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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 10/8/21

Guests: Cynthia Alksne, Eugene Daniels, Jeremy Peters, Michael Steele, Don Calloway, Fiona Hill


White House blocks Trump`s executive privilege claim. Jan. 6 committee pushes ahead with investigation. U.S. Appeals Court reinstates Texas abortion ban. Schumer blasts GOP after debt limit vote. Hill details Trump call with Putin in new book.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again, day 262 of the Biden administration. And there is more breaking news tonight out of the state of Texas on that state`s restrictive abortion law. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tonight has temporarily reinstated the Texas six- week abortion ban after a federal judge with some ceremony blocked the ban on Wednesday. As the Fifth Circuit is known as one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country, the ruling means a ban on abortions after six weeks is now back in force. Part of this case that appears destined for a rendezvous with the Supreme Court. We`ll have much more on this story just ahead.

But first here tonight, the fight between Donald Trump and that congressional committee looking into the inner insurrection that he led is now heating up. And today the current president played a role in this fight.

NBC News first to report earlier today that the Biden White House has decided in fact, not to block the release of documents related to Trump, his presidency and the insurrection. The move sets up a legal and potentially lengthy showdown between two presidents current and former over the issue of executive privilege. Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about this decision.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not warranted for the first set of documents from the Trump White House that had been provided to us by the National Archives. As we`ve said previously, this will be an ongoing process. And this is just the first set of documents, and we will evaluate questions of privilege on a case-by-case basis.


WILLIAMS: This comes as the 1/6 Investigative Committee is considering its next moves now that yesterday`s deadline for four former Trump aides to provide documents to the committee has now passed.

Chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Vice Chair, Liz Cheney released a statement today, threatening former Trump adviser Steve Bannon with criminal contempt while noting that other witnesses are cooperating, they say, "Mr. Bannon has indicated he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former president. We will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral."

New York Times reports Bannon`s attorney sent a letter to the 1/6 committee saying he would not comply with the subpoena. The committee made no mention of former Trump aide Daniel Scavino in their statement, he held the title Deputy Chief of Staff while basically running Trump`s social media. He was one of the original groups subpoenaed and Politico reports he was served with his own just today.

As the investigation into 1/6 continues, the government has made public even more evidence of the brutality of the assault on our Capitol nine months ago. Dramatic video new to us released today shows rioters viciously assaulting police officers during that attack that we all watched unfold on live television.

There are also new developments on a separate congressional investigation into the former president. House Oversight Committee accusing Donald Trump of providing, "misleading information" about the financial state of his hotel in Washington while he was in office. The committee says Trump reported his D.C. hotel brought in $150 million during his time in the White House. But after reviewing documents, lawmakers say the hotel actually suffered over $70 million in losses.

In a statement, Trump Organization spokesperson called the assertions, "intentionally misleading and unequivocally false."

Also, this as the current president is trying to defend a disappointing September jobs report just out today, the economy added 194,000 jobs in the month of September. That`s a problem because it`s below the Dow Jones estimate of half a million new jobs. Earlier today, Biden offered this take on today`s numbers.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: In just eight months since I became President, in the midst of a grave public health and economic crisis, the unemployment rate is now down below 5% -- at 4.8%. Let me just repeat that, today`s report has the unemployment rate down to 4.8 percent, a significant improvement from when I took office and a sign that our recovery is moving forward even in the face of a COVID pandemic.


WILLIAMS: Our country also temporarily avoided an economic disaster this week when the Senate voted to lift the debt limit until December but, of course, in a few short months expect a whole new standoff.


Today Senate Majority Leader -- Minority Leader rather, Mitch McConnell sent Joe Biden a letter warning that Republicans won`t help raise the debt limit next time. It reads, "I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of democratic mismanagement. Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claim they lack to address the debt ceiling." So, we have that to look forward to, of course.

And with that, let`s bring in our leadoff guests, our starting line on this Friday night. Eugene Daniels, White House Correspondent for Politico co- author of each day`s edition of the Politico Playbook, Jeremy Peters, Veteran Political Reporter for The New York Times and Cynthia Alksne, former Federal Prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

Good evening, and welcome to you all, Cynthia, counselor, you get to go first tonight because of our lead story, what do we need to know about this Texas reversal on appeal and where this case might be headed?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the case is headed to the Supreme Court and it`s nothing but bad news for women of Texas and women everywhere. And then I hesitate to sum it up this way, in a colloquial way. But basically, you know, we`re screwed. That`s just true. The Fifth Circuit has reinstated this law. That is an overturning of Roe v. Wade, that takes away a woman`s right to control her own body two weeks after she`s missed a period. Most women don`t know they`re pregnant at that time. And now it`s up to the Fifth Circuit. People say, oh, not to worry, it can be appealed to the Supreme Court. Well, it can be appealed to the Supreme Court. But remember, it`s the Supreme Court that let this law go in to effect in the first place through a shadow docket late at night and without even mentioning Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court is extremely hostile to Roe v Wade. They have five votes to overturn it. They have a case in front of them the Mississippi Dub`s case, and it looks like they`re either going to overturn Roe v. Wade, or so restricted that none of us are going to recognize it anyway.

So, I see nothing but bad news. It`s infuriating. It`s infuriating to me that none of these judges either on the Fifth Circuit or on the Supreme Court are listening to stare decisis. And adhering to that basic principle. I find that infuriating, I also find it infuriating that the Congress has had 50 years to pass a woman`s right to control her own body, and they haven`t done it. And we`ve never been important enough to them. And it`s time to have a little bit of a revolution.

WILLIAMS: All right, Eugene, those are sobering words. And as I don`t need to explain to you stare decisis used to be the bedrock of conservative jurisprudence, as we once knew it. So let me ask you if your reporting sheds any light on any reaction we might expect from DOJ.

EUGENE DANIELS, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, we`ve already seen the DOJ making very clear that they are going to protect a woman`s right to choose but excuse me protect their constitutional right to choose. And they`ve said that over and over again, I think you`re going to continue to see, and they`ve said that they will sue where they need to, they will go where they need to, to get this done and to do as much as they can to protect, but like was just said, you know, this is going to the Supreme Court and all everything, every single indicator tells us that it looks like Roe v. Wade, for the most part will be taken apart or go away. We will all be surprised if that is not the case, whether that`s Mississippi Dug, or through this through this Texas law. And I think that is something that has been really interesting to watch, you haven`t seen a lot politically, you haven`t seen a lot of Republicans support the Texas law. They were worried that the Texas style seemed a little silly. But it looks like thanks to the Fifth Circuit, that this law is one that is going to the Supreme Court and is going to stick around for some time. But the DOJ, like I said, has made it clear that they`re going to continue to do whatever they can, but how much they can actually do is what we`re what we`re lacking to see at this point.

WILLIAMS: Jeremy, you covered the Trump years and as Trump would say you covered them very strongly. I thought of you today, with Trump remaining on brand and effect telling his former aides not to rat and with Mr. Bannon a man you`ve spent a lot of time with remaining on brand, telling his followers Trump will still be reinstated after the election is decertified, perhaps even before 2022 that`s not a thing. But you have to admire everyone staying on brand, Jeremy.

JEREMY PETERS, THE NEW YORK TIMES POLITICAL REPORTER: Right and this, Brian, is exactly the ground that Trump and all of his followers want 2022 and 2024 to be litigated upon.


Trump wants the people who are in Congress after 2022 to be people who buy into his lie that the election was stolen. And he wants to run his 2024 campaign, if there is one, which, at this point, I think we would all be naive not to expect that that`s going to happen. He wants it to be all about the myth of this stolen election.

And what I think, you know, we`ve all seen a lot of, the more marginal figures in the Republican Party, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, like all these people go along with this. What`s been more interesting to watch are the mainstream Republicans who are sitting -- not exactly saying they think the election was stolen, but saying with a wink and a nod, that they think that there is election fraud, and that there`s ought to be something done about it, even though there`s no evidence of that. There`s no evidence of it on a widespread systemic basis. But they`re saying, oh, OK, well, the Democrats sent out all of these ballots in the mail that no one asked for, and we don`t know what happened to these ballots. And that is the way, if I were advising people to look for ways in which the Republican Party is mainstreaming fringe attacks that`s what I would look at. Because they are basically saying that the election is stolen without saying the election is stolen. And that is going to be our political reality for the next two or three years.

WILLIAMS: Cynthia, back over to you, once and for all, is there any scenario under which a former president in a non-national security area can declare privilege over documents once they`ve left office?

ALKSNE: We`re sure he can declare it, but that doesn`t mean it`s enforceable. I mean, what`s going to happen today, what`s happening now is that Biden is said, I`m going to release these documents. And then under the law, he has 30 days, Trump has 30 days to complain. And if he doesn`t do anything, the documents will be released, what`s likely to happen is on about day 29 and a half, he`s going to file a lawsuit and gum up the process. Because Trump`s whole game, it doesn`t matter if it`s -- if he`s legally correct, it only matters to him that he can slow the process down and slow walk the process, because after all, that`s really worked for him. And it worked for him and impeachment by stalling and not getting witnesses. It`s worked for him with his taxes. And that`s what Bannon is counting on that it`s going to work for him with the subpoena process. So no, he`s not going to win the argument. But yes, he is going to try and make it to slow the process down.

WILLIAMS: And Eugene, back to your beat, was it regarded as pro forma or a big deal that Biden decided the way he did on this tranche of documents?

DANIELS: I mean, I think it was unsurprising, right? We expect as things move on that the Biden ministration is not likely to exert executive privilege for the former president and for his aids. But what they continue to say is this is case-by-case basis. I think part of that is to make sure that when it`s time for the Biden administration to assert executive privilege, over their own things they did, they haven`t really -- you know, they haven`t softened, what that means. But this White House has a vested interest in helping the January 6, select committee figure out what happened that day, not just because they`re the campaign that turned into a White House that Donald Trump and his allies say stole the White House, which they did not they won the election, but because they see it as bigger than them, they see it as bigger than the election, they see it as, you know, protecting democracy. And that`s something that you heard from Jen Psaki today. They are concerned privately publicly about what January 6 meant for that day.

And so, what`s really interesting is when you talk to folks inside, they are the last line, right, of whether or not we`ll see some of these documents. And what this administration experts believe, and it seems to be very, very true, is that executive privilege lies in the office and that is something that a lot of people learn today, including Donald Trump. It`s not what the man, right, leaves office, the executive privilege stays behind. And so, by him asserting something that he thinks he has, that`s not true. It`s why this administration had to refuse, who had that to assert, excuse me, had to refuse this privilege this time around on behalf of Donald Trump, right, because it lies in the office and I think that is something that Trump wasn`t expecting, he wasn`t expecting, he expects that he has that privilege for as long as he lives as the former president, but that is not the case and the Biden administration made that very clear today.


WILLIAMS: Hey, Jeremy, take us back to Republican politics. There is a term for what Trump is doing to all the "would be" presidential candidates in his party, but we`re a family broadcast and can`t use said term, but we both know what it is. And it reduces all these potential candidates to the bootlicking role. For some of them, they`re in their fifth year of it. Talk about what this is doing to the Republican Party.

PETERS: So as Donald Trump goes to Iowa tomorrow afternoon to campaign in a rally, one of many rallies that he`s been holding over the course of this past six months, he is basically daring any Republican who wants to be president to challenge him. And so far, they`ve all blinked. You have Nikki Haley, who gave a speech earlier this week at the Reagan Library, which the theme was ostensibly the future of the Republican Party. And she spent most of it talking as if she were a Reagan Republican trapped in 1984, talking about socialism and capitalism and communism. And, you know, it sounded as if she was speaking from a Republican Party that doesn`t exist anymore, and it doesn`t.

This is Donald Trump`s Republican Party. And there is, frankly, Brian, no way that I see any Republican who wants a political future challenging him if indeed he does run in 2024 doesn`t mean he will. He`s notoriously fickle. We don`t know what he`s going to do. But the fact that all of these Republicans are afraid to dare challenge him, from Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, they`re all basically running scared of him right now. And he is the leader of the party, the nomination is his to lose and if he runs, I think that that`s what we`re going to be dealing with for the next four years.

WILLIAMS: Well, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. We are greatly indebted to our starting line on this Friday night. Eugene Daniels, Jeremy Peters, Cynthia Alksne, many thanks for starting us off. It`s a lot.

Coming up for us, he lost the election but as the former president with an ironclad grip on his party, winning the battle to avoid responsibility for what happened on 1/6. Two political insiders standing by. We`ll talk about what to watch for next.

And later, Fiona Hill stepped into the spotlight and the first impeachment of the last president. She is with us here tonight and she has a warning if Trump wins again, she says, "democracy is done." All of it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Friday night.



WILLIAMS: It`s been over nine months since the insurrection and the country remains of course bitterly divided. Our friend Susan Glasser at the New Yorker puts it this way, and we, "The political crisis today is worse than it was not better. The unacceptable has been accepted by a shockingly large part of the population and its political leadership."

Back with us tonight, Don Calloway, Democratic Strategist, Founder of the National Voter Protection Action Fund. And Michael Steele, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, former Lieutenant Governor of the great State of Maryland, also happens to be host of the Michael Steele podcast.

Gentlemen, great to have you both. Good evening. Michael, I`d like to begin with you, our mutual acquaintance, Rick Wilson, stirred up some, you know what, today on social media when he wrote a thread saying basically, the 1/6 committee is already done, it`s over, don`t expect anything, he went on to say, this is staffed wrong, lead wrong and a gutless exercise to get back to talking about infrastructure. They`re not taking the risk seriously. They`re not taking the data before them seriously. And they`re eager to run out the clock, he received some strong pushback from the committee. I`ll say that, but Michael, is there evidence to support his conclusion?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, you know, I don`t know exactly what Rick was basing his conclusions on. But I guess there is a genuine concern about just how hard this committee is going to press the Trump individuals who are brought or subpoenaed or asked to appear? You know, how seriously they`re going to take this? How much effort are they going to put behind actually dragging these people into the halls of Congress to sit before this committee to testify to what they know, their role in it, et cetera. And I think there`s a legitimate concern about the level of pressure they`re going to bring in that regard.

You had already those who`ve been subpoenaed, basically blow it off. And so, the question now becomes, all right, the deadline has passed, what are you going to do? And I think that`s driving a lot of Rick`s frustration, the frustration of a lot of folks who do want this commission`s work to be legitimate and to reach the results of finding out exactly what happened.

WILLIAMS: And Don, you see, you know, the history of this, you see why people are suspicious, even when Liz Cheney promises that they will follow up on these subpoenas, the folks watching in the cheap seats, say to especially the Democratic leadership, when have you done this before? When have you ever insisted? When have you put the force of law behind a subpoena? They couldn`t get John Bolton into the Capitol if they`d offered him a new car.

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah, that`s right. But at the same time, you know, that is not House leadership`s problem, that is not the Democratic committee`s problem. What that is, is a problem with the integrity of the Republican Party who would want their subpoenas respected. They`re going to subpoena Barack Obama, as soon as the House comes back, which it hopefully doesn`t this cycle, but it will someday, and they`re going to want and expect people to respect their subpoenas. They`re not affording Democrats that same respect, and they`re asking Democrats to force the issue to arrest folks. And that`s really not something that we should have to do in the interest of going through the discovery process of democracy.


I was actually getting offended by the gentleman from Lincoln Project`s tweet. Rick Wilson, I actually like Rick Wilson a lot. I`ve been in many a green room with him and I respect his opinion. But I saw it as an affront to the leadership of my friend Bennie Thompson. I`m not totally detached from that. I really hate it when members of the Congressional Black Caucus are attacked, made to look weak, made to look ineffective, when the reality is that there`s a disingenuous position on the other side in which the Steve Bannon of the world are going to encourage their people to not comply with congressional subpoenas. That has nothing to do with the strong leadership coming from the House on this committee, leading with Bennie Thompson.

WILLIAMS: Fair point, point taken, and perhaps Rick is watching. Michael, did you have a word?

STEELE: Yeah, I mean, I appreciate that. I agree with that. So, if I tell you not to show up for congressional subpoena, and you don`t show, who is that on? Is that on me? Is that on you? Or is that on the body that requested you appear? They have federal authority. They have U.S. Marshals that they can send out. And the fact of the matter is, you .

CALLOWAY: You and I know, my dad, my mom was worried is only so good. And my daddy is willing to work, right? And you know, hey, that`s not their fault. It`s not the Democrats` fault that you`re forcing us to play hardball here. It`s all of us and you know this, as a former politician.

STEELE: Right.

CALLOWAY: All of us participate in the social construct to some degree and win it.

STEELE: But if I don`t, that`s what law enforcement is for.

CALLOWAY: Yeah, but I mean, you know, we`re also trying to win elections. We`re also trying to appeal to a middle of the road, white voter, and what does that look like, if I drag a bunch of white guys in and do perp walks with them, take them up out of their country club. It`s a tough spot for Democrats to be in. It`s an extraordinarily tough spot, and I think you hit the nail on the head and pointing out the sensitivities there.

WILLIAMS: Michael Steele, rebuttal?

STEELE: I mean, it`s not so much a rebuttal. I mean, look, we`re kind of in the same space my only thing is, you have the power, you have the authority that is given to you under the Constitution and the rules of the Commission, they explicitly set out that they had subpoena power. Well, if you have the power, that means you should use the power. And it`s not a question of them not using it. The question is, will you use it? And when will you use it to enforce it?

Look, you know, Bannon and others can hold out and not appear. But when the marshal show up at their doorstep, that`s a whole different conversation, when they then have to go get lawyers to deal with that. That`s a whole different reality.

Let me tell you about the GOP expectation is, you`re not going to do it, you don`t have what it takes to do it. That`s what they`re betting.


STEELE: No, I mean very serious. I hear you. I hear you.

CALLOWAY: I want you to keep this same energy, when two months from now Joe Biden decides he has the power and the constitutional authority to add to the Supreme Court.

STEELE: He does, if he wants to do it and use it. Well, they can`t -- you can`t even decide to do the filibuster. So, I`m not worried about what you`re going to do in the Supreme Court, OK, so listen --

CALLOWAY: Gut check time for Joe Biden and House Democrats as well. You`re absolutely right, they have the authority, but you act as though we know understand his political realities. And he has to protect his house majorities as well as become reelected himself for doing these things.

STEELE: Understood, but I would think that January 6 -- what happened on January 6, Trump`s and to use that term deliberately, Trump`s the political vagrancies or realities or whatever they are for either party, our country --

CALLOWAY: I think you`re exactly right, but you don`t have single elected Republican who, other than Adam Kinzinger, who has stood up in the middle of the public square and said that let`s talk about preserving democracy over preserving Trumpsm.

STEELE: True, but you got subpoena power, so use it.

WILLIAMS: Let me -- I have commercial power, let me just butt in here. To our viewers, I`ve been watching this too. There`s nothing like when Morehouse and Johns Hopkins get together, it gets sporty, but we have to fit in a break. Both of these gentlemen are going to stay with us.

Coming up, divisions among the Democrats themselves on full display these days. And look at who`s trying to capitalize on it.




SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game. And I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work. Senate Republicans insisted they wanted a solution to the debt ceiling but said Democrats must raise it alone by going through a drawn out, convoluted and risky reconciliation process. That was simply unacceptable to my caucus. And yesterday, Senate Republicans finally realized that their obstruction was not going to work.


WILLIAMS: Chewing gum enthusiast Senator Joe Manchin managing to get attention even though he was just sitting with no speaking role as he was seeing they`re clearly unhappy with Schumer`s post death ceiling vote victory speech. He reportedly shared some choice words privately with his Majority Leader. Here`s what Manchin had to say about it, when asked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hear you refer to this as an effing embarrassing speech.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: No, I never say that. That`s John`s. You`re confusing me if it was my good friend John Tester.


WILLIAMS: So still with us, our close friends, Don Callaway and Michael Steele. All right, Don, how am I wrong, your party is divided ergo, the President`s agenda is frozen in midair. Basically, Schumer needed McConnell`s permission to hold the debt ceiling vote. McConnell is still going to Charlie Brown, the Democrats and there`s no strategy for dealing with the minority leader. How am I wrong?

CALLOWAY: Well, I think the first thing we have to do here is acknowledge the substantial failing of the Manchin staff. We`re positioning him to be seen and have his reaction seen in that shot. Typically, Senate staff are a little more sophisticated than a big mess like that. I think secondly, you`re not wrong, but as Democrats we are called to be eternal optimist and believe in Mitch McConnell even when we see we have to be in a position of believing Mitch McConnell and believing in the good faith of the other side and the institutions of the Senate.


A lot of times when ask those progressives are angry at Joe Biden or angry with a guy like a Dick Durbin, or Chuck Schumer is because that we get upset with having to wait on them because of their faith in the institutions of the Senate, their faith in our senators, that`s supposed to remain collegial and deal with each other on some degree of respect and on the level. And it gets very frustrating because you know that Mitch McConnell and frankly, the Republican writ large, Republican Party writ large does not behave with that same level of procedural or actual integrity. So, the answer to your question is, of how are you wrong, is that unfortunately, you`re not.

WILLIAMS: OK. Michael Steele, the Republicans appear to be happy watching all this, most of them appear to be kind of just fine with what happened on 1/6 and the gust Senator Grassley is speaking at a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa tomorrow, what have we learned?

STEELE: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I don`t know why we are expecting, you know, a change in behavior at this point from GOP members, they are falling all over themselves to appear with Trump when they can to reinforce his messaging when they can. And they use, to Don`s point, the procedures of the Senate against the Senate itself. You know, Mitch McConnell`s in the minority, but you would think he wasn`t. And that that is a reflection of his ability to use those, the tools of the Senate, the very same way Donald Trump used the constitution, used the integrity of the institutions that he governed over as president against itself. And that is the new political dynamic that we find ourselves, which is why going back to the last conversation, part of the conversation, it is important when you have the ability to use the tools to enforce the constitutional principles and ideas and to rein in rogue behavior, you should do so.

And, you know, it`s no secret at this point as long as McConnell and others know they can get away with it. They will who is going to stop them. I`ve been saying it for over two years now. They have not once been held accountable for any of it, two impeachments, COVID, nothing. And at some point, and even when you look at the 2020 election, Brian, Republicans picked up 12 house seats, I mean, they close the gap, and we didn`t know why, they weren`t punished. So, this behavior has no check. And this is why Grassley shows up in Iowa.

WILLIAMS: Our friends, Michael and Don, some heavy words they`ve left with us tonight. Both gentlemen will receive a copy of our home game, along with our thanks for coming on and spending part of your Friday night with us, greatly appreciate it. We`ll do it again.

Coming up, she spoke her mind the former president`s first impeachment hearing, but Fiona Hill says two years later, she`s even more worried about the future of this country. A lot of that going around these days and we`ll ask her about it when we come back.




FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE AND RUSSIA: Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career Foreign Service is being undermined. U.S. support for Ukraine, which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicized. The Russian government`s goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America`s global role, and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests. We are running out of time to stop them.


WILLIAMS: On the relentless assault on democracy today from within our own country, Dr. Fiona Hill offers this warning in her new book she writes, "If we fail to fix our ailing society, another American president, just like Vladimir Putin might decide to stay in power indefinitely. And the next insurrectionary force that invades the U.S. Capitol Building, might be better prepared than the January 6, 2021 mob. They might just manage to hold it.

With us now Russian policy expert Fiona Hill, she served in the Trump administration as a Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, National Security Council, and as a Deputy Assistant to the President testified during the first impeachment. She`s currently a Brookings Institution, Senior Fellow and importantly, the author of this new book, "There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century."

Dr. Hill, it`s a pleasure to have you and I hope you don`t mind if I start with a personal observation when the hearing started, I thought to myself that sounds like a beautiful Geordie accent and indeed on further research, you`re from the northeast of England, the life on the banks of the River Tyne, where life is hard, where that countryside produces tough people.

Indeed, this quote from your book, in the 1980s, your father, a former coal miner used to say that parts of your hometown, Bishop Auckland, might as well be in a war zone. We were refugees in our own land, but there was no one there to help. Perhaps we should call the United Nations, he joke. You could do that one day, Fiona.

Of course, he was absolutely right. And that`s where I`d like to begin with the story that people will read in your book, the promise America held for you and then your journey and your departure from public and government life, based on what you witnessed at the apex of your career?

HILL: Well, that`s right, Brian. I`m, you know, I was incredibly fortunate, of course, to be able to achieve so much in terms of my career after leaving the northeast of England, my dad had sent me off on this journey, you know, saying basically, there`s nothing for me at home. It`s a very difficult period in the 1980s in the northeast of England, and setting me off on an educational Odyssey that, you know, led to some surprising places, even from my own perspective.

But, you know, what`s happened over the last several years, particularly the time in which I was in the Trump administration going in there to work on Russia, was I become extremely worried about what`s been happening here in the United States and just listening to the last segment with Michael Steele and the other colleague there, you know the situation that we`re in today here in the United States. So, everybody was seeing it unfold in that first impeachment trial. We`ve had a second impeachment trial since then.


You know, the United States is starting to look like a war zone as well. One that`s on the verge of being ripped apart by civil war. Particularly after the insurrection and the mob storming the Capitol building on January 6. You know, one of the impetuses for writing this book was that experienced that the testimony at the impeachment trial, and, you know, really trying to find a way of expressing a very clear warning of the situation that we find ourselves in right now.

WILLIAMS: I don`t -- I can`t imagine what it`s like being one of the living experts on Vladimir Putin. Being in the Oval Office, while Donald Trump is talking by phone to Vladimir Putin. You then watched along with us the national embarrassment of the result of Helsinki. I`ve heard it said that Putin didn`t even have to dust off his A level material to turn our president that it was normal stuff for him that it was easy for Vladimir Putin. What in the Putin tactics, misinformation, false flags and the like, do you see going on in our own life here?

HILL: Well, we`ve seen a multi-pronged attack from the Russian security services, and you know, the Russians over time, but you know, all they`re doing is really exploiting the divisions and the polarization here in the United States. So, when the Russian security services launched, what was a pretty sophisticated, but old textbook, Cold War, influence operation in 2016, to try to interfere in the U.S. election, they were just taking advantage of information that was already out there. They created fake personas on the internet, exploiting the algorithms of Facebook that we`ve heard so much about this past week.

And then when it comes to targeting our leadership, they were targeting all of the campaigns of most of the front runners that they saw in the election. And they found it very easy to manipulate, you know, our body politic, and the case of President Trump for Putin, it`s quite easy to manipulate him on the basis of flattery, there`s been a lot of fixations about, you know, some kind of nefarious hold that Putin has had over the president. But really, it was quite simple in my observation. So, I talked a little bit about some of the things that I saw in the book that Putin in just saw that President Trump was easily induced by some kinds of prayers. That was one occasion in which President Putin, clearly was hoping that President Trump would call him and would speak to him. And he spent some time on Russian television interviews, praising the performance of the stock market and the Russian bit of the U.S. economy from the Russian perspective. And immediately after that President Trump said, you know, I`d like to call Putin because he said some nice things about me.

The broader point is that Putin has our number. He knows how to push our buttons. And he, you know, recognized perhaps more quickly than anyone else that the United States was in some political problems. And, you know, really, that`s where we are at right now. We`re tearing ourselves apart, as we`ve been talking about over this past week or so.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Hill, our time is short, take about 60 seconds, look into the camera, tell the people watching the danger that exists to our democracy as we`re having this conversation tonight.

HILL: Well, the real danger is that we`re moving forward on the basis of a lie. If we don`t get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, if we don`t have an honest conversation about that, if members of Congress in the Republican Party right now don`t look themselves in the mirror, you know, fess up to what actually happened there and to speak the truth, we`re heading down a path that many other countries have tried before towards the degradation of our democracy. And, you know, very, unfortunately, on a path towards authoritarianism and autocracy and, you know, I don`t say that lightly, you know, that has anyone else, but we`re in a very dangerous moment right now.

WILLIAMS: To our viewers, I`ll say only this, the Thatcher era was especially cruel to the northeast of England. And so, there is nothing for you here was kind of the admonition young Fiona Hill was sent off on in her American journey, which we hope contains more chapters. There is the book by the same title by Dr. Fiona Hill, who has been our guest tonight. Dr. Hill, thank you so much for spending time with us.

HILL: Thanks so much, Brian. Thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, it`s beginning to look a lot like we are in for a crush of travel volume, starting very shortly. Hope you remember the volume just before the pandemic started.



WILLIAMS: Over the summer travel ramped up to pre-pandemic levels very quickly. Airline passengers have been in the news for awful behavior mostly, but airline capacity not so much. Those same airlines are predicting another big surge this holiday season. NBC News Correspondent Anne Thompson has more tonight on why early booking is more important than ever.


ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans are eager to make up for lost time ready to take to the skies this Thanksgiving and Christmas now the COVID is waning. Increasing demand accompanied by increasing prices.

SCOTT KEYES, SCOTT`S CHEAP FLIGHTS FOUNDER: The best time would have been to book a few months ago but the second-best time to book is now.

THOMPSON: Travel website Hopper says don`t wait until after Halloween to make your plans because you might get more fright than delight.

PATRICK SURRY, CHIEF DATA SCIENTIST HOPPER: What we see is that prices will drift up about 40% from Halloween until the week before Thanksgiving, and then they`ll pop another 25% in that week of Thanksgiving.

THOMPSON: Hopper says the average airfare bought after Halloween will carry a $400 price tag and jump to $500 Thanksgiving week. As for a place to stay the vacation rental site guest he says it will cost more too, that average now $599 a night almost doubled the price two years ago.

United Airlines says it`s seen a 16% increase in holiday travel searches. So, it plans to add more planes in December heading to sun and ski destinations like Orlando and Colorado especially from the Midwest. The travel bargains today exist abroad.

SURRY: We`re seeing prices right now in the low six-hundreds round trip to Europe which is unheard of pricing so those are starting to get higher so we`re already higher for Christmas time.

THOMPSON (on camera): Experts say don`t dally for the best price and selection be flexible about your destinations and dates and book that rental car now.


WILLIAMS: Anne Thompson, our thanks for that report tonight.


Coming up for us, if something is unverified, but if you`re pretty sure it`s true, that`s fine, unless it`s a national news story.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight is from our friends over at The Daily Show, they have noticed that a popular host on Fox News while never in doubt seems to have a curious relationship with certain facts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we can`t verify that that`s true, but it certainly sounds right. We couldn`t verify this. It sounds right to me. I don`t know the answer. Those are her claims. Are they true? We have no way of verifying them, as if we have not independently verified the tape, we`re about to show you but we have no reason to believe any of this is fake. And we should say we haven`t independently verified the authenticity of other video, I can tell you as soon as lived in Washington for 35 years, this kind of stuff definitely happens. Once again, we can`t verify this. So, we haven`t independently verified the story. But we have no reason to doubt it. We have no reason to doubt it`s true. We haven`t verified it ourselves. But you can judge for yourself. I think trust but verify.


WILLIAMS: Daily Show with Trevor Noah to take us off the air tonight. That is our broadcast indeed for this Friday evening and for this week with our thanks for being here with us. Have a good weekend unless you have other plans. On behalf of all our colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.