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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/5/21

Guests: Yamiche Alcindor, Robert Costa, Nahid Bhadelia, Stephanie Grisham, David Plouffe, Stuart Stevens


Biden says he can`t guarantee debt ceiling lift due to hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful GOP opposition. President Biden hit the road to promote his pair of spending bills focused on American infrastructure, jobs and social safety net programs. Johnson and Johnson is planning to ask federal regulators early this week to authorize a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine. The National Cathedral tolled its 12-ton funeral bell 700 times over one hour in memory of the 700,000 Americans who have died of COVID.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Every Republican senator is expected to fail that public sanity test. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening, once again, day 259 of the Biden administration tonight. The president trying to solve the mounting crisis that threatens to push the U.S. into financial chaos and the whole world is watching.

Biden and his team now have less than two weeks to figure out how to raise the nation`s borrowing limit and avoid a first ever U.S. default. And he has to do it without a Republican vote, because that`s who the Republicans are now. They insist with a straight face that Democrats must act on their own. Yet intend to block the latest effort during a test vote in the Senate tomorrow afternoon.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They`ve had plenty of time to execute the debt ceiling increase and have chosen not to do it. They need to do this. They have the time to do it. And the sooner they get about it, the better.


WILLIAMS: That is the Minority Leader of the Senate. A few hours after that President Biden was asked for his response.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I`ll be speaking in the (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If McConnell refuses -- Senate Minority McConnell refuses to cooperate, what happens next?

BIDEN: Well, quite frankly, there`s not many options if we`re going to be that irresponsible. There`s not many options. There`s not much time left to do it by reconciliation. I don`t think they`re going to end up being that irresponsible. I can`t believe it.


WILLIAMS: Republicans are trying to force Democrats to resort to a complicated process called reconciliation to cram raising the borrowing limit into spending bills now under negotiation. And remember what we`re talking about here the current debt limit, the current debt was largely racked up during the Trump years.

We continue to be warned about the danger of failing to raise the debt limit by 18 of October. Treasury Secretary Yellen described an economy plunged into recession. And as the chairman of the SEC put it, financial markets would be in uncharted waters.

Democrats are now privately discussing potentially changing filibuster rules in order to raise the limit without having to get 10 Republican votes.

Earlier this afternoon, Senate Democratic Leader Schumer again expressed his frustration with Republicans.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We could prevent a catastrophic default with a simple majority vote tomorrow, if Republicans would just get out of the damn way we could get this all done.


WILLIAMS: The President spent much of the day in Michigan promoting his economic agenda trying to sell union members on overhauling infrastructure and expanding the U.S. social safety net.


BIDEN: These bills are not about left versus right, or moderate versus progressive. They`re about leading the world or continue to let the world pass us by which is literally happening. To support these investments is to create a rising America, America has movie to pose these investments is to be complicit in America`s decline.


WILLIAMS: Of course, the day`s other big story concerns Facebook, Francis Haugen, the former Facebook employee and whistleblower who leaked documents about the company testified today before a Senate subcommittee and it was powerful.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I believe Facebook`s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. Facebook`s own research about Instagram contains quotes from kids saying I feel bad when I use Instagram. But I also feel like I can`t stop, right. I know that the more time I spend on this the worse I feel but like I just can`t like that they want the next click. They want the next like. The dopamine, you know, the little hits.

Until the incentives change, Facebook will not change. Left alone, Facebook will continue to make choices that go against the common good. Our common good. They have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won`t solve this crisis without your help.


WILLIAMS: When you combine this with this company going dark yesterday, it`s safe to say Facebook Chairman Mark Zuckerberg is not having a good week. Today, he released a letter sent out to all Facebook employees which reads in part quote, we care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It`s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That`s just not true. We`re committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.


Well, several senators from both parties now say they support issuing subpoenas for all of Facebook`s own research, which the company has so far declined to release. There`s also news tonight other than Facebook about COVID vaccine boosters. Johnson and Johnson has asked the FDA to authorize boosters for people who have received their one shot vaccine. This comes as new data indicates the Pfizer vaccines remain 90 percent effective against severe illness for at least six months after the second dose. However, the data then shows effectiveness falls off a cliff to 47 percent. As of tonight, the U.S. has lost nearly 710,000 souls to this virus.

Just this evening in Washington, the bell at the National Cathedral told 700 times and northwest Washington one bell for every 1,000 victims across the country.

With that, let`s bring in our starting line on this Tuesday night you Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and moderator of Washington Week also on PBS, Robert Costa, national political reporter with The Washington Post. His latest book co-authored with his post colleague, Bob Woodward called "Peril" currently at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, and infectious disease physician, the founding director of Boston University`s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Policy and Research. Good evening, and welcome to you all.

Yamiche, I`d like to begin with you. And the beat that you cover, Biden said today he`s going to talk to Mitch, about the debt ceiling. Where do we think that idea originated? And what do we expect to come of it?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden has always said that he wants to lean into his decades of experience in government to try to somehow broker bipartisan deal. So he knows Mitch McConnell, they have talked to each other. They have brokered deals in the past.

So, the President is saying that maybe he can have some sort of conversation, but Senator Mitch McConnell to try to move him. But everyone that I`m talking to doesn`t see that that`s likely going to happen. And that`s why you see the president doing something that is very, very extraordinary for the President. And that is saying that changing the filibuster and make no carve out is a possibility. That`s what President Biden told reporters tonight on the White House south lawn.

I`d like to remind people that the President has over and over again for all 259 days of his presidency has rejected the idea of changing the filibuster at all. Jim Clyburn someone who was essential to him getting elected president has been really pleading with lawmakers to make a carve out for civil rights and voting rights. The President has not wanting to do that.

So hear the president saying the debt limit might be the thing that Democrats need to do in order to carve out that filibuster. But of course, the other thing to remind people is that it`s not up to the President. To change the filibuster, you need 50 votes from all the Democrats in the Senate and of course, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. They have been two senators who have been against changing that. So there`s a lot of challenges ahead.

The White House has not been clear about whether or not the President has in fact spoken to Mitch McConnell himself. But they did say today, Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She said today that that there are a lot of engagements going on with Mitch McConnell, the White House staff reaching out, but it goes to show you the urgency of this that the President himself is getting involved in floating all sorts of new options when it comes to the filibuster.

WILLIAMS: And Mr. Costa, indeed, our anxious nation should be relieved to learn that Lindsey Graham is in the game quoting here from Politico. Senate GOP budget point, man, Lindsey Graham wants to make Democrats work hard to lift the debt limit, but not so hard that it threatens a cataclysmic default. He hopes to force Democrats to pick a number for how high the borrowing limit should go. A vote to set a specific dollar figure opens the door for Republicans to launch attacks on democratic incumbents in next year`s midterms. Robert, what in plain English is going on here?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Senator Graham is pretty close to Senator McConnell. So he`s always a way to impart read what McConnell is up to. And McConnell is close to the business community. They don`t want to see problems with the debt ceiling.

What we`re watching right now.

WILLIAMS: I can hear you. Your microphone is back. So please start again with the answer. Forgive me.

COSTA: Sure. Senator Graham is close to Senator McConnell. So you can often read what McConnell is doing by watching Senator Graham. And what we`re seeing now is McConnell doesn`t want to rupture the business community which is so important to the Republican Party. They don`t want to see a debt ceiling showdown but we are watching two veterans of the Senate, President Biden and Leader McConnell really have a standoff over who is going to blink first.


On one hand, President Biden, he`s not the same centrists we`ve seen in his past part of his career. This is someone who wants to be a progressive, transformational president. He doesn`t want to back down in his agenda.

But as Bob Woodward and I show in our book, McConnell`s whole strategy with Biden is to sit back and wait for the President to come to him. And this is going to likely go to use your own phrase, Brian, to the 11th hour to see who blinks. But both sides don`t want to see a debt limit catastrophe that harms the American economy. At least that`s based on my reporting for the book and just having calls with Republicans recently.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Bhadelia over to you and your bailiwick. And let`s talk about J and J. I think everyone greeted it as good news today, that a booster appears to be moving forward. You`ll forgive the question from a lay person. Why wasn`t the J and J shot two injections originally? Why just one for that formulation?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: Yes, right. I think that there was a different technology than the mRNA vaccine. And remember, the initial studies actually did show very good protection against infection and pretty consistent protection against hospitalization.

And so the gamble here was that, you know, no, not knowing again, again, we are living the science, right? I think we`re learning about each of these technologies in vaccines, as the months go by. The goal was to make a vaccine that was simple to administer that was, which of course it is, is one dose, you might get a higher, you know, rate of people coming to get vaccinated who may not want to come back for a second dose.

However, the data is now shown in the setting of the time that Delta variant may decrease the efficacy of vaccines. And it seems that over time, our own immune system, the antibodies that we create tend to go down after these vaccines, as they do with many vaccines. A second dose may help ramp up the immune system.

And so the data from CDC division, network data and hospitalizations in particular has been concerning for J and J recipients who got one dose because their efficacy against hospitalization goes down to about 70 percent, that this would be welcome news, when the FDA committee looks at it, for those who have had the J and J. Of course, the protection against severe disease for most people still holds up, who are not are younger. But I think for older folks in particularly those medical conditions that will be something that it will be very welcome.

WILLIAMS: Yamiche, back to politics and back to your beat we go. The people we elect as presidents all want the job. So it -- by nature reduces the amount of sympathy we express for them. But think about just today and Joe Biden`s life, he spends most of the day in Michigan, with half of the Democrats saying, why now, why are you on the road now? We need you in Washington. The other half of the party saying, where`s the barnstorming? Where`s the messaging? Why is it the most Americans still don`t know what`s in this bill that could possibly improve their lives?

ALCINDOR: Well, it is a challenging time for the Biden presidency. And as you just noted, he is really trying to balance two sides of his RD, if it`s two, it could be three or four, but two sides that are the most prominent which is progressives and moderates.

Now, the President, I`m talking to White House officials, he was on the road because he wants to really hammer home the idea that this infrastructure plan the larger infrastructure plan that includes child tax credits, that includes money for climate change, that includes money for free lunches for children, and increases for healthcare workers` wages, that all of that is wildly popular. That`s what the White House would say, wildly popular with the American people.

And also polls show that the majority of Americans back the idea of a large infrastructure plan, expanding the idea of an infrastructure plan to deal with investments in families. So that`s why the President Biden was on the road. That`s what the White House is saying.

That said he has a lot of issues back home he was on meeting with members of his party virtually for the last two days. Of course, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema have been making frequent visits to the White House. So the president in some ways, while he was on the road, he was still meeting with his party because he has to get through to the both sides here so that they can come up with an agreement.

You have one side saying that they want $3.5 trillion, Senator Manchin saying he wants 1.5. I`m being told by sources, it`s going to end up somewhere around $2 trillion, but a trillion here, trillion there. That`s a lot of things that the President has to figure out what comes out what comes in, and it`s a challenging timeframe.

Add to that, of course, the pandemic add to that all of the different issues with the Haitian border crisis still raging, and so many other things going on in his presidency.

That being said, when you talk to White House officials about sort of the challenges ahead for the president, they say not only did he want the job, but he was the person that was most experienced for the job because of his time in government, because of his time as a senator.


He has been some -- in somewhat in all of the different seats of the lawmakers that he`s now dealing with so that in some ways, The White House says really informed his ability to work on all of this simultaneously.

WILLIAMS: Robert, Yamiche`s previous point was so right. If Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer decide to pursue the nuclear option, decide to try to change the filibuster rules, they don`t have the votes for that. So certainly this President`s hand is tied. I think he`s been surprised by the amount of Democratic Party infighting. Robert, based on your experience on the folks you talk to talk about how big a test this is, thus far in this presidency.

COSTA: It`s big on one level, Brian, but it`s not actually that big in the context of President Biden`s career. Woodward and I spent nine months doing this book. We spent so much time on the Biden`s story. And what you see is this, the president, who was elected to the Senate in 1972, comes in and `73. He watches President Carter, President Reagan, President Bush, President Obama, President Clinton, all of these presidents, Trump, have a first year oftentimes in urgent first year where everything seems to be on the line. He`s a student of the presidency, even while being president. He`s seen it.

And so you hear from people close to Biden, now and when his Rescue Plan was on the ropes earlier this year, we have all these chapters on that he takes it all in and doesn`t get rattled. He is an inside player, not the outsider like Trump. He knows the system sometimes works itself out, even if the headlines and the tweets of the moment can seem so frenetic.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, Facebook, of course has been in the news and while I`ve never posed a question to a physician on this broadcast about Facebook, I share I`m fixing to and here`s why. Whatever they say about what they do and how they make their money. They are an enormous misinformation and disinformation delivery system and I know that has affected your job as a public health person.

BHADELIA: I think that you see that Facebook is one of the greatest places, right, where a lot of this misinformation and disinformation is shared. And I think some of those was many of the accounts that are -- there`s few, I think they`re called the top or top 10 misinformation account, misinformation accounts that have been active on Facebook for a very long time and until recently, most of those sources still on there.

So I think that it`s a combination of a few things. This is social media, I think we need to -- we do need greater partnerships between public health folks and social media companies and more commitment from social media companies to remove that misinformation but it`s also part of a larger (INAUDIBLE), part of where you see misinformation getting amplified in social media and then brought up in, you know, cable channel. You are seeing vaccines are a perfect example of this. And you`re seeing that vaccine misinformation amplified on cable network, you know, on the right.

And then to add that to an underlying unfortunately growing anti-vax community in this country which was growing even before COVID-19 vaccines was leading to lower rates of measles vaccinations and all of those I think has been the perfect storm unfortunately for COVID-19 pandemic but the social media companies we have a lot of work to do to try to decrease the misinformation and disinformation.

WILLIAMS: You`re here. A much obliged to our starting line tonight for helping us out and starting us off you. Yamiche Alcindor, Robert Costa, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, our thanks for coming on.

Coming up for us. A once silent presidential spokeswoman predicts her old boss would have her arrested should he get back in the White House? We have questions for Stephanie Grisham. She joins us next and later. McConnell taunts the Democrats. He is willing to say and do just about anything while the Democrats are not. Is there a wartime consigliere in the House? We`ll ask our guests who are standing by all of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Tuesday night.




SEAN SPICER, FMR. WHIET HOUSE PRESS SECRTARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That`s not what I said. And I know it`s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess. But please don`t take my words out of context.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And I will never lie to you. You have my word on that. The president never downplayed the virus once again. The President expressed calm. The President was serious about this when Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment.


WILLIAMS: What do they all have in common a straight face, no shortage of wild moments or public lies from the White House press briefing room during the Trump administration, yet of the four press secretaries over four years, only one of them never held a briefing.

You`d be forgiven for not knowing the name Stephanie Grisham because we never saw her but she`s talking now.

Regarding Trump`s hostile takeover of an entire political party, she writes this quote, today, being a constitutional conservative doesn`t seem to be enough to be a good Republican. What seems to matter today is blind loyalty to an ex-president who still won`t admit he lost.

Stephanie Grisham is a former White House press secretary and communications director for President Trump, former chief of staff to the First Lady, her new book out today is "I`ll Take Your Questions Now, What I Saw at the Trump White House."

Stephanie, thank you for coming on. I`m curious. For starters, why did we never hear from you? Why did you never call a briefing because as members of the public are fond of saying to police officers or members of Congress or the occasional White House press secretary, we paid your salary what we put food on your table?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. A couple of things there. I took three different jobs at once at the White House three senior roles. I was press secretary, communications director for the West Wing and for the East Wing.

So the argument can definitely be made that I wasted taxpayer`s money, but I also actually save taxpayers easily a half a million dollars. However, when I took the job with the President, as his press secretary, we discussed it and he said, I still don`t want briefings done. He had already stopped them with Sarah Sanders six months before, and he did not want me to do them. He felt that the press were too mean, too nasty, that he would just do it himself. He felt he could be his own best spokesperson, which is something I said all the time.

So my job was to work behind the scenes to work with print people and to work with more long lead stories when possible.

WILLIAMS: Of the major events you witnessed, I`m going to boil it down to two.


The malpractice at the handling of the pandemic, and the big lie, which do you think will end up being the most dangerous in the long run, remembering that the mishandling of the pandemic actually cost American lives?

GRISHAM: Absolutely. That`s a really good question. I think that human life can`t be compared to anything else. So I think the mishandling of the pandemic is going to go down in history, as you know, one of the worst things that an administration did, we were tragic with it. And a lot of it had to do with the President`s pride and narcissism and just not wanting to look weak or upset a very small group of people his base in this country, when, at that moment, he should have been the president to this entire country, even the people you know, he didn`t care for.

When it comes to the big lie, though, I think that that while COVID is still an ongoing threat do not, I mean, I want to be clear with that. I think with the big lie, that is a big threat as well, people really believe that our election, you know, was stolen, people really believe that the former president should be our current president. People running for smaller offices are now using that to say, well, there`s no election integrity here. This was stolen from me as well. The disinformation out there, and the quote, like thinking for a lot of people, that`s very, very scary. And I believe, as we come up to 2022 and 2024, it`s something that we really need to be thinking about and working against.

WILLIAMS: About Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, in your book, you say, on a scale of one to five, ranking the best to worst in the White House five being the worst, you gave meadows, a 12. That`s generous. I`m curious as to how he awareded a 12 writing what makes him such a bad guy.

GRISHAM: I`m speaking in my own personal capacity there about my personal experiences. But he went into the White House making grand promises to the president that he would find all of the leakers, he would get good press all the things that the President wanted to hear. He would, of course, say yes to the President on every single thing he did. And I believe there`s now very threatening phone calls out there of him calling people, especially with the election, say in Georgia, et cetera, trying to bully people into doing things that they didn`t want to or feel comfortable with.

For me personally, he tried to ruin my reputation. And he talked about the fact that I linked -- leaked to the bunker story, when the President in the family had gone to the bunker, which I absolutely categorically denied. I have never ever done anything like that, national security is too important.

So that among many other things, you know, for me, he just wasn`t an honest player, no matter what his, you know, syrupy, Southern accent will try to try to convey.

WILLIAMS: I think we looking at it all, from a distance, looked at a guy like Jared Kushner as something of an expression list cipher, your book paints him as much more sinister. What`s the 62nd version people should know about Jared Kushner.

GRISHAM: I really admired and respected Jared Kushner when I first met him, and he has a way of making very little people feel important. And he has a very good way of making you feel like he truly knows everything, basically. And that he couldn`t control the president and get the president to do whatever you want.

But really, he`s manipulative. And he used all of those things to make sure that nobody would question him, cross him or do anything. And it worked. And it was a dangerous position for him to be in in that White House.

WILLIAMS: Final question is the one I guess you`ll live with henceforth. And that is, I guess, your life leads with apology now, given what you witnessed, and the fact that you`re asking people to believe you now, when it counted, you held your silence, and a good bit of our democracy was on the line then.

GRISHAM: Yes. You know, I worked for Mrs. Trump at that time. And I very naively thought that maybe she would intervene at some point. I would argue, while I have been very apologetic, and I will continue to be apologetic. I am looking forward and I`m going to try and do everything I can to let people know anybody who`s interested in listening about what could happen if he becomes president in 2024. That`s all I can do at this point. Obviously, hindsight is 2020. But I want to be known as one of the very few people who actually stood up from our administration and tried to change the course of the future.

WILLIAMS: The book again to our viewers is called "I`ll Take Your Questions Now, What I Saw At The Trump White House." Our thanks to our guest tonight it`s author Stephanie Grisham. Thank you, Stephanie, for coming on.

GRISHAM: Thank you. Thank you for having me.


WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, a debt ceiling crisis. Nothing new for one of our next guests his perspective on it all plus insight from my former GOP strategist, when we come back.


WILLIAMS: We are back and for more on what we just heard from Stephanie Grisham the twice impeached former president`s most elusive White House press secretary. We are joined by two friends of this broadcast David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and senior adviser to the president and Stuart Stevens, veteran of the Mitt Romney and George W. Bush Presidential efforts now with the Lincoln Project. His latest book and it`s important is "It Was All A Lie, How The Republican Party Became Donald Trump." We also want to welcome all our viewers from New York and Boston were submitted without comment. The Red Sox have defeated the Yankees six to two.

So Stuart saved me from that topic and tell me about your opinion of Stephanie Grisham what she has written and what she had to say on this broadcast tonight.

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PRJECT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, for the life of me, I can`t see what Stephanie Grisham is doing is any different than what defeated songs here`s the disgraced armies to bury their uniforms and try to pretend they were never members.


I mean, the idea. She`s the only press secretary in American history the most (INAUDIBLE) press secretary and never held a press conference, and now she`s calling your book, I`ll Take Your Questions Now. I mean, it`s just astounding. You don`t sit there for four years and watch the worst president in American history, put kids in cages, plot to overthrow the government. And then when you lose, when you`re part of the losing side, you come out and you go, Oh, well, this was all terrible.

Look, I mean, it`s a First Amendment despite the Constitution, they were trying to overthrow. She can write (INAUDIBLE) ghostwriter to write whatever she wants, but I don`t sure wouldn`t buy the book. And I don`t think anybody else should.

WILLIAMS: David plus, Pete Souza, the famous White House photographer who became something of a master of shade during this past campaign tweeted this out today a photo, you may recognize a young high school student there, far right on the couch. The caption is President Biden was side by side with President Obama in 2011. He knows the dangerous game Republicans tried to play then. And we are playing now.

David, having enjoyed seeing that picture of you today, can anyone actually win this fight over the debt limit when you just take half a step back and realize this has to do with a financial Cliff while the whole world is watching?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Brian, thanks for that wonderful memory. You know, that was a debt ceiling summer from hell. And Mitch McConnell didn`t blink that he`s not going to win here. To your question there`s no winners. All you`re trying to do is prevent a catastrophic economic collapse.

Mitch McConnell is not going to blink. Mitch McConnell has never cared if what he said yesterday, is in conflict with what he wants to do today. So you`re not going to get any Republican votes. They can`t be shamed. The Democrats need to find a way to do this as quickly as possible, as painlessly as possible, as early as possible. So you don`t see sent tremors.

So no, there is no victory lap for this. I`d like us to get rid of the debt ceiling entirely. By the way, there`s rumors that, you know, the Democrats now are looking at getting rid of the filibuster to the debt ceiling. If they do that, that clearly opens the door for exceptions like voting rights. And so that`s fascinating to follow.

But no, you just got to get this done. And I think you`ve got to stop figuring out, you know, are you can you play a chess game with Mitch McConnell, you cannot. He`s going to sit there until his face turns blue. And the Democrats are going to have to do this for their 50 votes, and just get it done. So you don`t do outsize damage to the economy?

WILLIAMS: David, where are the Democrats going to get the votes to change the filibuster rules?

PLOUFFE: Well, that`s the question. So, you know, could you get 50, to say, we are going to do a carve out for the debt ceiling. We`re going to get a - - we`re going to do a carve out to protect our democracy, and pass some of the voting rights legislation. That`s the thing. If you open the door, I still think it`s most likely they`re going to do this as part of the reconciliation package. But I saw rumblings about that today.

Listen, at the end of the day, what this shows is, you got to swing when you`re at bat, you know, you mentioned the Yankees Red Sox game. Democrats have a majority. Now they have the trifecta. No guarantee they`ll have that after the next election, or, you know, anytime soon.

So all these issues that are so important that people you need to get done. It`s clear Manchin and Sinema are not going to get rid of the filibuster. But the question is, if you`re going to carve it out to do the debt ceiling, and there, I`m not saying they`re going to do that. But there`s rumblings they might, how on earth can you not do it on voting rights to protect our democracy?

WILLIAMS: Stuart, I want to play for you a bit of what Mitch McConnell had to say today, he was up in his office, where he works only by Gaslight came down and said this to reporters.


MCCONNELL: I implore them one more time not to play Russian Roulette with the American economy. We`ve been down this path before, when you did not have divided government. And the party and the majority got the job done.


WILLIAMS: Stuart, I`m tempted to ask does he think we`re stupid? What`s going on here?

STEVENS: Well, the answer to that is yes. He does think you`re stupid. Look, the American debt has gone up more under Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader than any of the majority leader in history. If he`s really worried about that, let`s start with Kentucky, right. 40 percent of the Kentucky budget comes from federal government, 40 percent. There`s only four other states that have more dependence on the federal government.

So he wants to end debt, OK, fine. Let`s just cut out giving all this money to Kentucky. I mean, it`s just an absolute farce that it`s about power and the manipulation of power for powers sake. I think David is right. I think that we have a governing president now. And we`ll get through this.

But look, Mitch McConnell is someone who has said on the record, he would vote for Donald Trump in 2024. This is after he had instigated to riot to domestic terrorist into the Capitol and have Mitch McConnell running for his own life. I mean, doesn`t that say everything you need to know about what Mitch McConnell cares about America?


WILLIAMS: Ladies and gentlemen, our guests have agreed to stay with us while we fit in a break. Coming up. The Democrats calling on Biden to get angry, to get loud, to name names. Well, they`re slowly realizing that describes the previous president.



BIDEN: I took this agenda to the country. They said it was time to build an economy that looks out from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I grew up as a kid instead of looking down from Wall Street. That`s why 81 million Americans voted for me. The largest number of votes in American history. Look, it`s now time to deliver.


WILLIAMS: That 81 million remark was as close as he came to shade today. As the Washington Post reports it tonight quote, Democrats in a flurry of private talks are beginning to narrow their differences over the size of President Biden`s sweeping safety net bill as liberals signal sizeable concessions on the size of what could be the most far reaching social legislation in years.

Our friends David Plouffe and Stuart Stevens remain with us. David, how is the White House dealing with this party splitting itself up when everyone went into this thinking the enemy was going to be the Republicans?

PLOUFFE: I think they`re handling it very well, Brian. Unfortunately right now you`re just trying to get agreement on the package. And, you know, I`m eager for a time where right now basically what`s in the news is, is the debt ceiling going to pass, is the deal two or 3 trillion, where`s Manchin and Sinema, where the progressives, is infrastructure going to pass.

You know, once this gets done, most importantly, it gets out and you can help a lot of people in this country, but you got to go out there and sell it.


You know, the jobs are created, the families that are being helped. I don`t think any of that`s punching through, because you`re engaged in backroom sausage making, which is never fun.

But Joe Biden, someone who`s done this throughout his career for decades, he`s skilled at it. He`s just trying to get to the finish line, and this is going to get done. Maybe I want to -- I`ll eat those words. But this is the whole enchilada. You know, Joe Biden`s legislative agenda, you know, may not be very robust after this year, that`s historically what happens. So you got to get everything done, you can right now.

And the kind of movement we`ve seen are just a few days, where it looks like they`re coalescing around a lesser number, you still get the infrastructure deal, you get the tax increases, which a store will tell you is probably the most politically popular part of the package.

And then they can go out there and really begin to sell this. It`s something that concerns me as a practitioner, is everything`s been processed. But that`s kind of where we are, how you got to go through this ugly navel gazing sausage making process. And then when you`re done on the other side, hopefully the Democrats spend a better part of a year in living rooms, in factories, in front of equipment like Joe Biden was today, telling the story of what they accomplished, and the fact to your point about Republicans, that they weren`t there, and they opposed all this, and that`s on the ballot in 2022.

WILLIAMS: So Stuart, just when no one would blame Joe Manchin for hiring a food taster. You are out with a theory that the Democrats could use more Joe Manchin`s and I speak for our viewers when I asked you to explain your thoughts.

STEVENS: Well, look, you know, the choice in West Virginia is not between Joe Manchin and say, you know, Dick Durbin. The choice is between Joe Manchin or someone who is going to be a wackadoo Republican is going to make, you know, the other Senate Republican senator from West Virginia look like a Marxist.

I mean, this is what Donald Trump`s best state. And I think the key, remember here is, look, Joe Manchin, you know, my politics have changed. I`d probably to the left the Joe Manchin now, but he voted for impeachment twice. If you look at the actual votes that have been cast, he`s supported the Biden agenda and votes cast so far, 100 percent.

So the Democratic Party, I think, really departed to has to save American democracy here. And the big stuff is going to be remembered, you`re not going to remember in 20 years, if it`s a 3.5 bill or 2.5. bill. You will remember 2024 is the last election that resembles anything that we can call democracy. And I think that this party needs to embrace people like Joe Manchin, you know, they ought to be able to elect democrats in states like Iowa. I mean, it used to be a party that had a Scoop Jackson, and George McGovern.

I think that that diversity is David can tell you how difficult it is. But I think it`s really important. So look, I mean, I`d rather have a Democrat, like Joe Manchin representing West Virginia than a Trump Republican.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for name checking, nostalgically so scoop Jackson and George McGovern. You guys always make us thank. David Plouffe, Stuart Stevens, our thanks to these two friends of our broadcasts for good reason.

Coming up for us. If you`re waiting for something you ordered, we may be able to track your package after this break. It`s one of the many customer services we provide.



WILLIAMS: The great Harlem Renaissance writers Zora Neale Hurston gave us a wonderful quote way back in 1937 when she wrote, ships at a distance have every man`s wishes on board. Of course, that should include women as well. But it`s never been more true for the following reason for all of us.

We have a satellite photo to show you published by the website The War Zone. It shows container ships parked in a grid pattern out in the Pacific Ocean waiting to be unloaded at the Port of Long Beach. It`s just one photo just one port in our country. And that one picture tells the story of the global supply chain right about now. We get the story tonight from NBC`s Tom Costello off the coast of California.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the water with Los Angeles Port Police as the backup affecting the busiest port in the U.S. comes into view from the air of stunning 76 ships headed for the ports of LA or Long Beach now sit idle, extending 40 miles out into the ocean.

(on camera): Everywhere you look there`s a ship just sitting out here on the water.

(voice-over): Just one clog in a supply chain that extends across the ocean to Asia, leaving some us store shelves empty of key products, from toys to clothing, electronics to furniture to car parts.

(on camera): A typical ship like this carries as many as 14,000 containers and in each container about $100,000 for the merchandise. But right now these ships are sitting going nowhere stuck for 10 days.

(voice-over): It`s not just California. New York`s ports are also backed up. Shipping costs are soaring and there aren`t enough truck drivers to move products off the docks. The problem Asian manufacturing slowed to a trickle during COVID. Now it`s struggling to keep up with America`s exploding consumer demand.

Gene Seroka runs the Port of Los Angeles.

GENE SEROKA, PORT OF LOS ANGELES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We`re buying more products than ever before whether they be online pickup at stores or at our big box retailers and the American importer is struggling to keep up with that demand.

COSTELLO: 95 percent of the National Tree Companies artificial Christmas trees come from China. Now they`re scrambling to stock up.

CHRIS BUTLER, NATIONAL TREE COMPANY CEO: by a Christmas trees now before Thanksgiving because otherwise the shelves the shelves will be bad and they`ll be lots of out of stocks.

COSTELLO: Retailers who ordered back in June may be ready for the holidays but many won`t. With a supply chain expected to remain bottlenecked well into 2022. Tom Costello, NBC News, Los Angeles.


WILLIAMS: Coming up the announcement at the baggage claim area that just didn`t seem legit. Part of a story we`ll show you when we come back.



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, something live which come to think of it describes an entire political party these days this little thing the Lincoln Project likes to call last week in the Republican Party and as much as Trump loves the original cast recording of the music of cats. This piece begins with the one song he longs for the most.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to (INAUDIBLE) Trump won, you know it. Trump won, you know it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They deleted everything in Colorado, the whole elections deleted.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): How many jobs where you go and pay the DBA and blame somebody for everything. And it`s never my fault, right?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The characterization that the Democrats have made about the Border Patrol using them as whipping people coming across the border is false. They were simply maneuvering horses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re actually changing the sightedly the whole country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to demoralize the military, close the churches, destroy your faith and the American system. And then here they`re going to come with the socialist program to run your life from cradle to grave daylight to dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not representative government, ladies and gentlemen, that is behind closed doors smoke filled room in this case, not cigars, probably marijuana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut the government down because the real world knows how to run without the government. We do not need the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week Joe Biden speaks at the United Nations and says he`s going to restore our relationship with our allies. As if it wasn`t good under President Trump. It was just he was great under President Trump.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Nature abhors a moron. Let`s don`t be moronic.


WILLIAMS: Put away the fine crystal glassware the Lincoln project to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast for this Tuesday evening. It comes with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.