biden is that this framework that came out as he goes over there, and cop starts next week, all of -- everyone`s going to be talking about climate change. The biggest aspect of his proposal is on climate change, right? A lot of climate change activists are happy with that. And that is something he`s going to be able to sell to the folks over there and say, hey, you know, we are going to have a huge investment in climate change prevention over here.

WILLIAMS: Jackie, one last question for you. I know in your spare time, you`ve been covering the 1/6 committee, not the first time we`ve had a major name, and we`re expecting an action only to hear that it`s been postponed, such as the case with Mr. Clark`s deposition, which was scheduled for tomorrow. Do you have any intel on the reason for the postponement?

ALEMANY: Yeah, Brian, the select committee is quietly chugging along as lawmakers were trying to hash out these tandem infrastructure packages. But Jeffrey Clark, who was the top -- was one of the Trump era Justice Department officials who sought to actually execute, support President Trump`s false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election, received a continuance or postponement of his Friday deposition subpoena deadline to appear before the House Select Committee and provide testimony. And that`s because he had a bit of a breakup with his lawyer Robert Driscoll.

My colleagues, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, confirmed earlier today, it`s unclear what the schism over the two was, but usually when a lawyer and his client breakup, it`s most likely because of differences in legal strategy. Maybe a client was being pulled in another direction by another lawyer that might have been using. So, it`s still unclear, but the select committee thought it was only fair to offer a postponement, so that Clark can sort of readjust his own legal strategy. We know that his testimony is a big priority for this Committee, along with documents from Clark during his time at the Justice Department in those final months of the Trump presidency. So, I think, you know, they`re going to try to give them some leeway here to move forward.

WILLIAMS: Much obliged to these three friends of our broadcast, Ashley Parker, Eugene Daniels, Jackie Alemany, our starting line on a Thursday night, thanks gang very much for starting us off.

Coming up for us, with the election just days away, the only twice impeached retiree in all of Florida, can`t seem to stay out of that Virginia governor`s race. He feels needed and he`s a giver after all.

And later, Pulitzer Prize-winning Presidential Historian and Author Jon Meacham is with us to talk about how important this moment is for Joe Biden`s domestic agenda and his foreign policy chops as he goes to Europe. All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Thursday night overlooking the U.S. Capitol.



WILLIAMS: On the ongoing efforts to finally pass President Biden`s agenda, our friend Eugene Robinson, who was a guest here last night, wrote this today. It`s time to get real, Democrats have the chance to pass and sign into law, transformational investments and the nation`s human and physical infrastructure. They should go ahead and get it done. And then they should stop focusing on what had to be left out of the spending packages and begin loudly celebrating all that is included."

Our guest tonight, David Plouffe, former Obama Campaign Manager, Senior Advisor to the President and Mike Murphy, Veteran Republican Strategist, co-director for the Center of the Political Future University of Southern California, co-host of the Hacks on Top podcast. Gentlemen, good evening to you both.

David, I`m going to ask you a direct question. I would love a similarly themed answer. Is your party up to this? And how nervous are you about what lies ahead?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, the party`s up to it. I mean, I still think we`re going to face not the greatest political environment next year. But yeah, and I agree with Eugene. So once the ink is dry on this, you`ve got to get to most people who are going to decide the next year`s election, Brian. Swing voters, people that you need to energize for turnout. They`re not following this debate to the extent they`re seeing much, it`s just about trillions of dollars, Democrats arguing, so you`ve got to start selling what`s in the package all over the enormously popular, just as popular as the revenue producing measures, which is asking the wealthiest in this country to help pay for things like childcare and elder care.

But then you have to do continual storytelling as people get benefits. So, members of Congress, senators, governors need to be in people`s homes and small businesses. So yes, the next year, you know, in many respects is going to be defined by the effectiveness of that, because if people get the sense that this was just a pile of money, and they didn`t benefit from it, I think we`re going to be in a world of hurt. I think this is doing because by the way unlike the Affordable Care Act which took a couple of years for the benefits really to become realized a lot of these benefits happened right away, so you can start doing good storytelling right away.


Yes, everybody fought the good fight about what they wanted in the package. I`m disappointed about some things that didn`t make it in. This is still a historic accomplishment. So, everybody needs to link arms here, because I`ll tell you this, if voters hear Democratic members of Congress saying they`re not happy with the package, how on earth do you expect that voter to think it`s going to help them in their lives?

WILLIAMS: Mike, in your view, have the Liberals ended up hurting the larger Democratic Party?

MIKE MURPHY, VETERAN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think they have. They`re defining the narrative right now. And, you know, you look at Joe Biden`s numbers are in decline. You look at what`s going on in Virginia, we`re going to talk about that. You know, the worst thing politically about this is as Biden has been marginalized a bit. It`s clearly if you want to get things done in the House, there are 30 liberal members who are calling all the shots, the President went there, told him to trust them as for the vote, and they said no sale, and they`ve shot down the biggest easy political win that`s been in front of the Democrats now for weeks, which is the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It`s a great bill. And it`s a huge accomplishment for Joe Biden, yet is back benching, you know, liberals have decided they`re going to hold him up because they`re mad. They don`t have enough votes in the Senate to pass a multi-trillion dollar progressive, you know, dream bill.

So, there`s one of these things where we`re going to win by punishing you, Mr. President. And it`s pretty crazy. And I agree of David that, eventually something will pass. But the opportunity cost of what could have happened is pretty big. And the narrative is set in a way that Biden`s going to have to dig out of now and have all this squabbling and this this ideological left overshadowing the party, it`s going to make particularly for the moderate Democrats next year, very treacherous, which is how they could, you know, lose control.

WILLIAMS: All right, David, so the ball bounces back to you. And let me ask you to help me clear something up. Is this a progressive country as the Liberal Democrats insist on being called? Because the research shows Joe Biden won 16% of us counties, Donald Trump won 86% of U.S. counties. And I think a look at the map would show a senator right nation?

PLOUFFE: Well, no, I mean, Joe Biden won a decisive Electoral College margin, Brian, an Electoral College beatdown. So, but what is true, is that, generally to win a presidential race, as Mike knows, well, or a competitive House District, or competitive centers, you have to win the moderate votes. Some of those are true independence, some of them might be lean, Democratic, Republican, and they do move around election to election. Some political scientists believe there`s no such thing as persuadable voters anymore. You know, I see him every election they exist. So, I do you think that you have to basically win the moderates in the election.

Now, what is true is childcare, universal pre-K, taxing the wealthy more to pay for it, expanding health care, all of these things, enjoy support 60 to 70%. So, you are getting the support of basically all progressives, and a heck of a lot of moderates. So, from a policy standpoint, I think most of the things in this bill you can sell, but again, they don`t sell themselves, you got to go out there and really lift up the hood and show people in your local community who are benefiting from this.

And then eventually, right now, this entire debate is about the Democratic Party. You got to shift this to a choice, which is the Republicans have stayed in unison against these things that are quite popular. And seem only really interested in doing Donald Trump`s build bidding to try and steal the next election. So, you know, I think Democrats can get on a rhetorical foot much more soundly soon. But yeah, we`re not going to have success in 2022 if moderates, you know, bail on the Democratic Party, you have to have both. You`ve got to get strong turnout. And you`ve got to do well with moderate votes. What`s nice about what`s in this bill, by the way, is you`re not choosing. It works really well with both of them.

WILLIAMS: I think home delivered smaller as for every American would poll at 80%. But back to David`s point about how you have to make choices.

Both of these gentlemen, thankfully, are going to stay with us. We`re going to fit in a break and continue our conversation. We heard Mike foreshadow at the leader of the Republican Party has some second thoughts after suggesting his followers refused to vote until nonexistent voter fraud is fixed. Interesting timing, given that we have two big elections coming up in a couple of days.



WILLIAMS: A day after teasing a potential campaign stop in Virginia for the Republican Glenn Youngkin, Donald Trump reportedly will now be holding a tele rally the next best thing really ahead of next week`s election, like every Republican in politics these days from Kevin McCarthy to Chuck Grassley.

Youngkin lives each day in abject fear of angering Donald Trump. And the stakes just got higher in this race. New Fox News poll out today made big headlines because it shows Youngkin pulling ahead 53% to McAuliffe 45 among likely voters.

A lot to discuss, David Plouffe, Mike Murphy, remain with us. Mike, if indeed that polling bears out, you get credit for being the first to predict that on this broadcast. And you got tough on the Democrats today on Twitter, talking about worth trying to get those bill passed before the President lands in Rome. If you`re the Democrats since Terry McAuliffe is circling the drain, this debacle has hurt the Democrats, Biden and McAuliffe and today made it worse. Democrat Biden numbers are killing McAuliffe. Mike at this point what could hobble the Republican?

MURPHY: Well, Donald Trump can`t stand to have a campaign that`s not about him. So, he keeps trying to muscle his way into the Virginia campaign so he can claim credit if there is a Youngkin victory.

Now, the Youngkin people, you know, on the primary they`re in love with Trump. Now, they`re trying to distance himself as much as they can under pretty smart calculus. He`s non-threatening so he`s doing OK in the suburbs where Trump is anthrax, but he`s going to get that tribal Trump vote in the more rural areas because they`re against anything democratic, and they want to punish Biden.


You know, it was funny, I saw a big mailer yesterday from Virginia. It`s a big official endorsement of Youngkin by Donald Trump with the hat and the pictures. But if you get out your magnifying glass, the paid for is the Democratic Party of Virginia. They`ve had a little trouble gluing the Trump thing on them, and the Biden stuff and others have kind of gotten in the way.

And just a quick footnote to, the eight-point Fox poll is kind of a card trick. I think David will agree on this, is a likely voter poll, which in most cases is a scam. Among in that poll, registered voters is still a one- point race like almost every other poll, margin of error. That said the trend has been bad for McAuliffe and good for Youngkin. It`s moving his way. So, I`m not sure I`d bet the firemen and Youngkin but -- excuse me, Youngkin, I would bet a tractor, you know, or see what happens Tuesday.

WILLIAMS: David, so many people find it hard to believe that national politics and the like affects, say, a gubernatorial election in the Commonwealth of Virginia, or the one we`re not talking about Phil Murphy trying to hang on in the most densely populated blue state in the union in New Jersey. But Mike`s been around the block a few times as have you. This certainly appears to be the case.

PLOUFFE: Well, Brian, there`s a history in both of these states. When one party wins the White House, the very next election, which happens next year, you know, the party who lost the White House tends to do well, number one.

Number two, I think, right, I think when your party is struggling, even though we`re on the precipice, maybe days away from historic legislative achievements, but all everybody`s seeing is it`s not done yet you`re fighting, that can hurt enthusiasm.

I think the real question whether McAuliffe wins by one or two, or loses by one or two, we`ll see what Murphy`s margin is might expect him to hang on. But, you know, Biden won New Jersey by 16. Biden won Virginia by 10. There`s some uniqueness to both of these races. But you`re going to see those margins narrowed. And so, as you`re looking at preparation for next year, Brian, what Democrats were involved in these swing House and Senate races need to do is really go do research about what happened here. What swing voters moved from Democrats or Republicans this year. And why, which Democratic base groups did not turn out at the levels we expecting and why. So, you need to learn a lot about this.

I think Mike would agree a year and politics is longer than it used to be. Things aren`t baked anymore. A lot can happen in a year. Where`s COVID? Where`s the economy? Do Democrats do a good job of storytelling around their own achievements, as we just talked about. Does Trump loom over the races next year in a way that`s negative? But we`re going to learn a lot next Tuesday. And there is no doubt that I agree that the eight-point poll Fox also had, and Fox polling tends to be decent polling, but they also have a call for the big leader in their last poll. So, I think this is a razor close, tight race.

Trump`s Monday, yeah, it`s going to help the Youngkin with turnout, my guess is the Youngkin campaign rather Trump not do a tele town hall. Because I do think he needs to do well in those suburban areas, and he`s going to do better. I think that we`ve seen a Republican during some time there. The question, will it be enough?

WILLIAMS: The news on Trump was he said today that he never told Republicans just not to vote until the big lie was selling cheap. That`s kind of exactly what he said clean up in aisle three and Mar-a-Lago. David Plouffe, Mike Murphy, our friends for good reason. Thank you both for coming on tonight.

Coming up for us, Joe Biden says he campaigned on compromise and consensus. We heard him say it tonight. He says that`s what he is delivering here. We will ask the Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian and author Jon Meacham about that very thing when we come back.




BIDEN: These are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another. This is about competitiveness versus complacency, is about expanding opportunity not opportunity to denied, it`s about leading the world or letting the world passes by.


WILLIAMS: Biden`s departing message to Americans before heading across the Atlantic, his second major trip overseas as president. We have a lot to talk about tonight. Thankfully, with us this evening is Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presidential historian, the Rogers, Chair of the American presidency at Vanderbilt, who occasionally advises the current American president on historical matters and major speeches.

John, we`re in need of some context. Obviously, this President is facing massive challenges, massive political headwinds, I`ve taken to asking at least one guest tonight if the Democrats are up to this because a ton of people are not convinced. Talk about how Roosevelt had just a few more Democrats in Congress may be owe a hundred more than Biden has. And Roosevelt`s Party wasn`t tearing itself up when he was trying to pass the new deal, which is about the only thing analogous to what they`re arguing about in Congress right now.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yeah, the New Deal in the Great Society, which of course was an attempt to ratify and expand that, that was Lyndon Johnson`s great effort to use the power of the state to increase opportunity to try to bring about a measure of opportunity to the country.

The FDR story I was thinking about when I was reading Susan Glasser, our friend Susan Glasser`s piece in The New Yorker tonight, which I commend to everybody. If you do what I do for a living in 50 years and you want to capture what`s going on, like the past couple of weeks, you could just read Susan`s piece. I have one edit I would make, which I say with great trepidation. And I`ll mention that in a second. But the FDR story is he was meeting with young students in the 1930s. And they were just given him hell about how he was too slow. CFE that sounds familiar. He wasn`t being transformational enough. He wasn`t forcing the conservatives in the country.

In those days, in my native region, white southern Democrats who were incredibly who were the bulwark of segregation, they were the conservatives, so many of them were conservative. And so, they -- it was just a bad meeting for FDR. And he looked at one of the questioners and he said, young man, if I could stand on the roof and shout and get what I wanted, I would go to the roof and shout, but it doesn`t work that way. And what we`re seeing here is a case study in how American democracy works and doesn`t work in a sulfurously polarized age.


Your question is, are the Democrats up to this? I argue that the question is, are Americans up to it? Because the Republicans have opted out of this debate. They have chosen to follow a single person, a single will to power and have basically seeded, they have outsourced the government of this country, to the American President and to 50 Democrats in the Senate. And Nancy Pelosi is narrow, the formidable Nancy Pelosi is a narrow majority in the House. And so, I think if you want to look at this moment, in a broader sense, it`s a miracle in a way that President Biden has gotten as much as he has, he asked for 3.5, looks like he`s going to get what, you know, the numbers better than I do, 1.75, something like that. That`s the old Reagan rule. You know, you asked for 100 and you settle for 60 is what Raigad learned in Hollywood when he was negotiating with the Screen Actors Guild.

Did President Biden`s set out to do this? No, I don`t think so. I`ve never asked him that directly. I don`t think this is some great mastermind plan. But it`s what reality is. And one of the things we`ve learned in the last five years is the price of not dealing in a reality-based universe. We`ve gone from having a reality show president to having a president who actually deals with a very divided country, and he`s doing all he can within the constitutional framework to push the country forward. And I think in that sense, we can look -- we may be able to look back at these six months or so. You might even argue you could teach a class on America from January 6, 2021, until roughly November 6, right? And what do those 11 months tell you about the worst of us and the best of us. And it may just be that the best of us isn`t as great as many people would want. But guess what, that`s human nature.

WILLIAMS: All right. I`ll see your love of Susan Glasser`s journalism and raise you one Susan Glasser quote, and I`m going to read this and for dramatic effect after reading it, we`re going to go to break and continue our conversation. She writes in The New Yorker, "In 2020, Biden campaigned as a dealmaker, not a Trump. I could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge type deal maker, but an actual Washington insider who can make this town work again type deal maker. This is why the stakes for him now are so high. It`s become a basic test of his ability to deliver."

John and I give you both Susan Glasser of the New Yorker. Now I give you a break. Jon Meacham sticking around. Our conversation will continue. We`ll talk about what to expect as the president prepares for this world stage moment in Glasgow.



WILLIAMS: President Biden has arrived in Europe tonight for some high stakes international summits, the AP reporting it this way, "Headed first to Rome and then to Glasgow, Scotland, Biden will be pressed to deliver concrete ideas for stopping a global pandemic, boosting economic growth and halting the acceleration of climate change."

Still with us, thankfully, Jon Meacham. Jon, we have a few closing minutes here. So, we have a two-part trip here. Number one is quite personal for a president I would define as a devout Catholic, meeting with the Pope, the Pope`s facial expression and body language, pretty much told us how psyched he was to meet with Donald Trump. I think this is going to be an altogether different meeting with Joe Biden. And then on to the G20 talk about both in Biden on the world stage?

MEACHAM: Yeah, real quick, my -- the only edit I would have made to Susan`s piece, which she wouldn`t have asked me for is she asked a question about, is this the way the world works and a 50/50 Senate? And she didn`t need to ask a question. This is the way the world works in a 50/50. Senate. I think the trip to the Vatican is really interesting for the Biden knowledge as to the world.

Remember, there is this very uncomfortable debate for many of us. I`m not a Roman Catholic, but about whether the President can receive communion. And as you say, he is he is a devout Catholic, he is a faithful keeper of the sacraments, he keeps the feast, and to be in the Vatican, well, I think will be sort of a lifetime of memories. You know, as you know, in many ways, the power of the sacrament, the power of liturgical life, is that when you`re in it, you`re part of a sweeping chain of time in your own head. That is, you look at the cross, you look at the stained glass, you remember when you were a little kid. I still remember what the floor of the church at St. Nicholas School in Chattanooga, Tennessee looked like when I say the Lord`s prayer every day, because I went five days a week for eight years. And so, I think President Biden will have that kind of deeply emotional moment tomorrow. And I think it`ll be fascinating.

You know, he`s hugely comfortable on this stage, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he`s does see this, the two stories we`re talking about very much as in are intertwined, which is -- and he says this a lot. You know, he talks to world leaders, and they say, yeah, America`s back, but for how long? And I think if he doesn`t hear that explicitly, it will be an implicit, it`ll be a subtext of what he hears the next week or so. Huge issues. And what I would say to him and to all of us is the issues that he`s there to talk about, climate, the pandemic. These are millennial issues, right? These are centuries long challenges he has to pick up. It has very little to do with what Twitter says over the next 36 hours.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for that.

MEACHAM: What we do now, this to paraphrase Lincoln, because why not? What we do now will mark this generation of Americans down to the last part of time, it really will and that may sound hyperbolic but climate, the fate of American democracy, the rule of law, our very sense of neighborliness with one another, so much is in flux.


And I think I know those are the stories that are unfolding the sounds, unfolding in the president`s head.

WILLIAMS: Brilliant stuff, ticket to the bank, those listening and watching. Jon Meacham has been our guest tonight. We`re grateful for it. Thank you pal. Appreciate it.

MEACHAM: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Coming out for us, today`s big announcement from the tech world turns out we scooped the story earlier this week.



KARA SWISHER, VETERAN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: They`ve heard it`s Meta supposedly and it`s Thursday, but I`m not so sure what it`ll be.


WILLIAMS: That was the story. Last thing before we go tonight, you heard it here first, that was Monday of this week. That was Kara Swisher our friend, in effect leaking the new name for Facebook four days early, which was indeed announced just today by Mark Zuckerberg from his headquarters on Venus.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: It is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do, to reflect who we are and what we hope to build. I am proud to announce that starting today, our company is now Meta.


WILLIAMS: At another point in the video, the Twitter verse noticed a bottle of barbecue sauce being used as a bookend. It was immediately theorized that it was selected by algorithm as something humans enjoy. The reaction to the new name was both instantaneous and relentless. It`s still going on, lots of jokes wondering if they`ll partner with a company named Mucil.

Folks had fun with the new logo, most of it at Zuckerberg`s expense but he can afford it. Lots of comments along these lines can have problems with Facebook if the company isn`t called Facebook. From The Daily Show going to take a while to get used to saying he was radicalized in a Meta group. Many people pointing out the NBA star run our test changed his name to Meta World Peace a decade ago. And finally, Meta is short for, I met a girl in high school who I had a huge crush on only to find her years later on Facebook posting anti-vax links and Tom Hanks pedophile theories.

That`s going to do it for our Thursday night effort with our thanks for being here with us on behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.